A few decades ago, harmonic distortion wasn’t as much of a problem in commercial electrical distribution systems. That’s because the vast majority of electrical loads were linear instead of nonlinear. With the proliferation of solid-state electronics that require nonlinear loads — such as computers, variable-speed drives, and fluorescent lighting ballasts — harmonic distortion has become a problem for many companies, one that often requires professional intervention.

Why Nonlinear Loads?

Devices that use nonlinear loads often exhibit better energy efficiency than equipment that uses linear loads. However, they can also create a level of Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) that makes equipment in the system operate less efficiently. Pure capacitance, inductance, and resistance are linear. They are represented by a diagonal straight line on a graph that measures current and voltage. However, this line becomes curved when it represents non-linear loads.

This is because nonlinear loads that feed solid-state electronics are based on the use of semiconductors in the devices. To make matters more complicated, not every solid state device responds with the same curve. Each solid state device in the system is likely to produce a different curved line, making it difficult to consistently predict the relationship between current and voltage. The result is a high level of THD that impedes equipment performance.

Solving the Problem

There are several options for reducing THD, such as installing line reactors, installing K-rated transformers that tolerate harmonics, and implementing sine wave inverters. Some solutions treat the symptoms of the problem, while others treat the source. For example, installing new transformers would treat the symptoms, while Installing sine wave inverters at the electrical main of a building that receives harmonic distortion from a neighboring building would treat the source.

If your company’s electrical system suffers from harmonic distortion, the best option is to have a commercial electrician audit the electrical system and make recommendations for treating or eliminating the problem. If installing sine wave inverters is a viable solution, you can get the equipment you need from Exeltech. Our inverters are NEBS certified, TUV – TL 9000 certified, and come with a Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Certificate of Compliance.

For more information about our products, call us today at (800) 886-4683, or click here to use our contact form.