Energy Efficiency and Flourescents

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I see the practice over and over again.  Personnel making spaces a little darker by removing fluorescent bulbs in an effort to reduce energy consumption.  Hey, if there is less light, there must be less energy!



The primary consumer of energy in a fluorescent light is the ballast.  With the bulb removed, all you end up doing is converting all of the visible light energy into heat from the ballast.  Oh, and generate a little eye-strain in the bargain.

Instead, if you wish to remove fluorescent bulbs instead of changing them to high efficient bulbs and fixtures, then make sure you also disconnect the associated ballast!

On the same note – incandescent bulbs are rapidly disappearing and being replaced by fluorescent light bulbs, which also use a ballast.  If the fixture is on and the bulb burns out, it is still consuming almost exactly the same energy it was consuming when it was producing light.  Instead, you are producing heat.  Replace the bulb, or remove it, as soon as possible!

The above picture is of a burned-out florescent bulb that had been removed from a multi-bulb lighting fixture.  Notice the heat still present in the area of the ballast!


The Use of Infrared in Motor Forensics

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I recently was given the opportunity to test out the FLIR One for the iPhone 5/5S.  It was pretty cool, with some limitations.  However, while testing it I had the opportunity to compare it side-by-side with a FLIR 90 camera and see the difference.

One key opportunity that infrared provides is the ability to analyze and confirm the condition of induction motor rotors following fault detection.  In a recent machine that was disassembled, we performed a standard test that we perform to detect broken rotor bars in dynamic situations.  This is important as sometimes a cold growler test will not detect many fractured rotor bar problems.  In these cases you sometimes need to apply heat and then test with magnetic paper or iron filings.

In a dynamic test, you provide much more current to the rotor which will cause some of the current to pass around the fracture through the rotor laminations.  You also will detect problems between laminations as well as poor contact with the rotor, such as in the case of a loose shaft.

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The test is performed using a core loss tester.  Clamps are used on the motor shaft, which will carry the current.  It is then energized based upon calculations used to determine the prescribed excitation of the rotor laminations (too little and not enough heating, too much and potential damage).  As with stator laminations, you are looking for hotspots of 10C or more, or unusual hot spots, as well as overall heating of the rotor core.

Localized spots in copper rotor bar systems (unusual in cast aluminum) at the end of the lamination or just into the laminations usually indicate broken or fractured rotor bars.  This is the point of greatest deflection during acceleration and deceleration of the rotor.  However, it also takes experience to identify when contamination or oxidation will cause the hot spot, instead.  These conditions usually occur away from the rotor bars while rotor bar faults are close.  Loose shafts, bolts used for balancing, welds between the rotor and shaft, may all show heating.

This process should be used on all copper and copper alloy bar systems.

The use of this concept on aluminum cast rotors will result in high temperature spots in the core around rotor bars where there is either a blowhole, an unusual loss of material or fracture, or significant casting void.  A combination of infrared and magnetic paper/iron filings are used to determine which condition exists.

Editorial and Updates November 2014

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Since the last newsletter a few things have happened.

First, I have handed the torch to a new Outreach Director in SMRP!  I have full confidence that Carl Schultz, CMRP will continue to push forward the Public Relations, partnerships, marketing, and education outreach that the Outreach Directorate Team has initiated over the past three years.  This has also included new initiatives through the Global Forums on Maintenance and Asset Management (

Where does that leave me, including full support of the programs that have been initiated?  I was elected during the SMRP Conference into the position of Secretary of the Executive Committee.  I look forward to continuing to serve SMRP members World-wide in this position.


The conference was very exciting.  It has been a long time since I have seen many of the members who attend the annual conference – since the last conference, in many cases.  This is an issue I hope to correct through support of our many active chapters throughout the USA and the SIG (Special Interest Groups) organization.

All of the efforts within SMRP have been accomplished through the hard work of a great many volunteers as well as the professional staff, and our Executive Director, Jon Krueger, via Kellen Services.

Become familiar with the 2014/15 SMRP Officers!

I also had the honor of presenting in two workshops at the conference.  The first workshop was in collaboration with Flowcare Engineering and Suncoke Energy was: Workshop 12: Mitigating Problems Associated with VFD Driven Equipment: Presenter(s):  Chuck Gray CMRP, Suncoke Energy; Vern Martin, P.Eng., FLOWCARE Engineering Inc.; Harry McArthur, P.Eng., FLOWCARE Engineering Inc.; Howard Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP, Dreisilker Electric Motors, Inc.

The response from the attendees was very interesting.  It seems that this is a condition that afflicts far more than we had expected!  Several questions from the class included such things as: ‘can this happen on smaller motors?’; and, ‘what can we do to improve it?’  I address this issue further along in this newsletter.

This particular topic continued on Thursday/Friday in my Electrical Signature Analysis workshop: Workshop 17: Electrical Motor Diagnostics (Two-Day Workshop, Thursday-Friday) Presenter:  Howard Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP, Dreisilker Electric Motors, Inc.

I think this will deserve a paper.  Provide some feedback by responding to this newsletter if this topic is of interest to you.


The SMRP Conference was nice, plus it gave me a week off of training for the WPC World Competition.  This is coming up next week in West Palm Beach, Florida.  I am looking forward to seeing some competitors that I have only met on social media and others that have competed with/against over the past three years from over 30 countries (and 900 athletes!).  I will be competing Bench Press on November 14, 2014 along with 212 other bench press competitors.

You know my blood is roaring!

Of course, we have been having a little fun, too.  I got my hands on a FLIR One camera that mounts to the iPhone 5/5S.  I will discuss this a little more in the topic “Use of Infrared in Motor Diagnostics” below.  However, I also got my hands on it for a few experiments in sports applications of infrared.  In particular, I was looking at my knee recovery and the reason for muscle cramps I have had in competition.  Now I know, which means I can take care of the problem (plus I won my bet with my doctor).

For more on the sports applications:

My LinkedIn Blog:

And, of course,

With infrared, my trainers and I were able to identify blood flow issues in my recovering leg.  With this knowledge, and the associated training, I am expected to be back into full powerlifting at a meet in March.  As part of the efforts that have been going on, I have been put on the invitation list for Relentless Minnesota (March) and Relentless Detroit (November) which are meets that have raised over $200,000 each for families and children with terminal illness.

In Illinois, my business partners in 2XL Powerlifting LLC and I are assembling a fundraiser meet to celebrate our new partnership with the Autism Society of Illinois.

Yeah, I know those of you who have followed completely expected that.

One of the partners now works at 2XL full time and will be training children and young adults with autism.  I will discuss more on this program in the future.


Howard W Penrose, PhD, CMRP