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J.A. Ferreira, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg,RSA H.W. van der Broeck, Philips Research Laboratories Aachen, Germany
Historically 220V/50Hz or llOV/6OHz have become the s t a " I for power distribution in midentid and commercial buildings. During the past decades the numbex of electronic appliances increased rapidly, and the state of art is CMently that almost al cunsumer l equipment contain electronics. Electronic circuits prefer DC supplies and the sinusoidal line voltage complicatesthe coI1stlllction of power supplies, since rectifiers cause current distortion and EMI problems. Thus,this report investigates the suitability of d i h n t waveforms for the residential power network of the future. Three alternative voltage wave forms have been studied. These are a DC voltage, a UHtIIZ square wave voltage and a 5OHz square wave voltage. It has been investigatedwhether these system are compatible to the present mains and to todays appliances and consumer products. A power conditiom is described which is capable to provide the considered waveforms. F d y some measllrements have been taken to illushate the performance of alternative distribution systems. Keywords: Power distribution,residential, commercial,preconditioner,square wave voltage


Historically 22OV/5OHz o 1iOV/6OHz have become the r standard for power distribution in residential and commercial buildings. During the past decades the number of electronic a p p h n c e s increased rapidly, and the state of att is c m n t l y that almost all consumer equipment contain eledronics. Electronic circuits prefer DC supplies and the sinusoidal line voltage complicates the construction of power supplies, since redifiers cause current distortion and EMI problems. The question is whether other more suitable methods of power distribution exist and whether they are practical. Since the power level is adjusted by phase control the power fador is generally prA o o . poor power factor requires ovemrting of the electrical supply and involves extra ament costs.

Phase control

EM1 Switch mode power supplies tend to cause EMI problems, which is solved by using an additional high frequency filter at the input. The filter has to be designed to fullill compulsory EMI standards. Line vdtage fluctuation and h-ensieo*, Large variation of the line voltage amplitude is possible and has to be taken i t account when designing electronic no equipment. Additional protection circuitry and larger component rating become necessary.


Domestic electronic equipment can be classified i t no two p u p s in so far as their power supply is concerned; r e d i e d input for consumer e l e n i c s , where switch
mode power supplies are applied, and phase control for speed control of AC series motors and control of resistive loads. Consumer electronics include video and audio equipment and high fquency lighting power supplies. Resistive loads can be heating elements or electric light bulbs (dimming). The following problems exist with line voltage equipment: (seealso fig.1)

3v 22150Hz

0 0


Rectifiirs Low frequency harmonics a~ jresent in the line currents causing line distortion. Stricter interference standards can be expected in future in which case additional line conditiom may be required.
6 1993 The European Power ElectronicsAssociation

I ,





Figure 1 Electronic equipment operating at

the standard mains


Alternative energy sources The AC l n voltage is ie not compatible to direct connectionof alternative energy sources o energy stomge elements. Examples are r photovoltaic cells and batteries. In both c w s additional line couplers are needed, which contributes sigruficantly to the cost of the equipment. Communkatioobetweenelectronic equipment If the utility line is used to transmit a high fitquency carrier signal, the signal may interfere with equipmentin other buildings, and is therefore regulated by the authorities. Depending on which loads are connected it
may not function well.


3inverter drive



Figwe 2

Many of above mentioned problems can be solved by including preconditionen in electronic equipment.Such ul a preconditioner comprises a f l bridge mriikr, a step up chopper and filter and solves the problems of power distortion, gives u i y power factor and compensatesfor nt voltage fluctuations. However the increase in cost and sizemaybeunacoeptableinmanyins~.

Electronic equip1 :nt operating at a DC power bus

The proposed DC power bus has the following features:

a) choppen for power control can be directly connected, and power flow will be continuous. (e.g. heaters, lighting and DC motors)
b) Invertem can be directly comected, which makes it easy to introduce variable speed indwtion motor drives for domestic appliances. c) The DC voltages and b u p l i i chokes make it possible to introdtuce an AC canier for communication.

Another approach to the above mentioned problems associated with the AC line voltage would be to change the line voltage waveform locally within a building. It is proposed that a single, c n r l z d preconditioner be etaie used instead of many small prwonditioners, as is currently the case. Such a scheme would have the following advantages:
a) M i s fluctuation can be compensated and the an equipment can be proteded against transient voltages.

d) Intelligent, semiconductor switches can easily be added to the system. This permits a sophisticated central control of a p p l i i s .

The DC power bus poses some compatibility p o l m r be with equipment designed for standard line voltages: (see also fig. 3)
a) In case of DC the r.m.s. and average voltage values are the same. A DC voltage of 22OV is therefore required to supply resistive loads at the same power level. Examples are heaters and lighting. b) Gas discharge lamps using choke ballasts can no longer be used. c) Electronic equipment with full bridge rectifier can still be used. However, it should be noted that only two diodes are conducting and that the rectified voltage is somewhat lower (22OV DC).
d) Quipxnent with line fitquency transformem will not

b) The centralized power conditioner draws power at 1 p. U power factor from the utility supply, and isolation . canbeprovided. c) M C can more easily be achieved.
The objective of this paper will be to investigate the suitability of diffexent wavefonns for the midential power network of the furure.

Since most electronic equipment convetts the AC mains to DC, a logical solution would be to have a power network distributing DC voltage. D i f f e ~ &equipment connected to the same DC supply can be h u p l e d by small chokes. (see also fig. 2)

function. e) Phase controllers will not work.


f ) The l i e time of standard switches will be significantly reduced because of the turn o f arc. A free wheel diode f can solve the problem.

If the. amplitude of t e square wave is kept constant the h

output voltage level can be set by the winding r t o of ai the HF-transformer. Only two diodes and a small

Although the DC bus has some attractive features, it is ie in general not compatible to standard l n voltage equipment. It will therefore not be possible to replace the standard AC power bus with existing equipment by a DC bus. The DC bus system can only be used in new installations.

capacitor are required to conveIt the secolldary transformervoltage i t DC ( see fig. 4). no An important question is whether a 2OKHz square wave distribution system is compatible to todays appliances. Resistive loads like h p s or heatem can be directly connected to a hf- AC bus. However it has to be taken into account that leakage inductances show a much higher reactances compared to a 5OHz operation.Thus, a full bridge rectifier may be connectedinbetween ifthe load contains a too large inductor. In this case the. inductance has a s m o o i h g effed. Theoretically it should be possible to do phase control. However, it is diflicult to utilize because fast switching thyistors and triacs are not available today. Present phase controller will not function. Electronic equipment with full bridge rectifiers will most likely not work as it can be assumed that the low fquency diodes are applied. Standad wiring for 5OHz mains has to be replaced by coaxial cables in order to avoid HF interfe~nces. Finally, it can be concluded that a high fresuency AC power system is only suitable for new power distribution systems where all consumer and the supply wires can be adapted to the. frequency and the.voltage wave.

U kl
discharge lamp trafo
Figure 3 BUS


Consumer loads not to be used with MJ


An alternative way of power distribution is the use of a high frequency AC bus. A square wave voltage is preferable bccause it can be easily g e n d by a SMPS (e.g. push pull converte~ with 50% duty cycle). For a frequencies of 2OKHz or above audible noise is absent and small HF-transformers can be applied to provide isolated voltages of any desired level.


In the previous sections it has been shown that a DC voltage system or a 20KHz square wave voltage system would be very suitable for future power distribution in residential application where all equipment could be controlled electronically. The major problem of both systems is incompatibilityto present 220V/5OHz equipment and the installed wiring and switches in residential and commercial buildings. Thus, another power distribution system has to be found o which fultills both, compatibility to present and t future consumer products and a p p l i i s . The pposed solution operates which a 5OHz s q m wave voltage. The amplitude of the square wave should be 2u)V in order to keep the RMS output voltage constant which is i m p o m for lamps aml heating elements. Hence, the 50Hz square wave voltage is compatible to the present mains in so far as resistive loads are concerned.

Figure 4

20KHz AC bus convelter


There are a lot of advantages associated with the square wave voltage:
a) Similar to DC the power flow will be almost continwusly. As a result no lOOHz flickering occurs. b) All wiring and mechanical switches in buildings can remain unchanged. c) The harmonicsof the square wave are no problem as they are of low order. Furthermore it can be shown that for most loads the current is proportional to the voltage so that there is little interaction between diffexnt COIIS~". The 5OHz main power supply line will be decoupledby a special convetter to be discussed later. d) Phase control and dimming is also possible. However, the dddt IimitatiOn of thyristor and triacs has to be high enough which is difficult to achieve for

i) Small single phase synchronous motor which are often used in domestic appliances operate with 5OHz square wave satisfactorily.
Problems may occur if a capacitive load is connected directly to the square wave voltage. It should be decoupledby small inductors. Induction m t r with a series capacitor in the auxiliary oos winding may also not be suitable to the square wave voltage.


If in residential buildings the present 50Hz sinusoidal voltage of the mains would be replaced by another waveform or frequency, a power converter is q u i d . Figure 5 shows such a conditioner capable of sourcing all the alternative voltage waves discussed before. The input part consists of a preconditioner which draws always a sinusoidal current from the line with a one p.u. power factor. The filter circuits necessary to reduce the hf-line-interference, which m caused by the step up chopper, are not shown in the figure. The output voltage of the first stage will be in the Mnge of 350V to 4OOV. It can be controlled in such a way that one of the output voltages of the conditioner is stabilized. Galvanic isolation can be provided by a push pull converter which may operate at 2OkHz switching frequency with a 50% duty cycle. Hence, the HF-square wave voltage can be taken directly from the secondary winding. The winding ratio of the HF transformer can be chosen to obtain a 220V output amplitude. If a diode bridge and a small capacitor is added to the circuit 220V DC becomes available. The desired 5OHz square wave will be provided via a simple inverter which does not need fast switching semiconductors.

e) New electronic equipment with rectitiers will benefit from the square wave because only a small capacitor is reqllired for smoothing the rectified voltage.
f) Already existing equipment with input rectifiers will also work reliably as long as it is designed for large mains fluctuation, since a rectified 220V square wave generates a 220V DC.
g) F t r .equipment for DC operation such as choppers uue and inverterscan already be used by adding a full bridge rectifier. No extra buffer capacitors are needed.

h) 5OHz transformersdesigned for sinusoidal supply can also be connected to the 22OV/SO& square wave. However, it has to be taken into account that the flux will be increased by 11% caused by the larger voltage. t m area of the square wave compared to sine wave. ie


isolating converter



1 220vm

l l l --

50 Hz

2220v 2OkHz
Figure 5

220v DC

Galvanic isolating power conditionerfor generationof alternativevoltage waves


MEASUREMENTS Some measurements have been taken to illustrate the performof the quare. wave power distribution systems when compared to standard sinusoidal 50Hz supply. The first pictures present the line current and t e h output voltage of a rectified 25oh2 load with 1 W capacitor. A lOOpH choke is dbetween the d e r and the buffer capacitor. The cwent of the standard mains supply shows the typical unwanted pulse shape and the o q u t voltage ripple is high (Figure 6). If, laowever, the same load is supply by 5OHz square wave the voltage output ripple can no longer be seen although the buffer capacitor is reduced from l w t o luE The comsjwnding line cuzrent is proportional to the voltage as alrrady mentioned before (fig.7). In the next case, phase control is investigated. Two anti parallel connected t y i t r are used to control the light intensity hrsos of a lOOW lamp and the speed of an AC series motor.
r........ .. . . . . l k . .... . .......... . i : i j

Fig. 8 shows the 220V 50Hz square wave voltage and the resulting current for dimming with a 60" fire angle. Fig. 9 shows phase control of an AC series motor with an additional rectifier. The quare wave voltage as well as the cwent in the line and in the motor are presented.

This paper is based on a discussion during the IAS-IEEE workshop on "The future of electronic power processing and conversion", Karos Lodge, August 1991, RSA

P.M. Espelage, B.K. Bose, "High fresuencylink power T a s on Ind Appl., Vol. IA-13, rn. conversion", NO.5 &+/Oct. 1977, pp.387-394 P.J. Wolfs, F.W. Hinders, " A high frequency inverter cycloconverter cascade", "IEEE T a s on I d Appl., rn. Vol. IA-23, No. 1, Jan./Feb. 1987, pp. 67-70

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Figure 6

Rectified 2558 load supplied by t e h standard sinusoidal mains 220V/50Hz; filter: L=125pH, C l =W (output voltage and l n c m n t are shown) ie

Figure 7

R c i i d 2558 load supplied by etfe a 220V/50Hz square wave voltage filter:L=125pH,GlpF (output voltage and line c m n t are shown)
voltape 22MI 5oHz q u a m wave

0 .

1 1 .
line and lamp WmMt

motw current


1 M











Figure 9

Fwre 8 Dimming of a lOOW lamp at a square wave

22OV/5OHz tine

Phase control of a AC series motor at a square wave 220V/50Hz line (an additional rectifier is used)


voltage wave

t50Hz U0




2.Uo6 n








I u0

harmonics $=,.f1 standard rectifier ?


LC filter size standard switch

only 2 diodes conduct

HF-diodes required

not required


no, free wheel diode required

d standard wire phase control not applicable high du/dt capability HF-coaxial

galvanic isolation 50Hz transf. bulky

SMPS complex

20KHz transf. small. easy

50Hz transformer 11% more flux

Table 1

Overview of alternativepower distribution

Three different voltage wave f o m of a possible future power distribution system have been studied. It has been investigated whether such systems are compatible to the present mains and to todays appliances and consumer products. Table 1 c m a e in a concise overview the voltage oprs properties, the advantages and the problems of these alternative distribution systems. It is obvious that the required compatibility to existing equipment makes the introduction of an improved distribution system difficult. The 5OHz square wave voltage seem t be the best approach for a future DC o power distributionsysbm.

The requirements for such a distribution system can be met if the following modifications are made to standard mains equipment:

- 5OHz transformer should be designed for a

11% higherflux

- electronic equipment should still

operate reliably if the intermediateDC voltage after 6 c d o n is 220V or a little bt below it. i - thyristo~~ triacs for application in phase control and should be provided with a high dU/dt i m n t . muiy - equipment with capacitive load should be decoupled by a small induaor. - direct connection of capacitom should be avoided.