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What is Power Factor?

Essentially, power factor is a measure of how effectively your equipment at site uses electricity. It is the ratio of the ‘real power’ (kW) to the ‘apparent power’ (kVA) supplied to your site.

Think of the electricity supplied to your site as a glass of beer or latte, made up of both liquid and froth on top. As you pay for the whole glass, you want more of the liquid and less froth to get value for the money you pay. Poor power factor, like a beverage with too much froth (wasted energy), results in extra expense for nothing.

Power Factor is measured between 0 and 1. The higher your power factor (closer to 1), the more efficient your work site is at utilising supplied power, which equates to lower power bills.

In the below diagram, the amber liquid represents real power (kW you see on your bill) and the froth represents reactive power (measured in kVAr).

  • Real Power (kW) is the power that performs the actual work,
  • Apparent Power (kVA) is the power that maintains the electromagnetic field that makes some equipment run, and
  • Reactive Power (kVAr) is wasted energy.

These days Networks charge many businesses for the demand they place on the electricity grid (apparent power in the diagram). It therefore pays to correct supply inefficiencies to have the best power factor possible.

Benefits of good Power Factor

Having the best possible power factor will do more than just lower your power bills. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced carbon footprint – Minimising your electricity wastage will reduce your businesses carbon emissions,
  • Demand charges – If you’re business is on a kVA demand tariff, good power factor will mean lower demand charges. This will be reflected on your bill,
  • Compliance – Many energy distributors have a minimum power factor requirement of 0.8,
  • Improved equipment life – Higher voltage resulting from poor power factor may significantly reduce the lifespan of your equipment, and
  • Increased capacity – Reducing the amount of electricity going to waste (as reactive power) means you’ve freed up capacity at your site.

Here at Class A we work with AGL Electroserv to deliver high-quality and appropriately sized PFC units for businesses. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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