Apparatus and method for maximizing power delivered by a photovoltaic array

  • US 5,747,967 A
  • Filed: 02/22/1996
  • Issued: 05/05/1998
  • Est. Priority Date: 02/22/1996
  • Status: Expired due to Fees
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First Claim
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1. Apparatus for controlling electric power that is generated by a photovoltaic cell and delivered to a battery that has positive and negative terminals, wherein the photovoltaic cell also has positive and negative terminals and the photovoltaic cell generates an electric voltage between its positive and negative terminals and a corresponding electric current flowing out of its positive terminal when radiation is incident on the photovoltaic cell, and wherein the battery has an electric voltage between its positive and negative terminals that is approximately constant during a predetermined time period, comprising:

  • converter means electrically connected to the photovoltaic cell and to the battery for electrically connecting and disconnecting the photovoltaic cell to and from the battery, for controlling and varying the electric voltage generated between the positive and negative terminals of the photovoltaic cell, and for generating and controlling an electric current that flows through the battery such that the electric power generated by the photovoltaic cell is at a maximum during the time period when the electric current flowing through the battery is at a maximum during the time period, said converter means including a switch means for controlling when said converter means electrically connects the photovoltaic cell to the battery and when said converter means electrically disconnects the photovoltaic cell from the battery, wherein said switch means has a first state of operation and a second state of operation such that when said switch means is operating in its first state of operation the photovoltaic cell is electrically connected to the battery and when said switch means is operating in its second state of operation the photovoltaic cell is electrically disconnected from the battery;

    peak current determining means coupled to the battery for determining when the electric current flowing through the battery is at a maximum and for generating an electric signal when the electric current flowing through the battery is at a maximum; and

    switch control means electrically connected to said switch means and to said peak current determining means for controlling when said switch means is operating in said first state of operation and when said switch means is operating in said second state of operation, wherein said switch control means is responsive to said electric signal generated by said peak current determining means.

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