Power Line Noise - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-19-2007, 03:09 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 10

power line noise

Alright, first off, I'd like to let everyone know that I'm an electrical engineer, not an electrician. I'm here looking for a different perspective that might help me understand my problem.

For the last year, I've been trying to find the source of some electrical noise in my experiments. After some time, I figured out that the noise was coming from the power line. After another year, I figured out that I can mitigate the problem by using a grounded outlet. (My house is from the 50's and the only outlets that are grounded are in the garage.) However, I'm not sure if grounding was the problem, or if it just patches the problem.

In a nutshell, any part of the circuit connected to the power line (oscilloscope, transformer, power supply, etc.) injects noise into it and causes problems. If the equipment is grounded, the problem goes away. I've got some scope pictures here:
Of particular concern is the last two images. You can see some distortion in the waveform from the power line. Is that normal?

After inspecting my house, I've also discovered that my system isn't properly grounded. When everything was installed, they used the water pipes for grounding. However, the installation of a water softener (among other things) has probably disconnected the pipes from earth. I might fix that this weekend.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out if the noise I'm picking up is in the line itself (maybe that distortion that I see), or if something is radiating and grounding everything only mitigates the problem.


sciguy125 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2007, 03:50 PM   #2
Electrician philosopher
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Lilburn, GA
Posts: 838
Rewards Points: 500

I wish I could help you, but that's beyond me. I recommend you post at Mike Holt.com or this sites sister Electrician talk (link below). There are lots of engineers on Mike's website and the guys over there would love to see this.


Andy in ATL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2007, 05:15 PM   #3
Stubbie's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Kansas
Posts: 5,341
Rewards Points: 2,652

Have you tried the battery powered am radio trick to see if the noise is inside your house or coming in on the utility?

If you plug your circuit into another branch circuit do you still have the same results?

Do you have a circuit breaker panel or fuses?

Some of the biggest offenders of putting noise on the power line are aquarium heaters and small transformers like doorbell transformers. But I figure you have probably disconnected any cord and plug stuff to see if that is effecting the circuit. But little transformers are hardwired in and may not be easily located.

Have you talked to the power company? Maybe they can check for noise coming from a faulty old transformer or some of their other noise creating stuff they have.

When you fool with that water line you might want to check it for current that can harm you.

Just some ideas.

That oscilloscope stuff is greek to me but it is darn interesting.

Stubbie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2007, 06:26 PM   #4
Once fried, twice shy.
elkangorito's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Thailand
Posts: 251
Rewards Points: 250

An interesting situation. The last couple of your CRO pics may give a clue.

You mention that the sine wave has some peculiarities. These could be related to harmonics produced by the usual culprits, ie switchmode power supplies, compact fluorescent lights, electronic ballasts etc. But the level of distortion does not seem to be significant. The most common harmonics found in consumer power is the 3rd harmonic (single phase related) & the fifth harmonic (3 phase related), although harmonics of other orders can be present.
In order to rule this out, you could try to filter out the 2 main harmonics & see what happens.
BTW, harmonics in power systems is a growing problem for energy suppliers all over the world.

But having said all this, you say that 'earthing' solved the problem? It is well documented that if a neutral is 'floating' above earth, a considerable voltage can be present (with respect to earth)...sometimes up to 50% of the line voltage. This extraneous voltage can be representative of 'noise'. One benefit of earthing the neutral correctly is that this situation is negated. This needs to be done as per code & by an electrician.

I wouldn't worry about harmonics too much as they need to be quite significant before they become a problem (under general conditions).
I would pursue the issue of 'earths' & 'neutrals'. Stubbie is probably your best man for that advice.
Good luck!
Switchboard design engineer & Licensed Electrician (Australia).
elkangorito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2007, 08:36 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 220
Rewards Points: 150

I have nothing useful to add... but MY GOD MAN, YOU SKINNED A FURBY!!!
slakker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2007, 01:39 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1
Rewards Points: 10
Thumbs up

In Response To Trying To Eliminate A.C. Line Noise

One of the postings, referred to "a.c. line noise, and trying everything in a old house, which is not properly grounded". Noise still....could not be eliminated.

You have overlooked a couple of things! If you cannot trace where the "line noise is coming from, you may try this". This is what we had to do, when we would continously have to reset and adjust wall electrical clocks, while at Sperry Defense, Pueblo, CO. Many years ago.

When we hooked a "A.C. Line Analyzer" to the plant's main incoming power, we found the problem was not within the plant or company building. All the while...the problem was the incoming main step-down transformer, outside the building.

Here you are, trying to resolve a problem within your "sphere of influence (your house), all the while, it could simply be your "incoming power is rotten"!

Transformers can produce "noise, and spikes on the sinosidoual wave of the incoming 60 cycle (Htz) line". Therefore it is not "true-blue clean power" which may be entering you household.

Tony Vigil I & E Instrumentation Engr.

____________________________~_____________________ _____________


vigilaw is offline   Reply With Quote

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
Wiring for switched, split power outlets ELurie Electrical 9 06-21-2007 07:12 PM
Noise from boiler power vent den HVAC 2 03-03-2007 07:10 AM
high pitch noise coming from oil line pingers7 HVAC 2 11-29-2006 07:41 AM
Problem W/ Power after Switching Outlets... G19-Fanatic Electrical 17 08-28-2006 01:55 PM
Partial power on same fuse! joyjam Electrical 5 07-10-2005 10:23 PM

Top of Page | View New Posts


Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1