AMBIGUOUS POWER QUALITY TERMS

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ambiguous Power Quality Terms have proliferated in the power quality community today. Generally, these confusing terms are created by marketers, using many colorful phrases to attract and entice potential customers to buy their products. Unfortunately, many of these terms can’t be used for technical definitions. As a result, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has discouraged the use of ambiguous terms in order to avoid and prevent confusion.

An example is “brownout”, which was mentioned in the Undervoltage post of this site. Brownout is sometimes used to describe sustained periods of low power frequency voltage initiated as a specific utility dispatch strategy to reduce delivered power. The power quality problem described by brownout has the same meaning as that of undervoltage. Yet, there is no formal definition for brownout and it is not as clear as the term undervoltage.

Therefore, the ambiguous power quality terms are meaningless in terms of describing an event and determining a solution. Here is a list of such terms:

Ø      Blackout
Ø      Brownout
Ø      Outage
Ø      Bump
Ø      Glitch
Ø      Blink
Ø      Power surge
Ø      Clean ground
Ø      Raw power
Ø      Clean power
Ø      Spike
Ø      Dirty ground
Ø      Dirty power
Ø      Wink

The unqualified use of these ambiguous power quality terms for describing power quality phenomena is discouraged. Use the standard terms as much as possible or qualify nonstandard terms with proper explanation.

Reference:
Dugan, R., McGranaghan, M., Santoso, S., and Beaty, H.W. (2004). Electrical Power Systems Quality (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill

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I am an Electrical Engineer with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. My interest is in Power Quality, Diagnostic Testing and Protective Relaying. I have been working in an electric distribution utility for more than a decade. I handle PQ studies, power system analysis, diagnostic testing, protective relaying and capital budgeting for company projects.