The Hidden Benefits of Power Factor Correction

by | Feb 17, 2017

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motorsPower Factor Correction, an often overlooked process, rivals renewables in its ability to reduce spending on electricity, according to a story at Facility Executive.

Power factor correction, which potentially can cut energy use by more than 10 percent, is essentially the process of increasing the effectiveness of the electricity received. The article, which was written by Joy Silber, the Senior Manager for Product Management and Business Development of Power Solutions at Schneider Electric, describes the reason that gains are possible.

She writes that there are two kinds of power used in AC operations: active energy and reactive energy. These two together are called apparent power. The goal is to increase the proportion active power in the overall level of apparent power. Beer analogies always are helpful:

To simplify this concept, consider a beer mug filled with your favorite brew. The mug capacity represents apparent power (kVA). The beer represents active power (kW). Don’t forget the foam, which represents reactive power (kVAR). Using this analogy, we can deduce the power factor by dividing the beer by the mug capacity, and it’s clear, you’re getting less beer than you’re paying for.

Power factor correction introduces capacitor banks or energy compensators into the facility electrical infrastructure. Silber writes that implementing these tools reduces energy loss, increases energy efficiency, reduces equipment costs and lowers carbon emissions.

A deeper look at power factor correction measurements was offered by Mark Lamendola at Electrical Testing Brand. He ends with a bit of common sense:

You can’t fix what you can’t measure. Make sure you’re measuring the PF on all of your large inductive loads. As you correct PF, you will extend the life of the utilization equipment and the power distribution system while lowering your utility bill.

Renewable energy has a very high profile. However, organizations should pay attention to the less glitzy approach of building effective power factor correction platforms into their processes.

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