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Thread: Power Outage Noise(s)

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    Flashaholic* bobisculous's Avatar
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    Default Power Outage Noise(s)

    So their was this really bad storm overnight here. It was hard rain, and some Serious lightning. For 30 minutes, the lightning was just constant. Neverending.

    After some time, the power finnally did go out, and with it came some weird sounds. I know we have all heard this sound before, but what is it? When the power goes out, you hear, what I assume to be a transformer make a loud, zapping sound. Is this the transformer trying to restart? Or is it the sound of it frying?

    You will again hear this whenever the power trys to come back on. Same old zapping noise. What exactly is this sound coming from and what is it doing?

    Cameron

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    I've never heard this. It sounds bad. Transformers shouldn't make such a noise.

    Can you tell if it's inside or outside the house?

    During rain and wind storms, Those high voltage lines along the street can arc to a tree limb and cause noise. I saw this once out my front window, but as I recall all I heard was a loud boom, before the lights went out.

    Please be aware that the high voltage lines are extremely lethal, even from some distance away.

    I'm particularly wary of power poles with transformers on them. They have grounding wires coming down to the ground that can become dislocated and blow your head off. I suppose this doesn't happen often, but it happened to someone I knew, and that's enough for me.

    Even the low voltage coming into the house can be lethal if you are well grounded, in a mud puddle, or whatever.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Your discription sounds like cracked insulators. When power wire insulators crack, moisture is absorbed into the ceramic. This moisture conducts and can make noises like Dr Frankenstein's lab. Naturally, this would be worse during and after wet weather.

    If you hear the noise after dark, go outside with a pair of binoculars and look at each insulator. Sometimes you can actually see the cracks in the ceramic glowing because of the current leaking through.

    I would also take a battery operated shortwave outside near the x-former and tune around a bit looking for static that exists only in proximity to that unit. This static from a cracked insulator will reap havoc with SW reception. There are other faults in x-formers that wil also cause static.

    If you find static at one pole and no others you can call your power company and tell them of your findings. They will often cooperate as generating this form of rf interference is illegal and they are obligated to fix it.

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Just a plain old AM radio can be affected if you are listening to a distant station.

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Come to think of it, it depends on where you live. I've driven down the road in Torrance Ca. and every single insulator was audibly buzzing, and it wasn't raining. These were higher voltage lines than I had ever seen along a road. The poles were taller, could have been steel, and the insulators were much taller than I was used to seeing.

    I guess it doesn't rain there from March to December, to wash off the insulators, and they no doubt get salt spray from the ocean.

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    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    I wonder if the humming is from a low voltage condition as the power is brought back online. I know some windings, especially for motors can hum if the voltage is too low.

    Daniel

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    Flashaholic* yuandrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    I've had this happen as well when I was at my Aunt's a few years ago. It was raining very hard that day and just before dinner, I was looking out the patio door and 2 seconds later, the sky lit up in a weird blue-white glow and there was this buzzing sound then a loud purple boom and the lights went out

    Turns out a tree limb had brush up against some power lines a block away and the buzzing I assume is the arcing when the tree shorted a transformer then the boom was the transformer exploding

    Aunt; "I haven't had a candle light dinner in a while, let's have one tonight."

  8. #8

    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    yuandrew, the explosion you decribed looks like a transforming blowing.... a truly awesome sight to behold.

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    Flashaholic* sunspot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    shifty646. I have seen a transformer blow up. It is truly a sight to see.

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    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    the buzz/fry noise is often an arc caused by a tree limb or other debris getting in contact with a wire.
    the loud bang is just the fuse at the the transformer blowing.
    see it a lot here when tree rats(squirrels)get on the transformer and climb the primary side insulater.
    blam!! and fur floating down.makes a helluva flash too.

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    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)


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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    I lived in a neighborhood with very old large trees and every storm we could hear transformers buzzing when the lights dimmed, mostly from the substation a few blocks away, and it was a very loud BUZZZ caused by wet limbs touching the power line shorting out electricity to ground. Heavy wet leaves are a problem that electric company trims year around here to keep up with it.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Maybe they hum...because they don't know the words. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* bobisculous's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    The buzzing does indeed sound like something coming from Dr Frankensteins lab. But its only 2 seconds max long. Then stops. Sometimes the power goes out, sometimes it doesnt. It also will do this when the power is trying to come back on. You will hear it, the lights will come back very dimly for a second or so, then out they go along with the sound. I am deep into this suburban area where there are NO above ground high voltage wires. Everyones electricity comes in below ground.
    Unless the sound is coming from the main road into my town, which has got to be .5 miles away or so, its something else. It just sounds so much closer than that. And if it were a transformer fuse blowing, how can my electricity come back on sometimes within minutes? Wouldnt they have to fix some stuff? Also, once in a while you can hear the sound, just during some hard rain, and the power never ends up going out. Maybe flickers at most.
    That video kinda rocks, thats for sure.
    Can they (power companys) re-route electricity that fast, and not have to fix the line immediatly to get the power going again?

    Cameron

    [edit]Is that water they are shooting on the power line that finally makes it go pop? I cant tell if its water, or fast moving, sudden smoke...[/edit]

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    The 2 seconds max duration is really interesting... That's really different.

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    Flashaholic* MaxaBaker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Looks like smoke to me judging by the way it dissipates. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* Lasernerd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    super heated oil that cools the transformers

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    that is about how long the substation buzzes when power either dims or tries to come back on and encounters too much load from air conditioners all trying to start up again. About 2-3 seconds of LOUD BUZZING HUM.

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    Flashaholic* bobisculous's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Lynx_Arc,
    I think you know what I am hearing.
    I could only imagine how much juice is having to be pumped to houses all at the exact time.
    I would expect thats what this is.

    Cameron

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* bobisculous's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Hmmmm,
    Perhaps this is what I am contantly hearing when it rains hard,

    Zzzzaap!

    What do you think? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    Cameron

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    more arcs and really great video at this site:

    http://205.243.100.155/frames/longarc.htm

    As for the sound, there are many ways I think that could happen. But certainly pulling a lot more current through the equipment can cause it to hum and buzz. If the power browns out and the voltage goes down, the amount of current that a piece of equipment tries to pull will go up to compensate. More line loss, more heating, more buzzing etc. Or you could be hearing the actual arc to ground that it is making somewhere.

    When a new path to ground is found by the current that has less resistance than the path going through your house the way it's supposed to, the power will follow that, and usually it's a huge amount of power and so makes a lot of noise [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] If it's wet leaves or a small rodent, they are generally vaporized rather quickly. But a lightening strike on the lines will cause the insulation to fail somewhere and create a nice ionized path to a grounding object that can last for a second or even several seconds. Since the current is grounding out there, you're getting less through the house. This is why when lightening strikes the lines your power browns out and flickers and then, if no breakers have blown it comes back once the arc blows itself out.

    I've seen transformers up a pole get struck. It was a spectacular storm right out of college when I was back home working at the local video store (yes, college got me great jobs [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] ) as i was driving to work lightening struck the train tracks literally 25 feet in front of my front bumper. I slammed on the brakes blinded for a moment and the crossing bars went down and then back up again [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] I should have taken my adrenalin and gone home! But I crossed the tracks and went to work a couple of blocks away. Needless to say nobody was out renting movies and so I was standing under the awning out front watching the storm and saw it strike a pole with 3 transformers just a block away. They exploded sending sparks into the air just like on TV [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] and then the power went out. I closed up the store and went home to enjoy the rest of the storm.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Interesting conversation. In the country, we never heard any noise, except for the compressors of the fridges winding up when the power comes back on. In the city, you can hear like a bang at times when the power fails or a buzz like when the lines arc. Nothing like looking out a window for lighting during a storm and seeing the sky light up in a bluish like fashion. We had lots of that during gaston and that was after the storm ended and during a tornado from isabell. Of course the tornado sounded like a train coming down the street.

    At the shop where I use to work near high tension lines when lighting struck the lines the whole shop would echo and vibrage with a buzz like sound. Kind of like that of an audip system when you touch the rca plugs with your finger. A low hz buzz.

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    from what you described , it sounds like a transformenr that gets loaded hard.
    i get a buzz like that, when i hard drive or short out a transformer here (other than wall warts).
    its the coil magnitism stuff, on my transformers some of it might be the multiple laminated plates rattling.
    get the same thing with the car charger transformer, and sometimes its rectifryer (old silicoln plate type) will rattle like that.

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    [ QUOTE ]
    VidPro said:
    ...get the same thing with the car charger transformer, and sometimes its rectifryer (old silicoln plate type) will rattle like that.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I've never seen a silicon plate rectifier (doesn't mean they don't exist) but I do remember the selenium rectifiers constructed from a stack of (usually painted) selenium plates held together by a rod through the center of the stack, and a solder lug at each end.

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    Yeah it is a strange experience. The shop is large with over head lifts to service cranes and bucket trucks. I had to stay late several days waiting for my ride and although everything was shut off but a few lights , this wave of sound/vibration would go through the shot witha couple of lighting strikes. It was similar to the sound of a fog horn that would slowly build to a point then stop. One time the lights flickered when I heard the sound. Of course I was the only guy there as they close early and it was just spooky. I believe one corner of the shop has some transfor looking things near the wall of circuit breakers and other electrical switches for controlling power to various stuff. I stayed on the other end near the doors feeling what drafts I could to stay cool and dry watching for my ride.

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    Default Re: Power Outage Noise(s)

    [ QUOTE ]
    PhotonWrangler said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    VidPro said:
    ...get the same thing with the car charger transformer, and sometimes its rectifryer (old silicoln plate type) will rattle like that.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I've never seen a silicon plate rectifier (doesn't mean they don't exist) but I do remember the selenium rectifiers constructed from a stack of (usually painted) selenium plates held together by a rod through the center of the stack, and a solder lug at each end.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    ya that was it, salan,selen,solanium, umm somthing like that :-) i just couldnt pronounce it [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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