Diagnostic and Monitoring: Tools to Analyze Power Quality

  July 21, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is using diagnostic and monitoring tools to analyze power quality.

Increased demands for indoor air quality (IAQ) have resulted in the need for technicians to more closely monitor and document conditions in buildings. While centralized automation systems can monitor overall conditions in a building, most IAQ problems are localized. Detecting and addressing these problems requires the use of monitoring equipment.

The latest generation of portable IAQ monitors allows technicians to measure carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, relative humidity and temperature. They also can record particle counts, measure volatile organic compounds, determine airflow, and measure differential pressure. Technicians can collect data and read it from the unit or upload it to a laptop computer for analysis.

But looking beyond IAQ, technicians also are using monitoring technology to analyze power quality. As more facilities use electronic and computer-based systems to monitor operations, they will require greater amounts of high-quality, stable power. Problems such as sags, spikes, transients and harmonics can easily disrupt the operation of this equipment.

Traditionally, it was difficult to track the causes of these problems. New-generation, portable equipment has improved to the point where technicians can use it to measure and log current, voltage, power factor and energy, while watching for voltage transients and other related problems.

Units offer cycle-by-cycle power analysis and can identify transients depending on the sampling rate, with the more sensitive units offering up to 512 samples per cycle. Most units offer eight sampling channels — four for voltage, four for current. Built-in memory allows users to collect and store data over an extended period.


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