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Electrical Feature of the Month: Branch Circuit Voltage Drop Calculations

Monday, January 10th, 2011

One benefit to using an electrical BIM package such as Design Master Electrical is that the model you create allows you to perform more precise calculations than you have in the past. An example of this is the branch circuit voltage drop calculation.

To calculate voltage drop, you need to know the path of the wires between devices on a circuit, the distances between all of those devices, and the load at each device. Collecting all of this information and performing the calculation by hand is time-consuming. You will only do a complete voltage drop calculation on the circuits that are likely to have problems. There is not enough time and fee on a project to model each circuit and calculate the voltage drop by hand.

Using Design Master Electrical, all of this information is collected for you. The path between devices is specified by the loops that are inserted on the drawing. The location of all the devices is known, so the distance between them can be calculated. The load at each point can be determined by summing the loads of the downstream devices. Our software uses this information to calculate the voltage drop on every single circuit in the project, not just the ones that look like they might be a problem.

In most cases, this additional calculation does not add anything to your design. Confirming that the voltage drop is acceptable does not require any changes. But you no longer have to try to determine which circuits are worth fully modeling. The software calculates them all and lets you know which ones are problems. You can be confident that you will know about any circuit in your project with an unacceptable voltage drop and have an opportunity to fix the problem in the design phase, rather than being surprised by a problem circuit once the building is constructed.