While they are unavoidable, they can also be mitigated.
Harmonics happen when non-linear loads are connected to an electric system. All electrical systems have them and they don’t go away over time—they only get worse.
There are a myriad of problems they cause – such as heat buildup in computer equipment, or wear and tear on HVAC systems causing more frequent breakdowns – resulting in higher maintenance costs and shortened lifespans for your equipment.
There are three types of electrical loads common in commercial and residential buildings, and they each play a role in creating harmonics.
Resistive loads are linear loads, which are a constant flow with slight to no fluctuation, like with classic incandescent lightbulbs. This would cause the lowest amount of harmonics due to the lower pull of kW power,and should utilize its load of power.
Inductive loads are fixed-speed loads, such as industrial and manufacturing applications with drive motors and pumps, and will have a heavier load on startup but will taper to a fixed speed. Harmonics in this case will cause excessive heat causing wear and damage.
Capacitative loads are non-linear loads, and power most of our businesses today. They also create the most harmonics – from LED lighting, computer equipment and routers, HVAC systems and much more.
These devices and equipment are on constantly, and while they manage their own energy consumption, they have a relentlessly draw that fluctuates with intentional and unintentional use.