The latest power analysers offer unprecedented accuracy

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KeysightMay 15, 2015: Efficiency in power measurement, accuracy in results and technological developments are the major factors driving the power analyser devices market. Today, these devices cater to a range of industries

By Samonway Duttagupta

Right from driving industrial machinery, motor drives and inverters in offices to lighting and appliances at home, power has become one of the basic necessities of life. Considering this, it has become increasingly important to measure the electrical power of devices with accuracy; hence, the importance of power analysers.

Power analysers are totally in sync with the pace of modernisation in industrial products. Besides, keeping a track of the latest in power analysers is essential for all companies dealing with electronic products.

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New developments in the market

Power analysers are now available in both broad-purpose and high-performance options for a plethora of applications. Commenting on this, Naresh Narasimhan, country marketing manager, Tektronix India, says, “These days, power analysers are used in test environments, in R&D and in production in the semiconductor, nanotechnology and superconductor industries. Their high sourcing accuracy and built-in control functions make them ideal for hall-effect measurements, resistance measurements using Delta mode, pulsed measurements and differential conductance measurements. Programmable pulse widths limit power dissipation in delicate components and support pulsed I-V measurements.” Speaking about the latest power analysers in the market, Narasimhan says that they are capable of providing higher levels of accuracy than earlier and are perfect for R&D wings of any industry.

Tektronix India makes power analysers that are capable of providing accurate measurements of the complex waveforms seen in power supplies and inverters as well as in home, office and industrial electrical products. The PA series of power analysers manufactured by the company claim to provide precise measurements of power (watts), the power factor, harmonics and efficiency with the help of computer software and colour graphics displays.

Scientech’s range of power analysers, called the PowerSight series, caters to engineers and the R&D wings of both colleges and industries. The PowerSight power analysers can provide multiple capabilities; they can function as energy and demand analysers, harmonic analysers, power quality analysers, power meters and data loggers.

Anritsu’s T&M devices are made primarily for the telecom sector. Its ML2490A series of power analysers provides the performance required for narrow fast-rising edge pulse power measurements (like radars, for instance).

Keysight Technologies has recently launched the IntegraVision series of power analysers, which are aimed at R&D engineers who want to quickly and interactively measure AC and DC power consumption, power conversion efficiency, the operational response to stimulus, and common AC power parameters such as frequency, phase and harmonics – all with 0.05 per cent basic accuracy and 16-bit resolution.

Technological advancements

Most of the latest power analysers in the market these days incorporate some technological advancements that address the varied requirements in the market. The latest power analysers aim to be as accurate as possible, while offering user-friendly colour display screens. Precise measurements, with all other relevant information, are provided at one place to benefit the engineer to the optimum extent.

Higher accuracy and better software: The Tektronix PA1000 series of power analysers, the latest from Tektronix India, is designed to provide R&D engineers with higher accuracy in power measurements for single phase power electronics products. Besides, a high resolution, high speed sampling system, along with two precision current shunts, maintain measurement accuracy even for applications such as standby power with very low-level signals. Company sources state that its special test modes plus PWRVIEW software simplify compliance to key regulatory standards.

Multiple benefits in a single package: Pointing out what sets the PS4500 power analyser by Scientech apart from its competitors, Vivek Mantri, country manager, industrial segment, Scientech, says, “We can recommend our PS4500 as a complete power measurement option to our customers. This is because, in addition to energy analysis and logging, it performs harmonic analysis on every cycle, captures swells and sags on every half cycle, and captures transients with a resolution of 8 microseconds; all in a package that fits in your hand and weighs less than a kilo!”

Highest bandwidth: Anritsu’s ML2490A series of power meters supposedly have the highest bandwidth (65MHz) and highest resolution (1ns settable time resolution) in rising-edge (8ns typical rise time) pulse measurements for applications in radar and in next-generation mobile wireless systems based on complex modulation technologies such as OFDM. Sources at Anritsu claim that these devices have high quality CW, modulated and pulsed power measurement and are compatible with a wide range of sensors, and these qualities make them comprehensive power meters. These sensors reportedly use the latest electronics for internal calibration.

A unique combination: Sources at Keysight Technologies claim that the IntegraVision power analyser series’ PA2201A model is the first power analyser that combines accurate power measurements and touch-driven oscilloscope visualisation capabilities in a single instrument. This power analyser makes it easy for R&D engineers who are designing and testing electronic power conversion systems to access dynamic views of current, voltage and power so that they can see, measure and demonstrate the performance of their designs.

Factors to be remembered

In a market filled with so many options, it could get a little tricky while choosing the right device to meet one’s needs. Even though it’s important to identify one’s requirements and plan the purchase accordingly, basic things like the frequency range and the level of accuracy of a power analyser should be given keen attention, before making a purchase.

Sadanand Bhatt, manager, application support, Anritsu, says, “Frequency range, dynamic range and accuracy are some of the key parameters to consider before purchasing any power meter, which should also have a suitable power sensor. The interface of the power meter is another important point to consider when selecting a device for automatic/automated test equipment (ATE) applications.”

Mantri adds, “We help out our customers to select the right model by first understanding their needs, their current designs and their future plans, among other things.”

Latest in the market

PA1000 series from Tektronix

  • Bright colour graphics display makes instrument set-up and data read-out easy

  • Dual internal current shunts maximise accuracy for high- and low-current measurements

  • Application-specific test modes simplify instrument set-up and reduce the likelihood of user error

  • Easy data export to USB Flash drive or remote PC software, for reporting and analysis

  • PWRVIEW PC software provides fully automated compliance testing to IEC 62301 requirements

  • Many standard features such as GPIB, USB, Ethernet and harmonic analysis eliminate costly upgrade options

ML2490A series from Anritsu

  • High performance and precision: 65MHz instrument bandwidth, with 1ns measurement resolution for precise rise-time measurements of radar signals or for measuring the latest 4G orthogonal frequency division multiplexed (OFDM) signals.

  • High speed sampling: Up to a 1 Gs/s sample rate produces accurate profiles of radar, LTE, W-CDMA, WLAN/WiMAX and other demanding signals. Displays peak, average and crest factor of any input signal.

  • Triggering: Comprehensive circuitry provides precise triggering using internal or external sources. Continuous or single shot modes available.

  • Measurement gates and markers: Multiple gates and markers for measuring peak power, multi-pulse power, signal droop, rise-time and fall-time, pulse width, and pulse repetition interval (PRI).

  • External video (ML2490A / ML2480B): Provides 1/4 VGA signal to external monitor (CRT or LCD).

  • Ethernet interface (ML2490A / ML2480B): 10/100BaseT LAN interface, allows remote control direct from a PC or local/wide area network using dynamic (automatic) or static IP assignment.

PS4500 from Scientech

  • Size: 9.86cm (W)×19.61cm (L)×4.01cm

  • Weight: 0.5kg

  • Operative range: 32-122 degrees F (0-50 degrees C)

  • Measurement rate: Samples every cycle of every input, voltage and current at 2083 samples per cycle. All measurements updated once per second.

  • THD (total harmonic distortion) to the 63rd harmonic

  • Power quality: Cycle-by-cycle capture of sags and swells

  • Power quality: Transients (impulses) to 8us, 1000 Vpk

IntegraVision PA2201A from Keysight Technologies

  • Visualises transients, in-rush current and state changes with a high-speed digitiser that captures voltage, current and power in real-time

  • Analyses power losses in the time and frequency domains using full Nyquist based computations

  • Gains new insights by viewing parameters on the 30.73cm, high-resolution, multi-touch capacitive touchscreen

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