This article presents emulation of a programmable power electronic, constant power load (CPL) using a dc/dc step-up (boost) converter. The converter is controlled by a robust sliding mode controller (SMC). A novel switching surface is proposed to ensure a required power sunk by the converter. The proposed dc CPL is simple in design, has fast dynamic response and high accuracy, and offers an inexpensive alternative to study converters for cascaded dc distribution power system applications. Furthermore, the proposed CPL is sufficiently robust against the input voltage variations. A laboratory prototype of the proposed dc CPL has been developed and validated with SMC realised through OPAL-RT platform. The capability of the proposed dc CPL is confirmed via experimentations in varied scenarios. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.