National Semiconductor Corp. has introduced the SolarMagic arc-detection reference design, which comprises analog front-end integrated circuits (ICs) and multi-band dynamic filtering (MBDF) firmware. According to the company, the product is the first commercially available chip set to detect hazardous DC arc faults in photovoltaic systems.
In PV systems today, intermittent connections or insulation deterioration (faults) can cause DC circuits to generate arcs of considerable energy. The arc, reaching temperatures of over 3,000 degrees C, poses safety risks to surrounding infrastructure and personnel, National says. The 2011 U.S. National Electrical Code 690.11 requires an arc-fault circuit detection and protection system as part of all new PV system installations.
The product's analog front-end ICs and MBDF firmware can detect the arc-fault condition and provide an alert to shutdown system power, extinguishing the arc. The MBDF firmware uses a state-of-the-art abstracted pattern recognition approach that does not require the arc signature to match a rigid, pre-described, absolute shape, the company adds.