Why is Power Quality Important?

Before we begin to discuss why power quality is important, let's answer a
 few questions about what it is, what it involves and what affects it.<br><br>From
 the utility or provider standpoint, the main concern is a consistent 
and uninterrupted voltage supply. Remember that this is not a constant 
value, but a voltage range. While we might talk about, for instance, a 
120-volt AC supply, in reality that is a nominal value for a range. SolaHD

Steve Maurer, IME

Before we begin to discuss why power quality is important, let's answer a few questions about what it is, what it involves and what affects it.

From the utility or provider standpoint, the main concern is a consistent and uninterrupted voltage supply. Remember that this is not a constant value, but a voltage range. While we might talk about, for instance, a 120-volt AC supply, in reality that is a nominal value for a range.

Using ANSI Standard C84.1 as a guide, most utilities provide service voltage ranges, often in two categories: a desirable range and an acceptable range. For example, the LAWDP considers the desirable 120-volt range as 126-114 VAC, while the acceptable range as 127-110 VAC.

It's when the power jumps to the other side of the meter (the end-user) that other factors of power quality come into play.

I sense a disturbance in the force...
Real Star Wars stuff here.

In the distant past, motors and incandescent lighting didn't affect power quality as much as today's equipment. Additionally, today's equipment is more adversely affected by poor power quality.

Of course, some of the utility side equipment used to maintain consistent power, such as switching capacitors, can affect user-side equipment. However, devices on the customer side affect other equipment within the same facility.
VFDs and other electronic equipment used can adversely affect other connected systems. In many cases, this can be prevented by connecting these devices to dedicated and/or isolated circuits. Some equipment can also be isolated from other devices on the same branch circuit through isolation transformers or similar components.

It's beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about all the factors that affect power quality on the end-user side. However, quality of power is something that must be maintained to prevent equipment failure, loss of production, and ultimately, loss of revenue.

Systems must be designed to provide optimal power quality to prevent these losses and failures. Conditioning the power is crucial to maintaining business continuity. And the more that manufacturing processes are electronically automated, the more vital monitoring of these systems and processes becomes.


Photo courtesy of SolaHD

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