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Power Factor Explanation

Power Factor Explanation

Power factor measures how well you use electricity. To understand this, examine some of the different types of power:

  • Apparent power is the product of the volts and amperes of a circuit. It is measured in kilovolt-amperes (kVa). It includes both Working and Reactive power.
  • Working power, a type of resistive load, is the energy or work-producing part of Apparent power. It is the power used in electric appliances, electric heating and lighting. It is measured in kilowatts (kW).
  • Reactive power, a type of inductive load, is used to generate a magnetic field to power items such as motors. It is the non-working portion of Apparent power, and is measured in kilovolt-amperes-reactive (kVARs).
  • Power factor, then, is the percentage ratio between working power and apparent power. A large power factor is to your advantage, whereas a low power factor is the result of a lack of optimization of electrical power types.

If your business operates at 80 kW of working power, and the apparent power operates at 100 kVa, you would divide the two to get a power factor of 80 percent. Eighty percent of the incoming current is operating well, while 20 percent is wasted through the heating of conductors. To improve power factor, you can install power factor correction capacitors to the electrical system. For more information, please contact the OPPD Energy Advisor at energyadvisor@oppd.com, 402-636-3850 in Omaha, or 800-648-2658 outside the metro area.