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IS POWER FACTOR CORRECTION NECESSARY?

IS POWER FACTOR CORRECTION NECESSARY?

By: Rob Parkhurst, RK Electrical Service Manager

Over the next two decades, energy consumption is expected to increase by 30%, according to Oil & Gas Journal, meaning the need for better energy efficiency is necessary to keep up with our power-dependent lifestyles. To move towards a more energy-efficient future, corporations need to measure how effectively their electricity usage is through power factor.

WHAT IS POWER FACTOR?

Power factor is the ratio between the real power (what is used for heating, lighting, etc.), reactive power (what is pulled to create magnetic fields) and the apparent power (real and reactive power combined) consumed by an alternating current (AC) electrical system.

Power factor measures how efficiently electrical power is converted into useful output. Ideal power transmission is 100% efficiency or a power factor of one, anything less means that additional power is needed to achieve the same task. Unfortunately, a power factor of one is nearly impossible to sustain. Electrical devices connected to a network may use or produce power, causing variation in the power factor. If the variation isn’t corrected, higher currents are pulled from the network which can lead to:

  • Grid instability or an imbalance between production and consumption of energy
  • Higher fees from utility providers
  • Diminished transmission capacity

Major causes of poor power factor are inductive loads on equipment. Inductive loads resist changes in current and create lag.

HOW IS POWER FACTOR CORRECTION PERFORMED?

Adding power factor correction capacitors to the electrical system is the simplest way to improve the power factor. These capacitors act as reactive current generators, which help to offset the non-working power used by inductive loads and improve the power factor. Capacitors are cost-effective, easy to install and the return on investment is typically achieved within one to two years of usage.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF IMPROVING THE POWER FACTOR?

The power distribution system in a network can be overloaded by excess current. Improving the power factor can offer many benefits, including:

  • Lower electric bills by eliminating utility penalties for a poor power factor
  • Improved energy efficiency due to reduced power losses
  • Increased capacity of the current
  • Improved voltage to equipment
  • Environmentally friendly – less power needs to be generated, so less CO2 is produced
  • Increased lifecycle of equipment with less heat generation within cables, switchgear, transformers and other equipment.

RK Electrical performs a variety of electrical work including repair, installation and equipment replacement for all types of electrical systems. Contact us at rkelectrical@rkmi.com today for a free consultation.

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