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GridLAB-D is a power system simulation tool that provides valuable information to users who design and operate electric power transmission and distribution systems, and to utilities that wish to take advantage of the latest smart grid technology. It incorporates advanced modeling techniques with high-performance algorithms to deliver the latest in end-use load modeling technology integrated with three-phase unbalanced power flow, and retail market systems. Historically, the inability to effectively model and evaluate smart grid technologies has been a barrier to adoption; GridLAB-D is designed to address this problem.

This guide to using GridLAB-D is intended to help those who are at least slightly familiar with distribution systems to establish a foundation that will allow them to use GridLAB-D in their work. It is not intended to be comprehensive as GridLAB-D contains many models with many parameters, but rather to address some of the more important and popular features. The guide will not only address practical issues such as how certain models function but also more general topics exploring the architecture of GridLAB-D.

This guide contains and references many example GridLAB-D models and files. Readers are recommended to pull a local copy of the folder at so these files are readily available during the tutorial.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Installing GridLAB-D

Using the Installer
Building from Source
Installation Validation
Getiting Help with GridLAB-D

Chapter 2 - GridLAB-D Key Attributes

Open Source
Multi-Domain Models
Discrete Time

Chapter 3 - Basic Distribution System Modeling

A Brief Power System Introduction
Model Overview - Distribution System Basics
Nodes and Meters
Supporting Obejcts and Their Relationships
Results from Simulation
Distribution System Alternative Form

Chapter 4 - Data Input and Output

Introduction to Recorders and Players
Time in GridLAB-D
Example - Recorders
Alternative Data Output - XML
Example - Players
Example - Scheduling Values Directly
Schedules as Modifiers

Chapter 5 - Loads

ZIP Loads
Example - ZIP Loads
Loads and Weather
Weather Basics
How does the wind influence solar panels? - A slightly off-topic exercise in digging through GridLAB-D source code
TMY Datasets
Residential Loads
Example - Triplex Components and Residential Basics
Example - Thermostat Settings
Example - Location
Example - Adding Other Residential Loads

Chapter 6 - Distributed Generation

Solar PV
Example - Basic Solar PV Installation
Example - Large Solar PV Installation and Impact on Feeder
Battery Energy Storage
Example - Load-Following for a Single Residence
Example - Solar PV and Battery Combination

Chapter 7 - Advanced Distribution Models

Voltage Regulators
Example - Voltage Regulators with Line-Drop Compensators
Example - Voltage Regulators with Voltage Sensing
Example - Voltage-based capacitor switching

Chapter 8 - Built-In Distribution Models

Taxonomy Feeders
Other Sample Models
PGE Models
Auto-test Models
Training Course Models

Chapter 9 - Interfacing with External Software

MATLAB Interface