Dirty Electricity is when all our wondrous gizmos generate noise that couples to the human body from the electrical wiring in our homes, schools, places of work, and so on.
Fortunately, there are simple filters you can get that reduce the dangers from this type of noise.
UNfortunately, you need to be careful using these filters if you have a backup generator!
Join me for a look at one of the pitfalls of D.E. filters…
Links from the vid:
- Dirty Electricity: What it is and how to fix it
- Make your own Dirty Electricity Filters!
- EEK #4: What the heck is Power Factor?
That’s all, folks!
Very informative. I recently added a whole home super duty EMF filter from eleeos that connects to the breaker box. I was regretting the fact that while on generator power the eleeos filter will have no effect since the grid/generator selector switch is downstream of the breaker box.
I also have some older small filters in certain outlets in the home. How would one diagnose problems while on generator? Funny/unusual sounds from the generator? Higher voltage in 110v and 220v outlets with a voltmeter? If I can avoid the inconvenience of unplugging/re-plugging filters I will.
BTW the whole home filter also provides surge protection which is a nice bonus. I see the health benefits as a long term so hard to prove benefits. They claim savings on the electric bill which I assumed was marketing BS but would like a super-geek’s opinion.
You should be able to see higher-than-normal voltages with a voltmeter. Also, with a lower load, you may notice the generator cutting out due to any protection it may have to prevent damage to the motor/alternator.
It’s also possible it’ll work just fine – it really depends on what kinds of loads you’re powering. But for most people, I would say it’s not a good idea.
As for savings on the old electric bill, that should be completely wrong unless you’re billed for apparent power (kVAh) as opposed to kWh. I’m not aware of any country that bills normal consumers for kVA – unless they’re a giant manufacturing plant with tons of enormous motors and extremely high loads.
Thanks for the reply. Next power failure I’ll keep an eye on those things and unplug the small filters if needed.
Just a regular house so I won’t expect my first post-“whole home filter” electric bill to shrink at all.
Now to read up on kVAh vs kWh. I need to keep learning if I want to someday graduate from geek to super-geek. 🙂
How much more or less expensive is electricity from generator comparing to the grid electricity?
At the moment, EVERYTHING is expensive. But historically, for the amount of power you get, running on a generator is more expensive since you need fuel to run it. How much more expensive depends on the size of the generator and the type of fuel… Typically 2 or 3 times more expensive.
I thought generators by definition created dirty power. Not so?
Depends on the generator. If it’s an actual alternator, then it can produce quite clean power. If it’s an inverter like for solar panels that converts DC into AC, then they are usually VERY noisy.
I have some theory that cheap LED light bulbs generate dirty electricity and the expensive ones works as a DE filter. Could you test big and small LED light bulbs with the dirty electricity meter and confirm my theory?
I’ve noticed high DE with LED lights. Bought some LED lights that advertised having a built in DE filter and they indeed reduce instead of increase DE. Yes they were more expensive but expense alone doesn’t guarantee filtering. They also have a noticeable delay (under 1s) upon turning on which I assumed was charging of capacitors.
Oh and as Scottie predicted the whole home filter didn’t affect my electric bill.
Greenwave and Graham-Stetzer filters are different
We’ve had eight Graham-Stetzer for many years and have used a backup generator countless times without issue. Since dirty electricity has gone up very significantly in our neighborhood, we decided to buy 10 more but this time went with Greenwave because they provide an outlet.
First power failure since Greenwave and after coming in after plugging in the generator and seconds later the fire alarm sounds. Frantically searching the entire house we found no sign of fire but one room smelled strongly like burned plastic. Investigation found five dead surge protectors and a sixth one had sparks coming out but isn’t dead. A good number of surge protectors were fine. The pattern: if a Greenwave filter was on the same home circuit breaker, the surge protector was dead with the same strange burnt smell.
Since you patterned your DIY filters on the Greenwave ones, it’s not surprising you had generator issues. Needless to say all Greenwave filters are now unplugged. The whole home filter from eleeos is out of the picture when we switch to generator mode.
Have you ever seen the Graham-Stetzer filter circuit? Something must be different.
Come to think of it the generator was making uncharacteristic sounds like ramping up to meet a high load the dropping down (and repeat). With only the Graham-Stetzer filters remaining in place the generator ran normally for hours.
The good news is it appears the devices behind the surge protectors were indeed protected and still work. Only tested a few though.
I won’t be buying any more Greenwave filters. Need to buy six replacent surge protectors now. 🙁
While I’ve never personally disassembled a GS filter, there are teardown vids and articles. It appears they are exactly the same as Greenwave filters – except that the live-ground and neutral-found small capacitors are absent, and sometimes the total capacitance value across live-neutral is different. I don’t think it’s the type of filter, but rather the number. With 8 DE filters, the total capacitance was probably low enough that your generator was fine. With 10 more, it’s too much for the genny, and then you get voltage spikes. The burnt smell from the surge protectors was probably the varistors inside getting toasted by voltage spikes. This “too much capacitance” thing is well-known by generator makers. The documentation for my genny even says point blank NOT to run the generator to power high-capacitance loads because it will cause exactly this problem! At which point I said: “Oh, I did not know that…”
There are five surge protectors that survived the incident and all of them were on circuits that have GS filters. After posting my comment I wondered if the GS filters being older, if their capacitors could have aged and have smaller micro-Farad ratings than originally thus explaining the selective room by room failures/non-failures correlating with filter brand.
The older GS filters were still reducing DE which is why we bought more (Greenwave though) for the other rooms.
Why when adding these small filters to reduce DE the effect is so localized? All the hots and neutrals (120V country here) in all the rooms are connected through the breaker box. Why do the filters mostly fix DE in one room instead of partially fixing it in all rooms at once?
Typo in my previous comment:
“the dropping” should be “then dropping”
One of my expensive filtered ceiling LED lights now turns off briefly when power varies slightly. Seems like some damage was done there (that room was Greenwave).
The very large DE increases in our neighborhood are intermittent. When they happen, for hours our GS meter maxes out and we can’t even measure it. We’re not aware of any new heavy industry around here. Could the power company have different power sources with varying levels of DE? The whole home filter mostly takes care of it but I like to learn stuff which is why I follow this vlog. 🙂
Allez les bleus!
I know one of the GS filters that was taken apart only had a single 10uF cap (I think). Supposedly, newer ones have closer to 25uF. That might be one factor: the GS filters may each be less capacitance than the GW ones.
The position of filters is kind of a mystery, but I think the problem is that we’re talking about noise. Noise is kind of like ‘electrical chaos’. Sometimes it adds, sometimes it subtracts, sometimes it does weird things no one expected. Just modelling such a thing would be a total nightmare, which is why things like phone SAR value testing is the way it is: because nobody can actually factor in all the necessary variables to reach any kind of sane/valid conclusion.
So, you can (and should) put filters at the panel, and it WILL do something to reduce the noise. But if you really want to squash it all, you need more filters in various locales around your house. And even then, it’s kind of a pain because if you, say, get a new TV, OOPS! The ‘noise signature’ of your house has just changed, so you better retest and possibly relocate some filters.
More local noise could be things like solar inverters, increased use of switching power supplies for DC brushless motors in EVERYTHING (washing machines, vacuum cleaners, etc.), and of course switching power supplies for everything else since darn near everything has a ‘computer’ in it these days. It all adds up.
My electronics phd dad had a really thick book called “Noise” which I couldn’t imagine could be that complicated as a kid. That’s why I later studied clean 0s and1s and ignore all the underlying dirty complicated analog stuff.
Thanks for the excellent response.
If you are ever in Canada my wife and I will buy you a beer. 🙂
I noticed that modern LED light buld generate a lot of heat, which indicate that they are made to give much light and decrease production costs. Flashligh LED don’t generate so much heat. It means that the energy efficiency could by even higher if they produce better LED light bulb. PS. Is there a cheap alternative to dirty electricity filters. Incondescent light bulb 15W could be a cheap alternative?