Being a solar business, it’s important that we understand and educate our customers on power factor and how solar can sometimes have an undesired effect on power factor resulting in higher network demand charges. This article has been written to educate you on what power factor is and what we do as a business to ensure that installing solar will in no way negatively affect your energy bill.
What is power factor?
Power factor is a way of measuring efficient power usage. Put another way, it is a measure of how effectively the equipment at your site uses electricity. It is expressed as a numerical value between 0 and 1. The closer your power factor is to 1, the more efficiently the business is consuming electricity.
One way to understand power factor is to think of it as a glass of beer.
Power factor is the relationship between ‘real power’ (kW) – the liquid in the glass, and ‘apparent power’ (kVAR) – the liquid and the froth. Apparent power is your total usage, made up of real power (which is the part that does all the work) and ‘reactive power’. Reactive power contributes to your electricity bill but it is not actually used. In other words, a good beer includes the liquid and the froth, but it’s the liquid that does the important work. To get the best value from your beer, you want more liquid and less froth.
Why do businesses want to improve their power factor?
Networks charge large businesses for their apparent power, meaning they charge for the demand they place on the electricity grid. So, if you’re being charged a network demand charge, it pays to improve your power factor.
Power factor correction
Power factor correction may be required where a site has a power factor of less than 90% (or 0.9).
Thankfully it’s easy to correct your power factor. Simply install power factor correction (PFC) equipment called capacitor banks which work to correct energy supply inefficiencies, while also reducing peak demand on your electricity network.
How we ensure optimal power factor
When quoting your solar system, our engineers will review your interval data to determine the impact a solar system will have on your power factor. If it is determined that a PFC unit is required, this will be specified and priced into your proposal. It’s important to realise that a PFC unit will enhance your project’s payback period, not adversely affect it.
For more information, download our power factor correction solutions brochure or contact us using the form and we will get back to you by the next business day.