Monday, February 25, 2008

Power to the Tower

Hopefully, you've heard about our "Power to the Tower" campaign to bring 3 phase power to our transmitter site. Here's the inside scoop on what that's all about.

KAXE's transmitter requires 3 phase power to operate. At the time the transmitter was installed, Lake Country Power did not have 3 phase power available within several miles. Now, they will be bringing 3 phase power to the base of our tower hill and if we want to use this power, we must pay to run new lines up the 1/2 mile road to our transmitter. This is expensive and we estimate the project will cost up to $19,000.

So how does our transmitter operate if we don't have 3 phase power? We *make* 3 phase power with an electromechanical device called a Phase Converter-- pictured here. It takes single phase power and uses that to run a large motor that generate 3 phase power. This works, but it has some disadvantages. First it is a mechanical device that has bearings and is prone to failure. It also has banks of capacitors that fail over time and require replacement. KAXE has had to replace the phase converter once already and they are significant in cost.

What will obtaining 3 phase power from the utility company do for us? Right off the bat, there is an electrical savings as phase converters lose about 10% of the power they generate. Given an electrical bill of about $1,500 per month to operate our 100,000 watt station, we save money over the long run. Additionally, the phase converter will need to be replaced at some point due to age or a lightning strike. Transmitters require power that is electrically clean and have balanced voltages between each phase, something our phase converter is lacking.

So your contribution to this campaign is a deep infrastructure improvement that will make us electrically more efficient and better positioned for long term stability. As KAXE's engineer responsible for keeping us on the air, I truly appreciate you contribution for this unseen but very necessary improvement.


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