Why Optimise Domestic Voltage?

by Steve on August 28, 2010

With domestic voltage optimisation market leaders VPhase rolling out their UK programme, maybe it’s time to look behind the reasoning of this part of the green revolution.

For many years voltage optimisation has been used by industry to reduce energy consumption but why do we need to optimise domestic voltage in the UK to 230 volts?  Many argue that it’s not necessary because the savings to consumers through reduced electric bills will be minimal.  The cost of the optimisation equipment and installation would take many years to recoup. Although I am a keen supporter of most things that are ‘environmentally friendly’ I have been one of these sceptics, but I am starting to see some sense behind reducing domestic voltage to 230 volts.

Notional 230 volts
As electricians in the UK we are all too aware of the fact that we are dealing with a notional voltage of 230 volts.  I call it notional because we are trained to accept mains voltage as 230 volts single phase or 400 volts 3 phase when in reality our test equipment shows us 242 or 415 volts.  We come across this every day, accept it as one of the facts of life and blame it on the EU.  But it does have consequences that we may be overlooking.

The latest UK standard (which is set by European legislation) specifies that the optimum operating voltage that electrical equipment must be designed to operate at is 230 volts, with a minimum set at 207 volts.

The Grid
The UK’s National Grid is designed to supply electricity to it’s consumers at around 240 volts.  European Harmonisation set a nominal supply voltage of 230 volts +10% to -6%.  That is a legal variation between +23 volts to -13.8 volts.  Therefore actual consumer’s voltages could legally range from 217 to 253 volts.

Although consumers at remote parts of the system may receive a voltage at the lower end of this range, in reality most still receive a supply average of 242 volts and a reduction of the overall system to 230 volts could put remote consumers below acceptable levels.

The Reality
In reality our homes receive 242 volts whilst most of the equipment and appliances we run are designed for 230 volts.  So when your customers complain that their light bulbs are regularly blowing or their appliances don’t last as long as they used to, you may put this down to cheap lamps or dodgy appliances, or you may now think about another cause.

Your questions
As electricians we need to understand and trust this new technology as we will be the ‘experts’ installing it. Find more at  Domestic Voltage Optimisation- Does it Work?.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andy August 31, 2010 at 18:07

thanks for the information great post keep up the great work, iam an electrician in manchester and come across shoddy electrics all day long

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: