Low Voltage During Outage - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-11-2013, 02:22 AM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,154
Rewards Points: 646
Default

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

Advertisement

__________________
digitalplumber is just a name for use here, I am not a plumber!
digitalplumber is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 02:36 AM   #2
Retired from the grind
 
gregzoll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Midwest - Central Illinois
Posts: 14,399
Rewards Points: 2,460
Default

Low voltage during outage


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalplumber View Post
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.

Advertisement

__________________
Ren: Now listen, Cadet. I've got a job for you. See this button? Ren: Don't touch it! It's the History Eraser button, you fool! Stimpy: So what'll happen? Ren: That's just it. We don't know. Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it. You won't touch it, will you?
gregzoll is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to gregzoll For This Useful Post:
digitalplumber (05-11-2013)
Old 05-11-2013, 02:38 AM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,154
Rewards Points: 646
Default

Low voltage during outage


Thanks I don't guess computer battery backups would do this?
__________________
digitalplumber is just a name for use here, I am not a plumber!
digitalplumber is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 02:42 AM   #4
Retired from the grind
 
gregzoll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Midwest - Central Illinois
Posts: 14,399
Rewards Points: 2,460
Default

Low voltage during outage


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalplumber View Post
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.
__________________
Ren: Now listen, Cadet. I've got a job for you. See this button? Ren: Don't touch it! It's the History Eraser button, you fool! Stimpy: So what'll happen? Ren: That's just it. We don't know. Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it. You won't touch it, will you?
gregzoll is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to gregzoll For This Useful Post:
digitalplumber (05-11-2013)
Old 05-11-2013, 02:44 AM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,154
Rewards Points: 646
Default

Low voltage during outage


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?
__________________
digitalplumber is just a name for use here, I am not a plumber!
digitalplumber is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 10:17 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 164
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Low voltage during outage


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalplumber View Post
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.
usair is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to usair For This Useful Post:
digitalplumber (05-11-2013)
Old 05-11-2013, 10:19 AM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,154
Rewards Points: 646
Default

Low voltage during outage


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?
__________________
digitalplumber is just a name for use here, I am not a plumber!
digitalplumber is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 11:05 AM   #8
Electrical Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 725
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Low voltage during outage


If you do find out what the cause is, be sure to come back and post. I'm curious myself.
Kyle_in_rure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 11:14 AM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,154
Rewards Points: 646
Default

Low voltage during outage


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

Will do!
__________________
digitalplumber is just a name for use here, I am not a plumber!
digitalplumber is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 01:48 PM   #10
Architectural Sculptor
 
RWolff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: USA, Midwest
Posts: 765
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Low voltage during outage


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.

Last edited by RWolff; 05-11-2013 at 01:52 PM.
RWolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 02:25 PM   #11
Electrical Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 725
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Low voltage during outage


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_in_rure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 02:44 PM   #12
Remodel and New Build GC
 
MTN REMODEL LLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Colorado @ 7651'
Posts: 2,974
Rewards Points: 2,218
Default

Low voltage during outage


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle_in_rure View Post
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
__________________
Never stop learning (xcep fer speling en typeing)

Last edited by MTN REMODEL LLC; 05-11-2013 at 02:53 PM.
MTN REMODEL LLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 02:47 PM   #13
Electrical Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 725
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Low voltage during outage


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
Kyle_in_rure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 04:54 PM   #14
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 164
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Low voltage during outage


Quote:
Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
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.
usair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2013, 05:19 PM   #15
Member
 
Oso954's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Northern Calif.
Posts: 1,797
Rewards Points: 1,474
Default

Low voltage during outage


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

Advertisement

Oso954 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Oso954 For This Useful Post:
stickboy1375 (05-11-2013)
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Analog multimeter shows voltage even with 3-way switch off OCPik4chu Electrical 17 09-25-2012 01:20 PM
Phone wires with line voltage Hexamexapex Electrical 20 07-01-2012 01:56 PM
Resistor/Led and Basic Electricity Questions Khivar Electrical 19 04-16-2012 07:15 PM
Voltage Detector Affected by Snow? Arnold Ziffel Electrical 1 02-01-2012 10:56 PM
Low voltage box question WShawn Electrical 7 08-19-2008 07:22 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts