NC State Extension

Power Factor – Defined

The ratio of real power consumed to the apparent power of the circuit. In a constant voltage system such as a residence the amount of current drawn corresponds to the apparent power while the amount of current required for useful power corresponds to the real power. Inductors and capacitors reduce the power factor and utility companies will charge customers if their power factor falls below a certain level. This is because excess current increases the energy lost in distribution and requires larger wires.

Written By

Photo of Laura LanghamLaura LanghamEnergy Conservation Program Manager (919) 515-8474 laura_langham@ncsu.eduAgricultural and Human Sciences - NC State University
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