. We can determine how much reactive power your electrical devices use by measuring their power factor, the ratio between real power and true power. A power factor of 1 (i.e. 100%) ideally means that all electrical power is applied towards real work. Homes typically have overall power factors in the range of 70% to 85%, depending upon which appliances may be running. Newer homes with the latest in energy efficient appliances can have an overall power factor in the nineties. . The typical residential power meter only reads real power, i.e. what you would have with a power factor of 100%. While most electric companies do not charge residences directly for reactive power, it’s a common misconception to say that reactive power correction has no economic benefit. To begin with, electric companies correct for power factor around industrial complexes, or they will request the offending customer to do so at his expense, or they will charge more for reactive power. Clearly electric companies benefit from power factor correction, since transmission lines carrying the additional (reactive) current to heavily industrialized areas costs them money. Many people overlook the benefits that power factor correction can offer the typical home in comparison to the savings and other benefits that businesses with large inductive loads can expect. . Most importantly, you pay for reactive power in the form of energy losses created by the reactive current flowing in your home. These losses are in the form of heat and cannot be returned to the grid. Hence you pay. The fewer kilowatts expended in the home, whether from heat dissipation or not, the lower the electric bill. Since power factor correction reduces the energy losses, you save. . As stated earlier, electric companies correct for power factor around industrial complexes, or they will request How reactive power is helpful to maintain a system healthy | EEP ... 7 of 15 2/11/2015 9:10 AM
the offending customer to do so, or they will charge for reactive power. They’re not worried about residential service because the impact on their distribution grid is not as severe as in heavily industrialized areas. However, it is true that power factor correction assists the electric company by reducing demand for electricity, thereby allowing them to satisfy service needs elsewhere. But who cares? Power factor correction lowers your electric bill by reducing the number of kilowatts expended, and without it your electric bill will be higher, guaranteed. . We’ve encountered this with other electric companies and have been successful in getting each of them to issue a retraction. Electric companies do vary greatly and many show no interest in deviating from their standard marketing strategy by acknowledging proven energy saving products. Keep in mind that promoting REAL energy savings to all their customers would devastate their bottom line.