A couple of years ago, there was an electrical issue in an old castle. The work required us to retrofit the lighting in the castle. Despite our efforts to anticipate a certain level of monthly savings and expenditures, we were unable to meet the specified goal (more on this)
Also, during that time, we got a request from a local school board. As it turned out, their motors were failing one of the schools, and no one could identify the reason why. To identify the problem, we left a couple of our analyzers on the school premises for 7 days for monitoring and recording. We found out that when the load dropped in the evening (due to the fact that the school was empty), the utility voltage went off the charts, so much that it damaged the motors.
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We provided our findings to the LDC. They said carrying out a full-scale replacement for the transformers would be too costly, as some transformers cost as much as $40,000.
The LDC’s conclusion didn’t sit so well with me. Having three transformers fail at the same time is an improbable scenario. My client suggested that we check out another of their schools, within walking distance from the first school.
As I expected, the higher voltage was still an issue there.
From our investigation, we found out that the LDC had recently replaced a transformer station, which increased the voltage of the first consumer on the same line.
And guess what, our castle project was on the same line.
By putting on our thinking caps and following the hints, our project took us on a journey. First, we started with the castle and lighting retrofit. We moved to the failing customer-owned motors before finally finding the main issue at the utility’s new transformer station.
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When I was still a rookie in the industry, the standard voltages were 110V and 550V. Today there are 127V and even 600V. The utilities have this for various reasons, but they also increase their income when they boost voltage.
Let me sprinkle a little bit of my electricity knowledge into the mix.
Voltage (volts)/Resistance (ohms) = Current (amperage)
An increase in voltage leads to a rise in amperage since both are directly proportional. By extension, an increase in Amperage will lead to an increase in wattage. Remember, customers are charged by kilowatt-hour (kWh). So customers would pay more.
All of these experiences have helped to reinforce the need to learn and seek knowledge always.
Learn, Relearn and Apply
For these reasons and more, we have various quality analyzers that we use and take into various work scenarios regularly. They are compact, easy to use, and far more convenient than the original unit. We also employ thermographic cameras for extra testing.
Overall, what this shows is that there is a need for regular training and education. Additionally, the importance of good types of equipment cannot be overestimated. The combination of knowledge, experience, and equipment make for a great working environment. All of these have reinforced our position as a passionate establishment that cares about our customers. We go far and beyond to find solutions to problems.
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