A full-wave rectifier converts the whole of the input waveform to one of constant polarity (positive or negative) at its output. Full-wave rectification converts both polarities of the input waveform to DC and is more efficient. However, in a circuit with a non-center tapped transformer four diodes are required instead of the one needed for half-wave rectification. Four diodes arranged this way are called a diode bridge or bridge rectifier.For single-phase AC, if the transformer is center-tapped, then two diodes back-to-back (i.e. anodes-to-anode or cathode-to-cathode) can form a full-wave rectifier. Twice as many windings are required on the transformer secondary to obtain the same output voltage compared to the bridge rectifier.
Like the half wave circuit, a full wave rectifier circuit produces an output voltage or current which is purely DC or has some specified DC component. Full wave rectifiers have some fundamental advantages over their half wave rectifier counterparts. The average (DC) output voltage is higher than for half wave, the output of the full wave rectifier has much less ripple than that of the half wave rectifier producing a smoother output waveform.Unlike a half wave rectifier, a full wave rectifier conducts in both half cycles of ac voltage.
A full wave rectifier can be implemented in two ways.They are Full wave bridge rectifier and Full wave centre tap rectifier.
Full Wave Bridge Rectifier
In a Full Wave Rectifier circuit two diodes are now used, one for each half of the cycle. A transformer is used whose secondary winding is split equally into two halves with a common centre tapped connection, (C). This configuration results in each diode conducting in turn when its anode terminal is positive with respect to the transformer centre point C producing an output during both half-cycles, twice that for the half wave rectifier.
The full wave rectifier circuit consists of two power diodes connected to a single load resistance (RL) with each diode taking it in turn to supply current to the load. When point A of the transformer is positive with respect to point C, diode D1 conducts in the forward direction as indicated by the arrows. When point B is positive (in the negative half of the cycle) with respect to point C, diode D2 conducts in the forward direction and the current flowing through resistor R is in the same direction for both half-cycles. As the output voltage across the resistor R is the phasor sum of the two waveforms combined, this type of full wave rectifier circuit is also known as a “bi-phase” circuit.
Diode Bridge Rectifier
The four diodes labelled D1 to D4 are arranged in “series pairs” with only two diodes conducting current during each half cycle. During the positive half cycle of the supply, diodes D1 and D2 conduct in series while diodes D3 and D4 are reverse biased and the current flows through the load
During the negative half cycle of the supply, diodes D3 and D4 conduct in series, but diodes D1 and D2 switch “OFF” as they are now reverse biased. The current flowing through the load is the same direction as before.
As the current flowing through the load is unidirectional, so the voltage developed across the load is also unidirectional the same as for the previous two diode full-wave rectifier, therefore the average DC voltage across the load is 0.637Vmax. However in reality, during each half cycle the current flows through two diodes instead of just one so the amplitude of the output voltage is two voltage drops ( 2 x 0.7 = 1.4V ) less than the input VMAX amplitude. The ripple frequency is now twice the supply frequency.
Utilises both halves of the AC waveform.
Easier to provide smoothing as a result of ripple frequency.
More complicated than half wave rectifier.
The twice frequency hum on an audio circuit may be more audible.