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4 Reasons Continuous Power Quality Monitoring is Good Policy
Technology is moving at a very rapid pace and knowing when to jump into a lighting energy upgrade within your facility can be a real challenge. Commercially available energy efficient lighting products have always been a great place to start when looking for ways to conserve energy and maximize return on investment. Simply retrofitting existing fixtures or upgrading and replacing fixtures can be the correct direction to take if a full-on renovation is not in the near future.
A key shift in the LED lighting products category is taking place. Until recently, LED technology was only marginally more efficient than well-designed fluorescent lighting systems. With T8 LED lamp technology at efficiency levels of over 120 lumens per watt, more than 30% energy savings can be achieved. Using a national average of just 11 cents per kWh electricity cost, most any office space can expect a return on investment in less than 24 months and years of savings beyond that. When replacing incandescent reflector bulbs in track or down light fixtures the energy savings can easily exceed 80%. However, before jumping into a project, consider three aspects of lighting.
First, it is good to have a little knowledge of light itself. Lumens is the measure of light that the lamp, or light source, creates. Lumens are very useful in knowing the properties of a light source – it can tell us how much light is produced and when measured against the energy consumed can tell us the efficiency of the light source. Think “lumens per watt”. By contrast, foot candles are the measurement of light available at any particular point in the room. There must be enough lumens to meet a required level of foot candles. A good rule of thumb in a simple lighting upgrade is to select products that provide nearly the same lumens as the lamp being replaced. Shortcuts don’t typically exist and lighting retrofit projects are no different. Don’t limit lumens, which are affordable.
The second aspect to watch closely is efficiency. The basis of an energy saving project really hinges on this key point. Think total product life cycle cost. Without a sufficient useful product life you could just be trading dollars. A good 50,000 hour rated life T8 LED will provide not only energy savings, but an excellent return on investment. It’s equally important to have confidence in the quality of the manufacturer, so take time and be comfortable with the selected lighting company. In most commercial facilities replacing the linear fluorescent light source with LED can achieve 30-50% energy savings. If you are replacing an incandescent or halogen light source that is operating at 17-20 lumens per watt with an LED light source operating at 80 lumens per watt, 80% energy savings can be achieved.
The third aspect to consider is expectations. What are expected outcomes? LED technology has progressed to such a point that high expectations can be met. In addition to solid efficiency and life claims, LED has the potential to deliver an improved light quality and increased light levels with substantial savings. Advances in LED technology have created light sources that provide a more balanced visible light spectrum than the fluorescent lamps you are replacing. Color rendering index on many manufacturers T8 lamps are now available in greater than 80CRI and greater than 90CRI with a balanced R9 (red) value greater than 50. And, the color temperature that works well with your furnishings and personal preferences can be easily determined. The improvement in light quality can provide better visual acuity and a more comfortable atmosphere – two key aspects that you can’t put an ROI on.
Nearly every lighting application in a facility is now an opportunity. LED replacement lightbulbs can go very unnoticed – a simple one for one replacement. Office environments, retail spaces, coffee shops and gift shops utilize track and display lighting that utilize PAR lamps that are available in LED with improved color characteristics. Downlights found in restaurants and hospitality locations now can provide excellent dimming function when paired properly with controls. Linear LED products can easily integrate into most commercial and institutional office settings. LED are also rapidly becoming a favorite option in site, security and parking garage applications.
LED general lighting products have really hit the performance targets necessary to bring value to everyone involved with your facility, from the engineering staff to the CFO’s desk and bring improvements in productivity to every department. Everyone will enjoy the light quality, the long life and the energy savings possibilities.
Kevin Youngquist is responsible for North American sales, marketing and business operations at EarthTronics.
Good power quality and uninterrupted power are extremely important goals at many types of facilities, ranging from commercial and government buildings to data centers, healthcare centers, and manufacturing plants. When it comes to reliability of power in a facility, foresight is a lot better than hindsight.
Compromised power quality can cause damage to costly electrical equipment, reduce productivity, and – if severe enough – disrupt daily operations. Variations in power quality can result from voltage spikes, swells, and sags; harmonic disturbances; and short and long interruptions of power lasting from a few milliseconds to over two seconds. And any of these events can occur at any time.
Sophisticated proactive monitoring of power, 24/7, incorporates hardware - sensors and meters - to measure electrical sensitivity and software to record and interpret the data. It can also include wired and wireless communications to inform facility personnel about what is negatively affecting power quality and where in the electrical system the event occurred. There are a variety of reasons that continuous power quality monitoring should be included in your playbook:
1) Fast Recovery
Detection of a problem early on, before it escalates and when it is easy to address, minimizes the likelihood of costly damage to equipment or costly interruption of business-as-usual. The ability to review stored, continuously recorded waveforms and spot anomalies such as sags and swells, transient harmonics, and power outages helps in the diagnosis of problems. The early detection can enable proactive scheduling of repairs in a timely fashion, rather than emergency repair at a time when maintenance or service personnel are not readily available or when shut-down of a load would be inconvenient.
2) Enhanced Analytics
Power quality analytics enables development of a baseline that can be used to evaluate the performance of electrical equipment and components over time. Comparison to baseline can detect performance trends which can impact preventive maintenance programs. The comparison to baseline also provides useful information that can help in predicting future power requirements and help in developing plans for purchasing additional electrical equipment such as servers or variable frequency drives.
Power quality analytics also supports forensic investigation into how a chain of events occurred as it did, such as why a particular breaker tripped the PDU (power distribution unit) and resulted in a switchover to the UPS. In such a scenario, analytics could pinpoint the root cause - for example an electrical spike, a short, or a floating ground. It can also pinpoint power quality problems that can age equipment prematurely.
3) Accurate Information
Where good power quality and operational continuity are critical, facility management benefits from both a building management system (BMS), which operates on a narrow bandwidth at relatively low speed, and a dedicated critical power management system (CPMS) that complements it. Operating at a very high bandwidth and a very high speed, a CPMS monitors and analyzes the operation and status of the electrical components of the normal power and emergency power systems from multiple points of access. The very high rate of speed is necessary to generate power quality details such as transient harmonic displays or wave form capture. A CPMS can monitor current, normal and emergency voltages and frequency, power and power factor, and can indicate transfer switch position and source availability. Web-enabled communications can provide access to any/all of the information, including automatic alerts, from anywhere in the world.
4) Compliance Benefits
A CPMS may also have the capability for testing to comply with regulatory reporting requirements. For example, specific reports can help meet various requirements such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70, NFPA 99, and NFPA 110.
Additioanlly, the associated improvements in the efficiency and reliability of a facility’s power infrastructure can save on the cost of energy, minimize occupant complaints about power issues, and preserve good relations and reputation with tenants, creating benefits throughout the organization.
Bhavesh S. Patel is director of marketing and customer support at ASCO Power Technologies, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.