Development of Electrical Specifications


Utilities do a lot more than just sell generate and sell electric power. They are engaged in maintaining their own power systems, managing the power quality of these systems and helping customers learn about energy performance: savings, energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Utilities are mandated by public service commissions (PSCs) to show how they expect to save a specific amount of energy annually or within a specified number of years, like five, for example. To do this, utilities must be aware of the various measures they can implement to save energy across the grid and to help their customers save energy. Deployment of energy-efficient technologies available on the market is one of the primary focus areas for utilities. However, just because an energy-efficient technology is available on the market doesn’t mean it will provide the energy performance and functions their customers require.

Before energy can be saved, these technologies must function properly and provide their customers with the products and services their customers expect. When a customer flips a light switch, he/she simply expects the light to come 'on' and provide a stable and acceptable light output for the customer's specific task. Once a technology has been proven to function correctly provide the reliable product or service it was designed to provide, its power quality and energy performance can be characterized.

Electrotek expert energy and power quality engineers can determine if the technology saves the energy the manufacturer claims it does and can withstand the common everyday electrical disturbances that occur in indoor and outdoor customer electrical environments. Utilities want to know this information before they provide these technologies to their customers. Electronic lighting (e.g., electronic T8 ballasts and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)) were among the first energy saving devices to be scrutinized in the 1990s per the request of utilities.

Utilities didn’t want to recommend or provide incentives for energy-efficient lighting products until they were sure the manufacturer-claimed energy performance could be met. Moreover, utilities did not want to recommend specific products to their customers or include products on an approved technology list if they were likely to malfunction of fail prematurely when subjected to common every day electrical disturbances. 

For customers, it’s more than just about energy efficiency and how much energy (or power) an energy-efficient technology can save. It’s also about power reliability and power quality. Technologies must be reliable and not subject to frequent failure caused by disturbances before they are efficient enough to achieve acceptable energy savings. If the technology won’t turn ON or operate correctly, nobody cares about its energy savings. Unfortunately, customers are still finding out that some technologies are not able to survive common everyday electrical disturbances and fail, even before the warranty period is over. Moreover, energy-efficient technologies typically cost more than traditional technologies. Customers expect reliability and energy savings, combined with acceptable power quality performance when they purchase products.

With customer electrical environments become more energetic and complex combined with an increasing number of disturbances in customer facilities, utilities should aim on the side of caution and continue to have products tested. Utilities should also continue to provide technology vendors with energy and power quality product specifications, listing out the expected performance for critical parameters. In fact, power quality performance specifications are changing. With more complex electrical environments, additional thought must be put into developing a power quality performance specification that will help keep manufacturers focused on designing and manufacturing products that will perform acceptably in typical customer environments. We must raise the bar for power quality performance in a typical customer environment to help ensure products perform well, and in a reasonable amount of time.

Electrotek expert power quality engineers have unique experience in developing performance specifications for energy efficiency products whether they are electronic lighting products, VFDs, electric motors, or power supplies to name a few. Such specifications must not only include energy efficiency performance, but they must also include power quality and the effects of common everyday disturbances on energy performance.

Equipment Manufacturers

Manufacturers who design and manufacturer electrical and electronic equipment must be very careful before they publish technical specifications regarding power quality performance. Applying IEC, IEEE and other standards to determine and verify power quality performance has limitations regarding total whole-product performance. Today’s standards do not properly address real-world power quality phenomena and how it can impact product performance. No two customer sites are the same when it comes to power quality. Manufacturers shouldn’t have to specify, pay for, or ask their customers to purchase power quality mitigation equipment to enable a product to work in a typical electrical environment.

End-use products should provide for a power quality performance reasonable enough to help ensure a product lasts a reasonable amount of time past its warranty period. Manufacturers who are not aware of their total whole product performance in terms of power quality, are operating under unmanaged risks and should not allow their customers to be the “field testing laboratories” for their products. Electrotek expert power quality engineers are very knowledgeable in terms of total whole product power quality performance testing. Our real-world disturbance testing approach allows us to determine acceptable and unacceptable power quality performance for any electrical and electronic for end users. Our approach is geared towards helping manufacturers recognize their performance along with its shortcomings, as well as applying the appropriate steps to improve it. Power quality performance specifications that are matched to the customers’ electrical environment are developed by Electrotek expert engineers to help manufacturers manage their risks.