Adjustable threshold voltage
Switches up to 2300W
Rugged sealed enclosure
Standby power consumption: <5W with relay on
Brownout threshaold voltage: typically set to 200V
Switch on delay: 5
Title photo: the Brownout Protector is housed in a rugged ABS plastic case with a clear lid. It can be used with induction motors rated up to 2300W and you will probably need one for each appliance you wish to protect.
Above photo: Power is applied to the unit via a switched IEC connector attached to one end of the case. Note that this connector and its internal mounting plate must be secured using Nylon screws to ensure safety.
Years ago, brownouts were quite rare and generally confined to
rural districts where the power lines had very long runs. A falling tree or an
electrocuted possum might cause the mains voltage to drop to a low level and
lights would go dim. This has always been a hazard for the induction motors used
in pumps and refrigerators.
Nowadays though, because the electricity grid is running much
closer to total capacity, brownouts can be experienced much more commonly in the
cities and suburbs. Our own offices in the Sydney suburb of Brookvale have had
brownouts on a number of occasions in the last year or so. On each occasion, we
have made sure that the air conditioner, fridges, compressors and other
machinery in the building were turned off until full AC mains supply was
restored. Had we not done so, all the motors in that equipment were liable to
So how many motors in your home are at risk right now if a
brownout was to occur? The list can be quite long: fridge, freezer, washing
machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, pool pump, spa pump and perhaps one or two
garage door openers; typical of many homes. All this equipment could attempt to
turn on during a brownout and the motor(s) would probably burn out.
Maybe your insurance policy covers motor burnouts but you would
need to read the fine print. The insurance company might also look askance at
your claim if there was more than one motor burnout or if the appliances were
more than a few years old.
Why do motors burn out?
When induction motors are starting up they draw very heavy
current for a second or two and when they are up to speed, the current drops
back to reasonable levels. However, if the AC mains voltage is low, the
induction motor may not develop enough torque to come up to full speed. In all
of the appliances listed above, the motor starts with a heavy load so it is at
particular risk if those starting currents do not reduce quickly. Those motors
with a starting winding (switched out by a centrifugal switch) are at particular
risk because those windings are only intended for very intermittent use.