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Power Factor

The power Factor is the ratio between the kilowatt and the kva drawn by an electrical load. Power Factor = KW/KVA Where kw is the actual load power & kva is the apparent load power. It is a measure of how effectively the current is utilised for doing useful work.


Direction of Travel

Working (Real) Power

Total Power Apparent Power Non Working (Reactive Power)

Load Current I



Inductor L

100 KW

100 KVAR 142KVA

Real Power=100kw Apparent Power = 142 KVA Power Factor =100/142 = 0.70

Cause of Low Power Factor

Inductive Loads such as electric motors & transformers. High intensity discharge lights,VFDS,Rectifiers etc. The total or apparent power required by am inductive devise is composite of the following:
Real power measured in kw Reactive power or the non working power caused by magnetizing current required to operate the devise measured in kvar. Reactive power required by inductive loads increases the apparent power (measured in kva) in the distribution system. The increase in reactive power & apparent power reduces the power factor.

Why improve power factor

Electricity bills will be smaller. Distribution capacity is augmented Voltage drop in the system improves. Premature failure of motors and other inductive equipment can be prevented.

Power Factor Correction

Capacitive power factor correction is applied to circuits which include induction motors to reduce the inductive component of current.

Power Factor Correction

Static Power Factor Correction.
By connecting correction capacitors to the motor starters. Static power factor correction should provide capacitive current equal to 80 % of magnetizing current.

Bulk Correction.
Power factor total current supplied to the distribution board is monitored and accordingly switches the banks.

Bulk Correction

Displacement Bulk Correction (Bulk Compensation).

The Power factor of the total current supplied to the distribution board is monitored by a power factor controller which then switches capacitor banks in a fashion to maintain a power factor better than a preset limit. (Typically 0.95) Ideally, the PF should be as close to unity as possible. There is no problem with bulk correction operating at unity, however correction should not be applied to an unloaded or lightly loaded transformer. If correction is applied to an unloaded transformer, you create a high Q resonant circuit between the leakage reactance of the transformer and the capacitors and high voltages can result. Bulk compensation systems are usually incorporated with the switchgear supplying all or part of the plant.

Static Power Factor Correction

Displacement Static Correction (Static Compensation).

As a large proportion of the inductive or lagging current on the supply is due to the magnetizing current of induction motors, it is easy to correct each individual motor by connecting the correction capacitors to the motor starters. With static correction, it is important that the capacitive current is less than the inductive magnetizing current of the induction motor. In many installations employing static power factor correction, the correction capacitors are connected directly in parallel with the motor windings. When the motor is Off Line, the capacitors are also Off Line. When the motor is connected to the supply, the capacitors are also connected providing correction at all times that the motor is connected to the supply. This removes the requirement for any expensive power factor monitoring and control equipment. In this situation, the capacitors remain connected to the motor terminals as the motor slows down. An induction motor, while connected to the supply, is driven by a rotating magnetic field in the stator which induces current into the rotor. When the motor is disconnected from the supply, there is for a period of time, a magnetic field associated with the rotor. As the motor decelerates, it generates voltage out its terminals at a frequency which is related to it's speed. The capacitors connected across the motor terminals, form a resonant circuit with the motor inductance. If the motor is critically corrected, (corrected to a power factor of 1.0) the inductive reactance equals the capacitive reactance at the line frequency and therefore the resonant frequency is equal to the line frequency. If the motor is over corrected, the resonant frequency will be below the line frequency. If the frequency of the voltage generated by the decelerating motor passes through the resonant frequency of the corrected motor, there will be high currents and voltages around the motor/capacitor circuit. This can result in severe damage to the capacitors and motor. It is imperative that motors are never over corrected or critically corrected when static correction is employed. Static power factor correction should provide capacitive current equal to 80% of the magnetizing current, which is essentially the open shaft current of the motor. The magnetizing current for induction motors can vary considerably. Typically, magnetizing currents for large two pole machines can be as low as 20% of the rated current of the motor while smaller low speed motors can have a magnetizing current as high as 60% of the rated full load current of the motor. It is not practical to use a "Standard table" for the correction of induction motors giving optimum correction on all motors. Tables result in under correction on most motors but can result in over correction in some cases. Where the open shaft current can not be measured, and the magnetizing current is not quoted, an approximate level for the maximum correction that can be applied can be calculated from the half load characteristics of the motor. It is dangerous to base correction on the full load characteristics of the motor as in some cases, motors can exhibit a high leakage reactance and correction to 0.95 at full load will result in over correction under no load, or disconnected conditions.

What is Power Factor? Power Factor is a measure of how efficiently electrical power is consumed. In the ideal world Power Factor would be unity (or 1). Unfortunately in the real world Power Factor is reduced by highly inductive loads to 0.7 or less. This induction is caused by equipment such as lightly loaded electric motors, luminaire transformers and fluorescent lighting ballasts and welding sets, etc.

What does it do to my electricity bill? In a 3 phase supply, kW consumed is (VOLTS x AMPS x 1.73 x Power Factor) / 1000. The Electricity Company supply you VOLTS x AMPS and they have to supply extra to make up for the loss caused by poor Power Factor. When the power factor falls below a set figure, the electricity supply companies charge a premium on the kW being consumed, or, charge for the whole supply as kVA.

What causes Power Factor to change? Inductive loads cause the AMPS to lag behind the VOLTS. The wave forms of VOLTS and AMPS are then "out of phase" with each other. The more out of phase they become then the lower the Power Factor. Power Factor is usually expressed as Cos Phi. ()

In 3 phase power supplies the "power" can be measured as a triangle. ACTIVE Power is the base line and is the real usable power measured in kW. REACTIVE power is the vertical or that part of the supply which causes the inductive load. The reactive power in is measured in kVAr (kilo volt-amperes reactive) APPARENT Power is the hypotenuse. This is the resultant of the other two components and is measured in kVA

The effects of power factor

Consider a canal boat being pulled by a horse. If the horse could walk on water then the angle (Phi) would be zero and COSINE =1. Meaning all the horse power is being used to pull the load. However the relative position of the horse influences the power. As the horse gets closer to the barge, angle 1 increases and power is wasted, but, as the horse is positioned further away, then angle 2 gets closer to zero and less power is wasted

Why do I need Power factor correction? Capacitive Power Factor correction (PFC) is applied to electric circuits as a means of minimizing the inductive component of the current and thereby reducing the losses in the supply. The introduction of Power Factor Correction capacitors is a widely recognized method of reducing an electrical load, thus minimizing wasted energy and hence improving the efficiency of a plant and reducing the electricity bill. It is not usually necessary to reach unity, i.e. Power Factor 1, since most supply companies are happy with a PF of 0.95 to 0.98 How does it work? By installing suitably sized switched capacitors into the circuit, the Power Factor is improved and the value becomes nearer to 1 thus minimizing wasted energy and improving the efficiency of a plant

Is your Power Factor too low? Are you at the limit of your KVA? If so then you are wasting money needlessly. Check your electricity bill to see what your power factor is! The Reactive Power charge on your electricity bill is directly targeted against those companies who do not demonstrate clear energy efficiency use. You will find this charge itemised on your electricity bill. Reactive power charges can be made significantly smaller by the introduction of Power Factor Correction Capacitors which is a widely recognised method of reducing an electrical load and minimising wasted energy, improving the efficiency of a plant and reducing the electricity bill. It is not always necessary to reach a power factor of 1. A cost effective solution can be achieved by increasing your power factor to greater than 0.95 A full site survey is required to determine what type and size of system is required to meet your current and future needs. Energy in Motion Ltd will carry out the survey, including harmonic analysis, and the cost of the survey can be remitted against the cost of the equipment purchased.