Voltage Optimisation Explained

Last edited: 18/02/21

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Voltage Optimisation Explained

Last edited: 18/02/21

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Generally, electricity within the UK is supplied at 242V. However, a lot of appliances are rated between 217V and 253V. Understand the concept: if you can reduce the voltage supplied, you can reduce your electricity bill.

The main objective of voltage optimisers is to reduce the voltage that a home receives, taking it down to the lower limit of rating. This can reduce the demand for power and energy use. While certain devices have a fixed voltage adjustment, some regulate voltage automatically. The unit lies between the mains electricity supply and the remainder of the circuit.

Do they save energy?

Whether voltage optimisers save energy or not is debatable; however, if you have high electricity bills, for instance, for industries and businesses, this technology will definitely be useful.

In a large-scale pilot commissioned by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and VPhase, the scheme’s participants saw 5.2% of electrical energy savings. The carbon reduction was estimated to be 5 tons of carbon dioxide per household over the lifetime of the voltage optimiser (which is 36 years). However, saving 5.2% is debated, and other small-scale studies have shown results that aren’t as effective.

While energy savings of roughly 15% have been witnessed in non-domestic areas, the savings typically hover around 10%. The precise savings can only be determined by the relative mix and type of equipment that consume the power, that is, heating, lighting, and motors.

However, even at savings figure of 10%, a business is spending £100,000 annually on electricity. This represents a saving of £10,000 annually – enough to substantially impact the business’s bottom line.

The impact of voltage optimisers on the appliances

Voltage optimisers affect appliances in several ways. They can make the greatest savings in connection with the use of motors. In white goods like freezers and fridges, using one means less power (a few per cent less) is drawn. Major savings are witnessed this way in commercial and industrial motors.

Savings related to lighting can be achieved on incandescent lighting or magnetic ballast (as they become slightly dimmer). However, no savings are promised if using voltage optimisers with LEDs. It’s a good idea to convert to LEDs, since they arefar more cost-effective than using a voltage optimiser with other lighting options.

Heaters consume less power if used in conjunction with a voltage optimiser. However, the downfall is that less heat is produced, leading to few if any savings. So, our recommendation is to turn down the thermostat.

In certain areas, even grants are available. The Carbon Trust, for example, funds energy-efficient technologies; it offers the Low Carbon Business Programme of Essex. The Energy Saving Trust maintains an online database of potential funding sources.

Russell White

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