The benefits of voltage optimisation

by FM Media
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New to voltage optimisation? SAM CZYCZELIS of Powerstar Australia provides an overview of the technology.

Voltage optimisation is an innovative technology dedicated to matching power demands to the needs of electrical equipment. It is a cost-effective and highly efficient energy saving technique that is successfully being used across various applications and in numerous market sectors, and it is well worth considering as part of any organisation’s overall energy reduction strategy.

THE TECHNOLOGY
Voltage optimisation is an electrical energy saving technique in which a device is installed in series with the mains electricity supply to provide an optimum supply voltage for the site’s equipment.
The technology has a significant impact on the amount of energy used because it brings the voltage supplied by the grid in line with what is actually required. It works best on inductive loads – motors and lighting, for example – especially if these are not loaded at 100 percent of their capacity for 100 percent of the time.
The statutory electricity supply range for Australia is 230 volts plus 10 percent to -6 percent, which means that electricity suppliers are required to provide a voltage level that is between 253 volts and 216 volts. Therefore, the supplier will distribute electricity at 253 volts and over distances the voltage will decrease. On average, facilities receive it from the grid at 247 volts.
Because most electrical equipment manufactured for Australia is designed to work most efficiently at 220 volts to 230 volts, facilities managers would, therefore, realise that any incoming power higher than this level is wasted energy and means organisations are paying for power that is not required and not used.
Voltage optimisation deals with this oversupply and brings incoming mains supply in line with what equipment needs to run at its most efficient level, thus saving money, lowering carbon emissions, helping equipment last longer and reducing maintenance costs.
There are two common approaches to voltage reduction available on the market today: simple step down transformers that drop the voltage only, and voltage optimisers that optimise the voltage as they reduce it. In doing so, true optimisers tackle poor power quality issues such as harmonics and transients, therefore allowing for greater efficiency and savings.

THE SAVINGS
Generally, voltage optimisers will deliver between 12 and 15 percent savings. However, the most efficient voltage optimisation solutions can save up to 26 percent of total electricity consumption and related carbon dioxide emissions, all without compromising the supply to electrical equipment.
Virtually all sites can benefit from reducing and controlling their voltage, but as conditions and loads differ from site to site, the size of the benefit will vary – savings will be determined by the type of system used, as well as site specifications. To ensure optimum savings and performance, a comprehensive analysis of a building or site’s power conditions should be completed before installation.
As each building is different, with its own unique infrastructure and specific load requirements, a voltage optimisation strategy should be customised to ensure that savings are maximised. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
In addition to saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, voltage optimisation offers countless other benefits, including no maintenance, protection against voltage spikes and surges, significant reduction of harmonics, independent three-phase control to provide voltage phase balancing, and an intelligent interface to track product and site performance in real time.

THE COST
The cost of a voltage optimisation system will differ depending on a site’s unique requirements. All installations should be provided with 100 percent guaranteed savings for the life of the equipment and equipment should have a minimum warranty of 10 years.
The payback period after installation (despite the size of the installation) is typically between 0.8 and 2.5 years. Users should expect voltage optimisation equipment to offer a 50-year life expectancy with 100 percent reliability.

THE IMPACT
Voltage optimisation is commonly recognised as a proven, cost-effective and reliable way for companies to meet their energy and carbon dioxide reduction targets.
In light of various schemes being implemented to help raise environmental awareness and encourae changes in behaviour and infrastructure in organisations, the implementation of a voltage optimisation system enables companies to be proactive in taking steps to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
There are various types of equipment that are misleadingly touted as voltage optimisation technology, so beware. Installing the right type of system is essential to ensure that electrical equipment never receives more or less than the required minimum voltage for correct operation – important during power dips and surges.
By opting for a true voltage optimisation solution, users will find their equipment will operate as efficiently as possible at all times, the lifetime of equipment will be maximised and maintenance costs will be significantly reduced.
Ultimately, if your company’s power is not optimised, you are paying much more for electricity than you need to and, at the same time, emitting excessive amounts of carbon dioxide. As voltage optimisation is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reduce electricity use and cut carbon emissions, it should be regarded by all organisations as the cornerstone of their energy efficiency agendas.

Sam Czyczelis is general manager of Powerstar Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EMSc (UK) Ltd, which has been manufacturing the Powerstar voltage optimisation solution at its headquarters in Yorkshire for over a decade.

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