When most people hear the term “dirty electricity,” they probably think of power generated from sources considered more-polluting, such as coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuels. However, Satic Inc., an electronics manufacturer and professional engineering firm based in Missoula, Montana, says electricity in homes and businesses is filled with “electrical pollution” that is not necessarily associated with dirty fuels. In fact, the company claims solar power is one of the main sources of dirty electricity.
“Dirty electricity specifically comes from three different main culprit places. Number one, it’s delivered to our panel. Number two, we make it with our electronics—our solar inverters, our LED lighting, our DC devices. And, the wiring in our home—maybe half a mile of high-quality copper wiring—acts as a super antenna. So, that’s how we get dirty electricity into our house. What defines it specifically is, it’s electricity that has distortion or interference, low power factor, etcetera, on it,” B.D. Erickson, Satic’s CEO, said as a guest on The POWER Podcast.
Dirty electricity may affect more than just electrical devices. Some people claim to have a hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and they report symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, problems with concentration and memory, and sleep disturbances as a result of exposure to dirty electricity. While studies on the effects of exposure to EMFs have in some cases been conflicting, Erickson said his son experienced symptoms when the family moved into a home located near large power transmission lines, which is what led him to research the topic.
“Electricity has eight attributes that need to be within an acceptable realm, and if they’re not within that acceptable realm, they are considered dirty,” Erickson said. He explained the eight attributes are volts, amps, watts, electromagnetic fields, total harmonic distortion, interference, ohms law of resistance, and frequency. Erickson said when electricity leaves a power plant, it’s properly regulated and is typically within an acceptable range for all eight attributes. But as it flows out to customers, it can degrade or get distorted, usually as a result of the devices everyone uses.
“We live in an alternating current world [but] half the stuff we plug in nowadays isn’t alternating current. Anything with [a] battery is DC,” he said. In today’s world, cell phones, computers, tablets, and some other electronic devices are often powered by batteries. Furthermore, lighting has changed from incandescent bulbs, which were essentially resistors that used to act as “energy cleaners,” to compact fluorescent bulbs, and now, LED lighting, which adds electrical pollution. Lastly, Erickson said solar power, and specifically solar inverters, create a lot of dirty electricity.
“None of that’s wrong. None of that’s sinister. Nobody did it to hurt anybody. And we’re certainly not trying to blame solar or the power company, because that blame doesn’t lay at their feet,” Erickson said. “It’s just, something changed in our world, the way we use electricity has changed, and nothing caught up. Nobody addressed it.”
Well, nobody except Satic. What Erickson and his team of engineers came up with is a product that provides system-wide power conditioning, robust surge protection, and power factor correction with advanced EMF, interference, and harmonics filtration. The system is easy to install in homes and businesses, and the effects are immediate. “You don’t have to wait a month like with solar to see your bill. You can see it, you can feel it, you can hear it in real time. The amp draws—your air conditioner might go from five amps to two, and running better and running quieter,” he said.
Erickson said the cost savings on electric bills will usually pay for the device in about two years, and there are other benefits, such as robust surge protection, less heat generation, and longer operating lives for appliances and devices, not to mention possibly improving the health of people with EMF sensitivities. “What we encourage a lot of our customers to do is go ahead and buy a meter,” he said. With that, people can identify how much dirty electricity they have and whether they even have a problem. If they do, the meter will help identify “hotspots.” Lastly, the meter provides a way to measure the benefits of installing the filtering system. “We want people to see it,” he said.
To learn more about Satic and its energy management system, listen to the full interview on The POWER Podcast. Follow the links below to subscribe via your favorite platform or click on the SoundCloud player to listen now:
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—Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).