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shack cooling cost and




 
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Patrick J. / KD5OEI
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« on: September 11, 2019, 11:05:37 AM »

I'm making decisions about saving some energy this summer and although it's late I have a questuion for any electricians familiar with motor loads. Being close to retirement I'm planning a budget. Trying to understand what it costs to turn on the 3-ton air conditioning and lights all day in the workshop.

The installation is very much standard and plain*.

The 240VAC L1 and L2 come in with the neutral, and the only thing running is the 3 ton 'central air' type HVAC unit. These currents were measures with a clamp-on ammeter.
 
L1 has 15A,
L2 has 24A,
N has 5A.

I am guessing the condensing unit is using 15A because it's all 240V.
So that leaves 9A for the air handler blower.
But what about 5A on the Neutral?
4A is missing somewhere?

I know there are phase differences with the inductive loads, PSC motors and C-start/C-run compressor. They account for some of the weirdness no doubt.

I'm trying to figure out what the actual KW is. I am charged by KWh, no charge for power factor.





* Unit is a house type central air unit.
PSC type condenser fan motor -240V
Capacitor start and run compressor as usual -240V.
PSC type furnace blower -120V.
No electroncs, all good old EMP-proof mercury thermostat and electromechanical cotactors.
3 ton condenser and matched 3 ton coil.
The air handler is a decommissioned 5-ton furnace, not a 3-ton, but the air flow through the coil is normal for 3 tons due to the series filter system in place. It really keeps the dust and odors down as well as clearing smoke. Another topic maybe. My HVAC guy measured the airflow and said it was within tolerance for 3 ton system.
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 02:17:19 PM »

hi Patrick ... so yer gonna retire .... I have been since 2013 and except for illnesses / surgeries its been great

the imbalance of L1 / L2 currents is forcing the 5A of neutral current .... I would look at reassigning some breakers for your 120 V loads to better balance them .... most load centers alternate between L1 / L2 as you go up in panel number ...this shud improve panel efficiency

9A for yer air handler motor seems high and especially set for 120V operation ....keep checking
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 04:02:28 PM »

One of the best things I did when I built this house was install a heat pump.  It is a 3 ton unit with a 4 ton air handler.

Our total electrical bill, for an 1800 sq. ft. house, runs less than $200 per month and I have several tube type radios.  You might want to look at changing out you system before retirement if you can afford it.  That and insulation is the way to go in the Southwest.
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2019, 12:10:32 AM »

I need to get at the air handler to check current at the air handler motor wiring. Right now it's behind 2 if not 3 racks. - as is the breaker box for the building's outlets, lights, and a/c. I was able to measure only at the panel at the house proper.

Taking care of it has made it last a very long time. Both units are R22 and I have plenty of it. My group was just laid off last weekend so while I could have it replaced I am going to continue to lovingly care for it in case an urgent expense is required. The workshop building has insulation inside double walls but as a commercial type metal building it's not the best. I can start drawing funds in 5 months and will have a larger decision space then. Who knows the future?

The house is 1000 sq ft not counting the garage and is full of single pane windows. It is run 68 at night and 73 in the day time and the August bill which is always highest was $317. The next one will be less. If I was not working from home it would have been much lower. Anyway we have broken out the fans and the thermostat is going to be adjusted for more economy. Running the shop for 8 hours will cost about $3-4 more, but it isn't used every day, nor for 8 full hours! I may find some of those plastic strips that hang from the ceiling to section off the part I use for workbenches and ham radio operating. No need to refrigerate the junkbox! Normally the lab a/c is set at 85-90 when not in use. On the day I am going to use it I go in the morning and turn the unit on. I have a ton of CAT5 and several coax cables between the building and the house and should find a pair so I can remotely turn the a/c on and off and select between two thermostats for occupied/unoccupied. keep it simple!
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 09:20:09 AM »

I assume the ravenous Bunker-of-Doom is one of your heat sources ... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes

maybe an appeal to your fan base would help  Cheesy
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2019, 02:13:47 PM »

I'd clamp all your ground wires one at a time and see if you have 4 amps returning on ground, if you can.

I say if you can because a lot of old(er) wiring used the conduit as a return.

You're missing 4 amps on your neutral.  That is not inconsequential.

You can also put a PIR or dual tech occupancy sensor in the garage with a contactor or relay switching for the dual t stats.

We have to in California to meet title 24 energy code.  It's a good idea, although it does suck the first 15 or so minutes while the cooler beings a room / building down to temp.

You can use a DC unit, feed it with a series diode and put a cap after the diode on the relay to hold it in after the occ sensor says nobody is in the room if your one of those in and out kinda guys.

Or get an occ sensor with a programmable delay.


--Shane
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2019, 03:48:57 PM »

the imbalance of L1 / L2 currents is forcing the 5A of neutral current .... I would look at reassigning some breakers for your 120 V loads to better balance them .... most load centers alternate between L1 / L2 as you go up in panel number ...this shud improve panel efficiency
So, is this a matter of cost efficiency (higher electric bill) or a matter of equalizing current in the breaker box for cooling, creepage, etc?
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 04:33:30 PM »

I'd clamp all your ground wires one at a time and see if you have 4 amps returning on ground, if you can.

I say if you can because a lot of old(er) wiring used the conduit as a return.

You're missing 4 amps on your neutral.  That is not inconsequential.

You can also put a PIR or dual tech occupancy sensor in the garage with a contactor or relay switching for the dual t stats.

We have to in California to meet title 24 energy code.  It's a good idea, although it does suck the first 15 or so minutes while the cooler beings a room / building down to temp.

You can use a DC unit, feed it with a series diode and put a cap after the diode on the relay to hold it in after the occ sensor says nobody is in the room if your one of those in and out kinda guys.

Or get an occ sensor with a programmable delay.


--Shane
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Occupancy sensor? Seriously?
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 08:02:07 PM »

Yes, rather than running remote A/B tstat wiring from shop to the house.

What's the problem with it?

Your in the room, you have it cooler.  You leave, a half h our later it let's the temperature rise.

We HAVE to have them jn California, along with daylight harvesting and dimming lighting depending on lumens allowed through windows.

--Shane
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 09:44:19 PM »

I'd clamp all your ground wires one at a time and see if you have 4 amps returning on ground, if you can.

I say if you can because a lot of old(er) wiring used the conduit as a return.

You're missing 4 amps on your neutral.  That is not inconsequential.

You can also put a PIR or dual tech occupancy sensor in the garage with a contactor or relay switching for the dual t stats.

We have to in California to meet title 24 energy code.  It's a good idea, although it does suck the first 15 or so minutes while the cooler beings a room / building down to temp.

You can use a DC unit, feed it with a series diode and put a cap after the diode on the relay to hold it in after the occ sensor says nobody is in the room if your one of those in and out kinda guys.

Or get an occ sensor with a programmable delay.


--Shane
KD6VXI

Hang a piece of toilet paper down from the ceiling by a thumbtack a couple feet out from the PIR sensor so that the air from the a/c keeps it moving.
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 09:52:59 PM »

the imbalance of L1 / L2 currents is forcing the 5A of neutral current .... I would look at reassigning some breakers for your 120 V loads to better balance them .... most load centers alternate between L1 / L2 as you go up in panel number ...this shud improve panel efficiency
So, is this a matter of cost efficiency (higher electric bill) or a matter of equalizing current in the breaker box for cooling, creepage, etc?

When I did the measurement, the only thing on out there was the air conditioning. The blower is big, a 5 ton, so it might use 9A.

At this point, just to know the KW consumed by the a/c. So it's about 4800W. Knowing how much it is per hour allows cost to be known and therefore controlled when necessary.

Now it has turned into a mystery, where I want to know where that 4A is going if for no reason than there might be a safety issue. The conduit from the house breaker box to the bunker is buried electrical PVC.
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2019, 11:30:37 AM »

Now it has turned into a mystery, where I want to know where that 4A is going if for no reason than there might be a safety issue. The conduit from the house breaker box to the bunker is buried electrical PVC.

The neutral current is imbalance, but it is unlikely there's anything missing...remember that power factor you said you aren't being billed for? That doesn't mean that the loads on the two legs don't have power factors, and in this case they aren't the same. Current measurements don't tell you power factor, and with motor loads, the current and voltage peaks will not be in phase, there is a power factor, and because it seems one of your loads is only on one leg (120v) the factors on the legs are different. You need a wattmeter. Measure the wattage in each leg and the neutral, then you'll know your actual load that you have to pay for. Real wattmeters are hard to come by, though.  Just like a Bird 43 RF wattmeter, not everyone has an AC power wattmeter, and they are not cheap.

Ed Walters
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2019, 05:19:31 PM »

I don't know much about HVAC systems but is it possible that the compressor unit fan is running at 120V on L2 and N while the compressor itself is at 240 on L1 and L2?
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2019, 02:39:21 AM »

Could be but I think not, having seen it a year ago and had to fix it  - best I can recall..
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2019, 10:03:17 AM »

the imbalance of L1 / L2 currents is forcing the 5A of neutral current .... I would look at reassigning some breakers for your 120 V loads to better balance them .... most load centers alternate between L1 / L2 as you go up in panel number ...this shud improve panel efficiency
So, is this a matter of cost efficiency (higher electric bill) or a matter of equalizing current in the breaker box for cooling, creepage, etc?

a good question .... sorry took this long to answer .... I don't know if the electric bill would change very much because you would need to model these imbalances and then simulate them and take data .... the effect of power factor changes would need to go into the mix as well .... it would be interesting to take a center tapped fil xfmr and simulate this situation with secondary load imbalances while measuring power consumed ....intuitively I would think not too much as long as specific ratings of the system were not exceeded .....

 
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2019, 10:01:37 AM »

Here is a clue staring you all right in the face: "the imbalance of L1 / L2 currents is forcing the 5A of neutral current".
In a 5 RT system a 115V blower motor will easily draw 5 amps thus giving a 5 amp neutral current. I don't know why a 230V motor wasn't used, but then I didn't design the very much outdated system. These days it would be rated at 60,000 BTU/h.

When an electrician wires a service entrance panel does he give any thought to load imbalance? Even with a 3 phase panel there is no way of knowing what the final balance or imbalance will be. That's why there is a grounded neutral conductor earthed at the service entrance and running from pole to pole where it is earthed at every pole in town to carry the inevitable imbalance currents in the system. With all due respect, if you start thinking like electricians and stop thinking like electrical engineers analyzing everything to death your brains will thank you for giving them a rest.
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2019, 08:30:54 PM »

Yes, we do give thought.

The design engineers also have to run load calcs and give us all 3 phases load in amperes.  To this effect, it is done in all panels in a multi panel system.  Main Servi e Panel, Main Distro Panel and each other panel.

I just recently caught an engineer doing typical copy / paste and had a 100 amp subpanel with 98A on phase A.

Phase B and C where below the 80 pct rule (a 100A rated bussbar panel is permitted to run 80A CCS so as to give room for Oops, motor start up, etc)

Upon sending an RFI to the engineer, we had to up size the subpanel feed and install a new panel.  He also changed the loads so that the three phases where all similar.


Load balancing a panel is also given a complete day for our apprenticeship program.

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« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2019, 11:09:52 PM »

I doubt an electrician would have noticed the 4 'missing' amps. It's moot at this point. because the way the meter charges for power, using current transformers on each L1 and L2, it's only the measured amps that will matter. I'm good with 40-50 cents an hour for a/c.
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2019, 01:17:35 PM »

I doubt an electrician would have noticed the 4 'missing' amps. It's moot at this point. because the way the meter charges for power, using current transformers on each L1 and L2, it's only the measured amps that will matter. I'm good with 40-50 cents an hour for a/c.

Not at all true. In fact, pretty much all wrong. You aren't being surcharged for low power factors, but you are definitely paying for watt-hours, not amp-hours.

Regardless of power (watts) used, electrical systems have to be spec'd and sized for current draw. With a really low power factor, you could consume very little power -- and still have lots of amps flowing needing big wires, transformeres, etc., which cost the power company more to install. So customers with low power factors get monitored and penalized for increasing their infrastructure costs, even though they do not consume that much actual power.


A conventional wattmeter (with a spinning aluminum disc) has voltage and current windings that create the magnetic field that spins the aluminum disc. It automatically compensates for power factor and reads in watts, not volt-amperes, or amps. It does this because both fields are there, and they are more or less in phase depending on the power factor (really, the phase angle between the two) thus adding or cancelling based on that phase angle. It's pretty slick considering when it was invented.  Oh, if you're wondering about how a non-magnetic aluminum disc is spinning due to magnetic fields, it is conductive, it spins due to the eddy currents induced in it. First described by Léon Foucault in 1855, although he is much better known for his pendulum. 

You can bet that modern smart meters are at least as good at catching the power factor, for which we should all be glad. Think about it for a moment -- power factor is almost always less than 1.0. By using watts instead of VA, we pay LESS than we would for pure amps times volts.

Ed -- among other things, a Physicist.
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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2019, 07:47:22 AM »

Ah, engineers vs. electricians vs. technicians... horror movie fodder? There was a cow orker on my last job before I retired with a license plate holder that read "I'm a technician, not a magician!" Since "smart" KWH meters were mentioned, power companies are phasing out dumb meters because with continuous monitoring they can find ways to raise rates and consumers have no way of getting around them. When they first came out the public was up in arms, but unless one wants to live without electricity just relax, if you tense up it hurts more going in. Be glad you don't live in Australia, their power infrastructure is a disaster, and electric rates are through the roof. I know a bloke who slashed his ham shack to the bone, is moving from PCs to small boards like R-Pi and is slowly expanding his solar system as the budget allows.

Power factor, now that's an interesting one that occurs with inductive loads, your average induction motor name plate reads 90%. They're showing up in unexpected places these days, that's one reason smart meters are taking over like dutiful company robots. For as long as I have been looking up (at antennas, etc.) I've seen familiar high voltage oil filled capacitors and things that look like small transformers with no secondaries up on poles. I don't think I have to tell you they correct for power factor, but I did anyway.
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« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2019, 11:57:35 AM »

Most people who get a smart meter and their bill increases have that happen because of now accurate power billing, not because of any nefarious, deep state or other bs claims.

Opcom, whenever I install something that pulls more than a couple amps I do put a clamp meter on it to test.  That's just a good idea, we are paid by the hour, not the quickest install time.  So yes, a 5 amp difference would be noted.

--Shane
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« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2019, 07:31:41 AM »

Since the claim of accurate billing was brought up it's time to add what the hubbub is all about, bub. The second generation smart meters record consumption vs. time of day, (gen 3 also use PLC eliminating walk by meter readers). Those previously mandated to use high consumption appliances timed for only during off peak periods got slammed the hardest as if they were used during peak periods. Billing at rates according to time of day started well and resulted in savings, then it turned into a monster when meters were changed to gen 2. Now I ask you, was that fair? Never mind legal, we all know what is legal is seldom fair, like needling meat so people buy water weight.
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« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2019, 10:09:16 AM »

I'm not talking about the TOU (time of use, as PG&E calls it)  billing, I'm talking about how after 10 to 50 or more years the old analog meters where just plainly inaccurate.

After installing many CT enabled remote energy monitoring devices for corporations with way more dollars than most of us have, I know they where inaccurate.

Sometimes to the benefit of the utility, sometimes for the benefit of the company being billed.

I work(ed) in the solar business for years, installing battery banks for TOU billing bypass.  I completely understand what you're saying.  I'm just saying most analog meters where no longer accurate.

How often do we claim accuracy on a Heath or Drake wattmeter that's been sitting outside for 30 years never having been calibrated.



As to the legalities of TOU billing, I've no Idea what you're talking about.

How a b out the fact you can build a completely off grid home, battery backed up, and still be forced to pay 39 bucks a month for a meter and electric service.  Even if you have a disconnect on it to ensure you never use it, you still have to have it.  That's legal.

--Shane
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« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2019, 11:59:42 PM »

I doubt an electrician would have noticed the 4 'missing' amps. It's moot at this point. because the way the meter charges for power, using current transformers on each L1 and L2, it's only the measured amps that will matter. I'm good with 40-50 cents an hour for a/c.

Not at all true. In fact, pretty much all wrong. You aren't being surcharged for low power factors, but you are definitely paying for watt-hours, not amp-hours.

Ed -- among other things, a Physicist.


I never said I was being billed for power factor deficiencies calculated by the meter. PF was only ever a slight aside, looked at to find amps not shown by the ammeter and having nothing to do with by billing. Absent proper measurements, the simplest wording and calculation is assumed. I didn't think it all needed to be explicitly stated in this group, although some have kindly gone into detail and also suggested that I check for ground/safety issues or balance the load better.

The only thing I am interested in is the the maximum amount I could be charged for that juice. Just the bottom line to go into the place and turn on the air coinditioning. I've deemed an estimate of 40-50 cents an hour to be close enough to have answered the question.

Just to be clear, I have experience in that practical science. I've measured phase discrepancies while tracking down and correcting issues in mobile power generation where it has caused capacity-vs-nameplate problems, and I know when power factor's important and when it's not. I know how eddy current power meters work and I even own one; it's a nice toy, and I have created so-called smart meter designs during employment at a semiconductor manufacturer including optimizing customer's prototypes based on our chips and chipsets as well as replacing incumbent solutions and handing the physical results back to customers as reference designs.

I'm happy with it.

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« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2019, 11:58:37 AM »

"I'm not talking about the TOU (time of use, as PG&E calls it)  billing, I'm talking about how after 10 to 50 or more years the old analog meters where just plainly inaccurate."
I know, I proofread twice before posting and still sometimes like this one I'm misunderstood.

"After installing many CT enabled remote energy monitoring devices... Sometimes to the benefit of the utility, sometimes for the benefit of the company being billed."
I don't know about that never having paid an electric bill for anyone other than myself. Most large corporations, not necessarily Megacorp, have legal departments and pockets deep enough to dispute with an electric company, homeowners get swatted like bugs.

"How often do we claim accuracy on a Heath or Drake wattmeter that's been sitting outside for 30 years never having been calibrated."
I don't know, I never owned one. I wouldn't trust any but the old reliable Bird 43 family. I know a guy with a Dosey watt meter, I don't have the heart to tell him what a joke Dosey watts are.

"How a b out the fact you can build a completely off grid home, battery backed up, and still be forced to pay 39 bucks a month for a meter and electric service."
It's the same as something I'm more familiar with, having a well and septic system and being forced to pay a water bill and sewer tax based on water use. It would be nice to know who the joker is who reads the nonexistent water meter.
As for the solar system, there ARE 10 planets. Living off the grid is a bad idea unless you live in the wilds of Alaska where there are no utilities. It's better staying on the grid backfeeding what you don't use and having the electric company pay you. Cogen facilities like oil refineries on a major scale and landfills on a minor scale do it all the time. I know that personally, I've seen both.

While on the subject of solar panels, an interesting thread to follow is the one started by the poor guy suffering RFI from his neighbor's newly installed system. It would be nice to know how satellites and the ISS manage plenty of power without the slightest bit of noise.

Then Opcom said "The only thing I am interested in is the the maximum amount I could be charged for that juice."
When it comes to load imbalance and neutral current, if its high enough voltage above ground can become a safety issue. The last company I worked for had a 3 phase grounded delta service with get this, no neutral connection between the neutral bus in the panel to the pole transformers. This resulted in heavy earth current with one side of the delta reading 90 volts and the other 140 volts. Steel EMT carried the neutral / safety ground I'm sure was hot, thankfully there were no earth grounds present except the one from the panel to the water main. The plumbing could have been hot too, I'm glad nobody found out the hard way. I imagine you gave an earth ground in the shack, just for shits and giggles you can use an RMS voltmeter to check between it and the screw holding the cover plate on a nearby outlet. Note: It won't read if some hack failed to follow the NEC when the place was wired.
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