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International Journal of Electronics and Computer Science Engineering

Available Online at


ISSN- 2277-1956

Advancement in solar PV Inverter

Devendra Doda 1, Ankit Kumar Sharma
Department of Electrical Engg.
Assistant Professor ,JNU,Jaipur
Senior Lecturer, JNU Jaipur

Abstract- This teardown article will delve into the architectural design and components of a solar inverter card starting
from the Solar panel DC inputs and working through the DC to AC conversion process to the AC output that is sent out
to the power grid. Features needed to be implemented into such a design to meet various safety and other performance
standards as well as stringent power company demands upon the signal that is put onto their grid will be shown.
In the process, major elements and component choices made in the design of the series of solar inverters, from the EMI
suppression capacitors with a special emphasis on isolation and protection, through the smart use of optically isolated

Photovoltaic (PV) power systems consist of multiple components, such as PV solar panels that convert sunlight into
electricity, mechanical and electrical connections and mountings, and solar power inverters, which are essential for
conveying solar-generated electricity to the grid. Figure 1 shows a generic, but all-encompassing and complete
Photovoltaic system block diagram.

Figure 1-Complete Photovoltaic System block diagram

The inverters main function is to convert variable-voltage DC from sunlight on the PV panels or battery storage to a
specific AC voltage and frequency for use by appliances and feedback to the grid. The AC output varies by region
with 60Hz 115VAC used in North America, and 50Hz 230VAC in much of Europe.
The inverter card has a multi-string technology with two independent DC converters making highly complex
generator configurations easy to implement. This section of the input is seen in Figure 2 on the lower left quadrant

ISSN 2277-1956/V1N4-2192-2197

Advancement in solar PV Inverter

of the image. Each of the two DC inputs uses as part of the filter, and the filter also includes DC common mode
filter inductors wound on a common core plus a 15uF boost converter smoothing capacitor series shown in the same
lower left quadrant to Figure 2.
Also on the DC input side, two relays are used to monitor insulation resistance in accordance with IEC 61557-8 in
pure IT AC systems. See Figure 2 upper left quadrant. Measured are insulation resistances between system lines and
system earth. When falling below the adjustable threshold values, the output relays switch into the fault state.With
these relays, a superimposed DC measuring signal is used for measurement. From the superimposed DC measuring
voltage and its resultant current the value of the insulation resistance of the system to be measured is calculated.
Note the Hall-effect current measuring transducers in the diagram of Figure 2.One of the most impressive features
evident on this SMA inverter card is the use of very high quality active and passive components, enhancing
reliability and performance of this power inverter design.

Figure 2-Solar Technology AG solar power inverter

The first DC function encountered in the signal chain is the MPP function. This inverter task compensates for
environmental conditions that affect power output. For example, PV panel output voltage and current are highly
susceptible to variations in temperature and light intensity per cell unit area (referred to as "irradiance"). The cell
output voltage is inversely proportional to cell temperature, and cell current is directly proportional to irradiance.
The wide variation of these and other key parameters causes the optimum inverter voltage/current operating point to
move about significantly. The inverter addresses this issue by using closed-loop control to maintain operation at the
so-called MPP, where the product of voltage and current is at its highest value.An alternative, the incremental
inductance algorithm, solves the derivative of the power curve for 0, which is by definition a peak, then settles at the
resolved voltage level. While this approach does not have the inefficiency caused by oscillation, it risks other
inefficiencies because it may settle at a local peak instead of the MPP. A combined approach maintains the level
determined by the incremental inductance algorithm, but scans at intervals over a wider range to avoid selecting
local peaks. This approach, while the most efficient, also requires the greatest amount of performance on the part of
the controller..Figure 3 shows how the determination of MPP can vary with different conditions.

Figure 3-MPP under various conditions as weather, time of day and heat of of the panels

ISSN 2277-1956/V1N4-2192-2197

IJECSE,Volume1,Number 4
Devendra Doda and Ankit Kumar Sharma

A capacitor is commonly used to store the energy that must be stored and retrieved by the inverter. This capacitor is
usually located on the PV bus, and has to be large enough to control the voltage ripple across the bus. This ripple
would be detrimental to MPPT accuracy otherwise.Electrolytic capacitors are very well suited to control the ripple
because of their low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) and high capacitance per volume. Boost DC-to-DC step-up
converterNext in line is the step-up DC-to-DC converter that boosts the DC input to the switching MOSFET bridge
so that the inverter can efficiently create a 230V, 50Hz AC sine wave to send on to the grid. This DC-to-DC boost
converter, along with the H5 switching bridge, are contained in the separate power module that is attached to the
back side of the inverter card. Figure 4 shows the essential basic DC/AC conversion circuit or inverter in a typical
transformer-less configuration, in which:
DC/DC conversion raises or lowers the incoming PV voltage, adjusting its output for greatest efficiency in the
DC/AC conversion stage
The capacitor provides further voltage buffering
The IGBTs or MOSFETs in the H4 bridge shown use a switching frequency in the range of 20kHz to create an AC
The coils smooth the switched AC into a sinusoidal signal for use in generating a grid-frequency AC output.
The idea behind transformer-less switching has existed long before the PV market was even developed. Device
engineers have known that a pair of field-effect transistors operates most efficiently in a complete ON or OFF state,
when no current flows through them, and they dissipate no power. Thus, amplifying an ideal square wave would
theoretically be 100% efficient. If a signal is modulated by a much higher-frequency square wave, the result is pulse
width modulation (PWM), and the corresponding circuit is called Class D. In this manner, it is possible to convert
DC to DC, or efficiently switch DC to AC. For solar inverters, the technology was not available in the past because
of the high cost of the switching MOSFETs and IGBTs. These, however, are getting cheaper and faster every year,
so the technology has become more cost-effective than analog switching into large masses of copper and iron. The
same technology is making electric cars feasible.Transformer-less inverters have been available for several years
now in Europe.Transformer-less inverters are significantly lighter than their galvanically isolated counterparts and
can offer a wider range of operating voltages than traditional inverters because of their advanced switching circuitry.

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Advancement in solar PV Inverter

Figure 4-Transformer-less DC/AC conversion circuit

The downside of not having galvanic isolation is the possibility of a ground fault destroying the inverter and causing
an electrical fire. With a transformer, if the secondary is shorted, then all of the current will flow through the
primary and will (hopefully) be stopped by a thermal disconnect once the transformer overheats. Without one, if no
protection exists or if the protection fails to detect the ground fault and trip, the large MOSFETs or IGBTs will
immediately fail in a rather catastrophic manner. Fortunately, the likelihood of such an event occurring is extremely
remote, and all such inverters are required to have ground fault protection as per UL 1741 requirements. The burden,
however, remains on the installer to insure that back-feed current in the case of an undetected ground fault is taken
Thus, provided that the correct simple calculations are performed, there are few downsides and numerous benefits to
transformer-less inverters. However, the PV inverter provides still many other critical functions.
The PV inverter also offers a grid disconnect capability to prevent the PV system from powering a utility that has
become disconnected; that is, an inverter remaining on-line during grid disconnect or delivering power through an
unreliable connection can cause the PV system to back-feed local utility transformers, creating thousands of volts at
In addition to these tasks, the inverter also supports manual and automatic input/output disconnect for service
operations, EMI/RFI conducted and radiated suppression, ground fault interruption, and PC-compatible
communication interfaces. A typical single-phase PV inverter like the SMA board uses a digital power controller,
the DSP, and a pair of high-side/low-side gate drivers to drive a pulse-width modulated (PWM) full-bridge
converter. Full H-bridge topology is used in this and many good inverter applications because it has the highest
power carrying capability of any switch mode topology. SMA uses the H5 technology where a fifth power
semiconductor between the input capacitor and H-bridge inhibits a loss inducing oscillation of electrical charge and
clearly lowers the power loss once again. The H5 is a marked improvement over the classic inverter bridge circuit
(H4 topology) showing maximum conversion efficiencies of 98%. To prevent a fluctuating potential of the PVgenerator the architecture disconnects the DC-side from the AC-side during the freewheeling periods of the inverter.
The H5-Topology shown in Figure 5 only needs one more switch compared to the normal full H4 bridge seen in
Figure 4. The switches T1, T2 and T4 are operated at high frequency of around 20kHz, T1 and T3 at grid frequency,
in this case 50Hz. When free-wheeling T5 is open, this disconnects the DC- and AC-side. The free-wheeling-path is
closed via T1, and the inverse diode of T3 for positive, and T3 and the Diode of T1 for negative current.

ISSN 2277-1956/V1N4-2192-2197

IJECSE,Volume1,Number 4
Devendra Doda and Ankit Kumar Sharma

Figure 5-H5 bridge topology

The PWM voltage switching action synthesizes a discrete, but noisy, 50Hz current waveform at the full bridge
output. The high-frequency noise components are inductively filtered and produce the moderately low amplitude
50Hz sine-wave. The H-bridge works by asymmetric unipolar modulation. The high side of the asymmetric Hbridge should be driven by 50Hz half-wave dependent on the polarity of the mains while the opposite low side is
PV inverter design requires many design compromises that can cause designers heartburn if the wrong trade-offs are
made. PV systems need highly-efficient inverters because higher efficiency inverters run cooler and last longer than
their less efficient counterparts, and they generate cash savings for both the PV system manufacturer and user.
A control processor for an inverter has to meet a number of real-time processing challenges in order to effectively
execute the precise algorithms required for efficient DC/AC conversion and circuit protection. MPPT and battery
charge control, while only needing near-real time response, do involve algorithms with a high level of processing.
Digital signal controllers, combining high-performance DSPs and integrated control peripherals, offer an excellent
solution for real-time control of the DC/AC converter bridge, MPPT and protection circuitry in solar power
inverters. DSP controllers inherently support high-speed mathematical calculations for use in real-time control
Integrated peripherals such as analog to digital converters (ADCs) and pulse-width-modulated outputs (PWMs)
make it possible to directly sense inputs and control power IGBTs or MOSFETs, saving system space and expense.
On-chip flash memories aid in programming and data collection, and communication ports simplify design for
networking with units such as meters and other inverters. The higher efficiency of DSP controllers in solar power
inverters has already been demonstrated by designs reporting that conversion efficiency losses were cut by more
Typically, the controllers firmware is implemented in a state machine format for the most efficient execution using
non-blocking (fall-through) code, which prevents execution from inadvertently entering an endless loop. Firmware
execution is hierarchal, typically servicing the highest priority functions more frequently than lower order functions.
In the PV inverter case, isolated feedback loop compensation and power switch modulation are usually the highest
priorities, followed by critical protection functions to support safety standards, and finally followed by efficiency
control or Maximum Power Point (MPP). The remaining firmware tasks pertain mostly to optimizing operation at
the present operating point, monitoring system operation and supporting system communication.

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Advancement in solar PV Inverter

Twelve individually controlled enhanced PWM (EPWM) channels provide variable duty cycles for high-speed
switching in the Converter Bridge and battery charging circuits. Each of the EPWMs has its own timer and phase
register, allowing phase delay to be programmed in, and all of the EPWMs can be synchronized to drive multiple
stages at the same frequency. Multiple timers give access to multiple frequencies, and fast interrupt management is
available to support additional control tasks. Multiple standard communication ports, including the CAN bus;
provide simple interfaces to other components and systems.

Figure 6: Alternative energy systems need isolated connections (red) between the high voltage power circuits and
the controller managing power flow.
PV systems are relative newcomers to the energy production field. Like other emerging technologies, PV systems
will be subject to rapid changes as the technology matures. As a result, PV systems will undoubtedly continue to
evolve to meet market demands for higher capacity, lower cost and higher reliability. As this happens, PV inverters
will expand in functionality, and designers will demand more integrated, application-specific, component-level
devices. As these events unfold, PV power systems will become more widespread and ultimately represent a viable
segment of the utility mainstream that significantly reduces the dependence on fossil fuels.
1.From SMA Solar Technology website:
2.Texas Instruments Application Report #SLVA446November 2010, "Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems
3.Texas Instruments Application Report #SPRAAE3May 2006, "TMS320C2000 DSP Controllers: A Perfect Fit for
4.Avago "Integrate Protection with Isolation In Home Renewable Energy Systems" White paper
5."Analysis and Modeling of Transformer less Photovoltaic Inverter Systems," by Tamas Kerekes, Aalborg
University Institute of Energy Technology Denmark, August 2009, second print ISBN: 978-87-89179-85-8.

ISSN 2277-1956/V1N4-2192-2197