This paper presents a method to find the optimal configuration for an electric vehicle energy storage system using a cascaded H-bridge (CHB) inverter. CHB multilevel inverters enable a better utilization of the battery pack, because cells/modules with manufacturing tolerances in terms of capacity can be selectively discharged instead of being passively balanced by discharging them over resistors. The balancing algorithms have been investigated in many studies for the CHB topology. However, it has not yet been investigated to which extend a conventional pack can be modularized in a CHB configuration. Therefore, this paper explores different configurations by simulating different switch models, switch configurations, and number of levels for a CHB inverter along with a reference load model to find the optimal design of the system. The configuration is also considered from an economically point of view, as the most efficient solution might not be cost-effective to be installed in a common production vehicle. It is found that four modules per phase give the best compromise between efficiency and costs. Paralleling smaller switches should be preferred over the usage of fewer, larger switches. Moreover, selecting specific existing components results in higher savings compared to theoretical optimal components.
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