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How Dirty Electricity Can Damage Your Shop Equipment — and What to Do About It

Aug 25, 2023 | Blog, Construction Equipment

You’re familiar with the sound of power tools, the hum of machinery, and the clank of construction materials in your shop. What you may not be aware of, however, is an invisible culprit that could be damaging your expensive equipment — dirty electricity. If you’ve ever experienced unexplained equipment malfunctions, frequent breakdowns, or shortened tool lifespans, it’s high time you knew about the effects of dirty electricity and how to protect your assets.

What is Dirty Electricity?
In simple terms, dirty electricity refers to erratic surges and sags in electrical power. Imagine it like contaminated water flowing through your pipes. It’s still water, but it’s filled with impurities that can cause problems down the line. Just like you wouldn’t want that water flowing through your plumbing, you definitely don’t want dirty electricity coursing through your equipment.

The electrical supply should ideally be a smooth, steady wave of electrical energy. But various factors like outdated electrical infrastructure, surges from heavy machinery, or even interference from nearby electronic devices can disrupt this smooth flow. When this happens, you get ‘dirty’ electricity — erratic power characterized by spikes, surges, and irregular frequencies that your equipment wasn’t designed to handle.

The Hidden Costs
The cost of dirty electricity isn’t immediately apparent, but it’s there. Over time, these electrical fluctuations can harm the sensitive components of your equipment. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Lifespan: Just like a car engine running on poor-quality oil, your equipment suffers wear and tear when it operates on dirty electricity. This shortens the lifespan of your tools, requiring replacements or repairs much sooner than you’d expect.
  • Frequent Breakdowns: Electrical irregularities can cause tools to malfunction or even stop working altogether. While you might chalk it up to ‘bad luck,’ dirty electricity could be the real culprit.
  • Decreased Efficiency: Ever noticed your power tools performing inconsistently? Chances are, fluctuations in the power supply are affecting their performance. This can result in shoddy work, delays, and wasted materials.
  • Safety Risks: Electrical surges can increase the risks of fires or electric shocks, posing a danger to both your equipment and your workforce.

How to Protect Your Equipment from Dirty Electricity
The good news is that you can take steps to minimize the effects of dirty electricity in your shop.

Power Conditioners
One of the most effective ways is to invest in a power conditioner. Think of this device as a filter for your electrical system. It stabilizes the voltage and smooths out those erratic spikes, ensuring that your equipment receives a steady stream of energy.

Surge Protectors
These are great for individual pieces of equipment that are particularly sensitive or expensive. A surge protector absorbs excess voltage, preventing it from reaching your tools. However, it’s crucial to note that not all surge protectors also condition the power, so they might not fully protect against all forms of dirty electricity.

Regular Maintenance
Make it a habit to inspect your electrical systems periodically. Faulty wiring, poor grounding, and outdated systems can contribute to power problems. Consulting with a qualified electrician can help identify and remedy these issues.

Isolate Heavy Machinery
High-powered machines can create power surges that affect the rest of your equipment. Whenever possible, isolate such machines on their own electrical circuits to prevent the spread of electrical noise.

Consult the Experts
If you’re experiencing consistent issues with equipment breakdown, it might be worth it to bring in an expert to assess your shop’s electrical health. They can pinpoint specific problem areas and recommend tailored solutions.

While dirty electricity is an invisible problem, its impact on your shop equipment can be tangible and costly. By taking proactive steps like installing power conditioners, using surge protectors, and consulting with experts, you can protect your valuable tools and machinery — ensuring the long-term success and safety of your operation.

Recommended articles:
Safety Rules to Prevent Electrical Injuries on a Construction Worksite
Evaluating Heavy Equipment Manufacturers’ Durability Track Record