Power Quality Analysis

Power Quality 

Power quality refers to electric power that drives an electrical load and the load's ability to function properly. Without proper power, an electrical device (or load) may malfunction, fail prematurely or not operate at all.  There are many reasons why electric power may have poor power quality.  Power quality is a very important topic to consider in current applications, especially prior to putting in a new installation, replacing old equipment, or updating electronic devices.

In power distribution, problems such as reactive power, voltage variation and surge, harmonic distortion and power factor correction are events that occur every day and are present in small facilities to large industrial plants.  Sometimes these events are not even generated inside the facility, but come instead from the grid generated by neighboring buildings or directly from the power company.

Enerdoor mobile testing laboratories perform, monitor and analyze any type of industrial environment in low voltage applications.  Our power quality meters are able to record data for months at a time, in order to understand the nature of the problem and to solve it.

Harmonic Distortion

Harmonics are normally generated by non-linear loads. Typical examples are variable frequency drives (VFDs), servo drives and large power supplies. Harmonic distortion in itself does not create a significant increase in electricity costs, but it does however create severe issues on components such as transformers, motors, PC servers, phones, and lights.

The major problem caused by harmonics distortion is production down time or prematurely failure of devices.  They are also very dangerous for capacitors banks used to correct power factor correction. Harmonics distortion can synchronize at the same frequency of the capacitor bank and damage or destroy the device.

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Reactive Power

One of the most significant problems a manufacturing plant may encounter is with reactive power. Reactive power exists because many machines are not purely resistive but have consistent value of capacitors and inductances. The reactive power, measured in volt-ampere reactive (var), happens when currents and voltages are not moving at the same time.  The most common method of expressing the amount of reactive power in a system is Power Factor.  Another negative effect involving power quality is Harmonic Distortion. This distortion is due to rectifier diodes present in electronic devices, for instance variable frequency drives and UPS. These devices draw a non-sinusoidal current.

The Enerdoor solution to improving power quality is the active and passive harmonic filter series.  Enerdoor active harmonic filters remove harmonic distortion by generating an equal and opposite waveform.  Installed, in parallel on the main power line, the active harmonic filter is sized to compensate energy for harmonic distortion and also compensates the power factor.  It is programmable with specific parameters allowing for control of remaining value, above the minimum, required for power factor. 

Power Factor Correction (PF)

Bad power factor is normally generated by direct load, for example a motor controlled by soft start.  A bad power factor correction has the opposite effect of harmonic distortion in that it results in a significant cost increase to the consumer’s electricity bill. 

Power factor goes from the ideal 1, down to the worst at 0.  In the United States, many states are charging ten times the cost of the electricity when power factor goes below 0.9.  In Europe some countries have started to charge when power factor correction goes below 0.95. 

Power factor is measured in KVAR. On average, it is charged 10 times more than the standard power usage KVA.  Often customers have difficulty understanding the real cost of KVA because often power companies make calculations based on bad power factor, increasing the percentage of cost of KVA.

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Voltage Variation and Surge

Voltage variation and surge is a very common problem in the field and is commonly generated by the power distribution network that during the day may receive demand of load that creates problems to the power line. Voltage variation is higher in countries were the electric distribution line doesn’t continuously sustain change of loads causing voltage dips or interruption.

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