They can pay for themselves
This could be a very complicated discussion about parallel wraparound magnetic chokes that take surges on one phase of your electrical supply, clean it up and redeliver it to the opposite phase as clean “free” energy at the proper voltage and 60Hz. It sounds like bafflegab, designed to overwhelm people. Illuminations Lighting Design hates bafflegab (as our customers are more than happy to relate).
Even though this is a sophisticated and legitimate method of dealing with power surges, and gives you all of the electricity you are paying for, rather than sending it to ground and wasting it, it’s too complicated for the average consumer. Let’s start simpler…
In the beginning
From the 1890s up until the 1980s, our electrical needs changed very significantly. It started off with just light bulbs—that was it—all radios were still battery powered, and there were few devices yet that ran on household electricity. All of them were expensive if they existed at all.
Soon we had electric radios that plugged into the mains, so you didn’t have to go down to the pharmacy or gas station to get your batteries recharged. Wood stoves gave way to electric ovens; washboards and manually cranked clothes-washing machines gave way to electric models; clothes-dryers would follow years later because of their high electrical demands.
The common icebox gave way to the electric refrigerator. The “fridge” was also responsible for eliminating daily milk, cream, butter, and egg delivery. The ability to refrigerate perishable items led to the development of the supermarket.
Electrical appliances in the early days were motorized, hearty, robust units, such as vacuum cleaners and food blenders. The quality of the electric supply was horrible. Many appliances were designed to operate with voltages running between 85 volts and 130 volts, with frequencies between 45 and 70Hz. Things started to settle down in the 1950s in North America when we all finally agreed to use 120v (AC) at 60Hz.
Home electronics came into their own during the 1950s and 60s with the advent of TV (black and white) and FM (stereo) radio supplanting AM.
In comparison, our sophisticated devices make those “wild new inventions” look positively primitive. But, as a consequence, we need much cleaner power to make sure our devices don’t fail. Point-of-use surge protectors are not useful. Most electronics protect themselves adequately unless they are subject to the continuously varying power, which can prematurely age electronics.
Our devices are pretty tough because they don’t rely on AC power directly. They use DC voltage (rectified AC), and there are lots of little components such as Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV) that short-circuit over-voltages to the ground, so the “protected” circuit isn’t damaged.
Again, we don’t want to get too complicated here, so suffice it to say that most electronics come with built-in capabilities to protect themselves from small “ordinary” over-voltages. Massive voltage spikes, on the other hand, are a different problem.
Home Automation Systems
The Internet of Things (IoT) era has arrived, and we are increasingly reliant on sophisticated electronics and connected devices to manage our households and supply our daily needs. Your smartphone can adjust the temperature in your house, lock the front door, close the garage, change the lighting, admit a service person you’re expecting when you’re not home, or let the dog-walker in to take care of Fido if you’re going to be late coming home.
Thomas Edison couldn’t get a light bulb to last much longer than about 300 hours, because the current and voltage fluctuated so much. Our electrical supply is a much more reliable nowadays. In urban areas, we can pretty well rely on a steady, fixed value between 110-125 volts, and in rural areas between 90-130 volts, but all of it is generally delivered at 60Hz.
Lightning has a way of upsetting that number, as does being “downline” from an industrial user of electric power. Being connected to a line that gets knocked down during a storm or hurricane doesn’t mean that it instantly loses power. Instead, it shorts to ground, breaks contact, shorts again, sending surge after surge down the line and into your home before it ultimately fails.
Some Dump Truck drivers are notorious for ripping down powerlines by forgetting to put the box down before they drive away. Construction crews dig into underground power lines more often than you might think. Simple electrical equipment failure at the utility can send large surges out to the public. High demand can cause rolling blackouts or brownouts which can be damaging.
The threats to your electrical integrity are quite real which is why Home Insurance companies often offer a discount for people with whole-house power conditioners. Not only does it protect your equipment, but it protects your insurance company’s investment because they don’t have to make as many payouts.
Whatever the cause, whether it is sags, surges, swells, spikes, or even just pure electrical noise, a power conditioner protects you from extremes. Do you remember that complicated bit at the beginning? There was a reason for mentioning that. You see, instead of wasting the power when a system protects you, modern systems can balance your power. If your usage was 0.11 kW/h, that power balancing could save you a little over $250 per year. Your system could be paid for in energy savings alone.
Installed between street power lines and your home, or between your meter and breaker box, a whole-house power conditioner protects your entire house from external surges. Almost everything now has an integrated circuit onboard. That includes appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators. Don’t forget that we also have components like stereos, speakers, flat panel televisions, digital video recorders, home security monitors, as well as home office equipment, including computers, laptops, printers, cell phones, tablets, and gaming systems.
We’re a long way away from the early days of electrical service. Even though our power has become more reliable over the years, it’s still far from perfect. With the highly variable power in our region, power conditioning makes an incredible amount of sense.
At Illuminations Lighting Design we want you to be safe. You have likely experienced a loss from transient unconditioned voltages if you live in Texas. That is probably why you are reading this. Don’t let it happen again!
We are experienced, licensed electricians who want to do the job you expect without emptying your bank account! Since there are so many ways do a job incorrectly, we urge you to call us, because…
We’ll do it right!
Call us today at 713-863-1133 and experience peace of mind and excellent service as we help you protect your property and keep your family safe. Take a moment to schedule a design consultation to learn more about our lighting and electrical services. We’d love to hear from you!