Silencing a Loud 3D Printer Power Supply

How to make a 3D printer power supply more quiet.

Power supplies used in 3D printers, like the popular MeanWell PSUs, can get noisy. This is generally not a problem in industrial settings, but when you have your 3D printer placed in your (home) office or workshop, it can get annoying quickly.

Aside from being obnoxiously loud, the noise of these power supply fans can also obscure other problems with your machine. For example, clicking bearings that have worn out or screws that are starting to vibrate loose. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to do something about the noise and make the power supply more quiet.

There are several ways of doing this, and in this article I will explain each one of them. Let’s explore how we can make the power supply of your Creality Ender 3, CR-10 or other 3D printer more silent!

What power supplies does this guide apply to?

You can use this guide to silence any 3D printer, CNC or LED strip power supply. The one I fix as an example is a MeanWell-branded one, but the steps in this guide are the same for cheaper no-name power supplies.

Basically, if the noise is caused by a loud cooling fan (which it usually is), removing that fan from the equation will solve the problem.

If the noise is caused by coil whine, however, you might want to check out my guide on fixing coil whine for a solution.

Coil whine typically sounds like a high pitched hissing or buzzing sound, whereas a loud cooling fan simply sounds like a fan that rotates at a high RPM and blows a lot of air. These sounds are fairly easy to tell apart.

Why does your 3D printer power supply make so much noise?

Simply put, 3D printer and LED strip power supplies are loud because they need adequate cooling. They are high density power supplies that contain many components packed into a small space. To effectively get rid of their heat, they require a cooling fan.

A close-up of a MeanWell power supply.

Because of the limited space, there only is enough room for a small (40-60mm) fan. Small fans have little surface area and they need to spin at a high RPM to move sufficient air. Unfortunately, this results in more noise.

While small, quiet fans that move plenty of air do exist, they come at a higher cost. For power supply manufacturers, there is not much incentive to install them in their products. Cheaper components = more profit, and most end users probably don’t care that much about noise levels anyway.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t replace the cooling fan yourself if you want silence!

Methods to silence your 3D printer power supply

As you have probably figured out by now, replacing the cooling fan is the most straightforward option to reduce power supply noise. But there are several other methods you can use that involve less technical skills. Let’s quickly go over all options.

Replacing the fan

The cheapest way to silence your power supply’s fan is to simply swap it out with a silent fan of the same dimensions. You can find the full instructions for this further down the page.

For reliability and safety reasons, you should never run the PSU with the fan disconnected. The device is designed with a certain amount of airflow in mind, and changing that amount is likely to cause premature failure of the PSU and possibly kill everything that is connected to it.

In the guide below I have linked several popular replacement fans that push plenty of air while remaining silent. These models have better designed motors, bearings and blades than the included stock fans.

Replacing the power supply

If you are uncomfortable opening up your 3D printer or LED strip power supply and making changes, you can also simply swap it out with a more quiet option. This is more expensive than swapping out the fan, but it is quicker, easier and comes with less risk.

Fanless PSU

A popular choice is to simply replace the noisy power supply with a fanless one. PSUs without a fan run virtually silent and do not bother you in the slightest.

Two fanless MeanWell power supplies in the electronics compartment of a custom built 3D printer.

Because these fanless power supplies use passive cooling (convection) and can only get rid of a limited amount of heat, they are only available up to 200 Watts. Models that supply more than 200W tend to be actively cooled with a fan.

Fanless power supplies can be a bit bigger than their fanned counterparts because their components can’t be packed as densely without the risk of overheating.

The best replacement power supplies

When it comes to power supplies for 3D printers, CNC machines and LED projects, my go-to products are those from the MeanWell LRS series.

Unlike the no-name LED power supplies that you can find on eBay and AliExpress, MeanWell PSUs come with protection circuitry and multiple safety certifications. Naturally, they are a bit more expensive. But at least they won’t blow up your project when something goes wrong.

The LRS series models are relatively compact, flat, efficient and come with 3 years of warranty. The models up to 200W are fanless.

3D Printers without DC powered heated bed

For printers without DC (direct current) powered heated bed, a 200W power supply is more than sufficient. It has enough power for the motors, hotend and other electronics.

For 12V 3D printers the MeanWell LRS-200-12 (200W 17A) is the best option, whereas for 24V 3D printers there is the LRS-200-24 (200W 8.8A).

3D printers with DC heated bed

3D printers that do power their heated bed through the power supply output (as opposed to a non-heated bed or one that is powered by AC power through a solid state relay) require a significantly higher capacity. These models are typically rated at around 350W.

Good power supplies for these types of printers are the LRS-350-12 (12V 29A 350W) and LRS-350-24 (24V 14.6A 350W) models.

Their main downside, however, is that they are actively cooled with a noisy fan. Not as loud as the no-name Chinese power supplies, but (for me) still loud enough to replace it with something more silent.

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Always check the wattage and voltage of the original 3d printer power supply before getting a replacement!

Xbox power supply

Another option is to use an Xbox power supply for your 3D printer. These are reliable, silent and easy to find. Their output is typically around 200W. They can only be used to power 3D printers that run on 12V and that do not have a heated bed.

You’ll need to modify the Xbox power adapter by removing the output connector and connecting the wires up to your 3D printer. If you have an Xbox PSU lying around, it might be worth giving it a go.

How to replace a loud 3D printer power supply fan

Warning / safety

Power supplies contain capacitors that can hold a dangerous charge, especially when the power supply has recently been plugged in. Working on the internal components of a device like this needs to be done with care so that you do not accidentally come into contact with a stored charge and injure yourself.

It is a good idea to wear insulating gloves and use a capacitor discharge tool to safely discharge potentially dangerous capacitors. Anything you do based on this guide is at your own risk and responsibility.

What you’ll need

Part icon Parts
AUSTOR 60-40 Tin Lead Rosin Core Solder Wire for Electrical Soldering...
1,369 Reviews
560PCS Heat Shrink Tubing 2:1, Eventronic Electrical Wire Cable Wrap...
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Replacement Fan
x 1

Which replacement fan do you need?

Not all power supplies use the same model of cooling fan. Fans have different sizes and run on different voltages. Figuring out the original fan’s specifications is crucial in getting good results. Opening the power supply up and inspecting the cooling fan’s label often gives you all the information you need.

Most power supplies either use a 40mm or a 60mm fan.

You’ll notice that these are all Noctua fans. In my experience, their fans are the best option when it comes to reliable, silent fans that  provide sufficient airflow for cooling.

Make sure to also the operating voltage of the original fan, as the above mentioned fans all run on 12V. Silent 24V fans are hard to find, so the easiest method to replace a loud 24V fan is to use a silent 12V fan and put a step-down buck converter in front of it.

Most power supply fans work on 12V, however. Even on 24V power supplies, like that of the Creality Ender 3 Pro, the internal cooling fan is a 12V fan connected to an internal 12V source.

Another option to silence a MeanWell LRS-350-12 or LRS-350-24 is to print a custom case and combine it with a Noctua NF-A8 FLX. A bit overkill, but a fun project nonetheless.

Step by step

A screwdriver being used to remove a screw from and disassemble a LED power supply.
Start by unscrewing the screws that hold the cover/lid of the power supply in place.
A screwdriver removing a screw from a MeanWell LED PSU for disassembly and fixing.
Continue moving around the power supply until you have removed all lid screws.
A hand lifting the top cover on a MeanWell power supply.
When you are done with the screws, lift the cover. Make sure that you do not pull on the fan cable .
A blue circle used to indicate the position of a fan header on the circuit board of a 3D printer PSU.
Identify the fan header and connector.
A hand pulling a fan connector from a circuit board.
Unplug the fan connector. This is the most dangerous step, as you have to reach into the power supply itself. You don’t want to accidentally touch anything that is still charged. The fan connector is positioned on the low voltage DC side, which is a relatively safe place. The most dangerous components are the large capacitors on the AC side of the PSU that you can see at the top of the image.
A partially disassembled loud 3D printer power supply with the top cover placed next to the main body.
Now that the fan is disconnected, you can put the main body of the power supply (right) aside. We won’t need this until reassembly.

Detaching the original fan

A screwdriver removing a loud 60mm fan from an aluminium lid from a LED PSU.
Take your screwdriver and unscrew the cooling fan screws.
Close-up of the label on a noisy 60x25mm 2410ML-04W-B40 fan.
If necessary, identify the fan and its specifications. To figure out which replacement fan you need, you need to know the voltage and dimensions of the original. The voltage (nearly always 12V, even in some 24V power supplies) is printed on the back, whereas the dimensions can be determined with a pair of digital calipers or by looking up the fan model number (2410ML-04W-B40 in this power supply).
A silent Noctua NF-A6x25 PWM fan placed next to a 2410ML-04W-B40 fan, both placed flat with their labels facing up.
The Noctua 60x25mm replacement fan I used next to the original. Same dimensions, same voltage, roughly the same airflow, but appreciably more silent.
Two different fan connectors with wires placed next to each other, one a 4-pin PWM type, the other a 2-pin JST type.
But also different connectors. We can fix that with a quick soldering job.

Attaching the original connector to the new fan

A pair of side cutter used to remove the connector from a 60mm fan.
First clip the connector from the original fan. Make sure that you keep about 5 cm / 2″ of wire attached to it.
Wire strippers being used to remove the insulation from red and black wires.
Use a wire stripper to remove the insulation from the end of the wires.
A red and a black piece of heat shrink tubing on wires of matching colors.
Add a short piece of heat shrink tubing to each of the wires. We will use this to insulate the solder joints after soldering.
A 3-pin fan header soldered to connect to a 2-pin JST connector though a set of wires.
Solder the wires to the pins of a standard 3-pin fan header. The same pins as shown in the image. +12V gets connected to the middle pin, where as the left pin (on the image) is connected to ground.

Instead of a 3-pin fan header, you can also solder the wires directly to the wires of the fan (after clipping its connector off). I opted to go for the header here to show the best option for people who don’t want to mutilate their brand new fan.

Keep in mind that Noctua PWM fans come with 4 wires that are differently colored than those on typical fans. On these fans, +12V needs to be connected to the yellow wire. More information on Noctua fan pinouts.

Heat shrink tubing slid over the exposed connectors of a 3-pin fan connector.
Slide the heatshrink over the solder joints.
A hot air gun being used to shrink heat shrink tubing.
Use a hot air gun or one of the many other methods to shrink the heat shrink.
A pair of needle-nose pliers used to pull a single pin from a 3-pin fan header.
Optional: remove the unused header pin. To prevent the short end of the unused header pin from accidentally creating a short circuit in the power supply, it is a good idea to pull it out, clip it off, or cover it with heat shrink or hot glue.
A custom fan wire adapter plugged into a Noctua 60x25mm fan.
If you soldered the wires to a fan header, plug it into the replacement fan connector.

Reassembly

A Phillips-head screwdriver being used to drive a screw into a MeanWell power supply fan.
Attach the fan to the power supply cover. Pay attention to the orientation of the fan. Pointing it in the same direction as the original fan is best. Usually these cooling fans blow air outwards.
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If you are replacing the power supply fan with a thicker one (for example a 60x25mm fan in the place of a 60x10mm) and do not have enough space inside, it is perfectly fine to mount it on the outside of the PSU. As long as the PSU still fits in your 3D printer with the fan attached externally, of course.
A 2-pin fan connector being plugged into its corresponding header in a 3D printer power supply.
Plug the fan connector into the circuit board header.
A hand closing the lid on a MeanWell PSU with silent replaced fan.
Place the cover back on. Make sure to route the cable such that it does not end up in the fan blades.
A screw being driven into a 3D printer PSU for reassembly.
Reattach all remaining screws.

And there you go! A practically silent power supply for your 3D printer, CNC machine, LED strips or other project.

Conclusion

Replacing a loud fan on these commonly used power supplies is fairly straightforward. With only a couple of simple steps you are free of your noisy Creality Ender or CR-x 3D printer power supply.

When choosing a replacement fan, pay extra attention to its dimensions and voltage. The fan’s length, width and voltage all need to match that of the original. Noctua fans are a solid option that combine reliability, silence and sufficient airflow.

Always be careful around potentially charged capacitors. They can cause serious harm when dealt with improperly. Safely discharging them is one of the ways in which you can avoid harm.

If you find this article useful, please share it or leave a comment. I love to hear your feedback and questions!

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