January 13, 2023
Conference Paper

Demonstration of a modeling toolkit for the design of building electrical distribution systems


The deployment of building equipment (e.g., lighting, security) and miscellaneous electrical loads that fundamentally require DC power for operation is increasing. Powering these DC loads has traditionally required an AC/DC converter, but the installation of photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage systems that primarily produce DC power eliminates the need for AC/DC converters at each end-device. However, analyzing system energy efficiency and cost for different electrical distribution architectures can be challenging as software tools that support this are not readily available. This paper presents preliminary results from a laboratory verification of the Building Electrical Efficiency Analysis Model (BEEAM) toolkit that was developed to address this gap. Three different eight-luminaire lighting systems comprised of market-available products were designed and modeled: one that used traditional AC distribution, a second that used a hybrid AC -to- centralized DC electrical distribution architecture, and a third that used a hybrid AC -to- distributed DC architecture. Notably, AC/DC conversions are required in all three systems. BEEAM models for LED drivers as well as Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches were created using laboratory characterization data. The lighting systems were simulated in Modelica, and the results were compared with each other and physics-based expectations. Simulation results show that PoE system energy efficiency is highly dependent on both device specification (e.g., LED driver and PoE switch efficiency) and system architecture (e.g., PoE switch loading) choices, as expected. For the products and system architectures selected for this study, the two DC systems were found to be less efficient than the AC system over the course of typical operation. In future work, simulation results will be compared with laboratory measurements to validate the usefulness of this software for design, and lighting systems with integrated PV and battery energy storage will be simulated to quantify the energy performance improvements that result from the elimination of some AC/DC converters.

Published: January 13, 2023


Waghale A.S., S.C. Pratoomratana, and M.E. Poplawski. 2022. Demonstration of a modeling toolkit for the design of building electrical distribution systems. In Proceedings of the 9th ACM International Conference on Systems for Energy-Efficient Buildings, Cities, and Transportation (BuildSys 2022), November 9-10, 2022, Boston, MA, 246-249. New York, New York:Association for Computing Machinery. PNNL-SA-176229. doi:10.1145/3563357.3564057