Building owners and managers are no strangers to the risks associated with over or under investing when it comes to electrical capacity planning. Over spending could lead to surplus capacity, unused equipment, and other waste that typically doesn’t represent best use of budgetary resources. On the other hand, under spending could mean that you may not have the capacity in place to adequately handle your building’s needs in the future.
The same commitment that goes into meeting the energy demands of today should go into predicting the energy demands that will need to be met tomorrow. With growth, site loads can increase and usage patterns will vary, leading to demand growing beyond planned capacity. Although average demand may not be a typical concern, peak demand should be – as even a brief moment of extreme consumption has the potential to cause downtime for an entire network.
Most building management teams can benefit from an in-depth understanding of their electrical system in order to better assess capacity requirements of the future. An effective and time-efficient way to accomplish this is with modern, scalable software solutions that offer tools for capacity management, simulation and planning.
These features allow users to test the impact of momentary electrical load increases, set capacity thresholds and model potential system upgrades – prior to the addition of new electrical equipment – to help reduce the risk of unplanned downtime and ensure adequate system protection.
For example, building managers can take daily power-consumption trends into account to alter electrical loads electrical equipment can be powered down when not needed. The technology can also be used to simulate the addition of new HVAC equipment to determine if adequate overcurrent protection exists.
There are a wide range of electrical power management software (EPMS) solutions on the market that are designed to help track energy usage over time. However, when addressing the future it may be best to look for a platform that can also immediately inform facility management of peak levels and project future demands based on past usage.
This knowledge could prove critical in planning for infrastructure or systems investments, helps to avoid unnecessary expenditure, and simplifies power system adjustments in support of changing loads – ultimately allowing building management to plan for future requirements more reliably.
Marty Aaron is product line manager for Eaton, and can be reached at: MartyLAaron@Eaton.com.
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