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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Endpoint Use Efficiency Comparison for AC and DC Power Distribution in Commercial Buildings

  • Author(s): Santos, Arthur;
  • Duggan, Gerald;
  • Frank, Stephen;
  • Gerber, Daniel;
  • Zimmerle, Daniel
  • et al.

Advances in power electronics and their use in Miscellaneous Electric Loads (MELs) in buildings have resulted in increased interest in using low-voltage direct current (DC) power distribution as a replacement for the standard alternating current (AC) power distribution in buildings. Both systems require an endpoint converter to convert the distribution system voltage to the MELs voltage requirements. This study focused on the efficiency of these endpoint converters by testing pairs of AC/DC and DC/DC power converters powering the same load profile. In contrast to prior studies, which estimated losses based on data sheet efficiency and rated loads, in this study, we used part load data derived from real-world time-series load measurements of MELs and experimentally characterized efficiency curves for all converters. The measurements performed for this study showed no systematic efficiency advantage for commercially available DC/DC endpoint converters relative to comparable, commercially available AC/DC endpoint converters. For the eight appliances analyzed with the pair of converters tested, in 50%, the weighted energy efficiency of the DC/DC converter was higher, while, for the other 50%, the AC/DC converter was. Additionally, the measurements indicated that the common assumption of using either data sheet efficiency values or efficiency at full load may result in substantial mis-estimates of the system efficiency.

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