The power factor of an AC electrical power system is defined as the ratio of the real power flowing to the load to the apparent power in the circuit, and is a dimensionless number between 0 and 1. Real power is the capacity of the circuit for performing work in a particular time. Apparent power is the product of the current and voltage of the circuit. Due to energy stored in the load and returned to the source, or due to a non-linear load that distorts the wave shape of the current drawn from the source, the apparent power will be greater than the real power.
In an electric power system, a load with a low power factor draws more current than a load with a high power factor for the same amount of useful power transferred. The higher currents increase the energy lost in the distribution system, and require larger wires and other equipment. Because of the costs of larger equipment and wasted energy, electrical utilities will usually charge a higher cost to industrial or commercial customers where there is a low power factor.
Linear loads with low power factor (such as induction motors) can be corrected with a passive network of capacitors or inductors. Non-linear loads, such as rectifiers, distort the current drawn from the system. In such cases, active or passive power factor correction may be used to counteract the distortion and raise the power factor. The devices for correction of the power factor may be at a central substation, spread out over a distribution system, or built into power-consuming equipment.
Read more about Power Factor: Linear Circuits, Non-linear Loads, Importance of Power Factor in Distribution Systems, Measuring The Power Factor, Mnemonics
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Famous quotes containing the words factor and/or power:
“Children of the middle years do not do their learning unaffected by attendant feelings of interest, boredom, success, failure, chagrin, joy, humiliation, pleasure, distress and delight. They are whole children responding in a total way, and what they feel is a constant factor that can be constructive or destructive in any learning situation.”
—Dorothy H. Cohen (20th century)
“As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage.”
—John Locke (16321704)