Industrial systems rely on the stabilised power supply to operate reliably and safely. However, industrial premises often face voltage fluctuations that disrupt operations, damage equipment and incur financial losses. Such voltage irregularities might result from noisy mains AC grid, electrical interference from adjacent equipment, overloading, and electrical surges.
The answer to preventing voltage fluctuations from interfering with industrial systems lies in voltage stabilisers. Voltage stabilisers stop ‘dirty voltage’ from compromising the equipment’s performance, operationality, and reliability. They are essential power conditioning devices that prevent sudden breakdowns and risky incidences.
In this article, we introduce voltage stabilisers, explore their importance and discuss common concerns when installing one on your premise.
WHAT IS A VOLTAGE STABILISER?
A voltage stabiliser is an electrical device that automatically compensates for the voltage variation on the incoming mains. Also known as an automatic voltage regulator (AVR), the voltage stabiliser protects the electrical load from the destabilising effect of voltage fluctuations. In an industrial setup, we install the voltage stabiliser between the incoming mains power and the protected equipment.
HOW DOES THE VOLTAGE STABILISER WORK?
A voltage stabilizer is an electronic device that automatically maintains a constant voltage level. It works by monitoring the input voltage and comparing it to a reference voltage. If the input voltage varies outside of a certain range, the stabilizer will adjust its output voltage to bring it back within that range. This is typically done using a control circuit that modifies the amount of power delivered to a load, or by adjusting the impedance in the circuit to regulate the current flow. Some voltage stabilizers use a transformer to step up or step down the voltage as needed, while others use solid-state components such as diodes or transistors.
While the basic working principles are straightforward, voltage stabilisers’ performance differs according to their types. Each stabiliser type has a unique construct and engineering principle, which affect its robustness, precision, and responsiveness when operating in challenging environments.
These are common voltage stabiliser types that you’ll find in the market.
The servo voltage stabiliser calculates the adjustments required with a microcontroller module and rotates the servo motor to reposition the autotransformer. This allows servo stabilisers to operate over a wide input range ( ±50%) and high precision (±1%). They are also affordable and reasonably reliable.
The control circuit of the servo regulator continuously samples the output voltage. It then compares the value against the desired output and decides if it needs to alter the winding ratio.
When the output voltage deviates from the nominal value, the control circuit signals the servo motor to shift to a new position. The servo motor will then rotate its arm, which is connected to the carbon brush, to a new position across the autotransformer.
When the carbon brush shifts, so does the ratio between the primary and secondary winding of the buck-boost transformer. This directly influences the amplitude of the output voltage on the secondary winding. The regulated voltage, which is the voltage that falls across the secondary winding, is connected to equipment.
Like servo stabilisers, magnetic induction stabilisers calculate the voltage offset and readjust the output voltage. However, it alters the distance between the transformer’s primary and secondary winding instead of realigning the transformer’s taps. Because of their mechanical simplicity, magnetic induction stabilisers are ideal for installations in harsh environments and require almost no maintenance.
The intelligence of the magnetic induction voltage regulator stems from its control circuitry. The presence of a microprocessor, as well as an accompanying sampling circuit, enable the regulator to compare the output voltage to the desired value.
When the microprocessor detects an offset between the sampled output and the desired value, it moves the servo to compensate for the difference. As the servo is fed with the appropriate signal, it rotates the secondary winding to the calculated position.
As the rotor shifts, the distance and orientation from the primary winding change. This results in either an increase or decrease in the magnetic field coupled to the secondary winding and thus, the output voltage.
Static or tap-switching stabilisers operate by altering the multitap transformer’s turn ratio with a series of silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCR). While static stabilisers are cheap, they are unreliable, unreliable and inefficient. As the SCRs are prone to in-rush current, we don’t recommend using static stabilisers for industrial applications.
The microcontroller on the sensing circuit samples the output voltage and compares it to the desired value. If there’s a discrepancy, the microcontroller will activate one of the SCR that will connect the tap on the secondary winding.
Depending on the algorithm, it may take more than one cycle to reach the required output voltage.
COMMON APPLICATIONS OF VOLTAGE STABILISER
Industry facilities install voltage stabilisers to ensure the underlying equipment is unaffected by irregular voltage levels. Those opting to do without a voltage stabiliser eventually realise it is an essential investment. Voltage stabilisers are indispensable in electrical environments where fluctuations, transients, and other irregularities disrupt operations.
These examples show how voltage stabilisers benefit different industries.
|Voltage stabilisers are pivotal in the F&B industry. It allows F&B manufacturers to run undisrupted productions and assure quality in every process.|
|Broadcasting stations use magnetic induction stabilisers in remote facilities. This enables reliable transmission and reduces the inconvenience of regular maintenance|
|Test labs rely on stable and clean power to ensure accurate measurements and results. They do so by installing a precision voltage stabiliser.|
|Industrial facilities might experience a voltage drop over long-distance cables. They use voltage stabilisers to compensate for the difference and ensure equipment operates at nominal voltage|
HOW LONG DO VOLTAGE STABILISERS LAST?
|There isn’t a definite or generally-accepted estimate of a voltage stabiliser’s lifespan. Depending on their design, build and quality – the reliability varies. For example, static stabilisers tend to fail relatively quickly, while servo types might last for 10 years or more. Meanwhile, magnetic induction stabilisers are well-known for their robustness and are likely to operate much longer without human intervention.|
IMPORTANCE OF VOLTAGE STABILISERS
|Voltage stabilisers are a priority for industrial applications. We’ve seen facilities suffer unplanned outages when they hesitate to install one. Here, we explore the roles and technicalities of voltage stabilisers in detail.|
STABILISING VOLTAGE IRREGULARITIES
The primary purpose of a voltage stabiliser is to ensure that the electrical load receives clean and constant voltage. Specifically, voltage stabilisers are built to mitigate these irregularities in the utility supply line.
Overvoltage forces electrical equipment to operate above the nominal rating. It might be attributed to oversized transformers, improper regulation, unbalanced loads, and insulation faults. Depending on the voltage difference, the equipment may break down abruptly or suffer slow but inevitable degradation. A stabiliser steps down the voltage to the level that the equipment can safely operate.
Undervoltage occurs when the equipment is powered by a voltage below its nominal rating. One of the common causes of undervoltage is the extensive cable length between the facility and the distribution grid. The increased impedance in a longer cable will cause a substantial voltage drop. To overcome that, industrial infrastructure uses a voltage stabiliser to decrease the mains voltage.
Transients are momentary electrical events that subject electrical loads to abnormal voltage spikes. For example, electrical transients might occur when inductive loads are turned on and off. The short, impulsive burst of electric energy may couple into the utility supply line and affect adjacent equipment. Voltage stabilisers safely suppress electrical transients and prevent random spikes from affecting the loads.
SAFETY, RELIABILITY AND PRECISION
COST, INVESTMENT AND BENEFITS
|Irregular voltage is known to cause electrical equipment to underperform, overheat, malfunction and exhibit other erratic behaviours. For example, an AC motor operates optimally within a specific input voltage range. If the mains voltage drop below the nominal value, the motor draws more current, which leads to overheating and insulation degradation.
Likewise, some microelectronics require a stable, noise-free, regulated power supply to function accurately. For instance, random electrical interference will result in erroneous sensor readings. Besides ensuring precision, voltage stabilisers also enable equipment to perform efficiently. An AC heater, which works on resistive elements, will take longer to reach the set temperature if the operating voltage falls below the rated value.
In most situations, voltage stabilisers do more than keep equipment operational. They are also pivotal to safeguarding human operators that run the equipment. By ensuring a constant voltage level, stabilisers ensure that the underlying systems behave predictably. In other words, they reduce fire and safety risks.
|Voltage stabilisers are sometimes viewed as an unnecessary investment that industrial systems can do without. Or a purchase decision that stakeholders defer indefinitely. While the cost of industrial voltage stabilisers is not unsubstantial, they are sound investments that help companies avoid heftier losses.
Often, project managers misjudge and dismiss the consequences of unmitigated voltage irregularities. The resulting equipment breakdown tends to involve unplanned shutdown of the facility, partially or entirely. According to a study, these sudden outages cost companies $260,000 per hour on average and take at least 4 hours to resolve.
Besides the immediate aftermath, companies grapple with the loss of opportunities, reputational losses and other financial fallouts. When put into monetary perspective, the figure dwarfs those of purchasing a voltage stabiliser. Hence, voltage stabilisers are smart investments that generate healthy long-term returns.
OWNING A VOLTAGE STABILISER
There is no doubt that installing a voltage stabiliser is necessary to eliminate voltage abnormalities. So, let’s focus on getting and installing one that meets your requirements.
When choosing a voltage stabiliser, consider these.
- Output voltage range: The output voltage range should be appropriate for the device or equipment that the stabilizer will be powering.
- Load capacity: The stabilizer should be able to handle the current and power requirements of the load.
- Efficiency: The efficiency of the stabilizer can affect the cost of operation and the amount of heat generated by the device.
- Size and form factor: The size and form factor of the stabilizer should be appropriate for the space where it will be installed.
- Reliability and durability: the stabilizer should be able to operate continuously and withstand the environmental conditions of its intended application.
- Price: The stabilizer should be affordable and cost-effective for your application.
- Technical support: The supplier should be able to provide technical support throughout the life of the product.
- Safety features: The stabilizer should have safety features such as over-voltage, over-current and short-circuit protection.
- Certifications: The stabilizer should have the necessary certifications for use in your country or region.
More importantly, purchase from reputable voltage stabiliser vendors like Ashley Edison to enjoy professional support.
Once purchased, the vendor ships the voltage stabiliser in secure packing. Prior to installation, technicians must inspect the unit for mechanical flaws and damages. Ideally, we recommend storing the voltage stabiliser in a dust-free and well-ventilated space.
Likewise, it’s best to engage qualified technicians to install and commission the voltage stabiliser. This prevents missteps that might endanger the premise or render the warranty void.
Most voltage stabilisers require little or almost no maintenance. They require routine visual inspection to prevent dust build-ups and blocked ventilation. Scheduling yearly ocular inspections also help detect premature degradation of servo brushes, shafts and bearings. This allows scheduled repair and part replacement while having minimal impact on operations.
Benefits for yearly maintenance
- Increased lifespan of the voltage stabilizer: preservation maintenance and preservation of the voltage stabilizer can help prolong its lifespan and reduce the need for costly repairs or replacements.
- Improved performance: A well-maintained voltage stabilizer will function more efficiently and effectively, resulting in a more stable voltage output.
- Reduced downtime: Scheduled maintenance and preservation can help identify and address potential issues before they cause the voltage stabilizer to fail, reducing the amount of downtime and disruption to operations.
- Cost savings: A preservation plan can help reduce the overall cost of ownership by extending the lifespan of the voltage stabilizer and reducing the need for costly repairs or replacements.
Voltage stabilisers stop voltage anomalies from affecting the electrical loads. Securing industrial premises with voltage stabilisers spares companies from unplanned downtime, costly repairs and financial losses. We’ve discussed and affirmed that installing a voltage stabiliser is an intelligent investment that more than justifies the purchase cost.
Ashley Edison offers field-proven, affordable, and robust voltage stabilisers for various applications. Explore Ashley Edison’s specialised range of Voltage Stabilisers and stay ahead of voltage anomalies—permanently.