Why is Power Quality Important to Me?

Sunrise over power lines

Why is power quality important?

Electricity is a force. The human eye cannot see it, under normal conditions. It moves swiftly upon grids of electrical wires to apply force to illuminate spaces, rotate motors, power electrical and electronic instruments. We expect the electricity we receive from our utility to be available at a constant and predicted value. In other words, we always expect our power quality to be good.

Demands on the electrical grid can cause the expected and predictable power to vary from its expected predicted value. Power quality becomes less than desired and can affect operations while adding to daily operational costs. This is known as poor power quality

Power quality is a measure of the electrical system to ensure the electrical power is a constant and steady voltage that remains true to the predicted values.

Varying energy demands can cause a disturbance on the electrical system or grid, causing it to deviate from the constant predicted value expected. Poor power quality can become the cause of production disturbances and higher energy costs. Subsequently, it can lead to increased maintenance costs and decreased stability of installed equipment.

Web chart on causes of electrical disturbances or poor power quality. Harmonics, Transient, Frequency Variations, Sags, Swells, Over/Under Voltage, Unbalance, Flicker, and Interruption.

What causes electrical disturbance or poor power quality?

  1. Harmonics – Often casued by nonlinear loads and devices on the electrical power system.
  2. Voltage Variations – Are sags, swells occurring when the line voltage is lower or higher than the nominal voltage for up to 10 seconds.
  3. System Unbalances – Often caused by variations in the load. When the load on one or more phases is different from the other(s), unbalanced voltages will appear.
  4. Transients– A change in the steady-state condition of voltage, current, or both. Transients are essential because any power system must be equipped to handle peaks in addition to the steady-state power.
  5. Flicker– Often caused by large current draws. These include welding equipment, shredders, and large electric motors.

How can I determine what is causing the quality disturbance?

An Energy and Power Monitoring System (EPMS) will gather, analyze, and interpret electricity measurement data into useful information. This system can be as simple as a single power quality meter installed at the electrical system’s front end or utility main.

Schneider Electric EcoXpert logo

A complete EPMS will have meters placed in the electrical system at strategic points to capture information from the utility and the distribution of the electrical power within a facility.

Are you unable to capture and report the power quality events that impact your facility? In that case, you cannot make changes to eliminate the negative effects of poor power quality in your facility.

APT’s partnership with all major equipment manufacturers for electrical power monitoring system products allows us to match a solution to your needs instantly. Leverage your installed energy monitoring infrastructure to minimize cost and improve reliability.

Interested in the details from the large voltage sag this past weekend on Sunday, September 13th

Check out our blog where we track utility PQ events that impact our customers. Get this information to the people who need to know at your organization!

Brian Curnutt Service Manager APT

Message From Our Owners

APT has been a leader in the power quality monitoring and improvement business on the west coast for more than a quarter-century. We understand that interruptions to your critical loads often cost more than all the energy savings accumulated this year. With APT’s vast experience, we’ve helped our clients (utility supply and consumer demand) understand the impact of power quality events on their business. We identify and help implement changes that protect your critical loads and reduce impact, saving you money and headaches.  Let us help you proactively reduce interruptions and impact from these ongoing power quality events.

Best Regards,

M. Scott McGaugh

CRO / Partner

Applied Power Technologies Inc.

Office: 408 342-0790

Mobile: 206-719-4508


[email protected]

Andrew E Taylor, P.E.

CEO / Partner

Applied Power Technologies Inc.

office:408 342-0790

mobile: 408 218-3548

[email protected]