Electric power quality, or simply power quality, involves voltage, frequency, and waveform. Good power quality can be defined as a steady supply voltage that stays within the prescribed range, steady a.c. frequency close to the rated value, and smooth voltage curve waveform (resembles a sine wave). In general, it is useful to consider power quality as the compatibility between what comes out of an electric outlet and the load that is plugged into it The term is used to describe electric power that drives an electrical load and the load's ability to function properly. Without the proper power, an electrical device (or load) may malfunction, fail prematurely or not operate at all. There are many ways in which electric power can be of poor quality and many more causes of such poor-quality power.
The electric power industry comprises electricity generation (AC power), electric power transmission and ultimately electric power distribution to an electricity meter located at the premises of the end-user of the electric power. The electricity then moves through the wiring system of the end-user until it reaches the load. The complexity of the system to move electric energy from the point of production to the point of consumption combined with variations in weather, generation, demand and other factors provide many opportunities for the quality of supply to be compromised.
While "power quality" is a convenient term for many, it is the quality of the voltage rather than power or electric current that is actually described by the term. Power is simply the flow of energy and the current demanded by a load is largely uncontrollable.