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Building Electrical Appliances, Devices, and Systems


The Building Electric Appliances, Devices, and Systems, or BEADS, portfolio focuses on reducing the use of electricity in residential and commercial buildings. The research encompasses electric appliances, plug loads, miscellaneous electric loads, sensors, and protocols for providing system-level efficiency across the electric loads in modern buildings. Trends toward building electrification, the proliferation of electric-vehicle charging, and the integration of distributed energy resources present novel challenges and opportunities for optimizing the systems and hardware that handle electricity behind the meter.

As energy efficiency in major building equipment, such as HVAC, water heating, and lighting has improved, plug loads have become a larger percentage of the overall energy use in buildings. Refrigeration, laundry, cooking, and dishwashing in residential buildings account for more than 200 Terawatt hours, or 14 percent, of annual site electricity consumption. Beyond these major appliances, miscellaneous electric loads are responsible for 20 to 40 percent of building electricity use, a steadily growing proportion. 

ORNL is performing research in low power appliance options, advanced manufactured appliances, and energy storage to enable grid resiliency. Specific projects include an investigation of sensor errors and location on building energy consumption; a thermoelectric heat pump dishwasher with heat recovery; a cooking oven using recycled composites to reduce embodied carbon in the manufacturing process; and a next-generation domestic refrigerator using isobutane as the refrigerant.