Debates within the organizations that develop the power quality standards will probably continue for years about why “power” isn’t really the subject of the standards. The majority of the standards present how to measure, monitor, characterize, categorize and set limits on voltage.
Not much time goes by without hearing, “My equipment used to work fine, but now it keeps locking up every so often. Our productivity is suffering big time.” My usual first questions are, “What has changed, and what are you doing differently?” The answer is usually “nothing” for both.
George Carlin summed up the hazards of working with electricity quite well when he said, “Electricity is really just organized lightning.” Few people, except for some extreme golfers and Benjamin Franklin, would normally take extraordinary risks with lightning.
When using a power quality monitoring instrument, there are some “gotchas” to watch out for; otherwise, your efforts can either be wasted or, perhaps worse, misleading by coming to conclusions that aren’t valid.
When it comes to new construction of the electrical infrastructure within a facility, the National Electrical Code (NEC) is the most common source of rules and regulations with regard to what to do and how to do it.
With the Institute of Electric Efficiency reporting more than 36 million smart meters installed from 2007 through May 2012 and a target of 65 million by 2015, it appears that smart meters are here to stay.
On most distribution networks (except maybe in rural areas), the voltage levels typically reduce to a couple of percentage points from nominal when the sun rises, people wake up and they start using more electricity. Conversely, as the sun sets, the voltage creeps back up, and by 10 p.m.
Part of every significant construction project and major renovation should be the commissioning of the electrical systems (or recommissioning for renovations) along with the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC); mechanical; fire alarm; and other systems in the facility.
There is a saying that, when you point your finger, three fingers point back. When a facility encounters a misoperation that the manager thinks was caused by the electric power, the first reaction is to point the finger at the utility.
It wasn’t long ago when flashing digital clocks were the most likely power-quality-related effect of an interruption. Today more than 70 percent of homes have computers, and nearly that many have Internet access.
Whether it came from Heraclitus in 470 B.C. or François de la Rochefoucauld in the 17th century, the adage “the only thing constant is change” usually directly affects the power quality level in a facility.