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Recently, you may have noticed advertisement for a device that claims to reduce your monthly home electricity bills. The advertising literature states that you are paying for the added electricity that must flow when power factor (PF) is less than unity within your house. But to what extent does PF influence energy consumption? And does the energy savings accrued through power factor correction (PFC) justify the purchase of standalone PFC devices? Moreover, do the energy Savings justify the addition of PFC components within home appliances where PF is less than one? Numerous pieces of equipment in the home are candidates For PFC. Some of these equipment types have capacitive inputs (for example, switching power supplies). However, some of the larger loads are the motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, which have inductive inputs. An analysis of these types of equipment examines their typical energy requirements and the impact of PFC on their energy usage within the home.

Fig.: Current must vary to deliver the same power to loads with different power factors. If power factor is unity (a), the current level will be less than it would be for any power factor less than one (b).

1: What is Power Factor?

AC power is transmitted with the least losses if the current is undistorted and exactly synchronized with the voltage. Light bulbs and resistance heaters draw current exactly synchronized and proportional to voltage, but most other loads tend to draw current with a time lag (i.e. phase shift) or to distort it (i.e. introduce harmonics). It takes more current to deliver a fixed amount of power when the current is phase shifted or distorted. The ratio of the actual power transmitted (real power) to the apparent power that could have been transmitted if the same current were in phase and undistorted is known as the power factor. It is always less than or equal to 1.

Before the growth in electronic loads, such as computers and adjustable speed motor drives, distortion was only a minor problem. Instruments and analysis techniques for evaluating power factor were devised only to consider the phase shift component of power factor. Phase shift is measured in degrees, but it is equivalent to time (where 360 degrees equals the time required for one full AC cycle). Today this component of power factor is called the displacement power factor (DPF) to distinguish it from the true power factor (TPF) that accounts for distortion as well as phase shift. Utilities that impose low power factor penalties tend to meter and bill only on DPF. Ignoring the effects of harmonic distortion leads to some fairly simple mathematical relationships illustrated by the power triangle in Figure 1.

Fig 1: Power Triangle.

If you measure current with an ammeter and voltage with a voltmeter, you can multiply them to get apparent power. The real power equals the apparent power multiplied by the cosine of the phase angle difference between voltage and current. DPF is exactly equal to the cosine of the phase angle difference. A third power term is reactive power. The physical meaning of reactive power can be better understood by considering the example plot of voltage and current for a motor using 200 kW and 0.7 power factor (see Fig. 2). The power cycles at twice line frequency, averaging +200 kW over a full cycle. At each instant the voltage multiplied by the current equal instantaneous power. Even when both current and voltage are negative, the power is positive because minus times a minus is a plus. However, phase lag causes voltage to sometimes be positive when current is negative and vice versa. In these instants, power is negative and the motor is actually a generator feeding power back into the system. One can think of apparent power as the total power exchange between the motor and power line, the real power as the net power flow to the motor, and the reactive power as the component of apparent power that is exchanged back and forth between the line and the motor.

Fig.1.1: 0.7 Power Factor at 200kw.

2: Cause of Low Power Factor.

Low power factor is caused mainly by induction motors, but also by inductive loads (such as transformers and magnetic lighting ballasts). Unlike resistive loads that create work entirely by consuming watts or kilowatts, inductive loads require some current to create a magnetic field, and the magnetic field facilitates the desired work. The total or apparent power required by an inductive device is a composite of the following: Real power (measured in kilowatts, kW) Reactive power associated with components that alternately store energy and release it back to the line during each AC cycle (measured in Kilovars, KVAR). Reactive power required by inductive loads increases the amount of apparent power (measured in kilovolt amps, KVA) in your distribution system. The increase in reactive and apparent power is reflected by the increase of the angle between the two, causing the power factor to decrease. Fig.2 depicts a single-house wiring circuit that is subject to a lagging PF due to the load being an electric motor. Although every house is different, certain assumptions can be made with regard to the elements in this diagram that will allow an analysis of energy consumption with and without PFC.

Fig.2: The impact of PFC equipment on cable losses in the home can be analyzed by making certain assumptions about appliance power consumption and usage, appliance power factor, and cabling.

For the purpose of this analysis, the following conditions are assumed: Most appliances using an electric motor will be fed by a #12 gauge cable and protected at the load center (main panel) by a 20-A circuit breaker. The average two-conductor cable length from the load center to an appliance containing an electric motor is 25 ft. This yields a total conductor length of 50 ft. Motor-driven appliances are the devices in a house most likely to contribute to a lagging PF. Most motor-driven appliances have a 1-hp motor with an efficiency of 85% and a lagging PF of 0.75.

3: So Why PFC?
PFC devices are used in some commercial or industrial applications where a company may have a large number of electrical motors that would have a significant effect on the PF of utility transmission lines, which span much longer distances than the cables in the home. Utilities may assess commercial or industrial customers a penalty for PF significantly less than one. Some appliance manufacturers are incorporating PFC into their finished products. The European Unions International Electro-Technical Commission adopted the IEC61000-3-2 standard that required, by Jan. 1, 2001, all equipment needing 75 W of power or greater and less than 16 A to meet standards for harmonic generation and, thus, meet PFC requirements. Thereafter, Britain, China and Japan adopted similar standards. North America does not presently have these requirements. Where the mechanical load is reasonably constant (e.g., an air conditioner compressor motor), a PFC capacitor can be specified to produce a desired effect. Appliance manufacturers are faced with an interesting dilemma when including PFC into their finished products. They must convince their potential customers that over the product life, energy cost savings would equal or surpass the additional initial selling price, vis--vis a non-PFC item.

4: Correcting Your Power Factor.

Some strategies for correcting your power factor are: Install capacitors in your AC circuit to decrease the magnitude of reactive power. Capacitors draw leading reactive power. That means their current is 180 degrees out of phase with inductive loads, so they are storing energy when inductive loads are releasing it back to the line and vice versa. As shown in Figure 4, reactive power (measured in KVAR) caused by inductance always acts at a 180-degree angle to reactive power from capacitors.

Fig.4: Capacitive Reactance/Inductive Reactance. The presence of both inductive and capacitive reactance in the same circuit results in the continuous alternating transfer of energy between the capacitor and the inductive load, thereby reducing the current flow from the line. In a sense, energy is caught and reflected back by the capacitor instead of having to flow all the way back and forth from the power generator. In Figure 4 the power triangle shows an initial 0.70 power factor for a 100 kW (real power) inductive load. The reactive power required by the load is 102 KVAR. By installing a 69-kVAR capacitor, the apparent power necessary is reduced from 143 to 105 KVA, resulting in a 27 percent reduction in current. Power factor is improved to 0.95.

Fig.: Effect of Power Factor Correction. Replace over-sized motors with NEMA Premium efficiency motors of the right horsepower. Any motors power factor is dramatically worse when it is loaded significantly below the full nameplate horsepower rating. Shut down idling motors. When totally unloaded, even uncoupled, a motor still draws over half its full-load reactive power. Avoid operation of equipment above its rated voltage. Over-voltage increases reactive power. Capacitor suppliers and engineering firms can provide the assistance you may need to determine the optimum power factor correction and to correctly locate and install capacitors in your electrical distribution system. Be mindful that if harmonic distortion is significant in your power system, DPF analysis techniques will understate your true reactive power and overstate your true power factor. DPF analysis may accurately reflect the power factor metered and billed by your utility, but it will understate your in-plant distribution system losses. Moreover harmonic distortion can cause a variety of other system problems including harmful resonance currents in capacitors you have installed to control DPF. If you suspect significant harmonic distortion, you must address harmonic problems in conjunction with displacement power factor.


With a power factor of 1.0, given a constant power load, the 100% figure represents the required useful current. As the power drops from 1.0 to 0.9 power is used less effectively. Therefore, 11% more current is required than when the power factor was 1.0 to handle the same load. A power factor of 0.7 requires approximately 43% more current, while a power factor of 0.5 requires approximately 100% more (twice as much) as when the power factor was 1.0 to handle the same load. The graph below illustrates the relationship between power factor and total current consumed.

Fig.4.1: Current Vs Power Factor. It can therefore be seen that there are genuine reasons for improving the power factor of commercial/industrial premises by installing power factor correction capacitors.

Low power factor is a problem, which can be resolved by adding power factor correction capacitors to the plant distribution system. Capacitors work as reactive current generators "providing" needed reactive power (KVAR) into the power supply. By supplying their own source of reactive power, the industrial user frees the utility from having to supply it, and therefore the total amount of apparent power supplied by the utility will be less. Power factor correction capacitors reduce the total current drawn from the distribution system and subsequently increase the system's capacity by raising the power factor level.


A reduction in electricity charges, which depending on the individual premises, can range from 100's to 10,000's. High power factor eliminates utility power factor penalties, which may be applied to consumers with poor power factors. Such penalties can result in electricity bills for consumers being increased by anything up to 20%, depending on individual electricity companies. High power factor reduces the I2R losses of transformers and distribution equipment. A reduction in the heat in cables, switchgear, transformers, and alternators will also prolong the life of such equipment. Reduced voltage drop in cables, allowing the same cable to supply a larger motor and improving the starting of motors at the end of long cable runs. A return on investment for power factor correction is typically between 12 to 24 months.

5: Static Var Compensator.

Todays changing electric power systems create a growing need for flexibility, reliability, fast response and accuracy in the fields of electric power generation, transmission, distribution and consumption. Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS) are new devices emanating from recent innovative technologies that are capable of altering voltage, phase angle and/or impedance at particular points in power systems. Their fast response offers a high potential for power system stability enhancement apart from steady state flow control. Among the FACTS controllers, Static Var Compensator (SVC) provides fast acting dynamic reactive compensation for voltage support during contingency events which would otherwise depress the voltage for a significant length of time. SVC also dampens power swings and reduces system losses by optimized reactive power control. Power System Computer Aided Design/Electromagnetic Transients Direct Current (PSCAD/EMTDC) has been used in this paper to conduct simulations on voltage regulation at the point of connection of SVC to the system. However, the aim of this paper is to enhance voltage stability using Static Var Compensator at the event of occurrence of fault in the system.

5.1: Model of SVC with PSCAD Representation of Its Control.

In order to investigate the impact of SVC on power systems, appropriate SVC model is very important. In this section, SVC and its mathematical model will be introduced. SVC is built up with reactors and capacitors, controlled by Thyristor valves which are in parallel with a fixed capacitor bank. It is connected in shunt with the transmission line through a shunt transformer and thus, represented in Fig.5.1.1. Fig.5.1.2 shows the equivalent circuit at which SVC is modeled.

Fig.5.1.1: Functional diagram of SVC.

Fig.5.1.2: Equivalent circuit of SVC.

The model considers SVC as shunt-connected variable susceptance, BSVC which is adapted automatically to achieve the voltage control. The equivalent susceptance, Beq is determined by the firing angle of the thyristors that is defined as the delay angle measured from the peak of the capacitor voltage to the firing instant. The fundamental frequency equivalent neglecting harmonics of the current results in [4]:

As the reactive power demand at the bus varies, the susceptance is varied subject to the limits. However, the reactive power is a function of the square of the bus voltage. Hence the reactive power generated decreases as the voltage decreases. The SVC can both absorb as well as supply reactive power at the bus it is connected to by control of the firing angle of the thyristor elements. By controlling the firing angle of the 170 thyristors (i.e., the angle with respect to the zero crossing of the phase voltage), the device is able to control the bus voltage magnitude. Changes in results in changes on the current and hence, the amount of reactive power consumed by the inductor. When = 90, the inductor is fully activated but is deactivated when = 180. Actually, the basic control strategy is typically to keep the transmission bus voltage within certain narrow limits defined by a controller droop and the firing angle limits (90 < > 180).

Fig.5.1.3: A 230kV power system with SVC connected at bus 3. Fig.5.1.3 shows a 230kV power network to which SVC is connected at bus 3. The power system comprises a generator generating 16kV which is stepped up by a transformer to 230kV. This voltage is transmitted via the transmission line to bus 3.

5.2: Functional benefits of the Utility SVC.

Reduction of harmonics:

Non-linear loads generate harmonic currents. The harmonic currents load the network and lead to voltage distortions. Distorted voltage may cause malfunctions in sensitive computerized devices and other process control equipment. The filter circuit of the Utility SVC system is designed to absorb harmonics generated by loads as well as by Thyristor Controlled Reactors

(TCR). The total harmonic distortion (THD) and individual harmonic voltages are limited to below specified levels.

Power transfer capacity increases:

Transmission of reactive power leads to significant voltage drops and current increases in the network, which limits the transmission capacity of active power. Utilities can maximize their transmission line capacities by compensating reactive power. The Static Var Compensator maintains the demand of reactive power within the limits set by utilities.

Voltage stabilizations unbalance loads:

Loaded non-transposed lines will create voltage unbalance. The unbalanced voltage causes reduced efficiency, overheating, noise, torque pulses and speed pulses to motor operations. The Utility SVC operates in single-phase control mode, thus balancing the voltage.

Flicker reduction:

Rapidly varying reactive power causes voltage fluctuations at the point of the common coupling. The human eye perceives this frequency of voltage fluctuations as flickering lights. The SVC will reduce flicker.