BRC Solar’s Power Optimizer Uses EPC eGaN FETs

Article By : Efficient Power Conversion

EPC GaN FETs' low power dissipation enabled a higher current density for BRC Solar's next-gen power optimizer.

BRC Solar GmbH has revolutionized the photovoltaic (PV) market with its power optimizer, increasing energy yield and performance of PV plants and systems. Designing-in Efficient Power Conversion’s EPC2218 100V FETs into its next generation M500/14 power optimizer has enabled a higher current density due to the low power dissipation and the small size of the GaN FET, making the critical load circuit more compact. The small parasitic capacitance and inductance of the GaN FETs creates a clean switching performance which allows good EMI behavior in the field. Another benefit of the GaN FETs is the zero reverse recovery losses.

The EPC2218 is a 100V GaN FET, 3.2mΩ, 231Apulsed, with a small footprint of just 3.5-by-1.95mm, offering lower losses and smaller size than comparable silicon MOSFETs for increased power density.

BRC’s previous range, the M400/12, handled currents up to 12A and a maximum power operation at 400W. By changing from Si FETs to GaN FETs, the company achieved an increase of output current to 14A with a power rating of 500W – while keeping the same board size. Also, the switching frequency in the M500/14 is twice as high than the previous generation, allowing for passive components, such as capacitors and inductors, to be decreased in value or even completely removed.

The company’s optimizer is only active when shading on the photovoltaic module appears. The predominant case is a fully irradiated module, where the circuit goes into an inactive state. The switching FET is continuously closed in this situation. It is important that the power losses on the board be kept as low as possible. Because of that, the EPC2218 is the optimal solution for BRC’s application because of its low RDS(on). The static losses are also extremely small thanks to the excellent conductivity of the GaN FET.

During the active mode the switching behavior of the module optimizer leads to a small and acceptable power loss. The low parasitic components of the EPC2218 enable fast and clean switching in the application.

In both modes, the temperature rise of the FET is small and allows good thermal transfer to the board via the LGA pads of the EPC2218 even at higher ambient temperatures. Therefore, an additional heatsink is not required further saving space and weight.

“EPC’s eGaN FETs open a new horizon in the development of high-density power electronics. We will watch the further applications and products from EPC and are excited to be part of the journey,” said Winona Kremb from BRC Solar.

“Working with BRC has been an exciting design-in opportunity and, together with our distribution partner Finepower, we have been able to achieve great results moving the company from silicon to GaN. Designers using GaN can now take advantage of devices that are higher performance, smaller, more thermally efficient, and at a comparable cost,” said Stefan Werkstetter, VP of Sales, EMEA.


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