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International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

Automatic Power Factor Correction by Using Synchronous

Condenser with Continuous Monitoring.
Rosni Sayed
Rajshahi University of
Engineering & Technology

A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous

Islamic University of

Thirst for energy sources is unquenchable, but
we hardly realize that we are wasting a part of
energy every day due to lagging power factor
of the inductive load that we use. Now-a-days it
is a great concern of power Engineers to
compensate this loss by the improvement of
power factor. There are many methods of
power factor correction have been proposed but
with the growth of technological revolution
automation of every system is desired.
Whenever we think about automatic systems,
programmable devices come to our fore front.
This thesis describes the design and
development of power factor correction with
AVR microcontroller. Here correction method
is described by synchronous condenser instead
of capacitor bank because of long life and low
maintenance cost. It also suppresses harmonics
which cant be possible by using capacitor
bank. This method involves continuous
measurement and monitoring the power factor
and generation of required control signal from
microcontroller for controlling the DC
excitation of synchronous condenser so as to
improve the power factor.
Synchronous Condenser; Control signal; DC
In the present scenario of technological
revolution, it has been observed that power is
very precious. The industrialization is primarily
increasing the inductive loading, the inductive


Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

Rajshahi University of
Engineering & Technology

load affect the power factor so the power

system losses its efficiency. There are certain
organization developing products in this field to
improve and compensate power factor. In the
present trends the design are also moving
forwards the miniature architecture, this can be
achieved in a product by using programmable
device. Most of the products are developed
technology. The advantage of using
microcontroller is the reduction of cost and the
use of extra hardware such as the use of timer,
RAM and ROM can be avoided. This
technology is very fast so controlling of
multiple parameters is possible, also the
parameter are field programmable by the user.
The automatic power factor correction device is
a very useful device for efficient transmission
of active power. If the consumer connect
inductive load, then the power factor lags, when
the power factor goes below a certain level,
then the electric company charge penalty to the
consumer. So it is essential to maintain the
power factor within a limit. Automatic power
factor correction device reads the power factor
from the line voltage and line current,
calculating the compensation requirement and
switch on the different capacitor banks or
synchronous condenser.
The load draws greater current for the same
value of the useful power in case of poor power

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

A simple example showing the current required

by a single phase electric motor is given below:
Supplied voltage = 240 volts single phase.
Motor input = 10kW
Power factor = 0.65
Current (I1) = Power (kW)/(Volts(V)power
= 10000/2400.65 = 64.1 Amp.
If the power factor to the motor is increased to
0.9 the current drawn by the motor shall be
Current (I2) = Power (kW)/(Volts(V)power
= 10000/2400.9 = 46.3 Amp
Thus, as the power factor decreases the current
required for the same value of active, or useful,
power increases. The result is that the sizes of
the equipment, like the switchgear, cables,
transformer, etc, will have to be increased to
cater the higher current in the circuit. All this
adds to the cost.
Further, the greater current causes increased

power loss or I R losses in the circuits. Also

due to higher current, the conductor
temperature rises and hence the life of the
insulation is reduced [1].
Also, with the increased current, voltage drop
increases, thereby the voltage at the supply
point is reduced. For different loads it causes
voltage drop resulting in:
a. Lower output of the illumination system.
b. Less current is drawn by the heating device
so that the operating temperature drops. This
results in increased consumption for the same
rise of temperature
c. The induction motors show down and
therefore draw more current to produce a fixed
torque for the loads.
In the transmission and distribution of the
current itself, from the generating station to the
consumer, heating losses will be greater at low
power factor (varying in proportion to the
square of the current) and the voltage drop will
be in accordance with relation IZ (where Z is
the impedance). Since the losses in the
electricity system due to low power factor will


incur additional cost, it is evident that these will

have to be reflected to some extent in the
charges to the consumers. This is implemented
by metering the maximum demand in kVA or
by applying a low power factor penalty
component in tariffs.
Capacitor Bank
1.2.1. Features of capacitor banks as power
factor corrector:

Typically applied in low voltage circuits

(380-690V) [2]

More expensive for medium voltage

(3.8kV to 6.9kV) [2]

Depending on the size oil containment

is required and enclosures

Flammable dielectric

Require filter capacitors to de-tune

harmonic frequencies

Vulnerable to switching surges

Compensation limited to 0.95 lagging

power factor due to over excitation and
switching resonance
1.2.2. Problems that are introduced by
capacitor bank as power factor corrector:
Capacitors absorb a lot of harmonics and
transients present in the system and
develop in the system as they offer low
impedance to harmonics and impulses. The
energy of these harmonics and impulses heats
up the capacitor and they may fail prematurely.
Average expected life of a capacitor bank in a
system having lots of harmonics and voltage
transients is around five years. Another
problem with capacitors is that they generate
harmonics, specially, at the time of switching
further aggravate situation and may even cause
system instability, if system inductance and
capacitance form a resonant circuit. The
generation of harmonics is worst if one bank is
already one and another bank is switched on
randomly. Incoming bank has two sources,
supply and existing bank [3].

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

The situation is somewhat redeemed by

synchronous switching, which is a technique to
switch capacitors such that voltage is at zero
crossing at the time of contact.
All of the above problems are solved with the
help of synchronous condenser and a few more
advantages are present with synchronous

System model
Figure 1 shows the overall system model.

1.2.3. Synchronous Condenser as power

factor correction equipment
By operating synchronous motors with a
leading power factor, the overall system power
factor can be shifted toward unity. The power
factor of a synchronous motor can be controlled
by varying the amount of excitation current
delivered to the motor field during operation.
As the dc field excitation is increased, the
power factor of the motor load, as measured at
the motor terminal, becomes more leading as
the overexcited synchronous motor produces
VARs. If excitation is decreased, the power
factor of the motor shifts toward lagging, and
the motor will import VARs from the system.
The synchronous condenser offers several
advantages over capacitor bank [4].

Reliability is very high.

Step-less adjustment of power factor.

No generation of harmonics.

Is not affected by harmonics.

Expected life almost 25 years.

Low maintenance; only periodic bearing

greasing is necessary.
The design aims at measuring the phase angle
between voltage and current continuously,
calculating the power factor of the circuit from
the phase angle and a correction action is
initialized to compensate this phase difference
by synchronous condenser using the proposed
control scheme.


Figure 1: System Model

The principle of operation:
Current Transformer (CT) and Potential
Transformer (PT) step down the voltage and
current level.

The output of CT and PT are given as

input for Zero Crossing Detector (ZCD).

ZCD converts sinusoidal voltage and

current wave from CT and PT into square

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

Two square waves corresponding to

voltage and current are given to the input of
XOR gate.

If there is a phase difference between

two inputs of XOR gate, the output of the XOR
gate remains high for a period equal to that
phase difference.

The output of XOR is given as the input

of microcontroller.

Microcontroller calculates the phase

difference between them as well as power

According to the difference between

measured power factor and desired power
factor, microcontroller generates control signal
and controls the dc excitation current of
synchronous condenser.

LCD module is connected to AVR


The system power factor can be

monitored by LCD.

This process continues until the

measured power factor equals the desired
power factor.
Microcontroller ATmega32 has been used here.
The pin diagram, features, internal architectures
of microcontroller are available from standard
datasheet of ATmega32. The control scheme
can be divided into two sections:
Power factor calculation
The 16-bit Timer/Counter unit allows accurate
program execution timing, wave generation and
signal timing measurement.
The timer/counter incorporates an Input
Capture unit that can capture external events
and give them a time-stamp indicating time of
occurrence. The external signal indicating an
event, or multiple events, can be applied via the
ICP pin of microcontroller
Let, CLK CPU = 4MHz
CLK timer = (4 MHz)/8 = 500 kHz
T timer =1/(500 kHz)= 2s


So, 2s is needed to count pulse 1.

10ms is needed to count pulse = (10ms *1)/2s
= 5000
So, maximum pulse value=5000.
The input to the ICP pin is shown in Figure 2.
Microcontroller detects its falling or rising edge
as declared in the program.
The timer value from one falling edge to next
rising edge is taken first. Now this value is
subtracted from the maximum pulse value [5].
This is the timer value of displacement between
voltage and current.
XOR Output

Figure 2: Output from XOR logic gate

Now, from the main signal we get,
10ms is equal to displacement = 3.1516 radian
1s is equal to displacement
(3.1516/10000) radian
Now, pulse width, t= 2s*(5000-clock number)
Angle, = 0.00031516*2s*(5000-clock
number) radian
= 0.000628*(5000-clock number)
Power factor = cos(). Here clock number is
variable depending on the signal. Power factor
can be easily calculated by this method.
Generation of control signal
Power factor of the system is calculated
continuously by using an infinite loop and it is
compared to desired power factor. After
comparison necessary control signal is
generated at the output port of microcontroller.
The timer value increases to a certain limit. It
looks like a ramp signal. There is a preset value
of OCR (Output Compare Register). It
continuously compares timer value and OCR
value and gives corresponding pulse width
modulation. If power factor is less than the
desired value then OCR value is changed and

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

pulse width is also changed according to the

difference between actual power factor and
desired power factor.
An Algorithm is developed to make ATmega32
read the input and respond accordingly. An
algorithm of the control scheme is shown in
Figure 5

Figure 3 shows the comparison of timer value

and preset OCR value and Figure 4 shows the
PWM output.

Timer Value


Figure 3: Comparison of Timer value with

preset OCR value

Detect the falling edge of ICP

Reset Timer

Figure 4: PWM Output

Detect rising edge of ICP

Figure 6 shows the complete simulation circuit
of this thesis work, here power factor is
measured continuously and required PWM
signal is generated. Figure 7 shows the PWM
signal generated from microcontroller.

Read Timer value

Subtract timer value from

maximum pulse value

Convert pulse into phase

displacement angle

Calculate pf


If pf<0.98

Increment OCR value

Figure 5: Program Algorithm


Figure 6: Simulation of PWM generation

The control signal for power factor correction is
the pulse width modulation (PWM) is

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug

International Journal of Electronics, Electrical and Computational System

ISSN 2348-117X
Volume 4, Issue 5
May 2015

generated by microcontroller, which controls

the gate pulse of thyristor[6]. The thyristor
controls the dc excitation of the synchronous
condenser to improve the power factor.

Figure 7: Simulation of generated PWM

The paper shows a well-organized technique
for power factor calculation and correction.
Here PF calculation has been done practically
but correction technique has been given
theoretically because of high cost of
synchronous condenser. In high voltage
systems it is necessary to use synchronous
condenser instead of capacitor bank because of
long life of condenser. Here power factor of the
line is continuously monitored through the
microcontroller. So it is a time saving technique
and required controlled signal is produced
automatically for correction. The technique is
also very economical in comparison with
capacitor bank. So a variable speed
synchronous condenser can be used in any high
voltage transmission line to improve power
factor & the speed of synchronous condenser
can be controlled by microcontroller through
the thyristor.


To control the excitation of the synchronous
condenser with the power system is not a very
easy task. Various easy ways can be developed
to change the speed of the condenser in order to
change the excitation of the condenser. Besides,
other control device such as PLC can be used
for PF calculation and correction. Here the
practical implementation of the correction
scheme has not been possible. For
implementation, proper calculation is necessary
because the excitation control is very sensitive
at all.
[1] V.K.Mehta, Rohit Mehta, Principles Of
Power System, 4th Edition, S.Chand and
Company Ltd. Ramnagar, New Delhi,
India, 2011.
[2] G. Heydt, S. Kalsi, E. Kyriakides, A Short
Course on Synchronous Machines and
Synchronous Condensers, Arizana State
University, American Superconductor,
[3] JIM
efficiency benefits resulting from the use of
synchronous motors IEEE INDUSTRY
[4] Proshant
Condenser for power factor improvement,
Power Engineer blog, 25th September, 2012.
[5] Md. Sohel Rana, Md. Maim Miah &
Habibur Rahman, Automatic Power factor
improvement by using microcontroller,
of Researches
Engineering, Volume XIII, Issue VI,
Version 1, Year 2013.
[6] B.L Theraja and A.K Theraja, Electrical
Technology volume II, AC and DC
machines, Revised 23rd Edition, S. Chand
and Company Ltd. Ramnagar, New Delhi,

Rosni Sayed, A.H.M Iftekharul Ferdous, Md. Asaduzzaman Shobug