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Frequently Asked Questions

What is power quality?

Power quality is the concept of powering and grounding sensitive electronic equipment in a manner that is suitable to the operation of the equipment.

What are the most common power quality problems?

Voltage sags are considered to be one of the most common power quality problems. These sags can be caused by the utility of customer loads. When created by the utility, they are most commonly caused by faults on the distribution system. These sags will be between three and 30 cycles and can be on either single-phase or three-phase power. Most of the power quality issues are related to grounding, ground bonds, ground loops, ground currents, or other ground associated issues.

Other power quality issues include:

  • Power Failure: Loss of power for any length of time.
  • Power Surge: Bursts of electrical power that are higher than normal. Surges can be small or large, resulting in reduced performance or possibly damaging plugged-in devices.
  • Burnout: A drop in voltage in electrical power supply system. A burnout may be intentional or unintentional (spontaneous).
  • Line Noise: Virtually all power-line noise, originating from utility company equipment, is caused by a spark or arcing across some power-line related hardware.
  • High Voltage Spike: A transient or impulse with duration much less than 1/2 cycle that can occur anywhere on the waveform in the common or normal mode
  • Frequency Variation: Frequency variations normally affect areas using a dedicated power generator. They can have a negative effect on the efficiency of devices dependent on a stable frequency.
  • Switching Transient: Circumstances in which voltage or current far exceed of normal peak values.
  • Harmonic Distortion: Excessive harmonic content that distorts the normal sinusoidal waveform. This can cause overheating of the neutral conductor and might appear to a device as data-corrupting noise.

How can I tell if I have any power quality issues?

Do the lights flicker or sometimes go out for a second?  Does the conveyor belt periodically snap when the lights flicker?  Does your copier quit working whenever dark clouds appear on the horizon?  Does your computer screen shrink whenever there are more than twelve workers in the building next to you?  Does your security system continually report a malfunction at the same time every day?  Does your computer lock up in the middle of the day for no apparent reason?  Do you go through fluorescent light bulbs very quickly?  Is the breaker constantly tripping?  Do you keep getting data errors on your computers?

What causes power quality problems?

Lightning, utility faults, utility switching, overload of distribution systems, ground faults, equipment overheating, sudden load reduction, and normal equipment operation.

What is an uninterruptible power system?

A system designed to automatically provide power without delay or transients during any period when the normal supply is incapable of performing acceptably.

What types of problems does a UPS solve?

The function of this equipment is to maintain the electrical supply to a chosen load or group of loads at all times.  In situations where power outages may be expected, the UPS combined high quality surge suppression may be the solution.  There are four basic types of UPS systems: standby, offline (single conversion), online (double conversion), and line interactive.  With all of these systems, the use of a transient voltage surge suppressor is recommended on both the input to the UPS and on the output.  This will prevent the individual loads from causing transient damage to one another.

What is a transient voltage surge suppressor?

A transient voltage surge suppressor is a small device that can be hard wired, plugged in, or put in series.  It is typically mounted inside or close to sensitive electronic devices.  Its function is to divert or to clamp energy from surges and other transient voltages in an effort to protect equipment.

What is a power conditioner?

A device that takes the raw AC power from the utility and cleans or conditions it by removing harmful aberrations (such as spikes noise , etc.), and making the power more acceptable to electrical or electric devices.  Power conditioners do not contain batteries and are not capable of providing power for extended periods of time in the event of a power loss.

What types of problems does a power conditioner solve?

The power conditioner’s basic purpose is to modularize or combine several power quality conditioning functions such as isolation, voltage regulation, and distribution via outlet array or distribution panel.  Depending on the particular unit it may also provide EMI/RFI noise filtering and perhaps simple surge suppression components. 

Why is it important to give computers and other micro-processor loads good, clean power?

The electricity that powers your computer or electronic equipment (microwave ovens, VCR’s, television sets, etc.) carries with it some harmful properties called transients or noise.  Quite simply, the phenomena are excessive spurts or spikes of electrical energy that travel along the power line and enter your system.  These transients are caused by major disturbances like lightning, but most often the natural by products of the generation and use of electric power.  This noise, if allowed to pass through to the electronics of your system will eat away at the microprocessors and cause them to malfunction and ultimately fail.

FREE Power Assessment

We offer free online power assessments for all customers which includes either an in person or virtual site walk through, mapping of electrical infrastructure capability, load calculation assistance, review of new UPS technologies, discussions regarding connectivity methods and more.