The groups who control the USB standard just announced a major upgrade: USB-C will now support up to 240W at 48VDC. This a huge deal for the building construction industry: USB-C is now poised to potentially replace traditional AC wall outlets in many – if not the majority – of applications.
I firmly believe DC power is the future of electrical infrastructure for commercial buildings. Net-zero energy systems with native PV solar, battery storage and the litany of “smart” building technologies are all DC power-based. Legacy AC infrastructure is wasteful, dangerous and makes no sense going forward. But a huge problem has been the lack of any credible DC standards, such as for common wall-outlet requirements.
USB-C up to 240W covers a massive range of electrical devices. Common refrigerators can easily run at that level. So can 65″ LCD TVs. Nearly every computer or mobile device. How about lighting? 240W X 200lm/w efficacy equals a staggering 48,000 lumens. You could light a sports field with USB-C.
USB-C as an electrical outlet is far advanced to the existing AC outlet standards: It is regulated by power electronics, so it quickly interrupt faults; USB is touch safe, even up to 48VDC; USB-PD negotiates power, allowing devices to request a voltage and power level to optimize efficient operation.
As I mentioned in my presentation on DC power at the Smart Building Conference, 48VDC is shaping up to be a widespread standard in lighting and other building infrastructure, alongside 380VDC for heavy duty infrastructure. Now with USB-C adopting up to 48VDC, the most power hungry devices can potentially be powered from 48VDC infrastructure with little to no power conversion required….an amazing efficiency gain.
I think within a few years we will start to see major infrastructure for flagship sustainable construction projects switch to primarily DC infrastructure, flipping the conversion problem to using inverters only where legacy AC convenience outlets are required.
Below is the core of their press release:
The USB Promoter Group today announced the release of the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) Revision 3.1 specification, a major update to enable delivering up to 240W of power over the USB Type-C® cable and connector. Prior to this update, USB PD was limited to 100W via a solution based on 20V using USB Type-C cables rated at 5A. The USB Type-C specification has also been updated with Release 2.1 to define 240W cable requirements, and with the updated USB PD protocol and power supply definition, this extends the applicability of USB PD to a large number of applications where 100W wasn’t adequateUSB Promoter Group Announces USB Power Delivery Specification Revision 3.1 | Business Wire