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Single-Phase Transformerless Inverters Associated to PV Systems: A Comparison of Different Topologies

Tarak Salmi#1, Mounir Bouzguenda*2 and Adel Gastli*3

Research Unit on Renewable Energies and Electric Vehicles, National Engineering School of Sfax, P.O.B: W, 3038 Sfax, Tunisia, 1


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 33, P.C. 123, Al-Khoudh, Sultanate of Oman. 2 3 II. PV SYSTEM CONFIGURATION One of the most promising sources of renewable energy is the direct conversion of solar energy into electricity owing to the present state of achieved technology in manufacturing new PV modules with better efficiency and reduced cost and the danger of high depletion of non-renewable energy resources. The reliability of stand alone PV systems becomes one of the major trends in the present design of such systems. The system configuration plays an important factor determining the overall system reliability, efficiency, lifetime and cost. In fact, many configurations are possible and commercially available; we consider here the most known ones: central inverter system configuration, string inverter system configuration and module integrated system configuration [1]. Other concepts are recently introduced such as team-concept and master-slave concept [2] in order to improve the efficiency. These concepts are outlined later. A. Central inverter system configuration In grid connected photovoltaic applications, the central and string inverters are the most commonly used system configurations [2, 3]. The configuration of the central inverter system is shown in Fig. 1 and consists of PV modules arranged in series and parallel to satisfy the desired current and voltage levels. This configuration requires too much DC wiring which increases the cost and decreases safety.

Abstract—A comparative study of the common topologies of inverters is presented in this paper. In addition, most of these topologies include a line transformer in their power stage conversion. In case this transformer is left out, the system would increase its efficiency and decrease its cost. However, systems with no transformer present some issues from safety point of view. This paper focuses on the comparison of most common single-phase inverters and presents an overview over suitable solutions in this case. Index Terms—photovoltaic, single-phase inverters, transformerless inverters, common-mode, unipolar and bipolar switching.

I. INTRODUCTION C-AC converter (inverter) is the most important electronic device in a PV system; in fact it is used to produce AC power from low DC voltage. This makes it very suitable for using AC power tools. Most inverters do their job by performing two mains functions: first they convert the incoming DC into AC and then they step up the resulting AC to main voltage level using a transformer. The goal of the designer is to have the inverter that ensures these functions as efficiently as possible while keeping in mind the interest of reliability and cost. The inverter’s interconnection and configuration with the rest of the components of the stand alone photovoltaic systems have an important impact on the overall system performance. Cost reduction and efficiency improvement were the main goal and concerns of the designers over the last decade and still the same right now. That is why modern inverters avoid the use of line transformers which are expensive, big in size therefore hard to install and systems with transformers have lower efficiency due to power losses in the transformers. However, avoiding transformers affects the safety of the system due to galvanic connection between the grid and the PV array; in this case, leakage currents between the PV array and earth could occur and increase the electromagnetic emissions. Depending on the weather conditions, humidity, and dust covering the PV panel, such current can be dangerous when a person on the ground touches the panel. Many researches were and are still being conducted to avoid or minimize this current.


Fig. 1. Central inverter system

Besides, this design is relatively hard to realize. From the reliability point of view, the system reliability has to be

The team configuration [2] Fig. Module integrated or AC module In this case.multiplied by the reliability of each component in the system. This configuration presents some disadvantages such as: • Mismatching losses by using a Maximum Power Point (MPP) control for a large group of PV modules [2]. some deficiencies still exist due to their low power ratings. Although this configuration has improved the inverter efficiency up to 97%. installation and maintenance. has been utilized since 2002 [2]. It is more practical to design. 2. B. one could expect more increase due to the advancements in semiconductor and filter components [2]. 3. the inverters are controlled in a master slave mode. Fig. 4. due to the little or no design flexibility.4. • Improved reliability and safety. the multi string inverter technology has been developed to combine these advantages. C. String inverter system This configuration can be seen as a compromise between module integrated and central inverter concepts. • Easy fault finding. At low solar radiation. the system is divided into k parallel subsystems [1]. 2). the PV array is divided into smaller string units until every string inverter operates close to its rated power. Multi string inverter [2] . 4 or more inverters connected on the DC side) to get what is called team configuration mentioned in [2. • Losses and risk of electrical arc in DC wiring. To benefit from the advantages of the string inverter and simultaneously the low cost of the central inverter. The configuration. from the efficiency point of view. However.3. 5. String inverter system configuration In this case. and then the module is connected to the AC bus using an AC cable (see Fig. With increasing solar radiation. Module integrated inverter Moreover. The pressure of demand for inverters with high performance has pushed some companies to extend their product by combining the string technology with the masterslave configuration (3. and the interconnection will take place on the AC side as shown in Fig. every string operates independently with its MPP controller. Simulation results mentioned by [2] indicate that a higher energy output of about 4% can be expected. • Poor expandability and adaptability to customers’ requirements. mismatching losses. Fig. and electric shocks are minimized [1-3]. the inverter is connected to its module using a short DC cable. 3] and shown in Fig. DC wiring. Fig. In this configuration. the complete PV array is connected to one inverter only. • Simple design. At very low irradiation. shown in Fig. Additional advantages of this configuration are: • Reduced cost.5.

13]. HERIC inverter [2] This concept is being used in transformerless single-phase inverter bridges. 9.10. a common-mode voltage exists and leads to common-mode current as shown in Fig. it eliminates the continuous current that can be injected into the grid in case the transformer is left out [1.3%. there are some safety issues due to the solar panel parasitic capacitance [1. Unipolar switched inverters have the advantage of higher efficiency due to their reduced switching losses [1. This technology is used by Sunways for commercial inverters. 5.3%) due to the losses caused by the double switching frequency [14]. a higher efficiency. This capacitance value depends on many factors such as PV panel and frame structure. 8. 14]. This technology has increased the efficiency up to 96. Full bridge inverter with AC bypass [11] Fig. This provides human protection against electric chocks [6. In modern technology. a smaller size and a lower cost for the inverter can be obtained in case the transformer is left out [1. In addition. 2. 14]. As previously mentioned. In this case. The first inverter rated 3 kW with an efficiency of 98% was entered in 2003 [2]. Fig. 12. 4] shown in Fig. The working principle of the transformerless technology is discussed in the following section. Fig.6. the use of inverter topologies which avoid the common mode is necessary. 7] and avoids leakage current between the PV and the earth [1]. 8. elimination of the common-mode current requires a big common-mode filter. That is why the half bridge is not popular [14]. weather conditions.The Fraunhofer Institute has developed a new configuration called Highly Efficient Reliable Inverter Concept (HERIC) [1. The half bridge inverter can provide such result. Therefore. humidity and dust covering the PV panel [6]. cell surface.8. To get significant reduction in the size of the filter. 4. This inverter is being used in some commercial transformerless inverters but it still presents quite low efficiency compared with the expected one (95. The use of the full bridge with unipolar PWM is one solution among others [11]. a high input voltage is needed. 9 shows the full bridge inverter with an AC bypass while Fig. TRANSFORMERLESS TECHNOLOGY In the grid-connected PV systems. Fig. the elimination of the line transformer is possible with no impact on the characteristics of the system from the point of view of safety and grid integration. It is as simple as it only needs four IGBTs and has a high efficiency reaching up to 97% [12. the use of boost converter on the DC side takes place in this case. 10 shows the operating principle of the full bridge with bipolar PWM. [7-9]. Operating principle of full bridge inverter with bipolar PWM [11] . However. 13].7. 8. Common-mode current in transformerless inverter [11] Fig. Fig. 10. 6. To improve the inverter’s efficiency.9. This would increase the cost and decrease the efficiency down to 92% [13]. 14]. III. 14]. a bypass branch in the AC side using two IGBTs with freewheeling diodes was proposed to be added [13]. 7 shows the full-bridge inverter. 10. Fig. However. 8. 10. 4. The common-mode voltage can be avoided using the full bridge with bipolar PWM [12. the transformer in the power conversion stage ensures galvanic isolation between the grid and the PV system. Full-bridge inverter [11] However with the unipolar PWM.

Liserre. behaves like a current inverter. Using the micro-inverter technology and investigating the possibility of using this inverter in thin-film shingle roof at the least cost. etc is necessary. Full bridge inverter with DC bypass [11] Meanwhile. T1 and T4 are turned off and T2 and T3 are turned on. Teodorescu. 2-5 Sept. pp.17331737.” PCIM 1998. 10. we can deduce that during the on time (ton=d. Using the common-mode current for switching rather than using common-mode voltage. 1.State of the Art. Calais. the voltage vA0falls until diode of T2 switches on. Borup. “transformerless photovoltaic inverters connected to the grid”. Mutschler P. Nürnberg 26. In fact. “Grid connected Converters for Photovoltaic. IEEE transaction on industrial electronics. May 1998. Therefore. Separate DC sources are required to supply such inverter. IEEE Transactions 2007. T. Italy. Lars E. 8. In addition. which is an important issue in case of transformerless topologies and is limited by different standards [4]. 2390 – 2395. vol. Switches T5 and T6 are controlled with PWM and therefore operate at high frequency [11]. power supply. Conducting further research on cascaded multilevel inverter technology and focusing on the sinusoidal waveform rather than the conventional waveform produced by the full-bridge circuits. “String and module integrated inverters for single phase grid connected photovoltaic systems”. Emiliano Aldabas. common-mode current is: overcome this problem [15]. Unlike diode clamped or flying-capacitor inverters. An overview of transformerless technologies was also presented.Teodorescu and U.-28. the multilevel inverter has the ability to produce a “stepped” output waveform which approaches the sinusoidal waveform better than the conventional waveform produced by the full-bridge one. shown in Fig. However. Engler A. the common-mode voltage is kept constant. in real inverters. the use of a filter just to avoid currents caused by switching mismatch. JMA Myrzik. Zacharias P.Kerekes.July 2nd 2008. 2007. 2008. This topology guarantees no common-mode voltage. “Common Mode Voltage in case of Transformerless PV Inverters Connected to the Grid”.. the common-mode current is kept equal to 0. some problems due to the elimination of the line transformer from the point of view of safety. etc. IV. Furthermore. However. Remus Teodorescu.3%. pp. R. Norum. many reports discussed the disadvantages of normal or two levels inverters due to the high voltage change rates (dv/dt). M. June 23th-26th 2003 Bologna. Pedro Rodríguez. From Fig. If the switching processes are simultaneously performed. it is recommended that future researches should concentrate on: • • Increasing the efficiency and decreasing the cost of transformerless inverters. and M. CONCLUSIONS This paper focused on the most common inverters configurations. both T1 and T4 are on. REFERENCES [1] Fritz Schimpf. 2. I cm = C The common-mode voltage is: dvcm dt (1) Vcm = v AO + v BO 2 (2) It is clear that the common-mode current can be avoided if the common-mode voltage is kept constant and this can be achieved if the switching orders of the IGBTs are seriously adjusted. Without a filter.Another topology was proposed by [11]. It has been validated by simulation in [11]. It was shown that this topology leads to a reduction of losses. At the same time. The operating principle of this proposed topology is widely explained in [11]. “A new high-efficiency single-phase transformerless PV inverter topology”. Then. In fact. power supply. in real inverter. 11.T). In this case. Finally. T. The full bridge with DC bypass. a small common-mode hightfrequency filter is necessary to avoid currents caused by switching mismatch. June 30th. NORPIE. The multilevel inverter was introduced to [7] . a small high frequency filter is necessary due to the switching mismatch. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Fig. vBO increases until diode of T3 switches on. pp. Ideas for Improvement of Transformerless Inverters”.. June 2009.. “Development of a Single-Stage Three-Phase PV Module Integrated Converter”. Gerardo Vázquez. “Control of a single phase three level voltage source inverter for grid connected photovoltaic systems. Hinz H. a small room for improvement still exists. A multilevel inverter then uses a series of single-phase fullbridge (H-bridge) inverters units to convert electric power from DC to AC. this topology reduces the DC current injection. European Conference on Power Electronics and Applications. In this case. pp. Calais M. Sahan B. this topology guarantees up to 96. June 9-11. From the point of view of efficiency. IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics. R. pp. Kerekes. cascade multilevel needs the least number of components to achieve the same number of level voltage and can be used to convert a small DC voltage to a high AC voltage [15]. 1-11.IEEE Conference on Power Tech. Switch pairs T1-T4 and T2-T3 commutate in grid frequency. therefore it encourages its use. 599-606. efficiency and cost were treated and the solutions from the literature were presented. Tamás Kerekes.11. the use of the full-bridge inverter with bipolar switching mode appears to be the best one in case the common-mode current is kept equal to zero and this can be achieved by avoiding the switching mismatch. The operating principle during the negative grid half is the same. Notholt-Vergara A. The voltage applied across the inductor is: Vcm = with vA0=vin and vB0=0 vin + 0 vin = 2 2 (3) • • After ton. pp.

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