Month: March 2019

Electrical Distribution Equipment Failure – Keep or Discard

When dealing with electrical equipment and components it is inevitable that they will fail, and you will have to deal with the consequences.  The minute electrical equipment is put into place, from transformers to circuit breakers and panel switches and tap boxes, they start to decline.  Deterioration of electrical products happens for a number of reasons including:

  • Moisture Absorption
  • Differing Temperature Cycles
  • Dust and Particles Settling
  • Condensation Buildup
  • Fragile Operating Springs
  • Insulation Material Breakdown
  • Rusted Out Switchgear Enclosures
  • Dried Out Capacitors

When electrical components within distribution systems age vulnerabilities start to appear. With automation being what it is today, electrical technology can often run unassisted, without issue for years. Because of this maintenance on these systems tend to be ignored which can lead to unpredicted failures which lead to catastrophic failures; the most common being fire.  Thus, in order to keep electrical components operating at their peak and delivering consistent power renovations and maintenance are critical.

The two biggest nemeses of electrical equipment and the components within are moisture, condensation, dust, and loose particles. When equipment is installed outdoors or in spaces that offer no type of temperature or humidity control deterioration occurs more rapidly then in spaces where there are controls, just at a slower, more gradual pace. 

Based on the quality, maintenance schedule, and environment of electrical equipment and components that are installed the deterioration rate varies.  When planning for maintenance, upkeep, and refurbishment of electric components and equipment it is important to establish the age and overall condition of each piece. 

Electrical Equipment and Component Insulation

Components within each piece of equipment must be inspected individually.  Insulation is the component of electrical equipment that degrades the quickest.  Paper and solid synthetic insulation is used throughout equipment around motors, capacitors, cables, transformers, circuit breaker trip coils, operating coils of contractors, and reactors.  The breakdown of insulation depends a great deal on the temperatures that it is exposed to.  To increase longevity of equipment and decrease the breakdown of insulation it is important for equipment not to be operated above optimal temperature ratings.

Capacitors in Electrical Equipment

There are various types of capacitors used in both low and medium voltage distribution systems including:

  • Surge Capacitors
  • Power Factor Correcting Capacitors
  • Commutating Capacitors
  • Capacitors in Active and Passive Filters
  • Pole-Mounted Capacitors

The most common capacitor to use in ratings up to several hundred kVAR is power factor correction.  They are sealed in airtight, insulated units for protection.  The insulating material that is used is a metalized polypropylene film that is compressed in a thermal setting resin.  In the event of internal failure, pressure sensitive interrupters are used to disconnect the capacitor. Capacitors are always fused externally because their failure is most often due to circuit shorts.

There is a nonstop loss of power internally because of lag thus causing the insulating resin to dry.  This often goes unnoticed.  Most capacitors have an average life expectancy of about seventeen years when in continuous operation. This of course decreases depending on the environment in which it operates.  Many systems have a decrease in this average life expectancy due to being exposed to over use and variation in frequency.  To check measurements for capacitors, use clamp-on ammeter to test and detect disparity over time.  

In our next installment we will dive deeper into more electrical components and how they work, their longevity, usage, and testing.  Such components we will inspect will include transformers, circuit breakers, reactors, cables, relays, and more.

J & P Electrical Company is a full-service electrical company that supplies contractors, end users, and supply houses with new surplus, quality reconditioned, and obsolete electrical equipment. We purchase a wide range of electrical equipment such as bus plugs, bud ducts, panel switches, substations, and transformers.  More information can be found at https://www.jpelectricalcompany.com

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Sorting Through The Misconceptions of Reconditioned Products

A lot of misconceptions surround products labeled as reconditioned, refurbished, and as-is.  Reconditioned products are products that have been returned to the manufacturer or a third-party company to thoroughly be checked, taken apart, repaired, put back together, tested, and sold.  They are unable to be sold as new without going through the refurbishing process, even if they are in mint condition.  Many electronics, large scaled manufacturing equipment, appliances, and electrical goods are sold in this manner. 

Purpose of Factory Reconditioning

There are a number of reasons that product reconditioning exists. One reason, consumers will return items that are defective or may have become damaged.  Sometimes however there is nothing wrong with the item but once it has been purchased and returned, electric items and manufacturing components can’t be sold as new.  Other times equipment and components are becoming obsolete and the only way to have replacement parts for repair is for manufacturers to refurbish components and manufacturing equipment.  This is common in transformers, panel switches, and bus ducts & plugs.

The Reconditioning Process

Each product reconditioning specialist has their own set of standards that refurbished products and components need to go through before being resold.  Some reconditioned products are sold “as new” which means that they have run through a series of checks and balances to ensure all the issues, cosmetic and functional, are fixed. Other companies disassemble, inspect, repair, reassemble, tests, and then and only then is a product fit for resale.  This is often the case in manufacturing and larger scaled equipment like transformers, disconnect, and such. 

Advantages with Reconditioning

Obviously, reconditioning comes with cost savings over buying new. Manufacturers can’t charge the new prices for products that are refurbished.  Prices will vary on reconditioned components based on the supplier and of course the product.  As do new products, most refurbished products offer a warranty.  It is important to research the warranty and return policy of any reconditioned/refurbished product you purchase.

Difference between Factory Reconditioning and Third-Party Refurbishment

Most often when a product is labeled as “factory reconditioned” it means that it has been refurbished by either the manufacturer or a third-party that is certified.  When you purchase a reconditioned part or equipment you should expect that it has been tested and repaired to meet all of the original standards of a new product.

J & P Electrical Company is a full-service electrical company that supplies contractors, end users, and supply houses with new surplus, quality reconditioned, and obsolete electrical equipment. We purchase a wide range of electrical equipment such as bus plugs, bud ducts, panel switches, substations, and transformers.  More information can be found at https://www.jpelectricalcompany.com

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Leviton’s new smart Load Center brings app control to your circuit breakers

Leviton has announced a new version of its Load Center breaker box for homes, and it’s adding an integrated Wi-Fi or Ethernet hub that will let you manage your home electrical setup directly from your phone. That’s right: smart circuit breakers are here. Smart circuit breakers are here

There have been after-market products that can monitor energy use in your home before, like Sense, but Leviton’s system goes a step further by integrating smart technology directly into the breaker box and individual circuit breakers, giving homeowners far more information on the power management in their homes.

The smart Load Center works with Leviton’s existing MyLeviton app for Android and iOS, and it gives ridiculously granular data on energy use in your home, letting homeowners track power consumption on a per-appliance or branch circuit basis, get alerts when circuit breakers trip and why they did, or even remotely shut off a circuit breaker from the app. In addition to the Load Center, Leviton will also offer smart circuit breakers to go with it, which will use the integrated hub to stay updated with the latest firmware. (It’s a mildly concerning phrase to see in the same context as “circuit breakers that control your home electricity.”)

There’s no support for Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple HomeKit yet, likely due to the fact that none of the major smart home services are designed to handle anything this complex. Also, Leviton’s smart breaker box is essentially the first to be announced, but it’s possible that deeper support could be coming in the future.

There’s no word on price or release date, but it’s probable that this will be limited to professional electricians and developers to buy and install in houses they’re building, considering the sheer complexity of installing something like this. (It’s not the sort of hardware that you’ll use on your own for a weekend project.)

If you are building a home from scratch, however, it’s a pretty cool idea. Just remember to label all your circuit breaker switches right the first time around.

Original Source: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2019/2/19/18231753/leviton-smart-load-center-app-control-circuit-breakers-ios-android

Original Date: Feb 19 2019

Written By: Chaim Gartenberg

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