QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Voltage Optimization

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This Question of the Week comes from the Facilities Management Group on LinkedIn.

I’ve received a report suggesting my building would benefit from installing “voltage optimization” in the switch room. Do you have any practical experience with this technology? If so, can you share the pros/cons?    

Simon Stuart
Building Manager
MJ Mapp
Chester, England

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2 Responses

  1. Kevin Folsom says:

    Power optimization is used to improve power factor. The power factor is used by electricity providers to determine a adder rate to your bill. Up until recently the power factor was only an issue in larger consuming feeds around .5 MW peak demand, mostly industrial. But I understand they are working their way down the line to smaller loads. It essentially figures our much of the electricity that is consumed is not wasted. Waste a lot they charge you extra. Waste a little they charge you extra less. If you don’t see this charge on your electric bill they have not caught up to you yet. Sometimes they hide the charge by calling it something else. You may need someone to help point this out.

    The optimization is performed by adding expensive capacitors. For me the cost is too much as it relates to the cost savings to have them. There is some debate as to whether electric strip heating improves the overall power factor because it is 100% energy used (i.e poor PF in the Summer, good PF in the Winter).

    • Bob Soffel says:

      Power factor and power quality are factors that certainly affect the overall operating ‘health’ of systems within a facility often while providing a dramatic reduction in demand – resulting in lower bills and lowered maintenace. However, only a whole facility approach provides significant, measurable results. The technology is largely passive and rarely disrupts operations through installation. With 20-30 year life-cycles, many find power optimization a terrific solution to many energy problems.

      A low cost, specialized audit can be conducted to determine the exact percentage of savings that would be available for your facility.

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