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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a customer who is complaining about having to set clocks several times a year, about 5 to 6. The clocks on the appliances reset to 12:00 without a long power outage. The outages are barely noticable, she claims. This all started with her lawn sprinkler system, which lost time and thus activated at the wrong time of day. The sprinkler tech is called out every time the system is reset and she says it is getting expensive.

I have an appointment for service at her place on Friday. Barring a loose connection at the panel(s) or at the service drop, are there any other things I should check for? If it is the poco's issue, how do I prove it when it is an intermittent problem?

Also, she has a Kohler whole-house generator backup system. This system exercises itself on a preset schedule. When the power goes out, I assume it switches on after a 10-30 second delay. Could the exercising be causing the problem? Could the transfer switch be opening and closing when this occurs? Ideas?
 

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Put it on a UPS if everything else checks out. She probably could of bought several by now for the amount of money she's spent on service calls.

On second thought, don't most sprinkler controllers take batteries just to keep time? Mine does....?
 

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I wouldn't waste my time checking the tightness of utility connections and all that. Appliances don't generally have backup batteries so it's not surprising that even a small interruption is resetting clocks. One second is usually more than enough, never mind 10-30. An outage being "barely noticeable" is a very nonspecific description on the HO's part and I wouldn't put any stock into it. The first thing I would do is manually trigger the generator changeover to see what happens.
 

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An outage being "barely noticeable" is a very nonspecific description on the HO's part and I wouldn't put any stock into it.
I wouldn't put any stock into what a HO says if they have to call out a sprinkler tech just to reset the timer. This is they type of person who doesn't think a momentary loss of power should affect the clock in the microwave or on the range.
 
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I believe the kohler has an option to exercise under load so I might check that.
I was going to say that I didn't think generators (Generac) exercised under load. I mean they just usually crank the engine without operating the transfer switch.
If the OP's customer has such a genny that shouldn't be causing any outage.

I have to reset my clocks all the time. I sure don't go check my connections when that happens. There is several reasons why the power drops out from the POCO. It's just the nature of the beast.

To the OP:
Tell the customer to "get over it"! ;):)
 

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I was going to say that I didn't think generators (Generac) exercised under load. I mean they just usually crank the engine without operating the transfer switch.
If the OP's customer has such a genny that shouldn't be causing any outage.

I have to reset my clocks all the time. I sure don't go check my connections when that happens. There is several reasons why the power drops out from the POCO. It's just the nature of the beast.

To the OP:
Tell the customer to "get over it"! ;):)

It depends what it is. Excessive dimming lights or intermittent outages could be a loose connection. Momentary outages for a few seconds with no cause is just crappy POCO service at work. Actually normal for tree/squirrel areas.
 

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Utilities must contend with a big issue called the "NIMBY Syndrome". If you don't know, NIMBY is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard", meaning that they have a very difficult time increasing infrastructure to deliver power, because nobody wants to have that infrastructure in their sight line, so they fight it tooth and nail. That means as an area grows, the utility can only respond by moving power around from places that don't need as much to places that do, using the same existing T&D system. The result is a lot more "grid switching" going on than ever before. When I started in this business 30+ years ago I got involved in a big power conditioning project that started with a study of what was going on. We saw a grid switch maybe once or twice per week. The company I work for now just bought another company that makes a monitoring system so I went for training last year and set up a demo system at our office. We see 90-100 grid switch events PER DAY now! Of those, maybe only one or two per week are "zero cross" transients, meaning the voltage during the switch actually drops below zero for more than a cycle, but that is often enough to make the clocks blink on cheap appliances. better appliances, clocks and sprinkler timers now come with battery backup, usually good for a short time, but often long enough to avoid the nuisance.

There are systems that can fix it, but the average homeowner is not likely to fork over the bucks it will take. A UPS will only work if applied to each individual circuit, or to the whole house. Batteries mean maintenance and most homeowners are loathe to add to their household duties as well, but there are non-battery based systems available*. Either way, most homeowners will not pay that. I would explain it to her and suggest she upgrade the sprinkler controller to one with a battery or spring wound backup since that's a decent problem to solve. But as to clocks and microwaves, I use the 33+ method; cover the flashing clock display with black electrical tape, problem solved!

* I'll only provide info if requested via PM because it is my employer so it would be promoting, but I'll warn that it is an industrial product so it is not cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The sprinkler tech says that there is a backup battery on the sprinkler, but it only keeps the programming and not the time. Weird. I got a feeling she nor the boss is going to accept the "blame the poco" answer though, no matter how much I tear into it.
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It seams like several things with clocks will ride through a second or two blip nowadays.

This sounds like it will be a loosing battle unless you find an actual issue. Probably a poco issue though. It would be good if you could solve the problem because it sounds like they would call you to change a light bulb if they liked your work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Looks like I got to get into the workings of the Kohler generator. Does anyone have any info or sources on progreamming these things, and how to start one up? The LCD screen is just one line long, and I can imagine a huge menu or something.
 

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Utilities must contend with a big issue called the "NIMBY Syndrome". If you don't know, NIMBY is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard", meaning that they have a very difficult time increasing infrastructure to deliver power, because nobody wants to have that infrastructure in their sight line, so they fight it tooth and nail. That means as an area grows, the utility can only respond by moving power around from places that don't need as much to places that do, using the same existing T&D system. The result is a lot more "grid switching" going on than ever before. When I started in this business 30+ years ago I got involved in a big power conditioning project that started with a study of what was going on. We saw a grid switch maybe once or twice per week. The company I work for now just bought another company that makes a monitoring system so I went for training last year and set up a demo system at our office. We see 90-100 grid switch events PER DAY now! Of those, maybe only one or two per week are "zero cross" transients, meaning the voltage during the switch actually drops below zero for more than a cycle, but that is often enough to make the clocks blink on cheap appliances. better appliances, clocks and sprinkler timers now come with battery backup, usually good for a short time, but often long enough to avoid the nuisance.

There are systems that can fix it, but the average homeowner is not likely to fork over the bucks it will take. A UPS will only work if applied to each individual circuit, or to the whole house. Batteries mean maintenance and most homeowners are loathe to add to their household duties as well, but there are non-battery based systems available*. Either way, most homeowners will not pay that. I would explain it to her and suggest she upgrade the sprinkler controller to one with a battery or spring wound backup since that's a decent problem to solve. But as to clocks and microwaves, I use the 33+ method; cover the flashing clock display with black electrical tape, problem solved!

* I'll only provide info if requested via PM because it is my employer so it would be promoting, but I'll warn that it is an industrial product so it is not cheap.
What are they switching? Distribution, transmission? What voltage?

Most outages by utilities at least where I live are from squirrels and the like bridging insulators.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The sprinkler controller seems really messed up. The programming is BASED on an accurate clock time. To not keep the time is just plain stupid. I've decided to put a UPS on the controller to keep constant power on the thing.

I talked to the tech who installed and last serviced the Kohler generator. He says the gennie is set up to exercise without a load. To do so serves no purpose as it is just to charge the battery and move the fluids around.

The clocks are resetting to 12:00 just like an alarm clock when you unplug it without a battery. We are going to contact the POCO for a test and service.
 
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