What The Blink?! Protecting your Home from Power Surges.
Posted by Pardridge Insurance Agency, Inc. on
Have you ever had the lights flicker or dim at your home or place of business? If you answered, yes, you have experienced a power quality issue. Should you be concerned about power quality issues? The answer is a resounding yes. With today’s array of smart appliances and sophisticated components within your home and business, power quality is an issue about which everyone should be concerned.
Voltage variation ultimately affects the performance of smart appliances and sophisticated components within your home and business and can result in electrical breakdown of components making the appliance not useable. Voltage variation can also lead to long term effects which shorten the operating life of the component.
Voltage variations for the most part come from four sources: lightning, blinks, loss of power and internal power surges.
Lightning consists of a naturally generated electric discharge of limited duration and voltage.
Voltage sags also referred to as “blinks” by some utilities are caused by standard operating practices by your local utility designed to keep the lights on. When an foreign object such as a tree limb comes in contact with the power lines a special circuit breaker called a recloser opens the circuit briefly, fractions of a second, allowing the falling tree limb time to fall from the line. The recloser then automatically recloses in an attempt to reestablishing the flow of electricity to your home. This process is usually repeated up to three times prior to the circuit remaining open and interrupting service to your home or business.
Loss of Power:
Complete power outages from a few seconds to days are another type of voltage variation. These outages can be caused by severe weather, manmade accidents, utility owned equipment failures and or maintenance/construction outages. Often when these systems are restored your appliances are subject to a voltage spike/power surge.
Internal Power Surges:
Some utilities estimate that over 50% of all power surges come from within your home and or business. When motorized appliances start and stop they create variations in voltage or small power surges. These surges are undetectable for the most part; however the accumulative effect can shorten the life of the component.
Signs of a problem
Signs that you may have a problem can include frequently blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, frequent loss of power or the flickering of your lights. These conditions are an indication of a power quality issue which may even increase the likelihood of a fire event in your home or business.
So, how can I protect my assets?
It’s important to know that circuit breakers do not provide surge protection to your appliances and machinery. Surges are too quick for the circuit breakers to react and provide protection. Circuit breakers will also not react to voltage dips unless they are equipped with an under voltage (relay) trip. Very often when the circuit breaker does operate, the surge or voltage dip has already done its damage.
The best place to find help with power quality problems is your local utility. Your power utility is committed to providing all its customers with clean (i.e. free from dips, flicker et.al.) and reliable power. Some of the ways the power utility can take steps to improve your power quality are:
Installing booster transformers to increase the voltage on long lines.
Installing more feeders to your area to strengthen the distribution system.
Installing pole top capacitors on the feeders to provide voltage support.
Improving the quality of surge protection and lightning protection on its feeders.
Removing or changing the way auto-reclosers work in your area (auto-reclosers are automatic switches that switch back a line after it has tripped to see if the fault has cleared – they can cause a lot of power quality problems if not properly applied.)
They may also be able to suggest ways for you to improve the electrical system at your facility.
You can also consider protecting your electrical system by properly installing Surge Protection Devices (SPD’s) in your electrical system. Ultimately, there are many ways to guard your home or business from power surges, so get started today to ensure your home or business is protected.