Author Topic: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?  (Read 1593 times)

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jlsoaz

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Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« on: July 27, 2016, 01:24:36 PM »
Hi -

I am wondering if there is such a thing as a standard way that has been worked out to let a person in a grid-tied building know when a power outage has taken place.  Text message or email sent from the system?  Simple flashing light inside the building?  Some sort of beeping noise from a plugged-in device (though I guess I personally would want to avoid that annoyance, if it's similar to the sort of persistent beeping made by some UPS devices)? 

Since installing batteries on my grid-tied system, I don't think I have a way to know when the system is kicking in during a grid outage.  Part of this would seem to be getting the software to my Outback inverter worked out.  I guess in the meantime, I thought I'd ask others whether there is a common solution.



DamonHD

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2016, 01:27:51 PM »
Watch your neighbours' houses go dark, and/or their alarms go off?  B^>

Rgds

Damon

OperaHouse

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2016, 02:11:42 PM »
A relay can be connected to the grid side of power before any transfer switch.  When the relay drops out due to no power, a set of relay contacts closes to an alarm.  If brownouts are an issue or lost phase, a voltage relay should be used.  There are three phase relays which detect loss phase as well as voltage.

jlsoaz

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2016, 03:48:41 PM »
Watch your neighbours' houses go dark, and/or their alarms go off?  B^>

Rgds

Damon

Yes, indeed, if it's night, then I can check street lights and all other lights in the small valley (other than the solar powered garden lights that have become common). 

However, that requires my knowing to check, and quite often I may either be asleep or I may be awake and not know when to look out (whether night or day outage, as far as I can recall, I have not noticed alarms to go off in conjunction with an outage).  If it's during the day, I'm still completely out of luck as far as having a way to know, and most of the outages which caused me to want to get batteries seemed to be daytime outages.

I think getting the software addressed may solve all this, but it seemed to me there has probably been some simple way worked out by some storage owners.  Heck, I remember talking to someone about 15 years ago who had a huge expensive system and he pointed out to me that generally he didn't know if he'd been through an outage until he checked his logs.

jlsoaz

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2016, 03:54:26 PM »
A relay can be connected to the grid side of power before any transfer switch.  When the relay drops out due to no power, a set of relay contacts closes to an alarm.  If brownouts are an issue or lost phase, a voltage relay should be used.  There are three phase relays which detect loss phase as well as voltage.

Thanks, this is the sort of thing I had in mind though.   I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has standardized it as a self-contained thing you can buy and install.  Also, if it closes to an "alarm" it should just be noted that what I have in mind is more an indicator like a minor flashing light inside the house, perhaps with a low sound every few minutes, and-or perhaps a text message or email alert.

OperaHouse

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2016, 04:15:48 PM »
I had to laugh when I first saw the post.  I worked at a place where the sales staff would forward any ones call to engineering.  A guy wanted to know how to tell if power was lost to his refrigerators.  He already had a clear plastic IDEC relay and couldn't figure out the pins.  I spent a half hour trying to explain how to use it.  Finally I had to hang up.

There might be something out there but I figure it is likely a do it yourself item.  I have a Dranetz power line monitor that you can leave on for years and it will print out every event in detail.  That is the high side of the solution.

richhagen

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2016, 01:42:16 PM »
I would probably just run a circuit from the grid to a 125V relay perhaps a dpdt with one side connected to a green light powered off of the house power when the grid power is on and the coil is active, and the other side a red light off of the house power that would light up when the grid power is off.  You could of course add an audible buzzer to that side as well through a switch to let you know when the grid goes down as well.  It really would be a rather simple set up just to let you know. 
Rich
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jlsoaz

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2016, 07:04:07 PM »
Thanks Rich, OperaHouse -

these are the sorts of things indeed I had in mind.  I'll try to include them in a conversation with my installer.  Have gone over my setup with them.  While a lot of things are working fine (no need to fix what's not broken), we are looking to address a few lingering things and this maybe can be tacked on.

Mary B

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2016, 06:38:54 PM »
Automatic transfer switch, you can find a 30 amp one for $60...

OperaHouse

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2016, 07:18:13 PM »
An old mechanical electric clock is low tech but very useful to monitor grid outage.  I just set the time to 12:00 and it will record the time off grid when relay drops out.  May be hard to find these days.  Analog battery powered clock will also work, Just interrupt battery power with relay.  I use one to monitor inverter on time.

Ungrounded Lightning Rod

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Re: Indicator to let a person know when the grid is down?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2016, 08:13:53 PM »
An old mechanical electric clock is low tech but very useful to monitor grid outage.  I just set the time to 12:00 and it will record the time off grid when relay drops out.  May be hard to find these days.  Analog battery powered clock will also work, Just interrupt battery power with relay.  I use one to monitor inverter on time.

For tracking whether I've had power outages at the vacation/retirement house when I'm away (often for months at a time) I use:

- The electric oven's clock displays "PF" instead of the time if there's been a failure.
- A battery-powered indoor/outdoor thermometer with a max/min setting in the refrigerator (reset when I leave) tells me if the outage was long enough to rot the frozen food
- an electromechanical light timer - originally installed to power-cycle a telephone answering modem that sometimes got hung (which I use to check remotely whether the power and phone are still live) provides a 24-hour electric clock that tells me (vy how far off it is from standard time) how long the power has been out, total (if it's no more than 24 hours).

Now if you're looking for something that alerts you immediately to an outage - or a restoration - when you're onsite with an automaticly cutting-over system (like to let you know to be ready to turn on the backup genny before the batteries get to low, or to turn something back on once power is badk), that's a different ballgame.