Online Monitoring of Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors in Photovoltaic Systems by Magnetoresistive Sensors

Wenchao Miao, K. H. Lam, Philip W.T. Pong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Due to the environmental concerns and new energy policies, worldwide expectations for energy production utilizing photovoltaic (PV) systems are increasing significantly. The aluminum electrolytic capacitor (AEC) is extensively used in filtering application for power electronic converters in PV systems since they can achieve the highest energy density with the lowest cost. However, the lifetime of an AEC is limited due to the electrolyte vaporization. The degradation of AECs challenges the efficiency and reliability of a PV system. Therefore, the health-monitoring of AECs is indispensable for the PV systems to operate reliably. In this paper, an online AEC-monitoring scheme based on magnetic-field sensing is proposed for PV systems under various working conditions. The AEC-monitoring technique using the equivalent series resistance (ESR) and capacitance (C) as the health indicators were developed for the power electronic converters in PV systems. The proposed methodology considering the voltage drops on C can improve the accuracy in ESR-estimation and achieve the estimation of C. The simulation results with Simulink verified that the proposed method was capable of estimating the health indicators accurately over various levels of solar irradiance and ambient temperature. The tunneling magnetoresistive (TMR) sensors were pre-calibrated from -25 to 100° C for implementation in PV systems. The experimental results proved that TMR sensors could measure the current of AECs effectively to achieve the precise estimations of the health indicators using the proposed technique. This technique is non-invasive, compact, and cost-effective since it can be realized with the TMR sensors or other MR sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8861114
Pages (from-to)767-777
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Aluminum electrolytic capacitor
  • PV system
  • condition monitoring
  • tunneling magnetoresistive sensor


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