Detecting World Cup goals with electricity — The TV Pick-up effect

The first 76 people to sign up at Ссылка will get 20% off an annual premium subscription. Major TV events are a PITA for the National Grid …. как нарисовать животных видео на ютубе

275 Replies to “Detecting World Cup goals with electricity — The TV Pick-up effect”

  1. Forgot to say, there’s a misconception that the main cause of TV pickup is people putting kettles on to make tea. Sounds plausible, we brits love tea! But it’s only a minor contribution. The main thing is toilet flushing. Also, opening fridge doors!

    Apologies for all the jump cuts! I wanted to get this out before the England v Sweden game. That way there’s accountability when all my hypotheses turn out to be wrong!

  2. That was a really interesting video! I was always told it was the kettles that did it, it’s fun to know it’s actually toilets 😀

    • You want to find an unknown statistical mapping from 1 time series dataset to another — a CNN would be one of the best ways to solve this problem

    • American pointy egg throw is not football, there is no ball involved and you almost never play it with your foot.

    • Never underestimate the stupidity of the American public (or its leadership) . Being an ‘American’ I can vouch for their inability to comprehend «the boot of the vehicle».

    • Let’s be honest here, there is only one «football» that is known the world over and it isn’t that silly game from the US. It’s that silly game where all the players have expensive, pretty hairstyles and fall over all the time pretending to be hurt. Go to any country other than the US and mention football and that is the game they will instantly think of.

    • Don’t Americanise everything — instead, force everyone to conform to the British Empire’s way of doing and saying things.

  3. I am disappointed that when talking about frequency maintenance you didn’t mention the prolonged drop in frequency all across europe a few months ago that caused mains-connected clocks to run slower (by quite a few minutes!) and then faster when they were getting the average back up to spec.

    • Madhur Agrawal Yes, I am aware that Britain’s grid is separate, but this kind of a consequence can occur anywhere if the power plants can’t keep up

    • It should have been a problem in England too though because England is attached to the EU grid because we import and export electricity. There is only one grid frequency. If you try to connect to the grid with a different frequency things tend to blow up! So the English grid would have had to follow the slowdown and speedup of the whole EU grid.

    • al35mm That is where DC links come in! Britain is connected, but not synchronised — there is direct current flowing, with alternators on both ends transforming each to their own grid’s frequency and phase. High Voltage Direct Current is better for long distance, intermittent power transfer, because AC cables act as huge capacitors that need to be charged up every time a transfer is started. No such problem with DC causes lower losses. Also, using DC allows electricity to flow between grids using different frequencies or just not aligned in phase

  4. The reason that you measured somewhere around 243V, is that the Mains Voltage in the UK can vary from 230V by 10%.

    • No. The UK mains voltage ‘is’ 240V. It was never changed because it is within 10% of the Eurocrats fictional 230V.

  5. Why would the toilet affect the power supply? As far as I know toilets aren’t electric, unless your using fancy Japanese toilets. Although as I write this I realise it might be because of electric pumps to keep mains water pressure up instead of water towers in big cities, I assume.

  6. I loved that your Back to the Future reference included the deliberate mispronounciation of the decimal places. Really shows attention to detail.

    • James Neace
      All decimal digits should be pronounced individually. «One point two one» is the correct pronunciation, «one point twenty-one» is slang and indeed probably more American slang than anywhere else.

    • Also the 0 DOES add information, it tells you the level of accuracy and significant digits. 2.8, who knows what the hundredths digits is, it could in practice be anything, 2.80 is more accurate and you now KNOW what it is

    • Elitekross
      I understand where you are coming from.
      Slide Rule estimations not withstanding…
      But if a bank makes a 8 dollar mistake, it is 8.00 ,,, not $8.01….
      8 = 8.0 = 8.00
      The bank never uses the word ABOUT.

    • Yndostrui «two point eighty one» is not wrong or even ambiguous. Thinking it is greater than 2.9 is wrong. Strings of digits are easier to communicate in chunks. «Thirty one hundred» is much more fluid and easier to remember than «three one zero zero»

    • Curtis Densmore if you think about it a bit, you’ll realize that there’s a clear difference between your examples. «Thirty one hundred» is fine because it literally means 31 x 100, which equals 3100 which is what you meant. «Thirty one hundred» IS greater than nine hundred, and follows any other rules as you would expect.
      On the other hand, «point eighty one» literally means 81 x 0.1, which is equal to 8.1 rather than 0.81. In both cases the math is the same: you’re trying to put an overly large number into a certain position, but it doesn’t fit and therefore overflows into the place to the left. However, for decimals you want to make your number overflow to the right, which just isn’t how the positional number system works. Sure, there isn’t any real ambiguity since nobody who says decimals like this means it that way, but its a real abuse of the notation and makes it harder to parse what you’re saying.

    • The alternators are three phase generators, spinning at… 50Hz.
      slow them down and your power output is correspondingly slowed.

  7. After winning I bet more people stick around watching a few minutes more. After loosing, especially on penelties, the drop off rate should be more sudden.

    • Yes, I imagine you are right, but probably back to front. Demand increases when people stop watching and go off to use the toilet, put the kettle on, mow the lawn etc.

  8. You could extend your electricity/bicycle metaphor even more.

    Force pushing bicycle / Bicycle Gear — Voltage
    Rotation rate of petals — Frequency
    Bicycle Speed — Current
    Slope of the riding surface — Resistance

    Petal in a particular gear at a constant petal rotation gives you a certain speed (current).
    Going down gears creates less force (ie less voltage), and you will slow down, if you keep petal rate constant.
    Vice versa, going up gears creates more force and you will speed up.
    Changing surface elevation changes resistance and will change speed (current) for a constant gear and rotation speed.

    To demonstrate the effect you are describing, it’s like suddenly there’s a massive hill (more resistance because of more load). You don’t change gears because you want to keep the voltage the same. You try to keep petaling the same speed, but anyone who has ridden a bike knows that’s impossible. Your petal rate will inevitably slow down.

    • The metaphor is perfect. You can even attribute the height of the pedal over time to a sine wave! The only problem is that a bike has two pedals.

    • Inertia of the bicycle = inductance
      Springiness in the drive train = capacitance
      Gear ratio between pedals and wheels = transformer turns ratio

    • I don’t think that would show anything as the result would be buffered. I.e. pumping stations and tanks maintain a constant water pressure and especially tanks would buffer any fluctuations.

  9. The large spike in the half hour after the game was likely due to everyone playing music and getting celebratory drinks from the fridge/freezer, as I heard from below, and to the side of my flat shortly after full time — Three Lions blaring and the sound of prosecco corks popping.

  10. Steve, would you share this data you logged? It would be very interesting if we could see how this phenomenon affects the grid around the world.

  11. And I think one of the main problems here is that the electricity company is actively trying to prevent you from being able to see anything. The big spike at the end of the game could very well be an overestimation by the electricity company. Essentially by NOT being able to detect goals you’ve proven that their system works.

    • Rick Williams
      No, because a compensation is made after the fact, whereas the electricity company tries to make an estimation of required power before it happens. The big spike could indicate that that estimation of required power was too high. (i.e. an overestimation)

  12. Is the proliferation of wind and solar (and other renewables) increasing the threat of TV pickup?
    — Wind and Solar (and tidal/wave etc) produce power without large rotating masses (gas turbines and generators)
    — They are replacing some of the large steam driven turbines
    — The lower mass of turbines and generators on the grid will have less inertia
    — So the TV pickup will more easily slow them down

    • Pressure drop -> Water companies need turn up their pumps or use more pumps -> Increase in electricity usage

  13. Could the opposite/positive spike at the end of the match be due to a miscalculation from the Grid about demand and rather a slow climb down in demand over the next hour because of the lateness of the finish that there was a sudden switch off as more people decided to go straight to bed?

    So there is a glut of power with the anticipation of a higher usage but for some reason that didnt happen they were left with an over supply that took time to rectify?

    • No, the grid regulation is relatively fast to counter such things, we are talking about 10-15 sec for the primary regulation (stopping the drop in the frequency) and 10-20 min for the secondary regulation (bringing the stabilized frequency up to 50 Hz). It is far more likely that this incline comes from people going to bed, i.e. turning off the television, lights etc.
      But that part is only true for the grid as a whole, since the major part of energy is produced via steam turbines it may take an hour to regulate those power stations.

      But i think the cause of this spike was completely intentional: Since a sh*tload of devices uses the grid frequency for their clocks, it is absolutley essential that the average frequency is exactly 50,000 Hz. The frequency dropped during the game-> clocks strated to lack behind just a little bit-> frequency got raised to negate that.

    • Eulemit Beule It sounds like you are pretty familiar with the UK power grid, thanks for the information. I think you and Dominic Ransom are actually talking about the same thing being the cause of the frequency spike (lights etc).
      The spike at the end is only 10-15 minutes long, so that matches what you’re saying for the secondary regulation time. I’m not sure about the frequency spike being intentional. It seems far more likely that they would bring up the average frequency gradually during the middle of the night, when power consumption is relatively stable. I’m curious to know what you think.

  14. But are your multimedia reading only for your house? Or your road/local substation? Can we expect to monitor the whole country’s electric network with a little consumer device?

  15. We’re actually building a meter based on a raspberry pi with a group of people to measure the frequency of the grid. I can share the project but it is in dutch and i dont want to spam the site that often

    • The water to flush your toilet doesn’t just magically appear. It gets pumped there by electric pumps that use…. electric power! 😀

  16. I love this experiment! Nice one. What does «normal» look like, when there’s no world cup match going on?

  17. Wow, the pedaling analogy is so obvious and still I never heard it. It is so great to understand the whole grid frequency thing.

  18. the absence of an obvious pattern could be because the power grid is constantly being ramped up or slowed down to meet the demands of what it predicts the draw of power is going to be. I know you pointed out that predicting injuries etc is quite hard or impossible, but depending on how much latency is in the systems in the power grid they may have enough of an opportunity to counteract at least some of the extra surges and drains throughout matches etc. and also the World Cup is not the only thing on at that time which could be messing with you results. so in conclusion, measuring the overall outcome ie the mains voltage is going to be a combination of all factors affecting the power grid and results in effects cancelling or manginfying each other, so differentiation of causes would be very difficult

  19. Am sorry, but I don’t understand how toilet flushing is related to electricity. Where I am from(India), it doesn’t.
    I assume there are no overhead mains for individual houses or apartments in Britain and pumps are used to maintain pressure.
    Can someone explain?

    • Jawaz Illathukandi the house I used to live in (uk) had a big cold water tank in the loft. That acts as a rechargeable battery, in effect, so the demand on the supply is not affected as immediately. The one I now live in has no reservoir so the effect of flushing the toilet is to immediately demand water and if loads of people do it at the same time the pressure drops and the supplier responds by ramping up the pumps. The simplest solution would be to ban the sale of toilet cisterns that refill quickly. That way the demand gets smoothed out over a longer time. But Joe Public might not vote for it.

    • Pressure drop -> Water companies need turn up their pumps or use more pumps -> Increase in electricity usage

    • José C V, If everybody flush the toilet at the same time, the water company needs to pump extra water to maintain the pressure in the system, and that causes the electric company to do the same with the electricity to keep up with the demand.

  20. «The dynamo that’s powered by coal, or radioactive decay or whatever it is…» That over simplification is remarkably close to being a parker square.

    • Calvin’s World News
      These have been used for decades in telephone exchanges for backup power. They don’t scale well owing to the engineering involved (bearings etc).

    • There’s a Wikipedia page showing the energy densities of various energy storage devices. Fossil fuels are quite high and flywheels are fairly low, in comparison. Lithium batteries are about the same density as flywheels.

    • Simeon, we’ve already solved that problem. Renewable energy was ready to go 100% a decade ago, maybe even two. It’s just that the fossil fuel companies won’t let that happen because they’d rather destroy the world for more profits now.

    • @erica what the? were do you get such bullshit? renewable wasn’t ready a decade ago, let alone two. Even today renewable isn’t 100% reliable, with the day being of veritable length, clouds and wind conditions changing, seacoasts for tides not being really an option inland. Not to mention hydro, who despite being used as a power source for literal millennia somehow still hasn’t been mastered. And this isn’t even starting on energy storage for renewable, storage that still isn’t here, no matter what Musk says.

      Sorry to burst your bubble but the only «green» alternative for fossil fuels is nuclear at the moment — which is ironic since nuclear is being replaced by «renewable» resources that aren’t anywhere near as reliable as nuclear and which will need fossil fuels generators and power stations for peek hours.

      You want clean and «renewable»? better hope ITER won’t be another bust.

  21. True story: I just watched this video an hour ago and when the France vs Uruguay match took place there was a general electricity outage in the whole of my neighbourhood (in Paris)

    • ElectroBlud
      What I was talking about is a device that is now available for uninterrupted power for critical applications.
      The motor spins the flywheel, powered by the mains,, and if something happens to the mains, the momentum of the flywheel sources the power untill the standby generators are up to speed.
      Years ago,, I saw a Hospital that had a standby generator that ran all the time, it was powered by the mains, and the hot water in the engine was from the Hospital heating plant.
      If the mains went down, the diesel engine started,, you couldn’t even see the lights flicker.
      My wife worked in the laboratory, , I asked why the little red light was on,,, and she told me that it indecated that the generator was running.

  22. I’m confused, your introduction seems like a bit of a non sequitur. ‘When there’s a break, people run to the toilet, so electricity demand goes up’… Huh? My toilet doesn’t use electricity. Please explain.

    • I suspect the water pumps operate after a significant delay, since they’re topping up a water tower, not pumping straight into the pipes.

    • Pumping stations! No, there wouldn’t be a significant delay as the mains water is kept at a fixed pressure. Pumping stations automatically maintain that pressure — nothing to do with water towers.

    • Water pressure isn’t magic, someone needs to create that pressure, and unless you’re in some place that uses water towers and gravity, that’s done with electric pumps.

      Hence why in the Y2K panic people were stockpiling water so they could still manually flush their toilets.

    • I thought every civilized place uses water towers. They provide a constant pressure that’ll only decay slowly as the reservoir gets emptier, whereas direct pumping would be subject to immediate loss of pressure at the slightest hitch. The loss of pressure can also lead to contamination of the water in the pipes, so it’s important to avoid it.

  23. You said that changes in voltage and frequency can damage electronics, they definitely can, but most modern appliances pretty much don’t care, they can run from DC to AC @ 40 to 60 or more Hz, at 100 to 250 volts, they just don’t care

  24. It is less of a hypothesis but more of a theory that you are yet to be prove is correct
    An example could be when you watch a movie and you see a possible Easter egg hinting a future movie/plot twist/new character(s) ect you then wait to see if that is true when the next movie comes around in that franchise/later on in that same movie ect.

  25. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to measure at different spot to eliminate a dip by your own fridge. By to measurements with different local surrondings local differnets would be eliminated.

  26. I’m confused. So, British toilets run on electricity lol? I’m guessing the electricity is for the pumping of the municipal water grid. Does that mean if the power grid went down toilets wouldn’t work though?

  27. The analogy with the bicycle for grid frequency and voltage doesn’t quite work as is. It seems to work for explaining why the frequency slows down, but as soon as you try to extend the analogy to explain how to maintain the frequency, you run into the intuition that you’d have to push harder to maintain pedalling frequency; pedalling harder equates to a higher voltage in this analogy, which isn’t what actually happens.

    A way that you might fix the analogy is to say that the bicycle is pulling a heavy trailer. In order to maintain frequency while maintaining a constant force (or voltage) on the pedals, you could connect more bicycles to the same trailer, all being pedalled with the exact same force.

    • Yes, that’s nice. Or I thought (after posting the video). That you could turn the bike into a tandem bike. Similar to bringing an extra power plant on line. I like your one better though.

  28. Most of our appliances couldn’t care less if the frequency was 40 Hz or 60 Hz or even 20Hz or 80Hz. Just very few applications actually care (motors directly connected to the grid for example, which is an application that is slowly dying.).
    The power companies are not actually trying to maintain the frequency, as it is only a symptom of a deeper problem.: Power. If you have too much power going into the grid, the power plant generators will accelerate, eventually leading to rapid unplanned disassembly. If you don’t have enough power in the grid, the generators will slow down until they come to a stop, destroying the steam turbines behind them in the process.
    There is just one thing about frequency: It’s MUCH easier to measure accurately than global grid power balance. And by regulating the frequancy, you automatically regulate power. That’s why power companies are so obsessed with the 50Hz (or 60Hz in some countries). Not because it could actually damage any appliances if the frequence deviates a few Hz.

    • ElectroBlud
      The electrical distribution system also needs a stable frequency, out of spec frequencies will saturate and overheat transformers.

    • Jonathan Pearce
      True. But a few Hz up or down has never hurt anybody. The transformers dont run at their absolute thermal maximum, since they would not live long if they did anyways.

  29. This sounds remarkably similar to an urban legend about the Super Bowl and the final episode of the American TV show M*A*S*H. I’m not saying your important fútbol games don’t have some impact on utility usage; I’m saying there is scant evidence that they do.

  30. Hey Steve! How do they sync the ac generators in windmills, whose frequency depends on rotational speed, to the grid?

    • They rectify the generator voltage to DC and then use power electronics to convert it back to mains frequency AC. Solar PV plants use the same technology since they’re DC to start with.

    • Magnus Dagbro thanks for that magnus. Please don’t think I’m rejecting what you say, but I’m wondering about the steam turbines which have been supplying most of the grid since years ago when ac to dc (pwm? ) and back to ac conversion via electronics would have been prohibitively expensive … no? The turbine can be automatically throttled back if its generator frequency is too high, and vice versa. And for phase sync you could rely on the fact that if at a given moment it’s trying to produce a higher voltage than the other generators on the grid then it’s sinking into a ginormous load which will slow into step time. I think all wind turbines have blade feathering, so I was wondering if they use that in a feedback loop. Maybe I’m out of date and they can do 50MW switching with a couple of cheap mosfets these days …..

  31. The ‘unexpected’ rise at the end of the game could haver been anticipation, they could have started ramping up the supply gradually to reduce the negative spike
    Dinorwig (electric mountain) here in Wales is one of the rapid response systems, very interesting video ‘The Electric Mountain | Fully Charged’
    And that comes online in 10 seconds.
    Might be interesting to have a pressure transducer on your water supply to record drop in pressure

  32. I would have thought it would show in voltage as much or even more. I think it depends on generation method and type of load. A resistive load for instance can easily be fed any frequency while the rms voltage is the costly part.
    Also if they can throttle production within seconds you are looking for a very transient effect. Try logging both. And at least 1/s sampling.

  33. The EU wants the whole continent’s voltage to be 230V. In Britain, we were always 240V +/-10%. When the EU decree went out that we are now all 230V, to keep them happy we essentially said OK, it’s now 230V -5% +15% (do the maths and work out how much things *actually* changed 😉

  34. I don’t understand how going to the bathroom effects power consumption… Are you hypothesizing that people turn off the TV when they run to the can? I wonder if now TVs are more efficient than other electric devices and therefore power consumption goes down when everyone is tuned in.

  35. Aww but if you do it the next game you’ll only be able to detect Swedish goals 😛
    No but it would have been interesting if anyone would do the same for the Swedish grid during the same game and then we could see which grid was better/if you could overlay the data and see the same events on both. Sadly I won’t be able to though. But there were an incredible amount of people watching the last Swedish game from what I could see and that wasn’t on a weekend. Was hard to find any place at all to watch it. Not everyday Sweden gets this far in the tournament. Let the best team win.

  36. Love how pumped storage won the spot light for quick response. I work with grid scale second life EV battery storage and we  react sub second to the power demands for frequency response

  37. Wasn’t this the plot of Flushed Away? The villain wanted to use the World Cup piss break to flood a mouse town in the sewers.

  38. Steve Mould , happy to see your wonderful experiment but it is only true for areas with direct supply. We have batteries installed in all homes Will we still be able to see this effect ? Please tell

    • Make the bike a tandem bike. Yeah, the analogy is starting to fall apart! But thats basically it. You’re bringing new power plants online.

  39. We have similar situations with electricity and water pressure surrounding American football (i.e. not soccer) championships, particularly the Super Bowl. However with many people watching through a DVR, you can pause the game and catch up when it’s convenient like during a penalty discussion. This can even out demand a bit. I guess that is the benefit of having commercials during sporting events.

  40. I wonder if live gaming stuff like E3, EVO or the Fortnite rocket launch has a noticable effect. They’d obviously be smaller spikes, that’s a given, but it seems like so much more difficult a thing to predict that it makes me curious how they, and if they need to, handle it.

    • Yeah, it’s interesting. Some things are harder to predict. The last solar eclipse in the UK was a troublesome one I believe.

  41. Am I stupid now? (Yeah I probably am, I know:D) But how on earth does flushing the toilet effects the powergrid? Please help me, I’m really confused 😀

  42. Who the heck turns there tv off when they go to the toilet? If the TV is still be on it will draw the same amount of electricity

    • It’s not about turning off the TV, it’s about flushing the toilet and the water companies having to turn more pumps on, which use electricity.

  43. Would you say that the group of people at the national grid who monitor TV stations for pick-up purposes could be called… the Pee Patrol?

  44. Isn’t the graph basically showing the difference between actual demand and what the guys maintaining the grid predicted? So it basically measures their success at predicting usage. So they underestimated power consumption during the break and overestimated after game was done.

  45. Just a minute in and I’m absolutely overawed by the infrastructure of this country.
    Why don’t schools teach us this!

  46. I suppose the huge pick-up in the middle of second half was due to something happening on another channel (or on several channels at the same time).

  47. The voltage is allowed to vary quite a lot, I seem to remember it’s ±20% and that equates to a power variation of about ±45% for resistive loads such a kettles. The frequency restriction is much tighter and it shouldn’t really change because the demand is met by allowing the voltage to sag if it must.

    • chris4072511 frequency is actually insanely tight, since many clocks don’t have their own Quarz crystals and instead are based on the frequency even changes basically undetectable will cause economical damage

    • syncronous clocks as used in timers (strreet lighting, pool pumps, older ovens) when fed from grid mains can maintain accuracy to within 5 minutes over a year.

    • It’s not 20%, that would mean a 46volt swing up or down, definitely gonna either shut down or blow up the appliance

  48. An advantage of HVDC (high voltage direct current) transmission systems is that the alternating electricity that arrives at your home is generated by an electrical inverter, rather than some spinny mechanical thingy, so they’re much better at stabilizing frequency even at increased loads. But they’re mostly used only to share electricity between different countries (which can even have different grid frequencies), or in very large countries which need to transmit electricity a long distance away. HVDC systems are pretty cool.

  49. I would think the dip as the game started could be folks turning their televisions on, and the rise after the game could likewise be people turning their televisions off.

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