Direct-DC Power in Buildings: Identifying the Best Applications Today for Tomorrow’s Building Sector

Vagelis Vossos, Melanie Gaillet-Tournier, Daniel Gerber, Bruce Nordman, Richard Brown, Willy Bernal, Omkar Ghatpande, Avijit Saha, Michael Deru, Stephen Frank

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Driven by the increased use of direct current (DC) sources (photovoltaics, battery storage) and DC end-use devices (electronics, solid-state lighting, efficient motors), DC power distribution in buildings and DC microgrids have been proposed as a way to achieve greater efficiency, cost savings, and resiliency in a transitioning building sector. Despite these important benefits, several market and technological barriers inhibit the development of DC distribution, and the market for DC in buildings is still largely in the demonstration phase. Therefore, to jumpstart this technology, a clear path forward must emerge at this early stage of deployment. The goal of this paper is to define specific end-use cases for which DC distribution in buildings is a value proposition today by defining clear efficiency and resiliency benefits while addressing barriers to implementation. The paper begins with a technology and market assessment of DC distribution equipment, end uses, and technology standards. That is followed by results from an expert elicitation of DC power and building end-use professionals (e.g., electrical designers, building operators, engineers) and reports on-site visits and lessons learned from successful (and less successful) field deployments of DC distribution projects in North America. We present specific adoption pathways at the community and building level that can be implemented today, and evaluate them using qualitative and quantitative metrics, such as technology and market readiness, energy savings, and resiliency.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2020
Event2020 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings -
Duration: 17 Aug 202021 Aug 2020


Conference2020 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Bibliographical note

Available from ACEEE: see

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-77441


  • building-level electrical distribution
  • buildings
  • DC power
  • deployment pathways
  • electrical distribution


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