Why bother optimise voltage?
Posted by Matt Cody on 13 July 2011 at 9:12 am
This is an often-asked question. The simple answer is that it prevents energy waste that virtually all homes in the UK suffer as a result of electricity typically being provided at the higher end of the statutory range - and therefore saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and saves money.
The average electricity supplied to UK homes is around 245 volts, whereas appliances are designed to operate on the European range of 230 volts, plus or minus ten percent. Most appliances do not benefit from the higher voltage and actually waste it as heat. So, by providing a lower voltage, appliances will work more efficiently and actually use less electricity, and cost you less to run them.
History of voltage optimisation
Voltage optimisation has been around for many years in industry, offering significant savings to commercial and industrial operations. Domestic voltage optimisation launched in the UK in 2010 and across the range of suppliers, independent tests have demonstrated achievable savings on energy consumption in the range of 6% to 12%. This is a significant saving for many consumers in these cash-strapped times.
It’s important to note that (resistive) heating circuits can’t make savings through voltage optimisation, simply because less power in to a circuit means less heat will be generated; therefore any savings made from reducing the voltage will just be lost as a result of the appliances having to be on longer to reach the desired temperature.
Extend the life of appliances
Independent tests and research have demonstrated that for a small reduction in voltage, there is an exponential improvement in the life of traditional, incandescent light bulbs. This concept is equally applicable to other devices and appliances as they’re put under less strain being provided with lower voltage, but still falls well within their manufacturing tolerances. By being able to work more efficiently, there is less component stress through excess voltage supply and heat management.
Works with solar PV
With so much interest in solar PV currently, it’s worth noting that voltage optimisation devices complement solar PV systems and can be used alongside other green techs. They are installed so that they optimise the voltage drawn from the grid, not from the PV system – so maximising the opportunity of the PV system to supply power to the home and export excess electricity back to the grid.
Fit, forget & save instantly
Unlike some other green technology solutions, voltage optimisation is a fit and forget solution in that it doesn’t require any ongoing maintenance or servicing, nor does it require a change in lifestyle or consumer behaviour. As electricity prices continue to rocket, the percentage saving from optimising domestic voltage will become increasingly important; 6% to 12% off an electricity bill is important today, but just think what the price of electricity will be five, ten or even twenty years from now – and therefore what that 6% to 12% saving will then represent – it’s truly staggering.
Photo by Ella Patenall
About the author: Matt Cody is head of marketing at VPhase plc.
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