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Low Voltage Power Distribution System Provides Incubator for Energy-Related Student Projects

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Electrical Energy Courses, Labs, and Projects I

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.879.1 - 23.879.11



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Paper Authors


Dale H. Litwhiler Pennsylvania State University, Berks Campus

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Dr. Dale H. Litwhiler is an associate professor at Penn State, Berks Campus in Reading, Pa. He received his B.S. from Penn State University, M.S. from Syracuse University, and Ph.D. from Lehigh University, all in Electrical Engineering. Prior to beginning his academic career, he worked with IBM Federal Systems and Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems as a hardware and software design engineer.

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Elizabeth Wiggins-Lopez PSU-Berks

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Low Voltage Power Distribution System Provides Incubator for Energy- Related Student ProjectsAbstractAn emerging technology in building power distribution involves the use of a room ceiling tilesupport grid to create a low voltage “microgrid” network. With this network, 24VDC power isrouted throughout the room via conductors embedded in the drop-ceiling support structure. Userscan then tap into the low voltage supply from any location in the room. The microgrid effort ischampioned by Armstrong World Industries, Inc. with their DC Flexzone line of ceilingproducts. Armstrong is a member of the Emerge Alliance which is a consortium of industriespromoting the use of low voltage DC indoor power distribution for a variety of commercial,industrial and residential applications. Applications on the load side include lighting andventilation. Input power for the microgrid can be derived from many sources including standardbuilding AC power and alternative sources such as solar. The Armstrong DC Flexzone systemwas installed in one room of the engineering building at (institution name here). The room servesas both laboratory and classroom space. Students in the engineering technology programs havebeen involved with designing and fabricating devices to use and/or control power derived fromthe 24VDC microgrid system. Devices include room lighting control and portable devicecharging stations. The low voltage microgrid provides a relatively safe environment in which toexperiment with new devices for occupied space environmental control. Students are verymotivated to create devices that positively influence their learning environment. This paperpresents details of student projects which interface with the microgrid system. Details of themicrogrid infrastructure are also presented and discussed.

Litwhiler, D. H., & Wiggins-Lopez, E. (2013, June), Low Voltage Power Distribution System Provides Incubator for Energy-Related Student Projects Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22264

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