Power Factor...Why It Matters...
What Is Power Factor?
Power factor is defined as the ratio of the real power to the apparent power. Ideally, apparent power would equal the real power (a power factor of 1). In this case, all the current in the system is usable.
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However due to the nature of the loads applied to the system some of the power is stored in the load and is fed back through the system. Apparent power is greater than real power and the power factor is low. In such a case, a certain amount of current that passes through the system is unusable This brings about higher currents which increase the energy lost in the distribution system. This results in a inefficient system which requires larger wires and higher capacity equipment than would be necessary if the power factor were higher.
Why Does Power Factor Matter?
Issues resulting from uncorrected Power Factor:
- Some utilities charge penalties for poor power factor
- Poor power factor leads to shorter equipment life
- Cause voltage drops in system
- Less system capacity
What Can You Do to Be Proactive?
#1 - Speak with an Energy Management company, such as D.L. Steiner, and investigate the possibility of having an electrical system study performed at your facility to evaluate the affects of active Power Factor correction.
#2 - Based upon the results of the system study, evaluate the feasibility of Power Factor Correction devices, such as:
- Capacitor banks (power factor correction capacitors)
- Synchronous motors
#3 - Evaluate ROI of Power Factor Correction(s). These solutions are frequently eligible to receive rebates or incentives in most utilities' Custom ECM (Energy Conservation Measure) programs.