Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the main types of power quality problems?
There are three main types of power quality problems: Blackouts, Brownouts and Electrical Pollution.
2. What is Electrical Pollution?
Electrical Pollution consists of the external transients and surges caused by lightning, power grid switching, brownouts, blackouts and large load switching, as well as the internally produced transients and electrical noise caused by motor controls, electronic equipment, load switching and other transient generators.
3. What are the main problems caused by Electrical Pollution?
The main problems are catastrophic failures and long term degradation of sensitive electronic and electrical equipment and machinery; lost data and malfunctions of communications and IT equipment as well as downtime and frustration.
4. What can be done about Electrical Pollution?
Installing StediWatt Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors (TVSS) in your facility is the first and best line of defense against the problems caused by Electrical Pollution
5. What is a StediWatt Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor (TVSS)?
A StediWatt TVSS is a passive electronic module which connects directly to the power lines, circuits and outlets of your building. When it senses that a transient voltage exceeds the normal operating level, it instantly turns on, suppressing the surge by safely diverting it to earth ground. It quickly turns off when the transient is gone and allows the normal power to continue flowing to your equipment.
6. How does the StediWatt TVSS prevent equipment damage?
Damage is caused by high voltage transients containing large amounts of energy that breakdown the input semiconductors and insulation of electronic equipment. By diverting this transient energy before it gets in the building distribution system, the TVSS protects downstream equipment from damage. The same damaging affects applies to motors, lighting, HVAC and automation equipment.
7. Why is Electrical Pollution the most costly to ignore and the least costly to eliminate?
Ignoring Electrical Pollution will eventually cost you thousands of dollars in repair of catastrophic failures, deteriorated equipment, lost production, wasted man-hours, corrupted computer data, downtime, etc. However, installing a relatively low cost StediWatt surge suppression system will eliminate these problems and protect your assets. It is much less costly than UPS systems, standby generators and other types of power conditioning equipment.
8. Why is the StediWatt TVSS System so innovative?
StediWatt has a unique SE Single Element Technology, which uses individual large suppression elements capable of safely handling high levels of surge current. This insures that the suppressor will never degrade, even after multiple strikes. Many other surge protectors are constructed using small multi-elements in parallel to obtain a high surge rating. These small elements are prone in degradation due to unequal sharing of the high transient currents leaving the user only partially protected.
9. What do you mean by non-degrading TVSS?
Non-degrading TVSS means that the unit will not loose its ability to handle high peak currents with time or use. StediWatt uses large, 40 and 53 mm diameter MOVs in all its 'Non-degrading Single Element Technology TVSS. This means that surge suppressor retains its full surge current capability for its lifetime with no reduction in its capability. Many other manufacturers use a large number of smaller MOVs in parallel to build up their ratings. This type of multi-element construction looses some of its ability to handle surges each time it operates. The StediWatt SurgShield rated at 45,000 amps per mode all the way up to the BermudaTriangle rated at 320,000 amps per mode maintain their full ratings for their lifetime.
10. How many surge suppressors do I need in my building?
The StediWatt TVSS System works best when applied as recommended by the IEEE Emerald Book, (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). A high energy suppressor should be placed at the service entrance to the building, a category C primary location. This removes the high energy transients from the distribution system. Then lower rated suppressors should be applied at the category B secondary locations on the distribution power panels for each critical load. This method of placing TVSS modules creates a cascading grid of protection, protecting each individual load from any residual external transients as well as any internally generated transients.
11. What does a cascading grid of protection really mean?
This is a term for the placement of StediWatt TVSS modules at strategic locations in a facility so that all the equipment is protected from internally as well as externally generated transients. The primary protector at the service entrance performs the initial coarse suppression and then the secondary protector at a sub-panel or on a low voltage circuit performs a fine suppression, limiting the transient to harmless levels. This cascading grid of multiple suppression levels insures that there will be no equipment damage.
12. How does StediWatt TVSS provide circuit isolation from transients?
By connecting the TVSS modules at power panels in parallel with all the loads connected at that point, they are able to block transients coming from any direction and effectively provide isolation of each load from the others connected at that same point.
13. If I have panel mounted StediWatt surge protection, do I still need plug-in protection?
Plug-in protection is for category A locations. A plug-in protector alone without upstream panel protection at the category B or C locations is ineffective. Plug-in protectors do not have the surge current capacity to handle large transients by themselves. When used downstream in a cascaded configuration, the can provide good protection for very critical loads by clamping at the local 120 volt level. They are also very beneficial by stopping locally generated transients on the same circuit from affecting nearby equipment.
14. What are Blackouts and Brownouts?
Blackouts are complete losses of electrical power for a period of time. They generally can be longer than a half cycle of the sine wave up to hours. They can be caused by accidents which disrupt the distribution system or by opened circuits that may be caused by overloads or short circuits. Brownouts are reductions in the amplitude of the power to the point where the lights may dim and equipment may trip off by internal protective devices. During Brownouts, many types of equipment may try to draw more current, over heat and become damaged. Brownouts may be caused intentionally reducing the distribution voltage during periods of high demand or unintentionally by high overloads.
15. What are the solutions for Blackouts and Brownouts?
Many Blackout and Brownout problems can be eliminated by installing various types of back-up power supplies. Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) contain batteries and can provide smooth instantaneous carryover for a short period of time. Standby generators may be started automatically if power is lost, but they take several seconds to begin supplying power. Thus for long term operation of critical loads, a combination of both UPS and generators is often used.
16. Do I need TVSS if I have a UPS on my power system?
Yes. A UPS is NOT a TVSS! In fact it is necessary to provide TVSS protection for the UPS so it will not be damaged if there are transients present on the power system at the input to the UPS. In addition, all of the other equipment in your facility that is not connected to the UPS is unprotected and susceptible to transients and must be protected.
17. Does a transformer provide transient protection?
No. A transformer does not stop high frequency transients like lightning. A typical lightning transient is several hundred micro-seconds in duration. This is so fast that it jumps thru the inter-winding capacitance of the transformer and appears on the secondary at about the same amplitude as before the transformer. Thus it is necessary to provide protection on the low voltage side as well as the high voltage side of the transformer. For example, if the transient voltage is limited to 800 volts peak on the 460 volt primary side, it will also appear as 800 volts on the 120 volt secondary side. This 800 volts is too high for 120 volt equipment and must be limited to 200-250 volts by another TVSS rated for operation on 120 volt systems.
18. What about other types of power conditioners, constant voltage transformers, series filters, etc.
Each type of power conditioner has some specific purpose usually associated with regulating the steady state voltage, but NOTHING stops transients better at a lower cost compared to a StediWatt TVSS!
19. What is a series connected surge suppressor?
StediWatt TVSS units are parallel connected surge suppressors. Series connected units are hooked up directly in series with the load and thus must handle all the load current. Because their size is dependent on the amount of current drawn by the load they are generally more expensive and usually only available in ratings of 20 to 30 amperes for 120/240 single phase volt loads. They are typically only suitable for category A applications because they have very limited surge current capability. Thus they must be protected by an upstream parallel connected suppressor at a category B or C location. Many incorporate RFI/EMI filters for high frequency noise filtering.