Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

The company controller noticed an odd pattern and brought it to your attention

The company controller noticed an odd pattern and brought it to your attention, saying, "I’m looking at year-to-date expense data, and it we've replaced far too much office equipment. That includes break room appliances like microwave ovens and even a refrigerator. But from last year going back five years, there wasn't a single replacement. Overhead lights, too — why all these bills for replacement lamps and ballasts? And, despite the office manager’s energy initiative, the admin building utility bill has gone up." What's going on?

You'll probably solve both problems by solving just one. Find out what the office manager’s energy initiative was and it will most likely reveal these three typical mistakes:

  1. Replacing task-lighting incandescent lamps with CFLs. To produce that small ballast, compromises must be made. A few CFLs may be OK, but widespread use is problematic.
  2. Installing CFLs on dimming circuits. This fire hazard saves little energy.
  3. Administrative blunders, such as asking people to turn fluorescent bathroom luminaires off upon exiting. Cycling fluorescent lamps uses more energy than just leaving them on.
In sufficient numbers, CFLs produce:
  1. Insulation-destroying spikes, during on/off cycling.
  2. Low power factor, thus excessive heating of insulation (in equipment and wiring). Typical CFL power factor is about 0.5 (compared to near unity of the incandescent lamps they replace).
Here are the first two steps you should take to fix this situation:
  1. Install a power monitor.
  2. Implement a designed solution for energy savings (including a lighting redesign).
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