Thousands of stars were seen roaming the halls of the convention center yesterday at Electric West 2003 in Los Angeles, CA. No, I’m not referring to movie stars. I’m talking about the electrical stars of our industry. Although I must admit, I did catch a glimpse of a couple of Los Angeles Lakers Cheerleaders at one point in the day. Seriously, I did!

Attendees proved they were in town to learn by taking part in the shows technical program right from the start. First-day presentations focused on topics like lightning protection, project management, battery maintenance and testing, lighting calculations, power quality data acquisition and analysis, AFCIs, and using today’s test and measuring instruments.

In his presentation on battery systems, Ed Rafter, president, AlbérPower, Inc., discussed how reliable battery systems wouldn’t happen without proactive testing and maintenance. He attributes this to the fact that most battery customers don’t really understand batteries and, therefore, do not perform the necessary maintenance and test routines to assure themselves a reliable system. Special attention was given to why batteries fail and how these failures can be detected early on, or altogether prevented in the first place. After a brief discussion on the basics of lead acid cell construction and operating theory, Rafter presented a list of the six reasons why batteries fail prematurely.

  • Excessive cycling

  • Improper charging

  • Lack of temperature control

  • Poor installation

  • Manufacturing problems

  • Operational issues

He noted that almost all battery problems can be detected by an increase in a cell’s internal resistance, and close monitoring of this parameter can avoid disastrous failures. Using a permanently installed battery monitoring system is the only way to guarantee a reliable system.

James Benya, principle, Benya Lighting Designs, showed session attendees how to set up and use a modern Windows-based lighting program. He showed how these modern computer programs can predict and preview lighting solutions with amazing accuracy. Attendees learned how to generate a complete point-by-point analysis for a simple room layout – with daylight – in less than 20 minutes!

And when the attendees weren’t taking part in the technical sessions, they could be found roaming the exhibit floor, examining the products and services offered by more than 225 manufacturers and service providers. Everything from the smallest electrical connector to a full-blown UPS system was available for inspection and review.