As reading in the USA Today it just happened that I ran across an interesting article titled “Power Grid Change May Disrupt Clocks” as guess what the utilities are thinking about experimenting with letting the frequency of the power grid fluctuate more than in the past. So what’s this all about you ask, while thanks to Nicola Tesla’s win over the arrogance of Edison we use what is referred to as AC (alternating current) in our home and business today. We do this as AC travels across distances with less problems then DC (Direct Current) making it far easier to get the energy we need from distant power generating plants to our toaster ovens.
The way this works is the current (flow of electrons) “alternates” its polarity 60 times per second here in the US and 50 times in most of Europe where half the time the polarity is positive and other half it is negative thus forming a “wave” if you will. The wave affect in simple terms allows the electrons to flow down a length of wire much like waves roll ashore, as in the case of DC the flow is a steady push which induces issues outside the scope of this waxing as the interesting point of the discussion is allowing more “drift” in the number of oscillation or frequency of the power lines. As why is this so important you ask?
Well remember those clocks when you where in school many moons ago that held you captive, well they all depended upon the 60 Hz (Hz is Hertz and is a measure of frequency) signal provided by the wall power to keep time. A little more or less could means seconds or even minutes added or detracted to a day! Even in the day our (CRT based) television sets depended upon this too as you remember that vertical control knob, yup 60 cycles timed off the power grid to give us 60 vertical lines in our TV picture, sure does seem crude now in our HD world!
However save for many intercity schools the analog clock is a thing of the past as is CRT based TV’s they have been replaced by GPS based clocks and LCD screen TV’s mean our dependable silent friend many of you never knew existing went undervalued. Thus power companies now see their way in providing us “dirty” power by allowing a greater variance in the frequency of the current as one would think in this day and age it should be better right and they want to go backwards?
As changing the frequency is akin to stealing back power as to save you all the math there is a thing called RMS, or Root Mean Square where we average the cycles to come up with the “real” power as to few [cycles] and the voltage will drop, and too many it will rise hence the term “dirty” power as your expensive home electronics will slurping up this nasty stuff as well as all your other motor based appliances as this is a bad idea because we just can’t bring ourselves to invest in our 50 year old plus power infrastructure. Mark my words, there’s trouble in there lines as this is a bad idea…