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Power Quality & Your Appliances

Although you may not have a technical understanding of power quality, you have undoubtedly experienced it. Electronic equipment commonly used in homes and home offices such as computers, fax machines, copiers, stereos, big-screen TVs, etc., generates distorted currents that can cause your power meter to read too high, cause failures of other electrical equipment, and overheat wires in your house creating a potential fire hazard. Even if you don't have alot of this type of equipment, equipment used by other households on your power circuit can create and inject these distorted currents (also called harmonics) back into the power system and create problems in your house. Some typical power quality problem indications are:

If you are experiencing any of the above problems, then you should have a competent professional analyze the quality of electricity supplied to and used by your house and recommend corrective actions to ensure that your appliances are running safely, efficiently, and reliably. As part of the survey, he will analyze specific appliances suspected of being electrically "leaky" and wasting power, posing a danger of electric shock to you and/or a fire hazard. Typical motor-driven appliances vulnerable to this problem are refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, disposers, and furnace blowers. Use this appliance energy usage chart to compare your appliance energy usage to the "average". Or, better yet, you can easily measure your actual appliance power usage with the Kill-A-Watt meter. It's one helluva bargain at just $39.95. You can learn more about it here.

A power quality analysis on your household electricity is a small investment with a big pay-back in avoided appliance repair bills, fire prevention, and reduced power bills.

For more details on power quality, check out this excellent Power Quality Primer from David Brender, P.E.

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