Image via EMerge Alliance
Direct current (DC) electric systems are getting a new set of standards, and could be favored over our typical alternating current (AC) systems. But it doesn’t mean rewiring every building in order to charge up devices. It just means electrifying ceilings, walls, and floors. We've discussed the intelligence of utilizing of DC systems, and how these could be a big boon for energy efficiency when it comes to DC-loving devices like LED lights, laptops, and so on.
The EMerge Alliance is working on creating a hybrid layer within buildings that can use low-voltage direct current to power these devices. This means the building doesn’t have to rewire current AC electrical systems, but rather could just add in DC capabilities with low voltage currents.
The type of power EMerge is looking at – Class 2 as defined by the National Electric Code, a North American standard – is so low that you couldn't feel it, unless you touched your tongue to the ceiling.
The technology is intended to bring better efficiency for DC devices as well as alternative energy sources like solar. From EETimes:
For example, DC power is ideally suited for integration into the ceiling plane, providing facility managers with the ability to readily arrange and rearrange lighting, sensors, actuators, and other devices without the need for rewiring.
The EMerge standard also embraces the trend toward using on-site alternative energy, by providing a means of direct and more efficient connection between these new energy sources and interior electrical loads, like lighting and controls.
And the organization is soon bringing out a set of standards for the building industry. Once the standards are in place, they expect that products utilizing the standard will quickly follow.
The electrified ceiling idea is actually being tested out in facilities across the US, though we’re pretty sure some safety issues are being raised at every turn. Emerge is hoping to have standards in place by 2009 for low-voltage DC systems, and they figure that as standards are set and technology improves, it’s just a matter of time before the green building industry snaps up the idea.