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F.A.Q.#27.


What are harmonics?...
 With more and more electronic devices being used the term harmonics comes into use. Harmonics should be taken seriously but they are not the only cause of your electrical problems. If you have tried everything and you are still having problems and you have a lot of electronic devices it is something to think about. Any distortions in the voltage or current wave causes harmonics. We can give you a lot of technical explantions on what harmonics are but the intention of this website is to help everyone understand electrical terms not cause more confusion. In fact a lot of people (including myself) in the electrical trade are not exactly sure how harmonics effect electrical circuits.
 These harmonic currents create heat. This heat over a period of time, will raise the temperature of the neutral conductor causing nuisance tripping of circuit breakers, overvoltage problems, blinking of Incandescent Lights, computer malfunctions etc.
 Among the electrical devices that seem to cause harmonics are Personal Computers, Dimmers, Laser Printers, Electronic Ballast, Stereos, Radios, TVs, Fax Machines, and any other equipment powered by switched-mode power supply (SMPS) equipment. This is not to say that harmonics will cause all these problems, only that it is possible.
 You can somewhat prevent these problems by using a dedicated circuit for electronic equipment. Also on a branch circuit use an isolated ground wire for sensitive electronic and computer equipment. A more expensive way is to rectify and filter the mains thus effectively removing all low frequency harmonics including the fundamental. Oversized neutrals is another possible means to prevent overheating of this wire. In power distribution systems electricians are usually interested in measuring the current, thus a "true-RMS" current measuring clamp-on meter is normally used.

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