Have a look around you wherever you are right now: how many appliances or items can you see that use electricity as a power source? Whether you are at home or in the workplace, we reckon there will be quite a few! At home, your kitchen is readily equipped with a wide variety of electrical equipment: the lights, fridge, toaster, kettle and microwave are just a few. Then there’s the TV’s and music equipment around the house, plus computers and many more items.
In the workplace, you can see many of the same items, each of which requires electricity to function. Then, you have the addition of air conditioning systems, many different types of equipment, photocopiers, and much more besides, each of which needs power to do its job. It’s clear, then, that we take electricity for granted, and it is no surprise as it is largely invisible.
You might not have considered where this electricity comes from that you use without thought. Of course, you are aware that it is generated in the first instance at a power station – one of many situated across the country – and sent to you by a network of wires, but have you ever thought about the concept of Power Quality? It’s not something that you would usually think about, but it is a growing concern in the modern era.
What is Power Quality?
Electricity is delivered to us by a network of powerful cables and transformers – loosely known in the UK as the National Grid – which have been doing the same job for many decades. The problem is that some of the devices we use in the 21st century, which were not here until the last couple of decades, are very different to those from before, and use electricity in a different way.
All electrical equipment requires a certain voltage, and the electricity to be used in a certain way. Modern computer equipment, and other devices using semi-conductors and such, use electricity in a slightly different manner to, say, a toaster or kettle. With some of these items, variations in Power Quality can cause problems. Variations in voltage and harmonics are the major problems found when investigating Power Quality, and can easily lead to malfunctions or poor performance in certain implements.
Sometimes this can be down to local factors; faulty connections or items in your network, for example, or interference from other electrical devices. In other cases, there can be remote and external influences on Power Quality, such as faults in transformers or at the point of origin, or even atmospheric conditions. Problems such as these can lead to lack of sufficient power or, in some cases, power surges which can be very dangerous.
Monitoring Power Quality
This is why monitoring power quality, and investigating any possible problems, is a very important part of keeping electrical supply systems and networks operating correctly. This is a job best done by experts who have the right training, knowledge and expertise – let alone the right equipment – to do the job, especially as electricity is not to be messed with unless you genuinely understand what you are dealing with, like those from Powerpoint Engineering.
To get to the bottom of Power Quality issues means looking very carefully at the equipment involved, testing it thoroughly in the manner required, and calibrating all equipment correctly to be certain that the origin point is accurate to begin with. Uncovering power discrepancies is the key to the routine, and this can only be done by experts.
If you think you have a local Power Quality issue, or perhaps one that is farther afield, contact the experts and make sure you get things sorted as quickly as you can.