Electrical Testing
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Six Ways to Address Energy Losses

Address systemic issues first to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Energy losses may be systemic or local. You typically get the biggest bang for your buck by addressing systemic issues first.

Examples of systemic losses include:

  • Feeder power quality issues such as voltage imbalance, lower power factor, excess harmonic content, or waveform distortion.
    Solution: Monitor power quality at the service and on feeders; make sure someone is monitoring the monitor.
  • Feeder wiring problems, such as leaking insulation or poor terminations.
    Solution: Conduct all of the applicable testing on cable insulation and terminations. These typically include ultrasound, infrared, insulation resistance, hi-potential, and (depending on the voltage level) partial discharge testing.
  • High ambient temperatures, which cause equipment to run less efficiently.
    Solution: Create a ducting and ventilation system (or radically upgrade the one you have), using a thermal map so you are removing the highest concentration of heat. This often is a local issue that generates systemic problems.

Examples of local losses include:

  • Lubrication issues, such as a gearbox that is improperly maintained or a motor that is improperly greased.
    Solution: Assign lubrication to only fully trained lubrication technicians, and set up a lubrication system that uses tools such as color coding to prevent “simple” mistakes.
  • Excess vibration, especially of motors.
    Solution: Install vibration monitoring. And rather than guess at corrective measures, conduct an engineering analysis to determine what will work on the first try.
  • High-resistance terminations, which convert electrical energy into waste heat. The cause of these is nearly always poor workmanship.
    Solution: Set up a torque tool program, train the users on the fundamentals of fasteners (never over-tighten, don’t re-use, etc.), and use a thermography program to efficiently spot suspect (heat-emanating) connections.


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