Voltage Optimization Explained
Voltage optimization is the process of systematic reduction in the level of voltages received by a consumer (this kind of consumer).
By reducing the supply voltage to your electrical equipment you can reduce your power consumption and energy usage. This process is controlled via voltage adjustment devices which are designed to reduce energy costs and save money.
Voltage optimizers act like a type of transformer, taking in the higher input voltage from the electricity grid and converting it into a lower, optimized output voltage.
As they are installed at the incoming mains electricity supply, voltage optimization devices deliver an energy efficient power supply to all of the connected electrical equipment. They allow all of the electrical equipment to enjoy the benefits from the optimized supply.
Advantages of Voltage Optimization
One of the biggest advantages of voltage optimization is that it helps to reduce your power consumption, which in turn helps to reduce your energy costs and ultimately saves money.
Click the image below to see an example case study.[caption id="attachment_406" align="aligncenter" width="801"] Image source: http://fftf.org.uk/[/caption]
As an example, a home is designed to run at a nominal voltage of 230V. The voltage going into the building is supplied by the mains grid, which can be as high as 253V. However, a voltage of just 220V is required to power the electrical equipment in a business or home.
As AC (alternating current) voltages fluctuate – these devices reduce and maintain a voltage of 220V.
Supplying electricity at higher voltages will increase the necessary consumption, however if optimization is carried out, the voltage could potentially be lowered by about 10%-15%.
With your voltage better optimized, the home or business will now be consuming 220V, which reduces the overall consumption of electricity.
Another huge advantage to installing voltage optimization is that it helps to prevent damage to your electrical equipment that’s caused by power surges or blowouts.
This means that your electrical equipment will last much longer and ensures you get the optimum lifespan.
Ensuring your electrical equipment lasts longer helps to reduce the rate at which you have to purchase replacement equipment, helping you save your money on potential replacement and maintenance costs.
The Best Types of Equipment to Benefit from Voltage Optimizers
A voltage optimizer is an important piece of equipment to help reduce your energy consumption. But where are the best places to install one? It is important you only install them in the places where you’ll see the most improvements. Here are few options for you to consider:
Motors - This is a big area where you can make great savings by ensuring your voltage is optimized. It is shown that optimization of motor systems can help to reduce your power consumption significantly and help you save more money in the long run.
Lighting - If you don’t want to consider switching your old magnetic ballast or incandescent lighting to LED lighting, you may want to consider a voltage optimizer. When you optimize your voltage, magnetic ballasts or incandescent light tubes will consume less energy. Switching to LED can save up 85% and a voltage optimizer can increase the savings even further.
Common Power Problem Solved by Optimizing Your Voltage
- Overvoltage- This refers to the input of a higher voltage than a piece of electrical equipment requires and is even designed to operate at. A national UK power grid outputs an average of 242V but this can be as high as 252V in some areas. While most pieces of electrical equipment are designed to only use about 220V. This immense and unnecessary voltage can lead to a reduction in the lifetime of electrical equipment, an increase in power consumption and no improvement in performance.
- Harmonics - These are the waveforms of currents and voltages at multiples of any fundamental frequency of the national grid supply. They come about as a result of non-linear loads, including variable speed drives and discharge lighting. When the level of harmonics becomes too high, they can lead to damage to some pieces of sensitive electrical equipment. Similarly, it leads to a reduction in the efficiency of the HV (high voltage) transformer. Voltage Optimizer units come with a voltage stabilizer which helps in reducing these high levels and prevent any potential damage caused.
- Transients - These are brief and very large destructive surges in the amount of voltages. They can come as a result of lightning, switching of a large electrical load or switching between power sources. Although they last for a fraction of a second, they can be very destructive to any electrical equipment. They can easily cause data loss, shorten the lifetime of equipment and degradation of electronic components. A Voltage optimizer comes with transient protectors which aid in power factor correction.
- Phase Voltage Ambience - Commercial sites and industries are provided with 3-phase electricity. If there is any sort of imbalance between the phases, overheating might occur and this leads to wastage of energy. A voltage regulator can easily help balance the voltage among these phases thus saving bringing about energy efficiency and improving longevity of the motors.
- Power Dips- This is the reduction in voltage over a short duration, but in minimal cases it might take a longer period. Power dips can cause machinery to stop as well as dropping out of contractors and relays.
The energy saving that is portrayed by voltage optimization is an aggregation of improved efficiency of equipment across the site.
Therefore, you must ensure that you employ a voltage optimized system that will not end up consuming more energy or power that it is deemed to save. It is therefore important to check out some factors to consider when installing an optimizing device.
Key Features to Consider When Purchasing A Voltage Optimizer
- Efficiency - the VO unit to be installed must have an impeccable efficiency of about 97% to 98%. This should be constant during different load conditions and should even work with the lowest input voltage. Whether the voltage optimizer has a low input of 50% or the highest input of 100% it must be able to operate with full performance. In addition, it should not contain any wearable or consumable parts, this is to ensure no maintenance or repair is undertaken thereafter. The lifetime of an effective optimizer is around 25 years.
- Fast Voltage Management - the VO system should manage the voltage in an independent and fast manner. The transformers consisted on each phase, switching elements as well as power control gadgets should all be independent on each phase, so as to maintain full performance of the system. The system should have high speed stabilization in order to ensure that machines don’t fail, which could affect production rate.
- Uninterruptable Functions - A VO system should be able to keep manufacturing operating even when there is a breakdown or overload. For this reason, an automatic system that can bypass these issues is preferred. Some come with a voltage stabiliser to counter power surges. After the load or problem is solved, the system comes back on and continues functioning normally.
The national grid voltage is set higher than the nominal value so that users can attain sufficient voltages at the end of the distribution. This also reduces transmission losses. The distance of a plant from the mains actually determines the voltage it will receive. Since plants are offered electricity on a 3-phase, the unbalanced voltage can be quite detrimental and destructive to equipment which in turn leads to performance losses.
Voltage optimisation in these facilities helps in power factor correction, balance voltage across the system bringing about energy efficiency across the grid as well as longevity of machinery. However, only long lasting, maintenance free, high speed and automatic VO systems will lead to an effective and significant saving in power consumption. They will also see to it that machinery and electrical equipment last long thus reducing maintenance and repair costs.
Without a voltage optimization device you’re potentially paying for an additional 32V that your devices don’t need. With the continuing worldwide increase in demand for energy, voltage optimization is a step in the right direction.
One day, voltage optimization may be a necessity for every home and business.