The state of Power supply in Nigeria still needs major improvement, with voltage fluctuating up and down at many areas frequently.
These voltage fluctuations can damage appliances, thereby causing them a shortened lifespan. In most situations the repair is possible but some are not. When voltage goes down, electric current in the appliance increase, which can result in burning of the appliance. Consequently, Voltage Stabilizers have thus found place in many homes and offices in Nigeria.
In this post we will discuss about voltage stabilizers: what they do, how much power do they consume and how to select one for your setup.

What are Voltage Fluctuations and why do they happen in your home?

Voltage fluctuations are changes (increase or decrease) in voltage coming to your home that make the lights glow dimmer (for low voltage) or extremely bright (for high voltage) than normal. Typically they are not dangerous for most of the appliances, but then they do damage appliances with motor components.

Causes of Voltage Fluctuations in your home

Voltage Fluctuations typically happen because of bad wirings (to your house or inside the house), overload (be it you using more power than your sanctioned load or your neigbhours using more), sudden switching on of high powered appliances (like air conditioners, motors), bad earthing/grounding (system), or short circuits. 

What are Voltage Stabilizers and how do they protect home appliances during voltage fluctuations?

Voltage stabilizers are electrical appliances used to feed constant voltage current to electrical gadgets like Air Conditioners, refrigerators and computers, and protects them from damage due to voltage fluctuations.
Voltage Stabilizers for home appliances eg. TVs, ACs,refrigerators, home theatres
The Voltage Stabilizers perform this regulation of voltage by using electromagnetic regulators that use tap changers with auto-transformers. If the output voltage is not in range a mechanism switches the tap, to change the transformer to move the voltage in acceptable range. It does not give a constant voltage output, but operates the system in a safe voltage range.

How to choose a right sized Stabilizer?

Sizing of a stabilizer is very similar to sizing of a UPS or Inverter (power backup). By Sizing, we mean the needed power load. The most important thing is to know the load connected to the stabilizer.
Firstly, you need to know the power (or watts) for the appliances that will be connected to a stabilizer. The sum total of the power consumption (or watts) will give you an idea of the load on stabilizer in watts. But most stabilizer sizes are in VA (Volt Ampere) or kVA (kilo Volt Ampere which is equal to 1000 Volt Ampere).
Although to get to actual VA (or Volt Ampere) from Watts (W) you will have to do some measurements, but to give a rough approximation, you can increase the Watts value by 20% to get the approximate VA size that you may need. So for example, if sum of watts (from your appliances) to be connected to your stabilizer is 1800W then you can get a 2000 VA or 2 kVA stabilizer.

Things to look out for before buying a voltage stabilizer

Before buying a voltage stabilizer, it is worth noting that you know the input voltage range that gets into your house. This is important because every stabilizer has a minimum and maximum input voltage to which it can stabilize the output voltage. Nigeria uses 220/240V, If a voltage stabilizer has input voltage range of 100 V (min) – 260 V (max) and the voltage in your house goes below 100 V or more than 260 V, then the stabilizer will just cut off the power supply to your appliance. But if it is 150 V or 250 V (within the working range), then it will try to stabilize it to the desired output voltage range.
Surge Protection (or spike guard) is another good feature in voltage stabilizers. This feature protects your appliance from sudden voltage rise such as those that can happen during lightning strikes or short circuits. Make sure that you buy a stabilizer with such feature so that your appliances are safe during sudden surges.

How much electricity do voltage stabilizers consume?

Electricity consumption of voltage stabilizers depends on the efficiency of the stabilizer. Typically they are 95-98% efficient which means they consume about 2-5% of the maximum load. So if you have a 1 kVA (or 1000 VA) stabilizer, it would consume about 50 Watts (on peak load). Which means if a 1kVA stabilizer is left on for 10 hours, it would consume about 0.5 unit of electricity. Thus leaving it on for 24 hours can lead to a lot of electricity consumption. 
More and more electrical appliances these days have started incorporating electronic circuitry for power management. With electronic circuits like SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supply), voltage management has become much easier.
Most LED televisions in the market today can work between  the 110 V and 290V and adding a voltage stabilizer does not help much other than providing surge protection. Your TV can still work if the voltage is low. But a stabilizer with surge protection may prevent it from burning during surges. However, powerful surges like those from lightning can still damage your TV.
Similarly, most refrigerators (especially those with inverter technology) can easily work between 110 V and 290 V and again the surge protection feature is helpful. Appliances like Air Conditioners and Washing machines do need stabilizers as very few have high voltage range. However, some are marketed as stabilizer free operation, but in those, it is important to check the input voltage required by the appliance and the voltage that you regularly receive in your house.
Choosing a Voltage Stabilizer for your home use is necessary for protection against damaged appliances. Cloud Energy's Automatic Voltage Stabilizers can provide the protection your appliances need so that you save more from repairs and fixes for things that matter.
Found this post interesting or have input on Voltage Stabilizer? Let's know in the comments!
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