Power Factor Correction techniques

Power factor correction
Power factor improvement aims to optimize the utilization of electrical power, reduce electricity bills, and also power losses in the circuit. In this article, We will discuss the Power Factor Correction Methods and techniques used in industries for power factor improvement. Here we will cover all the concepts related to Power factor correction such as What is power factor correction and Why Power factor correction requiredAll methods of power factor correction and its advantages and disadvantages, Power factor correction formula in detail. But before that, we have to clearly understand the concepts of power factor and the causes and disadvantages of low power factorI have already written an article on this topic. So please follow these articles through the given link.

What is Power Factor Correction?

Power factor correction is a technique of improving the power factor of an Electrical system near unity (1) by using extra electrical equipment that can absorb or supply reactive power to the circuit. Actually, the concept behind the power factor correction is the Reactive power compensation technique, which can be done by using a capacitor bank and synchronous condenser in parallel to the circuit.

Power factor correction will not affect the amount of true or real power of the circuit, whereas it will reduce the apparent power and reactive power in the circuit. It also reduces the total line current drawn by load and hence the burden of an electrical system. The main source of the low power factor is Inductive loads in the circuit, which normally operates at a very low power factor (0.2 – 0.3) at light loading conditions and rises to approx 0.8 at full load. Since low power factor has negative effects on the power system. So the techniques used to improve the power factor of the overall electrical circuit are known as Power factor correction.

Why Power Factor Correction?

To understand the concepts let us consider an example of a single-phase induction motor. It draws a total line current of 10 Amps at a power factor of 0.75. Then the useful current will be 10×0.75 = 7.5 A. Also, the useful power to the motor is 230 × 7.5 = 1.725kW. But the total input power of the motor that has to be supplied is 230 × 10 = 2.3 kVA. So without power factor correction, to achieve the required output of 1.725 kW (7.5 A) we have to supply a power of 2.3 kVA (10 A) to the motor. Also current of 10 A is flowing in the circuit but only 7.5 A of that current is producing useful output. Hence burden on the system and also the utility bill increases due to poor power factor.
Why power factor correction

There are so many benefits of power factor correction such as:

  1. Reduction in Electricity bill
  2. Reduction in copper losses of transformers and distribution equipment which increases the overall efficiency of the system.
  3. Reduction in voltage drop in the circuit which increases voltage regulation.
  4. It reduces the line current which decreases the burden on cables and also increases the life of the equipment.
  5. Penalties imposed by power utility companies (DISCOM) for poor power factor can be avoided.

Importance of power factor improvement

The improvement of power factor is very important for both consumers and generating stations as discussed below:

  • For consumers: A consumer has to pay electricity charges for his maximum demand in kVA plus the units consumed. If the consumer improves the power factor, then there is a reduction in his maximum kVA demand and consequently, there will be annual savings due to maximum demand charges. Although power factor improvement involves extra annual expenditure on account of p.f. correction equipment, yet improvement of p.f. to a proper value results in the net annual saving for the consumer.
  • For generating stations: A generating station is as much concerned with power factor improvement as the consumer. The generators in a power station are rated in kVA but the useful output depends upon kW output. As station output is kW = kVA × cos φ, therefore, number of units supplied by it depends upon the power factor. The greater the power factor of the generating station, the higher is the kWh it delivers to the system. This leads to the conclusion that the improved power factor increases the earning capacity of the power station.

Power Factor Correction Formula

As we discussed in my previous Article, A low power factor is mainly due to lagging current drown by the inductive loads. So before moving to the methods of power factor correction, please note the following points.

  • For the pure inductors, the current lags behind the voltage by 90 degrees.
  • For a pure capacitor, current leads the voltage by 90 degrees.
  • So it is simply that if we use a capacitor in parallel to draw the leading current we can cancel the effect of lagging inductive current. Hence we can improve the power factor of the circuit.

Power Factor Correction methods

The various techniques of Power-factor improvement are as follows:
  1. By using a capacitor bank
  2. By using a synchronous condenser
  3. By using phase advancer

Power factor correction by using a capacitor bank

Power factor improvement techniques
In this method, A bank of capacitors is connected in parallel across the load. Since the capacitor takes leading reactive power, Overall reactive power taken from the source decreases. Hence the system power factor improves. A control system is usually provided to monitor the power factor of the system and switches the capacitor ON and OFF as per requirement. Here Star and Delta connected capacitor bank is shown in the figure.
power factor correction by capacitor bank
Power factor correction by capacitor bank

Both connections improve the system power factor. But generally, a delta-connected capacitor bank is preferred for power factor improvement. Because in delta delta-connected system the capacitor value required per phase becomes one-third times (small in delta) of a star-connected system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of capacitor bank are mentioned below:

Advantages of Capacitor bank

  • Low losses.
  • Low maintenance.
  •  Lightweight.
  • No foundation is required. Hence Easy to install.

Disadvantages of Capacitor bank

  • Capacitors get easily damaged due to over-voltage
  • Short life (8-10 years)
  • Once damaged,  the repair is costly and uneconomical.
  • Due to constant switching, switching surges and harmonics may be produced.

Power factor correction by Synchronous condensers

When a 3-phase synchronous motor runs in overexcited mode, it draws a leading current and behaves as a capacitor. Hence synchronous condenser is nothing but an overexcited synchronous motor running without mechanical load (at no load).

The most attractive feature of the synchronous condenser is that it gives dynamic power factor correction over a wide range of excitation. When under-excited, it operates at a lagging power factor and therefore absorbs reactive power from the bus. When overexcited it works at the leading power factor and generates reactive power therefore, it behaves as a capacitor. A static capacitor bank provides PF control in discrete steps whereas a synchronous condenser furnishes continuous control of power factor correction.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Synchronous condenser are mentioned below:

Advantages of synchronous condenser

  • Reliable and long life span (almost 25 years)
  • Flexible and continuous control of power factor.
  • Not affected by harmonics.
  • No switching required hence free from switching surges.

Disadvantages of synchronous condenser

  • It has more losses as compared to a capacitor bank
  • High maintenance cost
  • It produces Noise pollution
  • It has slow response due to the large time constant of its field circuit whereas the capacitor bank offers a fast response.
  • A synchronous condenser can be installed only at one place whereas the capacitor bank can be distributed at many places hence due to this the capacitor bank is more effective in controlling reactive power flow and voltage profile.
  • Uneconomical for below 500kVA.

Power factor correction by Phase Advancer

  • It can be used only for Induction Motors.
  • Since we know that stator winding of The induction machine draws lagging current from the mains supply.
  • Hence, to improve the power factor of Induction motor, we have to supply this lagging current from an alternative source. Therefore this alternative source is the phase advancer.
  • A phase advancer is basically an AC exciter, which is mounted on the same shaft of the main motor and connected in the rotor circuit. It supplies exciting ampere turns to the rotor circuit of induction motor at a slip frequency. So this way we can improves the power factor of the induction machine.
  • Another attractive feature of phase advancer is that if we supply more amp-turns than needed, the motor will operate in an overexcited state (at leading PF).
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Hey, I'm Satish Gupta an Engineer by profession and blogger by passion. I am writer and founder of this blog, Here I publish contents related to Electrical and Electronics Engineering..

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