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The power required by the appliance is directly proportional to the current,voltage, power factor. If the power factor is low, more current is required to supply the rated power of the appliance hence the ohmic losses increase. Therefore the efficiency decreases and the voltage regulation increases which is bad for the power company as well as the consumer.


In the study of alternating current [that which supplies our homes and businesses in the United States], it will be observed that there are alternating waves of both voltage and current.

In a circuit with purely resistance load, the waves of current and voltage are in exact phase relationship to each other. This means that when the voltage is at it's peak, the current flow is at it's peak as well.

An inductive load [coil] causes the current wave to lag or fall behind the voltage wave, so that the peak current flow is some time after the voltage wave is at it's peak level.

A capacitive load [capacitor] causes the current wave to lead or advance ahead of the voltage wave, so that the peak current flow is some time in advance of the peak of the voltage wave.

The consequence of this is that the AVAILABLE REAL POWER is the relationship between the current and voltage waves.

Resistive circuits have a power factor of 1.0, or unity, because the waves are in phase.

The more out of phase the relationship between voltage and current, the less efficient the use of available power, the more "waste" energy.

The less efficient the use of energy, the larger the size of transmission and generating equipment required to provide for energy needs, and the more costly the operation of utilization equipment.


The power factor of a device is what determines how much useful power is used out of the total amount of power which is supplied to it from the source.

A power factor as close to 1 as possible is desirable because then most of the power transferred from the source to the load is useful power.

1. If a device has a power factor much less than 1, that means more total input current must be supplied for a given output power dissipation and a more powerful source is required to deliver the required output power. This means the device must draw a higher amount of volt-amps (VA) compared to the actual load power it is delivering, which means its conversion of input power VA to output power VA is inefficient.

2. The closer to a power factor of 1 that a device has, the better the total current which has to be supplied will match the output from the device, and the more efficient it will be in its conversion of input power VA to output power VA.

For more information see the Related Link shown below.

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โˆ™ 2010-10-04 17:11:53
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Q: Is low power factor good or bad to the power company or consumer?
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