Power quality is the degree in which the electricity in your home is free from disturbances that may result to malfunction of electronics. Even though power supply may be regular and reliable, it can be interrupted by storms or overloading of the system resulting to poor power quality. Home electricity is always full of noise and interference, with the unstable quality of electricity, which can adversely affect sensitive electronic devices. However, to improve your power quality, you should start by identifying power problems at home proceed to determine the causes of the problems and improving the power quality.
Good Power Quality Verses Poor Power Quality
Good power quality is a supply that is always available, has stable voltage and frequency tolerances as well as noise-free. Poor power quality on the other hand, describes any supply that deviates from this ideal.
Signs of poor power quality in your home
- Lights flickering
- Computers locking up.
- Cables overheating
- Nuisance tripping of circuit breakers
- Fuses blowing
Consequences of poor power quality in your home
- Damaged electronics.
- Equipment lifetime is reduced.
- Resetting all of your digital clocks.
- Losing unsaved data on your computer.
- Power Factor penalty on utility bills
- High repair costs on damaged electronics
- High electronic replacement rate
Causes of poor power quality in your home
These are interruptions in power supply caused by failed equipment, animals, bad weather or even accidents. Such interruptions could last for several days depending on the seriousness of the incident.
Voltage sags and Spikes
Sags are low voltages as a result of a serious overload on the system while spikes are brief spurts of voltage, during which voltage can shoot up a hundred times higher than normal. Spikes may be caused by lightning or by the switching of large loads. Sags and spikes can disrupt the operation of data processing equipment and damage electronic equipment.
Power factor is a measure of how the current is being used to transmit power. Poor power factor causes inefficiency in the delivery of electricity to your home, requiring more energy to compensate for losses on the line. The power factor is caused by lightly loaded transformers. Maintaining a high power factor reduces the current flow that’s needed to improve loading conditions and stabilise distribution voltage.
Harmonic Distortion is the most common Power Quality problem today. Harmonics, also known as unwanted noises on voltage signals, are created when using electronic equipment. They are a distortion of the utility-supplied waveform and are caused by non-linear loads, which include computers, compact fluorescent lamps, light dimmers, and televisions. High harmonics decrease equipment lifetime.
Wiring and grounding
Loose wiring and improper grounding may contribute to power quality issues. Grounding affects voltage stability, and most importantly, is critical to personal safety.
Improving Your Power Quality
- Correct rounding and wiring problems
Proper grounding and wiring allows electronic equipment to operate effectively and efficiently. In fact, grounding and wiring improvements can easily solve the problem of voltage spikes.
- Move offending equipment from sensitive electronics
Offending equipments include electric tools, burglar alarms, shavers, hair dryers and heaters. Move offending equipment to a different circuit since even one appliance on the same circuit with other electronic equipment may produce spikes and surges. When building your home, consider setting aside circuits specially designed for your most sensitive equipment.
- Keep voltages within acceptable limits
This can be achieved by using surge protection devices to reduce the size of voltage spikes to a safe level for your sensitive electronics. Install lightning arresters and buy UPS equipment.
- Manage voltage sags
Voltage sags can be managed using energy storage devices, such as voltage regulators, battery back-up protection and tap-changing transformers. Emergency generators can also keep your electronic equipment running until your electrical power is restored.
- Improve power factors
You can maximize your power factor by altering operating equipment and installing harmonic filter banks and capacitor.
- Install Power Filter and Power Conditioner
Power Filter and Power Conditioner will eliminate electrical noise and interference to minimize audio and visual distortion with the best picture and sound.
In the past, Power Quality problems were reserved for large industrial users, today, however, Power Quality is becoming a big problem in our homes. Most electrical and electronic equipment is designed to operate from a power supply with a particular specification defining the minimum and maximum voltage and frequency limits. If not checked, the poor power quality can lead to costly damages in the home, which could have otherwise been prevented.