The Different Types of Power Problems Within a Critical Power System

A critical power system provides power to a facility or facilities that are considered essential. While all power systems have the potential for problems, those in a critical power system must be closely monitored and maintained to avoid any type of outage.

There are several types of power problems that can occur within a critical power system, which include voltage issues, current issues and frequency issues. Each of these types of problems can lead to disruptions in the power supply, so it is important to be aware of them and address them when they occur.

Let’s look at some of the common problems that come across critical power systems.

1. Power Sags

A power sag is a sudden decrease in voltage within a power system. This type of problem can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a lightning strike, a fault in the system or when powerful machines are started. When a sag occurs, it can cause devices that rely heavily on power to malfunction or even fail.

2. Power Surges

A power surge is the opposite of a power sag and is a sudden increase in voltage. One of the major reasons it happens is when power is restored after a blackout. This problem can also occur when heavy machines are disconnected from power after a lightning strike, or when there is a fault in the wiring. When a surge occurs, it can damage electronic devices and even cause them to catch fire.

3. Brownouts

This type of power problem occurs when there is a voltage decrease that lasts for an extended period, sometimes even days. While a sag occurs suddenly and goes away, a brownout goes for extended periods. It’s caused by overuse of the power system and can lead to equipment failure and data loss.

4. Blackouts

A blackout is a total loss of power and is one of the worst types of power problems that can occur. It can be caused by several factors, such as a natural disaster, human interference, animal interference, vandalism, planned interruptions and many other issues. Depending on the cause, a blackout can last for minutes or hours, or even days. It can cause massive disruptions in a facility, and can even lead to the loss of data or equipment.

5. Transients and Spikes

Transients and spikes are brief surges in voltage, lasting only for only a few milliseconds. They are usually caused by a sudden change in the load on the power system. While they don’t usually cause any long-term damage, they can be very disruptive to electronic equipment.

6. Harmonics

Harmonics are a type of distortion within the frequency of the supply. It can cause problems with sensitive equipment and often annoying hums and buzzes. The source can be either the generation or the load side of a system. The voltage from these different sources may combine to create an even more significant amount of harmonics, affecting more than one substation at a time.

A critical power system needs to have some harmonic filters. Harmonic filters reduce harmonic problems, protect sensitive equipment and provide a higher power factor to help improve efficiency.

7. Electrical Noise

Electrical noise is an undesirable signal that can be caused by many factors, such as faulty wiring, electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI). This type of noise can cause problems in electronic equipment, such as data corruption, glitches and even complete failure.

Hopefully, you’ve learned how to identify common electrical power issues. By being aware of these problems, you can take the necessary steps to prevent them from disrupting your critical power system. And when they happen, you’ll know when to contact critical power specialists to help get your system back up and running.