Power Factor Sumplified
Understand the basis of the
So what exactly
is represented by the term Power Factor when we’re speaking in terms of energy efficiency of a home or industrial
That isn’t at all
difficult to understand.
Most devices use
an induction coil, such as a motor, for example, or any device that uses a motor, draws and uses two types of power
– one being reactive power and the other being working power.
Now, the working
power is the power used to actually work, that is to lift or move a load, to turn a motor, whatever the device’s
function may be.
The working power
is the power that is used to actually accomplish the function of a piece of equipment. But most devices with an
induction coil also use energy to generate an electromagnetic field that is essential to their
The power used
for these electromagnetic fields is called reactive power.
Now when this
power is drawn from a distant source, which is the transformer of your power company, what happens is that there is
a considerable loss of energy along the line which can result in massive losses in terms of power.
efficient your home installation is, is expressed in terms of the Power Factor.
mathematical terms, the Power Factor is how the real amount of power used by appliances in your home compares to
the total billed amount of power used by your home.
In other words,
the Power Factor is the relation between the total power used by your home and the working power used by the
appliances in your home.
power factor would be in the range of 1, which is, unfortunately, almost completely impossible.
There are devices
that have a power factor 1, like lighting devices, for example, but most other devices, especially those that use
induction coils, because of the higher reactive power that they use, generally have a power efficiency of .2 or
Just where does
the wasted energy which is represented by a lower power factor go?
After all, if you
have a power factor .7, which is the average in most homes, where is the excess energy disappearing to?
Well, it goes out
in heat, mostly.
Your devices get
hotter, your electronic circuits and circuit boards generate more heat, and the wires in your home and the wires
leading to your home also generate a certain amount of heat.
So basically what
is happening here is that a percentage of the power supplied to your home has been turned into heat and radiated
away from the appliances, circuit boards and wires.
This not only
represents a considerable loss in terms of money paid for energy, but it also leads to wear on your
appliances, reducing their life span, and in certain extreme cases this heating up can cause
electrical fires in the wiring of your home.
however there are devices called power savers that are used to prevent this, and to correct the power factor up to
about 9.5 (which is almost perfect, actually).
savers use boards of harmonic resistant capacitors that in fact act as a source of reactive power.
Since this source
of reactive power is very close to the appliances using that power, this massively reduces the amount of power
wasted by the system as heat.
It also causes
most of the devices to run cooler and can lead to saving as much as twenty five percent of the power usage in your
home or commercial or industrial installation.