The difference between technical loss and non-technical loss

Technical losses are coming from current flowing in electrical installations. They can not be avoided, but reduced by proper installation. Technical losses can be calculated.

  • Losses due to conductor resistance
  • Losses due to induction of electromagnetic fields
  • Dielectric losses due to insulation material between the conductors
  • Losses due to harmonic distortion
  • Losses due to poor earthing

Non-technical losses are more difficult to reduce. 

  • Meter tampering 
  • Hooking or bypassing the meter
  • Wrong programmed instrument transformer ratios in the meter
  • Burden for instrument transformers too high
  • Wrong meter readings
  • Meter is faulty or out of accuracy class
  • Unpaid electricity bills

Non-technical losses are more difficult to reduce. For the technical debugging on-site test equipment can solve many cases. For customer which don’t pay their bills, prepayment meters can be installed. AMI systems can evaluate the efficiency of distribution transformers and can identify regions with hooking.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

8 Replies to “The difference between technical loss and non-technical loss”

    1. To reduce non-technical losses is involving a lot of different aspects. There is no such thing like buying a complete package. There will always be some non-technical loss, e.g. the customer doesn’t pay the bill.

  1. Good info about losses. I forgot to mention to you about in a visito to a big Utility in US, they had around 10% losses. I am almost sure in the way they install rev meters with no any protection, A Base, so it is very easy to theft energy, so different how is in Latin America, Utility install the rev meters in “shelters” to avoid any hands from users. We have worked around from 50 years to reduce tech and com losses. On question: do you know the tariff Chile system? It was copied by UK at the end of 1999. My recommendations is to make a paper to support users what to select, what to install, etc., in order can measure very accuracy and no loose money by using same quantity of energy.

    1. Actually, a 10 % total loss is a dream for many utilities. Germany has around 7 %, but increasing due to the high energy cost. Good developed countries are between 7 % and 15 %. For everything above, I would recommend some action. Secured boxes with integrated additional tamper detection have a high utility acceptance in African and Asian countries. These are simple measures to protect the revenue.
      I know the UK system, but I wasn’t aware that it’s integrated in Chile too. Thank you for the article suggestion. I put it on my list.
      I always appreciate your comments, Mariano.

  2. Thanks Laoren. Latin America is a market very complicated. In most markets utility do not receive Transformers how they did in the past, so some manufacturers are not serious and responsable. Same with the metering and so on. Similar I saw at India, etc. America utility say the are “very rich country” so doesn’t care about losses. Have you seen their rev meters installations ? With last crisis at 2008, increased theft losses at 6B/year and so on. Your info is very important for Utility and users , because put the alarm about tech-comm losses. Congratulations !

    1. Thank you for your contributions and insights for the Latin American market.
      This is increasing the knowledge and awareness of our readers.

  3. * I will add: Transformers: high losses, CT&PT accuracy degradation, revenue meters affected by temperature, variation of Hz, Volts, poor quality, internal clocks without GPS clocks, etc.
    *I will add Poor quality of meters, thefts of energy directly from low voltage ( in Chile we worked to reduce losses for Chilectra from 28% to 6% losses, program called DAE (Economical air distribution)

    1. Thank you for valuable input, Mariano.
      You highlighted very clear the grey-zone between technical- and non-technical loss. A transformer loss can be determined by measurements. When a power company decides that the loss is acceptable, they book it under technical losses. The other option is exchanging the transformer to a higher rating. It’s a commercial decision. The same decision is necessary when the purchased energy meters are not compliant with the relevant standards for environmental conditions. Non synchronized clocks should also be avoided, as well as the purchase of low quality meters. All these things can be checked and measured for decision-making.
      Still, the higher portion of the losses is coming from tamper in the low voltage distribution networks. Your loss reduction to 6 % is a great achievement. Germany is now on 4.5 %. At a certain stage you know how to improve, but it’s not reasonable in terms of cost.
      Thanks again for sharing.

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