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Power Factor Correction

Power Factor Correction (PFC) is one of the most effective ways to reduce the energy costs for a business. It is an energy saving technology that is used to compensate for and improve low operating efficiency of electrical power systems. When applied correctly, Power Factor Correction euipment can reduce electricity costs, increase energy efficiency and reduce an organisations carbon footprint with a typical payback period of 6 to 18 months (depending on the power profile of the site).

 

Low Power Factor problems are a common issue at facilities that operate heavy loads such as induction motors.  The problem is often discovered when the utility bill arrives with an unplesant surprise of a costly power factor penalty or peak kVA demand fee. Other signs of power factor problems are motors running hotter than usual and transformers being overloaded.


Power Factor is a measure of how efficiently incoming power is used within your business. It is a measure of how efficient your equipment converts electric current from your electrical power supplier to useful output, such as heat, light or mechanical motion. 

In respect to efficiency, Power Factor relates to the level of excess electricity that must be supplied to the premises as reserve power to produce magnetic fields around an inductors and charge capacitors etc, which is then required on demand for the start-up and the operation of electrical devices. The greater the inefficiency of electrical equipment, the greater the reserve power required, the lower the Power Factor, and the higher the penalty charges and energy costs incurred.

 

WHAT CAUSES LOW POWER FACTOR?

Inductive loads, which require the use of a magnetizing current to create a magnetic field, are the main cause of low Power Factor. Inductive characteristics are more pronounced in motors and transformers and are found more often in commercial and industrial facilities. One of the worst offenders is a lightly loaded induction motor, often found in “cycle processes” — for example, in the operation of saws, conveyors, and grinders—where the motor must be sized for the heaviest load which is rearely achieved.

Inductive loads constitute a major portion of the power consumed in industrial complexes.

Common devices that contribute to

low Power Factor:

Typical business types reducing energy costs

with Power Factor Correction Equipment



  • Transformers
  • Induction Motors
  • Induction Generators
  • Air Conditioning Systems
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting
  • Induction furnaces
  • Standard stamping machines
  • Single stroke presses
  • Automated machine tools
  • Chillers
  • Compressors
  • Dust collectors,
  • Conveyors.
  • Supermarkets (Refridgeration & Air-Con)
  • Fast Food Chain Stores (Refridgeration, Extraction Fans, Air-Con...)
  • Convenience Stores (Refridgeration & Air-Con)
  • Shopping Centres (Air-Con)
  • Furniture Manufacturers (Power Tool electric motors, extraction fans...)
  • Hotels (Air-Conditioning, Pool Pumps, Lift Motors)
  • Mining (Processing and Conveyor Motors)
  • Manufacturing (Electric Motors, Conveyors, Extraction Fans, Air-Con...)
  • Data Storage
  • Cold Storage Centres

 

WHY INSTALL POWER FACTOR CORRECTION EQUIPMENT

Improving a systems Power Factor will reduce the total power consumed by an electrical installation and will provide the following benefits:

  • Financial saving - By reducing power consumed electricity costs are reduced.
  • Extended equipment life - Reduced electrical burden on cables and electrical components.
  • Increase load capacity - Provide additional capacity for other loads to be connected.
  • Environmental benefit - Reduced power consumption means less “Greenhouse” gas emissions and fossil fuel depletion by power stations.

Electricity utility companies across Australia include a penalty charge in their billing structure for premises that have a low power factor. Referred to as Power Factor, or KVAR charge, this fee can add thousands of dollars to an organizations energy costs. Power Factor Correction technology improves the power factor for a commercial premise, and can significantly reduce the penalty charge and energy consumption costs.

 

HOW CAN POWER FACTOR CORRECTION SLASH YOUR ENERGY COSTS?
Electricity suppliers gain compensation for low Power Factor through KVA Tariffs and charges. The lower the Power Factor, the higher the monthly demand and capacity charges applied to a account, which are often applied as KVAr Tariff Rate charged per kWh consumed. This tariff rate is additional to the electricity kWh consumption tariff.
By increasing the Power Factor of a premise, the electricity consumption expense can be lowered through:

  • Reduced KW Demand
    The increase in required Reactive Power (KVAR) causes an increase in required Apparent Power (KVA), which is the power supplied by the utility. A facility’s low Power Factor causes the utility to have to increase its generation and transmission capacity in order to handle this extra demand. By raising the Power Factor for a site, less KVAR is used, resulting in less KW, which equates to dollar savings from the Utility
  • Reducing/eliminating the Power Factor Penalty
    Utilities generally charge a additional fee when the sites Power Factor is less than 0.95. The lower the Power Factor, the higher the penalty fee, which is generally an additional fee per kWh of electricity consumed at the site.
    By increasing the Power Factor, this penalty fee can be reduced or eliminated.

Typical payback periods for Power Factor Correction are between one and three years, depending on the energy consumption characteristics of the site.
Given Power Factor Correction equipment typically have an expected life of over 25 years provided adequate maintenance is maintained, the investment can generate strong positive returns.


WHAT IS POWER FACTOR CORRECTION?

Low Power Factor can be improved by installing Power Factor Correction equipment. These are capacitor banks and other electronics that work as silent reactive power generators which reduce the requirement for Apparent Power and the demand for electricity. The capacitors and electronics are mounted in a metal cabinet, which is often installed in close proximity to the buildings switchboard.


HOW CAN YOU IPROVE YOUR POWER FACTOR?

The best way to improve Power Factor depends largely on the particular operating considerations involved.

Some tactics to improve Power Factor:

  • Minimize operation of idling or lightly-loaded motors.
  • Avoid operation of equipment above its rated voltage.
  • Size motors and transformers more closely o the actual work requirement
  • Replace standard motors as they burn out with energy-efficient motors. Power factor is also significantly affected by variations in load. A motor must be operated near its rated capacity to get the highest power factor.
  • Install Power Factor Correction equipment in your AC circuit.
Although there is no single “right” answer, the installation of low-cost, Power Factor correction equipment offers one of the most effective corrective measures.

 


If you have inductive loads, which require the use of a magnetizing current to create a magnetic field, you may have Power Factor considerations. Inductive characteristics are more pronounced in motors and transformers and are found more often in commercial and industrial facilities. One of the worst offenders is a lightly loaded induction motor, often found in “cycle processes” — for example, in the operation of saws, conveyors, and grinders—where the motor must be sized for the heaviest load. Other sources include: induction furnaces, standard stamping machines, single stroke presses, automated machine tools, chillers, compressors, dust collectors, AC units and conveyors