Voltage Optimization – There Is A Better Way

voltage-managementThough the principles of Voltage Optimization have been understood for many years, there has been a growing realisation that the basic Voltage Optimization “step down” transformer systems just do not offer the continuity of supply or the most effective way for companies to maximise their electricity savings.

Especially from a business continuity perspective, step down transformer solutions add risk into the operational and functionality process of many buildings.

These fixed ratio transformer Voltage Optimization (VO) systems have been sold as the solution to all ills but the reality is that these have now been superceded, and this “old” technology just does not offer the flexibility of newer systems incorporating intelligent Voltage Optimization and Regulation (VO+R). These are proving that technically they are a better solution in many situations, and they deliver what they say on the tin – the old days of businesses being over promised and under delivered has ended with the introduction of this advance in “intelligent” systems.

The simple reality that increasing fluctuations in the incoming supply voltages limits the ability of these basic Voltage Optimization units to maximise savings is all too apparent, but when these fluctuations result in dipping voltages these can lead to the system either delivering too low a voltage – resulting in serious on site problems – or switching to bypass and offering no savings at all.

The new intelligent technology addresses these performance and reliability issues – guaranteeing a consistent output voltage and ensuring the user a continuity of supply in all circumstances. These systems not only allow the opportunity to maximise their electricity savings, but with “Buck & Boost” technology if the incoming supply voltage drops too low their system boosts the voltage back up to the desired voltage – ensuring continuity of supply.

Additional features include the flexibility to fine tune on Site – rarely available on other systems, and the ability to stabilise each phase independently improving the overall Power Quality, reducing Harmonics, extending the life expectancy of the electrical equipment on site and reducing maintenance costs.

These advances in Voltage Optimization technology come at a time when the concept of Voltage Management itself has just been given a strong vote of confidence by the Carbon Trust. They published late last year their clear explanation of the benefits of Voltage Management, how it works, and proscribed a methodology on how Site Surveys should be conducted to help potential customers understand what Voltage Management is all about and how it is, or is not, applicable to their needs.

Voltage Management works because most incoming UK voltages are not at the 230V we expect, but fluctuate across a range between 216V and 253V, and vary during the day too. (Clearly this applies to 3 phase voltages too).

To determine whether it will work for a particular application, a detailed survey needs to be conducted including a week long evaluation of the Voltage and Load Profile in order to determine the correct system size requirement.

In addition, a unit by unit evaluation of all the equipment on Site is required as savings are only available from those types of electrical equipment that are Voltage Dependent – and not on those that are Voltage Independent.

In simplistic terms, Voltage Dependent devices consume power proportional to the supply voltage – the higher the voltage the higher the power consumption – and if the voltage is reduced less electricity will be used. A one per cent decrease in supply voltage will cause a two per cent reduction in power demand – saving money.

Examples would be incandescent lamps; T8 & T12 type Fluorescent Lamps, many motors and air conditioning units.

Voltage Independent devices however, are designed to consume energy regardless of the supply voltage and with these savings are not possible. Examples would be T5 and LED lighting, ICT equipment and VSD’s.

Determining what these savings could be for a business requires this comprehensive Site Survey and evaluation of the Mains Voltage and Load Profile. It is only by doing this that a proposed solution will confidently be considered ‘fit for purpose’.

The Carbon Trust strongly advocates a methodology which incorporates this level of comprehensive Site Survey and Voltage Load Profiling, and that relying on simple voltage logger data (often sent in the post to the prospective client) or data from old electricity bills is just not appropriate. Voltage Management as a solution to help reduce electricity usage works, but is not right for everyone and unless this level of detailed analysis is followed there is a likelihood of being over promised a system which then fails to deliver.

A UK supplier called e-fficient Energy Systems Ltd offers the very latest intelligent Voltage Optimisation plus Regulation equipment which steadfastly follows the Carbon Trust’s methodology giving companies the opportunity of achieving the greatest electricity savings and addressing the many technical issues often seen with “step down” fixed ration transformer basic Voltage Optimisation systems.

To find out whether Voltage Management can help you reduce your electricity usage and carbon footprint e-fficient Energy have recently launched a Free Site Survey scheme to encourage companies to see if it will work for them – to benefit call Craig Needham at e-fficient Energy on 01909 569 016 or see their website at e-fficient Energy.

About the Author Staff Writer

Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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