Ken's Weekly E-Tip: Low Voltage
Spring is a season of changing weather, which can bring some powerful storms. With it can come power outages and other problems. One of them associated with power disturbances is a situation called "Low Voltage." I recently experienced this at my own house. It is easily recognized when house lights become dim and remain that way for a long time period.
What is Voltage?
Voltage is the pressure that moves electricity (referred to as current or amperage). Current flow can be viewed as water in a pipe (since we can't see electricity). If we want to move water a long distance, we increase water pressure. The same is for electricity. Higher voltage (or pressure) permits us to move power longer distances.
But when pressure (voltage) decreases, amperage increases. And this is where problems arise. Low voltage situations can cause amperage or current rise to levels that can damage electrical motors in such items as refrigerators, air conditioners, well pumps, furnace motors and the like, as well as electronics. A low voltage situation does not guarantee a device will be damaged. It depends on the length of time that an appliance is subjected to a low voltage situation, and whether the item was running at the time of low voltage.
Low Voltage Causes
Electricity is distributed from our substation to your home over a system of wires. Downed trees, storms, lightning, automobile accidents, wildlife and deteriorated equipment can interfere with proper electricity flow and cause a low voltage situation.
What Should You Do
The best thing to do when you recognize a low voltage situation is to quickly turn off the main breaker in your distribution panel. This usually is the top-most double breaker. It can be marked either 100, 150 or 200 amp depending on the size of your service. You can also contact your neighbors to see if they are experiencing a similar condition. Call Central Electric Cooperative's Outage No. 800-282-8610 and report your situation. Do not turn the main breakers back on for an extended time period until the problem is corrected by CEC. The main breaker can be turned on momentarily to check if house lighting brightness is back to normal. If not, turn off your main breaker until repairs have been made.
Low voltage can occur when members are sleeping or not at home, which is an unfortunate situation. Low voltage alarm systems are available for residential applications, but are quite expensive.
The best advice is to be aware of low voltage situations and act accordingly.
Earn $50 Bill Credit
Let CEC install a load control device on your electric water heater and earn a $50 one-time bill credit and a monthly $2.50 bill credit. Call 800-521-0570 x2195 to learn more. Members having a water heater installed by the cooperative are not eligible for the credits.
Twitter and Load Control
Participants in our load control program for electric heat and water heaters can find out when and how long control periods are predicted by logging onto www.central.coop and clicking our Twitter logo. Please remember that these are only predictions and actual times may vary.
All CEC members are invited to attend its 80th anniversary celebration and annual meeting, Friday, Aug. 25 at Whitehall Camp and Conference Center in Emlenton. Learn more by visiting www.central.coop.