® APPLICATION NOTE

UNDERSTANDING POWER FACTOR
by L. Wuidart

IF YOU THINK THAT POWER FACTOR IS Figure 1: Full Wave Bridge Rectifier Waveforms.
ONLY COS ϕ, THINK AGAIN !
The big majority of Electronics designers do not Imains
worry about Power Factor (P.F.) Vdc
P.F. is something you learnt one day at school in Vmains Load
your Electrotechnics course"as being cos ϕ.
This conventional definition is only valid when
Vdc
considering IDEAL Sinusoidal signals for both
current and voltage waveforms.
But the reality is something else, because most off- Vmains
line power supplies draw a non-sinusoidal current!
t
Many off-line systems have a typical front-end Imains
0 T/2 T
section made by a rectification bridge and an in-
put filter capacitor. D95IN223

This front-end section acts as a peak detector
(see figure 1). IEC555-2 only defines the current harmonic con-
A current flows to charge the capacitor only when tent limits of mains supplied equipments.
the istantaneous AC voltage exceeds the voltage
on the capacitor.
THEORETICAL MEANING
A single phase off-line supply draws a current
pulse during a small fraction of the half-cycle du- The power factor (P.F.) is defined by:
ration.
P REALPOWER
Between those current peaks, the load draws the P.F. = =
energy stored inside the input capacitor. The S TOTAL APPARENT POWER
phase lag ϕ but also the harmonic content of such
a typical pulsed current waveform produce non
Ideal Sinusoidal Signals
efficient extra RMS currents, affecting then the
real power available from the mains. Both current and voltage waveforms are assumed
to be IDEAL SINUSOIDAL waveforms. If the
So, P.F. is much more than simply cos ϕ! phase difference between the input voltage and
The P.F. value measures how much the mains ef- the current waveforms is defined as the phase lag
ficiency is affected by BOTH phase lag ϕ AND angle or displacement angle, the corresponding
harmonic content of the input current. graphical representation of power vectors gives:
In this context, the standard European project The corresponding power give:

P = VRMS IRMS Cos ϕ

ϕ

Then, by definition:
S = VRMS IRMS Q = VRMS IRMS Sin ϕ
total apparent power reactive or quadrature power
P
P.F. = Cosϕ
S

D95IN224A

AN824/1003 1/5

 √ ∞ IRMS total = 2 I P+I Q+∑ I 1RMS 2 1RMS 2 nRMS Conclusion n=2 Finally P.F. The k factor is linked to So.. S IRMS total I1rms the fundamental of the RMS current and I2RMS .F. can be expressed by: Then. = = Where IO is the DC component of the current. the FOURIER transform can be ap- plied Then. Θ is the distortion angle. means to improve both of factors i. IRMS total phase component I1RMSP and a quadrature com- ponent I1RMSQ.F. k------> 1.F.: ϕ1 → 0 ⇒ Cos ϕ1 → 1 ⇒ reduce phase lag between I and V Θ → 0 ⇒ Cos Θ → 1 ⇒ reduce harmonic content of I 2/5 .. giving extra losses so that then the mains supply network efficiency is decreased.InRMS the harmonics One can introduce the k factor by For a pure AC signal: IO = 0 I1RMS k= = CosΘ The fundamental of the RMS current has an in. = CosΘ ⋅ Cos ϕ1 P = VRMS ⋅ I1RMS P So. Improving P. Both of reactive (Q) and distortion (D) powers produce extra RMS currents.e.. fundamental current: Its RMS value is: I1RMS P = I1RMS Cosϕ1 Vpeak and VRMS = 2 √ P = VRMS ⋅ I1RMS ⋅ Cosϕ1 If the current has a periodic non-ideal sinusoidal S = VRMS ⋅ IRMS total waveform.. the Power Factor can be calculated as: IRMS total =  √I2O + I2 1RMS + I2 2RMS +. If the har- monic content of IRMS total is approaching zero. the power vectors representation becomes In-phase P = Real Power = VRMS · I1RMS Cos ϕ1 ϕ1 Q = Reactive Power S1 = App are = VRMS · I1RMS Sin ϕ1 S θ nt fu -T =V nda ot m enta quadrature al ap MR S · I1 l po RM wer pa S re nt Po we r- V RM S ·I RM S to ta D = Distortion Power l = VRMS √ ∑∞n=2 I2nRMS D95IN225A ϕ1 is the "conventional" displacement angle (phase lag) between the in-phase fundamental I and V Θ is the distortion angle linked to the harmonic content of the current.+ I2 nRMS P I1RMS ⋅ Cosϕ1 P.. the Real Power is given by: P. the RMS current can be espressed as: the harmonic content of the current..APPLICATION NOTE Non-ideal sinusoidal current waveform As ϕ1 is the displacement angle between the in- Assume that the mains voltage is an IDEAL put voltage and the in-phase component of the SINUSOIDAL voltage waveform.

In similar conditions.C. For example. monic content of mains supplied equipments.F.F.6) drops the avail. from one wall socket. company take advantage from a unity power fac. four 280W In Europe. 115VAC/15A With P. a standard cies than the line frequency causes a lot of draw- 115VAC well socket should be able to deliver the backs.F. This leads to cost reduction in the downstream converter. The resulting extra losses significantly decrease tor. 3/5 . detection systems. can be national project IEC 555-2 limit the current har- supplied instead of two with no P. D95IN227 Figure 3: Reactive and distortion power produce extra RMS currents leading to copper area oversize. Delivering power at other frequen- At minimum line voltage (85VAC).F. neutral line and resonant overvoltages. nominal 15A to a common load. the standard EN 60555 and the inter- computers each equipped with P.C. generates overcurrent in the able current from 15A to only 9A. oversize the copper area of distribution power wires (see figure 3) The user’s benefit The distortion power is linked to the current har- monic content.C. Figure 2: Reactive and distortion power produce extra RMS currents leading to copper area oversize. Moreover. Without P. adding a PFC brings components the mains supply network efficiency. a "non-corrected power fac.C. The current distortion disturbs the zero crossing tor" SMPS (typical value of 0. APPLICATION NOTE PRACTICAL MEANING The Electricity distribution company benefit The unity power factor beneficiaries Both of reactive (Q) power and distortion (D) Both of the user and the Electricity distribution power produce extra RMS currents.

Consequently. stream converter The PFC provides an automatic mains selection For the same output power capability. a conven.8 times higher primary front-end section. this leads to use a PFC is com- pensated by significant component cost reduction without P. is penalized by a 1. rds on rds onX3 The PFC use requires thus additional filtering. due to the regulated DC bulk voltage deliv. is 3 times higher by using a PFC. Compared to the conventional doubler bler. Figure 5: A Power Factor Converter generates higher frequency interferences to the mains than a conventional rectifier front-end lower sym. SMPS designers will have to consider the IEC 555-2 standard. structure D95IN226 4/5 . a 100W converter in resistance (rds on) in the downstream converter doubler operation requires a series combination (see figure 4).F. 265VAC. A PFC circuit generates more high frequency in- terferences to the mains than a conventional rec- tifier front-end section (see figure 5).1µF P. The converter transformer size can be optimized not only because the copper area is smaller but also. achieved with a 6 times smaller bulk storage ca- pacitor. of two 440µF capacitos instead of one 130µF with PFC. ered by the PFC preregulator.C. with P. Nevertheless. For this reason. size a nd cost optimization of PFC has to take the RFI filter section into account. the same "hold-up" time can be RMS current than with a PFC preregulator.C.C.APPLICATION NOTE Components cost reduction in the down. General comments Figure 4: Power MOSFET On-resistance (rds on) For new developments. In the practice. The PFC also provides additional functions such as automatic mains voltage selection and a con- stant output voltage.F. the PFC allows to select power MOSFET’s switches with up to 3 times higher on To get 10ms hold-up time. on a widerange voltage from 85VAC up to tional converter using a input mains voltage dou. modulation techniques and mode of operation for the PFC have to be carefully adapted to the application requirement. in the downstream converter. attenuation filter Ci 0.F. attenuation filter Ci 220µF Usaual SMPS structure higher sym.

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