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Replacing wires for a power factor upgrade

What is Power Factor Correction?

Electricity is expensive and vital to keeping businesses functioning, so why waste it? Even with automated systems, quality equipment, and saving where possible, electrical inefficiency can create unnecessary usage and increased service costs if left alone. 

Inefficiency can be a result of having a low “power factor.” Fortunately, improving your company's power factor can be done relatively quickly with data logging and improving your electrical system. This blog will cover what power factor is, how it impacts your bottom line, and what can fix it.

What is Power Factor?

An easy way to understand power factor is by considering a pint of beer in a glass. There is the beer and the foam when the glass is poured. Let’s say you order 1 pint of beer, but when it arrives at your table, 30% is foam, which has no value. That means your “beer factor” is 0.7. It should be much closer to 1, though, because that is what you ordered!

In an electrical context, say a company's system demanded 50 kVA last month. However, the company actually used 40 kW of “active power”. The energy that was drawn but not used is “reactive power,” and is like the foam in the glass. Since the reactive power accounts for 20% of the demanded power, the power factor is 0.8.

Electrical suppliers do not like generating and distributing power that goes to waste, so they often charge more for inefficient electricity consumers. As power factor increases, energy efficiency does too. Typically, a power factor of 0.9 or higher is an acceptable number.

A pint of beer showing power factor

Low Power Factor Causes: Leading or Lagging Power Factor

Understanding low power factor causes requires a little bit of electrical knowledge. Here's what you need to know.

Energy flows in a circuit from the source to the equipment that needs it. For electricity to flow, it needs current, the energy that powers things, and voltage, the pressure that pushes the energy through the wire. It's like how pressure pushes water through a pipe.

Current and voltage must flow in phase (together) for electricity to flow efficiently. However, equipment can disrupt that flow and create "non-clean power" where the current leads or lags behind the voltage. Even one disruptive piece of equipment can make a noticeable difference on your electricity bill.

Understanding power factor correction

Besides the added cost of non-clean power, other equipment and appliances can suffer because their electronics are sensitive to the power they draw. To make matters worse, warranties rarely cover any related problems because they are not mechanical or the product's fault. This is why a power factor correction is necessary.

What is Power Factor Correction?

How to improve a power factor is straightforward. At Kraun, we provide a complete service to fix the issue. It starts with connecting a power logger to your company's electrical system that we can use to find events or issues creating inefficiencies. Sometimes, it may be a single machine that causes an issue. Other times it may be multiple minor problems. Fortunately, the power logger provides all the information needed to find the solution.

Next, our specialized electricians diagnose the issues and install or enhance equipment to improve the power factor. There are multiple solutions an electrician can use to correct power, including new wiring, capacitors, line reactors, or DC chokes. Surge protectors are also recommended to install during power factor corrections to further protect your electrical systems.

Does Your Company Need a Power Factor Correction?

The best way to find out is by looking at your electricity bill. HydroOne shares an example of how to find what your power factor is here. If your power factor is lower, it may be worth looking into a correction. If so, Kraun is here to help! You can contact us by emailing or using the phone number or form below.

We look forward to getting started.

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