Sensitivity Analysis of an Automated Fault Detection Algorithm for Residential Air-Conditioning Systems: Article No. 121895

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The state of the art of fault detection and diagnosis (FDD) for residential air-conditioning systems is expensive and not yet amenable to widespread implementation. FDD for homes can significantly reduce utility costs, and increase the lifespan of the equipment. The cost barriers currently, however, make FDD for homes economically unviable for large scale implementation. In prior work, we offered a solution to reduce FDD costs by proposing an automated fault detection algorithm to serve as a screening step before more expensive FDD tests can be conducted. The algorithm uses only the home thermostat and local weather information to identify thermodynamic parameters and detect high-impact air-conditioning faults, including those that occur during equipment installation. We had tested the algorithm on a single EnergyPlusTM model of a home in Orlando, Florida. The thermodynamic parameter identification process is highly nonconvex involving several local optimal solutions. In this paper we propose a novel method to select the best model for fault detection from among the list of local optimal solutions to make the algorithm more robust to homes of different construction, without which the fault detection process would be infeasible. Another unique contribution of the paper is implementing the solution on real-world data. We also bring the algorithm closer to market by testing it on real-world data. We implement the algorithm on data obtained from experiments conducted by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) on a laboratory home equipped with a heat pump where faults were intentionally added for a period of seven months. The algorithm successfully detected an undercharge fault with 70.6% accuracy, concurrent duct leakage and undercharge faults with 85.2% accuracy, and duct leakage faults with 69.1% accuracy. A sensitivity analysis is also performed on EnergyPlus models of nine types of homes that vary in construction to demonstrate the robustness of the algorithm. The algorithm achieves an average accuracy of 71% for no-fault condition, 77% for 40% undercharge fault, and 76% for duct-leak fault.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-83646


  • automated fault detection
  • gray-box modeling
  • residential air-conditioning systems


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