cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Mains voltage issues

Community Veteran
Posts: 26,379
Thanks: 634
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Mains voltage issues

Has anyone had any experience of dealing with mains voltage being on the high side?
Since we moved in to this house in January we've been having problems with light bulbs blowing. Reckoning up we think it's 12 in the last 9 months.
Recently I've been looking at the incoming voltage reported by my UPS. It seemed to vary between about 238V and 252V (it only reports rounded to 2V). I've tried checking it with a little meter and also bought one of the plug in usage monitors that also reports the voltage and all three are within a couple of volts of each other.
The specification is that mains voltage should be 230V +10% -6% which is 216.2V to 253V
I've been in touch with the distribution company who have logged a case and am waiting for their engineer to leave me with the monitoring equipment that they run for about a week. However talking to the engineer I got the impression that unless it actually goes over 253V they are not going to be interested in doing anything about it. The excuse is that if it drops low people will experience problems with other equipment, but the cynic in me says that by keeping it on the high side people use more so they make more money!
I had had the UPS cutting in briefly at odd times in the past when I hadn't seen the lights dip. I'm now wondering if this was because the voltage had gone high (it's set to cut in at 256V). This doesn't seem to have happened recently so I'm betting that when he monitors it it isn't going to go over.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
14 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,307
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: Mains voltage issues

250ish Volts is pretty common in the UK, you been buying cheap lightbulbs jelv?
Are they incandescent (fillament) bulbs?  Nobody should still be using those (horrendously inefficient).
If you don't like CFL lamps then try LEDs, they're even more efficient and light to full brightness instantly (and (unless really cheap & nasty examples) last a long time so, even though they're expensive they do represent good value (especially with the price of electricity nowadays).
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 25,789
Thanks: 1,134
Fixes: 47
Registered: 14-04-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Mine is currently 242v
Customer and Forum Moderator.
Product of the Tyrell Corporation
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,154
Thanks: 54
Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Agree with W23, 250+/- a few volts shouldn't trouble many appliances, as he says cheap nasty bulbs in particular will suffer a bit. I still use a variety of filament bulb 95mm globes, but the quality is really quite poor nowadays, and can only seem to get them on line. Otherwise wherever possible I use halogen fittings and bulbs.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Infinity
Pro
Posts: 5,601
Thanks: 149
Fixes: 2
Registered: 19-06-2011

Re: Mains voltage issues

Quote from: jelv
Has anyone had any experience of dealing with mains voltage being on the high side?
Since we moved in to this house in January we've been having problems with light bulbs blowing. Reckoning up we think it's 12 in the last 9 months.

Are these bulbs in different rooms ?
Did all the bulbs come with the house ?
Perhaps they were all installed on the same date, and have come to the end of their natural life ?
Any bulbs in the same holder ?
Do the previous occupants admit to having a similar problem ?
Maybe they just fitted really cheap, poor quality light bulbs !
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Perhaps your mains supply has surges / spikes, not recorded by the UPS ?
I won't be in your area, which is where? my mains voltage at the moment is varying between 239.7v and 241.5v, as measured by a plug in consumption meter.
It is always around 240v, and my surge protectors never register any overvoltage or spikes recorded.
iMacs, TV's, PVR's all covered with separate ones.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Perhaps a fridge freezer is throwing back spikes into your ring main when it kicks in ?
My kitchen lights ( spotlights) sometimes dim for a fraction of a second when mine kicks in.
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,346
Thanks: 609
Registered: 23-09-2010

Re: Mains voltage issues

One of my light bulbs exploded last week. The glass part bounced off the ceiling and landed next to me. Candle type 60w made in Poland.
Bought in the 99p shop in large packs. A few of these in each pack never last long but they're still good value.
As long as you remember to duck. Cheesy
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,379
Thanks: 634
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

We're currently renting while looking for somewhere to buy, so not inclined to invest in LEDs or the better CFLs which have the reduced warm-up time. The other issue is that we have to use the light fittings that are inn the house which include 5 bulb candelabras that will only take 40/60W candle or small globe bulbs. Some of the bulbs that have blown were decent ones we brought with us that go in table lamps.
Quote from: w23
250ish Volts is pretty common in the UK

250ish shouldn't be common as the absolute legal limit is 253V. In fact when I rang the distribution company I was told that if I saw it going above 253V I should call the emergency number!
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
Infinity
Pro
Posts: 5,601
Thanks: 149
Fixes: 2
Registered: 19-06-2011

Re: Mains voltage issues

I would still contact the agent or landlord, and then previous tenants through them.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,307
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: Mains voltage issues

Quote from: jelv
250ish shouldn't be common as the absolute legal limit is 253V. In fact when I rang the distribution company I was told that if I saw it going above 253V I should call the emergency number!

I agree that it should never go above 253V but I maintain that 250ish is pretty common.
Bear in mind that, although our nominal Voltage is now 230V it always used to be 240V where the majority of Europe always used 220V.  European harmonization required all EEC member states to change to 230V nominal but in practice that just meant changing from 240+/- 6% to 230V +10%/-6% in the UK and 230V +6%/-10% in other European countries, nobody actually changed their voltage so we still operate at 240V and they still operate at 220V.  National grid voltages are very carefully controlled and vary a lot less than +/-6% but the output Voltage of a transformer(sub-station) is load dependant, they will be designed to give close to the maximum allowed when lightly loaded (the majority of the time) so that they remain above the minimum when fully loaded (advert break during national events when everyone's kettle goes on).  Cheap bulbs from Poland (for example - since it has been mentioned) are probably designed around the old 'European' 220V standard and may well have a shortened life if operated on 240V +/-6% (or 230V +10/-6%), exploding ones though suggest serious quality issues.
Appliances supplied for use in Europe (including UK) are supposed to be designed and tested to operate safely at 230V +/-10% but many heating and lighting appliances are actually still designed to give their true rated output at 220V (for the largest part of the market) and therefore give greater output in the UK (many manufacturers still have difficulty understanding the fundamental change of designing for 230V - I know because I've worked in appliance testing/certification).
LED bulbs are available in candle and small globe in both Edison screw (ES) and bayonet type (BC) fittings (also 'small Edison screw' (SES)) as well as traditional shaped enclosures but some types take some hunting down (I've yet to find small bayonet (SBC) ones Sad), I recently bought 3W candle 'SES' bulbs for a 'chandelier' fitting to replace 5W CFL (and previously 35W halogen and 40W incandescent), the 3W LEDs are brighter than the 5W CFLs (noticably) which were, in turn, a bit dimmer than the 35W halogens.  If I moved house I'd be taking my LED bulbs with me (almost the entire house is now LED lit from 1.3W to 5W individual ratings) and leaving behind cheap CFLs or similar.
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
kmilburn
Grafter
Posts: 902
Thanks: 2
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Going from my UPS,  my mains voltage is consistently between 245 -250, and most commonly at 250.
CX
Grafter
Posts: 745
Thanks: 2
Registered: 16-09-2010

Re: Mains voltage issues

My APC UPS usually says 245/246V, and a plug-in meter agrees.
How does it work though? The higher voltage means it's more efficient for the electricity companies to get it from the substation to your home, but presumably we also end up using more watts? (double benefit for them)
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,379
Thanks: 634
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Interesting development last night: my UPS cut in because of high voltage (it's set to cut in at 256V).
Quote from: w23
LED bulbs are available in candle and small globe in both Edison screw (ES) and bayonet type (BC) fittings (also 'small Edison screw' (SES)) as well as traditional shaped enclosures but some types take some hunting down (I've yet to find small bayonet (SBC) ones Sad), I recently bought 3W candle 'SES' bulbs for a 'chandelier' fitting to replace 5W CFL (and previously 35W halogen and 40W incandescent), the 3W LEDs are brighter than the 5W CFLs (noticably) which were, in turn, a bit dimmer than the 35W halogens.  If I moved house I'd be taking my LED bulbs with me (almost the entire house is now LED lit from 1.3W to 5W individual ratings) and leaving behind cheap CFLs or similar.

We've already been in this rented house longer than intended, and not knowing what we are going to buy we don't really know what bulbs we'll need. But buying LEDs and replacing them with the cheapest rubbish just before we move out is not a bad idea!
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,307
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: Mains voltage issues

Quote from: jelv
Interesting development last night: my UPS cut in because of high voltage (it's set to cut in at 256V).

Ouch!  That's definitely beyond what it should be, you can't be the only one in your area experiencing this though.  Report it.
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,364
Thanks: 15
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Quote from: jelv
Interesting development last night: my UPS cut in because of high voltage (it's set to cut in at 256V).

Call your supplier and tell them you are sending them a recorded letter about this event.
I bet a van and a worker turns up the next morning to look at your nearest transformer.
Sound like they are trying to power quite a few buildings off the transformer, those furthest away are likely seeing just about the expected 240-250V (rms).
--
3Mb FTTC
https://portal.plus.net/my.html?action=data_transfer_speed
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,379
Thanks: 634
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Mains voltage issues

Does anyone have any idea how much difference moving one tap point on the transformer makes?
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)