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Power engineers : Do domistic power factor

correction devices really work?

every website I found it say it is a scam because electric company don't charge you for
Reactive Power but my electric company does . and every website give a stupid analyze
after another .I'm not a power engineer but I have some info on the subject and I know it
work because factories do it all the time and in college we use to do it too in the laps
ps :I'm a telecommunication engineer

• 3 months ago
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by monophot...
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November 07, 2008
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Power factor cannot be corrected because it cannot be incorrect. Power factor can be
improved if it is low. (see Capacitors for Industry by Bloomquist and Wilson, John Wiley
Publishing Co).

Domestic power factor 'correction' devices are a scam. There are several reasons for this:

1. Residential utility bills are not based on power factor. Instead, they are based on energy
(kwh) consumption. Rarely, there may be a time-of-day charge (although we may see more
of that in the future - it's one of the 'advantages' of 'smart grid technology'). So if the
residential consumer is not charged for power factor, there is no savings to the consumer for
improving power factor.

2. Residential loads are mainly resistive - where the power factor is unity. The loads that
have lower power factor and that could benefit from power factor improvement are mainly
motor loads. Residential motors tend to operate very intermittently. But one must approach
power factor improvement on motors very carefully. Attempting to improve the power factor
on a motor can lead to a condition called 'self-excitation' that can destroy a motor. While
there could be a miniscule savings associated with power factor improvement on residential
motors, that savings is miniscule compared with the cost of implementing power factor
improvement, and trivial compared with the cost of replacing motors that are destroyed by
inappropriate application of power factor improvement devices.

3. Many of the so-called 'power factor correction' devices sold for residential application are
nothing more than non-linear devices that clamp transient overvoltages (MOVs). While these
devices can theoretically 'improve' power factor, they do absolutely nothing to reduce the
energy actually consumed by residential loads, and therefore don't result in any cost savings
to the residential consumer at all.

Ultimately, power factor is a system issue and not a load issue. Other than motors, the
dominant cause for low power factor is the inductance of the transmission and distribution
circuits operated by the utility. Utilities have to deal with power factor because, for the overall
system, low power factor leads to low voltage and lower operating efficiencies for
generators. They recognize that large industrial facilities are the cause of lower power factor,
and apply billing algorithms to those loads that encourage factory consumers to improve
their own power factor.

You are correct that factories use power factor improvement. But commercial and industrial
consumers are charged for electric power using different costing algorithms, and in those
applications, having low power factor can result in a higher bill. Also, industrial loads are
predominantly motors.

• 3 months ago
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Other Answers (2)

• by frank lynn

Member since:
October 28, 2010
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Yes, some devices out there will work. The problem is that their cost to procure and
install is usually so high that you will not make your money back within 5 years. If you
have a reactive power charge (low power factor penalty), that may be enough to
increase the payback.
The other and most difficult task is to identify the real ones from the scams. I have
had people selling devices try to show me how the voltage is cleaned up with
pictures of waveforms, etc. The only way to tell is to have someone with an advanced
meter that can measure Voltage, Current, Power and demonstrate before and after
waveforms with the same equipment running in both cases. You need to be able to
see the phase angle shift between the Voltage and Current waveforms to determine
if you are receiving power factor correction. These devices usually have an additional
benefit, providing some level of Transient Voltage Surge Suppression.

The ones that work are at least a couple hundred dollars. I looked a couple more
than 5 years ago and cannot for the life of me remember the names of the devices.
However, if you were to contact real electric suppliers that handle products made by
Eaton/Cutler-Hammer or Allen-Bradley, you may find what you want.

o 3 months ago
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• by Bob

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March 01, 2009
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Hi Bad boy2. In the UK industrial users are charged for kVAh, a low pf will cause this
to increase and so will the cost of electricity. Domestic users in the UK are charged
on kWh, improving the pf here makes no difference to the meter reading, so it is not
worthwhile. Other countries may meter the used electricity for domestic users on
kVAh, in this case a pf improvement scheme will offer savings, but before you splash
the cash, find out what your pf is, most domestic stuff has a high pf, it's only air con
that will give a low pf over a long time, this is worth correcting for these users on
kVAh meters.


HND electronics UK, UK approved electrician, UK college lecturer teaching this stuff

o 3 months ago