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GUEST ARTICLE
Monitoring Power Quality and Electrical Testing
May 2018

By: Ivan Alexander

The demand for clean and safe power in mission critical operations is advancing overnight due to the rapid pace of technology improvements. Hospitals, Data Centers, Call Centers cannot and will not accept down time. This form of Clean power is not exclusive to critical loads. This growing technology is at the root of these demands for automatic clean power, which cannot be susceptible to transients that will render many facilities, that are vulnerable to faults or brownouts. For these facilities, Power Quality is essential – it is not a matter of if, it is when…

Power Quality within Power Systems is paramount in 21st century businesses.

Sensor monitoring and analysis software will be important and more prevalent with the technology advances, however, even prepared facilities will be susceptible to phantom power anomalies, causing power failures. Preventive maintenance utilizing visual and mechanical inspection using less expensive, more powerful analyzing and better monitoring equipment will be in greater demand to trouble shoot the power systems. Power Systems and Controls monitoring and electrical testing consists of:
A. Power Quality Survey
B. Infrared Scan
C. Arc Flash/ Coordination/ Short Circuit Study
D. Grounding and Lightning Protection
E. Training: Classroom and Onsite
F. Electrical Testing

Power Quality Surveys are the first step in electrical testing and power quality monitoring. Once a record of the transients from utility power is surveyed, then the harmonics and waveform distortions can be identified to determine where anomalies may be occurring within the system. Power Quality Monitoring records critical information (i.e. voltage, current, active and reactive power, power factor, harmonic distortion and load balancing) that will help narrow down the issue. An engineer using the latest technology will analyze the data to identify waveform anomalies. The result will be a comprehensive report detailing the electrical backbone with an explanation of the facilities present Power Quality snapshot and possible recommendations.


Photo courtesy of PS&C.

Infrared Scans are heat signature scans utilizing the latest thermographic equipment. These scans are performed when the electrical equipment is under load in order to capture the thermographic images of the electrical apparatus “in operation” to confirm the problem areas or “Hot Spots”. These captured images and a thorough understanding of the power system by an engineer will show the area(s) of concern for corrective action. This action will protect the business and the facilities personnel.

An Arc Flash/Coordination/Short Circuit Studies optimize overall facilities effectiveness and protect the lives of people that work near energized equipment. OSHA, NFPA, IEEE and NEC recommend an Arc Flash Survey every five (5) years to determine distance and incident energy to which personnel could be exposed to while working on or near electrical equipment. Arc Flash labeling will inform workers as to the level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to the safe distance that is required to work on or near electrical equipment. An engineer using the most undated analysis software will determine the Arc Flash labels specifics which will be adhered to each piece of equipment for information and safety.

Grounding and Lightning protection have become an integral part of a healthy electrical system. The grounding of equipment is used to direct excess energy away from the facility and safely into the earth. This is standard in today’s electrical engineering. Lightning protection is rapidly becoming more important because of the billions of dollars in lost production and equipment downtime each year, which are a direct result of electrical surges. Engineering, utilizing advanced technology, is essential to create more sophisticated protection methods and equipment (i.e. surge protection). Personal safety and customer service is helping to spur on new innovations in Power Quality.

Engineering new technology and utilizing advanced monitoring equipment as well as electrical testing to monitor and trend the power has been part of Power Systems & Controls since patenting one of the first rotary UPS’s back in 1965. This design topology will continue forward and be an important part of the technology that will propel Power Quality into the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ivan Alexander is the Regional Sales Manager at Power Systems & Controls (PS&C), a manufacturer of Power Quality Products and Service provider. In operation since 1965, the firm is located in Richmond Virginia. Mr. Alexander has more than 25 years of experience in power generation. He has worked with Siemens-Westinghouse as an in-house technical procurement officer and has served on-site as a key account manager handling the Dominion Energy facilities for nearly a decade. Mr. Alexander can be contacted via email or via telephone at 804-355-2803 (Office) or 804-363-1971 (Mobile).


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