I live quite remote and power quality is not great. Currently I run all my computer devices through a 1.5kva UPS after having several power supplies and chargers fry. Since doing that, none of our chargers and supplies have fried but just recently a 2kva autotransformer that was too big to be used on the ups died after only a couple months of usage. I'm assuming once again, terrible power quality is the cause.

This issue obviously is costing me money and a detriment to the life of our tools. I don't know how to test the energy coming into the house and whether our energy company has a responsibility to do something about it if we were to prove it is faulty.

Either way, how can we clean up the power coming into our home and workshop and make it more stable?

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    It sounds like you need either multiple ups's to distribute the load, or a real power line conditioner, or if all else fails a motor-generator set. – keshlam May 17 '16 at 10:32
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    Have you called an electrician? Perhaps there's some simple thing blowing your equipment up, like a loose nuetral. In any case, a professionals opinion about what is actually causing the problem will help you figure out what to do. – Tyson May 17 '16 at 11:42
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    Have you contacted the utility, to see if they're willing to investigate the problem? – Tester101 May 17 '16 at 12:09
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    Have you verified that it is not your loads causing the issue. "Tools", "2kVA autotransformer" and "workshop" suggest large loads not common to most homes. The loads in the workshop may actually create harmonics on the power line. While the utility's equipment will withstand such harmonics, loads in the building may not, such as the electronic devices you mentioned. The most common utility problem is brown-out, which usually would not cause the issue you describe. Harmonics would. Perhaps you could list off the loads in your workshop. – scorpdaddy May 17 '16 at 13:54
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    Have you verified that ground and neutral going back to the utility pole are at the same potential? SImilarly, are those two lines at zero volts with respect to a true ground such as water pipes? If not, make the utility company fix that. – Carl Witthoft May 17 '16 at 15:11

Once the basics (grounding, ground-neutral bonding) have been checked, your options with respect to the power company will depend on where you are - in many places there is a public utilities commission (or similar) that may be able to make them take action if they will not do so on their own.

You can rent a power line monitor/recorder to verify if there are issues with your incoming power. They are not stunningly inexpensive to rent, and you'll be better off if the power company can be convinced to park one of their monitors on your line rather than you having to rent one; but it's the only way to actually verify power quality problems - both if there are any, and what type they are.

I personally use several/multiple surge suppressors and surge capacitors (the "surge capacitor" is also labeled as a "facility EMI filter") but without knowing what actual power problems you have, it's difficult to say if those would solve your problems. (Just a happy customer - shop around, you can do better than list price.) They (or similar products mentioned by Ed Beal) certainly would not hurt, and MIGHT help; if DIY installed they will cost considerably less than a week's rental of a power line monitor, based on a quick look for those.

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    Seriously. Get monitoring. You cannot fight this effectively unless you know exactly what you're up against. It's possible you've got a situation like a lost neutral that is floating your 120V circuits well above 120V. It's also possible that you're your own worst enemy, ie your own equipment is causing the spikes that damage your other equipment. It's impossible to know without hard data, throwing curses at the power company and spamming the problem with randomly selected power conditioning gear is a waste of time and money. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 17 '16 at 20:24
  • That would be nice. I'm not sure what hardware to get to test it though. A simple test I did was unplug everything except the lights one night when it was quite bad. The lights would fade momentarily, for example. No equipment other than lights to create these spikes or brownouts. Also it is really common where we are for power to go out whenever there is strong wind. Where we are in rural situation, the power grid is highly neglected. – Bob May 18 '16 at 6:48
  • Search for power line monitor (and optionally rental.) Here's one I might even consider "affordable" to buy: powertronics.com/products/pqr-d50-power-line-monitor though I'm not sure it's up to snuff with the more typical items that cost ten times as much and are typically for rent. But seriously, start with your Public Utilities Commission. The power company likely has a responsibility to provide a certain level of service, and the PUC is your lever to getting them to live up to their responsibilities. Wind outages usually mean poor tree trimming. – Ecnerwal May 18 '16 at 14:01

A UPS is the best way to condition the power for electronic devices. I have installed several of these home surge protector These devices dump transient spikes to ground and reduce some problems people that have "noisy" incoming power. I have had to replace 2 in 1 home that is next to a mill. The huge inductive loads they turn on and off cause daily spikes and can cause there line voltage to droop in the morning the combination of these protectors at the panel has eliminated the loss of digital clocks and TV's and they do have there Computers on a UPS. They have saved them thousands and keep a spare on hand now. The first one lasted 2 or 2.5 years the second is still in at about 2 years. These have an indicator that lights up when they have been damaged due to two high of a spike. They should be installed at your main service as close to the box as possible, unless you have a disconnect at your meter that would be the best place to install. These do not take the place of a UPS but do dump damaging voltage spikes to ground. the first on i put in was smaller the 2nd much larger and more expensive but it may last many more years. the one in the link is a good starting point for the cost.The first unit I installed was ~1000 Joules the second was 3500 if I remember correctly they cost close to 100$ per 1000 joules + install. But if you are a DIY it can be done by a home owner (at least in my state).

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    The delta is 3000 Joules but it did not list the breakdown voltage. Some of the ones I have used have a lower breakdown voltage than the "lightning" listed models it would help if spikes are the issue as they can be very high spikes. Although we do have lighting heavy industry it the biggest problem in my area. Some models clamp at 300-500 and others clamp at 500-800. the other thing to think about will it require a enclosure as the Delta, the Leviton model I have in my home is fully enclosed and has failure lights for both legs. It is 3000 joules but cost quite a bit more. – Ed Beal May 17 '16 at 16:46
  • I may look into this. We actually have a big farm up the road which is the same way our energy comes from. They have a massive mill and a lot of hefty equipment. So when they are turning that stuff on it could be creating brownouts and spikes. – Bob May 18 '16 at 4:41

As much as UPS are great for brown outs and black out they are basically modified wave inverters with pass through monitoring. Beyond that they are a power strip with a noise filter in it. I would suggest getting an isolation transformer for your electronics and place it after your UPS unit. This will do two things, isolate the power and ground from the other noise sources and give some sine wave form correction if that nasty modified wave inverter kicks in. You will find the isolation transformer make a bit of noise when fed that nasty modified wave from the UPS but better that than your equipment loosing life from bad power forms.

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