Auxiliary Programs — EnergyPlus 8.6

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Weather Format for Simulation Programs[LINK]

For these reasons, we developed a generalized weather data format for use with two major simulation programs-ESP-r and EnergyPlus (Crawley et al. 1999). All the data are in SI units. The format is simple, text-based with comma-separated data. It is based on the data available within the TMY2 weather format but has been rearranged to facilitate visual inspection of the data. The TMY2 data are a strict, position-specific format-filling missing data with nines and zero values with zeroes. The new weather data format contains commas to facilitate data reading and analysis with spreadsheet programs. By eliminating redundant ‘fill’ values, the size of each file is only slightly larger than the original TMY2 format. Details about the TMY2 format can be found in the TMY2 User’s manual (see references at the end of this section).

The traditional distribution of data source and uncertainty flags within the raw data fields carries with it not only the need for many field separators, it obfuscates the relationships between non-numerical data. In a set of minute data, which could easily require hundreds of thousands of records, the space penalty is considerable. In the E/E file format, all data source and uncertainty fields have been clumped together as a single field immediately following the day and time stamp. For applications where uncertainty is not an issue such data can be easily ignored. When it is important, a single text field is conceptually and computationally easy to parse.

Another difference between the EnergyPlus/ESP-r (E/E) format and TMY2 is the addition of two new data fields-minute and infrared sky. The minute field facilitates use of data observed at intervals of less than one hour such as measured data from a research study of energy efficiency for a particular building. This will allow easier and more accurate calibration of a simulation model to measured data than possible in the past. The infrared sky field allows the programs to calculate the effective sky temperature for re-radiation during nighttime.

The last difference is that a full year of data (such as 8760 hours) is not required-subsets of years are acceptable. Which periods are covered by the data is described in the files. Periods of typical weather patterns based on analysis of the data are also included within the format. A side-by-side comparison of data included in the E/E weather format with data previously used by ESP-r, DOE-2, and BLAST is shown in Table. A deficiency noted within ESP-r for example is the lack of correcting air volumes for elevation change-many of the users of ESP-r are in relatively low elevations. For DOE-2 and BLAST, neither program used illumination data in daylighting calculations or infrared sky temperatures-it was always recalculated at time of use.

By including the uncertainty and data source information found in TMY2, users now can evaluate the potential impact of weather variability on the performance of the building.

McDonald and Strachan (1998) are introducing uncertainty analysis into ESP-r.

We use the EnergyPlus data dictionary format to describe the E/E weather data set. (See the end of this document). Each line in the format is preceded by a keyword such as LOCATION, DESIGN CONDITIONS, followed by a list of variables beginning either with A or N and a number. A stands for alphanumeric; N for numeric. The number following A/N is the sequence of that number in the keyword list. Commas separate data. (Refer to the IDD Conventions document in “Input Output Reference” for further explanation of the format). The header information consists of eight lines (keywords): LOCATION, DESIGN CONDITIONS, TYPICAL/EXTREME PERIODS, GROUND TEMPERATURES, HOLIDAYS/DAYLIGHT SAVINGS, COMMENTS 1, COMMENTS 2, and DATA PERIODS. This is followed by the time step data.

The first eight lines or header within each E/E weather file define basic location information such as longitude, latitude, time zone, elevation, annual design conditions, monthly average ground temperatures, typical and extreme periods, holidays/daylight saving periods, and data periods included. There is also space for users to document any special features or information about the file such as sources of data.