Energy Management/Energy Efficiency

Jazz and the art of power quality

jazz

I admit it: I love jazz. The improv and syncopation … I really enjoy it. If you ever have some spare time to listen, just notice how the waveform carves out. There is this flow of energy between musicians and their instruments, with varieties of swells and dips and frequencies. They are all in complete synch with each other; it’s never just a static thing. Curiously … you can say the same thing about electricity. There’s more to electricity than just voltages and current; like music, it comes with sags, swells, transients, harmonics, and more, which makes up power quality you need to be in synch for your electrical systems can perform the way they were designed.

Why is measuring power quality important?

In today’s Healthcare environment we use many precision electronics that are very sensitive to power quality (PQ) disturbances: sags (or dips), swells, harmonic distortion, flicker, and so on. Our power providers have to comply with national grid codes that specify power quality parameters. But did you know that some of our devices don’t play nicely with the grid, and can ‘pollute’ incoming power? To put it simply, when voltage distorts, it can cause a lot of serious issues in your facility, including overheated motors, reduced system capacity, thrown breakers and blown fuses, shortened device life and ultimately higher maintenance costs. Some utilities will even issue you penalties if your devices distort their waveform.

Improve your response to power quality-related issues

The good news is there are many power and energy meters designed for Healthcare applications that work together with energy management software to monitor and analyze power quality data. Some of these meters can even provide harmonic metering, individual current and voltage harmonics readings, waveform captures, and power quality compliance evaluations. Armed with this kind of data, you can take proactive steps to prevent the damage that results from deficient power quality. A waveform can help you discover a critical condition within your system before it escalates and costs you money. You can identify the root cause of the problem and coordinate and validate the proper operation of your emergency power supply, and even decide if harmonic filters should be installed to mitigate the problem harmonics.

Turn off the noise

Some equipment can be very sensitive to power quality. Without high-quality meters that measure the finer, crucial details of power, these machines could guzzle much more energy than necessary and have their productivity limited by inaccurate estimates about their power input and output. Being aware of the intricacies of power quality is important, for productivity and the life-expectancy of your equipement. So turn off the noise, and turn on the music.


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