The Basics of Power Monitoring

Aside from helping business owners measure power quality, a power monitoring system provides many benefits. A power monitoring system is absolutely essential if reliable, clean power is critical to your business operations or, even more importantly, to the safety of personnel.

Here’s a basic guide about how to understand power monitoring.

What equipment do I need?

Learning how to understand power monitoring systems begins with discovering the equipment you need. There are three components of a power monitoring system:

  • Metering devices: These come in all shapes, sizes and levels of complexity and are used to record data. You have a choice between low-end and high-end metering devices, although you’ll receive greater functionality by going with a more comprehensive, high-end option. Rely on a power systems professional to help you select the right metering device, since it requires a broad knowledge of the applications of each device in the system as well as an understanding of the goals for the entire monitoring system.
  • Software: You’ll need software to help you view data from devices connected to the system and to analyze that data. In low-end devices without logging capabilities, software takes care of logging the data for you. Typically, the metering devices will send data to a computer server that houses the power monitoring system software.
  • Communications interface: Power monitoring systems need a medium to carry the information and protocol between the monitoring devices themselves and the software. You have several choices, including a copper wire link or wireless and fiber optic links. Wireless links are the most convenient, since no physical cable is needed.

What’s the difference between low-end and high-end metering equipment?

Low-end metering devices provide basic measurements, but they’re very limited in terms of functionality. They’re also manufactured with cost-effective components that don’t provide the best accuracy. Low-end metering devices can measure the following functions:

  • Voltage
  • Current
  • Real and reactive power
  • Power factor
  • Energy usage

High-end metering devices offer greater functionality and greater insight into your power system. While your overall budget will determine what type of metering device you can afford for your business, it’s smart to choose high-end options if you want greater precision and accuracy when it comes to performing the following tasks:

  • Disturbance detection and location
  • High-speed transient detection
  • Automated alarm configuration
  • Harmonic distortion analysis
  • Anti-aliasing

Is there an ideal location for the equipment?

It’s recommended to have high-end metering devices installed near the main electrical switchgear. If you choose a low-end device, it can be installed into the electrical system. You could also install metering devices throughout the premises according to their applications. This helps business owners get a clear idea of their energy usage, allowing them to find ways to improve efficiency.

Learning how to understand power monitoring can be a complex undertaking. If you have any questions about how a power monitoring system can benefit your business, get in touch with your local electrical professionals. Contact Ham’s Electric, Inc. today to learn more about how a power monitoring system contributes to efficiency and reliable operations at your commercial facility.