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Vector Analysis in Electrical Engineering

Introduction to AC Power and Power Factor Improvement

Franz Xyrlo Tobias, Jayson Bryan Mutuc, Joy Andrew Rondilla, Nahdiya Zaheer Betonio
MS Electrical Engineering, Mapua Institute of Technology
Abstract- Power factor indicates how efficient we
utilize energy. Having a low value of it would yield to
high electricity consumption and losses in the system.
Thus, by power factor improvement, such problems
can be resolved. However, methods like using Power
Saver may not actually help in reducing electricity
consumption cost.
This paper focuses on the application of vector
analysis in the field of electrical engineering through
power saving.

The concepts of advanced mathematics are
important in the field of electrical engineering and in
many other engineering and scientific disciplines as
well. They form the foundation for further studies in
areas such as Electric Circuits, Power System
Analysis and other electrical concepts. Almost all the
topics discussed in MATH220 are applicable to the
electrical engineering discipline, such as Laplace
Transform, Fourier Series, Power Series and the
most basic Vector Analysis.
Vector analysis is a mathematical tool with which
some electrical concepts are most conveniently
expressed and best comprehended. In electrical
engineering, vectors are also termed as phasors in
representing voltage, current and other parameters.
The group has chosen this topic for it has one
application in electrical engineering that is important
in our daily lives, that is, regarding power saving.
In a power system, two types of power are actually
transmitted, which are the real power and reactive
Real power measured in kW and the second is the
reactive power measured in kVAR. Ordinary loads
such as heaters and incandescent bulbs consume real
power (kW). Real power can perform work. Utility
meters on the side of our houses measure this
quantity and distribution companies charge for it.

Motors and transformers require reactive power

(kVAR) in addition to kW. Unlike real power, this
cannot perform work. Residential customers do not
pay for kVAR, and utility meters on houses do not
record it as well.
The vector sum of kW and kVAR is called
apparent power measured in kVA. Also, by the use
of multimeters, we can measure the current and
voltage and then multiply these readings together in
order to get the apparent power.
The relationship between the three power values
is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Relationship between real, reactive and apparent


Figure 1 is also referred to as Power Triangle. From

this relationship, power factor can be obtained.
Power factor (cos) is the ratio of working power
to apparent power. It measures how effectively
electrical power is being used. To illustrate the
analogy of power factor, consider a boy dragging a
heavy load, shown in Figure 2. His working power
(kW) is in the horizontal direction, where he wants
the load to travel. Unfortunately, he cannot drag his
load on a perfect horizontal, so his shoulder adds a
little reactive power (kVAR) by pulling the load at
an angle to the direction of travel.

Inductor (RL) or inductive loads such as induction

motors (See Figure 4 below). The value of power
factor is between 0 to 1.

Figure 2. Power factor analogy.

Ideally, we want kVAR to be very small

(approaching zero) thus kW and kVA would almost
be equal (the boy wouldn't have to waste any power
along his body height). Also, the angle () formed
between kW and kVA would approach zero.
Therefore, cos approaches one, as well as the power


Power factor is commonly classified into three
types, namely unity, lagging or leading. Power factor
value ranges from zero to one.

Figure 4. Phasor diagram for the inductive circuit, showing

that the current lags behind the voltage by 90.

C. Leading Power Factor

For this type of power factor, the current leads the
voltage by an acute angle as in the case of R-C or
capacitive loads such as synchronous condenser (See
Figure 5). The value of this power factor is also
between 0 to 1.


Unity Power Factor

For this type, the voltage and current are in-phase
as in the case of purely-resistive loads (See Figure 3).
The value of the power factor is one.

Figure 5. Phasor diagram for the capacitive circuit, showing

that the current leads the voltage by 90.

Figure 3. Phasor diagram for the resistive circuit showing that

the current is in phase with the voltage.

B. Lagging Power Factor

For this type of power factor, the current lags the
voltage by an acute angle as in the case of Resistor-


Low power factor means your're not fully
utilizing the electrical power you're paying for. Thus,
we should be concerned about it.
This low value is caused by inductive loads (such
as transformers, electric motors, and high-density
discharge lighting), which are a major portion of the
power consumed in industrial complexes. Unlike
resistive loads that create heat by consuming
kilowatts, inductive loads require the current to
create a magnetic field, and the magnetic field
produces the desired work. Reactive power required
by inductive loads increases the amount of apparent
power (kVA) in your distribution system. The
increase in reactive and apparent power causes the
power factor to decrease.
In order to have a more efficient energy usage, the
system power factor must be improved.

Figure 6. Electrical Power Relationships

Figure 7 shows the power triangle with the

capacitive kVAR cancelling the inductive kVAR.
The result is net in kVAR, which is positive in this
case (the circuit is inductive), since not all of the
inductive kVAR was cancelled by the capacitive


Power factor should be improved due to many
reasons. Some of the benefits of improving your
power factor include lower utility fees, increased
system capacity and reduced system losses in your
electrical system,
Correcting your power factor can be done through
the following strategies:
1. Minimize the operation of idling or lightly
loaded motors
2. Avoid operation of equipment above its rated
3. Replace standard motors as they burn out with
energy-efficient motors
4. Install capacitors in your AC circuit to decrease
the magnitude of reactive power.
Regarding capacitor installation, the interesting
factor that exists in AC power systems is that
inductive kVARs are opposite of capacitive kVARs
and can cancel each other out if they are of the same
value. The vector representation of this relationship
between the real, reactive and apparent power
associated with resistor, inductor and capacitors is
shown in Figure 6. Note how the inductive and
capacitive kVARs oppose each other and can cancel,
yet resistive kW remain independent.

Figure 7. Power Factor Correction by Installing Capacitor


Manufacturers claim that the problem in low
power factor may be solved by installing a wellcalculated inductor/capacitor network and switching
it automatically. Using power savers allows to bring
the power factor level close to unity, thus improving
the apparent power at a great extent. Having an
improved kVA would mean less current
consumption by all the domestic appliances.
Though this may look fine, however, the
MERALCO bill that we pay is never based on
apparent power (kVA) but rather on real power
(kW). Commercially available power savers are
really just saving the reactive power produced by
inductive loads, which implies that there is no
reduction in real power required by the appliances to

Thus, any savings in energy demand will not

directly result in lowering a residential user's
electricity bill. Power savers, though, are useful in
improving power quality and helps in enhancing the
life-span of household appliances.

Technical Data SA02607001E. Power factor correction: a
guide for the plant engineer. August 2014.
Motor Challenge. Reducing Power Factor Cost. 2001
Electrical Engineering Portal. The real truth behind household
power savers. (
Serway, R.A. and J. W. Jewett. Physics for Scientists and
Do Power Savers Really Save Power?