A Simple Guide to Power Factor
Before I talk about power factor, I first would like to explain what it is using a common analogy found through the United States Department of Energy website.
Picture a horse tied to a train and the horses job is to pull the train down the railroad tracks. However, the horse cannot pull the train in a straight line by walking in the middle of the tracks, it needs to be on a more consistent ground so that it doesn’t trip over anything. Now picture the ground right next to the tracks as being uneven and so now the horse is 20 feet away from the tracks and is pulling the train. We all know that if the horse was able to pull at an angle closer to the train, the horse would not have to work so hard. This is wasted energy being performed by the horse, right? So, consider this wasted energy that is performed from the horse used to pull the train. This waste of energy is apparent in our electrical systems and is measured in the form of power factor.
In our electrical system, we want power factor to be measured as close to the whole number 1 as possible so we don’t pay for wasted energy being used to operate our devices.
Now that you have a general idea on what power factor is the measurement of (wasted electricity), now I want you to understand where it comes from. Loss in power factor comes from inductive loads such as transformers, electric motors, and high intensity discharge lighting. Transformers are used in florescent and LED lighting, door bells, televisions, computers, and other electronics. Electric motors are used in dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, vacuum cleaners, ceiling fans, central air and forced air heating systems, washers, dryers, and many many other devices. High intensity discharge lighting is seen mostly in commercial and industrial lighting applications including metal halide, mercury vapor, low pressure sodium and high pressure sodium. Why do all these devices waste electricity? The answer is this: inductive loads increases the amount of apparent power (measured in kilovolt amps, kVA) in your electrical system. The increase in reactive and apparent power causes the power factor to decrease. All of this is mainly in the construction of an inductive load since inductive loads require the current to create a magnetic field, and the magnetic field produces the desired work.
So now that we know we’re wasting electricity, is there anything available to stop this from happening? The answer is no, inductive loads will always create wasted electricity but, there is a way to capture this wasted electricity before it get’s read by your electric meter! This is done by having a qualified electrician install power factor correctional capacitors right at your electrical panel. These capacitors are designed to identify and capture this wasted electricity and offer it back to your electrical system to be used so that you are not paying for it!
Click on this link to see a video of just what one of these devices look like and how it works - Power Factor Demo. To get more information of what I recommend in everyone’s electrical system, click this link for a product that works: Monyer Electric PFC Products