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digitalplumber 05-11-2013 02:22 AM

Low voltage during outage
 
IN Houston today my sons home lost power. No big deal. He has above ground service and his house is literally the last home on the line.

During the outage, he was still receiving very low voltage, if you turned on a light it would barely glow.

What should we do? What is causing this?

Thanks

gregzoll 05-11-2013 02:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitalplumber (Post 1176920)
IN Houston today my sons home lost power. No big deal. He has above ground service and his house is literally the last home on the line.

During the outage, he was still receiving very low voltage, if you turned on a light it would barely glow.

What should we do? What is causing this?

Thanks

Call the power company. Most likely he lost one leg, or someone was running a generator and back feeding it into the power company distribution system. Both are situations that are dangerous and the power company needs to be aware of the issue, when you run into something like this.

digitalplumber 05-11-2013 02:38 AM

Thanks I don't guess computer battery backups would do this?

gregzoll 05-11-2013 02:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitalplumber (Post 1176925)
Thanks I don't guess computer battery backups would do this?

Not unless it is one of the big ass types that are used for keeping systems running, until the generator kicks on, and that the person who installed it, did it incorrect. Also if someone has solar panels on their home, those can also backfeed onto the grid, and cause the situation you are talking about.

digitalplumber 05-11-2013 02:44 AM

No none of those exist. One last question, this house was rewired. So is it possible the electrician did something wrong? Or definitely a power company issue?

usair 05-11-2013 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitalplumber (Post 1176929)
No none of those exist. One last question, this house was rewired. So is it possible the electrician did something wrong? Or definitely a power company issue?

Unless the condition exsists after the power is restored I would say it was a POCO issue.

digitalplumber 05-11-2013 10:19 AM

Thanks will call them today!

Hope its not a big deal on their part or they have to shut down the power on the line to determine where it is?

Kyle_in_rure 05-11-2013 11:05 AM

If you do find out what the cause is, be sure to come back and post. I'm curious myself. :yes:

digitalplumber 05-11-2013 11:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kyle_in_rure (Post 1177032)
If you do find out what the cause is, be sure to come back and post. I'm curious myself. :yes:


Will do!

RWolff 05-11-2013 01:48 PM

I've seen this here where I live twice in 15 years, and at least twice or three times at work nearby which seems to be on a different circuit than my house (their power can be off mine is on) I think the first time a car hit a power pole breaking it in half and the can on top blew up, another time a can outside on the pole blew up and we lost 1 leg of our power- it was caused by an electrician running a new line in the basement- he blew the can!

Supposedly oncea squirrel got fried in the utility company's transformer structure that sits on a small lot and is fenced in with barbed wire topped fencing, I remember they had to replace one of the transformers or something around then.

However it happened, the result at work was 1/3rd of our lights and machines shut off, any anything that uses 3 ph power had to be turned off for sure.

At the house, I think during a big winter storm with alot of wind and snow it was a little different in that the power was there, but I was getting 60 volts instead of 120, and get this- the only way I knew anything was wrong was my monitor's picture started looking grainy, and at first I thought it was going bad, then I noticed the incandescent light bulb in the other room behind me was only glowing faintly- the CFL's in the kitchen where my desk is all burned with the same light and showed no difference, at least none that I noticed.

It was only because of that incandescent bulb that I immediately realized I was not getting the voltage and I jumped up and pulled the plug for the fridge out of the socket and shut down my computers and the CFL lights.
The CFL's will run on 60 volts obviously since they did, but they won't start up on 60 volts, but in any event, had I not been aware of the loss of voltage, it could have seriously damaged the fridge, computers and CFL's since this condition of low voltage persisted for 15-30 minutes if I rememebr right.
I had enough time to call the utility and tell then after I got my VOM out and measured only 60 volts at the wall socket, so it could have been a half hour or longer this was going on.

As to what someone can do about it, not much, if you are at work or asleep when something like this happens, you are pretty much screwed, if you happen to be home and it happens, you definitely want to shut everything off.

I am gradually changing to LED bulbs, they are dimmable, the CFL's I've had are not, which means now if I were to see that 60 volt condition again, the LED bulbs would DIM and immediately alert me to the problem and that's a nice side bonus of those.

Kyle_in_rure 05-11-2013 02:25 PM

I wonder if this type of situation could occur if a utility neutral line was damaged. Theoretically, couldn't a small amount if voltage make it back to the source through grounding rods? (Using my imagination here)

MTN REMODEL LLC 05-11-2013 02:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kyle_in_rure (Post 1177135)
I wonder if this type of situation could occur if a utility neutral line was damaged. Theoretically, couldn't a small amount if voltage make it back to the source through grounding rods? (Using my imagination here)


Kyle.... Interesting...

In theory I suppose, but would not the voltage remain at 120 (in theory) and it would be current traveling back (albeeit very little).... that is of course if nothing went in series verse parellel.

Peter

Edit: I think I take that back, .... as the resistance of a poor neutral (GEC-earth) would be no differnet than a voltage drop of undersize wire or long run.

Have to think this out.... maybe one of the smarter guys can fully explain to me my thinking.

Peter

Kyle_in_rure 05-11-2013 02:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC

Kyle.... Interesting...

In theory I suppose, but would not the voltage remain at 120 (in theory) and it would be current traveling back (albeeit very little).... that is of course if nothing went in series verse parellel.

Peter

Current was the word I was thinking of

usair 05-11-2013 04:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC (Post 1177147)
Kyle.... Interesting...

In theory I suppose, but would not the voltage remain at 120 (in theory) and it would be current traveling back (albeeit very little).... that is of course if nothing went in series verse parellel.

Peter

Edit: I think I take that back, .... as the resistance of a poor neutral (GEC-earth) would be no differnet than a voltage drop of undersize wire or long run.

Have to think this out.... maybe one of the smarter guys can fully explain to me my thinking.

Peter

Single wire earth return systems were built to expand electric distribution systems to rural areas.

Oso954 05-11-2013 05:19 PM

The earth return in a SWER is on the 19kv section, not the 120/240V house service.


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