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Asked Aug 18, 2006, 05:42 PM
I live in an older residential neighborhood that has overhead pole transformers.
For several years now I have been trying to figure this out.
My neighbor has an increasingly grown manufacturing shop on his residential property (MU Zoned).
When his shop is running at full load, My electric usage goes up.
I have been out of my home for 3 day periods house sitting and my meter goes up 3 digits a day.
When I am home, using my electric, lights, cooling appliance, computer, lights, tv etc. My electric goes up only 1 digit on a new meter the electric company put in in January. I only notice this usage on my meter when they are working in their shop.
I believe that my neighbor and I are on the same transformer (Houses) but his shop is on a separate one, however when he is extra busy or needs additional machines, he plugs some into his home electric, which is when I used to see brown outs between him and I, no one else.
I haven't had th ebrown outs since I called the electric company and they started asking him questions, but I still get the high usage. I know this can not be correct because my other neighbor is retired and home 24/7 using more than I and his usage is much lower, in addition, my aunt used to live where I reside and the same, thing she had low usage but was home all day 24/7 using all the electric and never had high bills, that is also when my manufactuing neighbor did not do so much manufacturing.
Can you help give me some ideas if this is possible in any way or how to find out what could be crossed or if he can drain power from me? I just don't know enough about electric and transformers to even have the slightest clue, I just know that when he uses his shop a lot my usage goes up and that is a good indicator something is wrong. Please, Please please help me.
I seen a post on how the gas company was charging the neighbors for the other neighbors gas all summer? Could this be happening to me in some way too?
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Senior Electrical & Lighting Expert
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Aug 18, 2006, 07:27 PM
A utility measures watts and time, endng up in KWH, or Kilowatthours. Any electric utility only provides voltage.
I do understand the high usage of the maunfacturing plant causing the high load on the grid in the neighborhood to cause the volts to drop, causing a "brownout", usually resulting in dimming lights in other buildings nearby.
If the volts drop, the amps will go up, but Ohms Law comes into play here, and the watts used in your home remains the same. This will not cause you to incurr more KWH than you are using.
Now as far as the plant being physically wired and connected to your meter somehow, is difficult for me to determine, not knowing the physical layout and proximty of the buildings. THe only thing I could recommend is to shut off your power completely to see if you interrupt any power to that building.
If you can do this when you perceive they are drawing large amount of power, you can do two things by shutting off your power. One like I said kill power to that building, and second see if there is any usage on your meter, whcih should not be changing at all since your power is dead and you are not using any power.
I have always had great difficulty in comparing two different households use of power.Thou situations seem to be the same, appliances are different, the ways and times these appliances are used is different, lifestyles , etc are different. Thou an eldery person is home 24/7 and you are out working most of the day, I would expect you to still use more power for many reasons.
Having the utility investigate this problem in your neighborhood was a good thing. The manufacturing plant is obviously growing and adding more load. All commercial and industrial facilites are suppose to, but few do and even know they are suppose to, notify the utility of changes and additions to their loads.
This allows the utility to provide the components needed to provide the necessary power to that customer, and prevent neighbors from experiencing pwoer problems such as brownouts. Usually that customer needs a larger transformer, and sometimes larger transmission lines.
See if this makes any sense to you. Try what I suggested. Get back with any other questions, and certainly any results of your experiments. And do not hesitate to ask the utilty to check your meater for accuracy.
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Aug 18, 2006, 08:49 PM
Thank you so much for your reply, It really means a lot to me.
I have tried the shutting down my electric outside at my pole (I have overhead wires), but it was during the day, they have everything closed up so I couldn't tell weather or not it affected them. I can however try it again, taking into consideration the "known heavy workload day" and maybe in the evening when I see their lights on so I can look to see if they react?"
Another thing is that during the time I had the electric company here to investigate, they replaced my old spin meter with a brand new digital and so it is much easier for me to read. (The old one had arch marks, which he said were caused by power surges, which couldve came from my neighbors usage or electrical power outages) that is when the brown outs stopped, I had lost a few electrical items also (motherboard, power supply on pc, furnace electrical part and a refridgerator from the brown outs)
Lastly, I am not sure if you noticed the part I mentioned when I was housesitting at my friends house during Christmas, I was gone for 3 whole days and nights. When I stopped in to let my cat outside for a couple hours, I seen my meter had moved up 3 digits in a single 24 hour period. The next day, the same thing, I had also notice them working full force across the alley in the shop.
The next day that I was home for a whole day and night, I only used 1 digit, well my meter only went up one digit, now this is when I was home on my day off using all my appliances, though most are gas (Furnace, dryer, hotwater) so when I was not home for the 3 days, I did not leave the furnace on or any other items that I would normally use when home. That is the part that I don't understand.
One neighbor who has limited electrical knowledge, said the only way they could get in on my electric is if they had underground wire from my place to theirs and they hooked up to a wire they found underground? I have no idea if that is possible either. (He uses 3 window air conditioners daily, and I use evaporative cooling)
I had my eye on the transformers because he has a lot of electrical wires running to them actually on 2 separate transformers, One is on the corner between him and me, (Less than 75 yards from my back door and his) and the other it about 175-200 feet away from me, but is less than 75 from his homes back door.
He used to be a small little shop when he got his permit, he has outgrown what he is permitted to be doing I know this. I'm sure he did not let the utility company know about needing to upgrade, however when they were here investigating, wouldn't they have brought it to his attention? Or an overlook possibly?
What eles would you think could cause this?
(I will try the pole next week when I am off and home from work)
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Senior Electrical & Lighting Expert
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Aug 19, 2006, 06:20 AM
Just a few questions or comments as we discuss this to figure it out.
What state or country is this located in?
What does a digit on the meter represent?
Where is your main switch located? Out on a pole? Where is the meter?
A connection underground? You are connected with aerial wires,correct?
Is your dwelling completely standalone? Or it it attached to any other dwelling or occupancy?
Regarding the utility, you can learn what their rules and regs are, I am sure they publish them on the web, or can get from their office. From here you can discover what all customers are required to do, and the actions the utiity can take.
Any chance you can take and provide pictures? Something tells me I just got to see this for myself. Also may help with me determineing what the issue is.
Not that you seem to be worried, do not try to be covert about shutting off your power, it's yours to do as you please. Any affect to the plant is their problem. You want them to react and take notice to help you.
Has an electrician looked at your system?
Any comments you can furnish will help with figuring this out.
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Aug 19, 2006, 07:51 AM
The Location is Arizona, Tucson, USA.
I am pretty sure that my meter is read/displayed in Kilowat Hours. The link following is a link I found online as to what mine looks like. http://www.griffmonster.com/miscella...r_reading.html
I can provide digital pictures.
My main switch is located at the pole in my back yard (Circuit breaker box)
The meter is located on the same pole.
A connection underground that was just a thought from my other neighbor.......that's only if a wire was burried long ago when the service was first installed (1959 or so)
My dwelling is complete stand alone on a .24 acre piece of land.
They are all private properties.
I believe a diagram is going to be most helpful in giving you a broad vision of the whole layout.
I will take pictures and (work on the diagram today)
Oh I wasn't worried about them seeing me turn off my power, I was worried that I would not be able to see weather it affects them or not. However, they are a little sneaky, when the electric company came out before they shut most of their day down and stopped manufactuing, I think to keep from drawing attention from the electric man who was there.
I have not had an electrician involved. I have called a few over the years, but they want to start by looking at all of my inside wires and trying to find an issue on my end, which is pay by the hour for a process of elemination and not starting at the most obvious which I really believe is outside, and not inside...... Etc.
I have bookmarked a link to the Electric Regulations, but I think when I looked at it back then, it was all foreign to me. I will look again and see if anything makes a little more sense, since I am learning a little more as I research and ask.
How can I attach a diagram or pictures for you to see?
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Senior Electrical & Lighting Expert
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Aug 19, 2006, 09:25 AM
May be best for you to email me with any pictures or sketches to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuscon? Sorry but I had envisioned some third world country by your description, whew. I have seen pictures of some pole and home wiring in Haiti that makes me wonder why there are't dead people all over and the country is not burning down.
Can you provide the link to your utility regs? I can read through them and make heads or tails of it.
Is the business allowed in the area by the city?
As far as an electrician looking at the wiring without knowing how long it will take, and not just giving them a blank check, perhaps you can ask their hourly rate, and budget for x number of hours and no more. Say if they charge $50 per hour, 4 hours will cost $200. The electrician should be of the quality with good service and troubleshooting skills. Don't just use any contractor, many that are excellent at construction may not be skilled in problem solving.
Try looking in your area that is a member of the TEGG Network. This company will have a trained group of service electricians with all the necessary testing and diagnostic equipment.
I went out to the TEGG website and found the TEGG contractor in Tuscon: http://www.tegg.com/who/net_sabino.aspx
I hope I am not violating any Forum rules about advertising, admin be will sure to let me know. If I am, I can always email you the info.
You may find their rates a bit pricy, as most are only involved with commercial and industrial applications. But I guarantee if there is any issue they will find it. They can also help with dealing with the utility, local code enforcement office, etc. If there is any wiring or code violation they will discover it quickly.
I will be glad to help in any way I can with reviewing your pictures, etc. Anything I do come up with will be difficult for you or I to confirm, and I doubt there is anything you can do about it. Let's continue from here.
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Aug 19, 2006, 03:46 PM
Here is the link to the Regulations http://www.tep.com/docs/rulesregs.pdf
And since we are in the county, and the lots are Zoned for MU, he only has to comply with that, which I know he is much bigger than what the Zoning Code reads here...........
6. Manufacture, processing, assembly or repairing which the board of adjustment determines not objectionable due to odors, smoke, noise, vibration or similar cause. Permitted are the following:
A. The manufacture, assembly and repair of advertising displays,
B. The processing, assembly and repair of light sheet-metal products, miscellaneous small parts, novelties, toys and merchandise from previously prepared materials such as cellophane, nylon, canvas, cloth, felt, leather, paper, plastics and similar materials
Taken from...... http://www.co.pima.az.us/cob/code/c18a23.html#2684
Not sure if this helps, but I know he has a cooling device, a tall wooden structure that is like a water mill? He mentioned once that it is for cooling something as another machine is manufacuting. So I know it pumps water and runs through something else. I know that's not very clear, but if you are familar, it might ring a bell.
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Aug 20, 2006, 05:46 PM
I also sent you the diagram in email, from my hotmail account, sometimes it goes to the junk folder if yeah don't watch for it.
Im doing a lot of research today on Reverse Phase, Phase Cancelation and how people steal electric (either by meter tampering or by putting a device on their electric that will give lower readings than what they are using) now I'm not sure if anything like that was being used, that it could cause the voltage to be spread out throughout who ever may be using that transformer or ?
Also I am checking to see if my transformers are phase one or 3 or split? I think that will help, because depending on what kind of machinery he is using (Phase one or three) could effect the power outcome?
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Sep 12, 2006, 08:49 PM
One thing that I am curious about is concerning your power supply. You state that:
"My main switch is located at the pole in my back yard (Circuit breaker box) The meter is located on the same pole."
Is this pole physically attached to your dwelling? Or is it stand alone and from their it feeds power into your house?
Your meter shows how much power is being fed through the wires coming out of it and then distributed through your breakers.
If you feel comfortable doing this, take off the cover on the circuit panel and look for any wires that seem unusual. Either much thicker, different color or something. Note what breaker they go to and then turn off that breaker.
Did anything in your house turn off when you turned the breaker off?
Another way to trouble shoot this would be to identify what is on each circuit.
The best way to do this would be at night. Turn on ALL the lights, plug something into EACH receptacle. Then, turn off each breaker one at a time.
When you identify what is on each circuit, take a circuit tester and plug it into each outlet. Is the power out on each circuit? Test all the light switches. When we had the main panel in our house replaced, I did this and discovered some very unusual wiring. For example, one duplex had power coming into it from two different circuits. The top outlet was controlled by a switch but the bottom stayed hot when the circuit was turned off.
Did you find any breakers that DIDN'T control something in your house? If so, that is your likely source of power for your neighbor.
Another thing, you mentioned that when you were gone for 3 days, your power usage went way up. Do you have any outside receptacles? Since you have identified the breakers that control them, shut them off the next time you leave and see if your power usage stayed low or was still high.
To make sure that they aren't opening up your panel and taping directly off the source, take a short length of hair, thin string, etc. And get a little saliva on it. Put the damp hair across the opening to the panel. Once it dries, the hair will stay there until someone opens the panel and breaks the seal. And since it is so thing, no one will notice it.
Finally, don't worry about the transformer serving both you and the neighbor. It can server you, him, and twenty other homes (well, not really, but you get the idea) but you will be billed only for the usage through your meter.
Speaking of your meter, do the readings from the power company match what you have? Look at your current bill, it will tell you the approximate date of your next reading. On that day, look at your meter and jot the number down on the bill. When you get your next bill, the beginning point should be similar to what you had. On the next reading date, jot down the meter number on the bill. This is how much usage YOU have recorded for the billing cycle. When the next bill arrives, compare the amounts. They should be real close to one another, if not, call the power company and have them explain it.
Good luck and please let us know what you have found out.
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