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Thread: Are we charged for reactive power?

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    Default Are we charged for reactive power?

    Up to now, I thought not... but after accidentally watching ACA this evening I was made aware of what seems to be a power factor correction device that can be installed for $800 near the meter and then saves hundreds in your power bill.

    Can any body confirm this?

    I am aware of the mess that all the switched mode power supplies create in practically every appliance of today, but I was not aware that we are also charged for the poorly designed cheap crap.
    Power factors of 0.5 and less are probably now standard.
    Last edited by nomeat; 31-01-11 at 08:22 PM.
    This era of thoughtless consumption must end so we can encourage a world of creative geniuses rather than consumer idiots.




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    if it seems to be to good to be true it probably is
    i think Choice did a test of them a while back and said they were no good
    but i know in industry where you might draw a lot of power you can save and run a lot more efficiently if you can correct the lag between voltage and current

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    is this the one

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    No this is it



    This is their web site

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    What I am questioning at this stage is not the device itself but if domestic power is billed with the reactive component or not.
    From my knowledge, factories and hotels for example have a power factor penalty added to their power bill based on the machinery they use and what methods they use increase the power factor.

    Since when does this also apply to domestic users?

    If we are still billed upon effective power consumption then such a device can not reduce your electricity bill and is a scam that NBN's ACA show has fallen for.

    However electricity companies would be advised to sponsor such installations as up to now they had to cover the reactive loss, provided the device really works.
    This era of thoughtless consumption must end so we can encourage a world of creative geniuses rather than consumer idiots.


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    Interesting read if you have time


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    I got home night and the wife was telling me how much we could save because of thes amazing thing they saw on ACA.

    vnboost's post is fantastic!

    Power Factor correction is something that is used to reduce losses in transmission grids and large commercial buildings.
    Easiest way of thinking about it is the good old glass of beer - you can go to the pub and the bartender gives you a nice glass of beer with a small head, you pay your $5 and all's good - effectively your glass of beer has a power factor of .95 - nealy all beer with very little waste. Now the same bartender gives you a glass of beer half head half beer and charges you $5 and you feel ripped off - your glass of beer has a power factor of .5, still a full glass of beer - but only half of it is useable product

    For the Electricity company - they would like a powerfactor of unity - the glass full of beer, because then they can sell the whole product. As for us - as their metering system doesnt really accomodate kVar or Var then it isn't going to make a great difference.

    As for the engineer designing a complete building, working out what the reqirements are going to be - a low powerfactor can make a considerable difference to infrastructure cost as the glass needs to sized correctly for the amount of good beer - eg substation size, mains, sub mains and maximum demand

    hope this makes it a little clearer




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    Last edited by freakee1; 01-02-11 at 09:34 AM.
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    the new smart meters can do kwh and kva and report power factor ect
    what do these measure and bill?

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    Energy wholesalers have been threatening to charge for reactive power for years. Commercial premises may have maximum demand meters which measure max current over the billing period and impose fines if max demand is exceeded. As these meters measure current only, power factor can have a significant effect.

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    you will find that all energy retailers have a kVa tariff - good candidate would be Maccas - mostly resistive load (fryers & cookers) some inductive load (fridges) good powerfactor and rewarded with a better tariff rate - especially with all maccas franchises becoming a combined contract

    The issue is the cost of the smart meter but as people start to change over then I supose there is no reason why domestic tariffs can't include power factor. "Time of use" tariffs were unheard of 10 years ago but becoming part of life for some

    just a matter of time especially with the push to have a smart grid and smart technology being sold to Network owners and Retailers trying to get the most of a minimal market



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    Last edited by freakee1; 01-02-11 at 11:52 AM.
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    I can't even ring my friggin' electricity supplier to find out, as they are in the process of going commercial and the number on my bill is disconnected. They are obviously too busy finding ways of turning a government institution into a profitable business by heavily increasing the charges.

    Vnboost, your link is related to consumers in the USA where they seem to be billed for effective power, but what is going on in Australia?

    Freakee, I am fairly certain that our local supplier(formerly known as County Energy) already has the equipment installed to measure and report reactive. I have not seen any mechanical meters for ages.

    Z9zzzzzz, only a threat, that is interesting, but do you really know that they don't bill us (domestic users) already with the modern meters that we have installed?

    If I can get 100% confirmation with references that we are still billed effective in NSW at least, I might actually try to contact NBN myself and report that the are supporting a scammer. ACA is supposed to protect consumers from such!!!
    This era of thoughtless consumption must end so we can encourage a world of creative geniuses rather than consumer idiots.


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    If your meter and bill say kWh this clearly indicates that reactive power is not included. Otherwise it would have to say kVAh. Reactive power is imaginary. I think if the retailers tried to charge for something which is imaginary the lawyers would have a field day with them.
    Last edited by z9zzzzzz; 01-02-11 at 02:01 PM.

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    That is what I thought too, however I have doubt that the office workers who compose these bills even know the difference between kW/h and kVA/h.

    There seems to be now quite a few comments further down on that ACA page
    which suggest that we are NOT charged for reactive and therefore this nothing but an expensive scam... but plenty more of the desperate ones trying to find out where they can get it.

    I am wondering if ACA will eventually admit their mistake and those who ordered upon the show can claim their loss from Ninemsm due to misleading promotion.
    This era of thoughtless consumption must end so we can encourage a world of creative geniuses rather than consumer idiots.


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    Cool

    Feel free to slap me around if I'm wrong but haven't you blokes got it arse about face. A reactive load will actually cause the meter to read low since the voltage & current are not in phase. I remember about 20 yrs ago they were going to try to make you pay to install PF correction capacitors if you used an electric welder

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    Quote Originally Posted by z9zzzzzz View Post
    Reactive power is imaginary.
    beg to differ

    it is real - but not in a way that can affect the normal person - millions are spent each year by Transmission companies installing very large capacitor banks on their EHV systems




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    Quote Originally Posted by watchdog View Post
    Feel free to slap me around if I'm wrong but haven't you blokes got it arse about face. A reactive load will actually cause the meter to read low since the voltage & current are not in phase. I remember about 20 yrs ago they were going to try to make you pay to install PF correction capacitors if you used an electric welder
    ummm sort of incorrect - the Guys wanting you to buy the Powersaver would almost cry hearing that, their claim is that you are currently paying for bad power and this thing will fix it

    in reality - you are using power and paying for what you use (whole current metering), whether your appliances cause bad power or not, going back to the beer analogy, if you wanted a 10oz beer and you were poured 10oz beer in a 20oz glass and the rest was head, and the bartender charged you for 10oz, you wouldn't care - blow the head away and drink the 10oz, but the licencee wouldn't be happy seeing his bartender wasting beer - and back to the power companies - the only thing power factor correction in a domestic sence makes happy is the power companies


    and capacitors installed on a circuit with a welder just removes the little dips the neighbours see - again another win for the power company



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    Last edited by freakee1; 01-02-11 at 06:09 PM.
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    I'm not sure if this will make it clearer or more confusing. Reactive power is definitely imaginary. It does no work and therefore cannot be real power. However it does cause an increase in the current circulating within the system. The supply authorities have to upscale their infrastructure to carry this extra current. This means that low power factor does cost them money. In an individual domestic premises the difference in current is not significant. The combined effect of many users running at low power factor could be significant but a properly designed distribution system should (and did before privatisation) be able to cope. As all systems should have adequate redundancy to cope with future expansion. As the original infrastructure was paid for by tax payers, there should be no need apart from greed to expect users to pay for this. In any case this would only contribute to an increase in the supply charge not the per unit of energy charge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by z9zzzzzz View Post
    I'm not sure if this will make it clearer or more confusing. Reactive power is definitely imaginary. It does no work and therefore cannot be real power. However it does cause an increase in the current circulating within the system. The supply authorities have to upscale their infrastructure to carry this extra current. This means that low power factor does cost them money. In an individual domestic premises the difference in current is not significant. The combined effect of many users running at low power factor could be significant but a properly designed distribution system should (and did before privatisation) be able to cope. As all systems should have adequate redundancy to cope with future expansion. As the original infrastructure was paid for by tax payers, there should be no need apart from greed to expect users to pay for this. In any case this would only contribute to an increase in the supply charge not the per unit of energy charge.
    YES!!!!!!!!



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    i think with commercial premises the ( compulsory ) Smart Metering rollout only applies to the office areas and not the rest of the premises. office areas under a certian size sq m are not included.

    we had some company called Ecoview audit our switchboards last week , thats the way it was explained to me , im no sparkie.

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    The standard metering for domestic premises is kWh only so you're not going to get any advantage from increasing your power factor except to reduce the current in the mains. Power factor is important if you have industrial premises with MDI (maximum demand metering) which measures your peak demand current and uses that figure to determine your usage.

    Decades back, the supply authorities subsidised capacitor installations in industrial sites for power factor improvement but huge problems of resonance with localised catastrophically high voltages were created because those sites never switched their caps off when their active load was down (overnight for example). The original sales pitch was that the caps paid for themselves in a short time but it was more about decreasing transmission current loading and delaying the need to upsize transmission lines and transformers.

    Unity power factor which is a resonant condition is very bad on distribution systems (series tuned circuit) so those subsidies were quickly stopped and the cap banks removed. Transmission systems still use capacitor banks but they're switched in & out (often automatically) as needed to control system voltage profiles within limits.

    The bottom line is there's no advantage to a domestic customer in improving their power factor unless they're being billed on maximum demand current and I've never heard of this being done for standard home services. Industrial supplies for highly inductive loads with consequent lousy power factors is another matter altogether.

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