The EMerge Alliance, an open industry association promoting the adoption of safe, low-voltage direct-current (DC) power distribution, has released the EMerge Alliance Standard, a roadmap for use of DC power in commercial interiors. The standard addresses the means of powering digital, DC-powered devices such as sensors, lighting, and IT equipment, and seeks to define critical physical and electrical requirements need to achieve the following goals:

  • Reduced energy losses by eliminating device-by-device electrical conversions from alternating-current (AC) power to DC power
  • Use of safe Class 2 power levels, wherever practical, as defined by the National Electrical Code
  • Broad capabilities for faster and simpler moves, adds, and changes in occupied spaces
  • Movement towards interoperable device-level controls and smart grid integration at the building level
  • Easier integration of native DC power sources, such as solar, wind, fuel cell and batteries, with traditional AC power sources
  • Flexibility to implement new energy-saving devices, such as LED lighting and controls, and energy-saving technologies, such as renewable power sources, more efficiently and effectively

In a standardized scheme, AC power is converted to low-voltage DC for efficient distribution at room level, eliminating the inefficiency of numerous AC to DC power conversions at the device level. The standard also provides for optional connection to on-site alternative power generation, including solar panels and micro-turbines that naturally generate DC power. Historically these native DC power generators required their power to be converted to AC for local distribution, reducing their efficiency and increasing costs. Using native DC power generated from on-site sources to drive DC loads more directly can dramatically improve building efficiency, reduce energy costs and reduce environmental footprints.

"The EMerge Alliance Standard sets the stage for a new era in power sourcing, distribution and management in commercial buildings,” says Alliance chairman Brian Patterson. “While we advocate increased use of native DC power, the Alliance is not interested in reliving the epic Edison and Westinghouse battle over AC versus DC technologies. Rather, we’ve set out to find better and more practical ways of getting the most out of both.”

The Alliance is establishing a third-party registration and evaluation program for labeling products based on the standard. A public overview version of the standard and answers to frequently asked questions are available at www.EMergeAlliance.org. The full EMerge Alliance Standard is available to Governing, Participating and General Members of the Alliance. To join the Alliance, please visit http://emergealliance.org/en/join/index.asp.