Power Quality Analyzer Explained

By R.W. Hurst, The Electricity Forum

Power Quality Analyzer
Power Quality Analyzer

A power quality anayzer is used to measure electric power signals to determine the load's ability to function properly with that electric power. Without the correct electric power, electrical equipment may fail prematurely or malfunction. There are many different different factors that contribute to poor quality power.

Power quality analyzers, such as any Fluke Series meter, track several electrical parameters, which include AC voltage, AC current power, and frequency. Electrical data parameters include demand and peak demand. Electrical demand is the actual amount of power that the monitored system uses. Peak electrical demand is the maximum amount of electric power that can be used. Typically, power parameters are measured in watts (W), volt amperes (VA), and volt ampere reactives (VAR). Watts are units of electrical power that indicate the rate of energy produced or consumed by an electrical device. Volt amperes equal the current flowing in a circuit multiplied by the voltage of that circuit. Volt ampere reactives identify the reactive component of volt amperes.

Fluke power quality analyzers and power meters detect mystery disturbances: those upsets to a process or sensitive equipment operation that don't seem to correspond to any identifiable source of power disturbance. Such things as ground loops, high speed transients, lightning, and common mode electrical noise come to mind. Many of these events are here and gone in such a short time frame that they are not easily identified, except with a power disturbance analyzer using highspeed wave shape or event capture.

A Fluke power quality meter can also detect repetitive, cyclical disturbances both within and outside of a facility. These problems will be repetitive and cyclical in nature, definitely power-related, and line-to-line. Examples include voltage sags and surges, momentary interruptions by circuit breaker operations, and power interruptions.

A power quality analyzer can also measure harmonic distortion, a disturbance related to the integer multiples of the fundamental power frequency (60 Hz). WIt is widely recognized that this area is a subset of the power related area, since harmonic currents and voltages are recurring. However, there may need to be special tactics in searching out these problems and identifying our solution alternatives.