View Full Version : Digital bedside clocks gaining time rapidly!

24-06-2010, 05:34 PM
My husband and I have each got a mains powered digital clock on our bedside cabinet. He noticed this morning that his was running about seven minutes fast and when he checked the time by his watch and then by my mobile phone, he found my clock was also fast - by about six minutes. I thought it was odd, but reset them both when I got up to the time on my mobile.

I've just checked and both clocks are again running fast! His is reading 5.35, mine 5.31, and the mobile 5.28...

While the two clocks are plugged into separate power points, they are both on the same wall. I'm a tad worried as my electric blanket control died last night and wonder if it's a power problem.

My clock is years old (about 15-20) whereas his is about a year old.

Anyone else encountered this problem before? Any ideas how to fix it - other than going to battery operated clocks?!!! If they are gaining that much in about 10 hours, something is obviously going wrong somewhere.

24-06-2010, 05:55 PM
First thing I'd try is move one or both the clocks to another room in the house that uses a different circuit. If they still gain time, there may have been a power problem that damaged them.

If they hold the time, it may pay to get a sparky to check out the power - better safe than sorry, you dont want a fire or some other sort of power related problem.

I'm a tad worried as my electric blanket control died last night Seems Too much of a coincidence that the blanket went bung, and the clocks play up all at the same time. (no pun intended)

Alex B
24-06-2010, 06:28 PM
They work off the AC sinewave AFAIK, see if the neighbours are having the same issue.

24-06-2010, 08:43 PM
They work off the AC sinewave AFAIK, see if the neighbours are having the same issue.

We live rurally and have nothing to do with our immediate neighbours but can try the ones across the road!

We tried the touch lamps (both of which were also flickering) in other sockets in the house and garage but had the same problem. Rang a sparky friend and left a message so hopefully we can get this sorted before it becomes a problem. Also rang the faults service who said to ring back tomorrow when the after hours service isn't on and speak to a technician.

Certainly not keen to just let it lie in case it is a wiring or similar problem. House is 10 years old so hopefully not.

We did have an abnormally large power bill this month - $132 compared with typical bills of about $80 tops and no real reason for it, so wonder if that's a hint too.

Billy T
24-06-2010, 10:42 PM
Some clocks regulate their time from the 50 Hz supply, but most use their own oscillator. If there is electrical noise (arcing) somewhere in your house or in the street supply (pole fuse perhaps) that might make a cheap clock run fast.

If you have a portable radio (battery) tune it to the bottom of the dial, turn up the volume and walk aound the house with it to see if you can hear a change in the noise level. Unplug the clocks though, they will probably kick up quite a racket even if OK. The aerial in portables is very directional so you may need to rotate it to pick up any noise source, but that will help trace it anyway.

Start with all the power off though to get an idea of the background noise levels without power or you will be chasing ghosts from here to christmas.

A good sparky will get to grips with the problem but there's some that wouldn't have a clue: if the lights work, she's sweet mate! I trace electrical interference as part of my business activities and I've seen all types of electricians, the good, the bad, and the brainless.

Most are good I'm happy to say.


Billy 8-{)

24-06-2010, 10:49 PM
Thanks for that, Billy. Our sparky friend rang and he's happy to come and check the house for us but we're going to try ringing Electra tomorrow and see if the fault is theirs. We had a power cut earlier in the week and often have trouble with the pole fuse near our place. In the big storm a few years ago they replaced the pole fuse, only to restore power and have it explode and burst into flames! The joys of living in an older country area!

When you say 'start with all the power off' do you mean turn off everything at the wall or flick the fuses? Power off to the appliances or power off totally?

24-06-2010, 11:13 PM
We live in the country too and seem to be getting more and more power "flicks" and cuts. We have been warned than sometimes power levels can drop below optimum levels and if severe can burn out electrical motors etc. We also purchased a microwave recently, after our 30 year old Phillips MW died, this new one emitted a very high pitched tone, very faintly and failed within 24 hours, it turns out it needed a dedicated line to the power board to operate properly, as it required so much power( fridge was in the same circuit). Probably 30 year old circuitry was not designed for the large number of demands modern appliances put on it?

24-06-2010, 11:20 PM
The OP says the house is 10 years old though.

25-06-2010, 08:29 AM
Do you have children around you, this sounds like a prank to me, especially that the two clocks are not equally advanced.

25-06-2010, 10:01 AM
Nope, zqwerty, DEFINITELY no children around us, that would be my worst nightmare!

Seriously though, I rang the faults company this morning after finding out our neighbours across the road were also having problems with digital clocks running 20-30 minutes fast and as we speak there is a technician up the pole in our front paddock. He came in with a voltage tester and checked different power points in the house. The voltage ranged between about 231 in the bedroom where we are having the problem to 249 from the point on our stove - which he said was not good at all.

As at least two of us are experiencing the same problem, he thinks it's to do with the EPO (can't recall what he said that stood for!) and where the copper wires meet the aluminium wires - apparently if they don't use enough compound where they join, they can corrode - or something like that!

Anyway, the upshot is he says the problem is definitely not within our house, it's to do with the external power supply coming into the house, so that's good as it means the cost to fix it won't be borne by us.

Sweep, I think PPp meant his/her electrical circuitry was 30 years old.

Funnily enough, we now have a spare electric blanket control as I rang Sunbeam yesterday thinking that mine was faulty... but my husband's didn't work last night either!

Forgot to add - the bedside touch lamps were both flickering last night too, so my husband tried one in different power points in the house and external garage (which is on a different circuit) and it still flickered. It seemed to be a problem with any electrical appliance that drew low power or had variable controls - like the three-stage lamp and nine-heat electric blanket.

I found out something interesting too - the elements on our stove are on one circuit and the oven is on another - the technician said that's to spread the load.

Billy T
25-06-2010, 10:30 AM
TWhen you say 'start with all the power off' do you mean turn off everything at the wall or flick the fuses? Power off to the appliances or power off totally?

I meant power off totally. It definitely sounds like you have some arcing somewhere in your supply. High voltage won't make clocks run fast, the timing for old clocks is set by the mains frequency, and modern clocks use an electronic frequency source with a tiny crystal, or still use the mains frequency.

Power quality sounds pretty dodgy in your neck of the woods. Also, the wiring in old houses (broadly speaking pre-1960's) can't cope with modern electrical loads, they were designed to supply not much more than a stove, a fridge, a radio, a one or two bar heater and a light bulb in each room. Water heating was (and still is) ripple controlled so that it only operates during off-peak periods.

The radio trick will detect arcing but from the sound of it the main problems may be outside your house.


Billy 8-{)

25-06-2010, 11:04 AM
The technician turned off my digital clock while he tested the voltage in the bedroom and since then it's kept perfect time so maybe he's fixed whatever the fault was. I'll go and try the electric blankets now and see if they work!

We live in a small rural settlement north of Levin and our phone and power supply lines have never been great. We only got broadband when the local school got it and even then not everyone could get it. We don't even get Prime reception! We regularly have micro power cuts - everything off for a second and then on again.

At least it's nice to know it's not the wiring because the house is only 10 years old and I'd be a bit peeved if it was. The technician said he'd encountered this exact problem before and knows what causes it, so I'll see how things go before digging out the radio.

Thanks for all your help though.