The Patented PowerCalc Algorithm



As our readers and colleagues know by now, PowerCalc(tm) is committed to innovation.

The sole reason that PowerCalc is covered by a US patent is the invention of its algorithm. Simply, we do things differently. 

As part of the start of this new decade, we've been reviewing the reasons for our Product of the Year awards in 2016 and 2019.  So let's take a more detailed look at the most important reason: PowerCalc's algorithm.

Bottom-Up Process to Automate Design

It sounds small, but the impact is big: design from the bottom – up.

PowerCalc implements this disruptive and patented approach adding the electrical loads of each branch circuit to sum up the Total Electrical Demand Load for a facility. PowerCalc designs from the branch circuit up to the power grid.

Top-Down Fails Inside the Facility

Most electrical engineering software is for the transmission of electricity in the power grid (outside of the facility)...the design process is from the top-down (from the location of the power's generation (such as the coal fired plant) down to where the electricity enters the facility). 

Most electrical engineering software for design inside the facility has adopted this top-down approach from the power grid. 

The simple adoption of this process fails to recognize that these are two different and separate power distribution systems: (1) the transmission system in the power grid (outside the facility) and (2) the power distribution system inside the facility (from where the electrical power enters the building from the power grid to where the power is used at the circuit (light switch, dishwasher, manufacturing equipment, etc.).

Simply, the power grid’s top-down approach to design the distribution of electricity in the power distribution system inside the facility does not work

Confusion: Expensive Mistake

The recurring comment from our customers is how their expensive “power grid” software is sitting on the shelf and never used for their work: the design of the power distribution system inside a facility. These purchases are expensive mistakes.

Let’s clear up this confusion: the distribution of electricity of the power distribution system inside the facility must meet code and regulatory requirements which are very different from those applicable to the transmission of electricity in the power grid. Specifically, the National Electrical Code (NEC). For this reason alone (and there are lots of other reasons) the design of power distribution systems inside the facility and outside the facility (power grid) are very different.

Power grid software (outside the building) just does not work inside the facility. In contrast to the concerns for electrical engineering design inside of facilities, these power grid software applications for outside the facility insure that connected systems are compatible and in harmony: (1) within the power grid itself or (2) between the power grid and the power distribution system inside the building.

Typically, these calculations are “studies” to check that connected systems act together as one electrical system. Examples are fault current studies, harmonic current studies, power flow studies, and similar calculations including the actual connection of the facility's power distribution system to the power grid/electrical service.

What is Bottom-Up design inside the facility?

It is a unique approach: PowerCalc starts at the beginning by calculating and aggregating data from each branch circuit up to the power grid/electrical service (bottom-up). For each branch circuit, there are 3 inputs: electrical load in KVA, number of poles (1, 2, or 3 poles) and electrical load type (LTG, Heading, AC, etc.). These 3 inputs provide over 300 NEC and other code compliant outputs. Check out More on NEC and Inputs/Outputs.

Why Bottom-Up design is necessary inside the facility?

  1. Automation Drives Productivity: Instant, Accurate and Compliant Resultssavetimesavemoney no logo (002).jpg

PowerCalc’s over 7 million integrated equations tied to proprietary databases provide accurate and compliant results. And the integration allows for instant changes across the power distribution design…upstream and downstream. So, it is never a problem to add or change equipment, a room, a wing, or any change or update no matter how small or large.

This integration also allows for the simultaneous generation of the 1 Line Diagram...the only automatic 1 Line Diagram on the planet.

Automation drives productivity. This new accuracy and efficiency is game changing: save over 40% in design time and money. Save Time/Save Money. Also, far fewer building department comments, lawsuits, corrections for construction errors, and weekend hours.

  1. Total Electrical Demand Load

There should never be an error in the Total Electrical Demand Load for any project. Yet, the miscalculation of the Total Electrical Demand Load is one of the most common problems in electrical engineering design.

The proper and only fail-proof way to design the power distribution system in a facility is to add all the electrical loads from the branch circuit up to the service entrance with adjustments for changes (bottom-up). Values are aggregated in a 3 step process (1) add all electrical loads by type, (2) apply code demand factors to each load type, and then (3) add all electrical loads.

In contrast, guestimating the size of the electrical load in conjunction with pre-sets of panelboard sizes, equipment disconnects, feeders, and overcurrent protection devices at the start of the project leads to an inaccurate baseline on which to build the power distribution system design.

This is construction, so change is the standard in our business. So, how can anyone know the size of the electrical service at the start of a project?  No one can guestimate the Total Electrical Demand Load in conjunction with the factors identified above at project start. Only by adding all the electrical loads from the branch circuit up to the service entrance can the engineer correctly size and adjust for changes in the electrical load for the project.

The Total Electrical Demand Load drives the success of your electrical engineering design inside the facility.  An addition or subtraction error in the Total Electrical Demand Load results in either electrical equipment being oversized at potentially great cost to the developer or undersized at potentially great risk to the safety of the facility’s occupants.

More Information

The best way to understand the power of PowerCalc is to see it in action. View our videos:


Set Up Your Account

Set up a Project

Set Up Your Panels

Input Branch Circuit Values

Set Up Remaining Panels

1 Line Diagram

Take a look at our User Manual to see for yourself how easy and seamlessly this process works. User Guide

So what's the plan for development in 2020?

Past accomplishments are great things, but PowerCalc's innovations are ongoing.

In 1st Quarter 2020, we will launch our industrial package with more FIRSTS in the industry:  AutomaticTransfer Switches with Generators (ATSs); Motor Control Centers (MCCs); Double Ended Swtichgears; and Unit Substations. All PowerCalc users will have the option to upgrade to the industrial package. And we are in beta testing at this time.

Our industrial package can design the most complex of manufacturing, processing, and operating facilities for any industry.

And remember, we have a free demonstration  on the first Friday of each month: FREE Demo Friday, Feb. 7 at Noon EST.   Hope you will join us!

Thank you for your support.

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About The Author

James Khalil, P.E. is President, Co-founder and Inventor of PowerCalc. He has 30+ years of experience at his MEP firm in Delray Beach, FL and with Carter Burgess (now Jacobs) in Fort Worth, TX; Mason & Hanger (now Zimmerman) in Lexington, KY; and Gee & Jenson (now CH2M) in West Palm Beach, FL. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas. His experience includes projects for Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the US Departments of Energy, State, and Defense; and universities, schools, health facilities, and arts centers.