High voltage in an electrical circuit is always dangerous and should be avoided. But sometimes overvoltages occur and we should be aware of its consequences. Based on my experiences and research, I listed all of them for you.
What happens if the voltage is too high?
Overvoltage effects on end-use can be the following:
Damage in the PCBs
Overvoltages can damage components and circuit boards. It can burn or destroy the equipment. Even worse it could start a fire.
Tripping of sensitive loads
The high voltage could stop the operation of critical equipment. For example, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can trip or burn.
Damage to an electronic component is the potential and direct effect of overheating. This is especially true if the component is unable to withstand excessive levels of heat. Note that most failures in electrical and electronic components are commonly associated with overheating and subsequent burning.
Increase in power consumption
Overvoltage can increase your energy bill. In a domestic installation with electric hot water, cooking, and reverse cycle air conditioning, a sustained 5% overvoltage could be expected to have a high energy cost.
Internal damage to the conductors
Electromigration decreases the reliability of integrated circuits. It can cause the eventual loss of connections or failure of a circuit. Since reliability is critically important for electrical installations, overvoltage is a major focus of research efforts.
Unnecessary tripping of downstream circuit breakers
A circuit breaker shuts off the electrical flow to protect the circuit from overheating. It’s a safeguard that helps prevent damage and electrical fires. If it happens often, there’s a root cause that you need to address. One cause of a tripped circuit breaker in the downstream circuit is overvoltage.
Malfunction and shut down
There are many causes of malfunction and shut down in an electricity network. Examples of these causes include a short circuit, cascading failure, and high voltage.
When an overvoltage occurs, the life of the component will be decreased and it will probably cause a permanent failure in the loads.
High starting current in motors
The starting and full load current will also be affected by overvoltage. At 110% voltage, the starting current will go up 10-12%. This would be a problem if the power supply cannot handle the higher starting current.
Extra costs and errors
Data loss + Damage in internal equipment such as fire and security systems + Extra cost to any business such as lost productivity and product spoilage, staff overtime, delays to customers, and sales loss to competitors.
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