Power Quality: Causes & Solutions

Power Quality: Causes & Solutions

Does your company have reliable power quality? SolaHD defines power quality as “the sensitivity of the load to a disturbance in the facility under the customer’s control.”

Poor power quality causes various costly issues; productivity goes down while downtime goes up. Thankfully, your company doesn’t have to become a victim of poor power quality. SolaHD has a wide range of power quality solutions to keep your business up and running.

What causes power disturbances?

According to SolaHD’s research, 70% of all power quality issues are internally generated in a facility and include noise, impulses, power interruptions and voltage fluctuations (sags, swells, and brownouts). Induction loads such as motors, elevators, welders and office equipment are among the culprits which can cause these internally-generated disturbances. Wiring and grounding errors, heavy loads and poorly-specified power conversion products also can create power quality problems.

This leaves 30% of power quality issues resulting from externally generated sources including lighting strikes and utility switching issues. Even with a properly designed distribution system, you must be ready for unavoidable power issues caused by accidents and weather.

Types of power disturbances:

  • Voltage Surge: A temporary rise in RMS voltage that can cause permanent damage to hardware
  • Power Interruption: A loss of power which can cause equipment shutdown and data loss, as well as downtime and safety issues
  • Brownout: While not a complete loss of power like a blackout, a brownout is a drop in voltage which can cause hardware crashes and equipment failure.
  • Voltage Sag: A temporary drop in voltage which can result in hardware crashes and reduce the lifespan of electrical equipment
  • Voltage Transient: A narrow, high voltage impulse which can cause equipment failure or damage and data loss
  • Frequency Variation: Changes to the 60 Hz sine wave that can cause permanent damage to hardware
  • Harmonic Distortion: Distortion to the sinewave which can result in loss of system capacity
  • Electrical Noise: Low amplitude and current, high frequency disturbances which can cause software errors and system lock-ups

Solutions to power disturbances

Power conditioning, surge suppression, filters and UPS systems can provide protection against various types of power quality issues. Products like constant voltage transformers can help regulate voltage levels while providing noise filtering and surge protection.

SolaHD’s large selection of power quality products includes AC and DC UPS systems, both free- standing and DIN Rail mount. Sola offers the three basic UPS technologies of:

  • Off-line
  • Line Interactive
  • On-line/Double Conversion

SolaHD has solutions you need to protect your facility from power quality issues and keep you up and running, including surge protection devices (SPDs) for everything from the service entrance to data and signal-line protection.

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about SolaHD’s solutions to address power quality, please contact us or your French Gerleman Account Manager.  You can also browse our in-stock selection of SolaHD products on our website.

Staying Ahead of the Electrical Trends and Standards

Last month, at our St. Louis branch, we offered customers the chance to learn about the latest trends and standards within the electrical industry at our Trends and Standards Update. Attendees gained knowledge on the latest innovative products that can help customers stay compliant with standards and the latest trends to help drive safety, technology and efficiency.

These high-level presentations offered cutting edge solutions to help customers stay ahead of the electrical trends and standards.  The seminar offered updates from Mersen, SolaHD, Thomas & Betts, Hubbell Wiring Device- Kellems and LUTZE.

These presentations covered the following:

Mersen covered SCCR codes and standards, including UL 508A standards. The UL 508A marking confirms that the industrial control panel has been certified by inspection. If the UL 508A’s construction requirements are followed, then a panel builder is eligible to have their panel listed by UL. Mersen also explained short circuit current rating (SSCR) and the importance of properly labeling panels for Arc Flash compliance.

SolaHD has updated its SDU Series DIN rail AC UPS. Their A Series still combines an industry leading compact design with a wide operation temperature range and unique installation options. The SDU provides protection from impulses and power interruptions that could be potentially damaging. This updated product also offers a new interchangeable optional “COMM Card” accessory, that allows communication between fieldbus protocols and industrial Ethernet. SolaHD has also introduced a new CF Relay Card option that has replaced the RELAYCARDSDU option.

Thomas & Betts has created an evolution of compression tools. Their Color-Keyed coding system allows high quality UL-compliant connections at a low installed cost. Thomas & Betts covered the basics on how to properly prepare cable, determine the proper connector, choose the correct tool/die and crimp inspection. They covered how the Thomas & Betts Blackburn Color-Keyed® compression connector system can make inspections and certified installations easier.

Hubbell Wiring Device-Kellems recently released the first UL Listed pop-up receptacle for countertops. To protect against spills, the receptacle assembly is sealed with patent pending silicone gaskets to repel liquids in both the down and up positions. The countertop receptacle is UL Listed to 498 Section 146 to be water resistant to a half gallon of liquid spilled on the device.

Hubbell also recently introduced both their Advantage Pin & Sleeve product line to promote safety and provide line of site disconnect and their inSIGHT Circuit-Lock™ Disconnects with LED indicators to promote workplace safety and improve troubleshooting time.

Do you know how Codes and Standards affect your choice of cables? The evolving NFPA 79 standard as well as NEC and UL 508a all have requirements on cable approvals. LUTZE highlighted how multi-listed cables are versatile and can help reduce the number of cables needed for code compliance. Also discussed were the latest trends in codes, standards and the general cable industry.  The great news is that LUTZE’s cables are designed for harsh environments and carry multiple approvals for standard and code compliance.

Be sure to check out our website for information on upcoming events.  If you have questions or would like more information on products or concepts covered in this recent event, please contact your French Gerleman account manager or e-mail info@frenchgerleman.com.


Product Spotlight: SolaHD SDU AC-A Series, DIN Rail UPS

Spring is the season of renewal, change and fresh starts. SolaHD is doing just that with the launch of their new SolaHD SDU AC-A Series, DIN Rail UPS. This new series combines an industry leading compact design with enhanced communication, a wide operational temperature range and unique installation options. Let’s dive in to more details about the latest innovation from SolaHD!

The SDU AC-A Series is a cost-effective solution providing ride-through during brief power outages and allows for safe equipment shutdown. This prevents data loss, work interruptions and equipment damage during longer outages, which can save you significant time and money in the long run. Each unit includes easy to wire screw terminations for devices that need battery back-up, such as microprocessor-based or computer based control systems.

The communication port is an exciting feature of the SDU AC- A Series. The port is designed for networked Industrial Ethernet protocols (IoT) or discrete (passive-dry contact relay) I/O applications. It also features an optional communication card that provides flexibility required while saving valuable DIN rail space.

So how can the SDU AC-A Series be used? It’s ideal for a variety of applications and industries, especially those that rely heavily upon robotics, factory automation, PLCs, CNC machinery, conveying equipment and throughout Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) environments.

Product Features:

  • Lightweight and compact industrial design
  • Communications port for optional Industrial Ethernet protocols or discrete communication card
  • Wide operation temperature range (OC to 50C)
  • Cold start capability
  • Software and cable included for easy installation
  • Simulated sinewave output
  • USB communication port
  • Remote turn-on and shutdown capabilities
  • Two-year limited warranty
  • Panel/wall mount brackets

To see the full list of applications, certifications and compliances, you can download the SolaHD Product Guide HERE.

Are you ready to give the SolaHD AC-A Series, DIN Rail UPS a try? Give your French Gerleman Account Manager a call today, and get ready to experience the industry leading design and advanced technology.

Power Quality Problem Identification and Mitigation

The impact of poor power quality is significant.  According to Frost and Sullivan, power related problems cost U.S. companies more than $26 billion per year.  There are a number of different factors that can cause electrical disturbances and one of the main factors can be the user.  This includes wiring and grounding errors, load interactions, heavy load start-up, and poorly specified power conversion products.  That being said, utility power isn’t perfect.  Accidents can happen to power lines and power distribution equipment and bad weather can occur at any time.

Facility issues are a big factor, as well.  Every facility/location is different.  Disturbances can occur at varying magnitudes and rates.  Noise, impulse, voltage and interruption are all varying issues.  Resources such as a Power Quality Audit and Statistical Reports can be used to identify disturbances.  Always be sure to match the protection to the needs to the load.

Another factor to keep in mind is load sensitivity.  All loads are different; some may be sensitive to impulses, some may be sensitive to voltage sags, swells or brownout, and some may be sensitive to power interruption.  Make sure to protect the loads that are most at risk.


Voltage sag is a temporary drop in RMS voltage and it may last for several cycles.  It can be caused by large loads start-up, such as motors or air conditioning, and by utility switching.  Some of the effects of voltage sag can be hardware crashes, occasional equipment failure and reduced efficiency and life span of electrical equipment.  Solutions include a Power Conditioner, UPS and DC Power Supplies that meet SEMI F47.


A brownout is a temporary drop in RMS voltage that may last for several hours.  A brownout can be caused by high demand on the utility grid or by service located at the end of the grid.  The effects of a brownout are also hardware crashes, occasional equipment failure and reduced efficiency and life span of electrical equipment.  A solution would be to use a Voltage Regulator.

Power interuption

A power interruption is sudden loss of AC power.  Common causes of a power interruption are fuses or circuit breakers opening, bad weather, and construction accidents.  The effects may include equipment shutting down, data loss, production delays, long process start up cycles and safety issues.  A solution to a power interruption is a UPS.

Harmonic distortion is when distortion occurs to the sinewave.  It can be caused by switch mode power supplies and by non-linear loads.  The effects of harmonic distortion include high neutral current, overhead neutral, overheated transformers, voltage distortion, breaker tripping, and loss of system capacity.  Solutions to this problem include Ferroresonant Transformers, Active/Passive filters, On-Line UPS, Drive Isolation Transformers, and K-Factor Transformers.

Voltage Transient is when a narrow, high voltage, or current impulse is superimposed on the AC waveform.  It can be caused by utility grid switching, a contractor opening or closing, heavy industrial equipment starting and by lightning.  The effects are equipment damage and/or failure, system lock-up, data corruption and/or loss and component stress that can lead to a breakdown.  It can be taken care of with SPDs, an Isolation Transformer or with a Power Conditioner.

Last, but certainly not least, of all potential problems is electrical noise.  Electrical noise is defined as low amplitude, low current, high frequency disturbances.  It can be caused by switch mode power supplies, other loads and improper grounding and the effects of electrical noise could be perceived software errors and system lockup.  Solutions include an Isolation Transformer, an Active Tracking Filter, a Power Conditioner and UPS.


Fluke offers many resources to help you identify and quantify energy disturbances and waste – both electrical and mechanical.  These include power and energy loggers, thermal imagers and vibration testers.  Visit Fluke’s website to learn more.

Now that we’ve discussed the potential problems, let’s review some of the solutions.  Solutions include Surge Protective Devices, Signal/Data Line Protection (STC), Active Tracking Filters, Constant Voltage Transformers (Ferrorresonant), Drive Isolation and K-Factor Transformers and UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies).

A Surge Protective Device is a device that clamps voltage to a safe level during an impulse.  These devices solve problems with impulses and lightening.  If the RMS voltage goes above the clamping level of the device, it will blow input fuses or destroy the device.  A Signal/Data Line Protection (STC) is a device which clamps voltage to a safe level for data and communication lines and it also solves issues with impulses and lightening.  It offers no protection from RMS voltage fluctuations.

An Active Tracking Filter is a device which filters high frequency noise (STF) and clamps voltage (STFE).  This device solves issues with noise, impulse, and lightening and offers no protection from RMS voltage fluctuations.  A Constant Voltage Transformer is a transformer with inherent voltage regulation due to design and it solves problems with impulses, noise, surges, sags, brownouts, and harmonics.  A Constant Voltage Transformer will only ride through a -3ms power interruption.

Drive Isolation and K-Factor Transformers are transformers that are designed to handle high heat.  They are also specifically designed for SCR controlled variable speed motor drives.  They are able to handle mechanical stresses, voltage demands, and overheating caused by harmonics and they are typically K-4 rated.  An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device which provides battery backup during a power interruption and also solves problems with impulses, harmonics, noise, surges, sags, and brownouts.

If you would like specifics on the solutions to solve power disturbances listed above, you can visit SolaHD’s website.  SolaHD offers all of these power quality solutions.

There are a couple of different questions to ask when looking at the cost of power quality; such as how much the machinery or equipment is worth, how much the process is worth (a one second data loss, a 30 minute delay, a one hour shutdown, or a half-day work stoppage), and what the visibility of a production shutdown is to management.  Lost performance, productivity, and data all leads to lost money.

The information was shared at our recent Product and Technology Expo in St. Louis.  For a link to the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

Are you interested in learning more about these solutions to help mitigate your power quality issues?  Contact your French Gerleman Account Manager or contact us.

Product Spotlight: SolaHD LVGP Transformers

These transformers from SolaHD might not be new, but they sure are mighty. And as of January 1, they comply with the DOE 2016 standards that can be found in detail HERE.  SolaHD manufactures transformers of unsurpassed quality, and they do so right here in the United States. As an American company, we know that the transformers are a key part of the US infrastructure. SolaHD’s low-voltage, dry-type models will meet the new DOE 2016 energy-efficiency requirements for distribution transformers. Even though they have been changed to meet the energy-efficiency requirements, they are still the same pre-DOE 2016 physical size. Here’s a closer look.

SolaHD is at work for you, from the facility floor, service entrance, power distribution points, branch panel and point of use applications. Their products power the most demanding applications, and can be used alone, or in conjunction to ensure controlled, reliable power to all parts of the factory floor or machinery.

SolaHD Family of Transformers
With SolaHD, they offer a broad range of transformers that can meet any application. Their dry-type transformers are offered encapsulated, ventilated or non-ventilated, 600 Volt Class, isolation type, single and three phase, through 500 kVA. There are also indoor and outdoor models available. Be sure to check out their full line of transformers HERE for more details on the types available.

How do I select a transformer?
SolaHD makes that easy for you! Check out their selection steps HERE to help you manually select the right transformer. It’s important to find the electrical load requirements, know the supply voltage conditions, and determine the transformer kVA rating.

Here is a helpful guide:

Single Phase

Three Phase

Interested in learning more about SolaHD, their family of transformers, or placing an order? Give your account manager a call today or contact us.

Honoring the Fourth of July With U.S. Made Products


In honor of the Fourth of July weekend, we wanted to write a blog that focuses on products manufactured in the USA. What better way to celebrate Independence Day? T&B says it best, “American innovation and hard work produce a current like no other.” When you connect with companies who manufacture in the USA, you connect with American jobs, products and people.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed in 2009 and intended to stimulate the U.S. economy by injecting $787 billion in spending and tax cuts. For federal, state and municipal projects funded by the ARRA, there is a preference for the use of U.S. domestic products. The following companies are all “Buy American” compliant:

Thomas & Betts

While Thomas & Betts has a global operations, their American workforce is more than 4,900 strong! Its U.S. plants produce a wide range of components that improve the transmission and distribution of electrical power. T&B’s Distribution Center, located in one of the top distribution regions in the country, ships 85,000 products a day to keep industry powered up. T&B has manufacturing plants in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

T&B Steel City, manufactured in the USA Steel EMT Fittings, are high-quality steel construction, ideal for use in ARRA projects requiring US manufactured components. To learn more about the available sizes, you can view their sales brochure HERE.

Hubbell Logo

Hubbell has a wide range of products available for your next project, all manufactured in the U.S.! They range from ground fault receptacles, switches, occupancy sensors, lighting controls, network wiring, cable protection products and more. For a full list of products available from Hubbell that are “Buy American” compliant be sure to download their PDF HERE.


SolaHD has a complete line of energy saving transformers that are compliant with the “Buy American” provisions of the ARRA. They are manufactured in the U.S., are compliant to NEMA TP-1 standards, single and three phase availability and are high efficiency for low cost operation. To see the full list of features and benefits and to learn more about products available from SolaHD, you can download the PDF HERE.

General Cable LOGO Green and Black

General Cable products are manufactured in America to build America. At General Cable, they provide cutting and paralleling services as well as pulling eyes for easy installation. They offer great products including STABILOY® Brand aluminum building wire as well as copper building wire and Carol® Brand cord products. They are perfect for portable power during construction. To learn more about the products available from General Cable, you can download their Manufactured in America PDF HERE.


To learn more about products that are manufactured in the USA or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, contact your French Gerleman representative. From all of us at French Gerleman, we hope you and your families have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday!

photo credit: Flag via photopin (license)

Featured Product: SolaHD S5KC Modular Series On-line UPS

SolaHD’s new line of single phase online modular uninterruptible power systems (UPS) are designed to protect equipment, people and products by providing conditioned power during normal operation and automatic battery back-up during power failures.

SolaHD S5KThe S5KC Modular UPS can be expanded as needed to add capacity and runtime – even while operating in the field. The heavy-duty design features an all metal case with tough metal bezels built for durability in demanding industrial settings. Hot swappable modules and optional redundancy as needed, provides fault tolerance and the ability to maintain the UPS without taking it off-line. Available in transformer based and transformer free models, the S5KC is our most scalable, rugged and dependable UPS for demanding industrial applications.

  • User interface module can be remote mounted.
  • Rugged, industrial design with all metal housing and bezels.
  • Metal bezels provide easy access to integral standard air filter that snap on and off with no tools required.
  • Power modules, batteries, maintenance bypass and distribution house in a single, small footprint cabinet.
  • Can be installed in enclosures as well as on raised floors and traditional flooring.

Scalable from 5 to 20 kVA, the S5KC offers many flexible options by adding a few standard modules. Designed to be fully configured, tested and shipped in the configuration you need, it also has the ability to be easily upgraded in the field to either higher VA ratings (up to 20 kVA maximum), longer back-up time or to add N+x parallel redundancy. Configurations can be cost-effectively upgraded keeping your S5KC Modular UPS current without a large reinvestment in a new system.

  • Get capacity on demand by adding power modules in 5 kVA/4.5 kW increments, with no need to power down.
  • Optional Power A/C Distribution (PAD) provides output distribution, input connection and a rotary maintenance bypass switch.
  • Available in 10, 12 and 16 bay models with or without output transformer.
  • Transformer free models provide flexible input and output voltages for easy integration into an OEM machine.
  • Transformer based models isolate the load from electrical noise and provide

With multiple standard options in a smaller footprint, this new UPS series is ideal for industrial systems, automotive, pharmaceutical, oil/gas, food/beverage and mid-range power protection applications.

SolaHDAsk your French Gerleman representative for information on how the new SolaHD S5KC adapts to your requirements for scalability and availability.




Spring Showers Bring Power Surges

Storm Stock PhotoElectrical power surges and disturbances happen — especially during this time of year. While we may wish to cross our fingers and hope for the best, it’s important to recognize that power issues will happen and understand their impact in order to deploy the best solution to protect your facility.

Power surges occur from many different sources. The most familiar source is lightning, though it’s one of the least common causes. It may be surprising, but the majority of power quality issues originate from the customer’s side of the meter. Research indicates that approximately 80% of a facility’s power quality problems come from internal sources such as electric motors, HVAC systems, lighting, welders, variable frequency drives and other switching devices. The remaining 20% are transient surges generated externally. These tend to receive more attention because they are more immediately destructive while internal surges slowly degrade electronics, which can disrupt productivity.

Transient surges are very short in duration, but very high in energy, and have the ability to destroy a facility’s sensitive electronic equipment. For this reason, it is important that the proper protection is in place to reduce or eliminate equipment damage – especially during the Spring and Summer months when electrical storms are prevalent. It’s important to note that while transients can get induced on virtually any copper wire within a facility, like power lines, often overlooked low voltage data lines (network cables, telephone wires, fire alarm panels, etc.) can be impacted.

SolaHD Surge ProtectorsA single surge protective device (SPD) is typically not enough to ensure reliable power to your facility. Due to the numerous sources and types of power disturbances, maintaining power quality requires a multi-tiered approach.

  • Service Entrance AC Panel: All facilities that employ mission-critical electronic equipment should have a properly sized SPD installed at the main electrical service entrance. Surge protection connected to the incoming power line provides the first line of defense against transient surges caused by external factors such as nearby utility grid switching, lightning or other power disturbances.
  • Distribution Panel AC Power: A quality SPD connected to key distribution panels throughout the facility provides a second level of protection. It also provides a first line of defense against the repetitive internal surge events cause by motor load switching, capacitor bank switching and other internally generated surges. If not properly protected, today’s highly sensitive electronic devices will degrade from repetitious surge damage and eventually will fail.
  • Branch Panel AC Power: Dangerous power disturbances can exist anywhere in a facility. In order to be fully protected, surge protection should also be installed at specific sensitive loads or anything drawing an AC current. IEEE Emerald Book recommends surge protection at critical branch panel-boards, and at specific sensitive loads, including uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), or other mission-critical equipment found within a facility.

SolaHDSolaHD, a French Gerleman partner, has an excellent Power Quality Guidebook that breaks out scenarios of power failure and what product they recommend for each. This is an extremely helpful guide and takes a lot of the fear out of the process.

We stock a full assortment of SolaHD products and would be happy to help you identify the proper surge protective devices and power conditioning solutions to provide clean, uninterrupted power to your facility. To help you get started, download SolaHD’s Checklist for Surge Assessment.


Ask your French Gerleman representative for information on how you can protect your facility against the surges caused by April Showers!