The Importance of Power Factor Correction

The importance of power factor

Electric systems that operate inefficiently can rack up hefty additional charges from utility companies ── fees that many customers don’t even realize they are paying. Determine if you are being assessed for power factor charges and discover how to reap energy savings by improving your system’s efficiency.

Why power factor is more than just a number

Simply defined, power factor is a way to measure the efficiency of an electrical system. Expressed numerically, power factor is the ratio of working power to apparent power, with the ideal calculation represented as 1.0. Numbers aside, the most critical thing to recognize is that a load with a power factor of 1.0 results in the most efficient operation. However, many industrial and commercial electrical systems have a lower power factor, which means organizations are not fully utilizing the electrical power that they’re paying for. In these instances, additional energy is needed to operate the load, requiring the utility to provide more current. This additional power translates to fees and/or penalties levied by utility providers to customers with three-phase services; residential customers are never penalized.

When system efficiency is improved, it reduces the amount of energy that is required from the utility, which in turn can lower or eliminate costly penalties and fees. One of the most simple and cost-effective ways to achieve this is by installing APS power-factor-correction capacitors. 

Are you incurring power factor fees? Here's how to tell.

Utility providers pass power factor expenses on to commercial customers in a variety of different ways, which can make it challenging to determine if your organization is being charged. Start by carefully examining your monthly utility statement, looking for key words such as power factor tariff, power factor demand, kVAR or VAR billing.

Install capacitors to improve power factor

Power-factor-correction capacitors are one of the best ways to improve your system’s power factor and eliminate excessive utility charges. Helping to support inefficient loads, these capacitors not only reduce electric bills, but provide additional benefits including increased system capacity, improved voltage and a reduction in electric losses. Because power factor correction capacitors increase system current-carrying capacity, they enable additional kW to be added to the load without altering the kVA.

APS helps industrial manufacturer maximize power factor to achieve major utility savings

“After applying the APS power factor correction solution, the plant increased its average power factor level from 68 percent to 99 percent, saving the company over $100,000 per year.”