"Dirty" electricity?

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I'm starting to wonder if my house has "dirty" electricity. It could be a fluke, but my 4 year old LCD TV is half-gray and our 10 year old microwave just started arcing from the magnetron. It could be that stuff is just getting old, but I'm starting to wonder if the power is to blame. We've been in the house for about 8 months, and both of these failures happened within a few weeks of each other. I'd rather not shell out $500 to replace both only to re-do it in another year. Any experiences with dirty electricity and remediation?
 

sciphi

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Originally Posted By: tig1
I thought "dirty electricity" was going to be about coal fired power plants.
Not going there... It occurred to me that where the electrical panel is located is in an area that experiences pretty large temperature differences between day and night. It gets blasted with sun all day, especially in the summer.
 
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You can check the voltage at various times during the day to see if the voltage is varying or too high or too low. And maybe get a meter than can check frequency and make sure you have 60 Hz. Lastly people call "dirty" electricity a poor sine wave as in a chop wave. You would need an oscilloscope to see the wave to see that.
 

Kestas

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Conversely, I had a TV that was going strong for more than 30 years before I retired it with a fleet screen tv. I attribute the longevity to always having the electricity fed through a surge suppressor. I'm not sure how voltage spikes can degrade a microwave though.
 
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It would be very unlikely he has "dirty" power from a POCO. I'd be looking at a possible neutral issue.
 

CT8

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Originally Posted By: tig1
I thought "dirty electricity" was going to be about coal fired power plants.
you the man!!!!
 
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In the 30 years I have worked in computer rooms, I have seen all sorts of 'dirty electricity' from variable voltages to phase changes/bad sine forms. They can be hard to track with most regulary available equipment. On occasion, the power company may place a monitor to watch the power conditions over a few days if you complain loudly enough. Remediation ? Online ups, line power runs a battery charger, which powers an inverter that carries your equipment. A surge suppressor won't fix bad frequency or low voltages.
 
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Originally Posted By: tig1
I thought "dirty electricity" was going to be about coal fired power plants.
Or electricity made by combustion of fuels from the oil sands.
 
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I work in TV and the worst thing to hit our gear is the "six cycle drop" which lasts 1/10 second. We know we get them because the roof top air conditioner goes "thud" then it takes weeks to chase all the ghosts out of various firmware-driven stuff. No consumer UPS can really handle this. (You'd need one of those motor-flywheel-generator doohickies.) Some cheesy ones might even amplify its effects by switching to its own inverter at the wrong time then going back to shore power without sync.
 

JHZR2

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You may, but that's usually an artifact of generators, not the grid. Do you have much big industry nearby? Perhaps something that would put lots of rectifiers or big transient loads on the local grid? To see anything you'd likely need an oscilloscope and watch for a while.
 
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<span style="font-family: 'Verdana'">From my experience, those wires CAN come loose from the outlet and cause all kinds of electrical problems. I had one come loose and whenever I ran the microwave, the breaker would trip. Come to find out, there were three outlets on that breaker and the microwave was on the same breaker as the loose outlet. Also, the outlet almost caught the wall on fire.</span>
 
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Originally Posted By:
I'm not sure how voltage spikes can degrade a microwave though.
I had a near-new microwave that developed a slight ground fault current through an arc path in the rotating table motor winding. Presumably the power line was hit by lightening and that was the easiest path to ground, present even with the unit switched off. The unit worked OK but kept tripping the whole-house GFI.
 

sciphi

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I did some checking of various outlets. I'm getting 122-123 volts, and it doesn't appear to fluctuate that much. That's according to my freebie HF DMM's, so it's being taken with a grain of salt. I think my next step is to purchase a Kill-A-Watt to measure all the stuff that the freebie DMM can't.
Originally Posted By: JHZR2
You may, but that's usually an artifact of generators, not the grid. Do you have much big industry nearby? Perhaps something that would put lots of rectifiers or big transient loads on the local grid? To see anything you'd likely need an oscilloscope and watch for a while.
I'm nearby a medium-size college campus, a retail area, and have a light industrial development about a mile away, along with a substation about a mile and a half away. It's possible that between all of those my house isn't getting the world's cleanest power.
 
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You need to monitor both legs. A bad neutral can cause wild voltage fluctuations. It may even be weather related if it's outdoors. It could make/break on a windy day.
 
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Depends....on a lot. There are lots of things to check, however I'm cautous to recommend them as messing around with electricity can be very hazardous! If you're serious AND it would put your mind to rest, hire an electrician to check every high-current outlet + your breaker box for corrosion, loose wires, signs of arcing, etc. Then have him install a commercial quality surge arrestor on the breaker box. Nothing over about 400V should ever come inside your house.
 

MolaKule

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Have the power company come out and check the meter connections. I started having noise on my radios and power fluctuations. It turned out to be the three wire power feed to the bottom of the meter. A retorqueing of the connections and the problems disappeared.
 
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