The power grid scam

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by CDK, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    Starting September 2009, the European countries will gradually ban incandescent light bulbs, a process that will be completed in September 2012. If my information is correct, Australia, New Zealand and California have taken similar steps.
    The reason for this major operation is the wish to reduce electricity consumption; European Union officials have calculated the reduction to be 40 Terrawatts in 2020 (when the last bulb has burnt out).

    Preceding this decision, European countries have "harmonized" their power grid voltages. For most countries this meant they sneakily increased their 220 volts to 230, with the exception of the UK where they went 10 volts down.
    A simple "tomorrow we increase the voltage" was impossible for technical and political reasons: there would have been too many complaints about motors running hot, TV sets burning out and so on.
    The reasoning was that doing it gradually over several years would spread the effects and by the time the operation was completed, most of the old equipment would have been replaced.

    So far so good, but whenever I measure the grid voltage at my wall sockets, there is not the promised 230 volts but at least 240, sometimes almost 250 volts!
    Supplying 250 volts to a fridge, air conditioner or dishwasher designed for 220 doesn't make it work any better. With luck is only consumes 18% more electricity, without luck the motor dies. Of course it also shortens the life expectancy of light bulbs and any heating equipment.

    This practice has been going on completely unnoticed for years already. Your electricity bill is 10-20% higher than necessary and now all light bulbs have to be replaced with something made in China that radiates a nasty blueish light but should save electricity!

    Have you ever tried to unscrew such an energy saver after it has been switched on for half an hour? You'll burn your fingers: both the glass
    and the socket are scorching hot.

    Well, it won't change anything, but I had to get that off my chest.

  2. daiquiri
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design


    Guess what I will do this evening, when I get home? I'll stick the voltage tester into wall sockets... ;)
  3. Tug
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    Tug Junior Member

    If everyone uses less electricity....the price of electricity will go up....
    There is no saving money for the home owner....
    Just savings for the electricity providers...
  4. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    You need something that measures true rms. I use an analog instrument I once got from the power company after I complained about the grid voltage. They didn't believe me but said my digital multimeter didn't show the correct value, so they loaned me the real thing and I kept it.

    There are digital ones that show the proper value, they are a bit more expensive than the average DMM.
  5. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    CDK, It does't apply to you, so much, but to me, knowing that the waste of an incandescent is in the form of heat emitted - I say, so what? I'm heating anyway!
    Tho I believe LEDs will probably trump both technologies, out of principle, I don't allow the curly, mercury-laden, weird light, government mandated things in my house.
  6. Redtick
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    Redtick Junior Member

  7. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    That can't be good for Hi-Fi stereo and expensive computer equipment either.:eek:
  8. liki
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    liki Senior Member

    We decided to equip our new house with LED lightning. Philips Ledino spots, mostly.
  9. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member


    Your thermionic emission based stereo is probably going to do just fine. Getting tubes for it might be a drag though.

    Tubes are typically able to handle well over their rated power, and the hi-fi guys will underspec them to get the cleanest part of the power curve. Some exceptions to that rule, but FWIW the way those things were made you could substitute one tube for another to get different specs, and the specs often overlapped. So if you need to tone the 6550's (or whatever you use) down a bit you could switch the drivers out if there's no adjustment in the box. Or you could get the resistors swapped out at the least.

    You can be sure that as soon as all that was announced, hi-fi fanatics everywhere started research and have been swapping tubes to experiment ever since.

    On the other hand, if you're interested in the modern stuff rather than going the direction of your car, that could be a bad thing to have voltage jump that much. But you said hi-fi, which usually means tubes.
  10. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    I have circuit boards, resistors, caps, transformers and other things in my tube amp which might not approve of high voltage.

    My audio buddy Bruce lives near a step-down power station. His voltage runs higher than average - he has measured it.

    In my opinion his stereo can sound edgy or strident compared to his old apartment in another city. I blame the high voltage for this.
  11. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member

    That can also be because of any number of other things. I used to be into that. Actually that's what caused me to start believing that cables can make a difference. I got the double blind test and I could actually hear it.

    IMO your stridency could be a ripple in the wall as much as anything else, or which wall has insulation in it. It could also be higher voltage.

    One way to handle that would be to get a variac. I have a nice one that would adjust the voltage from 0 to 130% of line level, in about 2.4 volt steps since the windings are made of such heavy wire. 17A continuous commercial service. I use it on my hotwire, but it's way overkill for that.
  12. capt_jack
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    capt_jack Junior Member

    I designed high end audio, home theater, multi zone a/v and control systems back in college. Even then we were starting to recommend "whole-house" power conditioning devices to our clients.

    These devices "clean" the incoming power signal, regulate it to smooth out the over and under voltage occurrences and can even shunt power surges from supplier malfunction / lightning. (The best systems also filter telephone and CATV since lightning can take many paths into a home electrical system). Some even add a UPS capability for the whole home which eliminates short term outages during storms / high winds.

    I used to think the systems were a luxury but I've noticed a growing trend of component failures - especially in sensitive devices like computer hard drives and motherboards since moving to a home that has a single source power utility with a very shoddy and poorly maintained grid. We can actually watch the power supply cycling up and down in our lights, TV's, computer monitors, etc.

    I'm hoping to switch to my own power supply in the near future and oddly enough, wind and solar power systems have line conditioning "built-in". Either way I would add such a system to any incoming supply, especially now that our power grid is aging so badly.
  13. Marco1
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    Marco1 Senior Member

    Australia always had 240 volts as has the UK I believe.
    Continental Europe has 220. Going higher voltage is good to carry more electricity on thinner wires. I am not sure you would pay more on your bill. The meter charges watts, that is AMPxVolt, and the appliance uses watts. If you up the volts, wouldn't the motor move the meter the same watts if 220 or 240? Only asking, never thought of it that way.

    As for the crappy gas bulbs, I hate them with a passion. Expensive and useless, their advertised life time is BS and they don't last one year, in fact they last less than a good quality incandescent lamp and only last more than the rrubbihs made in china you could buy for 20 cents. We, the luminary of Asia, have already BANNED the sale of incandescent bulbs, so we are already in the total crap.
    I hate greens. Green is rotten. :D
  14. capt_jack
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    capt_jack Junior Member

    Most utilities bill based on wattage. Voltage x current is the most common calculation so yes, voltage will affect watts even if the actual current remains the same. (There are other formulas involving resistance, I'm using the most simple as an example). If they raise the line voltage they should recalibrate the meters would be my guess. You may not be "using" any more power but the measurement at the meter would no longer be accurate (depending on exactly which type of meter is used).

    ETA; I should be more clear. This forum seems to have members from all over the World so there isn't one rule in place.

    Most modern power meters take live readings of the voltage, current and other elements related to the devices on the line and the type of loads they present and are accurate no matter what changes are made to supply voltage. (Residential LCD read out meters are probably all going to be this type).

    Older mechanical wheel type meters might calculate based on live conditions and might not. It all depends on how old they are. In the US the meter would have to be very, very old for line voltage to create issues.

    The issue is that in Europe a lot of homes use meters which calculate based on time in hour, half hour, etc increments. What I've read is that quite a few of these are based on constant line voltage and would need to be calibrated. If they have LCDs and remote reporting they are more than likely new enough to calculate based on supply voltage, current, etc.

    Commercial meters should be checked if the line voltage changes. If you know your area is changing line voltage and have a commercial meter you should call your utility to confirm if the meter needs calibration or not. Because some of them use a different system to calculate total use there might be an issue, especially on older meters.

  15. J3
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    J3 Junior Member

    When power companies are encouraging efficiency, I can only believe they're salivating over charging us more for less :(
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