[Bldg-sim] Answers Re: Test your knowledge of simulation weather file formats Part 1: the DOE-2 *.BIN/*.BINM format

Julien Marrec julien.marrec at gmail.com
Thu Dec 7 04:02:12 PST 2017


This was fun, thanks for putting it together, I'm looking forward to the
next one.
I have to say that I'm impressed by Aaron's knowledge and level of detail,
and it's not the first time.

I've used Python to parse your hourly dump and visualize it, as well as
comparing with the Barrow EPW (converting your hourly dump to SI Units).
I've posted that on Github, where you can already look at the code + graphs
since it's in a jupyter notebook, but you could also download it and run it
on your machine. My hope is that I'll convert one or two members of this
list to coding :)
For the record, the actual parsing of the hourly dump into a usable format
(pandas.DataFrame) took me about 5 minutes and 16 lines of code (it was a
very simple one though).


Julien Marrec, EBCP, BPI MFBA
Owner at EffiBEM <http://www.effibem.com>
T: +33 6 95 14 42 13

LinkedIn (en <https://www.linkedin.com/in/julienmarrec>) *| *(fr
<https://fr.linkedin.com/in/julienmarrec/fr>) :

2017-12-07 10:40 GMT+01:00 Joe Huang <yjhuang at whiteboxtechnologies.com>:

> I got a total of five responses,  all of which are attached at the end of
> this e-mail.  Although I was focusing on the FORMAT of the *.BIN weather
> file, most of the respondents focused on the data instead, and to my
> chagrin more intensely than I have, esp. Julien who pointed out an anomaly
> in the direct normal radiation that made me gasp and go back into my file
> and processing procedures.  Kudos to Julien for spotting that, but I'll
> explain what happened there following his e-mail attached below.
> The three answers I was seeking are:
> (1) *The weather file is for a location above the Arctic Circle*, which
> would make DOE-2.1E crash due to a bug in the shading calculation but not
> in DOE-2.2 which fixed this bug in 2004.  The point here is that this is a
> problem in DOE-2.1E but NOT in the *.BIN format, except it might seem that
> way because the DOE-2 weather packer also crashes because it uses the same
> shading routine to generate the weather statistics.
> (2) *The weather file is for a leap year with the output file showing
> Feb. 29th*.  I've heard many people say that DOE-2 weather files contain
> only 365 days, but that's absolutely not true.  The *.BIN format stores
> data for 12 months of 32 days each, or 384 days!  The reason that Feb. 29th
> never shows up in a DOE-2 run is that the developers never bothered to
> reset the February day count to 29 on leap years, even though DOE-2
> calculates when that's the case.  Now that more people are running DOE-2
> with actual historical years, it's well past time for this little fix to be
> implemented.
> (3) *The weather file reports shows the weather parameters to an
> additional decimal of precision*, i.e., temperatures are to the 0.1F,
> pressures to 0.01 inches of mercury, solar radiation to 0.1 Btu/sqft, and
> wind speeds to 0.1 mph.  This required a modest change to the BIN format
> that I implemented as the *.BINM (M for Modified) starting in 2011.  This
> leads to what I think is the most fascinating part about the DOE-2 *.BIN
> format that was developed in the early 1980's when computer memory was very
> limited. Members of the original development team (Ender Erdem and maybe
> Fred Buhl) came up with the strategy of "packing" the data by converting
> all data to integers, pack four integers into one big integer, and then
> store them in the file in binary form. By so doing the *.BIN files are only
> 146K (70-80KB zipped), whereas other formats can be well over 1MB (200+KB
> zipped). DOE-2 also uses the *.BIN format to improve execution speed by not
> reading the data an hour at a time or 8760 ASCII reads, but by reading 16
> day chunks at a time or 24 binary reads  for the entire year (which also
> explains why the *.BIN format contains 24x16 or 384 days).
> So now let's look at how did our contestants do, listed in order of when I
> received their answers:
> Parag -  0 out of 3  (he looked almost entirely on the data, not on the
> format)
> Julien -  1 out of 3 (he noticed the leap day, but also focused his
> attention on the data and pointed out two problems that I will address
> following his e-mail  below)
> Aaron - 2 out of 3 (I was impressed that he knew about the packing and
> unpacking process, but did not notice the leap year)
> Javed -  0 out of 3 (but had a good question on why DNI (Direct Normal) is
> larger than GHI (Global Horizontal) that I will answer following his e-mail
> below)
> Nathan - 1 out of 3 (he also noticed the leap day, and had other questions
> that I will answer following his e-mail below).
> So, nobody noticed all three answers, but since it's the holiday season, I
> will make them all winners and provide a historical year weather file of
> their choosing. Just e-mail me if you're interested and tell me which one
> you want.
> This has been an interesting and insightful experience for me.  I hope
> others also found it entertaining and useful, as well.  I've learned that
> (1) think twice before coming out with a flawed contest rule, (2) look over
> more times whatever I put out on the Web.
> (please be sure to read the contestant's submittals and my responses below)
> Joe
> Joe Huang
> White Box Technologies, Inc.
> 346 Rheem Blvd., Suite 205A
> Moraga CA 94556yjhuang at whiteboxtechnologies.comhttp://weather.whiteboxtechnologies.com for simulation-ready weather data
> (o) (925)388-0265
> (c) (510)928-2683
> "building energy simulations at your fingertips"
> Attached e-mails  follow in the same order (only final e-mails shown)
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> On 12/5/2017 11:24 PM, Parag Rastogi wrote:
> Hi Joe,
> Don't know anything about the DOE-2 platform, but here's my take on the meteorological "oddities". Thanks for organising this challenge - it's really cool!
> 1. A large part of the year has zero sun while the other part has sun for 24 hours.
> 2. The humidity is _really_ high - the WBT and DBT are mostly within a degree of each other. Don’t know if DOE-2 has a problem with that?
> 3. In the summer months, the direct normal is sometimes larger than global solar. That is really odd!
> 4. I would not live here - Glasgow winters are bad enough.
> Parag
> YJH answer:   Yes, I picked Barrow on purpose to show that the *.BIN
> format still works for places above the Arctic Circle or below the
> Antarctic Circle.  RH is generally very high in frigid climates because the
> cold air cannot hold much moisture (that's why there's always frost in your
> refrigerators!).  The DNI can often be greater than the GHI at low sun
> angles, since the DNI is calculated normal to the sun, while the GHI is
> calculated for a flat horizontal plane.  Yes, stay in Glasgow or at least
> don't go to Barrow in place of Glasgow.
> On 12/6/2017 6:35 AM, Julien Marrec wrote:
> Hi Joe,
> Replying off the mailing list, since it would kinda beat the point of
> "first 5 to find the error" otherwise.
> 1. There is a 29th of February, but 1912 was indeed a leap year, so I'm
> not sure whether that qualifies for a bug (can't remember how eQuest/DOE
> deal with leap year weather files).
> 2. There is an unsual peak of Global Solar radiation mid November (11 to
> 18th) while the Direct Normal stays at zero. The peak has values at 400
> BTU-HR/SQFT while the max is 250 for the rest of the year. 400 means 1250
> Wh/m2, which is just short of what the Extraterrestrial Direct Normal Solar
> Radiation is.
> In IP units:
> [image: Images intégrées 1]
> I don't see any problem with the Atmospheric pressure, not the relative
> humidity I computed with Db, Wb and Atm. Wetbulb and drybulb are where I
> expect them for this location (checked against the EPW file for the same
> location too).
> So I'm not sure what's the 3rd problem, I'd say that it's probably not a
> good idea to live there unless you *really* like cold weather?
> Best,
> Julien
> --
> Julien Marrec, EBCP, BPI MFBA
> Owner at EffiBEM <http://www.effibem.com>
> T: +33 6 95 14 42 13 <06%2095%2014%2042%2013>
> YJH answer: I was embarrassed that you noticed the input echo has 1912
> instead of 2012, which was because DOE-2.1E was not Y2K compliant, so I had
> to set the year to 1912 in order for DOE-2.1E to run.  I was further more
> astonished to see the wierd spike of GHI in November, which wasn't there in
> the actual weather file (see below).
> Since DOE-2.1E can't run with this weather file, I used a version that I
> modified that took care of the high latitude problem as well as adding the
> extra precision.  When I checked the Fortran source code, I found this
> extra line (<<<)  that I have no memory of ever inserting nor why I did so
> (sound like a politician, don't I ? :-) ).
>       DO 500 I=1,14
>       CALC(I) = FLOAT(IWTH(I))*XMASK(I,2) + XMASK(I,1)
>       IF (I.LE.2) CALC(I)=CALC(I)+IWTH2(I)/10.
>       IF (I.EQ.11.OR.I.EQ.12) CALC(I)=CALC(I)+IWTH2(I-8)/10.   <<< ???
>   500 CONTINUE
> So, if you believe my story, this spike in GHI was the result of my
> unpacking routine and not in the weather file itself.  A curious thing with
> the solar in such Arctic locations is that the GHI is above 0 for all hours
> over two months  (see central bottom of the left plot), indicating  the
> proverbial midnight sun during the summer.
> On 12/6/2017 9:05 AM, Aaron Powers wrote:
> Hey Joe,
> Here's what I could find.  It's really 2 things since the first 2 and last
> 2 are related.
> 1. Normal DOE2 binary weather files are made up of 24 records of 6208
> bytes each.  So each file is roughly 145 kB.  Your file is 182 kB, so each
> of the 24 records is 7744 bytes in length.  I'm not sure what you have in
> the extra bytes, but the first 6208 bytes of each record is exactly as you
> would expect in a DOE2 packed file.  So I am able to read the .bin file by
> just ignoring the bytes after 6208 of each record.
> 2. You have more precision for each data point.  I'm guessing this must be
> tied up to the extra bytes in each record.  For example, the drybulb,
> wetbulb, and pressure are usually packed into a single integer value.  The
> first and last 4 bits of the integer are junk due to the way Fortran writes
> binary data.  The atmospheric pressure takes up 15 bits and the drybulb and
> wetbulb take up 8 bits each.  After encryption, this allows the drybulb and
> wetbulb to be stored with 0 decimal places and the pressure with 1 decimal
> place.  Similarly, the direct normal and global horizontal are usually
> stored with 0 decimal places.  Your output file shows a higher precision
> for each of these data points.  Again, I'm guessing that this extra
> precision is in the extra bytes in each record.
> 3. Since Barrow is above the Arctic Circle, it gets the midnight sun and
> polar night.
> 4. Related to previous, in the peak of summer, radiation has very little
> diffuse component and during winter is almost all diffuse (when it exists).
> Aaron
> YJH answer: You're completely correct in all your suppositions, Sherlock
> Holmes !  What I've done is to add another array of 384, each containing
> the extra precision for the two temperatures, pressure, wind speed, and the
> two solar irradiances.  It was my former colleague at LBNL Ender Erdem who
> assured me that in a binary read, this extra integer would be ignored,
> thereby guaranteeing compatibility between the *.BIN and *.BINM formats.
> However, once the extra read is added, there has to be a flag telling DOE-2
> NOT to do that for the older *.BIN format.  That's the main reason why I
> haven't pushed very hard on  this.
> On 12/6/2017 9:18 AM, Javed Iqbal wrote:
> Dear Sir Joe,
> I am able to find something though NOT all which looks to me unusual and
> hence reporting here.
> 1) The following screenshot for *22nd April* shows that Direct Normal is
> greater than the Global solar. As per my limited knowledge in this
> direction, usually Direct Normal Solar can be greater than Global solar
> (Direct+diffuse) or GHI during certain periods such as morning or afternoon
> hours. Whereas, the hourly report shows Direct Normal Solar is always
> higher (~8-10 times) than the Global Solar. If this is one of the
> acceptable discrepancy than there are many such instances could be found in
> in the hourly weather file.
> [image: Inline image 1]
> Let me know your thought on this.
> Sorry I could do this much only out of my busy schedule.
> Thanks,
> YJH answer:  The DNI can be larger than the GHI frequently in the Arctic
> locations because of persistently low sun angles.  However, the numbers
> that you've highlighted above have DNI/GHI ratios that do seem excessive.
> All these solar irradiances are calculated using several empirical and
> analytical models and so could always be wrong.  However, the formulation
> of the direct solar model calculates the DNI as a sigmoid function of the
> ratio between the GHI and the extraterrestrial global horizontal radiation,
> so it would seem difficult to produce a DNI that would violate physical
> reality, i.e., GHI = DNI*sin(solarZ) + DHI.  Time permitting, I may look
> more into this.
> On 12/6/2017 2:01 PM, Nathan Brown wrote:
> Ok, so here’s my revised list:
> 1. Hour index is 1, not zero (not different from .epw, but still annoying
> to deal with while post processing)
> 2. Solar noon is not aligned to the noon timestamp. Does this mean
> permanent DST?
> 3. This file contains data for 2/29
> Nathan Brown, BEMP, LEED AP ~ Associate
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> www.coolshadow.com
> YJH answer:  1 is not a correct answer since, as you note, the convention
> is the same for both *.BIN  and *.BINM, as well as *.epw files.  The
> annoyance you feel msy be due to the mixed use of cardinal and ordinal
> numbers in the weather files.  The standard convention on simulation
> weather files is the formal, i.e., Hour 1, Hour 2, etc., whereas the
> convention on weather station reports is the latter, Hour 00:00, Hour
> 01:00, etc.  In my opinion there is an inconsistency on simulation weather
> files where most of the measurements (temperatures, etc.) are reported by
> the timestamp, i.e., 00:00, but incorporated as Hour 1, etc., while
> others,  notably solar and rainfall, are both measured and reported
> cardinally as Hour 1, etc.   I'll talk more about this in the next contest
> on the epw file format.
> How are you deducing that solar noon is not aligned to the noon
> timestamp?  As for DST,  I feel that weather files should NEVER incorporate
> any such human-made artifacts.  There are several factors you should
> consider when comparing solar noon to local standard noon: (1) difference
> in longitude between the standard meridian and the location (Barrow); in
> this case, they are 150.00 West and 156.782 West respectively, or a 27
> minute effect,  (2) the solar irradiance is given over the past hour, so
> the average solar position for Hour 12 is at 11:30 AM local time rather
> than 12:00 PM, another 30 minute effect, and (3)  "Equation of time" that
> makes local time faster or slower than solar time by +- 15 minutes at the
> most. I don't know if these effects combined accounts for the difference
> between solar and local noon that you see.
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