Sunday, April 14, 2024

Reference Design For Solar Power Line Communication

Discover a comprehensive reference design ideal for various solar applications, including micro inverters, string inverters, solar power optimisers, and central inverters.

Power Line Communication (PLC) finds application in various end-equipment scenarios, with grid applications being a prime example. In such cases, data is transmitted between devices using the power cable as the transmission medium, hence the term “Power line communication.” This is achieved by superimposing modulated data onto the power line at higher frequency bands, typically in the kHz and MHz range. This reference design offers a straightforward PLC solution, employing an On-Off-Keying modulator, a line driver, and passive filtering to transmit data over a Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter (UART) interface. This design suits various applications, including micro inverters, string inverters, solar power optimisers, and central inverters.

Texas Instruments reference design TIDA-010935 offers a cost-effective, versatile PLC module compatible with an MSPM0 microcontroller tailored for solar applications. This design can be powered directly from a solar panel or an auxiliary power supply through screw terminals. It includes built-in current limit protection and reverse polarity protection for added safety. Engineers can select multiple carrier frequencies ranging from 125 kHz to 5 MHz. This feature is particularly useful for avoiding interference between the switching frequency of the string inverter and the carrier frequency from the THVD8000. Additionally, the BIAS setting of the THS6222 line driver can be adjusted to enhance overall power efficiency. This design includes several key features: four selectable modulating frequencies (125 kHz, 500 kHz, 2 MHz, 5 MHz), built-in current limit protection, and reverse polarity protection using a TI eFuse. It also enables space reduction by utilising the same communication line for both receiving and transmitting data. Additionally, it is designed as a BoosterPack Plug-in Module compatible with various microcontroller families such as MSPM0 and the C2000.

The THVD8000DDF is an RS-485 transceiver featuring On-Off-Keying (OOK) modulation for power line communication. It includes a built-in modulator and demodulator that can be selected using the MODE pin. On the other hand, the THS6222 is a differential line driver amplifier utilising a current feedback architecture made possible by Texas Instruments’ advanced high-speed silicon-germanium process. This device is designed for broadband, high-speed power line communications, especially in applications requiring high linearity when driving heavy line loads. The MSPM0G350x microcontrollers belong to TI’s highly-integrated, ultra-low-power 32-bit MSPM0 MCU family, leveraging the enhanced Arm Cortex-M0+ core platform operating at frequencies up to 80 MHz. These cost-optimized MCUs boast high-performance analog peripheral integration, support extended temperature ranges from -40 °C to 125°C, and operate with supply voltages ranging from 1.62 V to 3.6 V.

Texas Instruments has thoroughly tested this reference design, which includes a Design Guide, Bill of Materials (BOM), schematics, Gerber files, Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout, and more. Please visit the company’s website for further information on this reference design. To explore this design in greater detail, click here.

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