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Home > Processor/DSP > Designing Active Power Filters

Designing Active Power Filters

Update Time: 2023-04-14 18:18:41

The Active Power Filter (APF) is a new type of power electronic device for dynamic harmonic suppression and reactive power compensation, which can compensate for harmonics and reactive power that vary in size and frequency. The above statement may be too abstract, but in fact, the principle is very simple. In layman's terms, active filters are electronic circuits that filter specific frequency components of a signal. They are commonly used in audio equipment, telecommunications and signal processing applications. 


Compared to passive filters, active filters have more advantages, such as:

  • Lower noise levels

  • Greater flexibility

  • The ability to handle higher frequencies

In this article, we will discuss the quick design of active filters, including their advantages, basic principles and applications.

Benefits of Active Filters

Active filters are popular in the field of electronic circuits because of their advantages that far exceed those of passive filters. Some of the advantages include:

  • Lower noise level: Compared with passive filters, active filters have a lower noise level, so many low-noise applications prefer to use it.

  • Greater flexibility: Active filters have more room for modification and the ability to adapt to the environment, it can easily change itself according to specific design requirements, such as frequency response and bandwidth.

  • Able to handle higher frequencies: Active filters have the ability to handle higher frequencies, compared to other processors, it has a higher adaptation capacity, so it is very suitable for applications requiring high-speed signal processing.

  • Better accuracy: compared to passive filters, active filters can provide better accuracy and precision, this feature can ensure the rigor and accuracy of the data, making them ideal for applications requiring a high level of accuracy.

active filters

The Basic Principle of Active Filters

Active filters use active components, such as operational amplifiers (op-amps), transistors and diodes, through which information is amplified in order to filter specific frequency components of the signal more precisely. They are also classified according to the type of response they provide, such as low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band-stop.

In more detail, the basic principle of an active filter is actually to use an operational amplifier or transistor to amplify the input signal, and then use capacitors and resistors to filter specific frequency components. Interestingly, they have a clear division of labor and close cooperation between the various departments: the op-amp or transistor acts as the amplifier, while the capacitor and resistor act as the filter. The output of the filter is then fed back to the input of the op-amp or transistor, forming a feedback loop to stabilize the circuit and improve the performance of the filter.

Quick Design of Active Filters

If, after reading the above brief introduction, you are also interested in making an active filter, the following are the steps that must be understood to design an active filter:

The design process of an active filter includes selecting the appropriate topology, selecting the filter components, testing and tuning the filter. The specific operations are as follows:

  1. Define the requirements of the filter: The first step in designing an active filter is to define the requirements of the filter, such as the type of response of the filter, cutoff frequency and the gain of the filter.

  2. Select the filter topology: Once the filter requirements are defined, the next step is to select the appropriate filter topology. The choice of topology depends on the filter requirements and application. Common filter topologies include Sallen-Key, multi-feedback and state variable.

  3. Selecting filter components: After selecting the filter topology, the next step is to select the appropriate filter components, such as capacitors and resistors. The values of these components are determined by the requirements of the filter and the selected topology.

  4. Simulate the filter: Once the filter components are selected, the filter can be simulated using simulation software. Simulation allows the designer to evaluate the performance of the filter and make any necessary adjustments before building the actual circuit.

  5. Build and test the circuit: After simulation, the circuit can be built and tested. Testing involves measuring the frequency response of the filter and adjusting the values of the components as needed to meet the requirements of the filter.

Active filters

The Application of Active Filters

Due to the advantages and flexible adaptability of active filters, it has a wide range of applications, including:

Audio Equipment: Active filters are usually used in audio equipment to filter out annoying noise and interference.

Audio equipment

Telecommunications: Active filters are used in telecommunications to remove unwanted frequency components from the signal and to amplify weak signals.


Signal Processing: Active filters are used in signal processing applications to filter out specific frequency components of the signal and amplify weak signals.

Signal processing

Power Supply: Active filters are used in power supplies to filter out unwanted noise and play a role in stabilizing the current.

Power supply

In summary, the design of active filters has been greatly simplified through the use of software tools and high-performance operational amplifiers. By following a few basic steps and using the appropriate software tools, active filters can be designed quickly. Choosing the appropriate op-amps and passive components is critical to achieving the desired performance. Simulation tools, such as SPICE, are valuable for evaluating and optimizing the design prior to actual implementation. The use of Sallen-Key and multi-feedback filter topologies is popular for their ease of implementation and versatility. Active filters are used in a wide range of applications including audio, instrumentation, and communication systems. Their design and implementation play a key role in determining the performance of these systems.

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  • What is the role of digital signal processing in active power filters?
  • Digital signal processing (DSP) is used to analyze the harmonic current waveform and generate a command signal for the power converter. The DSP algorithm can be optimized to minimize the computational load and improve the performance of the APF. DSP also allows for advanced control features such as adaptive filtering, waveform shaping, and resonance damping.
  • What are the components of an active power filter?
  • An active power filter typically consists of a current sensor, a signal processor, a power converter, and a control system. The current sensor measures the harmonic current in the system, and the signal processor analyzes the data and generates a command signal for the power converter. The power converter uses power electronics to inject the opposite current to cancel out the harmonics, and the control system monitors and adjusts the operation of the APF.
  • What is the difference between passive and active power filters?
  • Passive power filters use passive components such as capacitors, inductors, and resistors to reduce harmonics, while active power filters use power electronics to inject an equal but opposite current to cancel out the harmonic current. Active power filters are more effective in reducing harmonic distortion, but they are also more complex and expensive than passive filters.
  • What are the types of active power filters?
  • There are three types of active power filters: shunt APFs, series APFs, and hybrid APFs. Shunt APFs are connected in parallel with the load, series APFs are connected in series with the load, and hybrid APFs combine both shunt and series configurations.

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