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Power Factor Controller
What is Power Factor?
Power Factor is a measure of system electrical efficiency.
The power factor of an AC electric power system is defined as the ratio of the real
power flowing to the load to the apparent power, and is a dimensionless number
between 0 and !fre"uently e#pressed as a percentage, e.g. 0.$ pf % $0& pf'.
Real power is the capacity of the circuit for performing wor( in a particular time.
Apparent power is the product of the current and voltage of the circuit.
The total Electrical Power !)ilo *olt Amperes, )*A' used in an electrical system
by an industrial or commercial facility has two components+
i. Productive Power !)ilowatts, (W', which produces wor(.
ii. Reactive Power !)ilo *olt Amperes ,eacti-e, (*A,', which generates the
magnetic fields re"uired in inducti-e electrical e"uipment !AC motors, transformers,
inducti-e furnaces, o-ens, etc.'
What.s Power Factor?+
Reactive Power doesn't produce any productive work. /ecause the inducti-e
electrical e"uipment employing magnetic fields re"uires this ,eacti-e Power, which
produces no producti-e wor(, the Total Power !(*A' pro-ided by the generating
source must be greater than the Producti-e Power.
The ratio of Producti-e power !(W' to Total Power !(*A' is Power Factor. 0t is a
measure of system electrical efficiency in an alternating current !AC'circuit, and is
represented as a & or a decimal.
2orse and ,ail Car Analogy+
To understand power actor, visuali!e a horse pulling a railroad car down a railroad trac".
#ecause the railroad ties are uneven, the horse $ust pull the car ro$ the side o the trac".
The horse is pulling the railroad car at an angle to the direction o the car%s travel.
The power re&uired to $ove the car down the trac" is the wor"ing (real) power. The eort o the
horse is the total (apparent) power.
#ecause o the angle o the horse%s pull, not all o the horse%s eort is used to $ove the car down
the trac". The car will not $ove sidewa's( thereore, the sidewa's pull o the horse is wasted eort
or nonwor"ing (reactive) power.
2orse and ,ail Car Analogy+
The angle o the horse%s pull is related to power actor, which is deined as the
ratio o real )wor"ing* power to apparent )total* power.
I the horse is led closer to the center o the trac", the angle o side pull
decreases and the real power approaches the value o the apparent power.
Thereore, the ratio o real power to apparent power )the power actor*
approaches +. As the power actor approaches +, the reactive )nonwor"ing*
power approaches 0.
Power Factor = [Real Power}/[Apparent Power]
In the ,horse and railcar analogy, this is e&uivalent to decreasing the angle
the horse is pulling on the railcar -' leading the horse closer to the center o
the railroad trac".
#ecause the side pull is $ini$i!ed, less total eort is re&uired ro$ the horse
to do the sa$e a$ount o wor".
hy !"prove Power Factor#
.o$e o the -eneits o i$proving the power actor are presented -elow/
The utilit' energ' -ill will -e s$aller. 0ow power actor re&uires an increase in the
electric utilit'1s trans$ission and distri-ution capacit' in order to handle the reactive
power co$ponent caused -' inductive loads. An additional ee is usuall' charged -'
utilities on large custo$ers with power actors less than a-out 0.23. Through increasing
the power actor, this additional ee is avoided.
The internal electrical s'ste$1s capacit' will increase.
4ncorrected power actor will cause increased losses in the electrical distri-ution
s'ste$ and li$it capacit' or expansion.
5oltage drop at the point o use will -e reduced.
5oltages -elow e&uip$ent rating will cause reduced eicienc', increased current, and
reduced starting tor&ue in $otors.
4nder6voltage reduces the load which $otors can carr' without overheating or stalling.
4nder6voltage also reduces output ro$ lighting and resistance heating e&uip$ent.
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF

We may use a wattmeter for measuring true power, whose reading can
be compared against a calculation of apparent power !from multiplying
total -oltage and total current measurements'.

From the -alues of true and apparent power, We can determine reacti-e
power and power factor. 3et4s do an e#ample problem to see how this
wor(s+ !Figure below'
7att$eter reads true power( product o volt$eter and a$$eter readings 'ields apparent power.
Method to improve Poor PF
First, we need to calculate the apparent power in (*A. We can do this by
multiplying load -oltage by load current+
S !E "#.$%& A'"()* +' (.,*- .+A
As we can see, 5.607 )*A is a much larger figure then .$ )W, which
tells us that the power factor in this circuit rather poor !substantially less
then '.
8ow we figure the power factor of this load by di-iding the true power
by the apparent power+
Power Factor "P/S' "%.& .0/ (.,*- .+A' *.$&.
9sing this -alue for power factor, we can draw a power triangle, and
from that determine the reacti-e power of this load+
Method to improve Poor PF
Reactive power $a' -e calculated ro$ true power and appearant power.
To determine the un(nown !reacti-e power' triangle "uantity, we use the Pythagorean
Theorem :bac(wards,; gi-en the length of the hypotenuse !apparent power' and the
length of the ad<acent side !true power'+
Reactive Power "1' S1R2 34 Apparent Power 5
6 4 2rue Power 5
7 %.8&)
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF

0f this load is an electric motor, or most any other industrial AC load, it

will ha-e a lagging !inducti-e' power factor, which means that we4ll
ha-e to correct for it with a capacitor of appropriate si=e, wired in

8ow that we (now the amount of reacti-e power !.>$? (*A,', we can
calculate the si=e of capacitor needed to counteract its effects+
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF
,ounding this answer off to 70 @F, we can place that si=e of capacitor in
the circuit and calculate the results+ !Figure below'
8arallel capacitor corrects lagging )inductive* load

An 70 @F capacitor will ha-e a capaciti-e reactance of 66.$> A, gi-ing

a current of >.567 amps, and a corresponding reacti-e power of .>6>
(*A, !for the capacitor only'.

Bince the capacitor4s current is 70

out of phase from the load4s
inducti-e contribution to current draw, the capacitor4s reacti-e power
will directly subtract from the load4s reacti-e power, resulting in+

0nducti-e )*A, C Capaciti-e )*A, % Total )*A,

$ethod to i"prove Poor PF
This correction, o course, will not change the a$ount o true power consu$ed
-' the load, -ut it will result in a su-stantial reduction o apparent power, and o
the total current drawn ro$ the 240 5olt source/ )9igure /*
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF

The new apparent power can be found from the true and new reacti-e
power -alues, using the standard form of the Pythagorean Theorem+

This gi-es a corrected power factor of !.$(W D .$00E (*A', or

0.EEEE?, and a new total current of !.$000E (*A D 5?0 *olts', or F.5$
amps, a substantial impro-ement o-er the uncorrected -alue of E.F$

This lower total current will translate to less heat losses in the circuit
wiring, meaning greater system efficiency !less power wasted'.
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF
9igure / .ingle6line electrical s'ste$
showing t'pical locations or capacitors
Methods of correction
.For motors of $0 hp and
abo-e, it is best to install power
factor correction capacitors at
the motor terminals !Figure '
since distribution circuit
loading is reduced. ,efer to
manufacturer.s instructions for
recommended ma#imum
capacitance ratings. When this
is done, motor settings that are
o-er current protection relays
must be ad<usted down
$ethod to i"prove Poor PF
5. The second arrangement !Figure' shows capacitor ban(s
connected at the bus for each motor control centre. This
compromise to Hethod will reduce installation costs.
6.The least e#pensi-e method !Figure' shows capacitor ban(s
connected at the ser-ice entrance. 2owe-er, the disad-antage is
that higher feeder currents still flow from the ser-ice entrance to
the end of line e"uipment.
?. For primary metered ser-ices, primary connected
capacitance may be considered.
%&&ects o& 'apacitors
When capacitors are used to correct for low power factor the following effects should
be anticipated+
Capacitors consume energy at the rate of about one watt per (*ar, installed. Hore
efficient capacitors ha-e been de-eloped to reduce this rate to about 0.$ watts per (*ar.
A slight increase in -oltage can be e#pected.
There is a chance that resonance may occur between the capacitors and any BC, and
rectifier circuits in the system. The presence of harmonics generated by rectifier
circuits can be amplified because of this resonance resulting in blown fuses and
damage to capacitor ban(s and other electrical e"uipment.
0n the e-ent that the fre"uent blowing of fuses occurs, apparently without reason,
e#pert help should be called in to assist in resol-ing the problem.
0f harmonics are the source of the problem, the addition of the appropriate si=e of
inductor, connected in series with the capacitor ban(s, will filter the harmonics and deI
tune the resonant circuit.
()""ary o& Reco""endations

Haintain system power factor at E0& lagging or better.

Bi=e electric motors to match mechanical loads to increase the o-erall

system power factor.

9se ban(s of capacitors at motor control centres or ser-ice entrances to

facilitate switching for -arying load conditions.

Consider using automatically switched power factor correction

capacitors to pre-ent leading power factor during periods of light loading
and undesirable o-erI-oltages.