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This paper proposes a new methodology for calculating the mean time between failure (MTBF) of a photovoltaic module-integrated inverter (PV-MII). Based on a stress-factor reliability methodology, the proposed technique applies a usage model for the inverter to determine the statistical distribution of thermal and electrical stresses for the electrical components. The salient feature of the proposed methodology is taking into account the operating environment volatility of the module-integrated electronics to calculate the MTBF of the MII. This leads to more realistic assessment of reliability than if a single worst case or typical operating point was used. Measured data (module temperature and insolation level) are used to experimentally verify the efficacy of the methodology. The proposed methodology is used to examine the reliability of six different candidate inverter topologies for a PV-MII. This study shows the impact of each component on the inverter reliability, in particular, the power decoupling capacitors. The results confirm that the electrolytic capacitor is the most vulnerable component with the lowest MTBF, but more importantly provide a quantified assessment of realistic MTBF under expected operating conditions rather than a single worst case operating point, which may have a low probability of occurrence.
Date of Publication: June 2013