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April 14, 2022

What is Power Factor, and Why Does it Matter? 

What is Power Factor, and Why Does it Matter? 

When it comes to being a consumer, you want the maximum value for your dollar. In the modern economy, getting a great value comes down to knowledge and discernment during the buying process, and understanding what sets a brand apart. At Adventech, our Maxeff industrial motors are backed by third-party verification and have changed the face of electric motors as we know them. One of the ways that we accomplish this is by increasing the power factor in the motors we produce, which means there is no waste, and you (the consumer) are receiving maximum value. Here's what you need to know about power factor, and why it impacts your pocketbook:

What is Power Factor? 

Power factor is best explained as the ratio of working power, which is measured in kilowatts and defined as kW, to apparent power, which is measured in kilovolt amperes (kVA). The apparent power can also be called the "demand", and is the amount of power that is used to run a machine in a defined amount of time. The ratio of power to the apparent power flowing throughout is important because it demonstrates the efficiency of the power that is being used. The concept of Power Factor is also known as "real power", and it represents the ability for the electricity to reach its full capacity. 

Within an electrical power system, a machine using a lower power factor will be drawing more electrical current to accomplish a job than necessary, because it is inefficient. This causes higher costs and wasted energy in industrial consumers. 

Ideally, power factor would be scored at a 1.0, which would be perfect. However, that is nearly impossible to attain, so experts agree that a good power factor ranges between 0.85 and 0.95. Poor power factor is defined as anything under 0.85. Our Maxeff motors have a power factor of 0.98-0.99, well above the industry standard for "good". 

Why does this matter in industrial motors?

It's no secret that industrial motors use a lot of power. In a recent study, the Department of Energy found that electric motors consume over half of the electrical energy across the country. On top of that, electrical energy at industrial production facilities accounts for a whopping 85% of that number. By increasing efficiency of the motors that are being used (done by increasing the power factor in the motors), they can accomplish more work in less time, and decrease the amount of time the motors are running needlessly. In 2019, energy research company Sphera found that 96-99% of the environmental impact that comes from using an industrial motor happens during the usage stage. This means the design and efficiency of a machine is what sets it up for success, and paints the picture of how it will behave during its lifetime. Minimizing the instances of motors that are idly running is one of the most important things you can do to decrease your environmental footprint, and keep your costs down. 

Having a better power factor also can reduce losses in equipment and upkeep. Poor power factor can cause high heat gains, leading to voltage drops and can shorten the lifespan of these expensive pieces of equipment.

What is Reactive Power and why does it matter?

When a motor has a poor power factor, it's important to correct it to increase efficiency. Typically on regular motors, this is done using a passive or active correction. On the industrial level, the active correction is frequently used, which involves adjusting the time and duty cycles to sync up the input volts and currents. This syncing provides a correction to the input voltage and can boost a power factor up to 0.95. However, this method is quite expensive and requires multiple components. Traditional motors have to power correct by filtering out reactive power. Maxeff motors do not filter out reactive power, but instead can use reactive power as power so no filtering is necessary.

This distinction is important because reactive power works together with active power, and once the active power is used, the reactive power can remain in the grid as "waste". If this reactive power cannot be removed from the grid (or used up), the system will remain out of balance, causing utility providers to issue penalties for under-performance. By avoiding these reactive power issues, Maxeff has eliminated this problem completely. 

How do Adventech's Maxeff motors save us money?

Recent studies show that each year, over 30 million industrial motors are sold throughout the United States, with over 300 million currently in use in the manufacturing industry. We understand that for most companies, figuring out how to reduce cost is a priority. An additional 2022 study showed that many companies look at the initial expense of an efficient and environmentally-friendly machine, and balk at the cost. This study points out that although the cost to outfit or revise your company's machines may seem high, it's important to project costs out over the years ahead and the lifetime of the motors. This can help you see the savings over time, which are often much lower than you may realize. 

Electrical Construction & Maintenance Magazine also found that the purchasing decisions are often made at the plant level, where teams are working daily to improve effectiveness and workload, and that there is a low understanding amongst managers and facilities about how much they may be losing by using machines with low power factor. They recommend educating and working with your team to identify the areas where money is being lost. At Adventech, we see an average improvement of 15-30% in efficiency, and can provide actual ROI numbers with data provided to use by our customers. 

Here are two important ways that switching to a motor with high power factor can save you more:

  • In order to reduce their own losses, most electric companies charge more for low power factor. You may not even realize you are paying this charge each month. 
  • The branch capacity of your electrical system will increase. With uncorrected power factor problems, you can experience voltage drops. These cause shortened lifespans of motors or other inductive equipment pieces. The repairs and maintenance are quite costly. 

Who is a good candidate for an Adventech Maxeff motor? 

We currently have over 3000 motors in use across the globe, and that number is growing every day. Anyone who is hoping to improve efficiency in their industrial motors is a good candidate for one of our motors, but we primarily see users who operate pump drives, cooling towers, fan units, or bag houses.

How do I increase my Power Factor in an existing motor? 

Perhaps you are just now learning about the improvements you can make in energy efficiency and cutting costs½that's okay! Our experienced team also specializes in converting existing motors to our advanced technology. This can be done to most motor frames. The process to rebuild your existing motor begins with a customized consultation, where we get to know you, and what you need from your conversion. If we find that it's a good fit for application and environment, we will inspect it and begin stripping it down to rebuild. Most of our rebuilt motors come with a 2 year limited warranty, which gives you peace of mind. 

How do I get started? 

Whether you are looking to get started with a Maxeff motor, or wanting to convert your existing motors to cut costs, we are here for you. We start all of our processes with a custom quote and consultation, since every company's needs are so unique. You can begin this process by filling out our contact form HERE

We stand behind the quality of our motors, and we have the research to back it up. Our motors are a real and tangible solution to wasted energy, and you can see and read customer data sheets right on our website. If you're tired of losing valuable profits to poorly performing equipment, contact us today to get started. 



Find out if Maxeff Technology is right for you.

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