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What Is Harmonic Distortion?

What Is Harmonic Distortion

You may have encountered the term “harmonics” in discussions about the efficiency of transformers and other electrical equipment, and below, we delve into the basics you need to understand about harmonic distortion.

In simple terms, harmonic currents and voltages are multiples of the system’s fundamental frequency. When equipment with nonlinear loads, such as certain types of electronic devices, is connected to the power system, harmonic distortions can be introduced. These distortions manifest as irregular waveforms, with current flowing in abrupt, short pulses. Consequently, harmonic currents flow back through the power system, affecting other connected components.

What Issues Does Harmonic Distortion Cause?

The presence of harmonics leads to several adverse effects on the power system:

1. Increased Stress & Overheating

Harmonic distortion causes an increase in voltage and current levels, leading to overheating of equipment and conductors. This elevated stress can result in premature aging, insulation degradation, and ultimately, equipment failure.

2. Reduced Power Factor

Harmonic currents contribute to a reduced power factor, resulting in less usable power and increased stress on equipment. This inefficiency can lead to higher energy bills and potential penalties for non-compliance with power quality standards.

3. Malfunctions & Wear

Excessive voltage distortion from harmonics can cause malfunctions in sensitive equipment, such as false tripping of circuit breakers. Over time, this can lead to additional wear and tear on electronic components and shorten their operational lifespan.

How To Mitigate The Issue

  • Passive Harmonic Filters: These devices are designed to selectively eliminate specific harmonic frequencies, reducing distortion levels in the power system.
  • Active Harmonic Filters: Unlike passive filters, active harmonic filters use electronic circuitry to actively cancel out harmonic currents, offering greater flexibility and efficiency.
  • Phase-Shifting Transformers: These transformers are specifically designed to mitigate harmonic distortion by introducing phase shifts between different sections of the power system.

Monitoring & Maintenance

Continuous monitoring and proactive maintenance are key to preventing and addressing harmonic distortion issues. Power quality monitoring systems can provide real-time data on harmonic levels, enabling timely intervention to mitigate potential risks. Regular maintenance of equipment, including power factor correction capacitors and harmonic filters, helps ensure optimal performance and reliability of the power system.

How Johnson & Phillips Deals With Harmonics

If your power system is experiencing harmonic distortion, Johnson & Phillips offers tailored solutions to address your specific needs. Our experienced engineers specialize in diagnosing and resolving harmonic distortion issues, leveraging our expertise in manufacturing power factor correction capacitors. By designing and optimizing capacitors in-house, we ensure they are robust and effective, even in environments with high harmonic distortion.

For a comprehensive assessment and customised solution to your harmonic distortion challenges, contact us today. Unlike other power companies, we prioritize understanding your system’s unique needs via a power quality survey and from there, we can provide targeted interventions.