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How much Power do we need?

Putting numbers on real world questions.

If only it was that easy. 

Residential numbers are bandied about in the news all the time.  You know: "Our new 100MW plant will power 35,000 homes."  They like to round up for a bit of sensationalism too.  The rough number is about 3kW 'average' and 8 - 10 kW 'continuous maximum', with 'instantaneous peaks' up to 25kW.  The average is what is used when a new power plant contract is being announced.  The max power is what the homeowner believes he can use when he opens his breaker box and sees a 100 amp main circuit breaker.  When every house in the neighborhood tries to use max power the lights go dim and then the go out.  Around here that happens in the dog-days of summer.  Finally, the peak is what happens when the a/c starts on, it only lasts for a fraction of a second or so.

Commercial properties are tougher to estimate, but the numbers that the architects come up with are much more reliable from a utility planners point of view.  Most commercial buildings are served from their own transformer which is connected to the medium voltage (up to 35kV) transmission system (13.8kV in my neighborhood).  The transformer size is carefully matched to the needs of the building.  And multiple special voltages are available for lighting, mechanical equipment, boilers, and regular office equipment.  There is always going to be more 'rating' on the equipment than the premises uses.



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Updated: 09/11/10 19:33