Thursday, June 23, 2005

Appliances to alleviate black outs? Cool!

Well it appears that appliances can help us avoid black outs like that of August 2003 (in the US and part of Canada). US Dept. of Energy is developing technologies that detect a power disruption and either reduce power or shut off for a period of time. Whirlpool/ is working on controllers that sense changes in the frequency of the power to determine what to do.

At first this doesn't seem like such a great idea. I mean during the black out I might have been running an air conditioner, the TV some lights, and my computers (OK so the computers and all those peripherals being turned off may have been a good thing :-). The only thing that you could turn off was the air conditioner. So how would that have helped? Well if I and a couple of million other user had turned off that extra load we probably would have reduce the power needs by a large amount. Add in a refrigerator, water heater, washer and/or dryer (all big energy users) and you can make quite a dent in the load. As I see it one of the problems is going to be the back-off timer. If all these devices back off the restart at the same time we'll still see some power dips. Another problem is the quality of the power we are currently receiving. I don't know about everyone else but here in NJ I see lots of problems When we lived in an apartment there would be a brown-out (voltage drops momentarily) or black-out every Monday between 9 and 10 AM. Where I live now there are so many homes being added that we experience multi hour outages in the fall, winter and spring. When the weather is normal (no snow or rain). These new gadgets are a great idea but they won't fix weaknesses in the power grid.


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