Unplanned power disruptions can wreak havoc on facilities. One of the most common and often overlooked threats is the issue of voltage sag. While not indicative of a complete loss of power in each situation, these brief voltage dips can still damage equipment and disrupt operations.
In facilities where continuous operational runtime is important, voltage sag protection and prevention remain high priorities. For facility managers struggling with frequent transient voltage dips, the solution lies in establishing the right procedures for detection and protection.
Fundamentally, however, it boils down to understanding what causes power dips in facilities and how to ensure those vulnerabilities are addressed.
What is a Voltage Sag?
According to IEEE standards, a voltage dip or voltage sag is a short-term reduction in voltage magnitude, lasting up to a few seconds.
The drop in voltage typically ranges from 10-90% of normal voltage levels before recovering, signifying a temporary but substantial power quality loss.
Voltage sags are distinct from complete interruptions and swells (increases) in voltage, but that doesn’t mean that they should be underestimated. A voltage sag, while common, can be problematic for an incumbent system if allowed to perpetuate without implementing the right voltage dip protector.
Though brief, repeated voltage sags can seriously impact systems and devices with high power demands like industrial control equipment, computers, and robotics, to name just a few.
Causes of Harmful Voltage Dips
Voltage sags often occur for reasons such as:
- Human error during switching operations
- Severe weather disrupting or compromising power lines
- Animals interfering with cables
While these events may seem innocuous, it’s important to note that sags can often occur from within your facility, especially when large motors or equipment activate. Instinctively, many attribute electricity providers as the culprits of voltage dips or sags, but the fact remains that very little can be done about them until power is restored.
Consequences of Unchecked Voltage Sags
Frequent, uncontrolled voltage sags lead to:
- Process shutdowns and equipment damage from insufficient power
- Data loss and corrupted files from power fluctuations
- Shortened equipment lifespan from power surges when voltage is restored
The cumulative effects of small voltage sags add up to huge costs through process disruptions, equipment replacement, and downtime.
How to Detect Transient Voltage Sags and Safeguard Operations
To protect sensitive systems from voltage sags, Outram recommends installing power conditioning devices like uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). By continually monitoring input power, UPS systems can detect sags and seamlessly transfer equipment to battery backup during events – preventing disruptions.
However, you can obtain greater visibility and detect the source of disruptive voltage sags if they continue to prove problematic. If you are concerned, it’s beneficial to understand the quality of the power that is entering your system, which can only be obtained by enterprise-grade power quality monitors.
Protect Your Facility with Power Quality Monitoring
Investing in advanced power quality monitoring solutions can help you analyse what may be causing the continued outages and capture intricate power information. They can also allow you to find an alternative voltage sag protector if needed and take steps to prevent sags from reoccurring.
To take control of your power quality, invest in continuous monitoring solutions like Outram’s cutting-edge PM7000 and PM7500 power quality analysers. Featuring precision sensors and data logging capabilities, these systems capture real-time power information to:
- Pinpoint the root cause(s) of voltage sags
- Quantify voltage fluctuations
- Identify critical sag thresholds for your equipment
Armed with power quality analytics and user-friendly software, you can optimise operations, prevent equipment damage, and avoid costly interruptions.
Don’t let small power fluctuations lead to big problems for your facility. Contact Outram today to learn how our power quality monitoring equipment and solutions can protect your operations from costly voltage sags.