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Elechicken!
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

We got an email last week from one of our clients at a restaurant asking about power surges. They seem to be pretty frequent for them as they've replaced their batteries in the fire alarm panel 3 times in the past year (most recent being last week). They also lost an amplifier for their stereo in the restaurant due to the power surges.

They claim to have gone through at least 3 surge protectors in the past 2 years (granted, surge protectors do go "bad"/stop working/wear out).

Should we sell them a BIG surge protector for the entire system at the main MCC?

They've asked us to look into what is causing it but obviously don't want to spend a fortune on finding out what is happening.

Any idea's on where to start here?
 

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Hackenschmidt
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Are you convinced surges are really the problem? I wouldn't take thwir word.for it without solid backup. A lot of times if people can't see another cause, they just conclude it must have been a surge.
 

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Elechicken!
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Are you convinced surges are really the problem? I wouldn't take thwir word.for it without solid backup. A lot of times if people can't see another cause, they just conclude it must have been a surge.
Is there a data-logger that can capture a power surge? (capture as in, in the data logger and "see" it. I know most DMM can't see a sudden jump in power)

I know we'll have to borrow or buy one, I know we don't have one.
 

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Ask the utility to put a logger on it for a week. That will determine if it's in the building or from the utility.
Long story short, I had to do this for a restaurant near me. I tested an measured after replacing numerous things a few times. Turned out it was a bad pole transformer and the logger proved it. Not a single problem since.


Tim.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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A power quality data logger will catch all kinds of irregularities including surges but the duration of the surge has to be long enough for the resolution of the monitor / logger.
 

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Elechicken!
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Ask the utility to put a logger on it for a week. That will determine if it's in the building or from the utility.
Long story short, I had to do this for a restaurant near me. I tested an measured after replacing numerous things a few times. Turned out it was a bad pole transformer and the logger proved it. Not a single problem since.


Tim.
I'll have to call them tomorrow.

This restaurant if fed from a padmount transformer (which services other buildings around them). Wouldn't they have issues too?

I believe this building is three phase. No chance it`s single phase (POCO won`t allow it).

It`s a fairly new building too (Can`t be more than I`d say 18 years old)
 

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Is there a data-logger that can capture a power surge? (capture as in, in the data logger and "see" it. I know most DMM can't see a sudden jump in power)

I know we'll have to borrow or buy one, I know we don't have one.
It's called a recording ammeter. Gives a paper readout. I would rent one before I bought one. Not sure where to rent such things in the Great White North, but the interwebs do.


Actually, it's the voltage you want to monitor for a power quality issue.
 
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I know every time a business around here complains to POCO about burning up equipment they're very accommodating in coming out with data loggers at no charge.

Your POCO may vary.
 

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I know every time a business around here complains to POCO about burning up equipment they're very accommodating in coming out with data loggers at no charge.

Your POCO may vary.
You'll find that power quality is a condition of their status as a regulated utility.

Yup.

They get spanked -- hard -- by the PUC if they're the source of customer 'problems.'

Just ask PG&E how their situation sits. :devil3:

And yes, transformers are usually left in service as long as possible -- like until failure or load growth.

The PUC second-guesses every Big Decision a Poco makes.

Pig policy is one of those Big Decisions. :smile:
 

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Elechicken!
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Discussion Starter #13
I know every time a business around here complains to POCO about burning up equipment they're very accommodating in coming out with data loggers at no charge.

Your POCO may vary.
I just got off of the phone with the POCO. They are sending an electrician out to check things out. I asked for a data logger but maybe their protocall is to send an electrician first?

You'll find that power quality is a condition of their status as a regulated utility.

Yup.

They get spanked -- hard -- by the PUC if they're the source of customer 'problems.'

Just ask PG&E how their situation sits. :devil3:

And yes, transformers are usually left in service as long as possible -- like until failure or load growth.

The PUC second-guesses every Big Decision a Poco makes.

Pig policy is one of those Big Decisions. :smile:
This transformer doesn't look that old... That being said, it could have been a bad apple right from the factory, and just took some time to show it.

If they are going through TVSSs its a safe bet they are getting surges....and a TVSS going 'bad' is just them doing their job no? Usually some arrangement of MOVs?
Yes, when the surge suppressors start "going bad" (needing replacement) it means they're doing what they're supposed to. This means they have surges happening, but it can be caused from local things, or from something on the POCO side, or something from another building entirely. Surges can happen from large equipment kicking on (such as motors). So I'm not sure if it's a piece of equipment (like the refrigeration units, or the HRV, or anything else).

It could be spikes of power too from the POCO.

We'll see what will happen this afternoon after the POCO electrician is done.
 

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A lot of what happens, now more than 10 or 20 years ago, is what are called "grid switching transients". As power is moved around on "the grid" within a utility or between utilities, they open and close big HV switches. When they open and close, they create huge spikes.



Much of the time those are dampened down a lot by the distances between the switch yards and the end users, but in some cases the utilities use capacitors on their line in far flung places, and those caps end up recreating / amplifying those spikes.
 

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Some of the best are "wave trackers" that controls the surges....but low voltage "brown-outs" do damage as well....I think they cause more problems with electronics etc. So you need a "power conditioner " type that boosts and bucks . More expensive for your customer ....but works !
 
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