Industry Viewpoint

Power Quality for Commercial and Industrial Customers with a Focus on Energy-Efficiency (EE) Technologies

The development and installation of EE technologies are growing by leaps and bounds in the areas of lighting, HVAC, appliances, and more. EE technologies are often designed using new principles

The development and installation of EE technologies are growing by leaps and bounds in the areas of lighting, HVAC, appliances, and more. EE technologies are often designed using new principles. Many of the products end-users are accustomed to using are being replaced by electronics-based products. One perfect example is the incandescent lamp.

Consumers now have the choice of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, among others. Older HVAC systems are being replaced with high-efficiency systems with some using variable-speed drives. Intelligent appliances that use high-efficiency designs are also available on the market. The purpose of this blog is to engage end-users, manufacturers, facility engineers, and utility personnel (e.g., engineers, program managers, etc.) in basic and advanced discussion regarding power quality issues, concerns, questions, experiences, etc. with EE technologies.

This blog is not being supported to sell products or marketing solutions. Instead, it is designed to promote dialogue and share information on these important topics critical to the sustainability of our planet and society.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Dion (not verified)
on Jan 14, 2013

With the onslaught of high-efficiency technologies, due to their sophistication and use of semiconductors, the need for reliable surge protection exists more than ever before. The reason is that the susceptibility of some older technologies to surges was much lower (their surge immunity was higher) as compared with the new equipment. VFD, electronic ballasts, compact fluorescent (or LED) bulbs, use less energy but their overall purpose would be defeated if you have to keep replacing them. How long did that those new electronic ballasts last? My guess is probably not as long as the magnetic ones you swapped out to save power. So protection installed at the AC service panel is necessary to keep high-efficiency equipment functioning properly and saving you money for years to come.

on Jan 15, 2013

I agree with the need for quality TVSS. What confuses the issue for me is that many people in the repair industry use the term 'power surge' to describe a variety of appliance problems. The 'surge' is both the cause and the effect. It may be the quality of the power supply. Consumers are more willing to live with the disruption of equipment; but random damage without an obvious thunderstorm to point to is causing more dissatisfaction than ever. Are more manufacturers incorporating surge suppressors within their EE devices?

Dion (not verified)
on Jan 16, 2013

Good point Radar. The term power surge could mean ten different things, like a transient (which is what a surge protector protects against), an AC voltage surge, an inrush current surge, etc. To answer your question, some manufacturers actually use surge protection components in their designs, but for EMC compliance (keeping the AC power line clean from anomolies generated by the device itself), but these low energy components actually can become the Achilles heel of the component.if surge protection at the service panel is not employed. The reason is that these components are chosen to simply satisfy the EMC standard and not necessarily the surge environment that they ultimately will reside in.

on Feb 22, 2013

Compact fluorescent lamps are designed to last several thousand hours. Their life is dependent on how frequently they are used (e.g., turned on and off). If the electrical environment where they are used is characteristic of voltage surges (even at the low level), the life of the CFLs is likely to be affected and shortened before their light levels depreciate beyond acceptable use. Consumers are typically not in the know about the surge activity in their house or facility, so use of TVSS technologies inside equipment and at the electrical panel level is the right thing to do. The same is true for LED lamps.

on Feb 22, 2013

Yes, use of terminology in power quality can be misleading. "Power surge" is one of those terms often used when referring to anything that causes the lights to blink. When consumers purchase equipment whether it's for residential or business use expect it to work in their electrical environment. Electrical disturbances such as voltage sags, surges and distortion frequently occur even during non-thunderstorm activities and can damage or cause equipment to malfunction. What may appear to be random damage to a piece of equipment may actually be the result of long-term electrical disturbances occurring that don't cause immediate equipment failure until the equipment can no longer tolerate them. Manufacturers are increasing their use of TVSSs (surge protective devices). However, not all product designers know what size to use, where to locate them, or how to protect them in the circuit. Research continues to tell us that there are still many cases of mis-applied TVSS. It's worthwhile to ask the manufacturer questions about surge protection or seek the advice of an expert to determine what the protection levels really are.

on Feb 22, 2013

The primary purpose of a surge protection device is to protect the downstream circuitry (equipment or load) from damage caused by voltage surges (ring wave, combination wave, etc). This is not to say that the equipment itself cannot generate surges or that the devices inside the equipment cannot help mitigate surges generated by that equipment. Coordination of surge protection devices is a good thing to ensure in a home or in a building. Coordination helps to ensure that no one surge protection device has to do all the work of absorbing surge energy. Regarding EMC compliance, product standards are written to help guide manufacturers in the selection and use of surge protection devices and the surge levels to help ensure that protection. The overall effect of using surge protection devices inside equipment and at electrical panels will help improve the surge environment. Surge protection devices can fail just like any other component. They fail because they are not able to dissipate the surge energy they absorb fast enough to keep from being damaged by the heat they generate. Some manufacturers are including thermal protection in the application of surge protection devices. It is worthwhile to ask manufacturers how they are handling this issue or see the advice of an expert.

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