Power and Energy: Electrical Power Quality Monitoring

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The electrical power provided by utility companies is not perfect, and can cause computerized equipment to malfunction or be damaged. How can this be detected, how can equipment be protected, and is it possible to monitor equipment “state of health”?

THE CHALLENGES 

Challenge #1:

Stable and dependable electrical power quality has become essential for any business that operates information technology (IT) and computerized equipment. The point-of-sale (POS) terminal and credit card reader on the sales counter, the cable modem, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) server, and the facility security system are just a few examples of IT equipment that are common to a vast majority of brick-and-mortar businesses. Any number of electrical power events can cause the IT equipment that is operating without a local uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to reboot, or worse, resulting in delays in operations, lost data, and even in lost revenue.

Most businesses are therefore dependent upon the electrical power quality output from the local electrical utility company. The electrical power quality is characterized by the number of occurrences and the duration of each occurrence of several types of electrical power events that affect electrical power consumers. Events such as brownouts, electrical transients, over-voltages, and service interruptions can result from many things, such as lightning, downed power lines, or electrical utility equipment switching or failure. Even if a business has employed local UPS devices to protect all of their IT equipment, they may not be benefitting from concessions from the electrical power utility as a result of electrical power event occurrences, even if those events may not directly cause IT equipment malfunctions.

Challenge #2:

A growing majority of ‘connected’ consumers and modern corporations depend upon the continuity of service from cloud computing service businesses. The successful modern cloud service business has already mitigated the risks of Challenge #1, and does not operate its IT equipment infrastructure directly from the electrical power delivered from the local electrical utility.

These large computing centers employ UPS equipment that buffers the electrical power from the electrical utility in order to provide stable and dependable electrical power to their scores of IT devices. This, in essence, puts the cloud service business in the unique role, to a degree, of being its own energy provider.

The challenge for the cloud computing service business is that its IT equipment, as viewed by the external data consumer, is expected to be ‘always on’. The effectiveness of the cloud computing service business internal electrical power delivery to its IT equipment directly impacts the external consumer satisfaction with service and cost. Unplanned server or network switch outages can create liability and immediate losses for the cloud computing service business and damage to its reputation. Underutilized server loads, if not shut down, also drive up energy costs without providing benefit to the external data consumer.

THE SOLUTION 

A Power Quality Monitoring System that provides logging and reporting of electrical power events is a common solution to both Challenge #1 and Challenge #2.

Challenge #1:

A Power Quality Monitoring System is an invaluable tool for the brick-and-mortar business that needs to understand the precipitating factors that led to the loss of operation of IT and computerized equipment. The cost of deploying needed UPS equipment can be offset by financial concessions from the local electrical utility based upon the data from a Power Quality Monitoring System. Data from a Power Quality Monitoring System with adequately sophisticated metrics gathering and analysis could also provide input to preventive maintenance programs to determine the “state of health” of IT and other computerized equipment.

Challenge #2:

A Power Quality Monitoring System is key to characterizing the electrical power draw of equipment in a known good state. However, a Power Quality Monitoring System is only part of the larger solution for the modern cloud computing service business, which is perhaps in a better position than any other business to manage its electrical power consumption expenses, to implement “state of health” monitoring and alarming for its IT equipment, and to prioritize electrical power delivery between loads.

Managing the electrical power consumption expenses can best be achieved by leveraging data from a Power Quality Monitoring System. The data from such a system could include temperature monitoring, determination of the status of each fuse or breaker serving a piece of IT equipment, and the determination of whether a server or network switch is shut down or actively rebooting. The single location cloud computing service business could implement load shedding of low priority loads during periods of peak power costs utilizing such data from a Power Quality Monitoring System. The multi-location cloud computing service business could displace external consumer data and processing demands between locations based upon real-time power consumption costs at each location.

A cloud computing service business could leverage the comparison of the latest real-time data against the baseline data from a Power Quality Monitoring System to identify potentially elevated harmonics due to aging or failing equipment, prior to actual external consumer data losses occurring. A Power Quality Monitoring System equipped with the added ability to switch power to the IT equipment could perform remote or automated cold reboots of servers and network switches. These cold reboots could be employed either as a follow-on operation to a software update of the affected IT equipment or as an attempted remote recovery operation when the server or network switch in question has been identified as being unresponsive.

THE SUMMARY

A Power Quality Monitoring System can provide advantages for many companies, from brick-and-mortar businesses to cloud computing data centers. Analog Devices Inc. has a diverse offering of proven metering integrated circuits (ICs) that provide a range of features including energy monitoring, power factor monitoring, harmonic monitoring, waveform streaming, and event alarming. Tecnova has extensive experience implementing Analog Devices Inc. metering ICs with a wide variety of voltage and current sensors to develop a custom Power Quality Monitoring solution for either single-phase or three-phase applications. Tecnova’s a la carte design and engineering services cover every aspect of product design including the design of circuit board assemblies, firmware, computer software, custom plastic or metal enclosures, and connecting wire harnesses and cables. Tecnova always designs electrical power devices to meet the stringent regulatory criteria for the application, including the appropriate UL, National Electrical Code, and CE regulations for emissions and for withstand to electrical, thermal and mechanical environmental factors. Tecnova can also manufacture the circuit boards, assemble, and fully functionally test your custom system in-house following our ISO 9001 processes.

In addition to Tecnova’s experience developing custom Power Quality Monitoring solutions, Tecnova engineers have decades of experience and are named in multiple patents in the design, deployment, and support of scores of electrical power distribution switching, protection, and monitoring equipment. Tecnova engineers have designed electrical power switching, protection, and monitoring equipment that is installed in the basement of a nearby hospital, in an electrical power switchgear next to a nearby shopping mall, and at the top of an electrical power utility pole near you.

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Power and Energy: Electrical Power Quality Monitoring Explained

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Electrical Power Quality Monitoring

Stable and dependable electrical power quality is essential for any company that operates computerized equipment, including companies with in-house servers or a data center. The point-of-sale (POS) terminal and credit card reader on the sales counter, the cable modem, the facility security system, and the enterprise servers are just a few examples of IT equipment that are common to a vast majority of companies.

Most companies are therefore dependent upon the electrical power quality from the local electrical utility company. Electrical power quality is characterized by the number of occurrences and the duration of each occurrence of several types of electrical power events that affect electrical power consumers. Events such as brownouts, electrical transients, over-voltages, and service interruptions can result from many things, such as lightning, downed power lines, or electrical utility equipment switching or failure. Any number of these events can cause the IT equipment to reboot, or worse, resulting in delays in operations, lost data, and even in lost revenue.

A Power Quality Monitoring System can be an important tool to provide useful information, minimize down time, and aid in troubleshooting by continuously monitoring the utility power “state of health”. The data from such a system could include monitoring of:

  • Voltages and currents
  • Real and apparent powers
  • Power factor
  • Harmonics
  • Temperature and humidity

The Power Quality Monitoring System can also provide:

  • Waveform streaming
  • Data logging
  • Reporting of power system events
  • Sever shutdown and rebooting

What are the key benefits of implementing a Power Quality Monitoring System?

  • Lower utility costs can be achieved by a control scheme that executes power system adjustments based upon monitoring and reporting of critical parameters such as Power Factor and Harmonics. A lower Power Factor will increase the cost of energy. High Harmonics can cause overheating of key components and increase energy cost.
  • The ability to track data and identify problematic values, such as increased temperature, lowered Power Factor, or increased Harmonics due to equipment aging, and to identify which equipment is at fault can provide early warnings so that corrective actions can be taken.
  • The ability to track and log the power quality provided by the local utility company and to potentially obtain financial re-imbursements resulting from poor power quality.

Why choose Tecnova?

Tecnova is a member of the Analog Devices Design Partner Network, and Analog Devices metering ICs are a core element of a custom Power Quality Monitoring solution. Tecnova has extensive experience with Analog Devices metering ICs, including designing systems that:

  • Use a variety of voltage and current sensors.
  • Single-phase or three-phase applications.
  • Energy metering and Power Quality Monitoring.
  • Designed to meet the regulatory criteria, including UL, National Electrical Code, and CE.

Most importantly, in addition to designing a custom solution to meet your exact needs, Tecnova can manufacture your system in-house at a lower cost than an off-the-shelf product, which may provide features (and cost) that you don’t need or that may lack key features you want.

In addition to Tecnova’s experience developing custom Power Quality Monitoring solutions, Tecnova engineers have decades of experience and are named in multiple patents in the design, deployment, and support of electrical power distribution switching, protection, and monitoring equipment. Tecnova engineers have designed electrical power switching, protection, and monitoring equipment that is installed in the basement of a nearby hospital, in an electrical power switchgear next to a nearby shopping mall, and at the top of an electrical power utility pole near you.

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Summary

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Solution

custom_research

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Solution

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Solution

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Summary

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Update the design and lower costs for DC motor driven laboratory appliances with consideration to aggressive price competition and rising customer expectations for performance.

Solution

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Summary

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Create a device for interfacing with RFID tags and physical access security mechanisms that would be developed concurrently with other components of a larger system product.

Solution

Microchip microcontroller, USB and RS-485 controllers, and custom designed switching power supply circuits.

Summary

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Develop a low-cost, robust, and lightweight solution for medium-duty steel cutting needs for light-duty construction and do-it-yourself (DIY) applications.

Solution

A custom circuit board based on the Microchip PIC16F870 processor monitors status and controls power and cooling to the plasma torch.

Summary

Plasma cutting of sheet and plate steel offers several advantages over other means. Sawing or grinding material produces metal chips. 

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Aerospace Autothrottle Test System

Challenge

Create a modular tester to automate testing of multiple types of fly-by-wire autothrottles for Boeing, Gulfstream, and Canadair aircraft applications. Create a secure historical archive of test data.

Solution

National Instruments LabWindows/CVI was used to create test procedures, measure test parameters, and store data in a protected database. A swappable custom electronic interface module was designed and built for each autothrottle.

Summary

Accurate and repeatable testing of aircraft and aerospace components is very critical. Tecnova was asked to reduce the test time and improve the measurement accuracy and repeatability of fly-by-wire autothrottle assemblies used in commercial aircraft.

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Adobe Flash Software Relay Simulator

Challenge

A leading manufacturer of time-delay relay products was seeing a large volume of support calls and returns due to customer confusion and errors in selecting the correct relay for their application.

Solution

Develop an on-line customer education tool that visually demonstrates the timing functions offered by the relays.  Adobe® Flash® and PHP scripting were used to present, animate, save and retrieve data to and from a MySQL® database. Portability and rebranding were critical elements so a configuration tool was developed for customer use that allowed verbiage, graphic and theme changes.

Summary

Due to the number of product returns and support calls, it was apparent that customers had a difficult time understanding the functions of various time-delay relays. In addition, the sales staff spent significant time educating customers on how the relays worked.

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