Power Quality Explained
Power quality is the quality of the power supplied by our local utility is something largely taken for granted. We flip on the switch, plug in a device or turn on a piece of manufacturing equipment and we expect it to work. Electrical devices, however, require a specific level of voltage, frequency, power quality and stability. If these parameters stray too far from expectations, they can cause issues that range from annoying to downright dangerous.
When was the last time you took a detailed look at the quality of power supplied by your utility?
Clean, stable and reliable power that is maintained within voltage and frequency tolerances is mandatory for commercial and industrial users.
Helio Energy Solutions is an energy analytics firm that conducts routine power quality monitoring, and we see many power quality challenges: continuity of services, transient voltages and currents, wide voltage variations, and high sinusoidal noise. Often, base issues are compounded by power factors below 0.9 straight from the utility. There are also broad fault and failure reasons including the utility’s power delivery system, outdated equipment, or sometimes it’s your neighbors’ fault with overloaded transformers and big transient power loads. Regardless, when your electrical equipment doesn’t get what it needs, it responds with poor performance, high energy use and disruptive manufacturing outcomes.
Manufacturing facilities, especially those in the semiconductor business, can be particularly sensitive to power and frequency transients. High tolerance manufacturing needs to precisely control operating temperatures and processes. Semiconductor equipment is designed to shutdown whenever specific power tolerances are violated. Drop the voltage by 25% for even a fraction of a second and a multi-thousand dollar batch run becomes scrap instantly. If the utility frequency varies outside of tolerance, motors for fans and compressors can overheat and trip their thermal over-limit devices.
Advanced monitoring can help isolate power quality issues and point you in the right direction for a solution. Tracking phase voltage, frequency, power factor and amperage continuously, then having precise sub-minute data available for evaluation if/when a power quality transient occurs, can determine the fault and be the saving grace. Advanced power analytics may be the difference between identifying the problem and deploying a technology solution, versus suffering the unexpected time and time again because you can’t find a smoking gun.
PredictEnergy is a patent-pending cloud-based Commercial Energy Management System, featuring Distributed Energy Resource (DER), load center and power quality monitoring, energy asset management, and energy analytics to help reduce energy costs. PredictEnergy is specifically designed to help drive down energy costs in everything an enterprise makes, moves or stores. For more information Contact Us today!