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THE USE OF DIRECT CURRENT OUTPUT

FROM PV SYSTEMS IN BUILDINGS

ETSU S/P2/00373/REP

DTI/Pub URN 02/961

Contractor
BRE

The work described in this report was


carried out under contract as part of the
DTI Sustainable Energy Programmes.
The views and judgements expressed in
this report are those of the contractor and
do not necessarily reflect those of the DTI

First published 2002


© Crown copyright 2002

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Further Renewable Energy information from the Sustainable Energy Programme, and copies
of publications can be obtained from:
Renewable Energy Helpline
Tel: +44 1235 432450
Email: NRE-enquiries@aeat.co.uk

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
It is an engaging prospect that a house or an office could rely purely on renewable PV
energy for its electrical needs. If this is to be realised it is apparent that when
photovoltaics (PV) are installed in a building, energy consumption should be
optimised as much as possible. The limited output of PV calls attention to the fact of
significant waste in an ordinary house.
That waste can occur through the widespread use of cheap power supplies and motors
which are designed with cost in mind rather than efficiency. In a PV supplied
house/office, it also manifests itself in the necessity of an inverter, which straight
away uses 10-15% of the power from the array. Power supplies dissipate a further
20% even if they have been selected to be efficient. If the power from the array could
be used in the form it is produced, that is as direct current (DC), then these power
conversion stages could be bypassed, saving nearly a third of the power output.
Otherwise a smaller array could be installed saving a third of the capital cost which,
when added to the cost of the inverter, could reduce the cost of the system to nearly
50%!
Meanwhile technological advances have resulted in a range of new household and
office technologies which could be more readily associated with a DC rather than an
AC power environment. These include all electronic appliances, computers and
peripherals which immediately convert the AC from the plug into DC. New
permanent magnets and high speed semiconductor switching has spawned a new
generation of high efficiency motors and power supplies which are at the heart of
most household and office appliances.

Technological advances are not all in favour of PV/DC. It would be easier to argue
the case for PV/DC if we were displacing power supplies of 40% efficiency which,
while still common, will hopefully be replaced by switching mode power supplies as
the equipment they support is replaced. Also, it is commonly observed that as fast as
our computers become more efficient, we make even greater demands of them,
requiring ever more powerful models.

This report reviews the different kinds of equipment found in houses and offices and
looks at their adaptability to DC supply. In most kinds of mass produced electrical
equipment it would cost very little to provide a means to supply with DC, and it could
well cost less if the AC power supply were not required. Furthermore an appliance
without the first stage power supply would be more reliable, as the power supply, due
to the heat it generates, is one of the least reliable parts. This fact alone could make
DC distribution with centralised power conversion (AC –>DC) worthwhile.

DC distribution systems, generally at a lower voltage than 240 VAC, are commonly
considered unwieldy due to the much greater cable sizes required to carry the same
power at extra-low voltages. This report examines issues related to DC distribution
systems, especially regarding protection against shock and fire hazard. If a building is
designed for low power appliances though, cable sizes need not be scaled up
excessively. A DC distribution system is designed and costed for a model DC house
and office. The cost is only about double.

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Evaluation of the savings from adoption of a DC supply system is complicated by the
fact of a large number of variables-

 Efficiency of a range of domestic and office equipment. This is evaluated by


designing a state-of-the-art model office and house with a full complement of
equipment. Each load is assigned an efficiency improvement due to DC supply.

 Sizing of the PV array and the resultant requirement for storage of surplus power.
Storage of surplus power has a negative effect on the viability of DC supply
because it incurs a power conversion penalty as it is transferred to the battery or to
the grid. This is evaluated by comparing potential supply in an average solar year
hour by hour with the electricity demand profiles of the model house and office.

 Power supply, inverter, and battery efficiencies. Rather than assign single values
for these efficiencies, a distribution around an estimate is proposed. This is
because there are a range of products of different and often indeterminate
efficiency which is varying over time.

Three scenarios, all three supplied by a PV array sized to supply their entire annual
power consumption, are chosen to represent the extremes of the possible modes of
deployment. The first is the conventional grid-connected system with all PV power
converted to AC through an inverter and then back to DC if required. The second
stores all surplus PV power in a huge battery and uses a DC distribution system with
no grid backup. The third uses an inverter to convert surplus power to AC, so it may
be ‘stored’ in the grid.

Feasibility is strongly dependent on the amount of power which needs to be stored,


i.e. a system which is able to use most of the DC power as it is generated will be more
viable, because less power will need to be converted for storage in the grid (losing
30%) or in batteries (losing 20%). The office power supply, mainly consisting of IT
loads, is best matched to PV supply, so a hybrid system of conventional AC lighting
with a PV/DC power supply for equipment is proposed.
Although the most viable scenario, that of the hybrid system, did not result in an
attractive payback (31 years), it is favourably comparable to the payback of PV
systems themselves. If the power savings are deemed to reduce the size of the PV
array rather than reduce the electricity bill, the DC distribution system can be funded
a few times over from the reduced size and cost of the PV array.
A potential route to economic viability for DC supply systems could be:
 An IEA initiative like that for standby power to encourage manufacturers to
produce separate power supplies for electronic equipment, as they do for laptops,
or at least DC power input jacks.
 Demand from the developing world where many homes and offices are remote
from the grid, or the grid is unreliable.
 As DC equipment does not need a (first stage) power supply, which is the most
trouble-prone part of electronic equipment, lower capital cost of DC equipment
and an extended lifetime (reducing lifecycle costs) could make it attractive to
consumers.

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CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................... 1

2 THE PV/DC CONCEPT .......................................................................................................... 4

2.1 Description ............................................................................................................................ 4


2.2 DC/DC converters.................................................................................................................. 5
2.3 AC-Only Equipment ............................................................................................................... 6
2.4 Use of batteries ...................................................................................................................... 6
2.5 What PV/DC offers................................................................................................................. 7

3 EFFICIENCY OF POWER SUPPLIES .................................................................................. 8

3.1 Efficiency of AC/DC power supplies ....................................................................................... 8


Rectifiers ................................................................................................................................... 8
Transformers .............................................................................................................................. 8
Switched Mode Power Supplies (SMPS)..................................................................................... 8
3.2 Power consumption when equipment is off /on standby ......................................................... 10
3.3 Batteries .............................................................................................................................. 10
Backup Power .......................................................................................................................... 11
‘Storage’ .................................................................................................................................. 11

4 COMPATIBILITY OF EQUIPMENT WITH DC ................................................................ 13

4.1 Digital and Electronic Equipment......................................................................................... 13


Audio Equipment and VCRs..................................................................................................... 13
Screens .................................................................................................................................... 13
Digital IT Electronics ............................................................................................................... 14
4.2 Lighting ............................................................................................................................... 14
Tungsten Lighting (‘Ordinary light bulbs’) ............................................................................... 14
Halogen Lighting (Low pressure halogen lighting) .................................................................... 14
Low voltage halide ................................................................................................................... 15
Fluorescents ............................................................................................................................. 15
Emergency Lighting ................................................................................................................. 15
Future trends ............................................................................................................................ 16
4.3 Motors and drives ................................................................................................................ 16
4.4 Air conditioning and Refrigeration ....................................................................................... 18
Technologies employed ............................................................................................................ 18
Low voltage refrigeration and packaged air conditioning equipment .......................................... 18
Equipment prices...................................................................................................................... 19
4.5 Ventilation ........................................................................................................................... 19

5 ELECTRICAL DESIGN ISSUES.......................................................................................... 21

5.1 Protection against Electric Shock ......................................................................................... 21


Protection against Direct Contact .............................................................................................. 21
Protection against Indirect Contact............................................................................................ 21
5.2 Protection against Overcurrent ............................................................................................ 21
Limitation of Short Circuit Current ........................................................................................... 22
Protection Devices for DC ........................................................................................................ 22
5.3 Selection of DC voltage ........................................................................................................ 23
5.4 Cable sizing ......................................................................................................................... 24
5.5 Grid Connection .................................................................................................................. 25

6 THE USE OF ENERGY IN HOMES AND OFFICES .......................................................... 26

6.1 Homes – Electricity consumption breakdown ........................................................................ 26


6.2 Offices – Electricity consumption breakdown ........................................................................ 26
6.3 The trend - more DC-compatible equipment in houses and offices ......................................... 27

7 THE DC HOME MODEL...................................................................................................... 28

7.1 Establishing the Daily Profile ............................................................................................... 28


7.2 Best Practice and DC Supply Assumptions............................................................................ 29
7.3 Potential PV yield vs. demand .............................................................................................. 32
Sizing Strategy 1: Annual Output Equals Annual Electricity Requirement. ............................... 32
Sizing Strategy II Maximum Size so that no seasonal storage is required ................................... 34
7.4 Optimal DC System design & cost ........................................................................................ 39

8 THE DC OFFICE MODEL ................................................................................................... 40

8.1 Establishing the Daily Profile ............................................................................................... 40


8.2 Best Practice and DC Supply Assumptions............................................................................ 41
8.3 Potential PV yield vs. demand .............................................................................................. 42
8.4 Optimal DC System Design and Cost .................................................................................... 45

9 SCENARIO ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................ 46

9.1 The Critical Parameters for PV - DC Efficiency.................................................................... 46


9.2 Scenario 1 AC Distribution, Grid Storage ............................................................................ 46
9.3 Scenario 2 DC Distribution, Battery Storage ....................................................................... 47
9.4 Scenario 3 DC Distribution, Grid Storage ............................................................................ 49
9.5 Hybrid or Partial Systems .................................................................................................... 51
9.6 Other Scenarios ................................................................................................................... 53
Other renewable sources of DC................................................................................................. 53
Developing Countries ............................................................................................................... 54
Clusters of houses .................................................................................................................... 54

10 PAYBACK/RETURN ON INVESTMENT ........................................................................... 55

11 CONCLUSIONS .................................................................................................................... 58

11.1 Advantage of DC Distribution-Efficiency of Equipment..................................................... 58


11.2 DC Distribution and the Problem of Storage..................................................................... 58
11.3 Electrical Design of the DC Distribution System ............................................................... 59
11.4 Route to Viability of DC Distribution................................................................................ 59

12 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ..................................................... 60

12.1 Practical Implementation of a Scheme for DC Compatible Office Loads. .......................... 60


12.2 Feasibility with other Potential DC Power Generators ..................................................... 60

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12.3 Research on Common Power Distribution Standards and/or Carrier Protocols ................. 60

13 APPENDICES ........................................................................................................................ 62

APPENDIX 1 RESULTS OF LITERATURE SEARCH .............................................................. 63


Solar houses / autonomy ........................................................................................................... 63
Load Analysis .......................................................................................................................... 65
DC power distribution systems ................................................................................................. 65
PV and other energy sources ..................................................................................................... 65
Software................................................................................................................................... 66
DC-compatible appliances ........................................................................................................ 66
Inverters, power supplies & batteries / other .............................................................................. 67
Lighting ................................................................................................................................... 68

APPENDIX 2 HOME MODEL ...................................................................................................... 70

Table A1 Electrical equipment inventory ....................................................................................... 70


2.2 Home Demand Profiles ........................................................................................................ 71
2.3 Home Schematics ................................................................................................................. 73

APPENDIX 3 OFFICE MODEL.................................................................................................... 75

Table A2 Electrical equipment categories ..................................................................................... 75


3.2 Electricity Demand Profiles .................................................................................................... 76
3.3 Office Schematics ................................................................................................................... 79

APPENDIX 4 VARIABLES FOR SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS .................................................... 81

Technical Variables ...................................................................................................................... 81


Weighted DC Equipment Energy Efficiency relative to AC (y%) .............................................. 81
Battery Efficiency (b%) ............................................................................................................ 81
Inverter efficiency (i%) ............................................................................................................ 82
Power Supply Unit Efficiency (p%) .......................................................................................... 83
Scenario variables affecting PV DC Efficiency .............................................................................. 83
Storage Requirement (s%) ........................................................................................................ 83
Grid Storage Efficiency (g%).................................................................................................... 84
The Sensitivity Analysis ................................................................................................................ 84
1 INTRODUCTION

Photovoltaics were first used in non-military terrestrial applications for powering


communications, navigation equipment wherever mains electricity was not available.
Their reliability proven, PV + battery, PV/wind + battery and other renewable energy
‘hybrid’ systems are now used in preference to diesel generators at remote telephone
towers and lighthouses. Similar systems supply ‘off-grid’ buildings throughout the
world. At one end of the scale are PV-recharged lanterns which give rudimentary
illumination in a hut; at the other are multi-kilowatt battery + inverter installations
which deliver single- or even three-phase power at mains voltage and frequency, and
are capable of serving all of the equipment associated with even the most affluent of
North American lifestyles.
PV arrays are silent and work well and are aesthetically acceptable: it is generally
easier and less contentious to locate PV equipment near or on a building than it is a
wind turbine, for example. This is one reason why – especially in urban or suburban
settings – architects wanting to incorporate renewable electricity generation into a
design usually opt for PV. The other attraction is that by means of an inverter the
energy produced by a PV array can be fed into the normal mains electricity circuits:
the building remains ‘normal’ except for its having a PV array.
The ‘traditional’ PV panel comprises a silicon array protected from damage and the
elements by a sheet of armoured glass in a metal frame. Panels are fixed onto a
support structure such as a mast or gantry: all in all such installations are industrial in
realisation and appearance.
As the market for photovoltaics has expanded, flexible, folding, and walk-on PV
modules have been developed for camping and boating; and for buildings one can
now specify ‘architect-friendly’ wall claddings and roofing materials incorporating
PV cells. PV material can also be incorporated into ‘intelligent’ architectural glass, so
structures such as airport terminals can generate solar electricity and also operate
photochromically to automatically control internal light levels.
Grid-connected PV-fitted buildings do not usually have storage batteries: the DC-
generating PV array is coupled directly to an inverter, and the AC power produced
ideally should be consumed as and when it is generated. N.B. most such PV
installations shut down during a power cut because the inverters are ‘mains-excited’.
If a PV/AC building at all times consumes more electricity than the array and inverter
produce, ‘top-up’ mains electricity is automatically imported, without complications –
but if a power surplus is sometimes produced, there must be a legal agreement
between the building operator and the electricity company which covers the export of
electricity; and special ‘two-way’ metering is required.
There is an alternative to exporting PV electricity. Powering a domestic hot water
immersion element is one example – but solar thermal panels heat water far more
efficiently and economically. ‘Heat dumping’ is normally a last resort.
A kWh meter inserted between the inverter and the distribution switchboard measures
the units of PV electricity delivered to a building; some simple arithmetic determines
the CO2 emission reduction. However, a harder look at the entire (PV array  end
use) supply chain is revealing:

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 The DC/AC inverter wastes some PV energy: it is not 100% efficient
 Most office and home mains-supply appliances contain DC-powered
electronics.
 AC/DC conversion is often still achieved with a transformer+rectifier+voltage
controller combination, and at each stage there is significant energy wastage.
In theory it should be possible to design a PV-fitted building in which the DC
electricity from the array is distributed directly to the DC circuitry found inside most
appliances, thus bypassing various stages of conversion which each involve losses.
This addresses the key question of this report asking whether a PV/DC installation
could deliver greater benefits overall than its PV/inverter (PV/AC) equivalent?
The next three chapters examine the concept of PV/DC in more detail, looking at
power supply issues, future trends in home and office equipment and how these might
improve the viability of DC distribution systems. The types of equipment which are
best suited to DC supply are identified.
The next chapter looks at the electrical design issues of DC distribution, including
safety, cable sizing, and selection of the distribution voltage.
The final five chapters are concerned with the economics of DC distribution.
First the typical house and office are defined in terms of their daily electricity demand
profiles and electricity distribution systems. This allows an optimally designed array
to be designed so as to minimise ‘storage’, or generation of excess power. A potential
saving of electricity due to DC supply is associated with each item of equipment in
the house/office.
Having estimated potential savings, the extra cost for a typical house and office is
evaluated by designing simple examples and costing the quantities required for the
installation of AC and DC systems for each. The extra cost is mainly related to the
larger and more extensive cabling and conduit required.
As best practice efficiencies are mainly estimated, a probability distribution is
assigned to them and all assumptions about efficiencies are made explicit. The
sensitivity of the resulting payback is calculated. This allows the relative influence of
the most significant variables to be evaluated.
Finally conclusions are drawn from the analysis.
The following diagram illustrates the process graphically with chapter numbers
against subject areas, and how the results are input to subsequent chapters. It can be
used to navigate the report.

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2. The PV/DC
Concept

3.General Supply 4.Equipment


Efficiency Issues Efficiency Issues

5. Electrical
Design Issues

7. DC House – 8. DC Office –
 Demand profile  Demand profile
 Optimal PV  Optimal PV
Array Sizing Efficiency of Array Sizing
batteries, Efficiency of
 Distribution  Distribution
power supplies equipment
System Design System Design
and inverters
Storage Storage
Requirement Requirement
Extra Cost of
DC System Extra Cost of
9/10. Feasibility and payback of
DC System
various system configurations.

11. Conclusions

Figure 1 Report Navigation

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2 THE PV/DC CONCEPT

2.1 Description

In a PV/AC building, the DC power from the PV array is fed to an inverter that
produces AC electricity for either internal distribution, or export where there is a grid
connection. In general, conventional electrical equipment is installed whereby
lighting circuits are rated at 230V 50Hz and appliances draw power via 13 amp
plugs. Some lighting systems and most appliances contain power supply units (PSUs)
that convert the AC to a DC voltage suitable for their electronics, motors, etc. (see
figure 2)

PV/AC Building AC Mains


AC export AC import

Building
DC AC
Switchboard

PV Inverter
array
AC AC

Mains-Powered Appliance e.g. Music System

transformer rectifier controller


AC/DC power supply DC-powered
electronics

Figure 2 Conventional PV Mains-connected AC Electrical System

In the PV/DC building, solar-generated DC power at a ‘standard’ voltage (e.g. 12, 24,
or 110 volts) would be supplied for lighting circuits and distributed directly to wired-
in equipment and wall sockets. Wherever possible, DC-input appliances would be
used. (see figure 3)

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PV/DC Building AC Mains
DC AC import
(as required)
Switchboard
Power
DC Supply
DC DC
Unit

PV + - Battery
array (optional)
DC DC

DC-input Appliance e.g. Music System

switch-mode converter
DC/DC power supply DC-powered
(if necessary) electronics

Figure 3 PV Mains-connected DC Electrical System or PV/DC

2.2 DC/DC converters

This begs the questions of what the ‘standard’ DC voltage will be, as not all
equipment needs the same DC voltage, making DC/DC converters a necessity.
The usual technology used for DC/DC conversion is the ‘switch mode’ power
supply. This is a solid state device, which rapidly combines or splits packets of
electrical charge to respectively multiply or divide the incoming voltage.
Switch mode technology is well proven and is used, for example, to power
laptop computers (typically requiring 18 volts) from car 12 volt systems. The
switch mode conversion process is by its nature more efficient than
transformer/rectifiers reaching 87% for recently-introduced models.

Electronics designers seem to choose DC supply voltages at random and a quick


look around the house seems to support that. The AC/DC Power Supply Units
(PSUs) and/or battery chargers for different pieces of equipment deliver power
ranging from 3-6, 9, 12, 14, 18, 20, or 24 volts, and there might be other
voltages besides these. For example hi-fi amplifiers or PCs include PSUs with
DC outputs ranging from 5 to 40 volts. In fact there are good engineering
design reasons for the multiplicity of DC voltages, though standardisation on a
distribution voltage would be useful.

Having a standard DC supply voltage for domestic and commercial electrical


equipment would make a PV/DC building less complicated and distribution
equipment more readily available. Especially in regards to electricity supply in
the Developing World this issue needs to be taken seriously.

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2.3 AC-Only Equipment

Certain types of electrical equipment use AC power directly and are fitted with 230V
and 50Hz induction motors. These motors have proven to be rugged, as they require
little or no maintenance because they have no slip rings or brush gear; and rotate with
the mains frequency at a nominally constant speed. Typical examples of induction
motor appliances are
 refrigerators and freezers,
 central heating circulating pumps,
 fans.
One might decide that a PV/DC building does need an inverter to supply power to
AC-only equipment. However the disadvantage is that one might end up distributing
both AC and DC power via separate systems of circuits which would be an expensive
option. However there are alternatives to induction motor equipment.
Another type of AC-only equipment uses high power resistance heating elements.
Examples include:
 cookers,
 water heaters and immersion heaters,
 electric showers.
Considering that the fundamental aims of the PV/DC concept is to minimise a
building’s environmental impact, resistance heating has been excluded in any of the
calculations in the following chapters, the underlying assumption being that any other
means of heating, e.g. gas, liquid, solid fuels, solar thermal panels or a heat pump,
will create less pollution overall.

2.4 Use of batteries

If storage batteries are fitted in a PV-supplied building, it is for one or both of two
purposes.

1. Where the building has no grid connection, the battery must store energy
so that equipment can be used at night, on overcast days and – in the
‘shortest term’ – when the sun goes behind a cloud.

2. Energy can be supplied from batteries should the mains – or the PV


array – develop a fault.
A grid-connected PV/DC building fitted with a battery should have a longer
endurance than its PV/AC equivalent, because inverter and power supply losses are
avoided. This can be an attractive proposition, especially for office buildings and
cases where the mains supply is unreliable, as ‘downtime’ can be very expensive. It is
estimated that last years blackouts in California cost businesses at least £50m a day.
Another reason for fitting a battery in a PV/DC building occurs if there is no grid
connection. In this case electricity can be stored for later use at times of excess
generation. Otherwise the designer might decide that here is a justification for

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resistance heating, using an immersion element to produce PV-heated water, leading
to the heat dumping scenario.

2.5 What PV/DC offers

Inverters and power supply units are very complicated and add another element of
‘something else to go wrong’. In the early days of the German pilot 1,000 Solar
Roofs programme, the annual inverter failure rate was 25%. Avoiding both DC/AC
and AC/DC processes, PV/DC should prove to be inherently more reliable than
PV/AC.
As mentioned before neither inverters nor power supply units are 100% energy
efficient. Indeed, communication with industry revealed that the cumulative efficiency
of DC/AC then AC/DC conversion could be well below 50%. It is expected that the
power processing required with PV/DC (predominantly switch-mode voltage
conversion) would deliver a net efficiency nearer to 80%. As well as reducing the net
energy consumption, a PV/DC system would contribute to combating global warming
by displacing electricity generated from fossil fuels.
The expectation is that with no investment in inverters and transformer/ rectifier/
voltage controller power supply units, the overall capital expenditure on electrical
equipment will fall. However, this will be counteracted by increased price of the DC
installation due to the need for cabling of greater current carrying capacity. Also,
economies of scale could make a more complicated mains-powered piece of
equipment cheaper than its DC-input equivalent.

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3 EFFICIENCY OF POWER SUPPLIES

3.1 Efficiency of AC/DC power supplies

The efficiency of the conventional transformer, rectifier and smoothing circuit can be
very low. The power supply may be manufactured at high volumes for low cost, and
simply assembled by the manufacturer of the equipment. The driving consideration
for the manufacturer is low cost rather than high efficiency. Some of the cruder mains
powered supplies, such as for washing machines, can run at only 40% overall
efficiency.
Most audio and VCR equipment uses switch mode power supplies, with the main
component of energy consumption at 16-18V DC. Efficiencies of these Power Supply
Units (PSUs) are 70-80%, so supplying directly at 16-18V DC would mean a large
portion of the equipment’s power consumption will not undergo this conversion. This
would improve efficiency by some 15%, depending on the overall proportion of
power consumed at that voltage.

Rectifiers

The efficiency of rectifiers of the 240V PSU will depend on the current flowing. A
bridge rectifier has a volt drop of 1.4 volts per diode pack and, depending on current,
will effect the efficiency i.e. a 1 amp load would dissipate approximately 1.4 watts.

Transformers

Most of the losses occur as iron losses in the conventional laminated transformer.
Smaller transformers often only operate at 70% efficiency at peak load, while larger
power transformers for electricity distribution operate in excess of 99.7% efficiency.
The use of switched mode power supplies obviates the need for transformers in power
supplies and will have an important application area in smaller equipment where low
efficiency transformers proliferate.
(Note- toroidal transformers, which have a core shaped like a ring, have higher
efficiencies and are suited to low power applications. Toroidal transformers boast
very low magnetic strayfield emission levels, quiet operation, low weight, small size,
as well as high efficiency.)

Switched Mode Power Supplies (SMPS)

The first supplies for 5 V DC logic circuits used transformers and rectifiers followed
by dissipative regulators (resistors), giving an efficiency of only about 35%. The
common assumption that switched mode power supplies presented an electromagnetic
interference problem resulted in inefficient designs being tolerated, despite their large
size and problematic heat dissipation requirements. Power supplies generated more
heat than the load they were supplying.
20 kHz switched mode power supplies have now become commonplace. For more
than a decade, their efficiency ranged from about 60% to 70%. However with the

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pressure for greater efficiency and smaller units, efficiency was improved to 85% for
5 V logic circuit supplies, using power MOSFET transistors and Schottky diodes.
Efficiency keeps improving and 90% is now possible for 5 V power supplies.
As digital circuits are reduced in size they require lower and lower voltages. For the
1.8 to 2.0 V DC supplies used for the latest logic, using the same methods to get 85%
efficiency for 5 V DC logic, only 65% efficiency is achievable.
Switch mode converters are available for multiple types of input, either DC or AC, so
they could be used interchangeably between a DC and an AC system provided the
voltage was within an acceptable range. This means that equipment which is supplied
via such converters could be supplied by DC when PV power is available, and AC
when it is not. This challenges the concept of the DC house which has as its
underlying assumption that the distribution system is either DC or AC, but not a
hybrid. The present generation equipment supplied by SMPSs is not ready for this, but
the possibility is worth exploring especially as it illustrates how equipment can be
tolerant of voltage drops, spikes and harmonics. Voltage drop in particular is
considered a problem with DC distribution at low voltage.

100% P 90% P 85% P 80% P


TRANSFORMER

AC DC MAINS
FILTER ISOLATING
RECTIFIER LOAD
PFC AND
OUTPUT
VOLTAGE ENERGY
CONTROL STORAGE
SWITCH

(TRANSISTOR)

DC INPUT BYPASSES
THIS STAGE

Figure 4 Block Diagram of Switch Mode Power supply

The above block diagram of a SMPS shows that it is essentially a DC/DC converter
attached to an AC rectifier. If DC is supplied to the DC side of the rectifier, the losses
associated with rectification are not incurred resulting in an efficiency improvement
of (0.90/0.80)-1 = 12.5%. If the DC voltage is within 5% of the required load voltage
and able to be supplied directly to the load, the efficiency improvement is (1/0.8) – 1
= 25%.
Also of note is the high speed transistor switch which is controlled by feedback from
the output voltage to operate at the required frequency to regulate the output voltage,
even when the input voltage is low.
The conversion processes illustrated here are AC (50 Hz) to DC to AC (HF switched)
to DC. These conversions limit the passage of power interference, except for some

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ripple, but incur an efficiency penalty. The high frequency of the switched AC means
a very small, lightweight and efficient transformer may be used.
Efficiency is improved with higher speed switching, so there is less dissipation in the
switch, i.e. it is either almost fully conducting or non-conducting.
Advances in semiconductor technology will ensure larger units become available.

3.2 Power consumption when equipment is off /on standby

Standby power requirements of conventional equipment could be reduced by DC


supply because of the standing losses of large power supplies excited to supply only a
small DC load.
However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been working to reduce the
standby power losses of digital and electronic equipment. More and more computers,
modems, printers, satellite receivers, TVs, videos etc. include energy saving software
allowing equipment to enter lower power consumption modes (standby and sleep
mode) while not in use. A large range of household and office goods comply with
Energy Star standards, a voluntary energy labelling scheme developed by the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These and other initiatives, in conjunction
with industry, have resulted in a marked reduction in the rated standby power losses in
the latest digital and electronic equipment.
The standby losses for a typical piece of equipment in the 90’s would be about 10 W.
This does not seem like very much, but considering that the equipment is waiting for a
signal for far more time than it is operating, these losses begin to seem large in
proportion. For example, a TV of 70 W may be operating 3 hours a day consuming
210 Wh. If it is left in standby mode it will consume a further 210 Wh for the
remaining 21 hours, i.e. it has doubled its electricity consumption.
Strategies for dealing with this loss apply a separate small and highly efficient power
supply which only energises the part of the electronics presently ‘on watch’. As soon
as a signal is detected, a relay is activated connecting the main power supply to the
motherboard. Electronics manufacturers have been able to reduce the standby losses
to a fraction of what they were: typically new equipment has a standby loss of 1 to 3
W. This problem of standby power losses could probably have been addressed more
easily had the equipment been DC, but this is now a problem which has been more or
less solved for future generations of equipment.

3.3 Batteries

Batteries are the least reliable part of a stand-alone PV system. Their lifetime has a
strong impact on the economics of the system, and this can be strongly influenced by
good or poor management.
Battery technology is also an environmentally problematic part of the system.
Concern has been expressed that a environmentally benign proliferation of PV
systems in the developing world could result in the environmental problem of the
disposal of lead acid batteries dispersed into remote regions.
The futuristic alternative to batteries, i.e. reversible fuel cells, is not considered to be
sufficiently developed to be included in the models. At present there seems to be no
alternative to lead acid batteries for electricity storage. All that can be done is to

10
promote good charge control and battery management, which can more than double
the lifetime of batteries and reduce their environmental impact accordingly.

Backup Power

In most dwellings, standby electrical power is used but it usually ‘invisible’ to the
occupiers in the form of built-in batteries which maintain clock functions inside PCs,
VCRs, central heating programmers, etc. during power cuts. The total energy storage
capacity is probably only a few watt-hours.
Uninterrupted power supplies (UPSs) are necessary to ensure that IT systems do not
lose data, or ‘crash’; and battery-backed emergency lighting must be provided. The
size of UPS will depend on

 the amount of power it is expected to handle,

 the nature and the amount of electronics the unit is to protect,

 how severe are the consequences of data loss.

Generally, small UPS units (less than 6kVA) provide one-to-one protection common
to many small networks or for standalone processing on a workstation, server, or
computer peripheral.
Lead-acid batteries are normally used to store electricity. They are of course bulky,
heavy and relatively expensive; and they need housing in a dedicated room or cabinet,
but their main drawback in energy terms is that they are only about 80% efficient at
best.
It may seem that if batteries are necessary anyway, for UPS, the argument for a DC
distribution system is half won. Also, DC UPS installations are less sensitive to
harmonic distortion produced by electronic load and low-energy lamps.
Unfortunately the DC system storage cannot share the UPS batteries as, security of
supply is of overriding importance to the user of a UPS. Using the UPS batteries for
PV storage would compromise this. When there is surplus power it would be no
problem and would be of benefit by displacing the relatively small amount of power
normally provided to keep the batteries fully charged. However when DC is in
demand, it could not be afforded from the UPS batteries as this would discharge them,
introducing a risk of running out of back-up power in case of a cut/blackout. The only
potential savings from a DC system will be at the stage of AC to DC conversion for
charging the UPS batteries, and some kind of conversion is likely to be necessary
even from a DC supply.
A DC system may share the UPS regulated AC to DC power supply if this is
sufficiently large. When the DC system is importing from the grid it will require a
clean power supply sized to peak requirements. This may be rather large, much larger
than the UPS, but it is likely to be implemented in modules, one or more of which
could be shared with the UPS.

‘Storage’

Most PV arrays obviously deliver peak power at around midday, therefore their output
compares well with an office’s load profile. Unfortunately, where PV is fitted to

11
dwellings the opposite is true. Most households are heavy energy users in the morning
and evening. Batteries can be used to store surplus energy and for later use, if an
‘intelligent’ battery management device is fitted.
The seasonal need to store electricity will be even greater and, again, will be more
acute in houses than offices. This is because the seasonal profile of an office varies
less due to the requirement for air conditioning or cooling in summer, which
counteracts the need for more artificial light in the winter.
It is possible that, especially in the domestic situation, the presence of a large battery
bank will be conducive to strategies for utilising off-peak power to charge the
batteries particularly in winter when there is a net requirement for outside power.

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4 COMPATIBILITY OF EQUIPMENT WITH DC

Most people would regard AC supply as fundamental because it has been the
mainstay of anything but the smallest equipment for all out lives. Yet there is no
technical reason why any equipment used in the home or office could not be
manufactured in DC form for the same or even lower price. The availability of such
equipment is limited, as it is generally driven by demand in the relatively small leisure
and marine markets. Prices are higher purely because of this limited demand.

4.1 Digital and Electronic Equipment

Audio Equipment and VCRs

Most audio and VCR equipment uses switch mode power supplies, with the main
component of energy consumption at 16-18V DC. Efficiencies of these PSUs are 70-
80%, and supply directly at 16-18 V DC would mean a large portion of the
equipment’s power consumption will not undergo this conversion. This would
improve efficiency by some 25%, depending on the overall proportion of power
consumed at that voltage.

Screens

The power consumption of TV and computer screens is a significant component of


electricity consumption in the home and office. There are currently two trends in
screen energy consumption-
 CRT (conventional Cathode Ray Tube) screens are getting larger for TVs, (not
necessarily for PCs) requiring higher energy consumption
 LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TFT screens for both computers and TVs, are set to
become commonplace, which will reduce energy consumption.
The cathode ray requires a high voltage which need to be stepped up whether the
source is AC or DC. The actual energy use is small so this element of consumption is
limited. Most of the energy of the CRT screen is expended in bending the electron
beam, and this increases with the bending angle, i.e. a larger screen requires more
deflection and therefore more power.
It is assumed that the trend to larger screens will be compensated for by the trend to
flat screen TFT. Already TVs are available at up to 28”, and price and availability is
expected to improve rapidly. While the cost is targeted to be 140% of the price of a
conventional TV, TFT displays yield a massive 80% energy saving. The argument for
flat screen technology will be compelling to the IT industry. Saving on energy, heat
emissions (and air conditioning) as well as desk space, PCs are also on for far greater
periods than most TVs. This makes the payback even more inviting. Compared to
homes, offices have a higher turnover of computers and a ‘proper’ procurement
strategy in place. Flat panel displays (FPD) are therefore expected to be adopted more
rapidly in the office, especially if accompanied by further price reductions.
Following recent trends there also seems to be a convergence of the PC and
entertainment platforms occurring in the home. Depending on uptake this might

13
reduce the number of screens used in homes. These screens do not need the high
voltage of CRT screens and are inherently DC devices. Supplying them with DC
rather than AC is likely to save a further 20% of their energy consumption. Other
large screen technology is in development and it is likely to be energy efficient in
comparison with CRTs.
Further increases in domestic energy consumption are expected due to government
plans to terminate analogue transmission by 2010. This would require a digital
integrated receiver decoder (IRD) to act as the TVs’ reception platform. As the
equipment is still in early stages of development the real impact is unknown, however
the standby power requirements are expected to be significant.

Digital IT Electronics

Computers illustrate the difficulty of power distribution within the circuit board. A
processor requires 1.5V for the microprocessor bus; 1.8 to 2.8V for the processor and
cache; followed with 2.5, 3.3, 5, 12 and 18V rails for logic circuits. Numerous DC/DC
converters are sometimes designed so as to be as near as possible to the point of use.
The 1.5V microprocessor voltage is predicted to be reduced down to 0.6 volts by
2011.
Voltage variations of greater than 5 percent of nominal can induce electro-migration
effects. Voltages less than 5 percent will reduce the speed of the logic transistors,
affecting signal-timing requirements throughout the processor. (If the same level of
accuracy, ±5 percent, continues to be used, the power supply voltage will have to be
controlled within ±15 mV for portable applications and ±30 mV for desktop
computers by 2011.)
Supply with DC is only expected to be at the first stage. All the power requirements
go through this stage, and subsequent conversions will ensure a clean power supply as
they do now.

4.2 Lighting

Tungsten Lighting (‘Ordinary light bulbs’)

Their normal efficacy ranges from 10 – 15 lumens/Watt. There is no difference


between the efficacy of tungsten luminaires designed for 230 volts, and luminaires of
the same wattage designed for 12 or 24 volts. It is expected that very little use would
be made of tungsten lighting in either the PV/DC office or house – but there might be
a case for it where usage is infrequent; for example in broom cupboards, loft spaces,
and for inspection lamps.

Halogen Lighting (Low pressure halogen lighting)

Their normal efficacy ranges from 14 – 22 lumens/Watt. In houses, this sparkly,


‘flattering’ light is very popular in bathrooms and over dressing tables or full-length
mirrors. In offices it is often used in reception lobbies and to illuminate display areas.
It is almost always used for downlighting. Attempts have been made by energy
efficiency specialists to persuade architects and designers to replace halogen

14
downlighters with compact fluorescent (CFL) units with highly-polished reflectors,
but only with limited success.
Supposing that the PV/DC office or house includes a certain number of halogen
fittings. Since the design operating voltage for low pressure halogen luminaires is 12
volts, these fittings could be supplied directly from the PV/DC system provided the
supply is standardised to 12 volts. Halogen lighting using low voltage DC has no
need for a 240/12 volt step-down transformer.
Philips has recently launched higher efficiency halogen luminaires, their ‘Masterline
ES’ series. They claim 40% savings compared to standard models; and a luminaire
operating life of 5000 hours. This model is available at 20, 35 and 45 watt.

Low voltage halide

BLV Gmbh of Germany has recently introduced low voltage halides. BLV are
offering luminaires in the same style as halogens with built-in dichroic reflectors.
These halides also operate on 12 volts, AC or DC. They offer more efficient
performance compared to the mains-powered versions which need transformers. Low
voltage halides are also dimmable adding another marketing benefit.

Fluorescents

Their efficacy ranges from 40 – 90 lumens/watt. Fluorescent lighting is the largest


single electricity load in offices. It is assumed that office lighting will almost entirely
consist of the HF (High Frequency) fluorescent types, either in compact or linear
form, in the medium term.
The most common domestic fluorescents, CFLs, are about 4½ to 5 times more
efficacious than tungsten luminaires. However it should be noted that the ‘straight
tube’ types are the most efficacious amongst fluorescent types and are up to eight
times more efficient than the classic bulb. The 2D ‘square’ tube often found in
‘leisure’ and ‘marine’ 12 volt fittings has an efficacy somewhere in between 65 and
75 lumens per Watt. TL2 lamps are also now available but do not show a similar leap
in efficiency.
Fluorescents operate at a 20% higher efficacy when connected to a high frequency
(HF) supply: HF fluorescent lighting systems run at somewhere between 28 kHz and
42 kHz. Not only are HF fluorescents more efficacious: they are also dimmable. HF
technology therefore permits energy-saving self regulating lighting which works ‘in
tandem with’ natural lighting.
To obtain 230V at high frequency from 230V 50Hz obviously requires an inverter.
The standard issue inverter for a nominal 58 watt TL5 tube consumes 6 watts. Philips
advise that there is no reason why a low voltage 12V DC / 230V HF inverter should
not have the same energy efficiency. In fact savings of 4% would result from not
using the AC-DC part of the inverter.

Emergency Lighting

A typical stand-alone emergency light with an 8 Watt tube causes a continuous drain
of about 2-3W. The only losses are in the charging circuit including the mains
transformer. Typically they are charged at a constant current of 300mA and

15
approximately at 6 volts producing a standing loss of 1.8VA with an extra 10%
approximately for transformer losses, or 2VA in total.
The losses could be reduced by:
a) Having intelligent charging that would shut down the PSU once the battery
was charged i.e. no charge or very low charge until required.
b) By using electronic ballast, this would only produce losses of around 0.5W
compared to around 2-3 Watts.
c) Using a centralised DC supply system
However a centralised emergency lighting battery would not be able to be used for
storage of surplus PV power for the same reasons as a UPS battery could not: a high
degree of reliability is required, and this demands the batteries be kept at an optimum
level of charge.

Future trends

One way of integrating lighting into a PV/DC system would be to increase the use of
light emitting diodes (LEDs) as LEDs require DC supply. They even operate best on
smoothed DC (rather than rectified AC).
Philips have already achieved 100 lumens/watt from red and amber LEDs in the
laboratory: they are aiming for 35 to 40 lumens/watt from white LEDs within the next
5 years.
A lot of money is being invested in LEDs as:
1. they are rugged: there is no filament or glass envelope;
2. they are very easily mass-produced;
3. they have a 100,000 hour operating life;
4. switch on & switch off are instantaneous: hence the possible use of LEDs in all
manner of displays. LEDs are dimmable – or light output can be varied by
pattern switching within an LED array, thus maintaining a constant colour
temperature.
5. LEDs do not cause radio frequency interference;
6. when run on smoothed DC power, LEDs are entirely flicker free
White light emitting diodes (LEDs) are already on sale; as are some LED luminaires,
made up from clusters or strips or matrices of 1 watt devices. However, LED light
fitting manufacturing still seems to be on a scale somewhere between cottage industry
and small batch production at the moment.
An acute watching brief should be kept on LED lighting technology. In the longer
term they could vie with fluorescent lighting for dominance of the lighting market,
though lighting designers will always demand variety of light sources.

4.3 Motors and drives

Most domestic equipment needing a mechanical drive has traditionally been fitted
with single phase “fractional horsepower” AC induction motor. Their efficiency is
very low, often less than 50%. Three phase AC induction motors smaller than 1 kW

16
for mass-produced industrial equipment typically have efficiencies of less than 75%
efficiency. AC motors larger than a 1000 kW can be 97% efficient, however the
largest electric motors found in households and offices are normally 2 kW.
Advances in materials technology, particularly in the fields of metallurgy and solid
state electronics, have given rise to a new generation of metals as well as switching
control capability. These metals and solid state devices permit new designs in
electrical generating equipment, which was unthinkable as little as ten years ago.
The advent of high speed semiconductor switching has not only revolutionised power
supply design by eliminating the transformer, but it is also making DC motors designs
mechanically simple, and highly efficient.
Brushless DC motors (permanent magnet or series wound) were first developed for
computer cooling during the 1970s. There have neither carbon brushes nor a
commutator: electronic switching of the windings (“electronic commutation”) is used
to create a rotating electric field. The technology, which is now well established,
improves controllability, greatly extends the operating life and eliminates a major
source of interference. In AC motors, inducing the field in the rotor results in
inevitable slip losses. These are ‘designed out’ of most electronically commutated
DC motors because they use permanent magnet rotors: thus copper and iron losses are
also reduced, further boosting energy efficiency.
The rare earth magnet was discovered by Sumitomo Special Metals Company, Japan
in 1983. Rare earth magnets (NdFeB) have high energy density, up to ten times that of
older magnets, and stability against de- magnetisation. They are used for
miniaturisation of many devices without compromising on the performance.
The design of electronic commutation technology improved gradually up to the late
1990s. The developments in semiconductors had extended the application range, but
still only reaching a maximum power output of a few hundred watts. However, rapid
development since then has seen the introduction of larger commercially viable
motors with outputs greater than 4.5 kW.
Permanent magnet pumps are now commercially available from Grudfoss and Biral,
which save energy for the above reasons, and also because they introduce a form of
speed control based on outlet pressure. Although these are notionally AC, being
electronic they are really more suited to a DC environment, though they would have
to be adapted to take a DC input.
More and more motorised domestic equipment is utilising speed control. Although
AC motor variable speed drives do save energy they are not very efficient in lower
speeds. Higher energy savings can be achieved with DC motors utilising variable
speed electronic commutation. It would be possible to use variable speed AC motors
in a DC house, by feeding the DC supply directly to a variable speed drive’s inverter
section, eliminating the need for AC/DC power conversion stages, all of which waste
energy.
Switched reluctance (SR) or variable reluctance AC motors are now being produced.
In concept they are similar to brushless DC motor technology but they do not contain
any permanent magnets. The stator consists of ring of switchable field windings; the
rotor is ‘passive’: it is an assembly of iron laminates. The iron rotor is attracted first
to one stator pole and then the next as they are energised in sequence: thus torque is
produced. The SR motor is about 15 years behind the electronic commutator DC
motor in terms of development and market penetration.

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4.4 Air conditioning and Refrigeration

Technologies employed

Nearly all refrigeration equipment sold into the UK domestic market uses the vapour
compression cooling cycle, in which liquid refrigerant removes heat by boiling to
vapour in the evaporator (e.g. the ‘cool box’); the resultant vapour is pressurised in an
electrically-driven compressor; heat is removed from the high pressure vapour in the
condenser; and then, liquid once again, the refrigerant is expanded to low pressure
prior to entering the evaporator and completing the cycle. Standard UK domestic
refrigeration equipment runs on 230 volt 50 Hz AC mains electricity. It is powered
by what is probably the only AC induction motor in the home, although it does not
necessarily need to be powered by an AC motor. For vapour compression
refrigerators the Coefficient of Performance (COP -the ratio of heat extracted to
compressor energy consumption) is typically 3 to 4.
For caravans, boats and remote buildings, none of which have a mains electricity
supply, the most flexible technology is absorption refrigeration. A small gas burner is
the source of the energy that drives the refrigeration circuit, and for many mains
isolated applications bottled gas is often available. For absorption refrigerators the
COP (heat extracted : burner fuel consumption) is about 0.6. It should also be noted
that absorption refrigerators usually consume a fuel (propane) that is, unit for unit,
much cheaper than electricity and has a much lower carbon emission quotient. Some
caravan refrigerators are ‘dual-heat’, meaning they incorporate a 12 volt heater which
can act as the heat source. While the caravan is being towed the gas flame must be
extinguished and the electric element can run off the car’s electrical system. However
using electricity to run a refrigeration circuit with a COP (heat extracted to heating
element energy consumption) of around 0.6 is not an ideal solution.

Low voltage refrigeration and packaged air conditioning equipment

The PV/DC house or office could use gas-fired refrigeration equipment burning mains
gas (methane) or bottled propane or butane. The carbon penalty would be no worse
than with ordinary mains electric refrigerators and freezers. Other benefits of
absorption refrigeration are the extremely low noise levels and that the heat given off
is a useful by-product (except in summer).
For minimum carbon emissions, the refrigeration equipment in the PV/DC building
should ideally operate on solar-generated low voltage electricity, as electrically
powered absorption cooling is too ‘energy-hungry’.
The incompatibility of induction motor compressors and DC power used to rule out
vapour compression refrigeration where mains power was unavailable, but fortunately
this problem has been overcome, and DC versions of compressors can now be bought.
VSD (Variable Speed Drive) driven compressors are being used in the most efficient
models of fridges and packaged air conditioning units, making them compatible with
DC supply, which would further increase efficiency. There are now a few
manufacturers around the world who build 12 volt DC and 24 volt DC refrigerators
and freezers. Most models have a low internal volume because they are aimed at the
boat, caravan, and camping market, and model ranges are small. However this means
insulation is usually generous, and energy efficiency tends to be good due to the

18
limited power availability. The 12 volt fridges, even if the available range is limited,
are superior products to their 240 volt cousins.
Danfoss produce two almost identical compressors, excepting one is DC and the other
AC. The COP of the AC version is 1.27 while the COP of the DC model (@ -10oC
evaporating) is 1.48. This is an efficiency improvement of 14%.

Equipment prices

12 volt or 24 volt DC refrigerators and freezers are a lot more expensive than their
240 volt AC equivalents – but there is no reason for this other than the economies of
scale which result from the mass production of the latter.
The use of a different power supply from AC mains does not affect the way that the
refrigerator or freezer ‘carcass’ is built. Indeed as regards appearance the only
distinctions between a DC unit and an AC one should be the voltage stamped on the
internal light’s bulb, and the technical information on the compressor data plate.
Evaporators and condensers will be interchangeable, as will be the refrigerant itself.
There may be some differences between an AC mains voltage compressor and a DC
low voltage one, but should both sorts of compressor be produced at similar rates, the
extra cost for DC compatibility ought not to be a significant percentage of the total
cost.

4.5 Ventilation

Vent-Axia have introduced a range of low power, low voltage 12 volt DC fans which
they state are typically 80% more energy efficient than the equivalent mains AC
versions. Unfortunately, Vent-Axia do not at the moment manufacture a whole-house
heat reclaim ventilation unit using a low voltage fan though that is probably what will
be specified for a low energy house. They also claim that DC fans have five times the
working life of AC models. Therefore as far as they are concerned, the DC units are
definitely superior products; and in any case they are also safe for use in bathrooms
and shower cubicles etc., where there is a risk of water ingress.
Considering that a PV/DC building would be designed to a ‘low energy’ brief, , the
specification would generally include low voltage DC fans should fan-assisted
ventilation be required. The advantage of PV/DC would be as follows:
 saving the costs of supplying & fitting 240 V AC - 12 V DC power supply
units;
 eliminating the energy wasted in such units.

Vent-Axia 12 volt DC ‘LoWatt’ or Separated Extra Low Voltage (SELV) fans are
available for individual rooms up to 20W or whole house up to 45W, the latter
providing for 434 m3/hour.
These huge efficiency improvements for small DC fans are generally applicable for
housing ventilation, but will not apply to the same extent for office-sized fans. A DC
switched commutator motor of about 5 kW will have an efficiency of about 88%
compared to the AC equivalent of 83%.

19
If speed control is required, the DC alternative is better, as frequency controlled VSDs
used for AC motors are not as efficient, especially at low speed. Using a direct drive
on the DC fans, rather than belt and pulleys, saves a further 10%. Overall the large
electronic commutation DC ventilation fan could save 50% in running costs in a
modulating application compared with an AC fan with VSD. These savings could be
multiplied by a further factor if the fan is serving air conditioned air, as the heat lost
from the motor to air would have to be cooled.

20
5 ELECTRICAL DESIGN ISSUES

5.1 Protection against Electric Shock

Protection against Direct Contact

Provision of insulation, enclosures and other barriers or obstacles is the normal


method adopted to prevent personal contact with live parts. The most appropriate
form of protection for the DC distribution system will be different to that of an AC
system. The wiring rules (411-02 of BS7671) allow for protection against direct
contact to be by ‘Separated Extra Low Voltage’ (SELV). This is an expression for
describing systems of AC voltage less than 50V or DC voltage less than 120v. It only
applies if the systems are electrically separated from any higher voltage system. The
circuits should also, as much as possible, be separated physically from those of other
systems.
This means that a suitably separated DC circuit of less than 120V does not require
insulation to protect people against shock, though it will usually be considered
desirable for other reasons.
Electrical separation includes conditions on the source of the SELV voltage. High
standards relate to any isolating transformer (BS3531:part 1:1990), if the system is to
be supplied simultaneously from batteries and the mains, so the power supply will
have to be specified accordingly. Otherwise it is sufficient that the source voltage, i.e.
batteries or open circuit voltage of the PV strings, cannot exceed the maximum SELV
voltage.
There are also special other conditions where conductors are exposed, i.e. they cannot
be connected to the earth or exposed conductor of any other system, and they cannot
be of a voltage more than 25V AC or 60V ripple-free DC.

Protection against Indirect Contact

Should the primary measure of protection fail, earthed equipotential bonding and
automatic disconnection of supply are the most common provision against indirect
contact. These are measures that may be taken to protect against overcurrents (see
below) but are not necessarily included for safety reasons in an SELV system.

5.2 Protection against Overcurrent

The purpose of protecting against overcurrents is to minimise fire hazard and ensure
any fault current is of a magnitude and duration within the capability of the cables and
connections to endure it. The DC system must be protected against short circuits,
earth faults (if the system is earthed) and overload currents. The protection system
should discriminate which circuit contains the fault and isolate that circuit
automatically. If a system is not earthed, there need to be two earth faults for a fault
current to flow. This could be considered very unlikely with good design, but should
it actually occur, such a fault is difficult to detect.

21
Limitation of Short Circuit Current

Battery systems can have very large short circuit currents which represent a hazard in
terms of the systems capability to conduct such currents, and the batteries capacity to
maintain these currents. During a direct short circuit, hydrogen and oxygen are
created in a mixture which could explode, should any arcing occur. This could cause
subsequent spread of acid and fire. A fuse should be installed near to the main
positive terminal, and maintenance personnel should be aware of the danger of
working within the bounds of this fused protection.
Supplied by a PV panel alone, a DC system is naturally current limited by the short
circuit current of the PV panel. (Systems supplied by converters and rectifiers are
also current limited by the inductances in the devices, though not to anything like the
same degree.) This current limitation, while reducing the hazard represented by a
fault, may also cause the fault to be more difficult to clear using fuses or conventional
circuit breakers.
Fuses and circuit breakers will not fuse/trip if the overcurrent is only slightly above
their rated capacity. A high resistance, low current connection between conductors or
to earth is hard to detect and clear, though it will drain batteries eventually which will
hopefully alert the owner to the leakage before a fire is caused. Paradoxically, the fire
hazard is actually reduced by having a non-earthed system, because a current will not
then flow should a single connection develop between a conductor and earth. Two
such paths would be required to complete the circuit, a situation which is less likely to
occur. However an earthed system could be adopted to ensure the protection
mechanisms operate more readily.

Protection Devices for DC

For small short circuit currents the difference between minimum and maximum fault
clearing time becomes very large. This makes fast and selective protection of low
voltage networks difficult. There is one advantage of using fuses- the rise in their
resistance as they heat up reduces the short circuit current. However they are not very
amenable to selective protection. Electronic protection is recommended for all but the
simplest DC networks.
Ordinary MCCBs (moulded case circuit breakers) can be used, but their time-current
characteristic must be adjusted by a multiplier to convert their operation from AC to
DC. The multiplier has the effect of shifting the time-current characteristic to the
right, making a type B MCB operate more like a type C. The thermal part of the trip
curve remains unchanged, but the magnetic part is de-rated by a factor of 1.414 (root
2) Most manufacturers quote such multipliers in their product specs.
The impedance of the circuits needs to be calculated from the cable resistances, and
internal impedance of the battery bank. The short circuit current can then be
calculated and MCB sized to suit. The current in a circuit without batteries will be
limited to the short-circuit current of the PV.
Residual current circuit breakers (RCCBs) may be used to detect earth faults but are
of a different type to those used for AC earth fault detection.
Generally the DC system should be separated by the equivalent of double insulation
from the AC system (galvanic separation using an isolation transformer within the
inverter or DC power supply). It can then be left floating with no connection to earth.

22
This makes it inherently resistant to developing an earth fault circuit, as two faults to
earth would be necessary.

5.3 Selection of DC voltage

The selection of the optimum DC voltage could be based on the voltage most
commonly used on the DC sides of converters in all domestic and office loads. For
safety reasons outlined above it should be less than 120V but the ideal level for direct
DC feed to an HF lighting control circuit would be two or three times this. In an
average home, electronic and digital equipment does not constitute a large portion of
home use. Lighting is the single largest consumer of electricity (about a quarter), but
with improved efficiency lamps, this will drop. If the second largest household load is
targeted for optimum voltage, it would be refrigeration, nearly a quarter of the
household load. As for electronic and digital equipment, it only constitutes about an
eighth of domestic consumption but is rising in the medium term.
In the case of the office, using the same reasoning, the argument for an optimal
voltage based on digital equipment becomes dominant. In the office about 30%
consumption is down to lighting and 30% is related to digital office equipment use.
Unfortunately though, there is no single ideal voltage for office equipment. The
reason for the wide variety of voltages within equipment is precisely because different
chips require different voltages and are designed that way to optimise energy
efficiency. This is vital at small scale where heat dissipation becomes a critical design
constraint. Nevertheless the natural environment for electronics would be 16-18V,
and this would have to be further converted within equipment much as it is now.
Referring to figure 4, the savings that could be attributable in supplying an SMPS
after the rectifier alone would be about 12.5%, but it is hoped that by supplying at 16-
18V some portion of the load can be supplied directly at savings of 25%. This would
depend on the architecture of the power supply system, i.e. is the supply cascaded
down in voltage with DC converters located physically nearby where they are
required, or is there a single power supply with multiple outputs. Another issue which
would require attention is the probability that some form of power conditioning of the
DC supply would be needed to clean it up of switching transients and harmonics.
There are many PV modules available with an MPP (maximum power point) output
voltage in the range of 16-18V. These are the family of modules designed to charge
12V systems directly.
The ideal voltage in other countries will depend on their particular mix of equipment,
but it is reasonable to assume that lighting and digital equipment will dominate the
demand profiles of offices everywhere. This voltage is slightly in excess of the most
common requirements of digital electronics to allow for some small voltage drop.
The disadvantages of distributing at such a low voltage are
a) the larger cable size required to carry the greater currents, and
b) the higher associated voltage drops.
Where the DC distribution system is to interface directly with the DC part of a
switched mode power supply, the voltage drop problem is accommodated by the
ability of the SMPS to regulate its own output voltage.

23
Another DC voltage which may be considered is 340V, especially if the concern is a
clean power supply rather than energy efficiency. This is because most switch mode
power supplies are peak voltage detecting devices (in contrast to rms detecting such as
heating equipment and ordinary light bulbs) and are able to be supplied either with
AC at 240V or DC at 340V ( = 240 x 1.414 ). Supply at 340V DC like this would not
bypass the SMPS but it would result in a cleaner power supply.The automotive
industry is currently lobbying for the adoption of 42 volt systems in cars and trucks,
driven by the increasing appetite in modern transport for DC accessories. This will
facilitate the development of 42V appliances for the camping, caravaning and
possibly marine markets. The specifications that are being developed for the 42V
system restrict maximum and minimum voltage levels to provide a much narrower
operating range than with today's 14V systems. For digital and integrated circuits,
better MOSFETs, or other power conditioning semiconductors, are being developed
to serve this market. It could therefore be argued that DC houses adopt 42V to benefit
from the availability of consumer goods that will run at that voltage. Compared to the
16 - 18V alternative, DC distribution cabling would be about half the cost.

5.4 Cable sizing

The issue of cabling is related to the selection of DC voltage. The sizes of cables
could become very large with a DC distribution system of 16-18v. A circuit designed
to serve a typical ring main of 30 A at 240V AC is capable of delivering 7.2 kW. In
order to deliver this much energy at 18V would require a cable rated at 400 A! These
cables would be very costly and even more difficult to install. One solution would be
to reduce the number of sockets served by each circuit and install a greater number of
circuits, which will put up the cost of the installation anyway.
This has been the commonly cited reason against DC distribution at extra low voltage.
However improvements in efficiency of equipment could eventually marginalise this
argument by making consumption in the DC house/office much less, so reducing the
size of cabling required to serve the lower load densities.
The worse than typical scenario would be an office with a computer density of 1 per
10 m2. In order to serve PCs with an average consumption of 100w (assuming
efficient enough equipment and diversity to allow this) then the number of them
which could be served from a 16 mm2 cable (69A), in conduit, would be 12.4, or 124
m2 of office area. A copier, laser printer, or vending machine would require a
dedicated supply e.g. 2 kW, would require a 35 mm2 cable.
If the cable runs are long another aspect may come into play: the voltage drop caused
by the extra resistance in a long cable. This is not likely to effect the house but will
introduce a limit on the size of load that the office DC mains can serve.
What would be an acceptable voltage drop? If the 18 V system delivers only 16 V
then only 79% (V2/R) of the power is delivered into a constant resistance load. If we
assume this is acceptable as a worst case, then the 16 mm2 cable cited above for 10
computers (1 kW) would only suffice if they were an average of 12 metres away. Our
model office has maximum cable runs of 30m. so we would either need two 16 mm2
cables or a single 35 mm2 cable for each of these power circuits. It would be cheaper
to install the 35 mm2 cable but this does leave unresolved the question of requiring
specialist cable terminations for cables so large. A DC socket will be required near the
computers/loads to reduce the lead size.

24
5.5 Grid Connection

It would be impractical to use batteries to store excess PV output during the summer
for use in the winter. Batteries are generally sized for small PV systems on the basis
of using the power stored some 3 to 7 days afterwards, called ‘autonomy’. For
continuous year round use at latitudes higher than 50 or 60 degrees, large battery
banks with seasonal storage are required. For a domestic situation this is likely to be
impractical, as a design brief would normally be for around five days autonomy. The
efficiency (power out/ power in) of such a battery bank is about 80%.
The obvious solution to seasonal disparities in supply and demand, and one which
would also reduce or eliminate the need for batteries, is to use an inverter for grid
connection. This is attractive where the grid company is willing to connect, and
supply companies are willing to buy the excess power at selling price.
The technical and economic costs of grid connection are as follows:
a) G77 inverter would have to be purchased
b) The efficiency of the inverter is about 90% at optimal loading
c) The efficiency of the recovery of DC from the grid through a power supply is
likely to be about 80%, and this AC-DC conversion detracts from the targeted
savings of not needing AC-DC conversion in the equipment.

The overall efficiency of inversion followed by rectification will be about 70%, which
is less than battery storage of about 80%. However the advantages in terms of
reliability, maintenance and depreciation costs of batteries, disposal of batteries, and
even the up-front costs of batteries and charge conditioner will generally lie with the
grid-connected system if grid connection is available.

25
6 THE USE OF ENERGY IN HOMES & OFFICES

6.1 Homes – Electricity consumption breakdown

Home energy use has been studied and averaged by the Building Research
Establishment (BRE) and updated by the Environmental Change Unit (ECU) of the
University of Oxford. This data is known as the Decade Data. It is in the form of the
total UK energy consumption for a wide range of home electrical equipment. The
energy consumption for the average house can be determined by simply dividing the
gross energy use by the number of homes.
The Decade Data is used to run various scenarios of future energy consumption, but
for the purposes of this study the year 2000 figures for the business-as-usual scenario
have been used. It is probable that future trends will be for greater use of electronic
equipment, which would seem to imply higher standby losses, but with IEA and other
initiatives to reduce standby losses the greater incidence of equipment left on will
probably not increase consumption over the present, and in all likelihood reduce it.
There is also a trend to equipment of greater efficiency, with energy labelling
expected to contribute to lower demand in the future depending on scrapping of old
inefficient models. The increasing use of compact fluorescents will also have a
beneficial effect.
These kinds of trends are taken into account in the model house by first taking the
average demand and reducing it by a factor to reflect the use of efficient equipment
rather than ‘average’ equipment. It is assumed that a house with PV would give due
attention to reducing demand through good practice.

6.2 Offices – Electricity consumption breakdown

Office electricity data has been taken from research undertaken by BRE. Audits in
125 office buildings classified equipment into 188 categories. Associated weekday
and weekend time schedules, along with rated energy demands, were drawn up for
each piece of equipment.
In order to make use of this data and establish an annual profile for the model office,
the time schedules and categories of equipment needed to be simplified. There is no
average office profile available to which results could be compared. The range of
sizes and functions of offices necessitate some bold assumptions in arriving at the
profile of the model office.
Assessing trends in office energy consumption are complicated by markets dynamics,
whereby the use of office equipment is expanding rapidly, offering improved products
in terms of greater efficiencies (partly due to Energy Star compliant products),
improved capabilities and functionality. Office equipment does not have the longevity
of home equipment, so efficiency gains in design enter the office more rapidly. The
data is adjusted to factor in Energy Star performance of computers, printers, and
photocopiers, which would not have been manifest at the time of the original BRE
surveys.

26
The building regulations part L now demand better design of lighting using energy
efficient luminaries and controls. This could reduce energy density to well below 15
W/m2. For the purposes of the office model a lighting energy density of 10 W/m2 is
assumed and the survey data amended accordingly.

6.3 The trend - more DC-compatible equipment in houses and offices

The trend in both office and houses is to use less electricity for heating, as insulation
standards go up, but more for electronic equipment and cooling. This means the stock
of equipment is becoming more suitable for DC supply.
Perhaps the most significant change most imminent is the adoption of TFT flat screen
technology, which might become widespread in the office. As well as savings space,
it is far more energy efficient, thus reducing heat loads. It is fundamentally DC
technology, eliminating electromagnetic emissions and compatible with DC supply.
The requirement to subsequently cool to compensate for waste heat from computers
and other electronic equipment means there are pressures to improve the efficiency of
electronic equipment. For example, some schools specify laptops for classrooms so as
to minimise the heat load. Part of this heat load reduction strategy could be the
provision of DC supply to eliminate waste heat from transformers.

27
7 THE DC HOME MODEL

7.1 Establishing the Daily Profile

For the purposes of this study an annual profile was established based on the total
annual consumption figures given in the Decade Data. Seven different types of time
schedule were associated with the 43 different loads, along with summer and winter
weightings. The time schedules were as follows:
a) Entertainment
b) Lighting
c) Housework
d) Cooking
e) Heating (Not Off-peak)
f) Cooling
g) Constant
Following the conversion into a daily profile the data was compared with typical
summer and winter profiles of electricity use from the Electricity Association. The
first comparison showed that the summer and winter profiles were already remarkably
close. However time schedules were further altered to give a better fit. The height of
the profile, or demand in kW, was not taken from the Electricity Association graphs
which are ‘typical’ rather than ‘average’ profiles. The average annual consumption of
the EA house is 3608 kWh compared with 3088 kWh for the first set-up of the Model
House.
The following graph shows the summer and winter demand profiles compared to the
EA data. The entire annual profiles are derived from this by assuming a linear
‘morphing’ between these two seasonal extremes, and no special time scheduling for
weekends. These annual profiles consist of half hourly data of the total consumption
of the house.

Figure 5 Derived Average Profile compared to that of the Electricity Association

DOMESTIC UNRESTRICTED

1
0.9
0.8
0.7 Winter EA
0.6 Summer EA
kW

0.5
0.4 Winter Model
0.3 Summer Model
0.2
0.1
0
AM AM AM PM PM PM
12:30 04:30 08:30 12:30 04:30 08:30

28
7.2 Best Practice and DC Supply Assumptions

For the purpose of this model the average consumption pattern for the model house
was reduced, as:

 it included elements of electric heating and cooking generally supplied by power


stations powered by fossil fuel
 it reflects the use of inefficient equipment/ appliances whereas the PV-DC building
model assumes that the most energy efficient equipment is purchased and used
 certain assumptions are unrealistic, e.g. averaging the possession of certain types of
equipment, e.g. half an electric blanket
Therefore the average profiles were reduced accordingly by eliminating the loads that
were generated by fossil fuels, and reducing certain other loads to reflect the probable
use by our DC house’s discerning user of higher efficiency equipment.
Although justifying a DC system would be easier when compared to an AC system
with conventional transformer power supplies and small inefficient motors, this is not
considered a suitable option. DC systems are unlikely to be retrofitted to supply old
equipment, and instead are more likely associated with state-of-the-art thinking which
would entail the best available technology. A potential future Best Practice scenario
will consist of only switched-mode power supplies and electronically switched DC
motors. Therefore the potential for DC systems to improve on Best Practice will be
examined.
Looking at the immense range of electricity consuming products in the average house
a DC scenario might limit consumer choice and convenience to a certain extent.
However certain equipment not deemed essential such as an electric sandwich maker,
often only used a few times a year, can have an ac power supply fed from an inverter
for special occasions. This is unlikely to effect the cost of the installation by very
much, or the savings.
The average loads are reduced by the Best Practice Factors shown in Appendix 2
Table A1, the Model Home Equipment Inventory, whereby zero indicates that the
house will not be provided with such equipment except as a miscellaneous load. Some
of the household appliances are predicted to decrease their energy consumption
according to the Market Transformation Programme(MTP) and where such figures
are available they have been used to inform the derivation of the Best Practice Factor
in the column labelled as such. However the Economic Technical Potential (ETP)
identified by the MTP differs from the Best Practice assumptions being applied here,
in that the ETP of a product is the level of development that is technically feasible and
cost-effective to the consumer, rather than what could be achieved with the very best
products installed under Best Practice. Under these Best Practice assumptions the
annual consumption drops to 1865 kWh per annum, which is about half that of the EA
profile.
The column labelled DC Supply Factor contains factors to be applied to Best Practice
consumptions in order to express the savings available from DC supply. Thus, from
the average profile, first the Best Practice factor is applied to derive a profile for a

29
state-of-the-art house, and then a further reduction to that profile is applied to
represent the savings due to DC supply.

Many of the smaller transformers and motors in household equipment operate at only
40% efficiency. If all of these were displaced with first stage power supplies running
at 80% efficiency, such equipment would only consume 50% of the business-as-usual
amount:
Power consumed = (Useful Power)/ 0.8 = 50% x (Useful Power)/0.4
Any state-of-the-art motorised equipment, such as washing machines, clothes dryers,
vacuum cleaners, etc. already use inverters and would therefore operate more
efficiently if supplied by DC power. The most efficient microwave ovens also use
inverters as it allows them to regulate the cooking intensity throughout a cycle.
Inverters have the potential to become commonplace in household appliances in the
near future, and are therefore taken as standard for the underlying Best Practice
assumptions. These are estimated to reduce power consumption of motors and
controls considerably given the following conversion efficiencies:

 AC – DC 80%,
 DC – AC 90%,
 Improved low load performance, conservatively say 90%,

resulting in an overall DC Supply efficiency of 80% (0.9 x 0.9) compared to 40%.


The reduction in consumption will not be down to 50% for dishwashers and washing
machines though, because some of the energy is used for heating. This compares to an
ETP of 75% for dishwashers and 91% for washers. The further reduction of
consumption due to the contribution of DC supply, which eliminates the first AC –
DC conversion, will be 80%.
HF lighting throughout the house is assumed to be Best Practice, which is estimated at
about 30% of the consumption of an average lighting scheme considering the extent
of the use of incandescent lighting at the time the data were gathered. The MTP
prediction is for a reduction of 42% in 2010 over 1998. HF lighting supplied by DC is
assumed to save a further 5% as it removes a power conversion stage.
Refrigeration is predicted by the MTP to be capable of very large improvement of the
order of 20% consumption in 2010 compared to 1998 (i.e. an 80% reduction!). The
improvements modelled in the MTP to establish the ETP scenario were as follows:
increased door insulation, increased cabinet insulation, increased evaporator surface,
increased condenser surface, increased evaporator heat capacity, increased condenser
heat capacity, improved compressor efficiency and decreased door leakage.
Vacuum panel insulation is another interesting development. Hermetic compressors
are already quite efficient but consumption reductions will be forthcoming with
switched reluctance drives, say to 80%, and then a further similar improvement from
supply with DC. According to MTP, improvements on that scale are unlikely to be
achieved by the fridge-freezer combination, the most popular choice. However, future
consumption is still predicted to be only about 50% compared to present figures. For

30
the purposes of predicting Best Practice a reduction to 40% of all cooling equipment
is assumed and a further 15% for DC supply.
Following a 50% reduction for Best Practice for small equipment, a further reduction
to 90% of Best Practice is applied for DC supply.
The MTP predictions are for large improvements in efficiencies of VCRs, but hardly
any for TVs or HiFis The predicted increase in use and ownership of Digital
Integrated Receiver Decoder (IRDs) will probably increase the contribution of the
entertainment part of electricity use. Standby power consumptions are also much
higher for the new technology. With all these different influences beyond the scope
of this project to investigate, it is proposed to assume a similar consumption for
‘entertainment’ under Best Practice. Then the reduction factor in consumption to be
applied with DC supply would be 80%, as the 80% efficiency switched mode power
supply is displaced.
Microwave ovens are assumed to reduce consumption to 80% with inverter control,
and to 90% of that with DC supply.
The consumption of the central heating pump is assumed to reduce to 50% as a result
of inverter load control, and a further 90% of that under DC supply.
The remaining miscellaneous loads, which only represent a relatively small amount of
total household consumption, are multiplied by 80% to account for improvements and
Best Practice, and a further 90% to account for DC supply.
These loads are reduced accordingly by the factors shown in the table in Appendix
2.1. The overall weighted improvement due to the use of DC distribution amounts to
87.6% of the consumption of the house without.
The daily profiles of the Best Practice model and the DC Supply model show
significant drops in consumption as shown below. The annual consumption of the
Best Practice Model is 1424 kWh/annum while that of the DC supplied model is 1247
kWh/annum, i.e. DC supply saves about 14% over Best Practice, giving a relative
efficiency of DC supplied equipment 114%. (Note- implementation of both Best
Practice and DC supply saves 60%).

Figure 6 Comparison of Model of DC Supplied House with EA’s Typical house

EA compared to DC SUPPLIED MODEL

1
0.9 Winter EA
0.8
0.7
0.6 Summer EA
kW

0.5
0.4
0.3 Winter Model
0.2 DC Supplied
0.1
Summer Model
0
DC Supplied
AM AM AM PM PM PM
12:30 05:00 09:30 02:00 06:30 11:00

31
A more detailed breakdown of the household load is graphed in Appendix 2.

7.3 Potential PV yield vs. demand

A PV array is now considered to supply the entire needs of the house. Assumptions
regarding the design of the array are as follows:

 Insolation figures made available from satellite data for Watford in 1996. The year
has a total insolation of 1057 kWh/m2.
 The array is optimally oriented and inclined and away from shade such that the loss
factor is rather high at 0.85. Note though that this does not include inverter losses.
 The efficiency of the array is 13%, which is a considered to be a good yield from
quality monocrystalline cells.

Sizing Strategy 1: Annual Output Equals Annual Electricity Requirement

Neglecting the inefficiencies of ‘storage’ for the moment, at the original average
consumption the active area of the array would need to be 26.9 m², which is a quite
large area for a house, especially if they need to be at the correct inclination.
The Best Practice model would require a more modest 12.4 m². The DC house offers
further savings being able to supply it’s annual requirement of 1247 kWh/m²/annum
installing about 10.9 m² of active area of PV. However this assumes the power
produced is utilised straight away without an inverter and without battery storage.
Any energy fed into the batteries is subject to a loss of 20% because of inefficiencies
in the batteries. Any power fed to the grid will lose 10% through the inverter and
another 15% when it is re-converted to DC at the time required. These losses will
have to be taken into account when assessing the battery bank size for a grid isolated
case.
The half-hourly demand profile was matched to a half-hourly profile of electricity
generation based on the 1996 Satel-Lite data for a site near BRE. The house
consumes more power than the PV is capable of delivering at the beginning in
January. This situation continues until the end of March, when PV output increases
and house demand decreases to such a point that energy is being stored. The following
graph shows the net stored power requirement throughout the year, which are
dominated by seasonal storage requirements rather than diurnal ones.

32
Figure 7 Annual Cumulative Requirement of Battery Capacity for Grid-Independent
House

An n u a l S to red P o w e r Re qu ire m e nt
Jan - D e c

200

150
100

50
kW h

-50 Jan Mar Jun Sep Dec

-100

-150

-200

The amount of energy required to be stored is nearly a half of the annual energy
consumed because of the seasonal variations in supply and demand. The situation is
aggravated by peak demand occurring in winter when PV supply is least capable of
meeting it.
The height between the peak and trough of the above graph represents the amount of
storage capacity required of the battery bank. From about January to March the stored
power is depleted down to a minimum, represented by the negative slope, and then
from March to about September excess power is stored. This period of continuous
storage defines the capacity of the battery bank, which therefore must be sized to store
300 kWh.
Assuming the battery cycles between 50% and 90% of it’s rated capacity, this would
amount to about seven hundred 100Ah batteries! They would require special storage
requirements for safety, 40 sq. meters of storage area, excluding access, and cost
about £35,000 every few years. Clearly this is not a viable method of seasonal energy
storage.
Given the high costs and storage area requirements how is it that PV technology is
seen to be a viable option for grid-isolated houses? Part of the answer lies in the fact
that at present most examples of grid-isolated houses are in the developing world,
where electrical load only has to meet demand for lighting, and possibly a radio or
computer. Examples in the developed world do not resemble the Model house
because they entail whole lifestyle commitments and, in any case, are often
supplemented by petrol or diesel generators. Certainly such houses do not have
electric clothes dryers or dishwashers, for example, and less electrical equipment
altogether, reflecting the simple lifestyle adopted by off-grid dwellers.
While the seasonal storage requirement can be identified as about 300 kWh from the
above graph, the total energy sent to the batteries and retrieved the next day or so only
amounts to a further 120 kWh over the course of the year. This 120 kWh also incurs a

33
penalty due to the inefficiency of the battery, with about 20% of it lost. The sizing of
the battery bank itself would depend on the method of seasonal storage.
Realistically, if the decision is made to supply all the houses requirements, a grid
connected situation would have to be assumed. This would incur a penalty of 0.9
(inverter efficiency) x 0.8 (power supply efficiency) on exported power which would
mean increasing the size of the array by about 20%.

Sizing Strategy II Maximum Size so that no seasonal storage is required

This sizing strategy would ensure that no seasonal surplus electricity would be
produced by the array and would not be subject to inverter and power supply
inefficiencies, or buy/sell differences on the tariff . It will mean that more imported
power will be required and that the extra cost of the DC distribution system would
have to be argued against fewer overall savings due to DC supply. This would be a
more attractive option if net metering is not in place, and batteries would be only
sized to soak up daily supply and demand mismatches.
The following graphs illustrate how the size of the array influences the seasonal
storage requirement. The required seasonal storage requirement is represented by the
area under the line above the axis where it resides there for any sustained period. The
areas used for this calculation are indicated by the parentheses. The 293 kWh in the
first graph of Figure 8 refers to the size of battery bank required if the day-on-day
surplus is to be stored rather than exported to the grid, but the total amount of power
to be exported to and imported from the battery bank (or grid) is larger, and relates to
the sum of the positive points of the line (export) and/or sum of negative points
(import). This latter figure is 720 kWh, which is the figure to which the battery losses
(or import/export losses) must be applied, and is designated s%, a variable which will
be used later to determine the overall efficiency of the systems.
Referring to the graphs below, it can be seen this strategy is equivalent to the selection
of an array that provides 37.5% of the annual electricity requirements of the model
house, as negligible seasonal storage is required.

34
Figure 8 Generated Power Minus Demand for Different Sizes of PV Array and Associated Storage Requirements

Daily Surplus PV Output - Array Sized for 100% Annual Requirement

15

10

5
kW

0
11
21
31
41
51
61
71
81
91
101
111
121
131
141
151
161
171
181
191
201
211
221
231
241
251
261
271
281
291

301
311
321
331
341
351
361
1

-5

-10

Seasonal Storage - 293 kWh


Total import/export 720 kWh

Daily Surplus PV Output - Array Sized for 75% Annual Requirement

10

5
kW

0
11
21
31
41
51
61
71
81
91
1

101
111
121
131
141
151
161
171
181
191
201
211
221
231
241
251
261
271
281
291
301
311
321
331
341
351
361
-5

-10

Seasonal Storage - 96 kWh


Total Import/Export 453kWh

35
Daily Surplus PV Output - Array Sized for 50% Annual Requirement

4
2
0
1
11
21
31
41
51
61
71
81
91
101
111
121
131
141
151
161
171
181
191
201
211
221

231
241
251
261
271
281

291
301
311
321
331
341
351
361
kW

-2
-4
-6
-8

Seasonal Storage- 11 kWh Total


Import/Export 209 kWh

Daily Surplus PV Output - Array Sized for 37.5% Annual Requirement

0
1
11
21
31

41
51

61
71
81

91
101

111
121
131
141
151
161
171
181

191
201
211
221

231
241
251
261

271
281

291
301

311
321
331
341
351
361
-2
kW

-4

-6

-8

Seasonal Storage- No Surplus


Total Import/Export 106 kWh

36
Daily Surplus PV Output - Array Sized for 25% Annual Requirement

0 1

101

111
121

131
141
151

161
171

181
191
201

211
221

231
241
251

261
271
281

291
301
311

321
331
341
351

361
11
21

31

41
51
61
71

81
91
-2
kW

-4

-6

-8

Seasonal requirement- none


Total Import/Export 29 kWh

37
Having established a size of 37.5% of the total annual requirement, what should be the
size of the battery bank to soak up diurnal variations. Following is the Annual Stored
Power Requirement graph, which really illustrates the amount of imported and
exported power.

Figure 9 Annual Power Requirement- Array Sized for No Seasonal Export

Annual Stored Power Requirement


Jan - Dec
Jan Mar Jun Sep Dec
0
-100
-200
-300
kWh -400
-500
-600
-700
-800
-900

Taking a more detailed snapshot of this graph around a flat portion will show the daily
variation in more detail.

Figure 10 Diurnal Variations Still Require Batteries to Reduce Import/Export Requirement

Stored Power Requirement


12 Jun38- 19 Jun

-365.5
-366
-366.5
-367
-367.5
kWh

-368
-368.5
-369
-369.5
-370
-370.5
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

The battery size should be for around 1.5 kWh peak (summer) diurnal load. Assuming
the battery cycles between 50% and 90% of it’s rated capacity, this would equate to
about 37 x 100Ah batteries! The cost of such batteries will be much more than it
would cost to simply pay for the 106 kWh electricity. This scenario is therefore
flawed, and all storage should be done by importing and exporting via the grid if
possible.

7.4 Optimal DC System design & cost

Two electrical schematics for the model were designed, one DC and the other AC.
Then the cost was estimated for each and compared.
The power circuits for DC are assumed to be 10 mm², double insulated and clipped
direct into a wall or roof space, giving a current carrying capacity of 65A, capable of
supplying 1170 Watts at 18 V. Assuming that no large electrical loads in excess of 500
Watts are to be used in the model house, instead of only two ring mains, and a spur,
the DC house requires 12 spurs at 10mm².
The lighting circuit is the same for DC and AC assuming 18 V compact fluorescent
lamps become available. The circuits are two 1.5 mm² which are capable of supplying
4.3 kW in AC or 360 W in DC, which in either case is sufficient. The only difference
will be the fuse/MCB size to protect the cable.
The schematics are to be found in Appendix 2.3 and following is the list of quantities
which make up the respective installations. The costs are mostly based on the Spon’s
M&E Services Price Book, and certain items are left out, such as luminaires, metering,
and conversion equipment. The DC installation ends up being about twice the cost of
the conventional. The actual cost of wiring a single house could be higher than this
because of labour will cost more on a small job.

Table 1 Comparative Table of Quantities for the DC and AC House

AC DC
QUANTITIES (meters or items) supply supply cost £
House House per item
installed

Cable x-section 2.5 mm2 twin & earth clipped and fixed 45 2.08
Cable x-section 10 mm2 twin, clipped and fixed 75 5.26
2 gang switched sockets AC 23 15.71
2 gang switched sockets DC 23 26.25
Power Circuits MCBs @ 40A 3 12 20.64
Cable x-section 1.5 mm2 twin & earth, clipped and fixed 68 1.70
Cable x-section 1.5 mm2 twin, clipped and fixed 68 1.54
Number Switches 12 12 10.34
Compact Flourescents and their luminaires 10 10 na
Lighting Circuits MCBs @ 6A 2 2 21.80
D. Board 12 way MCB 1 175.52
Consumer Unit 6 way fitted MCBs 1 100.65

COSTS £ 902 £1,693

39
8 THE DC OFFICE MODEL

8.1 Establishing the Daily Profile

Audits in 125 office buildings classified equipment into 188 categories and determined
it’s week-day and week-end time schedules and rated energy use. These data provided
the raw material for a model but was too detailed for analysis because of the huge
number of time schedules. Therefore these were simplified, the loads being classified
into 26 categories and associated to 26 time schedules for weekdays and a further 26
for weekends. Unlike for the house, then, different Saturday and Sunday profiles were
established for both Winter and Summer.
Seasonal data for office equipment is not available but it is assumed that, except for
heating, lighting and air conditioning, loads will not vary seasonally except when
public holidays are clustered, as in the Christmas period. This effect is ignored.
Air conditioning is incidental, i.e. they are naturally ventilated but a few have split
units or room units for extreme conditions or concentrated heat loads.
The single most common item of electrical load in these offices by far was the 36W
fluorescent tube. Seasonal profiles were imposed on the lighting related to hours of
use.
The resulting load profile will differ from those of real offices in that the demand
spikes from intermittently used large loads will not be apparent. Furthermore the real
time schedules of offices vary enormously, depending on shifts, weekend working,
and cleaning scheduling. There are 343 different time schedules. This data had to be
analysed using a number of assumptions and generalisations about operation time.
The hour-of-use data was in the form of: ‘8 hours per day, 5 days a week and 4 hours
on Saturdays’. This usage data had to be related to time of day to establish the demand
profiles. Furthermore, rather than use average hours of use, typical hours of use were
considered more appropriate for this model.
Average equipment profiles result in the anomalies such as 0.259 Alarms Systems and
0.5 Answer phones, but this is considered a better way of dealing with the plethora of
office equipment than deleting their incidence altogether, or rounding up.
Figure 11 Typical, Best Practice and DC Supplied Office Winter Electricity Profile

Office Winter Day Profile

60000

50000 Savings over Best


Practice
40000
Watts

30000 DC Supply
20000

10000
Typic al
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
26
28
30
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
48

Tim e

40
The detailed breakdown of the daily profile and the weekend and summer profiles are
given in Appendix 3. The following graph shows the week profiles for summer and
winter of the model office after Best Practice and DC Supply improvements have been
made.
Figure 12 Weekly Office Profile – Summer and Winter

WEEKLY OFFICE ELECTRICAL DEMAND PROFILE


BEST PRACTICE AND DC SUPPLY
30

25

20

SUMMER
kW

15
WINTER

10

TIME

8.2 Best Practice and DC Supply Assumptions

Best Practice and ‘Future’ practice with DC supply represent the two extremes of the
modelling envelope analysed here. Certain loads were reduced slightly to account for
the fact that the DC office is likely to conform to Best Practice. The lighting density,
for example, was checked against a benchmark of 10 kW/m². A lot of equipment is
reduced to 90% of the surveyed load because of the improvements in efficiency over
the last decade since most of the survey was carried out. Also electrical heating or
lifts were excluded.
The most single significant load by far, fluorescent lighting, accounts for 53% of the
overall consumption. Therefore it is worthwhile examining how the Best Practice
consumption was derived. It was presumed that all the fluorescent lighting was
converted to high frequency at a saving of 20%. However the fluorescent lighting load
was also increased by transferring 90% of the incandescent lighting load to HF
fluorescent. Then the DC supply further improves efficiency by 5%.
The next most significant load is generated by personal computers (PCs), which
constitute 13% of the load. This is expected to decrease because of the anticipated
increase in use of flat screens only using 20% of the energy of a CRT VDU. As the
latter contributes between a third and a half of the total PC energy use, say 40%, the
overall PC reduction with flat screens will be about 70%. This will be reduced by a
further factor of 80% for DC supply.

41
To arrive at the DC model, factors were applied for each type of equipment to account
for their better efficiency with DC. These factors are listed in Table 3.1 in the
Appendices, and are based on:

 Improvement of fluorescent lighting efficiency of 5% based on supplying the HF


inverter direct with DC
 Improvement of computer and peripheral efficiency of 20% based on the saving of
the first stage of power conversion within the computer
 Improvement of 10% on light catering and cool drinks based on the potential of the
DC compressor having a higher COP.
 Other loads were estimated to vary from zero to ten percent, but only constitute
20% of the overall load anyway
Application of these efficiency improvements results in an overall improvement of
10% across the board. This may seem modest in comparison with the 40%
improvement according to general Best Practice assumptions. However general BP
assumptions include the replacement of all electrical heating equipment and other
expected improvements in design.
The result is a building with annual consumption of 48.9 kWh/m², which conforms to
the Good Practice benchmark for a naturally ventilated open-plan office, which is 54
kWh/m². Applying the assumptions for DC supply further reduces the energy
consumption to 44.3 kWh/m²/annum. This would mean that the PV DC system
equipment has an enhanced efficiency of 110% compared to the conventional AC
system.
Finally the results were scaled up to represent an office of 2000 m², which is a fairly
typical size of an open-plan naturally ventilated office.

8.3 Potential PV yield vs. demand

Assuming the most efficient type of commonly available PV module, mono-crystalline


at 13% efficiency, 0.85 losses factor (defined to be the same as the performance ratio
PR only excluding inverter inefficiencies), and south of England insolation (based on
1996 data), the necessary area of active array is 774 m². This will generate 88,620
kWh per annum of DC, i.e. before taking into account inverter losses. This is rather
large, as the roof area of the office is a little less than this. To supply all the DC
office’s requirements it would need to be of less than three stories so as to increase the
ratio of roof area to working area. The power demand density, when multiplied by the
number of levels, is greater than the incident available solar radiation (i.e. times
efficiencies and utilisation factors), even given the limited demand of the DC office,
The modules would ideally be inclined at about 30°. If they can be arranged without
shading each other, the effective array area is increased by a factor of 1/cos30 or 1.15
above that of the roof area. This is very close to enabling sufficient PV to be installed
on the roof to serve all the office’s electricity requirements. In practice this would still
be impossible due to shading, and having to accommodate the non-active area between
and surrounding the cells. Other solutions could include supplementing the rooftop
output with PV wall cladding or cells embedded in the window glass.

42
The same storage problems arise as in the DC domestic house model. They will be
less significant to some degree due to higher consumption during the day. However
this will only decrease the diurnal fluctuations rather than reducing the massive
storage requirement.
Figure 13 Annual Import and Export Requirements of the Model Office

Annual Office Stored Power Requirement


Jan - Dec
30000

20000

10000
kWh Jan Mar Jun Sep Dec
0

-10000

-20000

-30000

If it is desired to install less PV so as to supply only a portion of the annual electricity


requirement, the storage required also goes down, but less than linearly, as illustrated
in Figure 14. While it may seem advantageous to study a situation like this, in which
less space is needed for the PV and less battery capacity, it only makes the argument
for a DC distribution system less persuasive, because the potential savings from it do
drop off linearly. An array producing 100% of the power requirements should be
examined to define the borderline of it’s feasibility.

43
Figure 14 Sizing of Array and Resulting Stored Power Requirements

Storage Requirement

Stored % of PV power
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Percentage of Requirements from PV

The daily surplus PV output graphs for different array sizes differ from those of the
house (Figure 8) in that there are greater surpluses generated during the weekends,
when offices are generally or mostly closed. Also, more of the PV generated power is
used due to the higher electricity demand during the day. The following graph shows
the daily surplus when the array is sized for 100% requirements.

Figure 15 Annual Import/Export Requirements, Array Sized for 100% Requirements

Model Office Daily Surplus PV Output -


Array Sized for 100% Annual Requirement
800
600
400
kW

200
0
15

29

43

57
71

85

99
1

113

127

141

155

169

183
197

211

225

239

253

267

281

295
309

323

337

351

365

-200
-400
DAYS

44
8.4 Optimal DC System Design and Cost

The power circuits for DC are assumed to be 10 mm2, single insulated in conduit,
giving a current carrying capacity of 58A, capable of supplying 1044 Watts at 18 V.
This is assumed to have the capacity to supply 10 double sockets. Were the cable to be
up-rated to 16mm² (76A) it would have the capacity for supplying only 3 extra sockets
but would be more than 30% more costly and more difficult to install.
The lighting circuit configuration is different for DC and AC. The AC power supply is
looped to one luminaire in each group. Further luminaires in that group are then
connected to this one via the switch.
The DC configuration is to loop into all the switches, so as to reduce the rating of the
cable from the switch to the luminaire group. This would be allowable if the switch is
fused. This method ensures the cable feeding the luminaires is of a satisfactory cross-
sectional area, as 10 mm2 is rather unwieldy for this function. The switch will have to
be rather special to accommodate the cable in any case. Conduit is PVC 25 mm² with a
tee-off to each switch and a tee-off to the luminaires in 16mm².
Following is a list of quantities on which the cost is based, and the schematics are in
Appendix 3.3.

QUANTITIES (meters or items) AC supply DC supply cost £


per item
Three Floor Three Floor installed
Office Office

Cable x-section 2.5 mm2 single ins. Multi-strand, drawn into conduit 1343 2042 1.04
Cable x-section 35 mm2 single ins. Multi-strand, drawn into conduit 1490 6.96
Cable x-section 16 mm2 single ins. Multi-strand, drawn into conduit 1460 4.96
2 gang switched sockets AC 258 15.71
2 gang switched sockets DC 258 26.25
Power Circuits MCBs @ 40A 18 20.64
Power Circuits MCBs @ 60A 42 23.23
Cable x-section 1.5 mm2 single ins. Multi-strand, drawn into conduit 5749 0.85
Fused Switches for large DC loads 156 14.61
Number Switches 156 10.34
28W twin luminaires 540 540 na
Lighting Circuits MCBs @ 6A 42 21.80
Lighting Circuits MCBs @ 60A 42 23.23
PVC Conduit & junction boxes @ 10m. 50mm 225 14.67
PVC Conduit & junction boxes @ 10m. 25mm 135 630 8.24
PVC Conduit & junction boxes @ 10m. 16mm 720 1021 6.62
D. Board 12 way MCB 6 175.52
D. Board 16 way MCB 6 223.74

COSTS £ 20,172 £ 47,325

Table 2 Comparative Table of Quantities for DC and AC Offices

45
9 SCENARIO ANALYSIS

9.1 The Critical Parameters for PV - DC Efficiency

There are numerous of factors which interact with the equations for the efficiency of
delivery of energy from the PV system to it’s use as DC within the equipment supplied
(PV DC Efficiency). What is really of interest here is the percentage of energy from
the PV which is utilised after the first stage of power conditioning for a typical or
average range of different types of equipment.
The following factors have influence over this system ‘efficiency’. The first four
variables are technical ones which have shown improvement over recent years and are
likely to go on improving. They are not fixed over time and nor can their values be
simply ‘looked up’ as they would need to be derived from statistical samples of many
different products at a point in time. The final two are designated ‘scenario’ variables
and relate to design decisions and the state of the electricity market.
With all the scenarios, the array is sized to provide all the power requirements of the
house/office, though not necessarily at the moment it is required. Hence the allowance
for daily and seasonal storage

 Weighted DC Equipment Energy Efficiency relative to AC (y%)


 Battery Efficiency (b%)
 Inverter efficiency (i%)
 Power Supply Unit Efficiency (p%)
 Storage Requirement (s%)
 Grid Storage Efficiency (g%)

The derivation of values for these variables is described in Appendix 4. Although the
educated guesswork seems to imply a lack of precision, this is compensated for by
supplying a probability distribution around the estimate, except for the last two listed
variables. Storage Requirement is a single value based on the typical supply and
demand profiles, while the Grid Storage Efficiency is assumed to be 100%, which is
assuming a regime of ‘net metering’ with export prices equal to import prices. The
present difference is a non-technical barrier which has the potential to stop renewables
development altogether, and the policy implications of this are outside the scope of
this report.

9.2 Scenario 1 AC Distribution, Grid Storage

This scenario represents the ordinary system with PV power being inverted and
distributed via an AC distribution system. Any surplus power is fed back into the grid
until needed.

46
The efficiency of PV power utilisation, in accordance with the equation shown below
the figure, and using a grid ‘efficiency’ of 100%, (i.e. assuming net metering, with
selling prices to the grid the same as buy back) will be linearly dependent on the
performance of the inverter. The figure for efficiency of equipment z% is also
assumed to be 100%, as this is a base case with which the other scenarios will be
compared. Thus the efficiency of PV utilisation will be simply i%, the efficiency of
the inverter, which has a mean of 90%.

Figure 16 Configuration of Conventional Grid-Connected PV System

PV PS
INVERTER
  i%
AC Distribution
system PS
s% PV
output
PS
GRID
  g% z%

Efficiency = z x [ i x s x g + i x (1 – s) ]
of utilisation of PV

9.3 Scenario 2 DC Distribution, Battery Storage

This scenario represents a grid isolated case where all storage is implemented using
batteries and the PV array supplies all the power requirements. As has already been
concluded, this will not be practical because of the cost and physical problems of
battery storage, however it serves as a limiting case.

Figure 17 Configuration of Grid-independent DC System Using Battery Storage

PV
PS
DC Distribution
s% PV system
output PS

BATTERY PS
  b%

  y%
Efficiency = y x [b x s + (1 – s)]
of utilisation of PV

47
The efficiency of this arrangement, however impractical it may be, is very high (see
below) being 99.7% for the house and 98.3% for the office. This is against the base
case of Scenario 1 of 90%, i.e. it results in nearly 10% efficiency improvement.

Figure 18 Scenario 2 Sensitivity and Distribution of System Efficiency for the Model
House

1
0.8952513
0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.5 0.441876

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1
0 0
0
y b i p

0.114

0.091
PROBABILITY

0.068

0.046

0.023

0.000
86.01 90.47 94.93 99.39 103.85 108.31 112.77

Values in 10^-2

The most influential variable is the relative efficiency of DC connected equipment


over its AC equivalent. Battery storage efficiency is less important. The same applies
for the Office as for the House.

48
Figure 19 Scenario 2 Sensitivity and Distribution of System Efficiency, Model Office

0.9 0.8585714

0.8

0.7

0.6
0.5177448
0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1
-4.58E-04 0
0
y b p i
-0.1

0.108

0.086
PROBABILITY

0.065

0.043

0.022

0.000
85.61 89.84 94.07 98.30 102.53 106.77 111.00

Values in 10^-2

9.4 Scenario 3 DC Distribution, Grid Storage

This is the most likely arrangement, namely grid-connected PV but with a DC


distribution system and excess power exported to the grid for import later.

Figure 20 Grid Connected DC Distribution System

GRID

  g  s% PV output   p 

  i  INVERTER POWER SUPPLY




PV PS

DC Distribution 
system

 
PS


Efficiency of = y x [g x s x i x p + (1 – s)]
utilisation of PV PS

 y %
49
The proportion of power exported to the grid undergoes DC to AC followed by AC
back to DC conversion at an efficiency which is the product of the efficiencies of the
inverter and the power supply. It was just this kind of repeated conversion that the
PV/DC system is supposed to minimise. If the size of array and profile of demand is
such as to permit greater use of DC directly, and a consequently small ‘storage’
requirement, then the overhead represented by these repeated conversions may be
borne economically.

Figure 21 Scenario 3 Sensitivity and Distribution of System Efficiency for the Model
House

0.8
0.7095938
0.7
0.6282869

0.6

0.5

0.4
0.2960395
0.3

0.2

0.1
2.95E-04
0
p y i b

0.125

0.100
PROBABILITY

0.075

0.050

0.025

0.000
78.91 82.07 85.23 88.39 91.55 94.71 97.87
Values in 10^-2

The power supply efficiency has the major effect on the overall efficiency. It was
assumed to be distributed around 75%, whereas the inverter was 90%. While most
power supplies are about this efficiency, this is largely a matter of cost, and it is quite
possible that a more efficient one could be installed.
The mean efficiency for the DC System of the house is 86.9%.
This is very close to the base case of an AC system with inverter only, i.e. 90%. This
also applies to the Office, which has a DC System Efficiency of 88.7%, still less than
the inverter.

50
Figure 22 Scenario 3 Sensitivity and Distribution of System Efficiency for the Model
Office

0.8 0.743883

0.7
0.6083324
0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3 0.2536169

0.2

0.1
0
0
y p i b

0.125

0.100
PROBABILITY

0.075

0.050

0.025

0.000
78.91 82.07 85.23 88.39 91.55 94.71 97.87
Values in 10^-2

It is apparent that in this, the most likely scenario for PV DC systems, the advantages
over a conventional grid connected system are negligible. There is enough overlap in
the probability distributions to imagine cases where the DC system was more efficient,
particularly with more efficient power supplies, but not sufficiently so to justify the
cost and bother. It is this extra cost of DC systems over the conventional against which
any payback argument would have to be waged.

9.5 Hybrid or Partial Systems

Partial DC systems with dedicated DC circuits to particular items of equipment, such


as all IT equipment for example, could be more viable because the variable for
equipment efficiency, the y percentage, would be related to the equipment served, and
could be higher than the basket of items used by the previous models. If the DC supply
displaces a switched mode power supply of 80% efficiency on each and every item of
equipment, y becomes 125%, a 25% improvement of efficiency and utilisation of the
PV produced power.
Furthermore any scenario which reduces the need for storage (reducing s% in the
equation of figure 20) will increase the efficiency of the DC System. A hybrid system

51
could enjoy this benefit by either a) sizing the array smaller than the dedicated load
requirements, or by b) more selectively supplying equipment with a more similar
demand profile to the solar availability.
Option a) is not considered viable because once a DC distribution system is in place it
is desirable to maximise savings and pay it off quickly, rather than opt for a partial
solution. While reducing the size of array maximises direct use of it’s output, it
reduces the savings against the fixed cost of the DC supply system which has to be in
place whether the PV supplies 100% of requirements or 10%.
The latter option b) of selectively supplying equipment with DC is much simpler than
it might first seem. By simply ignoring lighting circuits and only providing DC for
power circuits, there will be a better match of demand to supply. At the same time the
relative equipment efficiency will improve because DC supply to lighting only
improves its performance by a mere 5%, compared with up to 25% for some
appliances.

Figure 23 The Effect of Proportion of Demand Met by PV on Overall Efficiency

Model Office- PV DC Efficiency vs Proportion of


Requirements from PV

120%
PV System Supply Efficiency

110%

100% Scenario 1
Scenario 2
90% Scenario 3

80%

70%
12.5% 25.0% 37.5% 50.0% 75.0% 100.0%

Proportion of Requirements from PV

The graph above shows that with the Scenario 3 model office and choosing an array
supplying 100% of the demand (equating to 51% storage requirement), the efficiency
is minimised at 88%. A similar situation arises with the home.
If DC supply to lighting is left out, the PV array is about half the size to supply all the
power requirements, and the storage of its output less onerous at 22% of output, while
the DC Supply Equipment Efficiency, y%, is raised from 110% to 116%. This gives a
DC System efficiency of 105% compared to 90% for the Scenario 1 base case, or a
16.7% improvement. Such a situation would involve the installation of a 354 m² array
producing 40,500 kWh per annum.
The figure below shows that with the reduced storage requirements the 105% system
efficiency is almost wholly dependent on the variable for conversion efficiency, y%.
This has been derived rather optimistically for IT equipment at 125%, but includes

52
other power loads to bring it down to 116%. It would also be in the region of this latter
figure (112.5%) if only IT equipment were to be supplied by a dedicated DC main
which bypasses only the rectifier rather than the DC/DC conversion stage of the
SMPSs.
Figure 24 Hybrid Scenario PV DC Supply to Power Circuits of the Office

1.2

0.9782285
1

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2069029
0.2
8.62E-02
0
0
y p i b

0.105

0.084
PROBABILITY

0.063

0.042

0.021

0.000
94.82 98.35 101.88 105.41 108.94 112.47 116.00

Values in 10^-2

The ‘cherry picking’ of the most suitable loads cannot be carried out for the home.
Here the demand will remain largely outside the hours of sunshine, so the storage
component will remain high.
This significant improvement in the case of the office gives some vindication to our
selection of 16-18 V as the optimal distribution voltage, based as it was on supply to
office IT and electronic equipment.

9.6 Other Scenarios

Other scenarios justifying the installation of a DC distribution system are outside the
remit of this study, however they could include the following.

Other renewable sources of DC

Wind power or fuel cells, would have the effect of allowing a better match between
supply and demand, thereby reducing the storage requirement. Wind generators are

53
more easily controlled if they are DC rather than grid synchronised, and are more
efficient. They also produce most of their output during the winter when demand for
power is greater, so a system with wind and PV is likely to be better matched to
demand. This reduces storage required and improves the DC distribution case.
Fuel cells, especially if they were to be reversible, could work like a battery and
potentially have sufficient capacity and efficiency to allow for seasonal storage.

Developing Countries

The grid-isolated case mentioned above would require a large battery output due to
buildings being very power hungry in this country. Buildings in developing countries
may be able to function with less battery power, so that Scenario 1 would become
viable, with a 10% improvement in efficiency. However the load curve for such a
building would also have to be re-assessed. At it’s simplest, at remote villages a DC
system with PV, battery, and a couple of lamps is not so uncommon, and gives another
path (apart from the mobile and marine leisure industries) by which DC systems and
demand for DC equipment could evolve.

Clusters of houses

Clusters of houses connected to a common DC bus would present to the PV DC


system a smoother and more predictable demand curve. If the relative size of the PV
system compared to the potential demand of the houses is also reduced, the amount of
PV generated power requiring storage also reduces, potentially to zero. This
maximises the benefits of supplying at DC to that derived as the DC Supply Efficiency
y%, i.e. 114% for the house and 110% for the office. This has the same effect as
choosing a much smaller PV supply than supplying 100% of the demand would
dictate, simply ensuring that all the PV generated power is used. However reducing
the scale of the DC supply also reduces the scale of any potential savings.

54
10 PAYBACK/RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Two significant assumptions underlie the two models:


i) The extra cost of DC equipment over the AC equivalent is due to market rather than
technical reasons. It has therefore been ignored, thereby improving viability.
ii) It is assumed that power electronic switching will revolutionise motor and power
supply efficiencies in the near future. Therefore the DC systems used in this model
have to be competitive with a more highly efficient base of comparison. This reduces
viability.
This study did not examine the payback of PV itself or the entire system, as the
objective was to analyse the relative merits of a DC system over a conventional PV -
AC distribution system.

Marginal payback of DC = Marginal Cost / Marginal Annual Savings

The efficiency improvements feed directly into the Marginal Annual Savings term in a
linear way:

Marginal Annual Savings =


Efficiency Improvement by DC Supply x Annual Value of PV Power

The Marginal Cost is the extra cost of a DC system over a conventional system,
largely due to oversized cable and the extra installation cost that it entails as analysed
in 7.4 and 8.4. The Scenario 2 extra installation cost entails a huge investment in
batteries such that it is considered unfeasible. In the case of Scenario 3, an extra
regulated power supply will be required, but this may be furnished as part of the UPS
system for the purpose of supplying IT equipment with a clean supply.
Following is a summary table of the paybacks estimated for the various scenarios.
None of these are particularly attractive investments. Even the hybrid system, the
most viable one, would require the extra cost of a power supply (around £5000), which
is half the extra cost of the DC system. This would extend the payback to 67 years.

55
Efficiency PV Power Import Marginal Marginal
PAYBACKS Marginal Cost Gain Generated /Export Savings Payback
over Inverter kWh Price £ years
only /annum p/kWh
Scenario 2
DC House £792+ £35k batteries 111% 1247 7.0 9 many years
DC Office £27,153 + £ x'000's 109% 88620 4.5 368 many years

Scenario 3
DC House £792 97% 1247 7.0 -3 negative
DC Office £27,153 99% 88620 4.5 -58 negative

Hybrid - Power circuit only


DC Office £15,794 117% 40500 4.5 312 50.6

It would seem DC distribution systems are not viable on cost over savings terms, even
though 50 years payback would be better than the payback on the PV system itself.
This means that PV systems with DC distribution will pay back faster than the ones
without. One also needs to take into account that any payback is directly dependent on
electricity price, and were that to double the payback would halve.
If the power savings are deemed to reduce the required size of the PV array rather than
reduce the electricity bill then, for the hybrid scenario, the array could be reduced from
50 to 43 kWp, resulting in a capital cost saving of £37,500 for a capital cost
expenditure of £15,794. This makes the PV/DC distribution system a very attractive
investment.
Payback is very dependent on the efficiency of the first stage of power conversion
within equipment which, assumed to be 80%.
It is also dependent, but less so, on the efficiency of centralised power supplies, which
could improve significantly as electronic switching becomes more capable of higher
power duty and efficiency across the range of output. However the more PV power is
used directly, the less dependent savings become on this variable. If the centralised
power supply were much more efficient than the distributed ones in equipment, the
argument for the DC distribution system would grow stronger, because a more
efficient central supply could be used to displace the less efficient ones. But this
argument is independent of PV or renewable generation.
Finally, as has been noted above, the extra cost of DC equipment over AC has been
ignored. Yet costs and failure rates of DC equipment, particularly IT equipment, might
be reduced significantly. This is due to the DC model potentially saving the cost of
the power supply, and extending the lifetime of equipment because:
 the power supply will not be generating heat within the casing leading to heat stress
of components,
 power supplies are frequently responsible for equipment failure.

This is not such a futuristic concept if one considers laptop computers. The external
power supply obviously adds to equipment cost and fails from time to time.
Laptops are already used by some companies for all of their IT needs or in association
with hot desking. As flat screens become commonplace and as base units come down
in size, a convergence between laptop and PC technology will follow. This new

56
technology might be suitable for ordinary office use with DC supply. Already popular
models of flat screen have a 12V input socket. These screens could be supplied from
independent DC power supplies, reducing the return on investment for installation of
the DC distribution systems significantly. That in turn could be the gateway for further
DC-connectable technological developments.

57
11 CONCLUSIONS

DC distribution systems could have an economic application in the near future in


situations where there is a concentrated electrical demand which could be satisfied
with DC, such as commonly occurs in offices with large IT loads, or in industry with
large concentrations of small new generation DC motors.

11.1 Advantages of DC Distribution – Efficiency of Equipment

Power supplies in the past have frequently wasted about half the energy input to
electrical equipment. A resulting problem is overheating, which in turn puts a strain
on a number of components, often reducing the lifetime of the equipment. Power
supplies are also the component most prone to failing while in operation. Therefore
shedding the power supply has a significant value in terms of reduced lifecycle cost of
equipment.
If the lower present value of DC equipment compared to AC equipment is as high as
the extra cost of a DC distribution system, then DC is an economic choice. Although
the lifecycle costs of equipment are not evaluated in this report, it is felt that this
would certainly be the case if equivalent DC equipment were to be mass-produced.
The argument: that DC equipment could be cheaper and better if it was mass-
produced, if there was a demand for it, if it was cheaper; is a circular argument that
will be familiar to those promoting photovoltaics or any new technology.
Until the latest generation of power supplies the possibility of a centralised power
supply with efficiency throughout its range was not technically possible. Another
complication is the plethora of DC voltages that exist in household and office
equipment, making the choice of DC supply voltage difficult. Switch-mode power
supplies contribute to overcoming such problems. Therefore a central highly efficient
power supply could in the near future economically replace less efficient distributed
ones.

11.2 DC Distribution and the Problem of Storage

Considerable effort has been made in this report to assess a realistic storage
requirement based on near-future demand profiles for a typical house and office. This
was warranted because of the critical influence the storage of surplus power has on the
viability of DC distribution. If the demand profile exactly matched the PV supply
profile, there would be no doubt that an associated DC system would be viable,
however this would be a very special case.
It would be tempting to associate DC distribution systems with battery systems, but
the cost, inefficiency and maintenance requirements associated with batteries are such
that they eclipse any efficiency advantages that could be exploited by the DC system
itself. The two issues are separate and can be considered independently; the only
reason for using batteries would be that grid connection is not economically possible.
Using batteries for seasonal energy storage is plainly not viable, but even using them
for daily storage requirements is expensive, given that the PV supply profile is not
very well matched to the demand profiles of offices and houses.

58
The apparent compatibility of DC distribution to renewable generation, and in
particular PV generation, is also not so clear when all the issues are examined.
Although DC distribution allows the inverter to be bypassed, saving about 10% of the
PV generated power, the mismatch between the generation profile and typical demand
profile is such that the inverter is required anyway: to ‘store’ electricity to the mains.
The model office has a 50% storage requirement while the house has 58%, reflecting
the greater domestic night-time requirement. This means at least 50% of the PV
generated power has to undergo inefficient power conversion processes anyway. This
problem of storage undoes the good done by the removal of some of the stages of
power conversion, by shifting them elsewhere.
A way to reduce the storage requirement is to choose loads which are better matched
to periods of solar radiation. Non-lighting office loads, consisting mainly of IT
equipment, could be supplied on a dedicated DC main. This is the basis of the hybrid
scenario, which only requires 22% storage. The extra cost for DC cabling has a
payback of 50 years, but this is better than the payback of PV systems themselves. The
DC distribution system could be easily funded from the reduced capital cost of
installing a smaller PV array delivering the same end-use electricity.
Another way to reduce the storage problem would be to generate DC power more
when it is needed, by combining a mix of sources such as PV, wind, and fuel cells, all
of which are inherently DC.

11.3 Electrical Design of the DC Distribution System

Even at 230 volts, DC systems would require larger breakers and switches because of
the greater difficulty of breaking a DC current. Although a DC system of equivalent
voltage would not cost very much more than an AC system, it is proposed to supply at
voltages which are more commonly used in electronic, and particularly IT equipment.
Otherwise power conversion stages are likely to be just as many and just as wasteful.
At lower voltages the currents become much larger, as do cables, conduits, junction
boxes and all other elements of the system. Voltage drops also become greater, unless
cable is appropriately oversized.
The cost of an extra-low-voltage DC system is likely to be two to four times that of a
conventional system. It is this extra cost which needs to be justified by the energy
savings.

11.4 Route to Viability of DC Distribution

A possible route to economic viability for DC supply systems could be that


manufacturers produce separate power supplies for electronic equipment as they do for
laptops, or at least fit DC power input jacks. One of the presuppositions of this report
would then be fulfilled, i.e. that DC equipment would cost the same as AC equipment.
Power supplies may require some re-design to improve their robustness against
drooping supply voltages, and to furnish an input which bypasses the rectifier.
Flat screen technology and hot desking with laptops is already commonplace. It is only
a short step to realise that cooling loads can be reduced and energy efficiency
maximised by putting the power supply (or supplies) outside. With the DC distribution
system thus established, top-up by DC generation from renewables is only another
short step.

59
12 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

12.1 Practical Implementation of a Scheme for DC Compatible Office


Loads

The following technologies lend themselves to connection to a DC distribution system.


Their adoption, even if only at a single site, could tip the balance in favour of DC
distribution.
 Flat screen technology (DC)
 Laptop or more modular PCs in offices
 LED lighting
A further study could be commissioned to study a site where such technologies are
being adopted on a sufficiently large scale. Design of a dedicated circuit to a
homogenous load of computers, screens, or both could explore issues of what the ideal
voltage would be, and at what point to connect into the power supplies. Installations
and connectivity issues could be explored. Other benefits, such as reduced air
conditioning load, would be of interest.

12.2 Feasibility with other Potential DC Power Generators

Most wind turbines use synchronous induction generators which operate to produce
power synchronised with the grid. Wind generators that don’t need to be synchronised
with the grid can run with variable speed, which enables a dc turbine to operate
roughly 20-25% more efficiently. However they would need to operate in conjunction
with a voltage regulator, which will introduce its own inefficiency and lose some of
the gain.
Fuel cells are inherently DC devices, so savings of about 10% (assuming 90%
efficiency of the inverter) of the output of fuel cells could be anticipated if they were
to supply a DC rather than an AC circuit.
Better predictability of supply due to a diversity of generator types would decrease the
storage required for the PV/DC system with a resultant increase in the overall
efficiency.

12.3 Research on Common Power Distribution Standards and/or Carrier


Protocols

Standardisation could be critical if manufacturers were ever to be encouraged to adopt


a single DC voltage to supply their equipment. Work on this could not begin too soon.
The additional cost to supply a DC input which bypasses the power supply is likely to
be minor, but manufacturers would have to be convinced that there were serious
moves to introduce the DC supply option. Even better, perhaps they could be
convinced to provide certain equipment with separate power supplies as with laptops.

60
It may be that supply voltage is not critical if the second stage power conversion is
designed to take a range of input voltages. Nevertheless a voltage should be chosen if
manufacturers are to be convinced that there is a future in DC supply.
DC distribution systems will compete with other novel ideas for power distribution,
for example:
 High frequency distribution systems,
 Separate switchable power distribution system for deferrable or low priority loads,
either for demand control, or to enable easy switch-off as the householder leaves,
 Power distribution systems as carriers for digital signals for control and/or
communication.

These could all be the subject of further research. The now commonplace conversion
by switch mode power supplies and DC/DC converters of our 50 Hz power into DC
and HF AC within appliances begs the question of DC and HF AC distribution.

61
13 APPENDICES

62
APPENDIX 1 RESULTS OF LITERATURE SEARCH

Below are the listed most useful references discovered in the literature search. Other
references were checked, but though they had relevance to the issue they were found
to be lacking in detail. Other web sites contained only catalogues or product lists.

Solar houses / autonomy

ECN REPORT

The most relevant finding is a report produced by ECN, the Netherlands Energy
Research Foundation, in September 1997 as a result of an Eindhoven (NL) University
of Technology graduation project. The title is “The DC Low Voltage House”, the
author J Pellis. It took as its starting point this question: since many domestic
appliances use DC internally, would there be benefits in distributing DC power from
PV panels to DC-input appliances, thereby avoiding DC/AC inverting and then
AC/DC transforming/rectifying?

The report concluded that there were neither energy, environmental, nor economic
benefits. However, we do not consider this to be discouraging for the following
reasons:

1. The report looked exclusively at domestic households. We believe that the


PV/DC idea is likely to prove much more attractive for small offices: firstly
because nearly all the electrical and electronic equipment in a office is DC-
compatible; secondly because there is a much better ‘fit’ between the typical PV
panel power production pattern and the normal office load profile. Thirdly, by
adding a battery one can provide emergency lighting and uninterrupted power
supply (UPS) power in the event of a mains failure.

2. The report predicted problems with switching DC, and with cabling in copper
for DC. We believe that solid state switches might solve the one problem; and in
offices power could be distributed using aluminium bus bars. In any case, the
report focussed on 12 volts DC and 24 volts DC, both of which result in very
high currents: however the European Low Voltage Directive permits up to 120
VDC.

3. The report was very optimistic about the efficiency of transformer/rectifier


power supplies and DC/AC inverters. Our research so far shows that the former
can be as low as 40%: compare this with the typical figure of 87% efficiency for
switch mode DC/DC converters.

4. The report assumed ‘business as usual’ in terms of the price and availability of
DC-powered equipment – but our discussions with Philips and others have
revealed a willingness to research the development of standards which might
make affordable mass-produced DC-input equipment a reality in the medium to
long term.

5. In terms of new electronic and electrical developments, a lot has happened


since the report was written in 1997: there has been much progress with new or

63
recent technology that is DC-compatible. For example: high frequency
fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, variable speed refrigeration and air
conditioning compressors, and LCD computer screens.

We do agree wholeheartedly with the report’s design rule that all electrical equipment
in the building should be of ‘Class A’ energy efficiency. In terms of return on capital
(and energy) investment it is common sense to minimise the electrical load to avoid
buying extremely expensive PV panels. The general ‘greenness’ argument – and
concern over the sizing of electricity supplies – do raise the question of whether
electricity should be used at all for cooking and heating: mains gas and solar thermal
panels are respectively very much the preferred alternatives.

FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE SELF-SUFFICIENT SOLAR HOUSE, FREIBURG (D)


This house was commissioned in 1992. It is not mains-connected and seasonal storage
of excess energy from the PV panels is achieved by electrolysis of water. The
resulting hydrogen and oxygen generate heat by flameless combustion, or generate
electricity in a fuel cell, whose waste heat is reclaimed. An excessively complex
design compared to PV/DC which reflects a ‘Keep It Simple’ philosophy.
www.ise.fhg.de/projects/es/es_english.html.

‘MAKING THE MOST OF RESIDENTIAL PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS’ A US


Department of Energy report by the Florida Solar Energy Centre. This mains-
connected conventional design of house demonstrates very well the rewards for
reducing domestic energy consumption and thus maximising the proportion of total
energy demand (65%) contributed by the 4 kWPEAK PV array. Accessed from
www.nrel.gov.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY SOLAR HOUSE This is a low energy


passive solar house. There is no indication that low-energy appliances have been
selected as per the Florida house: here, the PV array provides 55% of the electricity.
www.ncsc.edu/house/shbody.htm.

HAMMOND HOUSE PRESCOTT, ARIZONA The owner of this self-sufficient low


energy house (built 1988) estimates that 35% of his annual electricity demand is
dissipated in AC/DC power supplies and equipment consuming power when on
standby.. He has designed the house for maximum benefit from daylight: only 4% of
electricity is used by artificial lighting. Electricity is not used for cooking or space or
water heating: the 1.4 kWPEAK PV array produces ~2400 kWh per annum but the actual
consumption is ~850 kWh per annum: the house is not air conditioned, despite the
location. N.B. there is a large battery bank and a DC/AC inverter.
www.nrel.gov/ncpv/documents/seb/seb18.html.

BUILDING INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC VENTILATION SYSTEM (British


Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada) When a Vancouver building was
renovated, a 2.5 kWPEAK PV façade was fitted: this is dedicated to driving high
efficiency DC ventilation fans via an optimising controller. http://strategis.gc.ca /
Canadian Environmental Solutions.

PRACTICAL BOAT OWNER (UK magazine) This carries many advertisements for
DC equipment for use in inland and offshore boats. It also regularly features articles
on all aspects of onboard DC power. Much of this information applies to domestic DC

64
installations; and in most boats prudent ‘energy husbandry’ is essential. Magazine
website www.pbo.co.uk

HOME POWER MAGAZINE (USA) Not an academic publication – but one with a
very professional approach to all relevant technologies. Their online archive offers
downloadable main features and articles from back issues, product comparisons etc.,
and software e.g. for load estimating. . www.homepower.com

Load Analysis

MARKET TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME MTP's current focus is on


improving the delivered energy performance of domestic and non-domestic products,
especially energy consuming appliances, equipment and components. A key feature of
the programme is the illustration of likely outcomes of market projections and policy
scenarios. In predicting such outcomes, estimation of the Economic Technical
Potential (ETP) of a whole range of equipment is carried out. This means future
efficiencies are estimated based on current technical knowledge and likely market
uptake, taking into account government policy. See www.mtprog.com/

ENERGY STAR This is the US government Environmental Protection Agency site


which has a wealth of information about the electrical demands of office equipment.
www.energystar.gov/

DC power distribution systems

NEXTEK POWER SYSTEMS (USA) This company claims to have patented a


particular method of distributing DC power directly from PV panels, fuel cells, etc. to
DC end-use equipment. They propose that offices should use distributed DC power as
much as possible by supplying IT equipment with DC power using switch mode
power supplies. For office lighting they offer a DC fluorescent tube ballast. They also
suggest that offices should replace their UPSs with batteries.

Nextek manufacture supposedly patented battery charge control units that they claim
can combine inputs from PV arrays and other DC sources such as fuel cells, and can
also control ‘top-up’ charging from the AC mains – but it is not clear exactly what
innovation the patent covers. They may be using switch mode power supplies to
convert from AC mains voltages to DC low voltage – but the company website, whilst
full of claims and jargon, is rather evasive, and actual conversion efficiencies are not
stated. Furthermore, storing cheap-rate electricity in batteries for use at other times, as
they propose, is not such a ‘green’ idea considering the inevitable 20% energy
loss.There is much reference in their promotional text to the energy wasted in DC/AC
and AC/DC conversion. www.nextekpower.com.

PV and other energy sources

GOSOLAR COMPANY (USA) A commercial site: emphasises the need to minimise


electrical demand and use electricity appropriately. For example: “SunFrost (DC)
refrigerators use 300 to 400 Wh per day while conventional AC refrigerators use 3000
to 4000 Wh at a 70 F average air temperature. The higher cost of DC refrigerators is
made up many times over by the savings in the number of solar modules and batteries

65
required.” Of larger AC drive motors: “they are very wasteful compared to high
efficiency motors, which use 50% to 75% less electricity.” www.solarexpert.com

SOLTEK SOLAR ENERGY LTD (Canada) A similar message to GOSOLAR:


The average Canadian home uses 750 – 1500 kWh electricity per month.
An optimised home should require 60 – 500 kWh electricity per month.
Typical home renewable energy system output: 30 – 200 kWh electricity per month.
www.soltek.ca/techinfo/indepower.htm

‘EARTHSAFE SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM’ (Siemens USA) This commercial


site is interesting because it packages PV panels with inverters (AC modules).
Installations automatically co-generate with the AC mains supply: in many US regions
electricity authorities offer ‘net metering’ agreements. www.siemenssolar.com

WHISPERTECH STIRLING CYCLE CHP GENERATOR This device has been


developed by Whispertech of New Zealand. It burns gas or light fuel oil. The
electrical output is 1 kW and the heat output 6 kW. This device is already being
marketed for installation in boats; domestic CHP marketing will start soon across
Europe. The relevance to PV/DC is that the power output is on a similar scale to
domestic renewable energy systems – and this unit produces DC electricity.
www.whispertech.co.nz

Software

HOMER Hybrid Optimisation Model for Electric Renewables From the U.S. NREL
(National Renewable Energy Laboratory). This modelling software looks further
‘upstream’ than the Seneca Software (see below) and so is of more potential use in the
general planning of electricity supplies: it compares complete autonomy with grid-
augmented renewable energy; and it also can model power demand ‘for a village’ and
not just one house. To analyse the ‘whole life’ impact of large scale PV/DC, software
of this sort would be required – and it would need to measure the environmental
impact of e.g. widespread use of lead-acid batteries.
www.nrel.gov/international/tools/homer/homer.html

SENECA SOFTWARE & SOLAR (USA) The proprietor is developing a [power


available load applied] controller: his contention is that better (predictive?)
regulation of the power demand throughout the day would avoid glut/famine cyclical
patterns: his aim is to halve the capital expenditure on PV/wind generation capacity.
www.senecass.com/lab.html.

DC-compatible appliances

There is a surprising amount of DC-compatible equipment available: we have found


ventilation fans, 12 and 24 volt kettles, coffee makers, microwave ovens, refrigerators,
TVs, and music systems. However, the equipment is more expensive than the AC
equivalent despite its being no more difficult - if not simpler - to build. Our key
conclusion is that economies of scale matter far more than technical specification:
thus even if PV/DC looks unattractive at the moment, the situation could alter in the
medium to long term, should DC-input equipment be mass-produced.

66
WAECO INTERNATIONAL (Germany) This company specialises in DC equipment,
mostly aimed at the transport and RV (recreational vehicle) markets. Examples:
Samsung ‘Roadmate’ 12 or 24 volt microwave oven, Mobitherm 12/24V kettles,
coffee machines, ovens and toasters, Coolmatic DC refrigerators, 12V hair dryers and
curling irons. www.waeco.de

VENT-AXIA (UK) The high efficiency versions of all this company’s products are
fitted with DC motors. Technical specifications and performance data are available
for downloading from www.vent-axia.com

DANFOSS (Denmark) Manufacturers of high efficiency DC refrigeration


compressors, as used in most DC refrigerators and freezers. Technical specifications
and performance data are available for downloading from www.danfoss.com

ELECTROLUX (Sweden) Manufacturers of 12V refrigerators and freezers and also


gas-fired absorption refrigerators. Some absorption refrigerators designed for
caravans have a back-up DC electric heating element for maintaining cooling whilst in
transit. Web catalogue quotes energy consumption at ISO conditions
www.electrolux.com

THERMOPRODUKTER AB (Sweden) Manufacturers of ‘Isotherm’ DC refrigerators


and freezers. Web catalogue quotes energy consumption at standard conditions.
www.isotherm.com.

JADE MOUNTAIN (USA) A retailer of all manner of renewable energy equipment


including appliances, with much guidance on how to choose them.
www.jademountain.com.

Inverters, power supplies & batteries / other

Economics dictate that to store significant amounts (at least several kWh) of electrical
energy we need lead-acid batteries. Unfortunately the efficiency of these (energy out
 energy in) is typically 75%: only 80% is achieved even when charging is optimised.
Thus, if electricity wastage downstream from the battery can be minimised by direct
DC use by DC-input appliances, so too can the battery capacity and the inevitable
storage losses.

The relative efficiency of inverters to batteries is of extreme interest to the designer of


the DC house. Solar inverters are more efficient, up to 93%, and the latest versions
boast a relatively small drop off in efficiency with increasing load. This indicates it
would be better to use the grid as a ‘battery’, via an inverter, except where
independent storage capacity for grid-failure back-up is required anyway.

SUNNYBOY The most popular PV-dedicated inverters in Europe. Manuals, sizing


software, and other engineering information are available on their website.
www.sma.de/en/solartechnik/

TRACE ENGINEERING (USA) Manufacturers of DC/AC sinewave inverters.


Technical specifications and performance data including performance graphs can be
downloaded. www.traceengineering.com

67
BP SOLAR PRODUCTS (Intl) Not manufacturers – but have inverters and charge
controllers built to their own specifications which tend to be high. Useful guidance on
selecting equipment (including batteries) to suit particular conditions.
www.bpsolar.com

PIERCE INDEPENDENT POWER SYSTEMS (USA) Designers of not PV/DC but


‘Diesel/battery/AC’ for off-grid electricity consumers. To prevent reciprocating
engine generators from running for hours at low load, they offer a package of [battery
bank + inverter + management system]. PV arrays would complement such systems
by extending engine shutdown periods. www.independentpowersystem.com

ACTIVE POWER (USA) This company is promoting UPSs using flywheels and not
batteries to store energy. Energy efficiency is much higher, and there is no
deterioration with repetitive cycling: there is with all types of battery. Flywheel
energy storage is compatible with DC power as when the flywheel is generating, the
output is rectified and then fed to an inverter to maintain a constant frequency.
www.activepower.com

AEROVIRONMENT (USA) Paper: ‘Issues and Benefits with Fast Charging


Industrial Batteries’. A thorough study of methods for maximising battery energy
efficiency. Via online search. www.aerovironment.com

CALSTART (USA) ‘Four-Year Report on Battery-Electric Transit Vehicle Operation


in the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District. A review of the field performance
of lead-acid batteries. Via online search. www.calstart.org

BARDEN BATTERIES (UK) Useful source of information on all types of batteries,


via telephone conversations. www.bardenbatteries.co.uk

POWERPULSE A web based publication with papers on power supply electronics.


www.powerpulse.net/powerpulse/

Lighting

LUMILEDS (USA) One of the leading manufacturers of LED devices. Website has
news features on white light LED developments: latest models emit 17 lumens/watt.
www.lumileds.com

LABCRAFT (UK) Manufacturers of emergency lighting and interior lighting for


vehicles, trains, etc. We have corresponded with them about DC-powered high
efficiency fluorescent lighting. www.labcraft.co.uk

PHILIPS LIGHTING (Intl) Offer a very comprehensive range of high efficiency


fluorescent lighting. Much information on Philips’s continuing development of LED
lighting. www.philips.com.

FORDS MTM LLC (USA) A seller of ‘leading edge’ low energy technology for the
home. Wide range of both AC and DC LED lighting luminaires in catalogue: power
consumption figures are given. www.fords.mtm.com

68
BLV LIGHTING (Germany) BLV have developed a halide technology replacement
for the standard low voltage halogen lamp (which is DC-compatible) often used for
effect lighting in the home. They claim that it is 40% more efficient. www.blv-
licht.com.

69
APPENDIX 2 ‘HOME’ MODEL

TABLE A1 Electrical equipment inventory

UEC Unit % full


Elec power % Avge Best DC
Consum hrs/ duty hrs on owner- Daily Demand Practice Supply Schedule Summer Winter
kWh/annum 2000 day factor standby standby ship Consum W Factor Factor Type Factor Factor
Printers 10.74 0.2 1 5 0.2 26.5 0.01 25 0.5 0.8 2 1 1
Clck 14.63 24 1 68.1 0.03 2 0.5 0.9 7 1 1
Hi-Fi 25.51 0.5 1 0.5 0.3 92.3 0.06 108 1.0 0.8 2 1 1
PCs 69.12 1.5 1 0.5 0.3 32.1 0.06 115 0.6 0.8 2 1 1
Sat 76.98 2 1 22 0.1 18.7 0.04 50 1.0 0.8 2 1 1
VCR 83.25 2 1 22 0.01 98.6 0.22 103 1.0 0.8 2 1 1
TV 110.31 3 1 20 0.01 176.8 0.53 94 1.0 0.8 2 1 1
Cable 115.70 2 1 22 0.3 16.0 0.05 37 1.0 0.8 2 1 1
Fax 119.28 0.01 1 24 0.9 5.8 0.02 15 0.5 0.8 2 1 1
Lighting 724.38 6 1 100.0 1.98 331 0.3 1.0 4 0.8 1.2
Sandwich 0.70 0.01 1 33.8 0.00 192 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Small personal care 1.00 0.01 1 100.0 0.00 274 0.5 0.9 2 1 1
Other office 1.00 2 1 100.0 0.00 1 1.0 1.0 2 1 1
Garden 1.10 0.2 1 58.7 0.00 15 1.0 1.0 2 1 1
Cass 3.50 0.1 1 60.0 0.01 96 1.0 1.0 2 1 1
DIY 4.20 0.2 1 58.7 0.01 58 1.0 1.0 2 1 1
Other homecare 5.00 0.2 1 100.0 0.01 68 0.5 0.9 1 1 1
Food prep appliances 7.15 0.1 1 100.0 0.02 196 1.0 1.0 3 1 1
Blankets 8.72 4 0.1 55.3 0.01 60 0.0 1.0 5 1 1
Hairstyle 9.00 0.15 1 93.4 0.02 164 0.5 0.9 2 1 1
Elec frying pans 9.75 0.5 0.3 8.9 0.00 178 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Cooker hoods 14.50 1.5 1 17.4 0.01 26 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Coffee Maker 16.00 0.2 1 25.5 0.01 219 1.0 1.0 3 1 1
Toasters 17.20 0.1 1 79.6 0.04 471 1.0 1.0 3 1 1
Slow cookers 17.30 2 0.15 20.2 0.01 158 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Ans Mach 18.53 24 1 31.9 0.02 2 0.5 0.9 7 1 1
Deep fat fryers 21.00 0.4 0.4 34.0 0.02 360 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Vacuums 23.87 0.1 1 99.2 0.06 654 0.5 0.9 1 1 1
Towel rail 36.50 8 0.3 0.5 0.00 42 0.0 1.0 5 1 1
Irons 36.99 0.1 0.3 99.0 0.10 3378 1.0 1.0 1 1 1
CH pump 68.10 8 1 72.8 0.14 23 0.5 0.9 5 0 2
Microwave 86.92 0.1 1 78.3 0.19 2381 0.8 0.9 3 1 1
Kettles 169.60 0.3 1 96.4 0.45 1549 0.0 1.0 3 0.9 1.1
Washer 237.51 1 1 92.2 0.60 651 0.8 0.8 1 0.9 1.1
Hob 262.72 1 1 46.1 0.33 720 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Oven 263.07 1.5 0.3 57.7 0.42 1602 0.0 1.0 3 1 1
Refrigerator 287.32 24 0.2 43.0 0.34 164 0.4 0.9 6 1.1 0.9
El shower 300.68 0.6 1 33.6 0.28 1373 0.0 1.0 2 1.1 0.9
Dishwasher 370.99 0.7 1 24.0 0.24 1452 0.8 0.9 1 1.1 0.9
Dryer 373.34 0.5 0.4 51.2 0.52 5114 0.8 1.0 1 1.1 0.9
Up freezer 450.25 24 0.2 26.2 0.32 257 0.4 0.9 6 0.9 1.1
Chest freezer 459.25 24 0.2 17.4 0.22 262 0.4 0.9 6 0.9 1.1
Fridge-freezer 601.43 24 0.2 63.4 1.05 343 0.4 0.9 6 0.9 1.1

70
2.2 Home Demand Profiles

Figure A1 Domestic Winter Electricity Demand Profile with Business as Usual Model

Domestic Winter Electricity Demand Fridge-freezer


C hestfreezer
Business as Usual Model U p freezer
D ryer
1 D ishw asher
Elshow er
R efrigerator
0.9 O ven
Hob
W asher
0.8 Ket les
M icrow ave
C H pum p
0.7 Irons
Tow elrail
V acuum s
0.6 D eep fatfryers
A ns M ach
Slow cookers
kW

Toasters
0.5 C of ee M aker
C ookerhoods
Elec frying pans
0.4 Hairstyle
B lankets
Food prep appliances
0.3 O therhom ecare
D IY
C ass
0.2 G arden
O theroffice
Sm al personalcare
0.1 Sandw ich
Lighting
Fax
0 C able
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM TV
V CR
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 Sat
PC s
time Hi-Fi
C lck
Printers
W interEA

Figure A2 Domestic Summer Electricity Demand Profile with Business as Usual Model
Fridge-freezer
C hestfreezer
Domestic Summer Electricity Demand Up freezer
D ryer
Business as Usual Model D ishw asher
Elshow er
1 R efrigerato r
O ven
Hob
0.9 W asher
Ket les
M icrow ave
0.8 CH pum p
Irons Tow
elrail V
0.7 acuum s
D eep fatfryers
A ns M ach
0.6 Slow cookers
Toasters
C of ee M aker
kW

0.5 C ookerhoods
Elec frying pans
Hairstyle
0.4 B lankets
Food prep appliances
O therhom ecare
0.3 D IY
C ass
G arden
0.2 O theroffice
Sm al personalcare
Sandw ich
0.1 Lighting
Fax
C able
0 TV
VC R
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM Sat
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 PC s
Hi-Fi
C lck
time Printers
Summ erEA

71
Figure A3 Domestic Winter Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model

Domestic Winter Electricity Demand Fridge-freezer


C hestfreezer
Best Practice and DC Supply Up freezer
D ryer
1 D ishw asher
Elshow er

R efrigerator
0.9 O ven
Hob
W asher
0.8 Ket les
M icrow ave
CH pum p
0.7 Irons
Tow elrail
V acuum s
0.6 D eep fatfryers
A ns M ach
kW

Slow cookers
0.5 Toasters
Cof ee M aker
Cookerhoods
Elec frying pans
0.4 Hairstyle
B lankets
Food prep appliances
0.3 O therhom ecare
D IY
C ass
0.2 G arden
O theroffice
Sm al personalcare
0.1 Sandw ich
Lighting
Fax
0 C able
AM AM A M AM A M AM PM PM PM PM PM PM TV
VCR
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 Sat
PC s
time Hi-Fi
C lck
Printers
W interEA

Figure A4 Domestic Summer Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model


Fridge-freezer
C hestfreezer
Domestic Summer Electricity Demand Up freezer
D ryer
Best Practice and DC Supply D ishw asher
Elshow er
1 R efrigerator
O ven
Hob
0.9 W asher
Ket les
M icrow ave
0.8 CH pum p
Irons
Tow elrail
0.7 V acuum s
D eep fatfryers
A ns M ach
0.6 Slow cookers
Toasters
kW

Cof ee M aker
0.5 C ookerhoods
Elecfrying pans
Hairstyle
0.4 B lankets
Food prep appliances
O therhom ecare
0.3 D IY
C ass
G arden
0.2 O theroffice
Sm al personalcare
Sandw ich
0.1 Lighting
Fax
C able
0 TV
VCR
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM Sat
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 PC s
Hi-Fi
C lck
time Printers
Summ erEA

72
2.3 Home Schematics

Figure A5 House Power Distribution Circuits for AC and DC distribution

TOILET

1m.

KITCHEN
House Power Circuits AC power
distribution - BEDROOM
LOUNGE
1 x spur and
2 x ring mains @ 2.5 mm2

BATHROOM
BEDROOM & TOILET

BEDROOM

TOILET

1m.

KITCHEN

LOUNGE

BEDROOM
House Power Circuits DC
distribution -
12 x spurs @ 10 mm 2

BATHROOM
& TOILET
BEDROOM

BEDROOM

73
Figure A6 House Lighting Distribution Circuits for AC and DC Systems

TOILET

1m.

House Lighting Circuits AC power


distribution -
2 x circuits @ 1.5 mm 2
KITCHEN
BEDROOM
LOUNGE

BATHROOM
& TOILET

BEDROOM

BEDROOM

TOILET

1m.

KITCHEN
House Lighting Circuits DC power
distribution -
LOUNGE
2 x circuits @ 1.5 mm 2

BEDROOM

BATHROOM
& TOILET

BEDROOM

BEDROOM

74
APPENDIX 3 ‘OFFICE’ MODEL

Table A2 Electrical equipment categories

Best DC
Practice Supply Winter Summer
Factor Factor Factor Factor

General Office equipment 90% 80% 1 1


Light Appliances 90% 100% 1 1
Photocopiers 90% 80% 1 1
Computers 70% 80% 1 1
Printers 80% 80% 1 1
Faxes 90% 80% 1 1
Servers & UPS 90% 80% 1 1
AirCon & Ventilation 30% 80% 0.4 1.6
Security 90% 90% 1 1
Hot Water 0% 100% 1.1 0.9
Light Catering & Coffee 90% 90% 1 1
Cool Drinks 90% 90% 0.4 1.6
Pumps 90% 100% 1 1
Electric Heating 0% 100% 1.8 0.2
Fridge/Freezers 90% 90% 0.5 1.5
Lifts 0% 100% 1 1
Cooking 90% 100% 1 1
Misc 90% 100% 1 1
Audio/ Visual 90% 90% 1 1
Telecoms 90% 90% 1 1
Cleaning 90% 100% 1 1
Tungsten 10% 100% 1.4 0.6
Fluoros inc. CFLs 81% 95% 1.4 0.6
HID Lighting 80% 100% 1.4 0.6
Tungsten Halogen 10% 100% 1.4 0.6
Emergency Lighting 100% 90% 1 1

75
3.2 Electricity Demand Profiles

Figure A7 Office Winter Electricity Demand Profile with Business as Usual Model

Office Winter Electricity Demand


Business as Usual

50.00
Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
45.00
H ID Lighting
Fluoros inc.C FLs
40.00 Tungsten
C leaning
35.00 Telecom s
A udio/Visual
30.00 M isc
C ooking
Lifts
kW

25.00
Frdige/Freezers
Electric H eating
20.00 P um ps
CoolD rinks
15.00 LightC atering& Cofee
HotW ater
10.00 Security
A irC on & Ventilation
Servers & UP S
5.00
Faxes
P rinters
0.00 C om puters
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM P hotocopiers
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 LightA ppliances
G eneralOfficeequipm ent
time

Figure A8 Office Summer Electricity Demand Profile with Business as Usual Model

Office Summer Electricity Demand


Business as Usual
50.00
Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
45.00 H ID Lighting
Fluoros inc.C FLs
Tungsten
40.00
C leaning
Telecom s
35.00 A udio/Visual
M isc
30.00 C ooking
Lifts
Frdige/Freezers
25.00
kW

Electric H eating
P um ps
20.00 C oolD rinks
LightC atering& Cofee
HotW ater
15.00
Security
A irC on & Ventilation
10.00 Servers & UP S
Faxes

5.00 P rinters
C om puters
P hotocopiers
0.00 LightA ppliances
PM

PM

PM

PM

PM

PM

PM

PM
AM

AM

AM

AM

AM

AM

AM

AM

G eneralOfficeequipm ent
time

76
Figure A9 Office Winter Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model

Office Winter Electricity Demand


Best Practice and DC Supply

50.00
Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
45.00
H ID Lighting
Fluoros inc.C FLs
40.00 Tungsten
C leaning
35.00 Telecom s
A udio/Visual
30.00 M isc
C ooking
Lifts
kW

25.00
Frdige/Freezers
Electric H eating
20.00 P um ps
C oolD rinks
15.00 LightC atering & Cofee
HotW ater
10.00 Security
A irC on & Ventilation
Servers & UP S
5.00
Faxes
P rinters
0.00 Com puters
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM P hotocopiers
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 LightA ppliances
G eneralO fficeequipm ent
time

Figure A10 Office Summer Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model

Office Summer Electricity Demand


Best Practice and DC Supply
50.00 Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
H ID Lighting
45.00
Fluoros inc.C FLs
Tungsten
40.00 C leaning
Telecom s
35.00 A udio/Visual
M isc
C ooking
30.00
Lifts
Frdige/Freezers
25.00 Electric H eating
kW

P um ps
20.00 CoolD rinks
LightCatering& Cofee
HotW ater
15.00
Security
A irC on & Ventilation
10.00 Servers & UP S
Faxes
5.00 P rinters
C om puters
P hotocopiers
0.00
LightA ppliances
AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM G eneralO fficeequipm ent
12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30 12:30 02:30 04:30 06:30 08:30 10:30
time

77
Figure A11 Office Winter Weekend Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model

Office Weekend Winter Electricity Demand


Best Practice and DC Supply

50.00 Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
45.00 H ID Lighting
Fluoros inc.C FLs
40.00 Tungsten
C leaning
Telecom s
35.00
A udio/Visual
M isc
30.00 C ooking
Lifts
kW

25.00 Frdige/Freezers
Electric H eating
20.00 P um ps
CoolD rinks
15.00 LightC atering & Cofee
HotW ater
Security
10.00
A irC on & Ventilation
Servers & UP S
5.00 Faxes
P rinters
0.00 Com puters
P hotocopiers
AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM
LightA ppliances
0.52 0.08 0.15 0.21 0.27 0.33 0.40 0.46 0.52 0.08 0.15 0.21 0.27 0.33 0.40 0.46
G eneralO fficeequipm ent
time

Figure A12 Office Summer Weekend Electricity Demand Profile with DC Supply Model

Office Weekend Summer Electricty Demand


Best Practice and DC Supply
50.00
Em ergencyLighting
Tungsten H alogen
45.00 H ID Lighting
Fluoros inc.C FLs
Tungsten
40.00
C leaning
Telecom s
35.00 A udio/Visual
M isc
30.00 C ooking
Lifts
Frdige/Freezers
kW

25.00 Electric H eating


P um ps
20.00 CoolD rinks
LightC atering & Cofee
HotW ater
15.00 Security
A irC on & Ventilation
10.00 Servers & UP S
Faxes
P rinters
5.00 Com puters
P hotocopiers
0.00 LightA ppliances
G eneralO fficeequipm ent
AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM
0.52 0.08 0.15 0.21 0.27 0.33 0.40 0.46 0.52 0.08 0.15 0.21 0.27 0.33 0.40 0.46
time

78
3.3 Office Schematics

Figure A13 Office Power Distribution Circuits for AC and DC Systems

Power Circuits DC distribution -


14 x spurs 35 mm 2 10m.

3 floors

Power Circuits AC distribution -


2
10m.
6 x ring mains 2.5 mm
3 floors

79
Figure A14 Office Lighting Distribution Circuits for AC and DC Systems

Lighting Circuits AC distribution –


14 x 1.5 mm
(only top floor has atrium lighting)

Lines from switch to luminaire groups are not shown

Lighting Circuits DC distribution -


14 x 16 mm to fused switches
then 2.5 mm2
(only top floor has atrium lighting)
2

80
APPENDIX 4 VARIABLES FOR SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS

Technical Variables

Weighted DC Equipment Energy Efficiency relative to AC (y%)

As derived from the model house and office, this is the energy use of a conventional
AC piece of equipment divided by the energy use of that same piece of equipment if it
were supplied with DC. An improvement in this efficiency will effect a direct
improvement on the viability of DC systems. The variables y% was developed for the
house and office separately in the modelling and is the weighted efficiency of all the
DC supplied equipment in the models compared to AC equivalent. It is the reciprocal
of the weighted DC Supply Factors derived in the last two sections, and is therefore
greater than 100%.
The following graph shows a typical distribution for a single piece of equipment for y
= 1/80% = 125%, i.e. DC supply consumes only 80% of AC supply saving 20% by
bypassing the requirement for AC to DC conversion within the equipment. In fact,
once all loads in the house and office are taken into account, the advantage of DC
supply is diminished so that y becomes 110% +/- 10% for the office and 114% +/-
10% for the house.

Figure A15 Example of Distribution of DC Equipment Efficiency


0.094

0.075
PROBABILITY

0.056

0.038

0.019

0.000
111.50 116.61 121.72 126.82 131.93 137.03 142.14

Values in 10^-2
Distribution of variable y% (DC equipment efficiency)

Battery Efficiency (b%)

The amount of energy available from a battery divided by the amount input. This is
only a critical parameter for battery backed-up systems. Mean efficiency is 80% but
the distribution is skewed towards the low side.

81
Figure A16 Distribution of Battery Efficiency

0.073

0.058

PROBABILITY
0.044

0.029

0.015

0.000
70.00 72.50 75.00 77.50 80.00 82.50 85.00
Values in 10^-2

Distribution of variable b% (battery efficiency)

Inverter efficiency (i%)

The average efficiency of converting DC to AC. An improvement of this efficiency


will reduce the viability of DC systems, however as inverters already operate at
efficiencies at 90% at full load, improvements will be slight. Inverter efficiencies tend
to be low at low load, rising rapidly to above 90% and then tailing off slowly. This
distribution, however, represents the overall efficiency of the inverter at all the loads it
is likely to encounter, and so the shape indicates differing performances of inverters on
the market assuming some technical improvement.
Figure A17 Distribution of Inverter Efficiency

0.095

0.076
PROBABILITY

0.057

0.038

0.019

0.000
85.06 86.71 88.37 90.03 91.68 93.34 95.00
Values in 10^-2

Distribution of variable i% (inverter efficiency)

82
Power Supply Unit Efficiency (p%)

This is the efficiency of a large modern Power Supply Unit to top up the DC
distribution system when PV power is not sufficient. The advantage of a single, large
power supply to a DC distribution system is that many smaller and less efficient ones
could be displaced. An improvement of this efficiency will improve the viability of
using the grid to ‘store’ excess power and, as it will keep ahead of smaller systems
efficiencies will increase the viability of DC systems.
Figure A18 Distribution of PSU Efficiency

0.093

0.074
PROBABILITY

0.056

0.037

0.019

0.000
65.20 68.45 71.71 74.97 78.22 81.48 84.74
Values in 10^-2

Distribution of variable p% (power supply unit efficiency)

Scenario variables affecting PV DC Efficiency

The following two variables are dependent on the design, location, institutional and
contractual status of the system, and feed into the definition of different scenarios.
Because either of them could be any value, almost from 0-100%, and because they
have a large influence over the DC system efficiency, they are set at a discrete value
and only changed between scenarios.
The @RISK software was used to give each scenario two different models, House and
Office.

Storage Requirement (s%)

This is the percentage of power delivered by the PV system which is not able to be
used immediately, but has to be stored or exported to the grid. The smaller the system
the greater percentage of the PV output will be able to be utilised as it is produced. As
the storage percentage goes down, the efficiency of the overall system will go up, but
the gross savings will go down.
This is regarded as a scenario variable because its size will depend on design decisions
such as array size and proportion of energy use to be supplied by PV.
In the ‘House’ model variable s% is set at 58% while in the ‘Office’ model it is 50%,
based on the spreadsheet models with PV supplying 100% of the building’s demands.

83
Grid Storage Efficiency (g%)

This is not a real efficiency but is export price divided by import price. This term
could be considered similarly to the efficiency terms defined above to simplify
analysis, i.e. if one unit is sold to the grid for a sum which is sufficient to buy back x%
of one unit, then the efficiency of grid storage is x%.
This variable has a huge effect on the overall efficiency of the DC system, and if it is
much less than 100%, and the storage requirement is high, it is likely to simply make
the system uneconomic. For the purposes of this study, it is set at 100%.

The Sensitivity Analysis

The data was acquired using @RISK software. This involved assigning a distribution
to each variable involved in the efficiency of the system. The following table
summarises the assigned distributions.
Table A3 Summary of Variable Distributions

Variable Distribution Minimum Mean Maximum


b% T Normal 70% 80% ( = 5%) 85%
y% (house) Triangular 103% 114% 125%
y% (office) Triangular 99% 110% 121%
s% (house) Fixed - 58% -
s% (office) Fixed - 50% -
i% Triangular 85% 90% 95%
p% Triangular 65% 75% 85%
g% Fixed - 100% -

The software carried out a risk assessment on the data given for each of the three
efficiency scenarios. The assessment used 1000 integers to produce its results,
generating a large sample population from which to draw its conclusions.
The software produced distribution data for each of the outputs (scenarios) and from
this distribution charts were created.

84