Power Quality: voltage and current quality

Polluted electricity can result in major problems and high costs

Why purify water but not electricity?

Like water, electricity may become polluted. This pollution reduces the quality of electricity. Inferior quality of electricity, or poor Power Quality, causes problems in electrical installations. And these problems are on the rise.

Over the past decade, our society has become increasingly dependent on electricity. As a result of electrification and the energy transition, this trend is set to continue. Therefore, the quality of electricity is of strategic importance for continuity, efficiency and safety within electrical installations. Poor Power Quality increases the risk of malfunctions and damage and is often accompanied by unnecessarily high costs.

Energy transition in relation to Power Quality

In the Benelux countries, mains voltage is set at 230 Volts with a constant frequency of 50Hz, which is also the standard in many other European countries. Unfortunately, the corresponding pure 50Hz sinusoidal waveform is not always encountered in electrical installations. Normally, the cause does not lie with the suppliers, who are responsible for production and connection to the network, but with the customers themselves.

Common consequences of poor Power Quality

  • Failure of equipment and systems
  • Accelerated wear and tear of equipment
  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Unnecessary energy losses
  • Inefficient use of capacity
  • Ignition of cables and components
  • Increased CO2emissions

Equipment malfunction due to poor Power Quality

Causes of a poor Power Quality

Poor Power Quality can have a variety of causes. One of the most common is replacing electrical equipment in existing installations with modern electronics. Another common cause is adding modern electronics to a legacy electrical installation. Replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting, for example, or installing solar panels, or installing frequency converters on electric motors.

Modern electronics are also increasingly sensitive to contaminated and disturbed electricity. If Power Quality is poor, these electronics will fail more quickly. In addition, inferior quality of electricity also negatively affects the life span of this equipment.

In all industries, devices such as frequency converters, switching power supplies and other electronics are increasingly being used (semiconductors). These devices cause (harmonic) pollution in the voltage and charge the electrical network. This results in unwanted voltages and currents in the network.

As a result of these changes and modernizations, Power Quality around the world has deteriorated over the past decade. Electrification, the energy transition and stricter legislation, rules and standards are further increasing the pressure on quality. These challenges will continue to grow. The consequences are not specific and may vary per application. Partly because of this, companies often fail to realize that identified electrical network problems are caused by poor Power Quality.

Power Quality Ideal Sinus

Ideal Sinus

Power Quality Distorted Sinus

Distorted Sinus

Understanding the prevailing Power Quality

To solve or prevent problems, it is necessary to gain insight into the prevailing Power Quality. Insight is the first step towards improvement. Unfortunately, a deteriorated quality of electrical energy is generally invisible to the naked eye. In addition, problems resulting from poor Power Quality are often not recognized as being caused by inferior voltage and current quality.

Typical effects that may indicate poor Power Quality:

  • Overheated motors and power cables
  • Device and systems errors
  • Computer and network errors
  • Flickering of lighting
  • Larger/accelerated wear and tear on (current) converters and other components
  • Declining production quality and capacity due to disrupted electronics
  • High energy costs without a clear reason
  • Energy losses due to higher harmonic and reactive power

Igniting cables and components - Power Quality risk


Filtering of harmonics, Cos Phi compensation and more specific solutions

One of the most frequently applied methods for improving Power Quality is introduction of a Harmonic filter. A low Cos Phi can often be compensated through the use of a capacitor bank. However, every Power Quality-related issue is unique in nature and appearance and no two problems are exactly the same. Therefore, every Power Quality-related problem requires its own specific analysis and fitting solution - or combination of solutions.


HyTEPS is your Power Quality partner


We are happy to help you to gain insight into the quality of electrical energy within your installation. Through measurement, analysis of measurement results and detailed reporting we can offer you insight into the Power Quality status of your installation. If quality improvement is possible, we can provide you with technologically innovative solutions suitable to your specific situation. Through continuous monitoring of the installation, achieved optimal Power Quality can be maintained.

Ask an Power Quality Expert