Troubleshooting commercial lighting loads
Lighting loads are a major load for many large facilities. Evaluating thesecircuits is important for both energy conservation and power quality. Keepin mind that commercial lighting loads are wired single phase, with the loadsconnected from phase to neutral. Typically, the phase-to-phase voltage is480V, with the phase-to-neutral voltage at 277V. Measurements must betaken at the lighting panel, one phase at a time, since power consumptionand Power Factor could vary on each phase.Some points to consider:
1. Power consumption:
Excessive phase unbalance can cause voltageunbalance, which in turn can affect three-phase motor loads.
2. Power Factor:
Ballast with low PF might have lower cost-of-purchase but higher cost-of-operation.
3. Total Harmonic Distortion:
Current THD should be considered whenselecting ballast, especially if there is a possibility of transformer overloading.
4. Voltage stability:
Having the right power system measuring tools isimportant for good troubleshooting. For example, the sags and swells modeof the
Fluke 43B Power Quality Analyzer
(http://www.fluke.com/fluke/usen/Power-Quality-Tools/Single-Phase/Fluke-43B.htm?PID=56080) is especially useful for recording repetitive voltagesags, which can show up as flickering lights. Both current and voltage aremonitored simultaneously. This helps us to tell if sags are downstream of themeasuring point (load-related) or upstream (source-related). For example, if voltage sags while current swells, a downstream current inrush likely causedthe sag. If both voltage and current sag, some event upstream caused thesags.It could be an upstream load like a motor on a parallel branch circuit whichdrew down the feeder voltage. Or it could be source voltage related, for example, a lightning strike or breaker trip/reclosure on the utility distributionsystem.