(Topic ID: 161363)

Is my AC drawing power away from my pins?


By Nokoro

3 years ago



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  • 47 posts
  • 21 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by Yipykya
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#1 3 years ago

Just seeing if people think I'm crazy here. Lately, I've been noticing that the coils on one of my pins (which is brand new) seem just a tad weaker at times -- not all the time, just at times. I don't think anyone but me would notice because you would have to play a lot to tell the difference, but the flipper and VUK coils seem like (again, just at times) they don't have the same umph. This can even happen in the middle of a game. I noticed that this coincided with our use of the AC as the weather has gotten hotter. When the AC turns on and off, the lights in the house flash slightly, so I'm wondering if the somewhat weaker coils happen when the AC comes on, and when it is off, the coils are normal again. Since my pins are in the basement, and there is no AC down there, I can't tell directly if there is a correlation.

Anyway, am I crazy, or could this be a thing? If it is a thing, would buying a UPS help?

#2 3 years ago

Yes, you aren't crazy. My line voltage drops during the hot summer months by 2-4 volts even without the AC running. Seems like that couldn't cause issues but it can depending on the game. The main game I could tell a difference was Stargate. During the summer the rear VUK would have trouble ejecting the ball. During the winter, no problems.

#3 3 years ago

You are not crazy. Stingbat is correct and a lot of factors can influence the power to your house. You can try a UPS. I have had success using them in the past but they are not a guarantee. Worst case is you end up with a UPS for your computer.

#4 3 years ago

My buddy swears on the ups

#5 3 years ago

Yeah, I notice it on my WOZ where you can individually tune the power to each coil. I had them pretty tuned in, but something seems a bit off. I don't notice so much on my other two pins. I'll look into a UPS. Any recommendations?

#6 3 years ago

When i turn on the microwave, the nearby kitchen exhaust fan slows way down.

#7 3 years ago

Yes I cant play my b/w pins that are on the same outlet as my ac unit.

#8 3 years ago

Agree with most of above but not convinced by ups.

I'd think The ups typically cannot deliver enought current. But... Not saying anyone is wrong. Just surprised!

#9 3 years ago

Yes, your AC unit will draw a decent amount of current, creating a larger voltage drop on your electrical service, resulting in a lower voltage at your wall outlet, thus weaker coil action. In addition, most of your neighbors also have their AC units running, causing voltage drop on the utility distribution system. I'd suggest taking a voltage measurement at your wall outlet. If it is low, say less than 116 volts, contact your utility and ask them to perform a voltage investigation and verify that the transformer and service wires serving your house are adequate.

#10 3 years ago

UPSs are available in many hundreds of sizes and configurations, including whole house units designed to compensate for brownouts.

I like Cyberpower units. I think using one would solve the problem but I would send them an email first and see what they think.
Here is one that I think is in the ballpark.
https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/products/ups/avr/avrg750u

#11 3 years ago

This article seems like a good explanation of UPSs.

http://www.davidgoward.com/downloads/free-articles-tips/june-2012-articles/the-benefits-of-using-an-uninterruptible-power-supply/

Sounds like to get constant voltage, I would need to buy a high end one.

#12 3 years ago

It is very common for utilities to "brown" the power grid to get thru a heat wave.
I have seen voltage drop on 208v services to as low as 164 volts.
If you call the utility they usually just fluff you off.
It is also true that the in-rush current required to get the a/c compressor turning will dim the lights.
The larger your central air system the larger the draw.
A time delay built into the thermostat or into the a/c to prevent premature cycling of the a/c will lessen this effect if it calls before pressures have equalized.

#13 3 years ago

I'd definitely look at the specs. I just pulled one up randomly and the output voltage is 115 +/- 8%.

That's basically saying 106 volts is in spec.

#14 3 years ago

Having worked at a new 210,000 sq ft (built 2009) data center and managing the electricians and HVAC crew there (Also had Liebert in monthly for our UPS's) I can tell you that a UPS will provide conditioned and consistent power but you would need a high end one to handle the amperage of all the machines on each circuit. Likely not cost efficient for our hobby. And you're also talking the space of them and the electrical inefficiencies if that matters to you. Another issue is that the electric companies (out here for certain and likely globally) allow large percentage of voltage supplied in residential acceptable which doesn't help.

But I'm also not knowledgable in the residential options there may be out there.

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from PinballAir:

It is very common for utilities to "brown" the power grid to get thru a heat wave.
I have seen voltage drop on 208v services to as low as 164 volts.
If you call the utility they usually just fluff you off.
It is also true that the in-rush current required to get the a/c compressor turning will dim the lights.
The larger your central air system the larger the draw.
A time delay built into the thermostat or into the a/c to prevent premature cycling of the a/c will lessen this effect if it calls before pressures have equalized.

I had all my machines on when I had some people over last weekend and we had a power dip that only restarted a few machines.

And great recommendation on the relay options on your a/c. We do similar in programming of building automation for just that commercially. But not due to dips but to stagger inrush to keep power companies from seeing the spikes and charging higher rates.

#16 3 years ago

I don't think a UPS is going to help you. They are designed to keep a computer running during power blips and keep it running during an outage until you can safely shut down. You are wanting to step up the voltage. An inexpensive UPS isn't going to raise the voltage, it just kicks in when the voltage drops below a certain level. And that level won't be helpful.

The best way to go about this is to take voltage measurements and look at how the house is wired. See what else is on the circuit that has your pins. You may be able to help things by installing a new circuit that runs directly from your load center to outlets that are only used for the pins. Run 20A service so you have thicker wire and less resistance. You'll still see a drop when the AC kicks on, but you won't have other appliances dragging down the voltage to the pins. Keep in mind this is a big *maybe*. If your voltage coming into the house is low due to the power company dropping the voltage during the summer, there isn't a lot you can easily do.

#17 3 years ago

I don't think low voltage is the problem because I can adjust the individual coil power on WOZ. Rather, I think it is inconsistent voltage resulting, likely, from my AC. Right now, it is a very minor issue. I'll watch it and see if it gets worse as we hit summer. I don't want to spend a lot of money on a high end UPS only to have it not correct anything. And, if they only regulate voltage to +\- 5 volts, I would want to make sure the drop in voltage from the AC is over that tolerance before buying anything.

Quoted from PinballAir:

A time delay built into the thermostat or into the a/c to prevent premature cycling of the a/c will lessen this effect if it calls before pressures have equalized.

This is interesting, but I'm not sure what you mean. Can you explain more?

#18 3 years ago

An a/c builds pressure in the system as part of the refrigeration process. The compressor takes a large amount of electricity (Current) to get it spinning.
If the system does not sit idle long enough between cycles the pressure does not equalize. The compressor will start against that pressure causing it to have a "hard " start. This increases the current needed to make it spin.
Most modern digital thermostats have a built in time delay that begins timing out at the end of the last cycle. A delay on break time delay. They usually are 4 or 5 minutes. This allows the pressures to equalize during the off cycle .
If there is not one in the thermostat one can be added in the condensing unit.

The newer High efficiency a/cs ( last 4 years or so) do not equalize in that time period as they use a different metering device for the refrigeration process.
I generally install a 10 minute delay. It is not noticeable as temperature goes and it extends the life of the a/c.

Other causes of voltage drop related to a/c could be panel related. Unbalanced load, loose lugs, etc.

#19 3 years ago

I know nothing about whether a UPS will fix your situation OP. But for recommendations on UPS's (and surge suppressors in general), here are the brands I recommend in order from best to worst. This is from multiple decades of testing and real-world use.

Tripp-Lite
APC
CyberPower
PowerMaXX

Good luck with your troubleshooting.

#20 3 years ago
Quoted from PinballAir:

An a/c builds pressure in the system as part of the refrigeration process. The compressor takes a large amount of electricity (Current) to get it spinning.
If the system does not sit idle long enough between cycles the pressure does not equalize. The compressor will start against that pressure causing it to have a "hard " start. This increases the current needed to make it spin.
Most modern digital thermostats have a built in time delay that begins timing out at the end of the last cycle. A delay on break time delay. They usually are 4 or 5 minutes. This allows the pressures to equalize during the off cycle .
If there is not one in the thermostat one can be added in the condensing unit.
The newer High efficiency a/cs ( last 4 years or so) do not equalize in that time period as they use a different metering device for the refrigeration process.
I generally install a 10 minute delay. It is not noticeable as temperature goes and it extends the life of the a/c.
Other causes of voltage drop related to a/c could be panel related. Unbalanced load, loose lugs, etc.

Got it. We do have a delay, but I don't think it is 10 minutes. I'll see if there is a setting.

Quoted from BazaarMunchkin:

I know nothing about whether a UPS will fix your situation OP. But for recommendations on UPS's (and surge suppressors in general), here are the brands I recommend in order from best to worst. This is from multiple decades of testing and real-world use.
Tripp-Lite
APC
CyberPower
PowerMaXX
Good luck with your troubleshooting.

Thanks. I'll keep that in mind if I want to try it. I believe someone else recommended CyberPower.

3 weeks later
#21 3 years ago

Now that summer is in full swing, I decided to take some voltage measurements. Readings were taken at 2:00 pm on Sunday. When the AC was off, I got 120 volts from the outlet. When the AC was on, I got 119 volts. Just a slight difference. I don't think a UPS would help with that from reading the specs. I'm not sure if that small difference should even be noticeable, but it seems to be. I need to do other readings at other times of day. It could be there is a larger difference depending upon the time of day and what is going on with others in town.

#22 3 years ago
Quoted from Nokoro:

When the AC was off, I got 120 volts from the outlet. When the AC was on, I got 119 volts.

OK, power dip is not the issue. Maybe the flippers are getting hot and weaker or some other issue with the pin. Which pin is it?

#23 3 years ago
Quoted from Neal_W:

OK, power dip is not the issue. Maybe the flippers are getting hot and weaker or some other issue with the pin. Which pin is it?

WOZ. I'm not sure I can draw any conclusions from this one test. The pin was playing ok today. I think I'll keep randomly measuring voltage to see if there is any variation at different times.

#24 3 years ago

Data logging is a feature that will help you here. You'll be able to see the voltage over a specific period of time.

Seems like logging the voltage coming to the flipper might be beneficial. The game may compensate for small variations from the wall.

1 week later
#25 3 years ago

So, I've been doing random measurements of the voltage and always getting 119+ or 120. And my game was playing fine. But, then, this morning, while playing WOZ, I had one of those instances where the throne room saucer just weakly kicked out the ball to limply go right down the drain instead of to the left flipper like it usually does. I quickly checked the voltage and measured 118 for the first time. Again, just one data point. But that seems to be the most direct correlation yet between voltage drop and game performance. I'm not sure if the AC kicked in at that time since I was in the basement, but there was definitely a dip in voltage. I might just have to live with this as I'm not sure a UPS will do anything for that small a dip. But it is interesting how a tiny dip can impact a game. WOZ does seem pretty sensitive to these things.

#26 3 years ago

A drop of 0.83% ( zero point eight three percent ) should fall well within the design range of anything plugged into your outlet. A five percent tolerance is normal, ten is frequently acceptable.

Your testing methodology isn't providing you with any data that's going to help solve your problem.

You need to know if the power at the coil in question is low when the problem is happening. A data logging multi meter can tell you that.
amazon.com link »

#27 3 years ago

You may be experiencing a lagging power factor. The AC unit will consume the reactive component in the circuit. Your local electrical utility is most likely having loading issues on their distribution lines. They may not have additional capacitor banks to switch in for correction. The voltage can remain constant and the ability of the circuit to do work can greatly diminish. Self regulating home power factor correction units are out there. I have never done the research on them.
At work we transmit power at 161 kV and are required by NERC to keep our switchyard voltage within 3kV by altering the voltage and Mvar output of our generating units.
Later Sputnik

#28 3 years ago
Quoted from Sputnik:

You may be experiencing a lagging power factor.

These are some great points.

#29 3 years ago
Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

A drop of 0.83% ( zero point eight three percent ) should fall well within the design range of anything plugged into your outlet. A five percent tolerance is normal, ten is frequently acceptable.
Your testing methodology isn't providing you with any data that's going to help solve your problem.
You need to know if the power at the coil in question is low when the problem is happening. A data logging multi meter can tell you that.
amazon.com link ยป

Thanks, but that's a pretty expensive diagnostic tool. It is just a minor and infrequent annoyance, so I'll probably just live with the uncertainty.

Quoted from Sputnik:

You may be experiencing a lagging power factor. The AC unit will consume the reactive component in the circuit. Your local electrical utility is most likely having loading issues on their distribution lines. They may not have additional capacitor banks to switch in for correction. The voltage can remain constant and the ability of the circuit to do work can greatly diminish.

I'm not sure I understand this. I'm not that knowledgeable in this area. Can you explain? Thanks.

#30 3 years ago

Want an inexpensive way to monitor your power in real time while your playing? Place a lamp with a variable dimmer and an incandescent bulb near your pin, set on a low setting. (You could also buy a lamp dimmer at Home Depot.)

Whenever my HVAC kicks on, it is easy to see any lights on a dimmer in the house will dim dip down for a split second. If the power was unstable, you would also see the lamp fluctuating.

The only difficulty I can see is that you may not see the lamp fluctuation with the light show from the pin, but if you have a lamp with a dimmer, give it a try.

2 weeks later
#31 3 years ago

Really, really hot day today. Even my Star Trek Pro was feeling sluggish. Decided to take a reading from the outlet. I got 114-115 volts, my lowest measurement yet. So, that's a 5-5.5 volt difference from my highest measurement.

#32 3 years ago
Quoted from Neal_W:

Want an inexpensive way to monitor your power in real time while your playing?

$15 Kill-A-Watt Meter

main_p4460_(resized).jpg

#33 3 years ago

Sounds like your getting a voltage drop when your compressor "kicks" in. Replace the run capacitor and install a hard start kit. Those parts should cost about $50.

#34 3 years ago
Quoted from Electrocute:

Sounds like your getting a voltage drop when your compressor "kicks" in. Replace the run capacitor and install a hard start kit. Those parts should cost about $50.

Actually, I was only getting a little drop from my AC. The big drop today must be due to the town. Everyone has their AC on. It is hot!

Quoted from vid1900:

$15 Kill-A-Watt Meter

That looks really cool!

#35 3 years ago

Your paying way extra for power outage protection when looking at ups's which would be fine if your primary goal is to keep playing your pin when the power goes out.

If voltage drops are your concern why not just buy a voltage regulator for it?

There are many. Here is an example. Find one to fit your needs.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/13213504?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222228000295261&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=m&wl3=40881432992&wl4=pla-56948485145&wl5=9022352&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=13213504&wl13=&veh=sem

#36 3 years ago

You're definitely not crazy. Our neighborhood hits the AC like we are boiling in hell or something. My wall voltage is 116v in the middle of the day. Caused my TAF to reset multiple times until I adjusted the voltage regulator to put out a constant 5.2V.

#37 3 years ago

My FT became unplayable once summer came. Granted I think I need to replace BR2 and C5 but it never reset and now I can't even play a game on it.

#39 3 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

$15 Kill-A-Watt Meter

That is a good deal for a line monitor.

Didn't know you could get a active voltage regulating UPS that cheap.

#40 3 years ago
Quoted from Nokoro:

That looks really cool!

It will display Amperage draw, Line voltage, Peak draw, cost to run per hour/day/month, and a bunch of other functions.

Excellent to see your pins only draw 2 amps.

Excellent to show the wife that they would only cost $7 if you left them on for the entire month.

#41 3 years ago

I use a Line Conditioner. A line conditioner keeps the voltage at the proper level.
I recommend Trip-Lite

amazon.com link »

#42 3 years ago

All of these automatic voltage regulators seem to operate at +/- 5% of 120 volts. I don't think that will help with the minor variations that I'm getting but which still seem to affect performance somewhat. I may get the thing Vid pointed out just to monitor and see if the draw on power is more than that.

Somewhat off topic, but could a drop in voltage affect the signal you get from your wifi router. Since the weather has gotten hot, it seems Netflix and other streaming services that I get through wifi have slowed down.

#43 3 years ago
Quoted from Nokoro:

Somewhat off topic, but could a drop in voltage affect the signal you get from your wifi router. Since the weather has gotten hot, it seems Netflix and other streaming services that I get through wifi have slowed down.

Never mind. I seem to have corrected the problem by unplugging my router and plugging it back in again.

Correlation does not always equal causation.

2 weeks later
#44 3 years ago

I needed a new surge protector so decided to try a UPS with AVR. I bought this:

amazon.com link »

And, yes, I got the cheapest UPS with AVR I could find.

Unfortunately, when I play WOZ, the thing beeps every time one of the magnets goes off. A beep means an overload. I'm not an expert in electronics, but really??!! It can't handle a pinball machine. The instructions (which I only read when I received the device) say don't plug vacuums, laser printers, copiers, etc. into it because those large electronic devices will cause an overload. I guess I have to return it. I probably should have paid attention to the specs more before I bought it, but I'm not sure I would have caught this. Feeling frustrated.

#45 3 years ago

Spend that money on an adequately sized voltage regulator. That will solve the worry you started this thread about. What's the point of having and paying for a built in backup battery? Your pin isn't popping the breaker in the fuse box is it?

Also, ups's need their battery replaced as part of their maintenance cycle. This cost you more $$ every time you have to do that. UPS's and pinball - not an economically sound practice.

Kill a watt devices are not expensive. Every home owner should own one. That little device will tell you exactly what specifications to shop for with whatever solution you decide to go with.

#46 3 years ago
Quoted from Yipykya:

Spend that money on an adequately sized voltage regulator. That will solve the worry you started this thread about. What's the point of having and paying for a built in backup battery? Your pin isn't popping the breaker in the fuse box is it?

Yeah, I know. I knew I was being cheap on this. But, I wanted a decent surge protector and figured for $30, I could get that plus UPS. And, then, for $30 more, I could add voltage regulation. I knew it might not help with anything, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Since my issue is just a minor annoyance, why not try it? I didn't want to spend more. That said, I didn't expect it to beep loudly every time a magnet was used. That's now a major annoyance.

#47 3 years ago

Lol I get it. What you bought there can still be useful in an actual power outage, but on less demanding devices. Good luck.

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