A Modeling Toolkit for Comparing AC and DC Electrical Distribution Efficiency in Buildings

Avpreet Othee, James Cale, Arthur Santos, Stephen Frank, Daniel Zimmerle, Omkar Ghatpande, Gerald Duggan, Daniel Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Recently, there has been considerable research interest in the potential for DC distribution systems in buildings instead of the traditional AC distribution systems. Due to the need for performing power conversions between DC and AC electricity, DC distribution may provide electrical efficiency advantages in some systems. To support comparative evaluations of AC-only, DC-only, and hybrid AC/DC distribution systems in buildings, a new modeling toolkit called the Building Electrical Efficiency Analysis Model (BEEAM) was developed and is described in this paper. To account for harmonics in currents or voltages arising from nonlinear devices, the toolkit implements harmonic power flow, along with nonlinear device behavioral descriptions derived from empirical measurements. This paper describes the framework, network equations, device representations, and an implementation of the toolkit in an open source software package, including a component library and graphical interface for creating circuits. Simulations of electrical behavior and device and system efficiencies using the toolkit are compared with experimental measurements of a small office environment in a variety of operating and load configurations. A detailed analysis of uncertainty estimation is also provided. Key findings were that a comparison of predicted versus measured efficiencies and power losses in the validation testbed using the initial toolkit implementation predicted device- and system-level efficiencies with reasonably good accuracy under both balanced and unbalanced AC scenarios. An uncertainty analysis also revealed that the maximum estimated error for system efficiency across all scenarios was 3%, and measured and modeled system efficiency agreed within the experimental uncertainty in approximately half of the scenarios. Based on the correspondence between simulation and measurement, the toolkit is proposed by the authors as a potentially useful tool for comparing efficiency in AC, DC, and hybrid AC/DC distribution systems in buildings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3001
Number of pages46
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-3500-79599 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-3500-85852


  • DC distribution
  • electrical efficiency
  • harmonic power flow


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