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POWER FACTOR CORRECTION Power factor is an expression of the efficiency at which AC electrical power is used. To establish the power factor of a system it must be broken down into its two constituent parts: Useful power (kW) and Useless power (kVAr). These are represented vectorially as follows. The vector sum of the two components is kVA or Apparent power.

Power Factor = True Power Apparent Power

= kW kVA


The useful power component (kW) is true power, which is totally resistive, e.g. electric fires, tungsten lamp, iron, heater, hot plate, etc. The useless power is the magnetizing component of all of the following types of electrical loads: a. b. c. d. e. f. g. Electric motors Transformers Welding equipment Arc furnaces DC Drive Choke/Ballast Coil

Lagging power factors of less than 1 are caused by inductive load devices, which require reactive power to supply the magnetizing currents. Without corrective measures, this reactive power flows back and forth between the loads and power source, requiring greater generating capacity and larger transmission lines, transformers and internal feeders. Although no useful work is done, the apparent power in kVA is greater than the real power in kW. The most flagrant contributor to poor power factor is the standard a.c induction motor. This is by far the most common type of motor, used in every plant in large numbers. The power factor, which can be expected, varies with the size of the motor as indicated by the table below: No 1 2 3 4 5 6 Motor Size 1 5 15 50 100 200 Power Factor 0.76 0.86 0.87 0.88 0.88 0.90

These motors are an even greater contributor to poor power factor when they are operated under light load conditions, considerably less than rated. The reason for this is that the reactive power needed to supply the magnetizing current remains about the same, while the real power drops radically with load. Low loads means low power factor. Large buildings of uncompensated fluorescent lamps also contribute to low power factor. The cause of this is the choke, which leads to power factor of 0.45 to 0.50. Any other equipment with magnetic coil and field, such as induction furnaces, also contributes to low power factor, but these can be considered special cases since they are encountered much less frequently than induction motors and fluorescent lamps. POWER FACTOR CORRECTION MEASURES Corrective measures can be taken in low power factor situations. The reasons for taking these measures are to reduce or prevent low power factor utility penalties and/or to improve the load handling ability of a customers internal electrical system. Power factor correction for electric bill reduction

is a very individualistic matter and, as seen below, the value of power factor improvement for this purpose depends on the specific power factor penalty clause in a customers utility rate schedule. In contrast, power factor improvement for the purpose of increasing internal electrical system load handling capabilities benefits any plant with low power factor problems. Taking power factor corrective measures at unit loads, closely grouped loads, or internal substations releases system capacity upstream of the point at which correction is applied. This is because the required reactive power is supplied locally does not have to travel through the upstream feeders and transformers. Voltage stability is also improved since with the current reduction the voltage drop across the upstream cables feeding the load is also reduced. Motors run better and longer at stable rated voltage. At lower voltages they draw more current to achieve the same kW value and as a result excessive heating occurs. The power triangle below shows what can be accomplished by taking local power factor correction measures.

A feeder cable supplies 94 kW of load operating at a power factor of 0.6. the feeder must furnish 157 kVA and 126 kVAr. Adding local compensation to raise the power factor to 0.85 lowers the required kVA to 111 and the kVAr to 58. This releases 46 kVA of feeder capacity to be supplied to other users. In turn figure below shows the additional load which can be added without exceeding the original kVA level carried by the feeder.

About 29 kW of load operating at a power factor of 0.6, when added to the original load, brings the kVA level back up to the original 157 kVA. The power factor of the total load now drops to 0.78. Assuming that about 157 kVA is all the feeder could safely carry, this may have saved having to replace the feeder. As an added bonus, if there is a power factor penalty clause in the rate schedule, the electric bill will be reduced.

The economics of power factor improvement for electric bill reduction vary widely from utility to utility. Some utilities do not charge for poor power factor so that if bill reduction is the only purpose no power factor improvement measures are justified at all. Other utilities charge penalties based on operating at power factors below levels that range from 1.00 down to 0.80, lagging. But even here the economic justification of power factor improvement measures depends on how the penalties are calculated and the general level of an individual utilitys rates. To understand the need for useless power it may be helpful to study a section through a four poles electric motor. In order to produce a movement about a fixed axis, considerable current is required to magnetize the pole places in the stator. When the magnetic field is produced, and using the theory that unlike poles repel, the pole on the rotor and stator will repel and cause the motor to rotate. It is obvious that if the magnetizing current were to be removed, no magnetic field would be present and the motor would stop. Supposing that this was a 50kW motor operating on a 415V, 3 phases, 50Hz supply, it would draw 93 amps from the supply. This current would consist of useless power of 56 amps to magnetize the pole pieces and 75 amps of useful power would be transmitted through the machine to drive the load. The magnetizing current amperage has to be supplied by the generators and it continually flows between the pole pieces of the motor and the generator. If a capacitor is connected in parallel with the motor the magnetizing current then flows between the pole pieces and the capacitor continuously. This relieves the supply authoritys cable of 17 amps and in consequence reduces the total cost of supplying this motor. In order to measure this useful and useless power the supply authorities has to install two meters: 1.

A kWh meter, which measure the energy used A kVArh meter, which measures the magnetizing current in exactly the same manner except that this meter is 90 degrees out of phase with the kWh meter.

The power factor of this situation is then calculated as follows: kVArh kWh Cos = = Tan Power Factor

It therefore follows that if there are no kVArh, i.e a capacitor has been installed to cater for all the magnetizing current, then the power factor would be unity but in practice it is not economic to correct to unity. Supply authorities frame their tariff in such a way that they charge for the maximum demand part of the tariff in the following manner. kW of Maximum Demand Power factor = kVA charged

Therefore, if an industrial consumer uses 1000kW of demand and has a power factor of 0.5, they would be charged: 1000kW 0.5 = 2000 kVA demand

Effect of low power factor: a. Relatively larger and costlier electrical apparatus such as generators, transformers, conductors, etc. The dimensions of, which are governed by the current they carry, that is by kVA rather than by kW, hence on low power factor dimensions of these apparatus are bigger. b. The efficiency is reduced because whole of the equipment has higher copper losses for a given kW load, because these losses are proportional to the square of the power factor. c. Penalize by the supply authority (TNB), if the monthly average power factor is below 0.85