How Can Power Quality Improvements be Achieved?

When we consider what an ideal power quality supply should be, then ideally it should be stable and more importantly uninterrupted. This will ensure that there is a continuous supply of energy. But how can power quality improvements be achieved? Firstly it is important to address the two issues of power quality analysis and measurement. These two components should be the very first step in trying to implement any changes to improve power quality.

Power quality analysis and measurement

An electrical system should supply a reliable load of electricity and this is what ‘power quality’ refers to, the reliability of that power supply. Disturbances to this power supply can be caused by problems due to the current, voltage, or the frequency. One way in which to source the problem and to then make changes to improve power quality is via a power quality meter.

The Power Quality Meter

A power quality meter (PQM) is simply a low-frequency analyser that when used by a trained technician, can give significant clues to where a problem is occurring. The meter works by getting a sample of the AC voltage, along with different points of the system, in the shape of a waveform. A microprocessor is used to perform Fourier analysis that then creates various harmonic frequency magnitudes. This then allows the technician to easily identify the source of the problem.

Power quality issues

There are many common problems that can arise due to power quality issues. Some common problems include those of:

– Arcing loads

– Non-Linear loads

– Reactive loads

– The atmosphere

– Unstable loads

All of these issues need to be considered independently in a step by step process.

Power quality – Be Proactive

The best way in which to improve power quality is to be proactive and address any issues before they become problematic. It is best to continuously and routinely assess power quality and find ways to improve the system. Below we list same ideas that can help to improve power quality.

Monitor the load

This is best done at the plant level and then once this has been done, to address problematic areas such as those that implement sensitive loads.

Six months of monitoring It is best to do these above checks over a six month period. Analyse those results and the impact that they have on your installation and equipment.

Annual power quality monitoring Try to find ways in which to expand your quality control. Perhaps by using an outside specialist organisation, they could help to inform you in finding ways to better manage your power quality control. They may also offer a long term service.

Quality measures that can be put in place

It is important to implement power quality measures to both monitor, measure and improve power quality. In doing so you will find that you will save energy.

So what power quality measures can be put in place? Some ideas include the following:

Baseline thermography Should be performed as the first test. This will gibe you a baseline on which to gain any changes. When you do make any changes, it is important to carry out a second baseline thermography.

Installation of a power monitoring system It is essential that a power quality monitoring system is put in place. This needs to monitor not just your mains load, but other separate loads on the system. Factors to look out for include those of decreasing power with no obvious reason, a rise in current consumption, and any other factors that create a surge or depletion in energy.

The key to power quality improvement is to be proactive. Analyse, measure and then take action.