Power Factor Correction
Power Factor is a measure of how effectively incoming power is used in your business & is defined as the ratio of real (working) power to apparent (total) power. If your Power Factor is low, you may be paying more than you need to for your electricity.
Real power is power that is put to productive use in your business and apparent power is the total power supplied by the distribution system to your business.
Power Factor is expressed as a value between zero and one. If the ratio between real power and apparent power – the Power Factor – is 1, then all of the power supplied is being used for productive work. However, a Power Factor of 0.7, for example, indicates that only 70% of power supplied to your business is being used effectively and 30% is being wasted. The wasted power is known as reactive (non-working) power.
Reactive power is most often used by inductive loads such as transformers, electric motors, fluorescent lighting and air conditioning motors, which can make up a large proportion of the power consumed in some businesses. The reactive (non-working) power increases the amount of apparent (total) power your business draws through the distribution system and has a negative impact on your Power Factor.
What is Power Factor Correction?
Low Power Factor can be improved by installing Power Factor Correction equipment. These are capacitors that work as silent reactive power ‘generators’ so the amount of apparent power required is reduced; electricity demand decreases. The capacitors are housed in a metal cabinet similar to the one that houses your electrical switchboard and are often located beside it.
How Can Power Factor Correction Help You?
An electricity load with a low Power Factor draws more current than is required and can put unnecessary strain on the electricity distribution network. By increasing your Power Factor, you can reduce your electricity bills through lower monthly demand and capacity charges. Typically payback periods for Power Factor Correction are between one and three years. Given the life expectancy of Power Factor Correction and the potential savings, it can be a very worthwhile investment.
Low Power Factor may cause power losses and voltage drops, which can contribute to overheating and failure of motors and other equipment. If your electrical system is near capacity, installation of Power Factor Correction equipment may help avoid costly infrastructure upgrades by lowering the existing electrical demand on your system and improving efficiency stability.
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