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HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

Oct 24, 2019

Jim Bergmann returns to the podcast to talk about the power quality meter. He also discusses what it is good for and how to use one.

A power quality meter accounts for the power factor in its measurements, and it measures true power in watts. We can notice failing capacitors and other issues that can cause a device to draw higher wattage. In inductive loads, the power factor will be less than 1. However, we can measure the power factor because the capacitor counteracts the inductive reactance and gets the power closer to unity; the current and voltage should be in phase with each other, so the circuit should be balanced.

The main difference between watts and volt-amps (VA) is the power factor. Volt-amps represent the entire quantity of energy, watts represent power, and volt-amps reactive represent useless energy. So, the power factor is the difference between what makes watts useful and VA reactive unuseful. (Think about a pint of beer, which is VA: you can't drink the foam, which represents VA reactive, and the actual liquid beer is the watts. Unity would represent a pint of beer with no foam.)

When looking at EER and SEER, the power quality meter helps you get a more accurate wattage reading, which allows technicians to determine efficiency more easily. You MUST know your power factor to measure wattage properly. Since consumers are billed on wattage, an accurate measurement is critical to make sure they're paying an appropriate price for energy.

Jim and Bryan also discuss:

  • Supco Redfish iDVM550
  • Matching capacitors to inductive loads
  • Fan efficacy and PSC vs. ECM motors
  • Back EMF
  • Considerations for measuring frequency
  • VFDs
  • BTU capacity, amp draw, and efficiency
  • Commissioning and benchmarking with power quality meters
  • Single-phase vs. three-phase power factor tools

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