Power Factor Correction

Capacitive Power Factor correction is applied to circuits which include induction motors as a means of reducing the inductive component of the current and thereby reduce the losses in the supply. There should be no effect on the operation of the motor itself.

An induction motor draws current from the supply, which is made up of resistive components and inductive components.

The resistive components are:

  1. Load Current
  2. Loss Current, and the induct

The inductive components are:

  1. Leakage Reactance
  2. Magnetizing Current

The current due to the leakage reactance is dependent on the total current drawn by the motor, but the magnetizing current is independent of the load on the motor. The magnetizing current will typically be between 20% and 60% of the rated full load current of the motor.

The magnetizing current is the current that establishes the flux in the iron and is very necessary if the motor is going to operate. The magnetizing current does not actually contribute to the actual work output of the motor. It is the catalyst that allows the motor to work properly. The magnetizing current and the leakage reactance can be considered passenger components of current that will not affect the power drawn by the motor, but will contribute to the power dissipated in the supply and distribution system.

Take for example a motor with a current draw of 100 Amps and a power factor of 0.75 The resistive component of the current is 75 Amps and this is what the KWh meter measures. The higher current will result in an increase in the distribution losses of (100 x 100) /(75 x 75) = 1.777 or a 78% increase in the supply losses.In the interest of reducing the losses in the distribution system, power factor correction is added to neutralize a portion of the magnetizing current of the motor. Typically, the corrected power factor will be 0.92 - 0.95.

Some power retailers offer incentives for operating with a power factor of better than 0.9, while others penalize consumers with a poor power factor. There are many ways that this is metered, but the net result is that in order to reduce wasted energy in the distribution system, the consumer will be encouraged to apply power factor correction.