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    • 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...
    • 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...