Access Michigan LLC Blog
Current And Voltage Distortions

Maximize Your Profits Through Power Quality!    

We haven’t seen the last of sags, surges, spikes, brown outs, and power outages. In fact, power-quality problems will probably become more troublesome in the new millennium. As states deregulate their electric utility markets, many industry officials predict that the accustomed level of reliability in electric service will decrease. Potentially this bad power costs money.

While the electric utilities do a good job of generating quality power, it’s through the very nature of electrical transmission and distribution that these utility companies then ‘lose control’ of the quality of the electric power that a commercial / industrial / healthcare / educational facility receives and uses.   While over- and under-voltages can certainly be the result of what is happening on the power grid itself, the electrical power quality within  a facility can be further compromised  by a number of different sources.

Therefore, power system design is of major importance in the construction of a facility that will house sensitive electronic/information technology equipment (ITE). A poorly-designed electric power distribution system will permit transients to reach sensitive equipment and will allow power line surges and outages to interrupt telecommunications operations. A well-designed system will lessen the severity of the problems and reduce the need for power conditioning.

Source: Power Quality International

Why Power Conditioning?

Bad power costs money. Causes of over-, under-, and fluctuating voltages might include ground faults, undersized power systems, and the sudden start-up or switching of large loads such as an elevator or electric motor.   High and low voltage fluctuations may only last for a few cycles or a few seconds, but that’s more than enough time to affect the operation of critical loads and applications. Over-voltages (surges lasting for several cycles) in particular, may result in equipment and/or electronic component failure. Any of the above can result in downtime, repeat processes and equipment failure.

Power conditioning and voltage regulation ensures that your critical loads are protected from:

  • Sags: A short duration reduction in rms voltage which can be caused by a short circuit, overload or starting of electric motors. A voltage sag happens when the rms voltage decreases between 10 and 90 percent of nominal voltage for one-half cycle to one minute.
  • Surges: A surge is a transient wave of current, voltage or power in an electric circuit.  In power systems a surge, or transient, is a subcycle overvoltage with a duration of less than a half-cycle of the normal voltage waveform. 
  • Spikes: Spikes are fast, short duration electrical transients in voltage, current, or transferred energy in an electrical circuit. 
  • Ground noise: Ground noise is electronic noise on the ground wires or busses of an electronic circuit. The noise can get into the signal path of the device, appearing as interference in the output.

Capture the Event

We’re now finding that very high-speed disturbances are the culprits in many power quality and/or reliability problems. However, if you can’t capture the event, you most likely won’t know what caused an upset in your system.

With the quality of test instruments available today, you’re able to choose tools at all levels of price/performance. While we were only able to monitor in the millisecond time range a few years ago, we now can split the millisecond and examine microsecond samples of data. We’re now better able to see the nature of power quality problems, since we can capture and a fast disturbance event and connect it directly to some operation at the facility.

Pay Attention to the Source

When monitoring for power disturbances you need to make sure your equipment is providing the following:

  • Tight voltage regulation: Load regulation ensures programmed output voltage remains constant despite load variations.
  • High line and ground noise attenuation: In the vicinity of electric power wiring there will always be stray magnetic fields oscillating at the utility frequency, 60 hertz. These ambient magnetic fields passing through the ground loop will induce a current in the loop by electromagnetic induction. The presence of high power equipment can increase the interference. Since the wire ground loop usually has very low resistance, even weak magnetic fields can induce significant currents.
  • Harmonic Attenuation: Harmonic current distortion is affected by the amount of circuit impedance.
  • Tight Load Regulation: Load regulation ensures programmed output voltage remains constant despite load variations.

Find a Solution

While clean power may come from the utility, the cleanliness of the power diminishes as it transfers from source to your facility. Depending on where you are located downstream from the source, local ground currents, high load equipment, in-rush currents, peak and off peaking loading all affects your facilities power quality.

Access, Inc. represents a company of importance to the world of power conditioning, Power Quality International. They can provide your facility with proper electrical planning, power monitoring and the right power conditioners and voltage transformers to help assure that your current is harmonic and distortion free. Let our critical power sales engineers help you plan your next project.

And remember the bottom line: Bad Power Costs Money.

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