Article appearing in "Facilities Today", May 2009 Issue
Lightning Supression Systems
480V - 1200AMP Meter Main to be replaced at COSMO International
POWER FACTOR $
Most people have never heard of "Power Factor" and I wonder if the power companies prefer it that way.
Hearing about the Power Factor (PF) is one thing, but understanding it is another. Simply put, if your PF is low then you are paying FP&L for electricity that you do not and cannot use. Moreover, this power that you cannot use is working against you by causing your A/C compressor, fan motors, pump motors, magnetic ballasts, and transformers to produce electrical "friction" and run hotter than they should; thus reducing the useful life of the electrical devices by 5% - 15%.
In trying to understand the complexities of the PF and its sinister twin harmonics, I have read and researched the subject, talked with experts and studied the phenomenon until I experienced brain hemorrhaging. I'll try to explain it to you without the pain or inducing any bleeding.
Why is it so important?
If you can correct the problem, you can save between 8% - 25% off your electric bill and extend the life of your equipment.
Electrical power in a textbook is very clean and well behaved. In reality, as electricity is transported, and transformed from very high voltage, run through main panels, breakers and subpanels and finally to the point where work is to be performed well let's just say the phases, frequencies, voltages and amperages don't look or behave very much like the stuff in the textbook. By analogy, if two people are pushing a car and one pushes hard then the other pushes hard, but never in concert, then both people will have to do a lot more work (low PF) than if both push hard on the count of three!
Low PF means the power elements are not working together properly and you are paying too much for the power you utilize. For example, a 70% PF takes 35% more current than a 95% PF to do the same work. As for the cost of the correction capacitors, engineering design and a proper installation, you may expect your savings to pay for the entire system in 1 - 2 years of operation. Example Return on Investment: For an electric bill of $7,400 a month. With a $19,000 system, your projected savings over 25 years is $1,014,000. (Presumes a 4.5% per year increase in FP&L rates).
CAUTION! There is a lot of interest in going "Green" and correcting your PF is an excellent way to save money and use less power. The problem is that it is not a "cookie-cutter" operation and every installation is different. Your facility and power usage will first have to be analyzed for the possibility of savings and then the "correction capacitors" will have to be properly sized to the circuit load. There are also installation options at the load or at the panel and operational / reliability issues involving the devices themselves.
BUYER BEWARE! We believe that some of the devices being marketed have questionable effectiveness and some are just down right scams. Be careful to use a reputable company, get references, and to be extra cautious, pay for an independent engineering analysis.
All Pro Electric is offering free energy audits for the month of June for customers with an average electrical bill in excess of $3,000. The audits measure the facility's power factor and sample sufficient A/C units, motors and transformers for the power data necessary to reliably project the range of potential savings. (audits are schedule limited to the month of June)
John Cockerham is the President of ALL PRO ELECTRIC, providing a
variety of electrical and energy management services to Property Managers
in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. For information on their capabilities,
rates and customer references you can visit their website at http://www.allpro-electric.com
A L L.. P R O.. E L E C T R I C ..S E R V I C E S, ..I N C.