Repository logo

A modeling toolkit for comparing AC vs. DC electrical distribution efficiency in buildings




Othee, Avpreet, author
Cale, James, advisor
Young, Peter, committee member
Herber, Daniel, committee member
Jia, Gaofeng, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


An increasing proportion of electrical devices in residential and commercial buildings operate from direct current (DC) power sources. In addition, distributed power generation systems such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage natively produce DC power. However, traditional power distribution is based on an alternating current (AC) model. Performing the necessary conversions between AC and DC power to make DC devices compatible with AC distribution results in energy losses. For these reasons, DC distribution may offer energy efficiency advantages in comparison to AC distribution. However, reasonably fast computation and comparison of electrical efficiencies of AC-only, DC-only, and hybrid AC/DC distributions systems is challenging because DC devices are typically (nonlinear) power-electronic converters that produce harmonic content. While detailed time-domain modeling can be used to simulate these harmonics, it is not computationally efficient or practical for many building designers. To address this need, this research describes a toolkit for computation of harmonic spectra and energy efficiency in mixed AC and DC electrical distribution systems, using a Harmonic Power Flow (HPF) methodology. The toolkit includes a library of two-port linear and nonlinear device models which can be used to construct and simulate an electrical distribution system. This dissertation includes a description of the mathematical theory and framework underlying the toolkit, development and fitting of linear and nonlinear device models, software implementation in Modelica, verification of the toolkit with laboratory measurements, and discussion of ongoing and future work to employ the toolkit to a variety of building designs.


Rights Access


electrical distribution modeling
harmonic power flow
systems modeling and simulation
harmonic analysis
building efficiency analysis


Associated Publications