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Electricity question
Posted by: Black
Date: February 24, 2011 12:41PM
Someone made a convincing case today that during a blackout (recent blizzard) some of their lights were on but very dim, and one TV in the house worked normally but nothing else. Any idea how that could be possible? Single family home, no generators or battery backups of any sort.




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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: Buzz
Date: February 24, 2011 12:47PM
Steve King's house?



Sometimes it is what it is...
and then there's times when it's really better.



==
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: February 24, 2011 12:50PM
Next door neighbor running a generator without a transfer switch? (feeding power out to the grid...).



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

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Eureka, CA
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: michael_s
Date: February 24, 2011 12:50PM
Maybe someone in the area had a generator or other power source that was back feeding.
Very dangerous.
Curious to know more my self.
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: billb
Date: February 24, 2011 12:50PM
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Don't let Satan blow it out,
I'm gonna let it shine
Don't let Satan blow it out,
I'm gonna let it shine
Don't let Satan blow it out,
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,







brown out and/or lost a phase
not a total blackout
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: davester
Date: February 24, 2011 12:50PM
That's called a brownout, not a blackout.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: space-time
Date: February 24, 2011 12:51PM
haunted house?

interesting...

pure speculation: maybe there was voltage, but very low. an incancespect bulb would still run, but will be dim, and maybe the TV was designed to take very low voltages (autoswithing), or perhaps the TV was hooked up to a UPS? then the rest of the house was on CFL and those don't even come on at very low voltage???

any other crazy scenario?
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: February 24, 2011 12:54PM
Electricity comes into the house in the form of 2 120V lines. 2 together makes a 240V circuit.

Half the breakers in the breaker box run off of one 120V line, the other half, the other 120V line.

One of the incoming lines was out or failing. The other line was working fine. That's how it was functioning properly in part of the house, one circuit had full power, the other did not.

It's not uncommon to have that happen during an ice storm.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: lafinfil
Date: February 24, 2011 12:59PM
Had a similar situation this summer with my neighbors house. She had lost power in part of the house but had it in other parts. It happened twice - first time I reset the breakers (none were tripped) and it seemed to fix the problem. The electrician couldn't find any problems.

It happened again a few weeks later so I called the electrician and did not reset anything. After he poked around the service panel he determined that the panel was only getting current from one leg coming into the house. The power company came out and tracked down a bad line clamp where one of the lines to the house attached to the feed. Power company replaced the split bolts and solved the problem. Bonus was since her lines and mine were clamped by the same split bolt to the feed line my power no longer blinks when we have high winds.

An electrician can check this by measuring the voltage on the two hot legs where they enter the service panel. If one is bad call the power company.

<edit> Damn Jamie and his super fast internet !







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/2011 01:01PM by lafinfil.
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: February 24, 2011 01:15PM
yepp. one phase was off. AND the house was poorly wired if there was cross-phase wiring, or had a leaking winding insulation in a 2 phase motor or gizmo somewhere.

The criminal neighbor generator without a transfer switch is always a possibility. I've heard that when power crews find someone running their generator like that, they disconnect that house from the mains, and reconnecting them goes to the BOTTOM of the list... they might see power in a few couple of weeks. big grin smiley
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: February 24, 2011 01:30PM
Quote
OWC Jamie
Electricity comes into the house in the form of 2 120V lines. 2 together makes a 240V circuit.

Half the breakers in the breaker box run off of one 120V line, the other half, the other 120V line.

One of the incoming lines was out or failing. The other line was working fine. That's how it was functioning properly in part of the house, one circuit had full power, the other did not.

It's not uncommon to have that happen during an ice storm.

Something similar happened to me recently; the breaker on one of the main 120V feeders went bad. I'd never encountered this before - I was quite baffled as to why we had electricity in some areas of the house but not in others.

P.S. This was in SoCal - no ice storms involved. smiling smiley



It is what it is.
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: Racer X
Date: February 24, 2011 02:40PM
Quote
cbelt3
yepp. one phase was off. AND the house was poorly wired if there was cross-phase wiring, or had a leaking winding insulation in a 2 phase motor or gizmo somewhere.

The criminal neighbor generator without a transfer switch is always a possibility. I've heard that when power crews find someone running their generator like that, they disconnect that house from the mains, and reconnecting them goes to the BOTTOM of the list... they might see power in a few couple of weeks. big grin smiley

A drinking buddy works for the power company, and there is payback for generator owners here who do that.
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: Black
Date: February 24, 2011 04:32PM
Thanks folks. I'd assumed her whole area was out but this makes more sense.




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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: motopsyco
Date: February 24, 2011 05:40PM
Allz I nowz is dat da licktrycty is da ouchy wens I licz it.

Cheers!
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Re: Electricity question
Posted by: sekker
Date: February 24, 2011 07:17PM
Quote
Black
Someone made a convincing case today that during a blackout (recent blizzard) some of their lights were on but very dim, and one TV in the house worked normally but nothing else. Any idea how that could be possible? Single family home, no generators or battery backups of any sort.

Next time that happens, UNPLUG EVERYTHING. Literally every electrical item plugged in was at risk in this kind of brownout-like effect. I'd agree the best guess was someone running an impromptu generator.

If you DO find the generator culprit, they need to ONLY plug into the generator the key electrical items, NOT plug the generator into the entire system!
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