MP2731 1-Cell Solar MPPT Charger Reference Design


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MP2731 – Single-Cell Switching Charger with MC96F1206

In an era characterized by the internet of things (IoT), more connectivity means more outdoor devices are now battery-powered and constantly communicating. In particular, there is an increasing number of outdoor devices being powered through solar panels. This reference design is for maximum power point tracking (MPPT) in outdoor designs with a solar panel. It illustrates design tips for a solar panel charger with a Lithium-ion battery, and is suitable for applications such as outdoor solar surveillance cameras or outdoor lighting.

This reference design is developed based on the MP2731, a single-cell switching charger IC from MPS, and the MC96F1206 controller (a low-cost 8051 MCU). It is suitable for small and medium solar-powered charging solutions. The MP2731 integrates a VIN connection switcher, an ADC, and a voltage/current-sense circuit, which significantly reduce system size and cost. This reference design uses a perturb-andobserve (P&O) algorithm for MPPT to achieve a minimum 98% tracking accuracy.

MP2731 Features

  • Wide 3.7V to 16V Operating Input Range
  • Up to 22V Sustainable Input Voltage
  • Up to 4.5A Charge Current
  • Up to 93% Charge Efficiency in 9V Input 5W System
  • Up to 98% MPPT Accuracy
  • Low to 41.5μA Battery Current in Standby Mode
  • Low to 13μA Battery Current in Shipping Mode
  • NVDC PPM to Support System Instant-On and Battery Supplement
  • I2C Interface for Flexible System Parameter Setting and Status Reporting
  • Robust Charging Protections, including Configurable JEITA and Safety Timer
  • Available in a 25mmx25mm Core Circuit Area
eval board

Figure 1: Evaluation Board


  • Outdoor Solar Surveillance Cameras
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • E-Bike Battery Chargers

Solar Charger System Block Diagram

Block Diagram

Figure 2: Solar Charger System Block Diagram

Related Solutions

This reference design is based on the following MPS solution:

MPS Integrated Circuit Description
MP2731 Single-cell switching charger with I2C control and NVDC PPM

Solar Charger System Specifications

Parameter Specification
Input voltage range 3.7V to 16V
System output voltage Up to $V_{BATT}$ (about 3.6V) + 100mV
System output current Up to 4.5A
Charge current Up to 4.5A
Switching frequency 1350kHz
Board form factor 63mmx63mmx3mm

Solar Charger System Design

MP2731 Single-Cell Switching Charger

The MP2731 is a 4.5A, highly integrated, switch-mode battery charger with NVDC power path management for a single-cell Li-ion or Li-polymer battery.

Inductor Selection

Inductor selection is a tradeoff between cost, size, and efficiency. From a practical standpoint, the inductor ripple current should not exceed 30% of the maximum load current under worst-case conditions. If the MP2731 operates with a 5V input voltage, the maximum inductor current ripple occurs after precharge, and when constant current (CC) charge begins. The inductance can be estimated with Equation (1):

$$ L= \frac { V_{IN} - V_{SYS} }{ \Delta I_{L\_MAX}} \frac {V_{SYS}}{V_{IN}\, x \, f_{SW}(MHz)}(\mu H)$$

Where $V_{IN}$ is the input voltage, $V_{SYS}$ is the system voltage, $f_{SW}$ is the switching frequency, and $\Delta I_{L\_MAX}$ is the maximum inductor ripple current, which is about 30% of the CC charge current.

The peak current can be calculated with Equation (2):

$$I_{PEAK} = I_{LOAD(MAX)}\, x\, \left(1+ \frac{\%ripple}{2}\right)(A)$$

The MP2731 has a maximum charge current of 4.5A, but the actual charge current cannot reach this value for the input current limit. For most applications, the maximum inductor current ripple is set to 0.5A with a 5V input voltage, so the inductor is $1.5\mu H$. For small applications, select a $1.0 \mu H$ inductor with a low DC resistance to optimize efficiency.

System Capacitor Selection

To ignore the ESR of the output capacitor, use a small ceramic capacitor with a lower ESR. The output voltage ripple can then be estimated with Equation (3):

$$\Delta r = \frac{\Delta V_{SYS}}{V_{SYS}} = \frac {1-{V_{SYS}\over V_{IN}}}{8\,x\,C_{SYS}\,x\,{f_{SW}}^2\,x\,L} \%$$

To guarantee the ±0.5% system voltage accuracy, the maximum output voltage ripple must not exceed 0.5% (e.g. 0.1%). The maximum output voltage ripple occurs at the minimum system voltage and the maximum input voltage.

If $V_{IN} = 5V, V_{SYS} = 3.7V, L = 1\mu H, f_{SW} = 1.35MHz$, and $\Delta r = 0.1%,$ the output capacitor can be calculated with Equation (4):

$$C_{SYS} = \frac {1-{V_{SYS}\over V_{IN}}}{8\,x\,{f_{SW}}^2\,x\,L\,x\,\Delta r}$$

In this example, choose a $22\mu F$ ceramic capacitor.

MPPT Theory

The output power from a solar panel is determined by several factors: the irradiance level, the operating voltage and current of the panel, and the load. There is a maximum power point where the solar panel outputs optimal power to the system (see Figure 3). Maximum power point tracking techniques, such as perturb-and-observe (P&O) or incremental conductance methods, ensure that the solar panels operate at MPPT under conditions where the irradiance changes.

Figure 3: Solar Panel P-V and I-V Curve

In the power-based P&O MPPT algorithm, the power-to-voltage derivative $(dP_O/dV_O)$ of a solar panel is used as a tracking parameter. Calculate when MPP is reached using Equation (5):


Where $P_O$ is the solar panel output power, and $V_O$ is the solar panel output voltage.

MPPT Software Implementation

The P&O MPPT algorithm is implemented in a 20-pin, 8-bit MC96F1206 MCU from ABOV Semiconductor. To communicate with the MP2731, the I2C peripherals in the MCU are activated. Figure 4 shows the system-level software flow.

Figure 4: System-Level Software Flowchart

Figure 4: System-Level Software Flowchart


Before updating I_OFFSET, turn off other devices connected at the MP2731’s SYS pin to ensure that I_OFFSET is calibrated correctly

The MCU enters sleep mode if VIN experiences an input power failure. If VIN is sufficient, the INT interrupt signal is sent to wake up the MCU. Then the MCU reads the MP2731 registers and initiates the registers (see Table 1).

Register Address Value (Hex) Value (Bin) Description
0x00 0x7F 0111 1111 Sets the input current limit to 3.25A (maximum).
0x02 0xDC 1101 1100 Automatic input current optimization is disabled.
0x03 0x50 0101 0000 ADC continuous conversion is enabled.
0x08 0x84 1000 0100 Termination is enabled, and WTD and safety time are disabled.
0x0B 0xC0 1100 0000 USB detection is disabled.

By setting the input current limit to its maximum value, the panel voltage is controlled only by the input voltage limit loop. By adjusting the input voltage limit loop reference, the PV panel’s voltage can be adjusted. After initializing the MP2731, read the ADC initial value, and then enable charging.

If VIN_STAT is not equal to 1, increase VIN_REG by one unit, and then continue to go back to the previous VIN_STAT value. If VIN_REG reaches its maximum limit and VIN_STAT is still is not equal to 1, gradually decrease the charging current and return to the previous VIN_STAT value.

If VIN_REG set has reached its limit, the ICC set has a minimum at the same time. However, if VIN_STAT still is not equal to 1, the MCU goes into sleep mode. Meanwhile, the MP2731’s charging is disabled until the INT interrupt wakes the MCU.

If the PV panel is partially covered and a local MPP can be tracked using a conventional P&O MPPT algorithm, then the MCU initiates a scan every time the input voltage flag changes. To find the optimal power point, the MCU adjusts the input regulation voltage reference of the MP2731 with a 100mV step from 50% of the panel’s open-circuit voltage (VOC) to 80% of VOC.

After the initial scan, the PV panel operates at the maximum power point. To continue tracking the optimal point under varying load and irradiance conditions, the P&O algorithm runs every 256ms on the MCU (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: P&O MPPT Algorithm

Figure 6: Battery Charger with MPPT Schematic


Qty Ref Value Description Package Manufacturer Manufacturer P/N
1 C1 1µF Ceramic capacitor, 25V, X7R 0603 Murata GRM188R71E105KA12D
1 C2 10µF Ceramic capacitor, 50V, X5R 1206 Murata GRM31CR61H106KA12L
1 C4 100nF Ceramic capacitor, 25V, X5R 1206 Murata GCM188R71C104KA37D
1 C5 47nF Ceramic capacitor, 25V, X5R 0603 Murata GRM188R71H473KA61D
1 C7 10µF Ceramic capacitor, 16V, X5R 0603 Murata GRM188R61C106KAALD
2 C9, C11 22µF Ceramic capacitor, 10V, X7R 1206 Murata GRM31CR71A226KE15L
1 C3 NC Ceramic capacitor 1206
1 C12 NC Ceramic capacitor 0805
4 C6, C8, C10, C13 NC Ceramic capacitor 0603
1 L1 1µH Inductor, 1µH, 21mΩ, 7A SMD Cyntec HTEP32251B-1R0MIR-89
1 LED1 Red LED 0805 Bright LED BL-HUF35A-TRB
2 R1, R2 2kΩ Film resistor, 1% 0603 Yageo RC0603FR-072KL
1 RLIM 1kΩ Film resistor, 1% 0603 Yageo RC0603FR-071KL
4 RT1, RT2, R8, R9 10kΩ Film resistor, 1% 0603 Yageo RC0603FR-0710KL
5 R3, R4, R6, R10, R11 0Ω Film resistor, 1% 0603 Yageo RC0603FR-070RL
1 R5 100kΩ Film resistor, 5% 0603 Yageo RC0603JR-07100KL
1 R7 NC Film resistor 0603
2 JP1, JP2 2.54mm connector
2 JP1, JP2 2.54mm short
1 P1 Header, 5-pin, dual row
10 GND, DISC, NTC, INT, VREF, NTC_BAT, BATT, GND, DSCL, DSDA 2.54mm connector
1 U1 MP273 1 I2C-controlled switching charger with NVDC power path and USB OTG  QFN-26 (3.5mmx 3.5mm) MPS MP2731GQC-0001
1 U2 NC Micro-B USB receptacle 7.5mmx 2.45mmx5mm
1 U3 MCU QFN-20 (3mmx 3mm) ABOV MC96F1206USBN

PCB layout is critical for stable operations. For the best results when designing the general switching design, refer to Figure 7 and follow the guidelines below:

PCB Layout

  1. Route the power stage adjacent to the grounds.
  2. Minimize the high-side switching node (SW, inductor) trace lengths in both the high-current paths and the current-sense resistor trace.
  3. Keep the switching node short and route it away from all small control signals, especially the feedback network.
  4. Place the input capacitor as close as possible to the PMID and PGND pins.
  5. Place the output inductor close to the IC, and connect the output capacitor between the inductor and PGND of the IC.
  6. For high-current applications, the pins for the power pads (IN, SW, SYS, BATT, and PGND) should be connected to as much copper in the board as possible. This improves thermal performance because the board conducts heat away from the IC.
  7. Connect a ground plane directly to the return of all components through via holes.
  8. If possible, place via holes inside the PGND pads for the IC.
  9. It is recommended to use a star ground design approach to keep circuit block currents isolated (highpower/ low-power, small-signal), which reduces noise coupling and ground-bounce issues. A single ground plane for this design gives good results. With this small layout and a single ground plane, there is no ground bounce issue, and having the components segregated minimizes coupling between signals and stability requirements.
  10. Pull the connect wire from the MCU (I2C) far from the SW mode and copper areas.
  11. Place SCL and SDA in close parallel.

Figure 7: Recommended PCB Layout Top Layer (Red) and Bottom Layer (Blue)

Test Results

Figure 8: Charging Efficiency (5V Panels with Different Power)


Figure 9: Charging Efficiency (9V Panels with Different Power)


Figure 10: Charge Efficiency (12V Panels with Different Power)

Time Domain Waveforms


Figure 11: MPPT Process for PV Panel from Start-Up to Steady State


Figure 13: Tracking Performance for Panel when Partially Shaded and when Shade Removed (5V Panel)


Figure 15: Tracking Performance for Solar Irradiance Changing (5V Panel)


Figure 12: MPPT Behavior during Charging Profile


Figure 14: Tracking Performance for Panel when Partially Shaded and when Shade Removed (8V Panel)


Figure 16: Tracking Performance for Solar Irradiance Changing (8V Panel)