Power Factor Correction:

Improve the Efficiency of Your Machines and Motors & Reduce Your Costs

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Power Factor Correction DNK Sustainability Ltd

Power Factor Correction: Save Energy & Reduce Demand

Power Factor is found by measuring the difference between the useful power used by a machine or device, and Reactive Power, which is additional power drawn that doesn't contribute to any useful output.

Reactive Power is often wasted as heat, which can shorten the lifespan of the equipment.

Reactive Power tends to occur in inductive loads, where there's a motor, and if this can be minimised, less power is wasted, increasing the efficiency of your devices and reducing your overall energy usage.

A useful illustration is buying a pint of beer with a small head.

Power Factor Correction and a Pint of Beer

Reactive & Capacitive Power is the power the electricity supplier must generate and supply for inductive & capactive loads to energise. This is non-working (Real) power that is drawn from the grid that electricity companies must supply but cannot charge for without the issuing of Reactive/Capactive Power charges.

Installing power factor correction equipment will reduce energy usage and lower electricity bills.

Typical return on investment is around 2-5 years, dependent upon the size of the power factor system required and the amount of charges. Once installed and with regular maintenance, a PFC system should operate for 15 years or more before it may require a complete replacement.

By installing additional equipment in your circuits that contain reactive loads (such as motors etc), we can minimise these power losses.

Typically, capacitors and other devices are added, resulting in a much smaller "lag" between the voltage across the equipment and the current running through it:

 

What Causes Poor Power Factor (PF)

Within any building, there will be a complex mix of electrical loads each with their own power factors which accumulate and contribute towards an overall power factor for the site.

Although modern computer equipment loads are capacitive, they tend to have high or close to Unity power factors. Inductive loads including heating, lighting, motors, compressors and ballasts tend to have poorer power factors and lead to sites operating larger amounts of these types of system with a poor power factor and the charging for Reactive Power.

How to Improve Poor PF Values

A Power Factor value is found by measuring the difference between the useful power used to perform a task and Reactive Power, which is power drawn in addition to useful power but does not contribute to the task.

Poor Power Factor is a result of two main causes:

  • Displacement - which happens when the're a phase difference between the current & voltage in a circuit. Known also as Reactive Power, it tends to occur in inductive and capacitive loads, where there's a motor or high frequency switching devices, and if these non-useful elements can be minimised, less power is wasted, increasing the efficiency of your devices and reducing your overall energy usage.
  • Distortion - which happens in equipment such as non-linear voltage rectificatiers. Modern regulations mean this is less commonly-found, especially in newer high frequency switching equipment, as filtering tends to minimise equipment Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).

    Older equipment can be a source of distortion, however, and can have significant impact on your overall PF value, unless dealt with.

Advantages of Power Factor Correction

A device's Power Factor is just the ratio between the useful output power, and the total input power. Using additional circuitry, we can help your business achieve a Power Factor ("PF") value of better than 0.95 across all inductive/capacitive loads, and equipment with with significant harmonic distortion, resulting in:

A reduction in electricity bills - The most noticeable improvement will be an overall decrease in your electricity expenditure, as more of the electricity your business consumes will be transferred to your machines and other electrical equipment, rather than being wasted as heat

Increased load-carrying capabilities in your existing circuits - improving the PF value also means cabling currents are lowered, further reducing heating losses

Overall reduced power system loses - this is the primary knock-on effect of Power Factor Correction

Extended equipment life - machinery that converts input electrical power more efficiently will likewise suffer less intense thermal changes, resulting in increased longevity

If you'd like to know more about how Power Factor Correction can decrease your energy usage and more, please contact us using the form on this page.

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