Reevaluating Contour Visualizations for Power Systems Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Effective visual analytics tools are needed now more than ever as emerging energy systems data and models are rapidly growing in scale and complexity. We examined the suitability of colored contour maps to visually represent bus values in two different power system models: a dense 24k-bus distribution system and a 240-bus transmission system. In a quantitative analysis, we found that contour maps misrepresent power systems data, changing the statistical dispersion of the bus values, including the loss of extreme values. In a controlled empirical study with thirty professional power system research engineers, we found that these distortions significantly impact excursion identification tasks. Additionally, the engineers were less confident in their assessments using contour-based visualizations than glyph-based visualizations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4877-4887
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-84305


  • contour map
  • excursion identification
  • heatmap
  • human factors
  • power systems
  • Visualization
  • voltage contour
  • voltage violations


Dive into the research topics of 'Reevaluating Contour Visualizations for Power Systems Data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this