Listed below are 20 warning signs of power quality issues. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, you should have a power quality survey done of your facility. Often, only a small, inexpensive solution is needed to correct a latent power quality problem that, if left untreated, can have severe, detrimental effects to your businesses bottom line.
Power Quality Test
1. Do Breakers on the electrical panels sometime trip for no apparent reason? This is often a sign of underlying power quality issues. If your electrical system is tripping breakers without an overload condition, you are probably experiencing power quality issues.
2. Programming in microprocessor based equipment sometimes fails or malfunctions? Are you having to reprogram critical microprocessor based equipment or machinery? Do you have to re-start your equipment due to failure to properly "boot up?" Does your equipment malfunction mid-task for no apparent reason?
3. Electronic circuit boards "wear out" and have to be replaced? Power Quality issues cost your company money...lots of money. Each time a circuit board "wears out" prematurely the cost is much greater than just the cost of the circuit board and the labor to replace it. Downtime means productivity suffers, effecting your bottom line profits. In a properly functioning electrical environment, circuit boards should rarely, if ever fail. Modern, solid state circuitry by definition has no moving parts. If you are replacing circuity boards there is an underlying issue. Fix this issue, and the savings go directly to your company's profits.
4. Lights sometimes flicker? Flickering lights are more than just an annoyance to your conference room meeting. While flickering light can have several causes, power quality is certainly one of them. If you notice flickering lights in one fixture, you probably have a bad ballast or light bulb. If you are experiencing flickering lights across several fixtures in different areas of the building, power quality issues are the likely culprit.
5. Are electrical motors sometimes stall during normal operation? This is a sure sign of power quality issues. Ignore the problem and your problems will only escalate. Let alone and those stalling motors will lead to a shutdown in the near future. By establishing and maintaining proper power quality levels, your equipment will last longer resulting in greater productivity and reduced maintenance costs.
6. Picture size on video equipment in conference rooms change during executive presentations? We've all had the embarrassment of a presentation gone wrong, some causes are avoidable, others are not. Video equipment seems to have a mind of its own, choosing to malfunction at the most inopportune times. Don't add latent power quality issues to your list of worries for your next meeting.
7. Energy bills seem to be rising out of proportion to the rate changes by the local utilities? Energy costs go up, it's a part of running your business, but power quality issues can cause your costs to rise on top of the already expensive rates charged by your local utilities. Get a power quality survey and take back control of your energy budget.
8. Electrical equipment seems to have shorter useful life expectancy than previous equipment? How often have we complained that machinery and equipment is not built like it used to be? There's good reason for that. Today's microprocessor based equipment can run more efficiently and trouble free than at anytime in the history of manufacturing. However, today's computer based equipment just can't be designed to run at prime efficiency on a 60 year old electrical grid. Power companies have done an amazing job patching together a decades old electrical grid which works just "good enough" for most applications. A power quality survey will allow you to address the specific issues that are costing your company money.
9. Lights dim when certain equipment is in operation or starts up? Dimming lights are more than just a frustration to your employees. Dimming lights are like the "Check Engine" lights on your vehicle, notifying you of much deeper, often unnoticed problems. Power quality issues are relatively easy and cost effective to address, if caught in time.
10. Fluorescent lights hard to start? Hard to start florescent lights can have several causes including a faulty lamp or a ballast that needs to be replaced. But if you are experiencing hard to start florescent lights in more than one lighting fixture, you have power quality problems. These issues are more than "inconvenient" and have root causes that should be addressed.
11. Surface of breakers and transformers are warm, or even hot, to the touch? While a sign of power quality issues, they are also a substantial fire hazard. Fire can be devastating to your business, take simple, cost effective steps to reduce your risks.
12. Computers or controllers lose memory during operation? Automatic backup can help, but who among us wants to lose the last 15 minutes of that report or presentation they've been working on? If your having company wide computer issues like having to re-boot regularly, having computers freeze during normal operation, or worse yet, the "blue screen of death;" you are probably experiencing power quality issues.
13. Mechanical timing relays and watt-hour meters sometimes give incorrect readings. Power quality problems can cause your electric meters to malfunction, causing inaccurate utility readings. Why do these reading always seem to be over-charges rather than getting your electricity for free? One of the unsolved mysteries of the universe.
14. Blown fuses or tripped breakers when no short condition can be located? If you're having to reset circuit breakers, it's more than a nuisance. Circuit breakers don't just trip without reason. A power quality survey can identify the cause of your breaker issues before the costs escalate.
15. Power Factor or Demand penalties on your utility bill higher than you think they should be? Take back control of your energy budgeting with a power quality survey to determine areas where you can reduce "wasted" power consumption. If your experiencing difficulty forecasting your energy usage, contact SSI for a survey.
16. Telephone system disconnects calls for no apparent reason. That potential customer will call back...maybe. VOIP telephone systems have many advantages, but they are particularly susceptible to power quality issues including over-voltage events. If you are regularly experiencing dropped phone calls, there is a cost effective solution.
17. Audible noise coming from transformers? Transformer noise is not something you should ignore. If you've considered moving your transformers out of your building and onto the lot next door, you've got a power quality problem.
18. Warehouse stocking large inventories of circuit boards, contactors, lighting tubes, ballast units, electric motor parts or fuses? You're valuable warehouse space is meant for inventory, not for backups of your backups in circuit boards, contactors, and light bulbs and fuses. Stop spending valuable capital to replace parts that should last for years.
19. Personnel shocked by touching the case of any equipment? If you're employees feel nervous about touching the cases of your equipment or machinery, this issue is more than a cost issue. It's been elevated to a safety issue. Not all risks in business can be managed...power quality issues can.
20. Earth grounding system not properly tested annually for safety and quality? Why? The costs are minimal with a huge upside in potential savings and the safety of your employees. One cost effective test could save you thousands, and provide your employees with a safer work environment, and you greater peace of mind.
Need more convincing? The business community is beginning to realize that they can no longer operate with the same general acceptance of the condition of their electrical system that they have survived in the past. The cost of energy, equipment and downtime are taking increasingly larger percentages of their operating budgets. Even with the introduction of electronic controls and computers, devices which were supposed to speed production and reduce costs, the business and plant manager is seeing those benefits eaten away by problems within the electrical system and by operational incompatibility.