Power Factor

Most industrial power usage is inductive, such as motors, transformers, and induction furnaces. All these need a magnetic field to operate. Inductive loads use two types of power including working power (kW), which is used to actually do the work of creating heat, motion, and machine output. Also required is reactive power (kVAR) which is needed to sustain the magnetic field. Working power and reactive power together make up the apparent power which is measured in kilovolt-amperes (kVA). Power factor is the ratio of working power to apparent power. It signals how effectively electrical power is being used. A high ratio or power factor shows efficient use of electrical power. A low ratio shows poor utilization. Low power factor means you are not properly utilizing the power you are paying for. Low power factor usually is created by inductive loads within electric motors, transformers, arc welders, HVAC systems, molding equipment, extruders, presses and high intensity discharge lighting (fluorescent).

MachineSense can identify power factors for individual machines or for an internal distribution line. Since utility companies often charge a penalty to customers with poor power factor, this information can help identify power factor problems and ultimately reduce your energy bill—paying for MachineSense quickly and easily. Low power factor means not only are you paying too much for electricity, but also significantly compromising your electrical efficiency.

Being able to measure power factor is a key initial step to understanding your plant’s electrical system.