A technical report regarding voltage fluctuations was recently published by Cigre. The working WG C4.111 was set up to look into the possible changes to existing voltage fluctuation compatibility levels. This is mainly due to the widespread opinion (myself included) that modern lighting are less susceptible to voltage fluctuations as compared to the traditional 60W incandescent light bulb which formed the basis for the Pst (Short Term Flicker) concept.
In summary, it was found that it was not definitive (at this time) to confirm this widespread opinion. While many of the modern lamp technologies tested were less sensitive, there were some that were tested to be more sensitive. It is thus concluded that the existing limits or compatibility levels for voltage fluctuation remain for the time being.
The full technical report (Review of LV and MV compatibility levels for voltage fluctuations) can be found at www.e-cigre.org
To many of you in Singapore, you will only probably observe lights flickering either when 1) the light bulb itself is due for replacement or 2) during the very brief moment where there was an electrical fault in your area.
You will also not find the word ‘flicker’ in Singapore’s Transmission Code. but that does not mean there are no flicker limits imposed for Singapore’s electrical network. In Section F2.1, it states that “…………shall be in accordance with the requirements set out in Engineering Recommendation P28 of UK.” Based on this old ER P28, the limits are 1.0 and 0.8 for short (PST) and long term (PLT) severity values respectively.
So what is flicker, you may ask?
Flicker is a power quality problem primarily concerning human’s perception of changes to the output of the light bulb. These changes are caused by voltage fluctuation due to electrical loads with rapid variations in its loadings. An arc furnace is often cited as an example.
PST 1.0 refers to the level of voltage fluctuation that will cause more than 50% of you to notice and complain. It is based on the changes of the light output of a 60W incandescent light bulb. One can measure these flicker values either using a Flicker meter or a modern power quality analyzer.
So are there flicker issues (exceeding limits) in Singapore? I will say, there are flicker issues here but not necessarily a problem. Remember, the limits set upon was based on the incandescent light bulb, which you hardly come across today.
An interesting study (Cigre 449) conducted by Cigre Working Group C4.108 revealed in a limited test of their own that modern lighting are less sensitive as compared to the 60W incandescent lamp, when tested under instantaneous flicker value of 1.0.
So there could very well be flicker issues in your area. It’s just that modern lighting have saved you from being irritated.
Below are some of flicker trend values in Singapore from my past work. Yes, flicker do exists here.