# Understanding the basics: What is Power Factor Correction?

Are rising electricity costs threatening the profitability and viability of your business? Managing your electrical consumption in a commercial or industrial business setting can make a significant difference in the profitability of your business.

Power Factor Correction (PFC) is a simple and economical way for you to reduce electricity costs. Alpha Power Solutions assists you in optimising your plant’s electricity consumption for long-term cost reduction and profitability, with a 12 to 18-month investment payback period. Alpha Power Solutions can reduce your electrical costs by 10% to 25% with customised PFC solutions.**Let’s begin with what power factor is.**

**What is power factor? (a summary)**

Power factor (PF) is the ratio of working power (kW) to apparent power (kVA). In other words, PF = kW / kVA. A high power factor benefits both the customer and the utility, while a low power factor indicates poor use of electrical power.

PFC is often used in industrial and commercial facilities to improve the power factor of the system. This involves the installation of PFC equipment which consists of power factor correction capacitors, power factor correction controllers and harmonic filtration systems. PFC equipment reduces the reactive power drawn from the grid by an electrical system and brings the power factor closer to unity (1.0). By improving their power factor, clients can reduce energy losses and improve the efficiency of their electrical equipment. The reduction in reactive power not only reduces the monthly electrical costs you incur but also increases the lifespan of your equipment while reducing system failures.

**Power factor in simple terms**

Take a glass of beer as an example. Once in a glass, there is both the thirst-quenching liquid (active power) and the foam at the top (reactive power). While the foam is not the thirst-quenching liquid, it is part of the beer. The actual part of the beer is represented by kW (kilowatts) and the foam is represented by KVAR (Kilovolt-Ampere Reactive). The total contents of the glass, the beer and the foam, are represented by kVA (Kilovolt-amperes). Utility companies typically charge you for kWh consumption as well as maximum apparent power drawn. This is why it is important to reduce the reactive power (the foam) your electrical system requires from the utility.

## What the measurements mean

A power factor of 1 means that energy is being used efficiently in an electrical system where no reactive power is drawn from the grid. A power factor of 1 is not always a financially viable proposition as it can involve a significant investment in PFC equipment.

A large electric motor may typically have a power factor of about 0.85 at full load. Let’s say our motor is rated at 100 kW and the PF is 0.85. The electricity system would have to supply 100 kW divided by 0.85 which equals 118 kilovolt amps (kVA), in order for the motor to produce 100 kW of mechanical power.

Power providers would be supplying 18% more electricity than is required. That is why power utility companies measure and charge for maximum demand as well as reactive power consumption and not just the active power consumption of a site.

**How to calculate power factor**

**How to calculate power factor**

Our power factor correction calculator computes the power factor correction equation for you. All you need to do is provide some basic electrical information and the calculator will work out, not only your PFC requirements, but also the reduction in apparent power resulting from the recommended PFC solution.

Each municipality has different electricity tariffs, making it tricky to work out potential savings from a PFC intervention. Alpha Power Solutions can assist you with this. We have developed a power factor correction calculator which tells you how much you can save and how long the investment payback period will be for the proposed PFC solution. You won’t need to do a power factor calculation yourself, just follow the instructions on our calculator to calculate your potential savings.

**How does the power factor correction formula work?**

The power factor correction formula works by providing a measure of how efficiently electrical power is being used in a circuit. It quantifies the ratio of real power (the power consumed by the load and performing useful work) to apparent power (the total power supplied to the circuit).

**A step-by-step guide to using the PFC calculation formula**

**Real Power (kW):**This component of the formula represents the actual power being used by the load to perform useful work, such as generating heat, light, or motion. Real power is measured in kilowatts (kW) and is what you typically pay for on your electricity bill.**Apparent Power (kVA):**This component represents the total power supplied to the circuit, including both real power and reactive power. Apparent power is measured in kilovolt-amperes (kVA). Reactive power arises from the inductive or capacitive elements in the circuit, which don’t perform “useful” work.**Ratio Calculation:**The Power Factor Correction formula calculates the ratio of real power to apparent power. This is done by dividing the real power (kW) by the apparent power (kVA) to get a decimal value between 0 and 1 or a percentage between 0% and 100%.

What this means is that a power factor close to 1 (or 100%) indicates that most of the electrical power supplied to the circuit is being used for productive work, resulting in a highly efficient system. A power factor below 1 indicates that a portion of the supplied power does not contribute to useful work and may lead to inefficiencies in the system.

The Power Factor Correction formula provides a straightforward way to quantify the efficiency of electrical power usage in a circuit. It does this by comparing the real power consumed by the load to the total apparent power supplied to the circuit.

Alpha Power Solutions has simplified this process for its clients with its power factor correction calculator, so you don’t need to work out the formula for yourself. Contact Alpha Power Solutions today, and we will help you ascertain your power factor correction requirements.