Power Factor Correction

Have you checked your Hydro bill for a Power Factor correction charge?

Having an unbalanced power factor results in extra charges every month. These dollars can add up. the good news is we can help you save money and get your facility operating at peak efficiency.

Power factor refers to the ability of your electrical system to convert electric current into useful work such as heat, light, and mechanical motion. If your system is using power efficiently it should draw mostly real power, measured in kilowatts (kW), from the electrical grid. If your equipment draws too much reactive power, measured in kilovolt-amperes-reactive (kVAR), it can’t perform as efficiently and limits the capacity of your Hydro connection to deliver real power and quality voltage to your facility.

The ratio of real power to total power is called “power factor”, and your equipment is performing best when that ratio is between 90% and 100%.

To calculate power factor we use the following formula:

Why The Surchage?

A power factor surcharge is applied to your account when your power factor is below 90%. It is used to recover the cost of supplying reactive power to you, which isn’t included in other charges.

Causes of Poor Power Factor:

Large inductive loads such as power transformers and electric motor driven loads such as fans, pumps and air compressors may cause poor power factor. Additionally, loads that draw current in a non-linear fashion, such as variable speed drives, computers, broadcasting equipment, compact fluorescent and LED lighting, electrical chargers, induction furnaces and many other devices may also contribute to low power factor in a customer’s system.

Good places to start your investigation are:

  • Large fans and motors (especially if they are only partially loaded).
  • Equipment with a high number of transformers (such as lighting ballasts).
  • Failed or improperly sized capacitors (used for power factor correction).
  • Harmonics in a system caused by non-linear electrical loads.

Call Mustang to Get It Corrected

Depending on the cause of your low power factor, there are different solutions that may be appropriate.  Mustang Contracting will analyze your BC Hydro bills and offer suggestions to remedy the situation.

Common fixes include the following: 

  • Capacitors can be installed in your electrical system when the cause of the poor power factor is a linear inductive load, such as an electric motor driving a fan. Capacitors produce a leading power factor to counteract the lagging power factor of inductive loads.
  • Harmonics filters may be needed in your system to improve power factor if the cause is a non-linear load.
  • Sometimes operational changes in a facility are all that are needed to improve power factor. For example, you can operate a motor closer to the full-load rating.

With over 50 years of experience we can help you with all of your electrical installation needs.

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