ICSET 2008

Leakage current analysis of a single-phase transformer-less PV inverter connected to the grid
Lin Ma, Fen Tang, Fei Zhou, Xinmin Jin and Yibin Tong
1 Abstract –Due to the large surface of the PV generator, its stray capacity with respect to the ground reaches values that can be quite high. When no transformer is used in a grid-connected PV system, common-mode current, which caused by the common mode voltage, can flow through the stray capacitance between the PV array and the ground. It is quite harmful to the body safety and PV system. In order to avoid leakage current, different inverter topologies that generate no varying common-mode voltages, such as bipolar pulse-width modulation (PWM) full-bridge topology, NPC topology have been proposed. From the safety and energy saving viewpoint, it is necessary to develop a higher efficiency topology. In this paper, the generation mechanism of common mode current is discussed. Then different methods used to eliminate the leakage current are compared. Finally, the full-bridge which generates no varying common-mode voltage and requires the same low-input voltage as the bipolar PWM full-bridge is given. The proposed topology has been verified in the simulation based with satisfactory results. on M

I.

INTRODUCTION

grid, and can be used to increase the inverter output voltage level. The line transformer makes possible the use of a full-bridge inverter with unipolar pulse-width modulation (PWM). The inverter is simple. It requires only four insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and has a good trade-off between efficiency, complexity and price. But due to its low frequency, line transformer is large, heavy and expensive. Technological evolution has made possible the implementation, within the inverters, of both ground-fault detection systems and solutions to avoid injecting dc current into the grid. In this paper, the generation mechanism of common mode current is discussed. Then different methods used to eliminate the leakage current are compared. Finally, the full-bridge with dc-bypass (FB-DCBP) topology mentioned in [4] which generates no varying common-mode voltage and requires the same low-input voltage as the bipolar PWM full-bridge is given. The proposed topology has been verified in the simulation based on Matlab with satisfactory results.
II.

Worldwide, grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) systems, particularly low-power single-phase systems (up to 5 kW) are becoming more and more important. Many companies have developed related products such as Germany SMA Crop. SB2500, Sunny Boy Crop. SWR 2500U and Chinese Sun Light Crop. SG2.5KTL. The users are usually private consumers where the owner tries to get the maximum system profitability. Issues such as reliability, high efficiency, small size and weight, and low price are of great importance to the conversion stage of the PV system. An inverter with higher efficiency, smaller size and weight, and a lower price is possible in case the transformer is left out. The transformer-less solutions offer all the above mentioned advantages, but there are some safety issues due to the solar panel parasitic capacitance. The value of parasitic capacitance depends on many factors; some of these are enumerated below: PV panel and frame structure, surface of cells, distance between cells, module frame, weather conditions, humidity and dust covering the PV panel. Quite often, these grid-connected PV systems include a line transformer in the power-conversion stage, which guarantees galvanic isolation between the grid and the PV system, thus providing personal protection. Furthermore, it strongly reduces the leakage current between the PV system and the ground, ensures that no continuous current is injected into the
Manuscript ‘Leakage Current Analysis of a Single-phase Transformer-less PV Inverter Connected to the Grid’ received 6 May 2008. Lin Ma, Guest PhD of IET, Aalborg University, Pontoppidanstraede 101/78, 9220 Aalborg East, Denmark, phone: +45 9940 9252, e-mail: mlin@iet.aau.dk. Fen Tang, Fei Zhou, Xinmin Jin, Yibin Tong, School of Electrical Engineering Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China, e-mail: 06117294@bjtu.edu.cn.

COMMON-MODE LEAKAGE CURRENT

When no transformer is used, a galvanic connection between the ground of the grid and the PV array exists. As a result, a common-mode resonant circuit appears, consisting of the stray capacitor between the PV modules and the ground, the dc and ac filter elements, and the grid impedance (Fig.1). A varying common-mode voltage can excite this resonant circuit and generate a common-mode current. The value of parasitic capacitance depends on many factors; some of these are enumerated below: PV panel and frame structure, surface of cells, distance between cells, module frame, weather conditions, humidity and dust covering the PV panel.

Fig. 1 Common-mode current in a transformer-less system

In [1], it is mentioned that a typical value of 100-200pF exists between the PV cells and the ground. But on condition that the surface of the panels is covered with water, this capacitance will increase to 9nF, 60 times its previous value. In case of a solar array having a considerable surface, the resulting capacitance will have values between 50-150 nF/kW, depending on the weather

285 978-1-4244-1888-6/08/$25.00 c 2008 IEEE

conditions and panel structure. According to the German DIN VDE 0126-1-1 standard, in case of transformer-less PV inverters connected to the grid, there needs to be a Residual Current Monitoring Unit (RCMU), which is sensitive for DC and AC currents and can sense DC fault currents. It must be possible to disconnect PV systems from the grid within 0.3s when the leakage current with respect to ground (peak value) is greater than 300mA as shown in TABLE 1.
TABLE 1 Leakage current mean levels and corresponding disconnection times (DIN VDE 0126- 1-1)

Step2 Leakage current calculation According to Superposition Theorem, the total leakage current icm1 is the sum of icm1, icm2, and icm3, which are generated by the gird and two PWM voltage sources respectively.

icm = icm1 + icm 2 + icm 3

(1)

Leakage current average value mA 30 60 100

Disconnect time s 0.3 0.15 0.04

References [3]-[5] show that in the single phase full bridge circuit, to avoid leakage current, common-mode voltage must be kept constant during all commutation states, that is to say, vcm = 1 (v AO + v BO ) = cte , but the principle is
2

not given. The explanation is given as follows:
Fig. 4 Equivalent circuit of leakage current generated by the grid

A B vAO O
Cp Icm

L/2

Fig. 2 Common-mode leakage current model of single phase full bridge system

L/2 A
Icm2

L/2

Step1 Simplified common-mode leakage current model In full bridge circuit, voltages VAO and VBO are controlled by four switches S1~S4. When the upper switch is on, the corresponding voltage is equal to the dc bus voltage, while the lower switch is on, and voltage is zero. Therefore, we can replace the DC bus and switches with two PWM voltage sources as shown in Fig.3.
vAO

Cp

O

B

Fig. 5 Equivalent circuit of leakage current generated by two PWM voltage sources

the grid can be given as:

As shown in Fig.4, the leakage current icm1 generated by

Fig. 3 Simplified common-mode leakage current model of single phase full bridge system

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icm1

1 jω g L v grid 2 =− ⋅ 1 1 1 1 jω g L ⋅ jω g L + 2 jω g C p 2 jω g C p 1 jω g L + (2) 1 1 2 jω g L + jω g C p 2 1 − j ⋅ v grid 2 = 1 1 − ωgL + ωgCp 4

commutation states, leakage current could be restricted to nearly zero (ignore the leakage current caused by the grid). We can also use (5) to calculate the leakage current.

v cm =

1 (v AO + v BO ) = cet 2

(7)

As shown in Fig.5, the leakage current icm2 and icm3 generated by the PWM voltage sources can be given as:
1 j ⋅ v AO 2

icm 2 =

(3)
Fig. 6 Equivalent circuit of common-mode leakage current model

1 1 − ωL + 4 ωC p 1 j ⋅ v BO 2

icm 3 =

(4)

III. TRADITIONAL TOPOLOGY LEAKAGE CURRENT ANALYSIS
All parameters in the simulation model are given as: L=20mH, switching frequency f=8kHz, grid frequency fg=60Hz, stray capacitance Cp=200nF, grid voltage Vgrid=220V, DC bus voltage Vdc=400V

1 1 ωL + 4 ωC p

Compared to the switching frequency, the grid frequency is low, thus icm1 could be ignored. In an experiment prototype, where the inductor L=20mH, switching frequency f=8kHz, grid frequency fg=60Hz, stray capacitance Cp=200nF, grid voltage Vgrid=220V, DC bus voltage Vdc=400V, the leakage currents have the following relationship: icm icm2/200 icm3/200. In many literatures, the leakage current caused by the grid is not discussed, but it truly exists, even the common-mode voltage kept constant during all commutation states. Step3 Equivalent circuit of common-mode leakage current model Combined with (3) and (4), the total leakage current icm can be given as:
i cm = j ⋅ v cm 1 1 − ω cm L + 4 C p ω cm

5

v cm =

1 (v AO + v BO ) 2

6

According to (5), equivalent circuit of common-mode leakage current model can be obtained in Fig.6. As shown in Fig.6, we can draw a conclusion that if the common-mode voltage kept constant during all

The full-bridge inverter (Fig.2) is a single stage dc-ac conversion topology, which is widely used in PV inverters. Different PWM techniques can be applied to this topology, which can be classified in two groups unipolar and bipolar PWM. In unipolar techniques, S4 is on during the positive half cycle, while switches S1 and S2 commutate at the switching frequency. During the negative cycle, S2 is on and S3 and S4 commutate at the switching frequency. The corresponding waveforms are shown in Fig. 7. In these converters, only two switches are on at the same time, and only one IGBT and one diode commutate at the switching frequency with the whole input voltage. The main drawback, as shown in Fig.7, is that it generates a varying common-mode voltage of amplitude Vdc/2 at the switching frequency. When a line transformer is applied in these converters, unipolar PWM techniques can be applied. If the transformer is not used, the leakage current icm would not be controlled, as shown in Fig.8. In the bipolar PWM techniques, the diagonal pairs of switches S1–S4 and S2–S3 are switched alternatively at the switching frequency. According to (7), if the switching actions are carried out at the same time, no changes appear in the common-mode voltage and no leakage currents are generated. However, the bipolar PWM also has drawbacks. Two IGBTs and two diodes are switching at the switching frequency with the whole input voltage, therefore doubling the switching losses. Additionally, the output voltage changes between Vpv and -Vpv , creating a current ripple twice that obtained in the unipolar modulation (Fig.9).

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unipolar topology, is introduced in the following section.
FB-DCBP TOPOLOGY

IV.

Fig. 7 Simulation waveforms of transformer full-bridge with unipolar PWM from top to down, inductor current, vAB, vAO+vBO, icm

Fig.10 shows the proposed topology named full-bridge with dc-bypass (FB-DCBP) which first introduced in [4]. In this topology, diodes D7, D8 and the capacitive divisor limit the blocking voltage of S5 and S6 to half of the input voltage Vdc. Grid-connected PV systems usually operate with unity power factor. The operational principle of the proposed converter is now analyzed for this case. The proposed topology with the modulation technique described below can operate with power factors other than unity. In these cases, the operation analysis would be similar. In the positive half cycle, S1 and S4 are on. In order to modulate the input voltage, S5 and S6 commutate at the switching frequency with the same commutation orders. S2 and S3 commutate at the switching frequency together and complementary to S5 and S6. In this situation, when S5 and S6 are on, VAB=Vdc and the inductor current, which flows through S5, S1, S4 and S6, increases. The common-mode voltage is

v cm =

1 1 1 (v AO + v BO ) = (v dc + 0) = v dc 2 2 2

(8)

Fig. 8 Simulation waveforms of transformer-less full-bridge with unipolar PWM from top to down, inductor current, vAB, vAO+vBO, icm

When S5 and S6 are turned off and S2 and S3 are turned on, the current splits into two paths: S1 and the freewheeling diode of S3, and S4 and the freewheeling diode of S2. Thus, S2 and S3 are turned on with no current and therefore no switching losses appear. In this situation, voltages VAB and VCD tend to zero and diodes D7 and D8 fix the voltages VAO and VBO to Vdc/2. Since VAB is clamped to zero the current decreases. Now, the common-mode voltage is

v cm =

1 1 1 1 (v AO + v BO ) = v dc + v dc = v dc 2 2 2 2

(9)

Fig. 9 Simulation waveforms of transformer-less full-bridge with bipolar PWM from top to down, inductor current, vAB, vAO+vBO, icm

In order to keep the common mode voltage constant, the commercial transformer-less PV converters mainly employ the bipolar topology, such as SWR 2500U. However, bipolar PWM reduces the full bridge efficiency to 95.3% and requires a bigger inductor than the unipolar modulation. A novel topology combined the merits of both unipolar and bipolar, which does not generate the leakage as bipolar topology and have the same output current wave quality as

Fig. 10 Proposed topology: full bridge with dc-bypass

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[2] [3]

[4]

[5]

Gonzalez, Jesus Lopes, Poblo Sanchis, ‘High-Efficiency Transformerless Single-phase Photovoltaic Inverter [C]’, EPE-PEMC 2006, pp.1895-1900. Barbel Epp, "Big crowds [J]", Sun & Wind energy, February 2005, pp. 69-77. Soeren Baekhoej Kjaer “A Review of Single-Phase Grid-Connected Inverters for Photovoltaic Modules [J]” IEEE transactions on industry applications 2005 Vol.41 pp.1292-1306. Gonzalez, R.; Lopez, J.; Sanchis, P.; Marroyo, L, ‘Transformer-less Inverter for Single-Phase Photovoltaic Systems [J]’, Power Electronics, IEEE Transactions on Volume 22, Issue 2, March 2007, pp.693 – 697. Kerekes, T.; Teodorescu, R.; Borup, U, ‘Transformer-less Photovoltaic Inverters Connected to the Grid [C]’, Applied Power Electronics Conference, APEC 2007 - Twenty Second Annual IEEE, Feb. 2007, pp.1733 – 1737

Fig. 11 Simulation waveforms of FB-DCBP topology from top to down, inductor current, vAB, vAO+vBO, icm

In the negative half cycle, the working mode is similar. As shown in Fig.11, this topology generates no common-mode voltage. Therefore, it allows the use of a small common-mode filter, which is only necessary to avoid currents caused by switching mismatch, power supply, etc. And as the switching voltage half the bipolar switch voltage, so the output filter L could be reduced.
V. CONCLUSION

In this paper, the principle of the common-mode leakage current analysis is given, and different methods used to eliminate the leakage current are compared.. Then, a novel transformer-less topology is introduced. Grid-connected photovoltaic systems usually include a line transformer in their power conversion stage. This transformer guarantees galvanic isolation between the grid and the PV system, thus providing personal protection and avoiding leakage currents between the PV system and the ground. Furthermore, it also ensures that no continuous current is injected into the grid. However, because of its low frequency (60 Hz), the transformer is big, heavy and expensive. The evolution of the technology has made possible the use of an inverter without the line transformer and no impact on the characteristics of the system concerning personal safety and grid integration. If no transformer is used, it is necessary to develop new inverter topologies, as simple as possible, that avoid common-mode voltages. The full-bridge with dc-bypass (FB-DCBP) single-phase PV inverter with six IGBTs and two diodes is proposed. This topology generates no common-mode voltage and has a higher efficiency (compared to bipolar topologies). The topology has been validated by simulation with MATLAB Simulink, and now it is being constructed to verify the experimental results.
VI. REFERENCES [1] H. Schmidt, B. Burger, Chr. Siedle; Gefahrdungspotenzial transformatorloser Wechselrichter- Fakten und Geruchte, 18 Symposium Photovoltaische Sonnenenergie, Staffelstein, Germany 2003.Roberto

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