What is Power Factor Correction?
Most loads on an electrical distribution system fall into one of three categories; Resistive, Inductive or Capacitive. In your own plant, the most common is likely to be Inductive. Typical examples of this include transformers, fluorescent lighting and AC induction motors. Most inductive loads use a conductive coil winding to produce an electromagnetic field, allowing the motor to function.
All inductive loads require two kinds of power to operate:
• Active power (kWatts) – to produce the motive force
• Reactive power (kvar) – to energize the magnetic field
The operating power from the distribution system is composed of both active (working) and reactive (non-working) elements. The active power does useful work in driving the motor whereas the reactive power only provides the magnetic field.
The bad news is that you are charged for both!
As the power factor drops the system becomes less efficient. A drop from 1.0 to 0.9 results in 15% more current being required for the same load.
A power factor of 0.7 requires approximately 43% more current; and a power factor of 0.5 requires approximately 100% (twice as much) to handle the same load.
The objective, therefore, should be to reduce the reactive power drawn from the supply by improving the power factor.
If an AC motor were 100% efficient it would consume only active power but, since most motors are only 75% to 80% efficient, they operate at a low power factor. This means poor energy and cost efficiency because the Regional Electricity Companies charge you at penalty rates for a poor power factor.
By installing capacitors to improve your power factor you could SAVE MONEY on your electricity bill.