Power problems

Dili-gence
Random observations from an English speaking foreigner in Dili, Timor-Leste

31.10.07

Us foreigners will often live where backup power generation is available. This means life goes on and if you can’t hear the generator, it has little effect. At work, it may be different or it may not.

The current power problems are definitely at the severe end. I reckon the power cuts over the last 24 hours to be at 11 hours where I live. So a good generator should cover for that you would think. Then the AC problems start … a few computer problems as well. I try to find out what is going on. I get my lecture after my 10,000 questions.

I am no electrician but it goes something like this. Even when the power is there (from the grid – did I just use the word grid for here ?) it still may be ratshit. So the voltage drops way down from the standard 220Volts. It may fluctuate a hell of a lot and the little UPSes give up and go onto battery. The lights, fridge and everything else still run but the UPS may switch to battery. And when the power finally gets bad enough to require the generator, the UPS battery doesn’t enough guts left to do its job.

Step up AirCon unit. When on street power, it goes through periods when no cooling comes out of the thing. Then it comes good again. When this happens in the middle of the night, you don’t sleep too good. Then it is explained. When the voltage drops too low, the compressor (ie the bit that provides the cooling grunt) can’t hack the pace and eventually fails to perform any useful function. The fan may still run but further power drops lead to strange grinding noises as the fan tries to cope with the crap power. Eventually, if the gods be willing, the power drops out completely and the generator can take over.

Electricians please correct me where I got this wrong but the UPS thing and the AC thing have been driving me crazy. Now that I understand, it is not so bad.

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