Solar Inverters

Solar Inverters

Analog Devices offers a wide range of high performance data acquisition and signal processing technologies which are used in renewable energy systems around the world, such as solar inverters. Use the links below for help on system considerations, product selection, and other resources or use the Select A Solution tool below to browse interactive system block diagrams and product recommendations.

System Considerations   |   Product Selection Tables    |   Learning Resources

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Isolated CAN with View All isoPower Digital Isolators®

Part Number Insulation Rating
ADM3053 2.5 kV rms

Isolated CAN

Part Number Insulation Rating
ADM3052 5 kV rms

Power Isolation

Part Number Insulation Rating
ADuM5000 2.5 kV rms
ADuM6000 5 kV rms

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System Considerations

  • Overview
    Capturing solar energy with the aid of photovoltaic (PV) panels has become very popular with the improved cost and efficiency of such panels. There are a number of different systems employed in going from the panel DC voltage to a quality AC voltage that can be fed into the grid. Some domestic systems employ an electronics module for each panel. These modules are called micro-inverters if they produce AC output power and micro-converters in they produce DC output power. For the micro-inverter systems a central DC/AC inverter is required to generate an AC output. Other popular types of solar architectures see a number of panels, typically 4-7, wired in series to produce a higher DC output voltage which in turn is fed into a central inverter.

    System Challenges
    There are a number of common challenges whichever architecture is selected. One of the key parameters of any solar PV inverter is its efficiency in converting input dc power into output ac power. A great deal of design effort is placed on optimizing various parts of the signal chain to get this figure as high as possible. Also critical is the reliability of operation over a typical equipment lifespan of 20 years. This must be achieved in ambient conditions which can be harsh in both summer and winter. Finally, the generated power destined for the grid must be of a quality that meets regulatory requirements in terms of frequency stability and dc current injection levels.

    Measurement / Sensing
    Typical DC current sensors employed on the panel side include Hall Effect (HE) sensors and shunt resistors. Devices like the AD8212 are high side current monitors producing an analog output proportional to the current flow while a device like the AD7400 is sigma-delta modulator producing an output 1's density stream proportional to current flow. This device incorporates its own isolation barrier inside the package to provide galvanic isolation between the sensed current and the digital output. On the AC output side where galvanic isolation is mandatory, current transformers (CTs) and Hall Effect sensors have been widely used to date while shunt resistors have been less popular here. However due to the growing volume of Solar PV installations connecting to the Grid, there is also a growing concern from utilities and power distribution operators as to the potential for DC current injection into the grid. Since DC current injection can lead to grid inefficiencies, lower permissible levels from each inverter are under consideration in many grid systems. These tighter limits will have an impact on an inverter's output current-measuring capabilities since now a wider dynamic range will be required than previously needed. Each sensor type has its own advantages and disadvantages but all require precision, low noise, low power op amps like ADI's OPX177 family to complete the signal conditioning demanded by the signals of different current sensors.

  • Control / Processing
    Analog Devices' provides high-performance signal chain solutions for today’s modern, grid-tied Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Inverters. At the core of the system is the new ADSP-CM403F mixed-signal control processor that integrates a highly optimized, floating point ARM®-Cortex™ M4 capable of accepting up to 24 channels of analog sense inputs with 16-Bit precision A/D conversion. On-board memory has been included to support both the DC-DC boost stage and the DC-AC Inverter stage. The ADSP-CM403 integrates a highly capable PWM controller with up to 20 outputs along with ADI's advanced isolated gate drivers; optional Sigma-Delta shunt based current measurement for grid-side. Isolating between DC and AC sides as well as between machine and human interfaces is enabled with ADI’s patented iCoupler® digital isolation technology.

    Communications
    Finally a communication channel will be needed both to report on the performance of the system to a central controller and to receive instructions from that source. When communicating at high data rates or over the relatively long distances that might be found in a wind farm, differential data transmission offers superior performance to single-ended transmission. Popular protocols for this communication task are RS-485 and CAN. Analog Devices offers a wide range of iCoupler®-based isolated RS-485/RS-422 transceivers to suit this application with the ADM248xE and ADM258xE families which include integrated isolated DC/DC converters. More recently, Analog Devices' has released the first of a family of isolated CAN transceivers, the ADM3052/ADM3053, with and without an integrated isolated dc/dc converter. For proprietary protocols there are also numerous standard iCouplers available such as the ADuM140x family, which are quad channel isolators.

Product Selection Tables

Learning Resources

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