A normal connection should have either 120 V or 240V, depending on the type of connection. The moment you get 20V on a line, you have low voltage.
So, what is low voltage?
Low voltage can be described as a scenario where the voltage is lower than the expected normal levels of electricity entering the building.
When there is a voltage drop, you should expect the appliances to perform poorly, the lights dim, and you can also experience intermittent power outages.
Reasons for Low Voltage
Understanding the reasons for low voltage can come in handy to find out the best way to correct the situation. Here are reasons you may be having low voltage.
1. Overloaded connection
When a wire connection is overloaded, it could lead to low voltage in the system.
We can consider times when more people are using power from the grid. This means that there can be an overload. However, most power companies often mitigate this before it becomes a serious issue.
You can picture a similar scenario in the summer months where more people would want more power to run their air conditioner units. This could result in weak voltage.
2. Connectivity distance
The distance can also be an issue for low voltage. Several engineering studies show how those homes or offices located fat from the power plant often experience reduced voltage once the power gets to them.
You can often find that power companies also have improved systems in place to ensure that you can still get enough voltage even though you are located far from the power plant.
3. Imbalance power supply
Another reason that you are having low voltage is that there is an imbalance in the supply line.
Modern electrical systems are designed to spread the load demand based on the application. However, sometimes the neutral regulator might not work as expected. The result is that now you have an imbalance in the system.
It could be that you have weak wiring in your house. So, each time the line is overloaded, there is now low voltage. It is best to have an electrician look at your wiring to identify if there is any fault and have it repaired.
4. State of wiring
The state of the wiring in the house or area can lead to low voltage problems. Things such as age and corrosion are likely to lead to low voltage.
Dirty connections combined with poor insulation can also lead to low voltage. That is why you always need a professional to handle the wiring.
In case the wiring is old, replacing the wiring and installing a new line is highly recommended. This ensures the best transmission and avoids low voltage.
5. Natural calamities
Sometimes there could be a problem with the poles holding the transmission cables. If there has been a storm, and the poles have fallen, it could lead to low voltage. Or it can lead to a total blackout.
In case of a natural calamity, wait for the power company to reinstall the poles and reconnect the power cables to have the best power voltage.
Here is a video explaining the reasons for low voltage
Fixing Low Voltage from an Outlet
In case it is just one outlet having a low voltage problem, then it can be an easy fix. You only need to do proper troubleshooting to find out what is wrong with it.
The first thing to check is the fuse panel. You have to ensure that the outlet’s breaker is not turned off.
While looking at the wires connecting to the fuse, check for signs of warping. The warping can be due to excessive current, and now the wiring is not working as expected. Also, if there is any smell of burned cable, then take a keen look at the current state of the wiring.
If the problem is on the side of the outlet, you have to open it to find out more. Sometimes it could be a loose wire that is causing all the problems.
Turn off the circuit breaker to the outlet to prevent an electrical shock.
In case the wires are frayed or too old, have an electrician rewire the house to prevent possible low voltage in the future.
What would make an outlet have only 20 volts?
This will mostly happen if the outlet has low voltage. There could be a problem with the wiring leading to the outlet. So, have that checked just to be sure.
What leads to low voltage in a connection?
The biggest culprit would be having loose connectivity. Open the outlet to check the connection just to be sure. Another reason could be that the wires are old or corroded.
What would make a light switch to have low voltage?
A light switch having low voltage is because of high resistance in the electrical circuit. Also, bad wiring can result in a circuit with low voltage. Always use a certified electrician to do a good wiring job.