Wireless sensor improves electrical power quality monitoring

Paul Boughton

Enscite, an intelligent sensor system manufacturer, has developed a low cost, wireless sensor platform which facilitates the continuous, distributed monitoring of electrical power quality.

The sensor allows distribution network operators (DNOs) and large users of electrical power to record vital information regarding power quality. This monitoring alternative is more efficient and less costly than conventional methods, like power quality analysers or temporary monitoring.

The new technology solves energy quality problems by using innovative solutions, such as the intelligent management of distributed loads, and timely identification of specific sources of harmonics. This approach increases operational efficiency and significantly reduces costs by eliminating the expensive diagnosis instrumentation, which is traditionally used on a temporary basis only after a problem is observed or suspected.

The low cost of each individual sensor, combined with the convenience of wireless communications, enables monitoring at many locations within an electrical power network.

The smart sensor can be used on individual premises or large sites, where the quality of power is of vital importance for efficient, safe and compliant operations. The technology is suitable for the conventional grid and represents a key enabler for future smart grids.

Each intelligent sensor unit measures and records up to the 100th harmonic, and interharmonic frequencies, present on the main electricity supply at specific locations. The recorded data is then periodically transmitted through a wireless or wired communications network to a centralised database, where the information can be analysed and stored.

The sensor platform incorporates data management and visualisation software, which allows maintenance and operation personnel to use it, rather than power quality experts. These features allow significant reductions in staff and maintenance costs.

The quality of electrical power is an issue of increasing concern for industry players. The rapid proliferation of energy efficient equipment, renewable energy sources and power electronics is increasing the presence of polluting harmonics in the electrical supply. This can often damage circuits and equipment, by overheating and failure, or by the inefficient use of increasingly expensive energy.

For more information, www.enscite-tech.com