Power Quality Solutions
We provide a comprehensive program of predictive and proactive care of your building’s electrical system, helping to prevent downtime and remove safety hazards. We offer energized and de-energized services utilizing state-of-the-art test equipment and reporting.
Since the 1980’s the commercial and industrial community have greatly increased their use of electronics and electronic switching devices. Examples of these devices are switch mode power supplies, AC motor inverter drives, computers, high frequency welders, battery chargers, variable frequency drives, electronic light ballasts and uninterruptible power supplies. These types of loads are known as nonlinear loads. Nonlinear loads cause distortion of the voltage and current waveforms of AC power resulting in harmonic currents and voltage distortion.
The effects of power quality can be seen in almost every type of facility. Some are minimal while others you may see often and not even realize the true cause and effect.
- Interference of communication systems.
- Loss of data.
- Overheating of electrical and electronic components.
- Computer freeze or lock up.
- Premature failure of electric and electronic equipment.
- Unexplained equipment malfunction. Commonly referred to as ghost faults or intermittent faults. Equipment malfunctions with no obvious reason or explanation.
The downside is that normally what’s seen is the long term effect. Equipment can run days, weeks, and even years with power quality problems. Sensitive electronic equipment like anything else is just that. Some manufactures have taken measures in their designs to compensate a certain level of disturbance and some even require additional equipment such as surge protection, isolated and dedicated power supplies, shielded transformers and so forth to maintain warranty coverage following purchase and installation of the equipment. Unfortunately other manufacturers do not and that’s when the end user will suffer the outcome.
Power quality has always been a controversial topic and in recent years has become the highlight of many case studies. Grounding applications, shielded power, power filtering, and many other electrical engineering theories and concepts play a major role in the outcome of clean power.
Typically, as components begin to fail, there will be an increase in the intermittent or unexplainable fault conditions and more commonly this condition is overlooked if downtime is not being tracked or recorded properly. This can lead to a very serious downtime issue and more so extreme financial concerns. As operating costs continue to rise, companies are keeping less stock in spare parts. Imagine that you have five to ten PLC controllers in your facility. If all were the same, one spare would normally be sufficient. Now imagine all are powered from the same distribution service and there either has been or for some reason now has accelerated power quality problems and all five to ten controllers fail. In todays just in time delivery concept that type of downtime would be catastrophic to say the least.
A common engineering topic is how to maintain “clean” power. As there are several ways to accomplish this, all must be very carefully planned and designed. By trying to fix a problem, other problems can be created. An example would be adding a capacitor bank to the distribution system. In some cases this works very well, but in others it will only become a very costly mistake. Harmonics created by certain types of equipment such as high frequency welders will destroy a capacitor. While in other circumstances, a capacitor will maintain a facilities power factor and provide financial savings in utility costs.
Careful planning, designing, and engineering are the key to any power distribution system. Every aspect of the facility, the equipment, and the process has to be factored into the final desired or required outcome in order to be safe and efficient.