Low Voltage DC – future or already present?

Image LVDC
Foto: istock | SIRA

The common use of e.g. PV, lithium ion batteries and LED lighting in recent years has increased the interest in low-voltage DC (LVDC) as a solution for bringing safe, efficient and green electricity to all.

Furthermore, and not only in emerging markets (around 1.5 billion people worldwide don’t have any access to electricity), the demand for standardization on LVDC installations, protection as well as distribution issues has been already identified by IEC, resulting in the establishment of a System Evaluation Group (SEG) to sort out the gap of standardization in the field of LVDC.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the German National Committee (DKE) therefore invite you to share with global experts your visions and views on LVDC, which is probably one of the most important technologies of the future.

Let us use the opportunity to put a global focus on LVDC as a key issue in bringing electricity to everybody. The general increase of DC applications in various fields at present (e.g. telephone; computer, TV as well as audio systems) is already giving us the possibility to enhance energy efficiency

Therefore, we need standards to achieve a faster, cost-effective development of LVDC distribution networks.

There is still a lot of work to do…so join the IEC community!

Low Voltage DC – the awakening of a long forgotten power!

Adding a new topic to our meeting programme, we are pleased to introduce you to the area of “Low Voltage Direct Current” application. In this context, "low voltage" covers voltages up to 1 500 V. With the growing usage of renewable energy sources the use of DC is increasing in parallel. The power that is needed in short distances to the generator can be stored and utilized directly without AC transformation. As in the beginning of the electric century, we now discuss the cornerstones of DC usage. This renaissance of DC is challenging several technical areas. Increasingly, manufacturers conclude to use DC in their products for energy efficiency reasons as well.

Collecting and assessing the activities inside and outside the IEC, evaluating the market needs and expectations the IEC established the System Evaluation Group for LVDC.

We will now hand over the introduction of this group to the responsible Convener, Mr. Vimal Mahendru from the Indian National Committee of the IEC. As most of the key personalities in IEC, you can meet him in Frankfurt at the fringes of the #IECGM16!

To LVDC or not to LVDC?

Image Battery includes solar panel
Foto: Adobe Stock | Frank Peters

As already mentioned, LVDC seems to be all pervasive in the near future. Already back in 2009, IEC started collecting research and development details. In 2011, a large workshop in Dresden/Germany provided a stage for the LVDC community. Establishing a System Evaluation Group (SEG 4) IEC is now reviewing the current status on LVDC and proposing future standardization work on this topic. Since then there has been a lot of interest in and engagement with the topic. For any expert concerned by LVDC, now the perfect time to get in touch and contribute has come.

From the first meeting with few delegates, SEG 4 has grown into a vibrant melting pot of over 124 experts, academicians, researchers, manufacturers and professionals, all passionately debating various aspects of LVDC. Taking LVDC forward, SEG 4 experts also feel today there may be a natural convergence on a few voltages for standardization. It seems that the most favored voltages are 24 V, 48 V, 380 V, 750 V and 1200 V to 1500 V. I can safely assume that once standardization of voltages takes place the next immediate step will be standardizing safety and connectivity matters.

While we all use DC on a daily basis, most of the time, we are likely to witness an explosion of DC power supplied by utilities in the coming years. I am often asked about the speed of change and how soon would we see a predominantly DC world. I cannot predict the future but I can safely say that in about three years we will see a lot more LVDC everywhere and in about twenty years, the world will have moved toward DC Distribution.

This also seems logical specially given that LVDC is a transversal technology in exponential demand due to proliferation of electronics and Solar PV. Consider that Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, Power over Ethernet (PoE), Active Assisted Living (AAL) and Smart Homes: all are essentially requiring LV DC for Operation.

Image Vimal Mahendru




Vimal Mahendru:

"I can safely conclude that we are already living in a DC world, we only need to visualize it accordingly!"


Vimal Mahendru |
President, Legrand – India | Convenor, SEG-4| Member, Standardization Management Board, IEC
B24 Phase II | Noida 201305 | India
T +91 120 3853 000 |F +91 1120 3853 002 | vimal.mahendru@indoasian.com