Applied Research

Applied Research

We research emerging technologies and existing products to better understand and identify solutions. We conduct our research in real-world settings to obtain both accurate and practical results. We also examine the market’s ability to install or implement the device or process being researched and to maintain it on an ongoing basis.


Power Quality

Prior joint research we conducted with Duke Energy helped solve a 10-year-old power quality issue at a sewer pump lift station. The experience demonstrated how lab testing can have a positive real-world impact.

Mini-Split Heat Pumps

We conducted field research to better understand the performance of mini-split heat pumps in Southeastern low-load homes, with an emphasis on energy usage and interior moisture.

Smart Thermostat Research

We evaluated the default settings of a smart thermostat commonly used in electric cooperative HVAC programs. We then developed step-by-step guides with recommended settings for heat pump and dual-fuel HVAC systems, particularly ones that will optimize energy savings, comfort and peak-demand reductions.

Battery Storage

We are leading a multiyear project with Duke Energy to explore whether battery storage technology provides benefits for customers and utilities through demand management services as well as peak power and seasonal energy consumption reductions.

Variable-Capacity HVAC

We are examining the benefits and capabilities of residential variable-capacity HVAC systems in two in-field proof-of-concept projects in Asheville, North Carolina. We are studying the extent to which these systems produce mutual customer and utility benefits. The primary focus is on energy and peak-demand performance during more dramatic winter and summer weather, with a secondary goal to understand the latent-load (moisture) control performance for optimal comfort in the milder shoulder seasons.

Predictable Peak Energy Demand

We are investigating how to create a home that has predictable peak energy demand on the grid. The first steps of this effort involve better understanding the energy and power demands of different technologies on a home’s overall power usage and which of these loads can be controlled in low-cost ways while supporting customer comfort. With this information, we will create a comparison of each component, its controllability and its estimated cost to implement in North Carolina homes.


We are working with Roanoke Electric Cooperative and other partners to determine the value of using electric vehicle battery storage to support grid management and resiliency.

Grid-Connected Distributed Generation

We are working on a multiyear project to assess how the proliferation of grid-connected distributed generation in North Carolina is affecting a utility’s power network. As part of the project, we created a three-part video series on motor starting and we sourced equipment typically used in agricultural applications to test in our motor lab.

Grid-Integrated Water Heater Research

We worked with Dominion Energy to research grid-integrated water heaters. Our research included a review of the technology, a comparison of grid-integrated water heaters and battery storage, a summary of grid-integrated water heater utility programs and a literature review of grid-integrated water heater findings from independent sources.

Round-Robin VFD Testing

We participated in a global round-robin testing program for variable frequency drives (VFDs). The goal of this effort was to inform test standards for VFDs and demonstrate repeatability in testing among labs.