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    • 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...
    • May 9, 2016

    Tripping point: server power protection using branch circuit monitors

    The power consumption of a server station or data center is easily in the megawatts – a data center with 50,000 servers likely consumes 15-20MW. What are the key technologies to manage the power supply for each server rack (Figure 1)? Similarly, there are large electricity consumption companies in industrial and manufacturing, how does the facility...
    • May 5, 2016

    A smarter way for solar to power the grid – think inside the box

    While the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, solar energy still powers only a small percentage of the grid. What has kept solar power systems, a clean form of energy, from powering a larger percentage of the grid worldwide? Concerns over cost ($ per Watt) and efficiency have prevented adoption of...
    • May 2, 2016

    European smart grid RF communication in Sub-1 GHz – part 4

    In part 1 of this blog series, I reviewed the wireless M (wM)-Bus protocol standard in the 868 MHz ISM band in Europe, while in part 2 I looked at wM-Bus N-modes and the European Telecommunications Standard Institute ( ETSI ) category 1 receiver performance. In part 3 , I listed the pros and cons of a two-chip MSP430™ microcontroller (MCU) + CC1120...
    • Apr 18, 2016

    Untangling electric vehicle chargers – Level 3

    In the last installment of this series, I explored different standards around the connection of alternating current (AC) voltage to an electric vehicle. In all of those cases, the electric vehicle (EV) has an onboard AC-to-DC (direct current) converter to handle much of the complex portion of the power-delivery equation. However, due to space constraints...
    • Apr 15, 2016

    Power quality is essential to a smarter grid

    What is power quality? Power quality can have different meanings depending on whether one is an energy producer or consumer. For utilities or system operators, power quality can indicate the reliability of the grid to deliver electricity without interruption. Power quality can also refer to the delivery of power compatible with the electrical loads...