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Design trends in solar inverters

Posted: 15 Jan 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar inverter  solar market  design trend 

 Fig. 5

Fig. 5: NPC 3-level Inverter (Source: Microsemi)

MOSFET, IGBT trade-off
Discrete MOSFETs and IGBTs are the primary semiconductor power devices used in solar inverters. The selection of MOSFET and IGBT for solar inverters is decided by trade-off between performance and cost.

In general, IGBTs are a less expensive solution than MOSFETs because of their higher current capability (over twice that of MOSFET). Aside from cost consideration, performance of devices is indicated by power loss that can be divided into two categories: conduction and switching.

As a minority carrier based device, IGBT features a lower conduction voltage at high currents, which stands for a lower conduction loss. However, MOSFET has faster speeds and thus lower switching loss than IGBT. For lower switching frequency and requirement for high current, IGBT will serve the need better and at lower cost. For that reason, more manufacturers tend to use IGBTs for their medium to high level power inverters.

"Although MOSFETs are more expensive than IGBTs from device point of view, their ability to address higher switching frequency will ease magnetic design for output filters and shrink the output inductor by large" Chang Qian commented. Therefore, MOSFET is worth a second thought for a better system solution even when cost is the main concern.

- EE Times-China

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