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Author Topic: Impressive engineer callout  (Read 459 times)

sevenlayermuddle

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Impressive engineer callout
« on: December 20, 2020, 10:24:04 PM »

Earlier this evening I was just thinking the lights were a little dim, when other half mentioned the microwave oven was acting up.   Everything else was working fine, but I checked the mains voltage... mid 190s, vs a supposed minimum of 216V iirc.  So I called to report the ‘fault’.

I am astonished by the response.   Even though there had been no other reports, and even though I still had power, there was no dispute that it merited a callout.

Just under an hour later, two gents in high viz clothing arrived.   They confirmed my supply phase was indeed low.  That’ll need further investigation and possible digging up of underground services, but they climbed a pole (in pitch darkness) to transfer me to another phase.   I now have 238V showing on my plug in test meter.

And all completed, in just over two hours from picking up the phone to report it.    :drink:

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burakkucat

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2020, 10:52:04 PM »

That is an impressive response.  :)
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2020, 11:41:41 PM »

That is an impressive response.  :)

Indeed.   And I should have stressed the obvious, all on the evening of a Sunday in December, in the middle of a global pandemic.

Next time an electricity bill drops through my letterbox I may pay it slightly less begrudgingly than in the past. :)
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2020, 11:47:31 AM »

I am astonished by the response.   Even though there had been no other reports, and even though I still had power, there was no dispute that it merited a callout.

I should hope so, some appliances can actually be dangerous when under-volted although I can't remember the specifics off the top of my head.

It also could be a sign of a much more serious problem that could cause a fire/explosion.  So yeah I'd hope they would take it seriously.
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roseway

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2020, 11:57:22 AM »

You're right about the possible danger. Years ago the same thing happened to our local supply. My gas boiler tried to start, but although the gas valve opened, the spark ignition didn't fire. This seemed to be potentially dangerous and I reported it as such, but the electricity company showed little interest and just told me to turn off the heating (which of course I'd already done).
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tiffy

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2020, 11:59:23 AM »

I'am not an electrician or electrical engineer but I believe that mains supply low voltage, certainly to the degree observed can cause damage to a wide range of domestic appliances from motors to all forms of electronic devices, google "can low mains supply voltage cause damage".

Not to belittle the excellent service received from your network provider, I would be surprised if the mention of a mains supply down to 190 volts odd would not prompt very expedient action even if just to check the accuracy of the report.

Of course if one phase of your overhead supply is running at low voltage other consumers on that phase will also be effected, they may not have noticed the drop and most won't have any accurate means of measuring mains supply voltage.
Would be surprised if you don't see some further remedial action today in the area.

Edit: Cross posts acknowledged.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2020, 12:35:46 PM »

Indeed, low voltages can cause issues.

One that I’m aware of is fridge compressors.  When fed with design voltage, they cycle on and off at a rate predicted by the designers.   With reduced voltage, the duty cycle may increase to compensate,  leading to overheated bearings.

By the time the engineers arrived my voltage had risen to about 208V, so there is only my word for it having been in the 190s.  By the time they were atop the pole switching my supply phase,  the ‘Bad’ phase was reading a nearly legitimate 214V.   They indicated that whilst the issue would get reported back, it was unlikely to get immediate attention unless other neighbours  complained too.  I’m undecided whether to go knocking on doors and explaining the risks, not really my job...

May be wrong, but I have always predicted this is the sort of issue that might surface if, say, a couple of folks on the same phase decide to invest in fast EV chargers which, I believe, can suddenly add tens/hundreds of kW to the load?
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tiffy

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2020, 02:12:29 PM »

Quote
May be wrong, but I have always predicted this is the sort of issue that might surface if, say, a couple of folks on the same phase decide to invest in fast EV chargers which, I believe, can suddenly add tens/hundreds of kW to the load?

I may be wrong, but I think for very high output (fast rate) EV chargers a 3 phase supply is required, I'am sure the cost of this would be off-putting for the vast majority of domestic dwellers.
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tickmike

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2020, 02:20:11 PM »

Hope they are going to check why that phase went low as there will still be maybe hundreds of other customers on that phase.

It could just be a HR joint.  :hmm:
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2020, 03:50:39 PM »

Hope they are going to check why that phase went low as there will still be maybe hundreds of other customers on that phase.

Yes, I agree.   

But I’m not sure they’ll prioritise it unless other people complain, and how many will even notice, or make the connection (no pun intended)?  If the odd appliance like my microwave was acting up they’d just buy a new one which being a different one, would probably work.

I’ve had a word with some of my neighbours, the ones I know best.  The symptoms vaguely struck a chord with one who has now borrowed my plug in meter to keep an eye on for a few days.   But it would be hard to explain to most people, and I may only succeed in causing unnecessary alarm.  Best to leave it to the skill and judgement of supply company.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2020, 04:00:35 PM »

I may be wrong, but I think for very high output (fast rate) EV chargers a 3 phase supply is required, I'am sure the cost of this would be off-putting for the vast majority of domestic dwellers.

Without giving too many personal details away, I live in a modest house, on the edge of a village.   But some of the neighbouring properties within same postcode are multi-acre and anything but modest, with financial punch unrepresentative of ‘majority of domestic dwellers’.   :)
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2020, 04:10:54 PM »

But I’m not sure they’ll prioritise it unless other people complain, and how many will even notice, or make the connection (no pun intended)?

If that is the case then I'd say its a very bad response.  Waiting for someones house to burn down before looking into it, not a great way of handling the situation.

Anyone with good LED lighting is unlikely to even see a dimming, as they are often universal voltage switching supplies.  Anyone with heavy duty motor driven equipment is going to have a very bad day.  I can't see how its okay to ever just leave people on that faulty phase.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2020, 04:36:49 PM »

If that is the case then I'd say its a very bad response.  Waiting for someones house to burn down before looking into it, not a great way of handling the situation.

Then we’ll have to agree to differ as I was delighted with the response.  Sunday evening in late December, situation remedied within two hours of initial phone call. :)

I sympathise with your reservations and those of others, but these guys are the professionals, not us  or at least, not me.   They deal with incidents like this on a daily basis, and have to choose which situations to prioritise.   They can hopefully  discern between the possible, and the probable.   

I’ve no reason to think they’d knowingly expose anybody to significant risk of houses catching fire or other bad outcomes.    If such events happened with any frequency owing to their decision making, I feel sure it would be somewhat frowned upon by their employers and colleagues.  :)
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4candles

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2020, 05:16:15 PM »

I've been very impressed by Western Power Distribution.
A couple of years ago we were getting regular loss of two phases in our street, usually late at night. They always answered the phone in seconds, and power was restored within an hour or so.
They were more than willing to discuss the technical details with me, and explained that fuses were blowing in the sub station due to an intermittent short between phases. Until the fault became permanent they were somewhat hampered in trying to locate it.
Eventually it did become permanent, at about five on a bitterly cold morning. A crew arrived very quickly, excavated the pavement, made the repair and all done and dusted before breakfast.  👍🏼  :)
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Impressive engineer callout
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2020, 06:07:03 PM »

‘My’ guys last night did confess one thing, which is that they are generally quite happy to be called out at unsocial hours.   Apparently, the overtime rates are good.....   :D
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