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    • Nov 21, 2016

    A mini data concentrator for the smart grid

    Infrastructure equipment such as data concentrators and broadband backhaul routers represent a large portion of the cost of electric utilities’ advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) networks. Reducing the required capex by optimizing infrastructure deployments helps improve overall project’s return on investment. Utilities deploying...
    • Oct 7, 2016

    Tripping Point: Isolation amplifier-based alternating current voltage measurement in protection relays

    Protection relays are used to protect high- or mid- or low-voltage power systems, sense an abnormal condition in the circuit, and command the operation of circuit breakers. Voltage and current inputs from the equipment being protected are connected to the protection relay. Protecting power-system elements requires accurate measurement of three-phase...
    • Sep 26, 2016

    Quantifying harmonic distortion: Estimating THD without performing a full FFT operation

    Continued from Part 1 of my blog series on quantifying harmonic distortion. As a less computationally intensive alternative to calculating each harmonic RMS value for THD, you can estimate THD by calculating the total RMS of the harmonics (excluding the fundamental). First, calculate the RMS of the fundamental and subtract it from the total RMS....
    • Sep 9, 2016

    Rethink your solar inverter with GaN

    Solar inverter: Before and after GaN “PG&E has called a SmartDay event for Thursday, 07/28/2016 for your residence. Remember to reduce your energy use between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to save energy when electric rates are highest.” Having lived in both Texas and California, I'm used to hot and sunny summer days. I’m also used...
    • Aug 29, 2016

    Electric vehicle charging stations are getting smarter and charging faster

    Although electric vehicles (EVs) are not new to the marketplace (they’ve actually existed for over a century), their adoption has been particularly slow. Advancements in battery technology, along with policy regulations that support alternative energy sources for transportation, have accelerated adoption. But EVs still face stiff competition from...
    • Aug 19, 2016

    Quantifying harmonic distortion: Options for calculating THD

    The proliferation of nonlinear electric loads is threatening electric grid reliability in industrial, commercial and residential premises. What are nonlinear loads? They are any piece of electric equipment whose impedance changes with applied voltage. Examples in industrial applications include large variable-frequency motor drives or high-current arc...
    • Aug 10, 2016

    Tripping Point: Simplifying circuit breaker design using delta-sigma ADCs

    In circuit-breaker applications , successive approximation register analog-to-digital converters (SAR ADCs), internal to the microcontroller (MCU) or external, are preferable to delta-sigma ADCs due to their faster startup times. Yet delta-sigma ADCs provide higher dynamic range and higher resolution, an internal PGA (programmable gain amplifier) and...
    • Aug 5, 2016

    Importance of heat-cost allocators in smart meter designs

    Heat-cost allocators (HCAs) are intelligent electronic devices which are used to measure the amount of heat energy used by individual units in multi-dwelling buildings which use a centralized, radiated heating system. This measurement is used to allocate the overall cost of operating the central heating system. HCAs are probably the “simplest”...
    • Jul 22, 2016

    Solar in Texas: the future looks bright

    I don’t know why I bother checking the weather this time of year. Save for the occasional thunderstorm, I can pretty much guarantee that it’s going to be hot and sunny here in Dallas all summer long. As we enter a long stretch of triple-digit highs, most people’s minds are on how to stay cool. For me though, every time I go outside...
    • May 12, 2016

    Is water flow metering important in today’s economy?

    Can you imagine a cab without fare meters? Without a fare meter, the cost to drive around the block or travel between two cities would cost the same. Similarly, it is difficult to charge for water services fairly without a water meter. Thus, meters...