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Power Factor Correction
What is Power Factor?
Power Factor is a measure of how effectively incoming power is used in your business and is defined as the ratio of real (working) power to apparent (total) power.
Real power is power that is put to productive use in your business and apparent power is the total power supplied by the distribution system to your business.
Power Factor is expressed as a value between zero and one. If the ratio between real power and apparent power – the Power Factor – is 1, then all of the power supplied is being used for productive work. However, a Power Factor of 0.7, for example, indicates that only 70% of power supplied to your business is being used effectively and 30% is being wasted. The wasted power is known as reactive (non-working) power.
Reactive power is most often used by inductive loads such as transformers, electric motors, fluorescent lighting and air conditioning motors, which can make up a large proportion of the power consumed in some businesses. The reactive (nonworking) power increases the amount of apparent (total) power your business draws through the distribution system and has a negative impact on your Power Factor.
If your Power Factor is low, you may be paying more than you need to for your electricity.
It is actually a regulation of most energy providers that customers maintain a minimum Power Factor of 0.9.
HOW CAN POWER FACTOR CORRECTION HELP YOU?
If your Power Factor is low, you may be paying more than you need to for your electricity. An electricity load with a low Power Factor draws more current than is required and can put unnecessary stain on the electricity distribution network. To compensate for this, network providers must spend more on transmission lines, transformers and other equipment to handle peak demand and get power reliability to customers. By increasing your Power Factor, you can reduce your electricity bills through lower monthly demand and capacity charges.
In the same way that low Power Factor can strain the electrical distribution network, it can also reduce your electrical system's distribution capacity. Low Power Factor may cause power losses and voltage drops, which can contribute to overheating and failure of motors and other equipment. If your electrical system is near capacity, improving your Power Factor may help avoid costly infrastructure upgrades by lowering the existing electrical demand on your system and improving efficiency and stability.
WHAT IS CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE YOUR POWER FACTOR?
A Low Power Factor can be improved by installing Power Factor Correction equipment. These are capacitors that work as silent reactive power 'generators' so the amount of apparent power required is reduced and therefore electricity demand decreases. The capacitors are housed in a metal cabinet similar to the one that houses your electrical switchboard and are often located beside it.
Typically payback periods for Power Factor Correction units are between one and three years.
With no moving parts Power Factor Correction equipment has a very long life expectancy. Therefore with the potential savings, and the long life, they can be a very worthwhile investment.
Contact us for more information on how Greener Energy's commercial division can provide energy management solutions for your business.
Following installation of your Power Factor Correction equipment, our engineers will run a check to confirm an improvement in Power Factor performance and hence savings on your power bills.
The main operational and financial benefits are of a Power Optimiser:
- Reduces electricity costs between 5% and 15%
- Reduces carbon emissions by up to 15% and helps achieve environmental objectives
- Reduces repairs and maintenance costs on motors, lighting and equipment
- Extends the lifespan of motors, lighting and equipment
- Reduces electricity peak demand and capacity charges
- Helps protect electrical equipment from short-term power surges
- Helps protect sensitive equipment from the damaging effects of harmonic distortions
- Typical payback between 1-3 years (from electricity savings alone)
- 5-year core component warranty, with expected 20-plus year life span
- Maintenance free operation.