5 Fast Facts About Fiber Optic Monitoring for the Electrical Grid

Most consumers know that fiber optic cable is their best option for broadband service – it’s excellent for communications and data transmission. What many people don’t know is that fiber optic technology is also used for measurement devices used in high-voltage transmission equipment.

The fascinating reason it’s a great material for these applications – optical fiber is electrically non-conductive, so it’s immune to electromagnetic interference. That also means it’s a good insulator, so there’s no concern about ground loops or even lightening interference. And it’s naturally tough enough for harsh environments.

As it relates to equipment monitoring at your operation, here are five facts and to keep in mind.

1) Fiber optic thermometers are hot items.

Whether it’s for manual or automated measurements of Power Transformers, Fiber Optic thermometers are incredibly accurate. They support your condition-based maintenance strategy by giving you a clear picture of the actual asset condition, so you know if there’s any decreased performance before there’s a failure.

2) Sensors and probes are tougher (and more versatile) than ever.

With optical temperature probes designed for use in industrial labs, you never have to worry about microwaves, radio frequency, high voltage or harsh environments. Because fiber is non-conductive, it can take the heat. Even better, it holds up to chemicals and solvents. Made with dielectric materials, sensors and probes are capable of withstanding very high electro-magnetic fields and voltages.

3) Signal conditioners give you split-second data and long-term reliability.

Get accurate and direct temperature monitoring data of transformer windings every 250 milliseconds. Plus, count on “set-it-and-forget-it” reliability, so you can focus on the pro-active maintenance of your equipment and information without worrying about or questioning your conditioners.

4) Accessories make everything easier.

With the right transport cases, probe boxes, power supplies and protective caps, your job of manually checking temperatures and maintaining power equipment gets simpler. And your monitoring devices stay protected.

5) Software shows it all.

The best monitors are even more valuable when you have task-specific software. With direct data logging of temperature information, you get accessibility from your desktop or other browser-based devices. Export your data to Excel for use in charts, graphs or historical comparisons. In most cases, you can even control your monitoring devices remotely with a few clicks. 

“Fiber is fantastic” says Qualitrol engineer Phil Caruso “because it can go almost anywhere. It’s so tough, it can be used to measure temperature and all the things that can jeopardize power generation. The world only started using fiber optic technology about 50 years ago. So the possibilities for measurement and preventive maintenance are still being explored and expanded every day.” For more about condition monitoring with fiber optics, talk to Qualitrol today.