What is a Voltage Drop?

What is a Voltage Drop?

A voltage drop is a reduction in voltage between the source of power and equipment. The National Electrical Code set guidelines for the amount of acceptable drop before it can damage equipment at 3%. For example, equipment that needs 120 volts can drop up to 3.6 volts at most.

Voltage is the push or pressure which causes electricity to flow. The amount of pressure is expressed in volts, for example 120 volts, 240 volts, etc. The higher the voltage, the more the push or pressure. The presence of voltage does not necessarily mean that electricity will flow. Take for instance the outlet on the wall. If nothing is plugged in, there is nowhere for electricity to flow, yet voltage is present. It is similar to pushing against the back of your car with the parking brake on. The car doesn’t move even though you are pushing against it.

Too much of a drop can cause a wide range of problems, from intermittent equipment trouble to complete failure. The NEC's guidelines seek to protect equipment from being damaged if this problem occurs. So if you measured the voltage at the machine and it was any less than 116.4 volts, it would violate the code and could cause trouble with the machine.

To understand this better, imagine a creek with a waterfall at its source. As the water flows down the creek, the pressure or push gets less and less. If you walked into the creek right after the waterfall, it might push you over. If you walked into the creek, 100 ft. downstream, you could probably stand up while the water rushed around you. This is very similar to how the push works with electricity. The farther away the equipment is from the power source, the less push or voltage it will get. If it’s less than what the machine needs to run, the machine will have problems or not work at all.

There are certain solutions in the electrical field to handle and prevent voltage drop from occurring. We can help with those solutions.

We not only handle voltage drop issues, but we are experts in machine repair, machine installations, preventive maintenance, infrared inspections, control systems and much more. We even work in hazardous locations. If you need anything electrical, please let us know.

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