depending on where you live, most public utility commissions have specifics
in their charters
that the voltage supplied to customers must fall within 5% of nominal
according to the national electrical code, line loss (voltage drop) for
inside wiring is limited
to 3% for feeders, and 2% for branch circuits, totalling 5%.
so... between those variables, line loss and utility tolerance, you can
have up to 10%
under nominal voltage. add that to "nominal" voltages found in the US,
(110, 115, 117, 120)
and "nominal" voltages requested by appliances, and you can end up in a sucky
situation. try plugging a hottop (120 volts specified) into a service
delivered in the
midwest at 110, with line loss, and utility tolerance, and you have 99
volts to work with.
there is a third variable present, as well. if your electric utility is
regulated or unregulated.
for example, in southern calif. there are both.... for example, LADWP is
SCE is unregulated. this means that a voltage regulator is installed on
feeder leaving the distribution station, and monitors the voltage AT THE
END of that
feeder, making sure it stays at the set voltage. a regulator is about the
size of a small
refrigerator, makes clicking sounds like a bomb when it works, and sometimes
explodes like one.... utility companies don't like them. they are the most
equipment in a system, and the most problematic. for example, if you are in
room at 7:15 in the morning, all at once, all these things start clicking
like mad, in
an attempt to deal with all of Los Angeles turning on their blow dryers and
at the same instant. it's best to leave the room for 20 minutes or so,
until they settle down,
'cause when they switch is when they blow, often. it's one of the highest
that has to be dealt with.
SCE on the other hand, eliminates all that inconvenience by not using
most of their system. this means your voltage is what it is. tough shit. if
like it, work it out in therapy. there isn't much they will do.
usually voltage drop is a problem in the summer, with air conditioning
loads at peak.
the real problem lies in the summer, when all the air conditioning loads
a motor, unlike a heating element, will not produce less power with lower
it will try and do the same work, by pulling MORE current to make up for
voltage. as transformers in the system get buried with load, their voltage
which causes the motors to suck still MORE current. then you have a brownout.
keep it up long enough, and the substation relays out, opens circuit breakers,
and you have a blackout.
you can request a customer survey from your utility company... they put a
on your service for a week, and can make adjustments to the pole mounted
transformer serving you to bump it up a click if need be.
so... with all this pointless information you've been provided with, you
the evils of both enron, and the public utilities commission for just
$100.... what a
value, eh? that little charming variac is looking better and better all the
as long as i am providing pointless trivia, you can be grateful that you
don't have to
deal with the OTHER side of the utilities, water and sewage...... those
have their worst day approaching quickly..... super bowl sunday. they have to
prepare a couple weeks in advance for it...... and the problem is half
consider this..... every toilet in america will be flushed 4 times in 10
it all has to go somewhere.......
consider it a sort of gift.... at least you don't have to deal with the