Power Control Management

Power Factor Correction, Harmonic Filtering, Grid Protection

Auto Control Systems understands that the efficient use of electricity is important to your business, which is why we offer Power Management services. The Power Factor (PF) your business or plant runs at can have a huge impact on your day-to-day running costs. A poor PF unnecessarily adds to electrical inefficiencies and, as any business owner knows, inefficiencies cost money.

Power Factor Management through correction is a relatively unknown technology that can change the way you use electricity to both increase efficiency and reduce power costs. The following analogy using beer can be used to describe poor power factor:

We’ll first start with the definition of some basic terms:

  • kW is Working Power (also called Actual Power or Active Power or Real Power). It is the power that actually powers the equipment and performs useful work.
  • kVAR is Reactive Power. It is the power that magnetic equipment (transformer, motor, relay etc.) needs to produce the magnetizing flux.
  • kVA is Apparent Power. It is the “vectorial summation” of KVAR and KW.
  • The total contents of your mug, KVA, is this summation of KW (the beer) and KVAR (the foam).

Now that we understand some basic terms, let’s look at power factor:

  • Power Factor (P.F.) is the ratio of Working Power to Apparent Power.

Using our glass of beer, Power Factor is the ratio of beer (KW) to beer + foam (KVA). For a given KVA, the more foam you have (the higher the % of KVAR), the lower your ratio of KW (beer) to KVA (beer + foam), the lower your power factor. The less foam you have (the lower the % of KVAR), the higher your ratio of KW (beer) to KVA (beer + foam).

As your foam (or KVAR) approaches zero, your power factor approaches 1.0. Our beer mug analogy may be a little simplistic, but it highlights how electrical power can be used inefficiently, creating poor power factor.

Electric motors are often a cause of poor PF but this can be easily corrected by the connection of a Power Factor Correction Unit (PFCU).

Auto Control Systems will install a PFCU with a controller that will help manage the electricity that flows through your electrical system. Capacitors form a part of the PFCU and are connected to the electricity supply to help control power flow.

The Benefits

Power factor management avoids line losses which cause increases in power bills. The amount of current in a circuit correlates with the apparent power therefore the larger the current, the greater will be the heating and line loses in the cables supplying the load. When poor power factor is reduced, the current and the line losses fall as the apparent power approaches the real power. Some power companies will impose penalty fees for having a poor power factor (generally below 0.85) in an effort to encourage power factor correction. A typical ROI analysis of the installation of a power factor correction unit will generally show a pay back within 12 – 24 months.

How We Can Help

In an effort to help you overcome a potentially poor power factor, Auto Control Systems can install a logger in your main switchboard which, for 7-14 days will log your power use. The instrument then shows us measurements of voltage, current, active/reactive/apparent power, electrical harmonics, and several other valuable statistics. We use information from your recent power bills to use for comparative data and perform a cost-benefit analysis. Auto Control Systems also notes the details of your distribution board and incoming cables.

Once the data logging is complete, we remove the instrument and download the saved information. Scrutiny of that data then takes place to determine what power factor your business generates. This is imperative for us to be able to provide you with the right solution.

Following this data analysis, we provide an estimated cost to install a Power Factor Correction Unit or harmonic filter should the data indicate that it may be worth your consideration.

Auto Control Systems is dedicated to providing clients with innovative automation solutions customised to suit your specific application

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