Don’t let dirty power disrupt your operations

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Third in a three-part series.

There’s no denying that power anomalies are, in a word, scary. Just consider the numbers: $100,000 per hour is the most recent price tag associated with 60 minutes of downtime, according to a study by ITIC. Equally alarming, utility industry experts estimate that problems resulting from transient overvoltage conditions cost U.S. companies $26 billion per year in damaged equipment and lost productivity.

Meanwhile, the list of downtime threats continues to proliferate, from super-sized storms to the nation’s outdated, overtaxed power grid. Never before has it been more critical to shield instrumentation and sensitive electronic equipment from the extensive range of power anomalies. In the first two blogs of this series, we shared the dangers of blackouts, sags, surges, under-voltages, over-voltages and line noise. Here, we examine the three final prevalent power issues identified by IEEE: frequency variations, switching transients and harmonic distortion.

Frequency variation — Characterized as the loss of stability in a power supply’s normal frequency of 50 Hz or 60 Hz, this type of power issue most often results from generator or small co-generation sites being loaded and unloaded. The problem can cause erratic operation, data loss, system crashes and equipment damage. Often, the fluctuations result in motors running faster or slower, leading to inefficiency, excess heat and degradation.

Switching transient — These momentary changes in voltage or current most often 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. can damage equipment

Harmonic distortion — This power anomaly is categorized as a warping of the normal power wave. Generally sparked by unequal loads such as switch-mode power supplies, variable speed motors and drives, copiers and fax machines, harmonic distortion can result in resonance, overload, and overheating of cables and equipment, among other problems.

While safeguarding your instrumentation and other electronic devices against these issues may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. The optimal course of protection against all nine power anomalies discussed during this series is the installation of an appropriate uninterruptible power system (UPS). 

Different UPS topologies — standby, line-interactive and online — provide varying degrees of protection against the nine most common power problems. As we detailed in our last blog, to properly shield devices from power threats — including ever-present line noise — it is essential to deploy either a line-interactive or online UPS featuring true sine wave output and an isolation transformer with a neutral to ground bond for power conditioning.

Need help determining the optimal power protection solution for your specific application or environment? IPS can help! Give us a call today to ensure your organization doesn’t become another frightening power statistic.

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