How does voltage optimisation work?
How voltage optimisation works is by reducing the voltage of the electricity supplied to equipment, minimising consumption while remaining within the operating conditions specified by the manufacturer.
Before installation of a voltage optimisation system: Incoming power from the National Grid is typically supplied around 242V, this is higher than needed, which results in increased costs because sites are provided with more voltage than needed and shortened lifespan of electrical equipment due it being overpowered through the excess voltage supplied.
After installation of a voltage optimisation system: The incoming power from the National Grid is reduced to a level more suited for the building, typically around 220V, which results in reduced costs as the site is only provided with the amount of voltage it needs and increased lifespan on electrical equipment as it is not being overpowered by excess voltage supply.
Where are savings made?
The higher the voltage the higher the energy consumption. As the majority of European electrical equipment is designed to run at the 220V nominal, all electrical equipment is designed using parameters such as voltage, frequency, capacity, etc. Therefore, to ensure that these are operating at their optimum performance, they need to operate as close as possible to their design characteristics.
There are many types of electrical equipment on a site and each type of load or equipment can achieve different levels of energy savings. Voltage optimisation works best on inductive loads – motors and lighting for example – and significant savings can be achieved on motors in particular, especially if these are not loaded at 100% of their capacity for 100% of the time. On resistive loads voltage optimisation will help the load conserve power which will extend the life of the electronics.
Why might my supply voltage be higher than necessary?
Until 1995, the statutory supply specification in the UK was 415/240V +/- 6% (ie. phase voltage (Vp) within the range 225V-254V). The vast majority of the electrical distribution network has been in place for many years and was designed to deliver electricity within this range. There are many sites across the UK where phase voltage is normally in excess of 240V. Historically the supply voltage in mainland Europe has been 380V/220V with a typical tolerance of +/- 6%.
Steps to harmonise voltage levels were taken in 1995 when the statutory supply specification in the UK changes to 400V/230V +10%/-6%. This remains the current UK position today.
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