Is Your Site Ready for Voltage Optimisation?

Voltage optimisation offers a substantial improvement to energy efficiency for the majority of sites, along with the reductions in energy costs and carbon emissions that entails. However, how much benefit your business will get from voltage optimisation will vary significantly depending on several factors, that should be carefully weighed up alongside the level of savings that a VO installation is forecast to provide.

Site Location

While nowhere near the size of our containerised battery storage solutions, we often find that some customers underestimate the size of a voltage optimisation unit. Powerstar supplies commercial Voltage Optimisation units, which are substantially larger than the domestic versions that some customers may already be familiar with. A commercial VO unit is typically the size of one or even two large filing cabinets, with a separate control unit that takes up additional space. The size and weight of these units can cause issues during delivery if not accounted for, particularly as voltage optimisation is typically located indoors in areas containing other electrical infrastructure that can be tricky to access.

Site Interactions

While increasingly infrequent with modern electrical equipment, for older equipment there is the possibility that reducing the voltage will impact on how equipment operates. In the most extreme cases, it can cause equipment to shut out entirely. While many businesses have invested in upgrading their equipment and infrastructure, there is still plenty of aging technology continuing to operate on sites, particularly in the manufacturing sector. One fairly common example is service elevators, that can often be impacted by a reduction in voltage that causes their control panels to stop functioning.

These issues are simple to fix with the use of a small transformer, but identifying them ahead of the installation of a voltage optimisation unit is key to prevent disruption. Similarly, for sites that run a 24-hour operation, installation of a VO unit does mean that the mains electricity will need to be shut off for a brief period. Proper project management, planning and preparation are key to ensuring that this period of disruption is as brief as possible, typically around half an hour.

Varying Savings

There are savings to be unlocked with voltage optimisation on almost any site, but the levels of savings will vary significantly depending on the nature of your business and the equipment on-site. Put simply, VO only creates savings where there are existing losses in your electrical infrastructure. For efficient sites, or for some technologies such as thermostat-controlled heating and cooling, savings can be marginal, although they are still there. For sites with large numbers of motors, such as manufacturing sites, savings will typically be much more significant.

Looking at the savings from voltage optimisation purely in terms of kWh reduction can also overlook the bigger picture. Sites that are running at an overvoltage, which is typical for most business sites in the UK, will see substantially higher wear and tear on equipment compared to those running at an optimised voltage. Over time, this substantially increases maintenance and replacement costs. Some equipment, such as incandescent bulbs, can burn out in a matter of months when supplied with an overvoltage, while they will last for around two years on average when provided with an optimal voltage.

Find out more about the innovative ways that Powerstar solves customer challenges using microgrids here