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Why is power quality important?

At Eluminate, one of our core missions is to ensure that the electrical systems of our clients are not just operational, but optimized for peak performance.
As experts in our fields, we’re dedicated to achieving operational excellence and delivering high-quality products to our clients. We’d like to draw your attention to a critical aspect that, while often unseen, significantly influences our manufacturing processes: Power quality.

Power quality refers to the stability and reliability of the electrical supply that powers our production equipment. As we strive for efficiency and product consistency, addressing power quality is paramount for the following reasons:

Equipment Reliability: Sensitive machinery integral to our production processes relies on a stable power supply. An inconsistent power supply can lead to increased downtime due to equipment failures.

Product Quality: Fluctuations in current and voltage can impact the precision of our manufacturing processes, potentially affecting the quality and consistency of our products.

Operational Disruptions: Unplanned downtime and equipment malfunctions disrupt our production schedules, impacting overall efficiency and delivery timelines.

By addressing power quality concerns, we can

Minimize downtime and reduce the risk of unexpected equipment failures.

Ensure the consistent quality of products by stabilizing manufacturing processes.

Improve overall operational efficiency and meet production targets reliably.

Increase energy efficiency – resulting in financial improvements and reduction of your carbon footprint.

But what does Power Quality mean?

In a perfect world, the electrical supply would be a perfect, constant magnitude and frequency sinusoidal voltage waveform. However, due to the nature of the loads in modern power systems, reality is often different.

In the IEEE standard 1159-2019 – Recommended Practice for Monitoring Electric Power Quality, power quality phenomena are classified into the following:

Click on the different types of power quality phenomena to learn more.

 

Transients are like the unexpected guests in your electrical system. They are brief, sudden bursts of electrical energy that can happen for various reasons, such as lightning strikes or when turning on or off equipment. These surprise bursts can disrupt the normal flow of electricity, potentially causing damage to sensitive devices.

Short Duration RMS (Root Mean Square) Variations refer to short duration (<1min) reductions or increases in voltage magnitude. The duration of voltage sag is determined by the dynamics of rotating loads, system impedance, and fault clearing time.

Causes include: starting of large motors, switching on or off large loads in one instance, electrical short circuits, energizing higher-capacity power transformers and switching on or off large reactive power sources.

Long Duration RMS Variations involve sustained alterations in voltage magnitude extending beyond brief intervals, typically lasting longer than one minute. The persistence of these variations can be influenced by the dynamics of rotating loads, system impedance characteristics, and the time required to clear faults within the electrical system.

Such variations may be attributed to diverse factors, including: an overload in the circuit, higher voltage drop than expected due to undersized cables/conductors, switching on or off higher capacity loads continuously, switching on or off large reactive power source, improper tap selection of transformers, unbalanced loading in three-phase, four-wire distribution systems.

In your electrical system, an imbalance is when the distribution of power between these phases is uneven. As the components are sized to full load operation under balanced conditions, if the system is in full load and one phase is more loaded than expected, several conditions might arise, such as: increased heat in motor windings and overall reduced performance of motors and transformers.

In an ideal electrical world, the flow of electricity is smooth and sinusoidal, like gentle waves. Waveform distortion is a deviation from the smooth flow, and this distortion can affect how your devices interpret and use electrical power, potentially causing disruptions and losses.

In most cases, the voltage and current waveforms are distorted due to the presence of non-linear loads such as motors and transformers, or power electronic switching devices. Waveform distortion is most commonly thought of as harmonic distortion.

In reality, the supply waveforms in an electrical system will not be a single sinusoidal wave at the fundamental frequency, 50 Hz (in Europe), but a superimposition of sinusoidal waveforms at multiples of this frequency – often resulting in a distorted waveform if higher frequency components are not attenuated.

Harmonics (integer multiples) and interharmonics (non-integer multiples) will provoke increased losses in the system, motor vibration, misinterpretation of logical values, errors in circuit breakers and fuses, among other problems. Furthermore, the impedance of different materials in electrical components might cause resonances with the high-frequency components, amplifying the impact of these issues.

 

Voltage fluctuations are characterized by continuous changes in the instantaneous voltage from cycle to cycle, attributed to periodic changes in the load resistance. The major cause of voltage fluctuation is arc furnaces in industrial plants.

Voltage fluctuations have an impact on the illumination intensity of lamps. That is, continuous variation in voltage has an impact on illumination density resulting in a noticeable change in illumination by the human eye. This phenomenon is called flicker or voltage flicker.


In the realm of electricity, the frequency serves as a fundamental parameter analogous to the tempo in a musical composition. Power frequency variations correspond to alterations in this fundamental tempo, analogous to a conductor subtly adjusting the rhythm of an orchestra.


Fluctuations in power frequency can significantly impact the synchronization and operational stability of electrical loads and generators. Ensuring a consistent and predictable electrical frequency can be compared to maintaining a composed and harmonious orchestral performance.

It should be noted that the IEEE standard is preferred here due to its organization and comprehensive explanation of the phenomena. However, if compliance is assessed in Denmark, the standards most commonly used will be IEC61000-2-4 for industrial networks and EN50160 for public distribution networks.

When to consult a power quality professional?

🡆 Operational Issues: If you experience unexplained disruptions or equipment malfunctions.
🡆 Frequent Failures: If you have witnessed increased breakdowns or premature deterioration of equipment.
🡆 Illumination Problems: If you have noticed flickering lights or irregularities in illumination.
🡆 Renewable Energy Integration: If you are facing grid stability challenges with renewable energy adoption.
🡆 Energy Inefficiencies: If you encounter rising energy costs or unexpected inefficiencies.
🡆 Facility Planning: If you are in the process of planning new facilities, upgrades to your grid connection or plan to install an uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS).
🡆 Certification Compliance: If you are seeking certification services for industry standards and compliance.
🡆 Performance Optimization: If you strive for maximum efficiency and longevity in your system performance.

The importance of Power Quality

In today’s electrical infrastructure, the non-linear loads and electronic devices previously mentioned are present everywhere – large motors and arc furnaces are driven by variable frequency drives using power electronics, EV charging requires AC-DC conversion, and offshore wind farms have begun using High-Voltage DC technology, also requiring power electronics. These are just a few examples to illustrate that it is becoming increasingly important to guarantee satisfactory power quality, otherwise not only technical problems will arise, but also economic ones (see reference 2).


Improving the power quality of a plant leads to indirect economic improvements through increased energy efficiency, which reflects in financial improvements, while also decreasing the energy intensity and thus reducing the carbon footprint. Furthermore, direct economic improvements are also observed, by minimizing production hindering events such as power supply and equipment failures, equipment overheating and consequential lifetime reduction, damage to sensitive equipment and extra OPEX relating to these issues.

What can we do for you?

At Eluminate, we possess measurement equipment fit for low, medium and high voltage networks. Depending on your issue, we will take measurements at different points in the system and analyze analyze them with respect to the phenomena described above.

After the power quality measurements are taken and analyzed, we can identify the problems in your system and implement measures to correct them. Examples include implementing dynamic voltage regulators and dynamic compensation systems for voltage level related problems, and passive and active filters to mitigate waveform distortion.