Power electronic converters are switch-mode circuits that process power between two electrical systems using power semiconductor switches. The electrical systems can be either DC or AC. Therefore, there are four possible types of converters; namely DC/DC, DC/AC, AC/DC, and AC/AC. The four converter types are described below:


is also known as ‘‘Switching Regulator’’. The circuit will change the level voltage available from a DC source such as a battery, solar cell, or fuel cell to another DC level, either to supply a DC load or to be used as an intermediate voltage for an adjacent power electronic conversion such as a DC/AC converter. DC/DC converters coupled together with AC/DC converters enable the use of high voltage DC (HVDC) transmission which has been adopted in transmission lines throughout the world.


Also described as an inverter’’ is a circuit that converts a DC source into a sinusoidal AC voltage to supply AC loads, control AC motors, or even connect DC devices that are connected to the grid. Similar to a DC/DC converter, the input to an inverter can be a stiff source such as the battery, solar cell, or fuel cell or can be from an intermediate DC link that can be supplied from an AC source.


This type of converter is also known as a ‘‘Rectifier’’. Usually, the AC input to the circuit is a sinusoidal voltage source that operates at 120 V, 60 Hz, or 230 V, 50 Hz, which are used for power distribution applications. The AC voltage is rectified into a unidirectional DC voltage, which can be used directly to supply power to a DC resistive load or control a DC motor. In some applications, the DC voltage is subjected to further conversion using a DC/DC or DC/AC converter. A rectifier is typically used as a front-end circuit in many power system applications. If not applied correctly, rectifiers can cause harmonics and low power factors when they are connected to the power grid.


This circuit is more complicated than the previous converters because AC conversion requires a change of voltage, frequency, and bipolar voltage blocking capabilities, which usually require complex device topologies. Converters that have the same fundamental input and output frequencies are called ‘‘AC controllers’’. The conversion is from a fixed voltage fixed frequency (FVFF) to a variable voltage fixed frequency (VVFF). Applications include light dimmers and control of single-phase AC motors that are typically used in home appliances.

When both voltage and frequency are changed, the circuits are called ‘‘Cycloconverters’’, which convert an FVFF to variable voltage variable frequency (VVVF) and when fully controlled switches are used, this class of circuit is called ‘‘Matrix Converter’’. Another way of achieving AC/AC conversion is by using AC/DC and DC/AC through an intermediate DC link. This type of combined converter approach can be complex as the correct control approach must be implemented including simultaneous regulation of the DC link, injection of power with a prescribed power factor, and bidirectional control of energy flow.

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