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Effectiveness of Harmonic Mitigation Eq

for Commercial Office Buildings

Jih-Sheng Lai
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Bldg. 9104-2, MS 8058
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 3783 1-8058

Thomas Key
Power Electronics Applications Center
10521 Research Drive, Suite 400
Knoxville, Tennessee 37932

Abstract - Harmonic currents generated by modern office

equipment increase power system heat losses and end-users

power bills. By looking at the harmonic-related losses in a
specific electrical system-representing a commercial office
building-energy savings and harmonic reduction benefits of
different mitigation measures are quantified. Two single-phase
and three three-phase active and passive harmonic filters are
added to a typical building electrical system and evaluated by
computer simulation. Current and voltage distortions are
computed, and the estimated cost of these filters are compared to
the predicted loss savings in a power system where harmonic
currents are not compensated. Results show some harmonic
compensating filters are effective and others are not, depending
on the filter type and location in the building.

Harmonic currents come from electronic equipment
employing an input rectifier supplying a dc-link storage or
ripple-smoothing capacitor. This type of equipment includes
everything from adjustable-speed motor drives and fluorescent
lighting to personal computers and home electronics.
Harmonic currents do not upset end-use equipment as much as
they load neutral conductors and transformers, and in general
result in additional heat losses and reduced power factor in the
electrical power system components that must handle these
Heating problems have occurred in commercial buildings
where there is an increased use of electronic-type equipment
and a trend to higher loading in ova per square foot. Office
buildings that were designed for a relatively light plug load in
the 1960s and 70s are often overloaded by electronic
equipment today,
There are several reasons for this trend. One is the
growing use of electronic equipment, even replacing
conventional loading such as lighting and office machines.
Another is an increased demand factor because many of these
electronic equipment are left on a high percentage of the time.
Also, when all the harmonic currents are taken into account,
these appliances can have a very low power factor. And unlike
large data processing systems, located in specially designed
and powered rooms, these electronic appliances tend to be
distributed on existing branch circuits.
0-7803-3544-9196 $5.00 0 1996 IEEE

Adding filters for harmonic reduction is a common way to

cut harmonic related losses and protect the building power
system. However, the filter type, installation location, load
and source characteristics are all critical to achieving the
desired performance. Using results from [ l ] and [2], this
paper evaluates different filter types applied at several
locations in a typical office building power system. The paper
compares the filters estimated cost and side effects with
expected savings in reduced wiring losses and lower


Fig. 1 shows a typical commercial office building wiring
system and the voltage and current profiles under mixed linear
and nonlinear loads. Transformer loading is assumed to be
50%, and the three phases are well balanced. The major
harmonic contributor is switch-mode power supplies (SMPS)
used in personal computers. The losses in the building wiring
serving these computers, and the potential for loss reduction
from harmonic elimination at different locations in the
building, were calculated in [11.
In this model single-phase computer loads are fed by 20A branch circuits with separate neutrals, line segment #l.The
total harmonic distortion (THD) of each branch circuit current
is about 100%. After adding all the single-phase branches and
tying three neutrals together, the current THD in the phase
conductor drops a fractional percentage due to asynchronous
switching between different power supplies. The A-Y
transformer further drops the current THD to 30% at the
primary, because the triplen harmonics are canceled at this
point. Note that on line segment #2, the triplen harmonic
currents in the three phases are all added to the neutral, and
the neutral current is higher than the phase current.
Combining with other building loads, both linear and
nonlinear, reduces the current THD on the line segment at the
service entrance to approximately 16%. Other loading at the
three-phase 480-V main bus is assumed to be a 180-kW linear
load, a 55-kW three-phase nonlinear load, and a 5-kW singlephase electronics load. The total loading of the 600-kVA
service transformer is 300 kW plus the building wiring losses.




or Load Center




1-phase nonlinear loads






Branch Circuit
or Cord Connection

- ...................
j 83A
. 55%THD

3-phase nonlinear loads




Built into

3-phase linear loads












Fig. 1. A commercial office building wiring system voltage and current profiles under mixed lineair and nonlinear loads with each transformer 50% loaded.

Wiring losses per kW will vary depending on the line

segments and the nature of the load. The distorted current with
low power factor leads to relatively higher losses per watt of
connected load. Without any harmonic compensation, the
highly distorted load currents of computer workstations in Fig.
1 may lead to losses in the building wiring delivery system
that are 2.5 times higher than for an undistorted load current.
Also, the effectiveness of harmonic elimination methods will
be highly dependent on location in the building wiring
according to [I].
The distorted current on each line segment interacts with
the line inductance, causing voltage distortions. Fig. 1 shows
the waveforms, THD and associated rms values of the
voltages and currents in the system. The voltage at the input of
the single-phase SMPS load has the highest THD - 7.8%. It
also presents a flat-topping of the waveshape, which is a
reflection of the rectifier output capacitor voltage. With a
typical SMPS design of 5 % ripple in the dc-link capacitor
voltage, this flat-topping of the voltage waveshape is
commonly seen in all electronic loads.
In this model the upstream system voltages are gradually
smoothed by other types of loads, especially linear loads. At
the service entrance of the modeled system, the voltage THD
is reduced to 2.8%. Note that the source voltage is assumed
as ideal with a 6% equivalent impedance that combines the
600 kVA transformer and the upstream source impedance.


It was shown in [ 11 that eliminating harmonics inside the

electronic equipment that produce them is the most effective
approach. Laboratory work by the authors, reported in [3],
compared several options. The most cost-effective built-in
option is the electronic power factor correction circuit or
boost converteir in a SMPS. Unfortunately, incentives for the
manufacturer to do so are lacking at the present time.
Therefore harmonic filters installed in the building are the
next best option.
The locatilon of the harmonic mitigation equipment has
proven to be critical to its loss reduction. Therefore, it is
interesting to look at where the different international
standards limiting harmonics apply in the power system.
IEEE-519 [4] and IEC-1000-3-2 [ 5 ] , apply different
philosophies, vvhich effectively limit harmonics at different
locations. IEEE 5 19 limits harmonics primarily at the service
entrance while the 1000-3-2 is applied at the terminals of enduser equipment. Therefore IEC limits will tend to reduce
harmonic-related losses in building wiring while IEEE
harmonic limits are designed to prevent interactions between
neighbors and 1he power system. These differences have been
described and analyzed in [6].


Prior work included three different levels in the

commercial office building power system at branch circuit or
cord connection, at sub-panels or load center, and at
service entrance, as indicated by the three dashed lines in
Fig. 1. At the service entrance there is little gain in reducing
wiring losses [l], and thus it is omitted as a harmonic
mitigation option. Mitigation options considered here are two
types of single-phase filters, located at electronic equipment
receptacles, or branch circuit and three types of three-phase
filters located at the sub-panel or load center.
A. Compensation at Branch Circuit or Cord-Connected Level

At this location, near the load equipment, the potential for

avoidance of wiring losses is good. However, another
equipment box must be placed in the office area floor space.
This is usually a specialty type equipment and the need for
separate packaging, distribution, and marketing may result in
a relatively high unit cost.

1. Parallel Connected Resonant Filter (PCRF)

This filter is usually configured as a plug-in convenience
outlet and serves 2 to 4 electronic devices. Fig. 2 shows the
circuit diagram of a commercially available PCRF. The
resonant branch impedance approaches zero when the supply
frequency equals the tuned resonant frequency, i.e., CO=@ =
1 / a . In other words, the current at the resonant frequency
approaches infinity and cancels the designated harmonic
current when the supply frequency equals the resonant
frequency. To mitigate the third harmonic for a single-phase
rectifier-interfaced SMPS, the resonant frequency is tuned to
180 Hz. Because the resonant branch may be overloaded by
the supply-side third harmonic current, a series inductor, Lj, is
normally added to detune the PCRF on the supply-side.


Fig. 3. Circuit diagram of a parallel connected resonant filter.

B. Compensation at Sub-panel or Load-Center Level

This location represents a three-phase system, and the
load size ranges from tens of kilowatts to hundreds of
kilowatts. Installation of harmonic mitigation equipment at
this location requires engineering design to specify and install.
Three types of commercially available harmonic mitigation
equipment will be described in this section.

1. Neutral Current Filter (NCF)

This filter is connected in the neutral conductor between
the step-down transformer and the circuit panel or load center,
i.e., line #2 in Fig. 1. The harmonic current blocking principle
is the same as that of a single-phase SCRF. Because triplen
harmonics all flow through the neutral conductor, it is
reasonable and economical to block the triplen harmonics in
the neutral instead of individual phases. Fig. 4 shows a neutral
current blocking scheme that connects a third-harmonic tuned
NCF between neutral and ground.



- - - /



Fig. 2 Circuit diagram of a parallel connected resonant filter





: ;

Neutral Harmonic
Blocking Filter

Fig 4. Circuit diagram of a neutral current bloclung filter.

2. Series Connected Resonant Filter (SCRF)

Unlike the PCRF that traps the third harmonic current, the
function of the SCRF is to block the third or other harmonic
currents. It is available as a plug-in filter that serves several
other electronic devices with a typical rating of 6 amps. To
block the third harmonic, the SCRF employs a single-tuned
paralleled LC circuit whose impedance approaches infinity at
the third harmonic frequency. The multi-tuned SCRF connects
several tuned filters in series to block more harmonics. Fig. 3
is a double-tuned SCRF containing a third harmonic tuned LC
circuit, Lr3and Cr3,and a high frequency tuned LC circuit, Lrh
and C,,, to eliminate high-order harmonics.

2. Zigzag Filter (ZZF)

A special zigzag canceling type auto-transformer (ZZF) is
practical in canceling high 3rd harmonic currents from singlephase loads. The ZZF employs a three-phase auto-transformer
to cancel the triplen harmonic currents and reduce the
upstream neutral currents, as shown in Fig 5. Because all the
triplen harmonic currents (zero sequence currents) are added
to the neutral and flowing from load-side back to source-side
neutral, the parallel-connected auto-transformer can provide a
zero-sequence current path to trap and cancel the triplen


For severe upstream harmonic distortion problems a more

complex auto-transformer can be employed to cancel several
characteristic harmonics. It uses multiple windings with phase
shifting in the primary and a zigzag winding in the secondary,
as described in [7]. In this case the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and higher
order harmonics can be canceled. This is a special application
transformer and may not be economical for the 3rd-harmonic
dominated case. It is therefore not covered in the economic
analysis in this paper.

the harmonic: voltage sources such as the rectifier-interfaced

voltage source converters.
The bask reason for such application restriction is that
the rectifier-capacitor load presents low impedance to the
system, and the shunt filter with inverter switches directly
coupling to the system will have dc link capacitor voltage
interacting with the load-side capacitor voltage, resulting
instability problem. Similarly the current source inverter
presents high impedance to the system, and the current in the
series inductor cannot be regulated instantaneously.





Fig. 5. A typical zigzag auto-transformer showing connections to three-phase

non-linear loads.

A. Harmonic Mitigation Analysis

For the system shown in Fig. 1, the service line segment
fed by the 112.5-kVA transformer is studied throughout this
paper to verify the effectiveness of harmonic mitigation
equipment at two different locations: branch circuit and
load center. We assume that the line and transformer are
approximately 50 percent loaded, i.e. 500 W at each branch
circuit and 60 kW at the load center. Table I describes the
system segments and associated harmonic distortions that are
used for the wiring loss calculation.


3. Active Power Filter (APF)

In a three-phase power system, the instantaneous
harmonic power can be decomposed by the Park
transformation method and real-time compensated by power
line conditioners [8], [9]. Fig. 6 shows a three-phase active
filter containing a series filter to compensate voltages and a
shunt filter to compensate currents.

I1 Segments

I Cable Current THD I Cable Size & Length I1

Cable I*:

Cable 12:

4 x #4/0,50ft

Cable 13:

3 x #1/0, 150 ft

The circuit models were established and simulated for the

ordinary systlem and the system with different types of
harmonic mitigation equipment. A more detailed description
and analysis of harmonic filter models can be found in [2].
Table I1 shows the results of computer simulation and the
associated analyses. All voltage and current THDs were
analyzed over six steady-state cycles of the fundamental. The
rectifier capacitor voltage, Vdc, was calculated by averaging
the steady-state dc bus voltage. The total wiring losses include
line #I, line #.2, transformer TI and line #3, for a total loading
of 60 kW.
The dc-link voltage, vdc, is included here because it is
reduced by peak flattening characteristic of the filter and
directly results in reduction of the SMPS ride-through
capability. Both series connected filters, SCRF and NCF,
cause a significant reduction in the vdc,especially the doubletuned SCRF.
The rms current values shown in Fig. 1 are high relative
to the load rating and show a low power factor. Because the
displacement power factor in a single-phase SMPS load is
close to 1, the harmonic distortion factor becomes the
dominant cause of low power factor. The current THD at the
filter inputs in Table I1 are used as the basis for the wiring loss
calculation in [l]. Table I11 lists the energy savings and line




PWM Controlled

Shunt Filter


Fig. 6. A power line conditioner containing a senes and a shunt active filters
for harmonic voltage and current compensation.

When an individual shunt or series filter is applied,

interactions between the filter and the load must be considered
[lo]. The most commonly used APF has been the shunt
type. However, this type of filter is only effective to the
harmonic current sources such as current source converters.
On the other hand, the series type APF is only effective to


losses by different mitigation methods using these harmonic

analysis results.

Cable line #2 uses a shared neutral, however, the high

triplen currents carried in the neutral almost eliminate the
cancellation In the studied
advantage Of
case, the shared-neutral current is 252 A, three times the
triplen currents of the individual phase.

B. Cost Benefit Analysis

The following cost-benefit analysis assumes that the cost
of energy is $.lOkWH and the SMPS loads are 240 personal
computers and other related electronic office equipment on
120 branch circuits, operating 12 hours per day, 365 days per
year. Other assumptions are:
Filter Equipment life: 12 years.
Power factor penalty at service entrance: 0%.
Maintenance and repair cost applies only at sub-panel.
Dedicated space cost does not apply to cord connected.
5 . Discount rate per year: 8%.


The single-phase SMPSs are used for the base case loading.
These high or low values are considered the filters side-effects.
The savings are based on the reduction in wiring losses as
percentages of the switch-mode power supply loading.
Without any compensation the losses for a 60-kW switchmode power supply load would be about 8150 watts or
13.6%. For comparison, powering a linear load results in
estimated losses of only 4-5% in the same building wiring

Equipment operating efficiencies are taken into account

as part of the life-cycle cost. The period that these losses
occur are considered to be 12 hours per day. However, this
may not be occur for parallel-connected filters unless a control
is provided to turn them off. The need to do this will be
system dependent. In some cases it may be advantageous to
leave them on and in others to turn them off.
Table IV shows the parameters used in the analysis of
costs and energy saving of the different compensation options.
All compensating equipment are rated for a total of 60 kVA,
to match the load requirement. Different filter kVA sizes are
used, depending on the location in the building power circuits.
The per kVA purchase costs of mitigation equipment are
based on available data from practical applications. Costs for
equipment installation, maintenance, and floor space, are also
considered where applicable.


at Branch Circuit
at Load Center


The most lossy component in the commercial building

model is the step-down transformer, which contains both 12R
copper loss and Z2h2 related eddy-current losses. Here h refers
to the harmonic number. Both of these loss factors are
sensitive to the harmonic current content. The second most
lossy component is the cable segment line # I . This cable is
small, typically a #12 branch circuit, and can be relatively
long. The losses are also increased because the #12 branch
circuits use separate neutrals.

Table V compares the life-cycle cost (LCC) results for

different mitigation methods. The LCC is the sum of cost for
equipment purchase, floor space, installation and the present
value of annual maintenance, repair, and energy consumption


by the filter. To obtain the present value for the entire

investment, the present valrue of the energy savings is
subtracted. If the life-cycle energy savings is larger than life
cycle filter cost, then the investment will have a pay-back of
less than its life of 12 years.
In the example case none of the filter options will pay
back in the 12-year life, based on energy savings alone. The
cost per day to own each of the filters, and to achieve the
energy savings and other performance advantages, are
included in the Table V. These are based on 12 hours per day
operation 365 day per year. The lowest life-cycle cost option,
the NCF at the panel, has close competition from the two
passive filters located at the branch circuit, PCRF and SCRF.
Other system requirements are likely to tip the scale one way
or the other. The APF will compensate harmonic currents
effectively, but its high cost offsets the estimated energy
savings related to its use.
As indicated in [1], there are other options of mitigating
harmonics for SMPS loads. Perhaps the best option is the
built-in boost converter method, which can reduce the THD
from 100% to 5% and building wiring losses from 13.6% to
5.6%, thus providing an energy savings of about 8%. This
option achieves a pay-back on the investment, about $6 per
125-W supply or $48 per kW ($6 per supply x 8 supplies), in
less than 4 years for the building wiring case shown in Fig 1.


at Branch Circuit




at $. 1OkWH



at Load Center






the higher series impedance, which blocks the flow of

harmonics but also increases the voltage drop and the line
losses to deliver the remaining components of the load
All the external methods for mitigating harmonics at the
individual load level can be applied at the sub-panel or load
center level, providing an economy of scale. This is true for
passive components such as a tuned filter, e.g. PCRF and
SCRF discussed earlier, a standard delta-wye transformer, or a
special wound transformer. All allow for the use of larger 3phase equipment applied further up stream. This is a big
economic advantage for the equipment first cost per kVA,
however the energy savings in downstream building wiring
may be scarified.
Overall economics of both active and passive type filters
applied in the building wiring generally do not provide a cost
savings. In many cases it will likely cost less to beef up the
power system and live with the harmonics than to clean them
up. If the user intends to live with harmonics than the
increased operating costs, in the form of higher power systems
losses, and the lost circuit capacity need to be checked.
Additional branch circuits may be required to make up for the
reduced circuit capacity. Also, energy savings will be more
important as its cost of energy escalates in the future,
Only a few possible filter options have been selected to
be compared in this paper. New technologies and other
approaches available today may also be viable. Based on the
mechanism fior harmonic compensation, specific equipment
configurations, performance features, and pricefkVA, most of
the different harmonic mitigation approaches are covered in
Tables VI and VII. Table VI summarizes passive-type
harmonic elimination equipment options, and Table VI1
summarizes active-type harmonic elimination equipment







For parallel-connected filtering devices at the load center,
harmonics are allowed to travel further upstream in the power
system. This leads to higher day to day energy costs that will
accumulate due to Z2R losses in the power system conductors
carrying the oscillating harmonic currents. Conversely for
series-connecteddevices, located at the load center, such as a
series-connected choke or tuned filter, there are increased
losses in the filter itself. These losses are simply the result of

Harmonic filters can be effective when high levels of

harmonics arle loading building wiring, increasing line losses
and reducing circuit capacity. All the filter options evaluated
reduced the current THD and helped protect the upstream
system voltage. Some significantly reduced the rms current in
the building >wiring,some increased it. There is a wide range
in individual filter performances. The location of installation
is critical to the filter effectiveness. Only filter options located
near the harmonic generating equipment provided a
significant relduction in line losses.
All filters may interact with the power system depending
on the building wiring impedance characteristics relative to
the filter. This interaction will cause variations in
performance, and in some cases, side-effects. As indicated in
Table 11, two major side effects have been observed when
passive filters were used.


dilutes or absorbs
restricts harmonics

cancels specific
traps a specific
traps several


existing power system
- uses power system natural tolerance and diversity
capacity to dilute & absorb - relies on system restricting and canceling effects
series inductor at load
- simple and relatively low cost
generally low pass, 19 or 39 - reduce voltage at load
phase shifting transformer at I - three-phase,multi-bridge
- complex structure, bulky
series or parallel single
- compensates single harmonic
tuned filter at or near load
- possible under or over compensation, bulky
series or parallel multi-tuned - normally tuned to two adjacent odd harmonic frequencies
filter at or near load
- possible under and over compensation

higher watt losses
and reduced capacity

19 -$200-400
39 -$30
19 -$200/frequency
39 -$30/frequency



cancels harmonic
reshapes voltage
cancels current and
voltage harmonics

parallel filter at or near load
commonly used topology
series filter at load center
requires a current xformer
series and parallel active
converters at or near load

- suitable for current source converters or current harmonic loads
- compensate harmonic currents in real time
- suitable for voltage source converters or voltage harmonic loads
- real-time compensation of voltage
- real-time compensation of both voltages and currents
- most expensive, commercial products available

1. When using a series-connected type filter, the SMPS

input voltage is distorted, and the output dc-link
capacitor voltage is reduced. The line current may be
increased due to a significant voltage drop.


-$ 1,000

[3] J. S. Lai, D. Hurst, and T. Key, Switch-Mode Power

Supply Power Factor Improvement Via Harmonic
Elimination Methods, in Con$ Rec. of Appl. Pwr
Electr. Conf., Dallas, TX, Mar. 1991, pp. 415-422.
[4] IEEE Standard 5 19, IEEE Recommended Practices
and Requirements for Harmonic Control in Electric
Power Systems, 1992.
51 International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC 10003-2 Standard Limits for Harmonic Current Emissions,
Mar. 1995.
61 T. S. Key and J. S. Lai, Comparison of Standards and
Power Supply Design Options for Limiting Harmonic
Distortion, IEEE Trans. on Ind. Appl., Jul./Aug.
1993, pp. 688-695.
71 P. J. A. Ling and C. J. Eldridge, Designing Modern
Electrical Systems with Transformers that Inherently
Reduce Harmonic Distortion in a PC-Rich
Environment, Proc. Power Quality, Sep. 1994, pp.
166- 178.
81 H. Akagi, Y. Kanazawa, and A. Nabae, Instantaneous
Reactive Power Compensators Comprising Switching
Devices without Energy Storage Components, IEEE
Trans. on Ind. Appl., May 1984, pp. 625-63 1.
[9] F. Z. Peng and J. S. Lai, Generalized Instantaneous
Reactive Power Theory for Three-phase Power
Systems, IEEE Trans. on Instr. and Meas., Feb. 1996,
pp. 293-291.
[lo] F. Z. Peng and J. S. Lai, Application .Considerations
and Compensation Characteristics of Shunt Active and
Series Active Filters in Power Systems, to be
presented at 7th International Con. on Harmonics and
Quality Power, Las Vegas, NV, OCT 16-18, 1996.

When using a parallel-connected type filter, the filter

input fundamental current is augmented, especially at
light-load conditions.

None of the filter options pay back within their

expected life span, but the NCF has the lowest cost to own.
Perhaps the best justification for a filter in a commercial
building is to avoid the cost of removing loads, up-sizing
dry transformers or adding branch circuits when harmonicrelated overloads occur. These costs are site-specific and
were not included in the analysis. Filter performance and
efficiency may be severely degraded for unbalanced or
abnormal loading conditions.
Future work should aim at filter cost-effectiveness
study at a specific site with consideration of unbalanced or
abnormal loading conditions, different combinations of
linear and nonlinear loads, and different load levels.

[ l ] T. Key and J. S. Lai, Cost and Benefits of Harmonic
Current Reduction for Switch-Mode Power Supplies in
a Commercial Building, Con. Rec. of IEEE IAS
Annual. Mtg., Orlando, FL, Oct. 1995, pp. 1101-1108.
[2] T. Key and J. S. Lai, Analysis of Harmonic Mitigation
Methods for Building Wiring Systems, to be
presented at the 7th International Con. on Harmonics
and Quality Power, Las Vegas, NV, Oct 16-18, 1996.