Tattoo Power Supply Settings Walkthrough

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 09, 2022
    Last Updated: February 9, 2022

Tattoo power supplies can be challenging to understand and a little overwhelming, but the first thing you need to know is what a power supply does. 

The power supply transfers electricity to your tattoo machine to enable you to complete your beautiful body art. You also control exactly how much electricity is being delivered to your tattoo machine at any one time via your power supply.

We’ll let you know just what types of power supplies there are out there and how the settings on these work.

Tattoo Power Supplies

All tattoo power supplies will give you a power switch and connection points (jacks) for your tattoo machine and your foot pedal. 

Some of the basic models will have a dial where you can check the voltage of the power supply. The more expensive models will have a digital screen where you can see the voltage clearly.

Dual tattoo power supplies will offer more connection points, allowing you to use more than one tattoo machine at any one time.

Tattoo Power Supply Settings Walkthrough

If you’re starting out as a tattoo artist, it can be overwhelming to understand what everything is used for, and how all the equipment works. Below is a guide to all settings that you’ll find on your power supply.

Power Switch – This does exactly what it says and switches your power supply on and off. 

Voltage Dial – This will allow you to increase or decrease the voltage that’s given out from your tattoo machine. This can be a dial that you turn, or on a digital power supply, it may be buttons to press.

Voltage Display – This displays the amount of voltage given out from your machine, so you can track what voltage you’re using. It can be shown on an analog display or digitally.

Dual Switch – Some power supplies allow you to connect more than one tattoo machine. The switch will allow you to move the power between the machines.

Duty Cycle – The duty cycle is the percentage of time that the machine is on, in other words, how long the needle is in the skin. This is when the contact screw is touching the front spring, and therefore, opening the circuit. Most tattoo artists aim for a 50 percent duty cycle.

The Right Voltage

Tattoo machine power supplies offer between 4 to 12 volts, and this is suitable for all kinds of tattoo machines and tattoo styles. The general rule is that the higher the voltage, the faster your tattoo machine will work.

However, you need to think about the type of tattooing that you’re doing, and the detail that’s required. Fast isn’t always the best. Some tattoo machines are mechanically tuned to run fast or run slow. By using your tattoo machine more, you will understand what voltage is required.

As a basic guide, when doing linework, you need to aim for a voltage of 7.5 to 8.5 volts. When shading, most tattoo artists will use a voltage of 8 to 10 volts.

Setting Up Your Power Supply

When you’re first setting up your power supply, you need to make sure it’s set up correctly. This could be dangerous if you don’t set it up properly. The first thing you need to do is to read the manufacturer’s instructions. This may seem a bit of a bore, but they know what they’re talking about.

Then make sure that your foot pedal and tattoo machine clip cord are connected and plugged into the right slots on your power supply. You can then switch on the power supply.

Hold your tattoo machine in your hand and push down on the foot pedal. You should then get an even buzz from your tattoo machine. If you don’t get the buzz, turn the voltage up slightly.

Before using the tattoo machine on anyone’s skin, you’ll want to check that the needle is coming out of the end of the tattoo machine and that the armature bar is moving up and down quickly. 

You’re then good to go and start tattooing!


Tattoo power supplies can be a little complicated, as is everything to do with electricity and power. This is especially so if you’re new to tattooing and haven’t used one before.

Once you get used to your power supplies settings and understand how it works, it will become easier. Do your research before choosing a tattoo power supply to make sure that you get one that’s suitable for your requirements.

Just remember, that the tattooing process can be dangerous, and therefore, it needs to be taken seriously. If you feel like there’s something not right with your tattoo machine or your power supply, stop what you’re doing and get it checked out.

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