Dirty Electricity

What is dirty electricity?

Dirty Electricity (DE) is a type of electromagnetic pollution or electrical noise that is propagated off of electrical wiring.  An unintended by-product of using electricity, DE is also known as Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and consists of high-frequency voltage transients (HVLTs) which take the form of wireless radiofrequencies. These creating harmonic distortions in the electricity supply.

DE can radiate from the standard electrical wiring in our homes, but also from the power outlets, appliances, and other electrical devices, we use on a daily basis. If we look at the radiofrequency spectrum, DE generally begins to propagate from our wiring at 50Hz, which is the same frequency as the electrical supply in Australia. It is currently recognised to propagate from wiring measured at up to 10MHz or even higher (this is within the part of the spectrum that is considered extremely low frequency (ELF) and radiofrequency (RF). The DE propagations above 2 kHz are considered to be potentially harmful to our mitochondrial cells and overall health, so at Spectral Design, we prioritise reducing these the most where possible.

Overall, DE has increased in recent years due to the rise of energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy sources.

How is dirty electricity created?

Dirty Electricity (DE) is created by the modern methods of reducing or changing the 240V supply in our homes. This electricity needs to be converted from Alternating Current (AC), which runs at 240V- Australia, to Direct Current (DC) for different applications within the home.

For example, compact fluorescent (CFLs) low-voltage light bulbs typically run at DC 6V, so the 240V supply needs to be reduced. This process can create DE. Solar panels are another example. The solar inverter converts DC electricity, from the sun, into AC power for our homes which also produces very high DE or HVLTs.  These transient frequencies ride alongside the normal 50Hz sine wave that is produced from the 240V in our home wiring. 

RF emitted by mobile phone towers and smart meters can also create DE that affects nearby electrical wiring.

How it impacts us in our homes?

These DE frequencies emanate from the source into the air around them (ie. solar inverter or compact fluorescent-CFL- light bulb) as well as travel as ‘noise’ along the electrical wiring in the home and the distribution system. DE frequencies can be present on the electric and magnetic fields that emanate from wiring in your home. This can be present even in the wiring in the home when the electricity is not in use as an electric field is still present if the circuits are still switched on at the switchboard. They also can emanate from the source of DE, such as a Compact fluorescent lightbulb-CFL.

High-frequency voltage transients may also be present on the ground we walk on as it is used as an electrical return path under fault conditions on the electrical grid.

Common symptoms

Exposure to high levels of EMI or dirty electricity has been linked to potential health effects such as the increased risk of cancer, neurological effects, cardiovascular effects, reproductive effects, and impact on sleep.  

Often, symptoms may correlate to changes in the levels of DE ie. Installation of new energy-efficient devices or light bulbs. Getting solar or a neighbour getting solar. New energy-efficient devices or light bulbs.  

Some common symptoms: 

  • Tingling or heat in the head 
  • Tinnitus  
  • Restlessness/overwhelmed 
  • Trouble sleeping and relaxing in the evening  

What are the sources?

Inside the home: 

  • Solar Panel Inverters 
  • Air conditioning Split System Inverters 
  • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs 
  • Televisions 
  • Dimmer switches 
  • Mobile Phone chargers 
  • Anything that has an electric transformer to charge an appliance 

Outside the home: 

  • Electric cars 
  • Electricity substations 
  • Street substations 
  • Electricity transformers 
  • Street power lines 
  • Generally, these DE frequencies are in the range of 800Hz and 88MHz. Frequencies > 2kHz are believed to be biologically active and go into the body 

How is DE measured?

Dirty electricity can be measured with:

At Spectral design we also consider measuring dirty electricity on the electric and magnetic fields to get a complete picture, not just from the voltage with the EMI line meters.

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