Power Tip 66: Reduce EMI from an offline power supply cost-effectively

December 30, 2013 // By Robert Kollman
Power Tip 66: Reduce EMI from an offline power supply cost-effectively
Robert Kollman, Senior Applications Manager, Texas Instruments points out that in every product, there is a balance to be made between cost and performance. Cell phone adapters are a prime example. One trade-off is in the design of the electromagnetic interference (EMI) filter where component cost must be minimized while the product has to pass strict EMI emission requirements.

Figure 1 shows an example EMI filter and power stage for an adapter.

Figure 1: Common-mode inductor (L1) may not be needed at low power.

As discussed in Power Tip 47 and 48, common-mode currents are generated by the high-voltage switching waveforms applied across the stray capacitances. These capacitances can be quite easy to visualize, such as the primary-to-secondary transformer capacitance, C_Stray2.

Or they may not so easy to visualize, such as the stray capacitance from the transformer core to chassis represented by C_Stray1. These common currents flow through the chassis connection whether it is an intentional physical connection to chassis or just capacitive coupling. As the currents complete their path through the input source, they can cause a product to fail EMI testing.

The typical approach to reducing common-mode emissions is to return common-mode currents in the transformer of Figure 1 through C1 and to add a common-mode inductor, L1, to limit current flow. The challenge is that the common-mode inductor adds cost and size to the product, which is particularly undesirable to low-power, high-volume products like cell phone chargers.

The following describes a series of incremental changes to the EMI filtering of a real design with the goal of eliminating the common-mode inductor. Figure 2 is the baseline EMI measurement which displays the CISPR class B limits and the first two measurements.

Figure 2: C1=4700 pF makes dramatic improvement in EMI.

We removed the common-mode inductor (L1) and common-mode capacitor (C1) and made the measurements. We measured emissions of over 30 dBuV out of spec due to common-mode current through the transformer capacitance C_Stray1. This current continued into the secondary circuits and through stray capacitance into the chassis.

With C1 equal to 4700 pF, we measured a significant reduction in emissions of 30 dBuV, as shown on the plot. This improvement is due to the return of the common-mode currents through the added capacitance (C1). Adding C1

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