Power surge protection here

About a year ago, Chris Thompson was reading the Caymanian Compass when he came across an advertisement placed by Caribbean Utilities Company.

Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson stands near a Powergy Clean Power System installed near a panel box at the offices of Cayman Free Press.
Photo: Alan Markoff

The ad, which had the title ‘Protect your Electrical Equipment’, told CUC customers that power surges occur on any electrical system. These power surges can damage appliances and other electrical equipment in homes and businesses, the ad stated.

CUC recommended a few steps to protect appliances and equipment from the power surges, including ensuring your home or business is well grounded and having surge arrestors on your electrical system and surge protectors on your electrical equipment.

A long-time electrician, Mr. Thompson knew that electricity had surges.

‘Loaded with noise and irregularities, everyday power creates extra electrical demand and shortens the life of equipment, costing you money,’ he said.

And Mr. Thompson also knew that surges were not just produced through the power supply.

‘Surges not only come from outside, they come from inside,’ he said, explaining that when a light bulb gets dimmer when an air conditioner starts up is one example of an interior power surge.

Mr. Thompson said he knew of the perfect product for the problem, the Powergy Clean Power System, and he went about becoming the Cayman Islands distributor for it.

‘What makes our product different is that we have surge and spike varistors,’ he said, explaining that varistors are wafer-like devices that draw surges and spikes to themselves, absorbing them and then bleeding them to the ground.

Power surges create heat, which could not only damage or shorten the life of electronic devices, but also will warm the interior of a home, creating the need for more energy.

‘Every degree you can drop the temperature, you’re going to save watts,’ he said.

The Powergy system also cleans up and smoothes out the electrical current, taking out the electrical noise, Mr. Thompson said.

There are other power surge protectors that work well cleaning up electrical current, but Mr. Thompson said the Powergy system has an added bonus: it helps save electricity.

‘It’s the only one of its kind that has a capacitor with it, which allows it to store energy,’ he said. Capacitors reduce I²R or resistance loses, which in turn reduce the amount of watts used.

‘That’s where you save on some of the power,’ he said.

The Powergy system is not one size fits all. There are single phase units for residences and small businesses, and commercial three-phase units for larger businesses. Depending on the size of a company and the electrical layout, a combination of smaller and larger units could be recommended.

Unlike standard surge protectors that attach to a particular electrical wall outlet, the Powergy connects to the electrical panel box and protects an entire home or office.

‘It’s like a surge protector for the entire house. If you have one on the panel, you don’t need one for your computer,’ Mr. Thompson said, adding that the Powergy System is not, however, a replacement for a UPS, or uninterrupted power supply, device.

The cost for a residential unit, at CI$850 installed, might seem high at first glance, but Thompson said it will pay for itself through protecting and extending the life of everything electrical in your house or business, including computers, stereos, televisions, clocks, lighting fixtures, satellite systems, dishwashers, refrigerators, air conditioning units, washers, dryers, stoves and even light bulbs.

The Powergy will also lower electrical bills by a minimum of five percent, Mr. Thompson said.

The US-based company Thielsch Engineering, the manufacturer of Powergy, is confident of its product.

‘Thielsch is so sure the product will do the job, if [a piece of electrical equipment breaks because of a power surge] while this produce is on the line, they give a $5,000 insurance policy,’ Mr. Thompson said.

Residential installations can be done in a matter of hours, but commercial applications take longer.

‘The key to doing commercial [installations] is the analysing of the system,’ Mr. Thompson said, adding that the analysis could take anywhere from two to 20 days.

CUC, which was responsible for motivating Mr. Thompson to bring the product to Cayman in the first place, is allowing his company, Essential Services, to put an advertisement in their mailed billings starting with the July bills. CUC will also display the Powergy unit in their lobby, Mr. Thompson said.

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