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refrigerator causes power surge

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by Amit Rotem, Aug 4, 2015.

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  1. Amit Rotem

    Amit Rotem

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    Aug 4, 2015
    hello,
    i have this refrigerator that every time the compressor starts working there is a power surge in my house electric grid (i.e. speakers makes noises and images on the TV flickers).

    what do you suppose is causing the problem?

    I have a Electra 3300DL refrigerator,
    with a Hermetique AE 5 ZF 9 compressor unit.
     
  2. duke37

    duke37

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    Jan 9, 2011
    I doubt if it is a power surge. Most likely it is a power deficit.
    The fridge will take a large current to start and the voltage will drop. You may have a power feed which has too high an impedance.
    Is the power stable in your neighbours property?
    Are the cables in your house up to regulation size?
     
  3. Gryd3

    Gryd3

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    Jun 25, 2014
    I had the same issue with the house-hold AC.
    The utility company had to come out and replace the line from the pole to my home...
    The voltage would drop when heavy loads turned on.
     
  4. Amit Rotem

    Amit Rotem

    4
    0
    Aug 4, 2015
    i don't know about the cable size, but I've been living is this apartment for about 11 month and didn't encounter any electrical problems until i replaced my refrigerator (i broke it) about a month ago.
    the "new" Electra refrigerator i got is more or less the same size and is just as old, so i suppose the load is the same (don't have the old one so i cant know for sure).
    that's why i suspect the refrigerator is causing a power surge.

    anyway, an easy way to find out if its a surge or a drop will be to plug an incandescent light bulb, right?
    ill get back with more info,
    thanks for the input!
     
  5. Colin Mitchell

    Colin Mitchell

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    Aug 31, 2014
    A fridge takes a lot more current than a reading light.
    You can try a 2 bar radiator.
     
  6. dorke

    dorke

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    Jun 20, 2015
    Could also be a "dieing" compressor start-up capacitor.
    It is probably causing a too high start-up current.
    If you look at a regular incandescent light bulb (preferably on the same circuit as the frig) you can clearly see it dim for a very short time on startup.
     
  7. duke37

    duke37

    5,364
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    Jan 9, 2011
    anyway, an easy way to find out if its a surge or a drop will be to plug an incandescent light bulb, right?

    Yes, that is good.
    Digital meters will show a range of numbers which will be impossible to interpret.
    Analog meters may well be too slow, however I have an old very cheap meter which has a fast response.

    The peak current will not necessarily be the same for fridges with a similar power consumption, it will depend on the type of motor. Motors can take eight times the running current on start up.
     
  8. Amit Rotem

    Amit Rotem

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    Aug 4, 2015
    i didn't mean to draw current with the light bulb, just to see the intensity fluctuations (ill do that tomorrow...).
    but i tried plugging an oil-filled radiator and it does not reproduce the problem.
     
  9. Gryd3

    Gryd3

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    Jun 25, 2014
    An oil-filled radiator operates differently... You would have better luck recreating the problem with a vacuum cleaner ;)
    The compressor in the refrigerator is an electric motor. While a motor is stopped, or stalled it can consume many times it's normal operating current until it has gained enough speed/momentum. This is most likely one of the causes of the dip in power you are seeing in your home.
    The other cause will be wiring.
    If the wire to your home has 2Ω of resistance, (I'm making this number up, but you get the idea) then for every amp of current you pull, the voltage will drop by 2V.
    So, if your fridge starts and momentarily draws 20Amps, your voltage will drop by 40V!
    Of course, how 'much' the voltage drops is directly proportional to the resistance in the wires, and the current draw the the fridge on start-up.
     
  10. Amit Rotem

    Amit Rotem

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    Aug 4, 2015
    so i plugged the lamp in the same outlet as the fridge and i took the fridge in and out of the socket a few times,
    i did notice a small intensity drop, but the TV (which is actually a projector) did not flicker. but every time it does flicker i definitely hear the compressor starts!
    also, i tried my 2000W vacuum cleaner and saw the same thing with the lamp but not the projector (all were in the same outlet).

    BUT!!
    i accidentally recreated the problem while plugging an old laptop charger in the same outlet as the projector.
    while plugging it there were sparks coming from the socket and the image flickered, worse then usual but it looked similar.

    so i'm thinking it could be an old Start Relay?
    anyway, i ordered an 3 n' 1 start kit. hopping it will fix it.
     
  11. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Amit, you live in an apartment. I assume you have a landlord or superintendent. Why not have him bring in an electrician to investigate the problem? It sounds the owners problem (apartment wiring).

    Refrigerators are often put on separate circuits to avoid power dips at nearby outlets. The wire size to the refrigerator outlet may need to be increased, the electrical panel may be imbalanced, a receptacle may be bad, there could be a bad connection somewhere, etc....
    Again, I'd have an electrician look at it and have your landlord pay for it.
     
  12. dorke

    dorke

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    Jun 20, 2015
    Well,
    first thing to do is change the outlet that causes the sparks.
    If it is an external "splitter" ,remove it.
    If it is "in the wall ",open it and inspect it:
    Look for over-heating/loose screws etc. if you find any replace it as well.

    While at it inspect the wires:
    they should be the brown-blue-yellow/green type,
    If they aren't,you have a very old wiring in the apartment and it should be replaced.
     
  13. Gryd3

    Gryd3

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    Jun 25, 2014
    The outlet may not be the problem depending on the severity of the sparks... I've notices my laptop power adaptors make a decent spark sound when it first get's plugged in and I've attributed this to the capacitors in the device causing excessive startup current like a fridge does turning on. The difference, is that a fridge is firmly seated in the socket, while the laptop pulls current 'as' the plug is being inserted.
     
  14. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    And this should be done by a qualified and licensed electrician in compliance with local laws. One might be confident "they know what they are doing" but inadvertantly end up burning down the entire apt building at the expense of the lives of the other occupants.
     
  15. dorke

    dorke

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    Jun 20, 2015
    At fios,
    That goes without saying,but a good thing to remind the unaware...

    Btw,
    Some explanations about your Gaelic nick-name ?
     
  16. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

    2,115
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    Aug 11, 2014
    Thanks dorke. I hope I didn't come off too strong there, but the number of unqualified diy types messing around with building wiring is a bit frightening.
    My nick-name is Scottish Gaelic meaning; I know, or, I understand.
    Regards, John
     
    Gryd3 likes this.
  17. Martaine2005

    Martaine2005

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    May 12, 2015
    Funny.. I remember asking the same question..

    Martin
     
  18. dorke

    dorke

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    Jun 20, 2015
    At Fios,
    Not at all,
    Electrical wiring in houses should only be done by a qualified electrician .

    Thanks for the Gaelic explanation,
    and,I finally chose an electrifying Avatar...
     
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