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n° 159

inverters and
(case studies of
non-linear loads)

Jean Noël Fiorina

Joined Merlin Gerin in 1968 as a

laboratory technician in the ACS
(Alimentations et Convertisseurs
Statiques) department where he
participated in the performance
setting up procedures for static
converters. In 1977 he obtained his
ENSERG Engineering degree
following a 3 years evening course
and rejoined the ACS department.
Starting as development engineer he
was soon afterwards entrusted with
projects. He became later
responsible for design projects in
EPS department (Electronic Power
He is in some ways the originator of
medium and high power inverters.
At present he is with the UPS
Division where, as responsible for
Innovations he works on the
preparation of new UPS designs of

E/CT 159 first issued september 1993


UPS Uninterrupted Static Power Supply - Static UPS

IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
CIGREE Conférence Internationale des Grands Réseaux Electriques et Electroniques
(International conference on hight voltage electric systems)
PWM Pulse Width Modulation
D global distortion rate
Hn individual ratio of harmonics of order n
ϕn phase angle shift of harmonic component at t = 0
In effective current of harmonic component of order n
Uref reference voltage
ν distortion factor
Vn effective voltage of harmonic component of order n
Zsn output impedance for harmonic of order n

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.2

inverters and harmonics
(case studies of non-linear loads)


1. Introduction p. 4
2. Characteristics of non-sinusoidal Harmonic analysis of a periodic
alternating quantities function p. 4
Effective value of a non-sinusoidal
alternating quantity p. 4
Distortion rate p. 4
Power factors and cos ϕ1 p. 5
Distortion factor ν p. 5
Crest factor p. 5
Relation between current distortion
and voltage distortion p. 5
3. Impedances of some conventional Impedance of a transformer p. 6
sources Impedance of an alternator p. 7
Output impedance of an inverter p. 7
Impedance of line p. 11
4. Micro and mini-computer loads Description p. 12
Influence of source impedance p. 12
Calculation of source power
for supplying RCD type loads p. 13
5. Conclusion p. 16
Appendix 1: influence of line impedances on voltage distortions p. 16
Appendix 2: input filters in computer/micro-processor equipment p. 18
Appendix 3: bibliography p. 19

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.3

1. introduction

Static UPS are virtually perfect electric view of frequency stability as well as that modern inverters are excellent
generators. voltage stability, performances generators of sinusoidal voltage even
They are highly reliable and, by superior to those of the mains. when they supply non-linear loads.
The only doubtful characteristic is, in This is considered quite normal as
nature, ensure (within the performance
the opinion of many engineers, its UPS are designed and very often
limits of the battery) the uninterrupted
ability to deliver a sinusoidal voltage utilised to supply computer/
availability of electric power.
regardless of the shape of the current microprocessor systems which draw
As regards electrical characteristics, drawn by the load. non-sinusoidal currents.
the inverter (which constitutes the UPS The aim of this «Cahier Technique» is
generator) possesses from the point of to clarify this point and to demonstrate

2. characteristics of non-sinusoidal alternating quantities

harmonic analysis of a ϕ n: phase shift angle of harmonic Global rate of distortion

component at t = 0. (as defined by CIGREE)
periodic function
This parameter represents the ratio of
As alternating non-sinusoidal currents the effective value of harmonics to that
and voltages are the main topic of this effective value of a non-
of the fundamental alone:
study, it will be worth while to review sinusoidal alternating
the electric quantities in the presence of quantity
harmonics. ∑ Yn 2
Applying the general formula D % = 100 n=2
Fourier theorem states that any non- Y1

sinusoidal periodic function can be
represented by a series of terms Y rms = 1 y 2 (t) dt Note: when the distortion rate is low, as
consisting: T 0 is most frequently the case for the
■ of a sinusoidal term at fundamental
voltage, the two definitions lead in
gives with harmonic representation: practice to the same result.
■ of sinusoidal terms whose n=∞ For example, if:
frequencies are whole multiples of the Y rms = ∑ Yn 2
fundamental (harmonics), ∑ Yn 2 = 10 % de Y 1
■ and eventually of a continuous n=2
component (DC component). distortion rates The IEC expression gives:
The formula denoting the harmonic Harmonic rates
analysis of a periodic function is as (0.1) 2
(as defined in IEC dictionary) THD = DF = 100 = 9.95 %
follows: 1 + (0.1) 2
This parameter, also called harmonic
n=∞ distortion or distortion factor represents Whereas the CIGREE expression
y (t) = Yo + ∑ Yn 2 sin (nωt - ϕ n) the ratio of the effective value of gives:
n=1 harmonics (n ≥ 2) to that of the
where: alternating quantity: D % = 100 0.1 = 10 %
Yo: value of continuous component 1
generally equal to zero and considered Hereafter we shall retain for the
as such hereafter, ∑ Yn 2
distortion rate, the expression «D»
THD % = DF % = 100 n=2
Yn: effective value of harmonic of n=∞ which corresponds to a more analytical
order n, ∑ Yn 2 view of the influence of harmonics on a
ω: pulsation of fundamental frequency, n=1 non-deformed wave.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.4

Individual harmonic rate crest factor
This parameter represents the ratio of
As defined by IEC, it is the ratio of crest
the effective value of a harmonic of
value to the effective value of a periodic
order n to that of the alternating
quantity (according to IEC dictionary) or
to that of the fundamental alone
(according to CIGREE), relation between current
■ according to definition in IEC distortion and voltage
Hn % = 100 Yn For a given voltage source, it is always
possible to define an output

Yn impedance, even if the latter is
frequency dependent. To the extent
■ and according to CIGREE definition: where this impedance is independent of
the current value (linear case) it is
Hn % = 100 Yn possible to calculate for each current
harmonic a corresponding voltage
This latter definition will be retained in
harmonic and thus to deduce the
subsequent reasoning.
individual harmonic rate (percentage).
The effective value of voltage harmonic
power factors and cos ϕ1 of order n equals:
According to IEC, the power factor is Un = Zsn . In
the ratio of the effective power P to the where
apparent power S: Zsn: output impedance for harmonic n
λ =P In: effective current of harmonic n.
This power factor should not be The individual rate of harmonics of
confused with the phase shift angle order n for this voltage is equivalent to:
factor (cos ϕ1) which represents the
Hn = Un
cosine of angle formed by the phase U1
elements of fundamental components
of voltage and current:
U1 = effective value of fundamental
λ 1 = cos ϕ 1 = P 1 voltage.
S1 The global distortion rate of voltage is
where: thus obtained by means of
P1 = effective power of fundamental expression:
component n-∞
S1 = apparent power of fundamental
component. ∑ Un 2
D % = 100 n=2
distortion factor ν and also:
According to standard specification n- ∞
IEC 146-1-1, this factor enables to D % = 100 ∑ Hn 2
define the relation between power n=2
factor λ and cos ϕ1: The input impedance for various
harmonic frequencies plays therefore
ν= λ an important role in bringing about the
cos ϕ 1
onset of voltage distortion. The higher
Where voltages and currents are this input impedance, the greater will be
perfectly sinusoidal the distortion factor the voltage distortion rate for a given
equals 1 and cos ϕ1 is equal to the non-sinusoidal current.
power factor.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.5

3. impedances of some conventional sources

Very often the impedance Zs (at 50 Hz) of UccR is of the order of 1 % to The behaviour of a transformer towards
of a generator is given as percentage of several % (this latter value becoming these harmonics is therefore dependent
nominal impedance of load Zc: correspondingly smaller as the power on the homopolar impedance Zh of the
rating of transformer increases). transformer (refer to «Cahier
Zs % = 100 Zs In practice, as regards harmonics, Technique» n° 18 «Analyse des
Zc since only the inductance impedance is réseaux triphasés en régime perturbé à
For the nominal current, the voltage frequency dependent, it is the l'aide des composantes symétriques»).
drop across this impedance represents, inductance alone which determines the Two types of secondary windings are
therefore, as percentage in relation to behaviour/performance of the suitable for not amplifying or reducing
the nominal voltage, the value of this transformer. harmonic distortions:
source impedance: ■ in three phase transformers, it is ■ star connected secondary with
necessary to take into account the «distributed» neutral
Zs . In % = 100 Zs . In different possible connection types of
Un Un primary and secondary windings, as
where Zc . In = Un these exert an influence on the source
impedance for some harmonics (in
Zs . In % = 100 Zs . In = 100 Zs particular, third harmonic and
Un Zc . In Zc multiples of 3). L R
In fact, in the case of a transformer e
impedance of a which supplies to each of its secondary
windings distorted and balanced
transformer currents comprising harmonics of order
Figure 1 represents an equivalent circuit 3 and multiples of 3, say 3 k, and
diagram of a single phase transformer considering that these currents are fig. 1: equivalent circuit diagram of a single
seen from secondary winding. balanced, it is thus possible to write for phase transformer seen from secondary
The transformer impedance consists of each of these phases: winding.
an inductance L in series with a
I1 3 k = I sin 3 k ωt
resistance R. An equivalent value of the
relative impedance is given by the
I2 3 k = I sin 3 k ( ωt - 2π )
transformer short-circuit voltage Ucc. 3
Indeed, by definition, the short-circuit
voltage is the voltage that must be I3 3 k = I sin 3 k ( ωt - 4π )
applied across a winding in order to 3
induce a nominal current in the other or Ucc Uccx = L ω I2n
winding also under short-circuit,
I1 3 k = I sin 3 k ωt
Ucc % = 100 Ucc I2 3 k = I sin (3 k ωt - k 2π)
I3 3 k = I sin (3 k ωt - k 4π)
Ucc % = 100 Zs . In = 100 Zs = Zs %
Un Zc These equations show that the
three currents are in phase. It is this
This short-circuit voltage is made up of Ucc R = R I2n I2cc = I2n
phenomenon which leads one to
two terms: UccR et Uccx (see fig. 2). observe in the neutral conductor of A B
■ in distribution transformers or general some wiring installations (neon tubes
purpose transformers with ratings for example) the presence of much fig. 2: Kapp triangle of a transformer (values
superior to 1 kVA, the value of Uccx higher currents than originally referred to secondary).
ranges from 4 - 6 %, whereas the value anticipated.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.6

When primary windings are delta or As a general rule, the other types of Principe of an inverter
star connected with the neutral point connection are to be avoided, in An inverter comprises first of all a
connected to the source neutral particular those that do not allow the converter referred to as «mutator» i.e.
(see fig. 3), the harmonic impedances neutral to be «distributed» in the switching device which converts the DC
of order 3 and multiples are neither secondary; in fact for these Zh = ∞. voltage supplied by a rectifier or a DC
encouraged nor discouraged battery into AC voltage.
(Zh = Zd).
The transformer behaves as three impedance of an alternator
single phase transformers. An alternator can also be represented
■ ZIGZAG connected secondary by a voltage source in series with an
primary secondary
These connections ensure minimum inductance and a resistance.
distortion in secondary - in fact, in this However, this inductance assumes very A a
case, the harmonic currents of order different values according to the speed
3 k do not circulate in the transformer of current variations to which it is B b
primary, and the impedance Zs is no related.
longer dependent on secondary During such current variation, the C c
windings. The inductance is thus very equivalent reactance passes n
low: Uccx ≈ 1 %, and the resistance is progressively from a value called sub-
reduced roughly by half when transient to its synchronous value via a
A a
compared with the resistance of delta transient value. These different values
star connected transformer of same reflect the variation of the alternator
rating. B b
magnetic flux.
Figure 4 and the following calculation As regards current harmonics, only the
explain why currents of pulsating C c
sub-transient reactance is to be
frequency 3 kω are not found in the N n
considered in any phenomenon lasting
transformer primary (homopolar less than 10 ms.
current equal to zero). This reactance, referred to as fig. 3: winding connections of three-phase
«longitudinal sub-transient reactance» transformers which have a homopolar
For a turn ratio N 2 , impedance Zh equal to a direct impedance
N1 is denoted as X''d.
For an alternator of current production,
the current circulating for instance in
this reactance amounts to 15 - 20 %.
the primary winding 1 equals:
In traditional machines but of design
N 2 (i - i ) optimised in this respect, a value of N2
1 3 12 % can be achieved. (I 1 - I 3 ) I3 I
N1 N1 1
Finally, in special machines, some
with constructors claim values decreasing to
6 %. N1 N2 N2
i 1 = I 1 3 k = I sin 3 k ωt
In conclusion, it is worth recalling that,
except in very particular cases, the I2
i 3 = I 3 3 k = I sin 3 k (ωt - 4π )
3 alternator output impedance is
= I sin (3 k ωt - 4π) considerably greater than that of a N1 N2 N2
transformer; consequently, the same
this gives applies to the voltage distortion rate in I3
the presence of distorted currents.
N 2 (i - i ) = 0
1 3 N1 N2 N2
The ZIGZAG connected secondary output impedance of an
winding acts therefore as an attenuator inverter
to harmonics of order 3 k. This type of The impedance of an inverter is
fig. 4: transformer with ZIGZAG connected
transformer is often used as an output essentially dependent on the output secondary and attenuation of harmonics of
transformer for classic inverters of high impedance of its filter and on the type order 3 k.
rating. of regulation adopted.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.7

In a single phase unit, there are
two ways of achieving this conversion:
■ half-bridge converter (see fig. 5a),
+E +E
■ full-bridge converter (see fig. 5b). I1 I1 I3
The square wave voltage appearing B A B A
+ E/2 I2 I4
between A and B is then filtered so as I2
to obtain in the output of the unit a 0 0
sinusoidal voltage wave with a low
distortion rate.
In practice, the switching device VA
(mutator) produces several positive +E
I 3 closed I 3 open
and negative pulses (see fig. 6) which I 4 open I 4 closed
makes it possible to reduce the size of t
the filter and to have a faster acting VA T/2 T
voltage regulator. +E
I 1 closed I 1 open
By modulating the relative time I 2 open I 2 closed
t VB
intervals corresponding to conduction +E
and non-conduction periods, it is T/2 T I 1 closed I 1 open
possible to «spread» the voltage during I 2 open I 2 closed
the period in such a way as to make
T/2 T
the conduction time of the switching
device practically proportional to the
instantaneous value of the
fundamental. V AB V AB
This principle is called PWM (Pulse +E
Width Modulation) - (MLI in french). + E/2
t t
The filter inserted behind the switching
device (mutator) is generally of the L - E/2
and C type (see fig. 7). -E
The inverter is therefore a voltage
source with the filter impedance in fig. 5a: principle of switching unit (mutator) fig. 5b: principle of mutator full-bridge
series. half-bridge converter. converter.

Voltage V is the voltage measured at

no load, and the impedance consisting
of L and C elements in parallel is the L
impedance measured when terminals VAB
A and B are short-circuited (obtained
by applying Thevenin theorem; mutator C
see fig. 8).
Classic inverters fundamental B
When the commutation frequency is
low, regulation can: fig. 7: output filter of an inverter.
■ cope with variations of current drawn
by user equipment,
■ compensate for voltage variation of
DC battery (or rectifier),
■ have, however, difficulties in dealing
permanently with variations of current
due to harmonics generated during half V C
In these inverters, the output
impedance is equal to the impedance fig. 6: output voltage of switching unit fig. 8: equivalent circuit diagram of an
of their filter. They can, therefore, be (mutator) with 5 pulses per half period. inverter seen from its output.
described as classic inverters since

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.8

operationally they function in the same The block diagram of such inverter, In general, it is then useful to show the
way as the early design units (due to shown in figure 10 is as follows: whole output circuit part
the limited capacity of semi-conductors The output voltage Vs is constantly (switching unit + filter) in the form of a
to operate at high frequencies). compared with a reference voltage series impedance Z1 together with a
The output impedance of these Uref which is sinusoidal and has a very parallel impedance Z2 (see fig. 11).
inverters is therefore frequency low distortion rate (< 1 %). By applying Thevenin theorem, it is
dependent and can be represented by The voltage difference ε is then possible to transform the circuit
the diagram used in figure 9. processed by a correction circuit of diagram into that shown in figure n° 12.
■ thus at low frequencies the transfer function C (p) whose aim it is V’m = voltage measured at no load
impedance of the filter is nearly equal to ensure the performances and the thus:
to Lω. stability of control circuit systems.
■ at high frequencies the filter The resulting voltage issued from this V'm = Vm . Z2
correction circuit is then amplified by Z 1 +Z 2
impedance differs little from . the switching unit (mutator) itself and

■ at resonant frequency its ancillary control circuit with an
amplification gain A.
Fo = The voltage Vm supplied by the
2 π LC switching unit is shaped by the filter Zs
consisting of L and C elements before 1
the impedance of the filter assumes a
becoming the output voltage Vs. Cω
high value that can attain, in terms of
magnitude, the value of the nominal In practice, one should take into

load impedance of the equipment account:
(Zs = 100 % Zc). ■ the impedance of the transformer, if
In practice, frequency Fo is therefore present in the circuit, in order to obtain
chosen so as not to correspond to the the total value of inductance (often the
possible frequency of current inductance is integrated within the
transformer. That is why it does not F
harmonic, i.e. 210 Hz (harmonic Fo
appear in circuit diagrams),
currents of order 4 are non-existent or
■ the output impedance of the
are of very small amplitude).
switching unit which according to fig. 9: variation of output impedance in a
This being the case, various ingenious designs, is not necessarily negligible.
ways have been devised by classic inverter with frequency.
constructors in an effort to reduce the
output impedance.
For example: Uref + ε Vm L Vs I
■ additional filters, C (p) A
■ special connection circuits for the
transformer inserted behind the C Zc
three-phase switching device
At first sight, classic inverters have a
behaviour towards harmonic currents fig. 10: block diagram of a PWM inverter.
comparable to that of well designed
alternators and therefore less
satisfactory than that of transformers.
Z1 Zs
Inverters with PWM and appropriate
When the switching frequency of the
switching unit (mutator) is high (at
least several kHz) and the regulation Vm Z2 Vs V'm Vs
system allows rapid intervention
through the modification to pulse
widths during the same period, it is
naturally possible to maintain the
inverter output voltage within its fig. 11: equivalent circuit diagram of a fig. 12: transformed equivalent circuit
distortion limits even when dealing with switching unit seen from output. diagram of switching unit seen from output.
highly distorted currents.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.9

Zs = measured in output by short-
circuiting V'm, thus: Vref ε V1 Zs Vs I
µ (p) H (p)
Zs = Z 1 . Z 2
Z1 + Z2
Z2 Zc
Ratio is the transfer function
Z1 + Z2
of the filter, say H (p):
Z2 fig. 13: transformed block diagram of a PWM inverter.
thus H (p) =
Z1 + Z2
To simplify still further, it is convenient
Everything happens as if the output Zs
to replace the product C (p) x A by
impedance of the inverter were divided
µ (p) which represents the transfer classic inverter
by 1 + µ (p) . H (p).
function of action chain.
To throw further light on this
The block diagram becomes that
impedance, it is convenient to carry out
shown in figure 13, where Zs = output
additional calculations.
impedance in the absence of regulation
In the band-pass of regulation, the
as is the case in classic inverters.
product µ (p) . H (p) being ≥ 1,
When a current is drawn by the load, a calculations are as follows:
voltage drop appears at the terminals of
1 + µ (p) . H (p) ≈ µ (p) . H (p) F
the output impedance Zs, such that: PWM inverter
V1 - Vs = ZsI Z's ≈ Zs
fig. 14: comparison of output impedances
Developing still further: µ (p) . H (p)
between classic inverter and PWM inverter
V1 = ε . µ (p) . H (p) since in function of frequency.
ε = Vref - Vs
V1 = (Vref - Vs) . µ (p) . H (p) Zs = Z 1 . Z 2
Z1 + Z2 With PWM inverters, the output impe-
V1 = Vs + ZsI dance remains very low up to high
Vs + ZsI = (Vref - Vs) . µ (p) . H (p) frequencies and the output voltage dis-
Z2 tortion due to circulating currents, even
thus: H (p) =
Z1 + Z2 highly distorted currents, is negligible.
Vs 1 + µ (p) . H (p) = Limitation of current
V ref µ (p) . H (p) - ZsI The semi-conductors utilized in
thus: Z's ≈ Z 1 . Z 2 . 1 . Z 1 + Z 2 switching units can deliver a maximum
Z 1 + Z 2 µ (p) Z2 current, above which their performance
µ (p) . H (p) can no longer be guaranteed. It is
Vs = V ref. thus
1 + µ (p) . H (p) therefore advisable to limit the current
to this maximum value in order to
- ZsI Z's ≈ Z 1
1 + µ (p) . H (p) µ (p) ensure reliability of performance.
As soon as the current drawn by the
The first term represents the result This means that in the band-pass of load exceeds the maximum value set
obtained for a conventional control regulation, the output impedance of for the inverter, the latter becomes a
system with no disturbance present. inverter is equal to the series generator of constant current until the
impedance of the filter for the whole current value required by the load
Here, the disturbance is introduced by
output circuit divided by the
means of current I circulating in the drops below the fixed threshold limit.
amplification gain of the action chain.
internal impedance Zs. Under these conditions, the output
In the absence of regulation, the term Beyond the band-pass of regulation,
voltage does not follow the shape of the
denoting the disturbance would have the output impedance becomes again
the impedance of filter which by then reference voltage and remains distorted
assumed a value of ZsI. as long as the load current exceeds the
With regulation, this disturbance is becomes the impedance of a capacitor
offering a low impedance at high threshold limit.
limited to:
frequencies. Hence the shape of the This voltage distortion is all the more
ZsI curve of output impedance in function significant, the longer the duration
1 + µ (p) . H (p) of frequency (see fig. 14). stage above the threshold limit.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.10

Such cases are met essentially when Influence of line impedance on In conclusion
single-phase loads consisting of a voltage distortion Figure 17 below shows the variation
capacitor in front of a rectifier giving a Since the line impedance is additional of output impedances of various
high crest factor. The latter is usually of to the source impedance, it has the sources of same power rating with
the order of 3 (crest value ≈ 3 times the effect of increasing the distortion rate of frequency.
effective value of current) whereas for a the voltage in installations drawing
pure sine wave it is only 2 . distorted currents.
The performance of the PWM inverter Figure 16 shows an example where an L R
for this type of load is examined in user installation U2 draws a highly
chapter 4. distorted current. When this occurs, the
distortion rate measured at its input fig. 15: equivalent circuit diagram of line.
terminals is D2; however, because of
impedance of line the impedance divider consisting of Zs
There is always a length of cable of and ZL2, a distortion rate D is measured
greater or lesser importance between at the output terminals of the source D Zs ZL 1
the voltage source and each user being smaller than D2. e U1
installation. Consequently, to minimise the influence
Value of line impedance of receiver installations which generate ZL 2
The line impedance consists essentially harmonic currents in other «receivers»,
of an inductance L in series with a it is recommended to supply the receiver
resistance R (see fig. 15). The value of installations through a special line.
the inductance is hardly dependent on Readers interested in further details can fig. 16: supply to polluter receiver (U2) by
the section of conductors and is usually refer to appendix 1. means of special line.
assumed to be 0.1 Ω/km (at 50 Hz)
which is roughly equivalent to
0.3 µH/m. Zs ratio of output impedance
The value of the resistance is % to nominal load impedance
dependent on the section of the cable Zc
and is taken as r = 20 Ω/km for 1 mm2 150
For example, a cable of 16 mm2 section
exhibits a resistance of 1.25 Ω/km and classic
a reactance of only 0.1 Ω/km. inverter
As a first approximation, it will be
possible to represent a cable by its
resistance only in the case of small and 100
medium size power rating installations alternator X"d = 12 %
where the use of small section
conductors is quite common.
Note: for harmonic frequencies, it might
be necessary to take into account the
skin effect.
In this respect, one must remember that
in a copper conductor, the equivalent 50
conduction thickness, referred to as
skin thickness, is given by the formula:
transformer Uccx = 4 %
a (mm) = 66
F (HZ)
Thus, at 50 Hz the skin thickness is
9.3 mm, whereas at 1 kHz it is reduced
PWM inverter
to 2.1mm.
The skin effect must therefore be taken 0 50 250 500 750 F (Hz)
into account for large section fig. 17: output impedance of different sources in function of frequency.
conductors which generally carry
harmonic currents of high order.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.11

It is clearly apparent that the PWM
inverter exhibits by far the lowest
output impedance. To better clarify this electric cable transformer PWM inverter
point, figure 18 shows three sources,
each with the same impedance at I = 30 m
150 Hz. 2 ~
It is thus obvious that the impedance of S = 6 mm
a classic transformer as well as the
impedance of the supply line, must S = 60 kVA S = 12 kVA
both be taken into account when
fig. 18: sources exhibiting same impedance at 150 Hz.
distorted currents are to be supplied to
a load.
The PWM Inverter is by far the best
generator on the market as regards its
ability to minimise the voltage harmonic
distortion. It is 5 to 6 times better than
a transformer of the same rating.

4. micro and mini-computer loads

description Figure 20 shows the voltages and influence of source

currents obtained with a relatively low
These single-phase loads, as many
source impedance consisting of an
other types of electronic equipment, are In the previous example it is shown that
supplied by means of switched-mode inductance and a resistance such that
their short-circuit voltages referred to the load cannot be considered as a
power supplies. generator of harmonic current, but on
the load power are respectively
Thus, a load of RCD type (Resistances, the contrary, that the current is highly
Uccx = 2 % and UccR = 2 %.
Capacitors, Diodes) has been retained dependent on the source impedance.
in Standard Specification NF C 42-810 It must be pointed out the distortion
rate of the voltage v in the rectifier Figure 21 shows the variation of current
to characterise inverters of rating below
input is already important as it reaches i and voltage v in the rectifier input
3 kVA.
7.5 % even despite a low source when the source impedance changes
A load of RCD type consists of a Graetz from Uccx = 0.25 % to Uccx = 8 %
full-bridge converter and preceded by a impedance.
capacitor. The latter acts as an energy The current i starts flowing as soon as
storage reservoir in order to supply the voltage e becomes higher than U
current to the load between two but its rate of rise is limited by the
successive peaks of the rectified source inductance.
voltage. This inductance extends the time of Zs i
The supply source is represented by a current circulation when voltage e
voltage e and an output impedance becomes again smaller than v.
Zs. It is therefore essentially the value of e v C R U
In the examples cited in this chapter, the source inductance which
the time constant of discharge of the determines the shape of current i.
capacitor through the resistance is fixed It is apparent that the current is highly
at 125 ms (see fig. 19). distorted compared with a perfect sine
Current i starts flowing when voltage e wave and, in addition, slightly out of
exceeds the DC voltage U and phase with respect to the source fig. 19: basic circuit diagram of micro and
circulates for a relatively short time to voltage. In this example, the power mini-computer type load.
recharge the capacitor to its nominal factor is equal to 0.72.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.12

whilst the resistive part has been
arbitrarily fixed at UccR = 2 %.
u Table in figure 22 brings to light, for
these different impedances, the
variation of the different characteristic
parameters relating to current and
voltage; when the source impedance
i v
increases, the power factor improves
whereas the distortion rate (see page 4)
of the voltage in the input of user
installation increases.
t It is the value of the distortion rate
which determines the choice of the
source. A distortion rate of 5 % is often
the limiting value admissible for receiver
installa-tions that can be either polluters
or polluted.
Curves in figure 23 page 14 show the
variation or the global distortion rate of
voltage in the input of the rectifier in
fig. 20: currents and voltages of a computer type load of 1 kW with source such that: function of two parameters:
Uccx = 2 % and UccR = 2 %. ■ when the short-circuit voltage of the
source varies from 0 to 8 %,
■ for 3 values of resistive short-circuit
voltage (UccR = 0, UccR = 2 % and
UccR = 4 %).
0,25 %
0,5 % They also show that, in practice, it is the
Uccx 2 %
inductive short-circuit voltage that
4% determines the voltage distortion rate
except when this short-circuit voltage is
lower than 1 %.

calculation of source power

for supplying RCD type
Knowing the active power absorbed by
the rectifier (Pr), it is essential to
fig. 21: variation of current and voltage at the computer type load input when the short-circuit
voltage Uccx changes from 0.25 % to 8 % while the short-circuit voltage UccR remains
choose correctly the power source (Ps)
constant and equal to 2 %. that must supply it.

Uccx crest power current spectrum global distortion

factor factor Hn % = 100 I N rate of voltage

% I crest λ=P H3 H5 H7 H9 H11 H13

I rms S
0.25 2.7 0.64 87 64 38 15 1 7 2.8
0.5 2.63 0.65 85 60 33 11 4 7 3.5
1 2.51 0.68 81 52 24 6 7 6 5.4
2 2.35 0.72 76 42 14 7 6 3 7.5
4 2.19 0.75 69 29 8 8 4 4 11.2
6 2.1 0.77 63 21 8 6 3 3 14.2
8 2 0.78 59 17 8 5 3 2 16.8

fig. 22: variation of principle characteristic parameters of current and voltage for a computer type load supplied from a source of impedance UccR
constant and equal to 2 % for values of Uccx varying from 0.25 % to 8 %.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.13

In our development hereafter, the order of 1 % (in accordance with Note: for a transformer, it is often
impedance of the supply line is figure 23), necessary to take a much higher power
neglected (or integrated into Ucc of ■ for a distortion rate of 10 %, a ratio considering that distortions can
source). short-circuit voltage of the order of 3 % already be present in the network.
A first indication is provided by the must be retained.
A distortion rate of 3 % due solely to
power factor: For a transformer the working of the rectifiers, leads one
■ if Uccx = 4 % to retain a inductive short-circuit
λ =P
S ■ for D = 5 % a power ratio of: voltage of 0.45 % (in accordance with
This power factor is dependent on the figure 23) which amounts to multiplying
Ps = 4 % = 4 is sufficient, by 2.2 the power ratings of
total short-circuit voltage upstream of Pr 1 %
rectifier but can be given a mean transformers to obtain a distortion rate
■ for D = 10 % the power ratio would of 5 %.
value of the order of 0.7.
be: For an alternator
Having established this first criterion,
the power of the source must Ps = 4 % = 1.33 As distortion rates of 5 % and 10 %
therefore be at least equal to the Pr 3 % lead to inductive short-circuit voltages
active power absorbed by the rectifier of 1 % and 3 % respectively, power
but in this case, a value at least equal
multiplied by ratios of alternator to rectifier are
to 1.43 would be required by the power
therefore equal to respectively:
1 or 1.43. factor.
0.7 ■ if Uccx = 6 % Uccx and Uccx .
The second criterion is related to a ■ for D = 5 % a power ratio of:
1% 3%
distortion rate that would be If Uccx = 18 %, it will be necessary:
Ps = 6 % = 6 is necessary ,
acceptable: ■ for D = 5 %
■ if a distortion rate of 5 % is
Pr 1 %
to have a power ratio of:
envisaged, it is possible to retain an ■ for D = 10 %, a power ratio of 2 is
inductive short-circuit voltage of the required. Ps = 18 .
■ for D = 10 %
to have a power ratio of:
voltage distortion U CCR = 0
Ps = 18 % = 6.
rate as % U CCR = 2 %
Pr 3%
UCCR = 4 %
For an inverter
■ classic inverter
As it was explained in our discussion
on source impedances, this type of
inverter of single phase mode exhibits
an impedance comparable to that of an
alternator of good design (with Uccx of
10 the order of 12 %).
As generally the output distortion of an
inverter must be limited at 5 %, then it
is desirable to retain a power ratio of
the order of 12.
Inverters of the classic type are
available today mostly in three phase
5 version. In these, always assuming a
distortion rate of 5 %, the power ratio is
7 when operated with a transformer
whose secondary is connected in
■ PWM inverter with appropriate
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Uccx % regulation
(reminder: its impedance is at least
five times lower than that of a
fig. 23: variation of voltage distortion rate at input of microprocessor type load with respect to
Uccx and several values UccR of the source. transformer for which the power rating
must be multiplied by 4).

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.14

As long as the current drawn by the The PWM inverter appears therefore to single phase loads; the same
load exhibits a crest value lower than be the ideal source of voltage for reasoning can indeed be applied to
the limiting threshold value for the supplying not only loads of RCD type three phase equipment providing the
equipment, the distortion rate remains but also all receiver equipment which equipment is fitted with independent
very low and inferior to 5 %. As soon as are generators of harmonic currents regulation in each phase (this is
the threshold limit is reached, the (non-linear loads). generally the case with this type of
voltage supplied by the inverter In the preceding section, we have equipment).
becomes distorted (sine wave becomes discussed the case of inverters and
affected by crest flattening) and the
voltage distortion rate increases.
Experience shows that, in order to
avoid a voltage distortion exceeding
Urms : 220 V
5 %, it is necessary to set the threshold
Irms : 11 A
limit for current at 1.5 times the crest
value of the nominal effective current of power factor : 0.61
the inverter, crest factor : 3.6

thus I limit = 1.5 2 I rms. distortion rate : 2.7 %

apparent power : 2.4 kVA
The corresponding crest factor of
current is then equal to active power : 1.5 kW

1.5 2 that is 2.12.

Figure 24 shows the variation
(evolution) of voltage and current in a Urms : 220 V
5.2 kVA inverter with a threshold limit 48A Irms : 20 A
set at: power factor : 0.69
5,000 crest factor : 2.4
. 1.5 . 2 = 48 A .
220 distortion rate :3%
A voltage distortion rate of 5 % is apparent power : 4.4 kVA
reached here for an apparent power of active power : 3 kW
5.2 kVA, that is slightly greater than
5 kVA which is its design parameter for
The power factor of the RCD load is, in Urms : 220 V
this case very close to 0.8 (0.79) and 48A Irms : 24 A
consequently the inverter does not power factor : 0.79
need to be over-dimensioned in order crest factor :2
to supply this type of load (except when
distortion rate :5%
the distance between inverter and
loads is relatively significant, this being apparent power : 5.2 kVA
however, true for all sources). active power : 4.17 kW
In the example shown in figure 24, a
5 kVA inverter is capable of supplying a
4 kW rectifier with a distortion rate
inferior to 5 %. Urms : 220 V
48A Irms : 29 A
Thus P inverter = PR = 1.25 PR power factor : 0.82
crest factor : 1.64
It is worth noting that the fact of limiting
the current improves the power factor. distortion rate : 10 %
apparent power : 6.3 kVA
In the preceding paragraph dealing with
transformer, it was noticed that, with a active power : 5.2 kW
power factor of rectifier amounting to
0.7, it was necessary, even in the
absence of constraints on the distortion
rate, to choose a transformer whose
power rating was at least equal to fig. 24: variation of output voltage of 5 kVA inverter with threshold limit set at 48 A.
1.43 PR.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.15

5. conclusion

Static inverters equipped with PWM are market for supplying electronic and them to supply a low distortion voltage
nearly perfect sources of voltage. micro-processor loads. The high speed to receivers that are generators of
Besides their qualities as regards response of their regulation systems harmonic currents (non-linear loads).
voltage stability and frequency stability, endows them with a very low
they are the best generators on the «harmonic impedance»; thus enables

appendix 1: influence of line impedances on voltage distortions

The end of paragraph 3 stresses the ■ characteristics of transformer: ■ first assuming that Z2 = 0 (load very
fact that it is desirable to supply 50 kVA (with Uccx = 4 % et close to transformer).
«receivers» that are generators of UccR = 2 %). Curves in figure 23 will give
harmonic currents by means of special It is necessary to calculate the D = 4.6 % = D2.
lines. impedances of the inductive short- ■ it is necessary now to calculate D et
This is true for loads of RCD type, but circuit and resistive short-circuit of the D2 with a line 100 m/10 mm2
also for all «receivers» utilising power transformer but referred to the active (i.e. 100 m long and a section 10 mm2):
electronics such as rectifiers, battery power of micro-computers, thus: ■ thus short-circuit impedances of the
chargers, speed controllers etc. line referred to PR:
The use of a special line provides U'1ccx = U1ccx . PR
isolation of harmonics through Ps U'2ccx = l ω . PR . 100
impedance (see fig. 25). Un 2
U'1ccR = U1ccR . PR
For a «clean» receiver Ps U'2ccR = R . PR . 10
The distortion rate D1 is practically Un 2
identical to D, and this is all the more thus with:
true as the impedance of line Z1 is
small compared with that of U'1ccx = 4 % . 10 = 0.8 % lω = 0.1 . 100 = 10 m Ω
50 1,000
receiver Zp.
For a non-linear receiver U'1ccR = 2 % . 10 = 0.4 % r = 20 . 100 . 1 = 0.2 Ω
D2 will be all the more lower as the 50 1,000 10
sum Z2 + Zs will remain low, in other
words as the non-linear «receiver» will
have a low power rating in relation to
its supply. Zs
The following example shows more Ls Rs
clearly the influence of Z2 on D and D2. D D1
e Zp clean
Let’s consider a set of micro-computer receiver
U1ccx U1CCR
absorbing 10 kW at 230 V that is being
supplied by a cable conductor 100 m Z2
long connected to a transformer. D2
■ characteristics of cable: I r receiver
■ section: 10 mm2,
■ Lω = 0.1 Ω/km at 50 Hz,
fig. 25: power supply through a specific line a receiver generator of harmonic currents.
■ r = 20 Ω/km for a 1 mm2 section.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.16

U'2ccx = 10 . 10 -3 . 10 . 100
(230) 2 distortion rate U CCR = 0
= 0.19 % due to Uccx
U CCR = 2 %
4 10
U'2ccR = 0.2 . 10 . 100 = 3.8 %
(230) 2 U CCR = 4 %

■ total short-circuit impedances:

U'ccx = 0.8 % + 0.19 % = 0.99 %

U'ccR = 0.4 % + 3.8 % = 4.2 %
U'ccx = U'1ccx + U'2ccx
U'ccR = U'1ccR + U'2ccR
■ the voltage distortion rates D’L and
D’R related to «impedances» of
inductive short-circuits and resistive
These values are obtained from curves
in figure 26a and figure 26b and are
0 1 2 3 4 Uccx %
D’L = 3.9 %,
D’R = 3.9 %. fig. 26a: voltage distortion rates due to Uccx for various values of UccR.

■ distortion rate at input of personal

computers: Uccx = 0
distortion rate
D 2= %)22
(3.9 ) + (3.9 %) 2
= 5.52 %. due to UCCR Uccx = 1 %
■ voltage distortion rates DL and DR at Uccx = 2 %
the source:
Uccx = 3 %
D L = D' L . U'1ccx
U'ccx 3 Uccx = 4 %

D R = D' R . U'1ccR

D L = 3.9 % . 0.8 = 3.15 % 2


D R = 3.9 % . 0.4 = 0.37 %.

■ voltage distortion rate D at the source
D = D L2 + D R2

D = (3.15 %) 2 + (0.37 %) 2 = 3.17 %.

■ in this example, the supply line
causes D and D2 to change as follows

D from 4.6 % to 3.17 %, 0 1 2 3 4 UCCR %

fig. 26b: distortion rates due to UccR for various values of Uccx.
and D2 from 4.6 % to 5.52 %.

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.17

appendix 2: input filters in computer/micro-processor equipment

Their purpose is to stop the ■ of differential mode which are present In fact, currents of the order of 1 to
propagation of disturbances caused by between the two conductors. 2 mA have been measured by UTE.
switched mode power supplies towards Inductance L offers a high impedance If a line supplies several electronic and
other equipment installations that could to currents of common mode but data processing equipment, the sum of
be adversely affected. practically none to those of differential the leakage currents can trip the highly
Conversely, they help attenuate some mode as its windings are wound in sensitive differential residual current
disturbances present in the network opposition. device (30 mA) inserted in the line.
which are likely to alter the functioning
Disturbances of common mode are Filtering of harmonics
of electronic and data information
conducted to earth by capacitors C1 The filters inserted between the mains
and blocked by inductance L. and the RCD supply operate efficiently
The question is to know if these filters in the frequency band-pass ranging
Disturbances of differential mode are
attenuate harmonic currents generated from 10 kHz to 100 MHz.
attenuated by capacitors CA and CR
by RCD loads.
which, at high frequency, offer a low Unfortunately, they are of no use
Interference rejection in network impedance between the conductors. against harmonic currents injected into
Switched mode power supplies operate the mains network.
Protection of switched mode power
at high frequencies in an effort to
supply This is due to the fact that harmonic
reduce the size and weight of
The filter inserted between the AC currents produced by RCD supplies are
mains and the RCD supply ensures a of relatively low frequency: 1 kHz
In figure 27, the load resistance R is the
second function: it protects the RCD corresponds in fact to a harmonic of
basic circuit shown in figure 19 is
replaced by a transformer and its load. supply from impulse type over-voltages order 20 in relation to a fundamental at
In this circuit, the line current remains and from HF interference of differential 50 Hz!
identical because of the presence of and common mode which are present
capacitor C. in the mains.
To achieve silent operation, the Leakages to earth
switching frequency is always high and The presence of capacitors C1 causes
+ 12 V
in any case in excess of 20 kHz. a leakage current at 50 Hz to flow to
The commutation times of a transistor
Design standards generally specify 0V
(change from non-conducting to
conducting state and vice versa) are values of leakage current not to be C
very brief and do not, in some cases, exceeded (a few milliamperes for
exceed a few tens of nano seconds. equipment connected to a mains point).
These high frequency commutations For example, standard specification
(switching) do generate HF interference IEC 950 relating to data processing
that is propagated by conduction and equipment recommends that these
radiation. This gives rise to the leakage currents should be kept below
presence of parasitic interference along 3.5 mA for equipment connected to a fig. 27: basic circuit diagram switched mode
the line upstream of the switching mains point. power supply to RCD load.
device, that is in the mains (on this
subject, it is recommended to refer to
«Cahier Technique» n° 149 Imc Imd
«Electromagnetic Compatibility»).

In order to limit the circulation of these L
HF currents, constructors of data C1
information processing equipment mains
insert filters upstream of the switched CR CA RCD supply
mode power supply unit; a typical C1
circuit of such filters is shown in
figure 28.
These filters reduce disturbances: Imc Imd
■ of common mode which affect in the
same way both conductors with respect fig. 28: basic circuit diagram of an antiparasitic interference filter.
to earth,

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.18

appendix 3: bibliography

■ IEC 146-1-1
Semi-conductor converters. General
requirements and line commutated
convectors - part 1-1: specifications
basic requirements.
■ IEC 950
Safety of information technology
equipment including electrical business
(NF C 77-210, modification 1
■ NF C 42-810
Alimentations sans interruption, de
puissance nominale inférieure à 3 kVA.

Cahiers Techniques Merlin Gerin

■ «Analyse des réseaux triphasés en
régime perturbé à l'aide des
composantes symétriques»
Cahier Technique n° 18
■ «EMC: electromagnetic compatibility»
Cahier Technique n° 149

Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.19

Real.: Illustration Technique - Lyon
Edition: DTE - Grenoble
09-93 - 3000 - Printing: Léostic
Cahier Technique Merlin Gerin n° 159 / p.20 Printed in France