A cycling and flow of knowledge and ideas.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The imminent rise of the AFDD in UK wiring regulations

Arc Fault Detection Device The AFCI technology using a different acronym AFDD, is on the horizon for implementation in the UK and many people are afraid.  Is this true and should we be afraid of change?

Some years ago I wrote a post on why the UK didn't use AFCIs while they are commonly used in North America.  In fact AFCIs are mandatory in the US and Canada to protect certain final circuits in the same way that RCDs, in the form of RCCB and RCBOs, are mandatory in the UK for most final circuits.  There has been a lot of grumbling over the pond about this technology but what does it mean for the UK.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Lies, statistics and the value of nothing.

The value of nothing!

"Accountants, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
A quote typically heard from people who are blindly foraying into financially dodgy terrain. Knowing the value is just as important as knowing the price and more importantly, what is known as the "bottom line."

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Why can't my DVM read the voltage of my electronic transformer?

Why measuring the voltage on an electronic transformer with a Digital Voltmeter (DVM) can be problematic? This post is intended as a demonstration of the two most common misunderstandings, assuming there's nothing actually wrong with the electronic transformer.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The cost of progress - 10 steps to calculate a brighter future.

Thinking of buying a replacement bulb but are worried about the epic price tag?  Especially the latest and greatest LEDs.  Do you see a barrage of statistics but the consequence of this overload of information is leading you to greater uncertainty, stress and worry?

Sadly, I don't have a solution for all of that but, maybe, the following calculator will help alleviate part of your stress, worries and concerns.  And you only need to take 10 steps to use this free, no strings attached, javaScript calculator.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Markings and Symbols on transformers and electronic transformers

Symbols and marks on electronic transformer I have been looking at the symbols which are found printed on transformers. This actually proved much more difficult than I imagined. Essentially the symbols represent standards and indicate the capabilities of the transformer.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Electronic transformers and low voltage LEDs?

The electronic transformer is a favourite for 12 volt low voltage halogen lighting. Its small size and efficient operation make it a favourite. As the emphasis is changing to LED lighting there is a lot of confusion on exactly where you stand if you're using one of these devices. There is a lot of conflicting and confused information regarding their use. In this post I will simply describe the internal workings of a common electronic transformer and try and clear up some of those loose ends of information that are regularly ducked by many vendors, resellers and to a certain extent the manufacturers.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Difference FAQ between ELCB, RCCB, RCBO and RCD

Residual Current Circuit Breaker I was looking at, "Google Webmaster Tools," relating to this blogsite and noted that there was a very large number of queries which followed the format of: "difference between blah and blah" which related to an article I wrote What are ELCB, RCCB, RCBO and RCD's?.

While I didn't specifically write my previous post as a direct comparison, I can understand why it appears to be popular for this particular type of comparison query, as it contains an explanation of what these components are. I thought in this post I would give a brief direct explanation for that particular query type, which also includes a specific link to the original previous post for a clearer understanding of the components.  As this is intended as a pithy article I have assumed that you understand what the various acronyms mean. If you don't know what the acronyms mean then hit the included link and go to the original article for a clear explanation.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Circuit analysis of typical electronic transformer

Self-starting half bridge oscillator schematic
Self-starting half bridge oscillator schematic
In this post I will go through the analysis of the design of the basic electronic transformer commonly used to provide the 12v power for halogen lighting.  Specifically the design of the common self-starting half bridge oscillator circuit.  I will not go into the actual calculation of values of the components but more why the circuit is arranged as it is and the purpose of each component within the circuit.  Looking at the final schematic of the circuit is quite daunting but it's really an elegantly simple circuit to explain. Understanding this will open a world to you, as you will see elements of this circuit built into so many other circuits, such as internally to drive LEDs and CFLs. By the end of this post you should be conversant in the design considerations of this particular circuit.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Power Translation

While I was looking into various items and options in a consumer unit or breaker panel, I noted the difference in terms used in North America. Predominantly these are terms used in the USA and UK. I decided that I would compile a table allowing a comparison of some of the common terms used in domestic electrical systems.  It also helps to vaguely highlight some of the differences in design and implementation of regulations.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Transformer, Electronic Transformer and Switch Mode Power Supply differences.

I have been looking at writing a post on electronic transformers due to a conversation I had with a friend.  I was explaining why I was changing my low voltage electronic transformer to a different version because I wanted to change from the original 20w 12v halogen light to an energy saving 5w LED which had roughly the same light output but a quarter the power consumption.  During the conversation it became apparent that my friend did not know what an electronic transformer was.  He incorrectly assumed that it was a switch mode power supply (SMPS). My friend is not a technophobe and was clearly unaware that there was a difference.  So in the following post I will describe what is the difference between a transformer, an electronic transformer and a switch mode power supply, specifically in regard to the 12v domestic options designed for home use.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What do fuses protect?

Selection of UK plugs showing fusesFrom an earlier post, I indicated I would post another question that was, "what do fuses protect?"  I hope to make an attempt to clearly answer this question, which rarely enters our minds. Understanding the logic behind my answer may help to identify anomalies and also explain some odd choices of fuse you may come across on a day today basis.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Why doesn't the UK use AFCI's?

Siemens Arc Fault Circuit Breaker
In this post I hope to answer the burning question of, why doesn't the UK include the Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) in their regulations? Actually following the UK naming conventions, I assume they would call them, Arc Fault Circuit Breakers (AFCB) when located within the consumer unit or generically they would be called, Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD).

Saturday, 15 March 2014

What is an MCB, AFCI, AFDD and GFCI?

In a previous post I wrote about types of RCD such as an ELCB, RCCB, and the RCBO.  In this post I want to discus other types of breaker you might find in a consumer unit or breaker box. The most common that you might find in Europe is the MCB or Miniature Circuit Breaker. Although the MCB is used as a replacement for fused wire, it is designed to have a number of specific properties.  I would like to discuss the makeup of this unit, which is very similar to the Circuit Interrupters as used in the North America. I would also like to discuss the workings of and operation of an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) AKA Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD).

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Finding a Neutral to Earth fault.

In my previous post I wrote about what a neutral earth fault was and touched on some methods to diagnose the fault without having to use specialist test equipment. In this post I would like to describe some first and second hand experiences of this condition. I want to described 3 cases that I hope to illustrate how awkward this fault can be to diagnose and locate. It also gives food for thought if you have experienced similar issues.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The pain of a Neutral to Earth fault

If you are not sure what an earth leakage fault is or how the residual current devices detect it such as an ELCB, RCCB, RCBO or RCD then please look at this post where I explain what these terms are and what it all actually means.  In this post I will look at an obscure fault, which can be perplexing and describe what it is and what can cause it.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

What are ELCB, RCCB, RCBO and RCD's?

Residual Current Circuit Breaker
RCD stands for Residual Current Device and this term can cover a multitude of devices with other acronyms such as ELCB, RCCB, RCBO and RCD. I will try to explain in this post what they are, where they might be used, what they detect and how they detect it. For a more blatant and pithy comparison of any combination of two of the above see my post "Difference FAQ...."

Monday, 10 February 2014

Power factor and asymmetric loads

Two things which give power companies headaches are poor power factor and asymmetric loads.

Power Factor.

I have been looking at power factor explanations on the Internet and have been astounded that for something that appears to be straight forward, it often appears explained in a confusing and laboured way. Even Wikapedia avoids giving a full explanation. In fact, I have only found a single source on Youtube worth listening to. Sadly I have not found a single web source that explains it clearly. So I thought I would have a go with this article on power factor.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Efficiency Vs Efficacy in techno speak

Often, the words efficiency and efficacy are used confusingly and interchangeably. This regularly leads to an ambiguous understanding of what is being discussed. In this post I hope to discuss the words effective/efficient their terminology and how they are used in a technical environment.

Efficiency is an objective word most often misused in a subjective way. The word efficiency can also be used to disguise poor information. Its use has the ability to trigger an emotional response, especially with the spectre of impending doom looming large.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Is halogen the heir apparent?

miscellaneous halogen bulbs
The story of the development of the halogen goes back to the 1930s and 1940s and cannot be considered a recent development. It is already a mature technology.

I wrote an article regarding the incandescent bulb and its genesis. In truth the bulb we know as the, "halogen," is really part of that story and is really an extension of the technical development of the incandescent bulb. In truth the halogen gas/compound is used in many different lighting technologies but it seems to be most associated with the halogen tungsten filament incandescent bulb. Sometimes you see xenon or krypton halogens but what does it all mean?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

To incandescent or not to incandescent - that is the question

miscellaneous incandescent bulbs
The common light bulb seldom gets a second thought but, for something so common, it wasn't created in the finished form we see today.  It is so common that it has become invisible.  The only time that you pay attention to it, is when something has gone wrong and darkness prevails.