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Standby power is the energy used by some products when they are turned off but still plugged
into a power outlet. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) defines standby power
as a products minimum power consumption while plugged in. Standby power is also called
vampire draw, vampire power, phantom load or leaking electricity. The most common
appliances with standby power use are televisions, VCRs, microwave ovens, and all devices with
external power supplies (such as chargers for mobile telephones). Any appliance with a remote
control, such as room air conditioners and many audio products, will also consume standby
power. Many modern home appliances contain clocks, memories, remote controls,
microprocessors and instant-on features that consume electricity whenever they are plugged in.
And most appliances are plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While such standby power
often doesnt amount to much, it really adds up. Timers and remote controls in home appliances
are for the convenience of the user. The built-in microcontroller is in standby state awaiting user
commands while the appliances are either turned off or plugged in. According to Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), as much as 10 percent of a typical residential electric bill
is spent on standby power In 1999, the International Energy Agency (IEA) proposed the OneWatt Initiative. which suggested reducing the standby power of all electrical appliances below
1W. The strategy has encouraged manufacturers to develop energy-efficient home appliances.
However, energy consumption in standby mode remains nontrivial, as the number of appliances
in a house is increasing.
Table 1.1 lists the standby power consumption of major house hold devices measured in
Table 1.1 Average standby power of residential appliances


Average standby power consumption



Digital cable Set top box


Mobile phone charger


Laser printer




LCD computer


Microwave oven

Musical instruments

Air conditioner

CD player


Microwave radiation is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength ranging from one meter
to one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. The prefix
micro indicates that microwaves are small compared to waves used in typical radio
broadcasting, in that they have shorter wavelength. Microwaves are used in spacecraft
communication, television, telephone communications satellites, microwave ovens and in radar

Fig 2.1 Electromagnetic spectrum

Microwave ovens use various combinations of electrical circuits and mechanical devices to
produce and control an output of microwave energy for heating and cooking. Generally speaking
the systems of a microwave oven can be divided into two fundamental sections, the control
section and the high-voltage section. The control section consists of a timer (electronic or
electromechanical), a system to control or govern the power output, and various interlock and
protection devices. The components in the high-voltage section serve to step up the house
voltage to high voltage. The high voltage is then converted into microwave energy


Electricity from the wall outlet travels through the power cord and enters the microwave oven
through a series of fuse and safety protection circuits as shown in Fig 2.2. These circuits include
various fuses and thermal protectors that are designed to deactivate the oven in the event of an
electrical short or if an overheating condition occurs. If all systems are normal, the electricity
passes through the interlock and timer circuits. When then oven door is closed, an electrical path
is also established through a series of safety interlock switches. Setting the oven timer and
starting a cook operation extends this voltage path to the control circuits.

Fig 2.2 Working of microwave oven

Generally, the control system includes either an electromagnetic relay or an electronic switch
called a triac as shown in Fig 2.3.

Fig 2.3 Control section of microwave oven

When all systems are activated, the control circuit generates a signal that causes the
relay or triac to activate, thereby producing a voltage path to the high voltage transformer. By
adjusting the on-off ratio of this activation signal, the control system can govern the
application of voltage to the high voltage transformer, thereby controlling the on-off ratio of
the magnetron tube and therefore the output power of the microwave oven. Some models use
a fast-acting power-control relay in the high-voltage circuit to control the output power.
In the high-voltage section (Fig 2.4), the high-voltage transformer along with a special
diode and capacitor arrangement serve to increase the typical household voltage, of about
115V, to the high amount of 3000V. The magnetron tube convert the high voltage into
microwaves for cooking.

Fig 2.4 High-voltage section of microwave oven

The microwave energy is transmitted into a metal channel called waveguide, which
feeds the energy into the cooking area where it encounters the slowly revolving metal blades
of the stirrer blade. Some models use a type of rotating antenna while others rotate the food
through the waves of energy on a revolving carousel. In any case, the effect is to evenly
disperse the microwave energy throughout all areas of the cooking compartment. Some
waves go directly toward the food, others bounce off the metal walls and flooring; and the
metal screen reflects the microwaves off the door. So, the microwave energy reaches all

surfaces of the food from every direction. All microwave energy remains inside the cookinG
cavity. When the door is opened, or the timer reaches zero, the microwave energy stops-just
as turning off a light switch stops the glow of the lamp.

Most appliances have more than one operational mode, and these modes usually have
different power requirements. There is a wide range of appliance types, and a wide range of
features is available for any one appliance. Consequently, researchers have used definitions
for standby power that are somewhat different. Among the various definitions, the Australian
National Appliance & Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee (NAEEEC) provides the
most detailed description.
(1) OFF mode:
When the electrical product is connected to power but is not
executing any function, and if the device has a remote control function,
that remote control cannot activate the device directly from this mode.
(2) Passive standby mode:
When the electrical product is not in execution of its primary
function, but the standby mode is enabled (usually for use by the remote
control device), or in execution of other functions (such as displays or
clocks). When the electrical is not plugged in, the equipment is able to
make use of battery power under this mode.
(3) Active standby mode:
Active standby mode refers to an electrical product in the enable
mode, but not in execution of its main functions (for example, a VCR in
enable mode, but not showing a video or recording).
(4) Delay start mode:
In this mode, the user is able to schedule the electrical product,
through a computer program to perform a certain function later, which ca

The main concept of the design is that if no one is using the microwave oven it should be
completely cut off. Ac power supply can be turned off completely by means of a latching
relay. If one wants to use the microwave oven, the ac power source is connected again. The
block diagram of the ultra-low standby power microwave oven is shown in Fig 4.1.

Fig 4.1 System block diagram

The output voltage of the ac/dc converter is denoted as VDC, the ultracapacitor (UC)
voltage as VUC, and the output voltage of the boost circuit as VCC. The VDC is the UC charge
source, and the VUC is the input of the boost circuit. The VCC is the required operation voltage
that supports the MCU and the operation of other modules.
In this design, a dc voltage module is used to reduce the standby power. The dc voltage
module includes a limiter circuit, ultracapacitor, boost circuit, VUC detector circuit, latching
relay and microcontroller unit. The system also includes a door switch module, start button
module and a load current sensor module. The door switch module detects the opening of the
door. And, the start button module is designed to charge the dc voltage module when the
oven is initialized.
A dc voltage module consists of a limiter circuit, an ultracapacitor, a boost circuit, a VUC
detector circuit and a latching relay. The microcontroller unit controls the VUC detector circuit
and the boost circuit to keep VUC and VCC to the predefined voltage levels. The UC thus
functioning as a battery supports the boost circuit input. The VUC detector circuit supplies the
normal VUC to the boost circuit. The boost circuit outputs the regular voltage VCC which
supports the MCU and the operation of other modules. The limiter circuit limits the charge
current to the UC.
The limiter circuit limits the charge current to the UC. Limiter circuitry as shown in Fig
4.2 prevents the overloading.

Fig 4.2 Series negative limiter circuit of dc voltage module

Here a series-negative limiter is used to limit the negative portion of the input

An ultracapacitor, also called a supercapacitor, is an electrical component capable of holding
hundreds of times more electrical charge quantity than a standard capacitor. This
characteristic makes ultracapacitors useful in devices that require relatively little current and
low voltage. In some situations, an ultracapacitor can take the place of a rechargeable lowvoltage
electrochemical battery. Ultracapacitors keep working at temperatures far below
freezing. Here the UC functions as a battery to support the boost circuit input.
The principal disadvantage of the ultracapacitor, compared with older capacitor designs,
is the fact that the ultracapacitor cannot withstand high voltage. While an electrolytic
capacitor might be rated at several hundred DC volts, ultracapacitors have maximum ratings
of only about 5 DC volts.
A boost circuit provides a power supply solution for those MCU applications powered by
batteries. In this design the UC supports the boost regulators input voltage (VUC) as a
battery. Fig.4.3 shows the boost circuit design. The output voltage is VCC. The input voltage
VUC must be kept to a sufficient value between VUCmin and VUCmax so that the output
VCC=3.3V. The values of VUCmin and VUCmax are determined by the measurement method
as is
shown in Fig 4.4.

Fig 4.3 Boost circuit

In Fig 4.4 (a), the VUC is increased from 0 V to 2.4 V as the UC charged. The VUC

must be higher than 1.3 V to obtain VCC=3.3 V. The MCU and other module circuit
operations require VCC=3.3 V in the MCU active mode.
In Fig. 4.4 (b) the VUC is decreased from 2.4 V to 0 V as the UC discharged. The VUC
is lower than 0.5 V so that the VCC cannot keep within 3.3 V. Thus by the measurement
curves the VUCmin is determined at 1.2 V and the VUCmax at 2.4 V.

Fig 4.4 VCC versus VUC graph of boost regulator

The MCU operates in the sleep mode most of the time, to save the power. When the
MCU is in the sleep mode, the MCU, the door switch module and the keypad require a
minimum of VCC=1.1 V to operate. Other module circuits do not require any operation
voltage VCC. Thus the boost regulator operating in the disabled mode lowers the input
current consumed by the UC by using the MCU in the sleep mode.
In this design the MCU operates in the sleep mode, waking up to the active mode
every 13.5 secs to pump up the VCC to 3.3 V. If the time required is longer than 13.5 secs
the VCC would become lower than 1.1 V, and the MCU would shut down. If the time is
shorter than 13.5 secs, an insufficient amount of power saving would take place. If the
door is opened or the keypad is pressed during the sleep time, the MCU will wake up to
the active mode immediately to pump up the VCC to 3.3 V, thus turning on the oven
operation functions. The output voltage VCC and the control signals in the MCU sleep and

active modes are demonstrated in Fig. 4.5.

Fig 4.5 VCC and control signals in MCU sleep and active modes.
The boost circuit needs an ac/dc converter to charge the UC to support the VCC. The
latching relay is placed on the primary side of the ac/dc converter as a switch controlled by
the MCU in Fig 4.6. The VUC is connected to the ADC input channel 1 (AN1) of the MCU
that digitizes the VUC to an 8-bit binary representation. The MCU detects the value
representing the VUC to judge when to charge and when to stop charging the UC.
Fig 4.6 VUC detector circuit and latching relay
When the VUC has decreased to 1.2V, the MCU detects this by means of the ADC
Then the armature of the latching relay move to the reset contact. So the converter turns on to
charge the UC, thus raising the VUC. After the converter has charged the VUC to 2.4 V, the
MCU causes the armature to move to the set contact that turns off the converter, thus
stopping the charge.
The VUC and the power consumption of the converter with respect to charge and
discharge times in the standby state are shown in Fig. 4.7. The power consumption of the
discharge time is 0 W and the discharge time is 9.55104 secs which is measured at the ac
source. The converter only consumes power during the charge time.
Fig 4.7 Standby state VUC and the converter power consumption
If there is a power failure and if the VUC has decreased to 1.2 V, the MCU causes the
armature of the latching relay to move to the reset contact. As the UC cannot be charged, the

VUC keeps decreasing until the MCU shut down. With power restoration, as the armature of
the latching relay still connects to the reset contact, the UC would be auto-charged to support
this design, which is shown in Fig. 4.8
Fig 4.8 Auto charging of UC at power restoration


The door switch is set on the doorframe of the oven to sense when the door is open, as
depicted in Fig 4.9.
Fig 4.9 Door switch module circuit
In fig 4.9 the door switch output signal is connected to an external interrupt input
of the MCU. If the door is opened, the MCU wakes up from its sleep mode and turns on the
oven operating functions, thus enabling the oven and allowing the user to set the control
panel. The delay from opening the door to the operation functions being turned on is less than
1 msec, which the user never notices. The power consumption of the module is presented in
Table 4.1
Table 4.1 Power consumption of door switch module
Door closed, switch turned off and keypad not pressed,
MCU in sleep mode, oven operation functions turned off
Door opened, switch turned or and keypad pressed, MCU
in active mode, oven operation functions turned on


A start button is placed in the circuit to make sure that the relay is reset when the oven is
first plugged into ac power and there is no electric power in the UC at the beginning of the
operation. The design of the start button module circuit is shown in Fig.4.10. The start button
circuit includes five contacts: three normal open (NO) and two normal close (NC).

Fig 4.10 Start button module design

If the latching relay connects to the set contact and there is no electric power in the
UC, the user just presses the start button. The line power is then connected to the converter
by the NO1, the UC charge path is turned off by the NC2 since the VDC rises to 3 V
immediately, and the VDC is connected to the reset coil of the relay by the NO2 at the same
time. Thus both the reset coil is enabled and the relay is reset.
The UC is being charged at the beginning of the operation. The switching time from
pressing the button to the relay reset is less than 20 msecs, and the user just needs to touch the
start button once at the beginning.


Once the oven begins to heat food, the function must continue with power coming from
the relay until the cooking is finished. The load current sensor module has been designed for
this requirement. Fig. 4.11 shows this module in which the toroidal coil inductor is used as a
load current sensor that detects whether the oven is heating.

Fig 4.11 Load current sensor module circuit

When the oven heats food it consumes a large ac load current (about 1-2 A) which,
after passing through an inductor, induces a small sinusoidal voltage signal v. v is a small
sinusoidal voltage signal induced by the toroidal coil inductor.
The amplitude of the induced voltage signal is proportional to the amplitude of the
load current. This small induced voltage signal, which is then amplified, is called the load
current sensed signal. Load current sensed signal is then input to the MCU ADC input
channel 2 (AN2) to determine whether the microwave oven is heating or not. For power
saving the NMOS QL is connected to the amplifier power ground, and the gate is connected
to the MCU I/O pin. When the MCU needs the load current sensed signal, it enables the
amplifier, and after it has obtained the load current sensed signal, it sets the I/O pin low to
disable the amplifier. If the microwave oven is heating, a signal is generated, if it is not
heating, there is no signal. The MCU judges whether the oven is heating or not by means of
these two signal classifications.
The load current sensed signal is an analog and is converted to a digital signal by
means of the MCU ADC. The sensed signal period is 16.67 msecs. To obtain an accurate
judgment the signal length should be longer than one period. Consequently the signal is
sampled at 8 sample points during one period. To curtail the operation, the ADC captures 21
sample points in the load current sensed signal. These signal digital numbers are stored in the
general purpose registers (GPRs). The MCU processes the digital numbers to judge whether
the oven is heating or not. The pseudo-code of the procedure is shown as follows.
Step 1: Start ADC.
Step 2: Store the input signal digital numbers in GPRs as x(n).
x(n) = {The signal digital numbers}, 0n N.
N is the sum of the GPRs that store the signal digital numbers.
Step 3: Bitwise OR of x(n) and x(n+1).
x(n+1) = x(n) OR x(n+1)
Step 4: Read x(k), k=N-1.
if (x(k)>threshold value), the oven is heating,
else (x(k)<threshold value), the oven is not heating.
Step 5: End.

At Step 3, the bitwise OR function maintains a high level of sensed signal digital
numbers in the GPRs during the signal sample interval. After Step 3, if the value of x(k) is
large, this can confirm that the oven is heating. If the value of x(k) is small, the oven is
known not to be heating. The procedure of the load current sensed signal digital numbers is
illustrated in Fig. 4.12.

Fig 4.12 Digital number procedure of load current