The Nine Power Problems
Know your enemies. These nine power problems are unwelcome visitors that can keep you up at night.
In an ideal world, your wall socket would provide an infinite stream of perfect power, at constant voltage and cycling exactly the same number of times per second. Don't count on it.
Also known as a blackout, this complete interruption of the electrical supply can be sparked by a variety of sources including utility equipment failures, storms, objects striking lines or poles, fire and human error. Equipment damage and data loss are common consequences.
This sudden drop in the normal voltage level often results in serious equipment malfunctions and is usually caused by faults on the transmission or distribution network, connection of heavy loads or start-up of large motors.
These very fast voltage variations are triggered by lightning, line or capacitor switching and disconnection of heavy loads. They destroy electronic components and lead to data processing errors, data loss and electromagnetic interference.
Also termed a brownout, this voltage drop typically lasts from a few minutes to a few hours and is usually caused by overdemand or intentional “throttling” of electricity during peak demand. It can ruin computers and other electronic devices.
Data loss, flickering of screens, and equipment damage are among the consequences of these momentary voltage increases generally caused by starting/stopping of heavy loads, poorly dimensioned power sources, and poorly regulated transformers.
Electromagnetic interference or Improper grounding most often produce these superimposed high frequency signals on the waveform, resulting in disturbances to sensitive electronic equipment, data loss and data processing errors.
The loss of stability in a power supply’s normal frequency of 50 Hz or 60 Hz most often results from heavily loaded generators. The problem can cause motors to run faster or slower, leading to inefficiency, excess heat and degradation.
These momentary changes in voltage or current that can damage equipment stem from lightning, switching of loads and capacitor banks, opening and closing of disconnects on energized lines, re-closure operations and tap changing on transformers.
This distortion of the normal power wave is generally transmitted by unequal loads and can result in resonance, overload, and overheating of cables and equipment, among other problems.