Power Quality - Things You Need To Know

Power quality refers to the amount and quality of significant power delivered to your house or business by the electrical network or grid. Good power quality provides a stable voltage supply where the frequency of the supply conforms to a pure sinusoidal waveform. If you encounter a dip or spike in power, your efficiency is damaged, and this will lead to several other problems. To prevent problems and allow your business to perform smoothly, you will require good power quality. All businesses are dependent on power quality issues. Buildings such as industrial facilities, office buildings, schools, hospitals, etc. that contain electronics with power supplies are at risk.

If there are any disruptions in the power supply, the voltage levels and supply to the appliances will fluctuate. So, the function of the appliances will be disrupted, and this will have an impact on the final outcome. In some cases, the appliances may get damaged, and sometimes the operation will be improper. This will be critical in the case of sensitive instruments. As a result, it is critical to enable high-quality power for the affected devices.

Why is Quality Power Crucial?

The power flow must have a pure sinusoidal waveform, and it should be within specified voltage and frequency tolerances. In current electrical networks, alterations from these ideal conditions are common because of increasing non-linear and other loads that disturb the grid. Power production is also becoming more complex with new companies and technologies entering the business. All these elements increase the challenges for power grid operators.

The consequences of poor power quality can lead to serious losses in business and the economy. It can damage sensitive instruments and slow production speed, resulting in increased maintenance costs, equipment replacement costs, and drops in operating efficiency. Poor power quality also increases energy consumption, which directly increases costs. Good power quality will help lower your energy consumption and save you money.

How To Identify Poor Power Quality?

Power quality issues arise due to harmonic distortion or voltage and current aberrations, but luckily these defects can be easily rectified before they become harmful. If you’re facing any of the below, your industry is probably suffering from inadequate power quality:

  • Often replacing motors, variable frequency drives, and other control equipment
  • Freezing of Computer
  • Breakdown of Equipment
  • Voltage fluctuations
  • Loud electrical equipment
  • Flickering lights
What Causes Electrical Distortion In The Power System?

Common power quality defects like dips or sags, swells, transients, interruptions, unbalance, and harmonics are frequently characterized by specific indications and may point towards certain causes. These defects can be internal or external to your establishment, or both. External reasons can cause disturbances in your incoming voltage caused by:

  • Utility switching on the grid
  • By lightning
  • Adjoining industrial plants

Internal reasons can be:

  • Devices within your establishment are cycling on or off
  • Motors within your establishment were turned on without sequencing in stages
  • Short circuits
  • Inappropriate wiring
  • Harmonics (due to equipment power supplies)
How to Handle "Electrical Pollution or Dirty Power?"

Electrical pollution is not something you can sense, making it hard to be aware of its presence. Frequently occurring incidents from daily electrical use, electric and magnetic fields, earth currents and transients, and high-frequency noise are sources that produce electrical pollution. From this perspective, it is crucial to understand what induces electrical pollution and how to identify it in your everyday environment and home. To identify root causes, it’s prudent to participate in a reliability specialist's evaluation of the electrical distribution system in your establishment. In a few instances, utility power can be at fault, and in others, equipment or system issues within your establishment can trigger the problem. Technicians use power analysis devices to spot the aberrations in your systems and equipment and render an in-depth plan for taking corrective measures to stop expensive failures and stoppages.

A power quality audit differs from an energy audit, both of which are crucial to managing energy and energy costs in your business. Energy audits measure how much energy your establishment and its equipment are consuming. These audits determine the kilowatts (energy spent at any point in time) and kilowatt-hours (energy spent over time) used in your business. An energy audit gives a baseline for consumption and helps identify chances for lowering energy consumption.

On the other hand, a power quality audit focuses on the condition of the electricity passing through the building’s electrical distribution system as it is used. The audit assesses how equipment, for example, computers, LED lighting, control motors, etc are impacting the performance of the power distribution system.

On many occasions, the power supplies in this equipment create harmonics. Harmonics are currents that can overload wiring to produce heat and possibly fire, and they can deform the sine waves of the power passing through the system. This "power pollution" leads to the heating of circuits, the failure of motors, and the failure of drives.

Preventive measures may comprise physical devices such as surge arrestors and voltage regulators. To "clean up" the power sine wave, applications software is available.

So, an investment in your establishment’s power quality is a direct investment in your business. Quality power entering your industry and/or its equipment protects the investment you’ve already made in your business’s physical infrastructure. Any business should include an energy management strategy as part of its power quality assessment, as energy management is a cost-effective approach for any business.