A voltage booster that keeps its promises

When a coffeemaker dims the lights or the nearby store is out of fuses, certain measures are needed. A voltage booster provides more time to improve the distribution network or deploy a permanent alternative. Electricity quality improves immediately, and customers are satisfied.

Henry Sundqvist bought a house along the road Kauvatsantie, in Kokemäki, Finland four years ago and had to get acquainted with the fuse box immediately. Using a circular saw proved nearly impossible, and the chute-making machine, important for his work as a sheet-metal worker, didn’t start up at all.

“I was easily informed of a coffee break, because the lights dimmed when my wife switched on the coffeemaker in the kitchen. Our son-in-law, an electrician, came by and took some measurements at the power cabinet, and he said he had never come across readings like ours,” says Sundqvist.

The house, one of the first built in the region, dates from 1933 and is far from the transformer. The closest neighbor, living just over a mile away, has direct electric heating, but he gets his power from a branch of the distribution network that runs in a different direction.

An instant solution to the customer’s problems

Sundqvist and his wife had to get used to some new rules after moving to this peaceful countryside location. Keeping both the freezer and the refrigerator humming simultaneously didn’t leave room for any other luxuries. The pair learned to make choices on the fuse box’s terms, between doing the laundry and preparing a meal or watching TV.

But the situation changed last summer, when the grid operator, Kokemäen Sähkö Oy, installed an Ensto voltage booster near the house. The device, mounted on an electrical pole alongside the road, doesn’t attract attention from passers-by, but the difference was readily noticed in the Sundqvist household. There was a significant improvement in power quality, which now meets all requirements. Having to choose which electrical devices to use at any given time is a thing of the past, and now the two can make a pot of coffee in the evening while watching television.

Sundqvist says that installation of the voltage booster eliminated all problems with the electricity supply immediately. The family’s requirements for use of electricity are fairly ordinary, so it is only fair not to have to make plans for how to ration the electricity. He is very pleased with the power company’s actions to address the matter.

More time for enhancing the distribution network

Peter Nyman, head of the electricity department at the Pietarsaari Energy Company, says that the voltage booster was a welcome means of improving the quality of the region’s electricity. The company wanted some experience of the unit’s operation so brought the first device into pilot use about a year ago.

“We discovered a need in the area with regard to summer cottages when we got a new subscriber. The transformer serving the region is remote, and there was a clear risk of a drop in voltage,” Nyman says. The company was faced with the task of constructing a new transformer station with a line system and the associated permits. It would have had to reserve plenty of time for completing the project, from launch to completed line, and the costs would have been relatively high.

“We had heard of the Ensto voltage booster before, and this was the right site and time for testing it in practice. The start-up costs are only a small fraction of those for construction of a 1,000 V system,” Nyman continues. In terms of speed, it beats constructing a line even more spectacularly, since the installation and start-up can be done in a single day. This makes it easy to move to a new location, which is another important feature in this case. Nyman explains, “If the cottage area expands and brings us more subscription customers, we will construct the line and move the voltage booster to serve the next site.”

Summarizing the company’s work with the product, he says, “Our experiences thus far have been extremely positive, and we are satisfied with the speed and cost-efficiency of this solution. We knew that the previous variations in voltage were not within tolerances, nor were they acceptable from our customers’ perspective. A round of questions after installation indicates that people have gotten rid of flickering lights and other disturbances, and everybody is happy.”