Understanding power factor is not that hard. We have some very common example from the real life you will understand for sure, but first let’s start with some introduction of power factor.

**To understand power factor, we’ll first start with the definition of some basic terms:**

**kW** is * Working Power* (

*also called Actual Power or Active Power or Real Power*). It is the power that actually powers the equipment and performs useful work.

**kVAR** is * Reactive Power*. It is the power that magnetic equipment (

*transformer, motor, relay etc.*) needs to produce the magnetizing flux.

**kVA** is * Apparent Power*. It is the “

*vectorial summation*” of KVAR and KW.

## Example From the Real Life ;)

Let’s look at a simple analogy in order to better understand these terms….

Let’s say it’s friday evening, and you are with your friends at your favorite pub after really hot day. You order up a big mug of your favorite beer for you and for your friends. The thirst-quenching portion of your beer is represented by KW (* the big pic on top*).

*Along with your ale comes a little bit of foam. (*

**Unfortunately, life isn’t perfect.***And let’s face it…that foam just doesn’t quench your thirst.*) This foam is represented by

*.*

**KVAR**The total contents of your mug, KVA, is this summation of KW (* the beer*) and KVAR (

*).*

**the foam**So, now that we understand some basic terms, we are ready to learn about power factor:

**Power Factor (P.F.) is the ratio of Working Power to Apparent Power.**

Looking at our beer mug analogy above, power factor would be the ratio of beer (* KW*) to beer plus foam (

*).*

**KVA****Thus, for a given KVA:**

- The more foam you have (
*the higher the percentage of KVAR*), the lower your ratio of KW (*beer*) to KVA (*beer plus foam*). Thus, the lower your power factor. - The less foam you have (
*the lower the percentage of KVAR*), the higher your ratio of KW (*beer*) to KVA (*beer plus foam*). In fact, as your foam (*or KVAR*) approaches zero, your power factor approaches 1.0.

Our beer mug analogy is a bit simplistic. In reality, when we calculate KVA, we must determine the “* vectorial summation*” of KVAR and KW. Therefore, we must go one step further and look at the angle between these vectors.

## Power Triangle

The “* Power Triangle*” illustrates this relationship between

*,*

**KW***,*

**KVA***, and*

**KVAR***:*

**Power Factor****Note that in an ideal world looking at the beer mug analogy:**

- KVAR would be
(**very small***foam would be approaching zero*) - KW and KVA would be
(**almost equal***more beer; less foam*)

There are dosen of tools and technical articles/guides published at EEP that can help you to understand power factor and its controlling. Hope these can help:

- Power Factor Correction Calculation (MS Excel Spreadsheet)
- Size of Capacitor For Power Factor Improvements
- How Power Factor Corection Works
- Capacitor Banks In Power System
- Economic advantages of power factor correction

**Resource:** powerstudies.com

I’m trying to use the power triangle to “do some beer math” but I am not getting the same answer. Using “beer math” (If KVA =300 Kw = 270 & PF= .9) my Kvar should be 30kw. Using the power triangle however, Kvar = √(300²-270²) which happens to equal 130.7 kvar. So I’m wondering what I’m missing because Kvar in beer math =30 but using the power triangle Kvar = 130. Help please, examples on this page would be helpful to explain finding a solution for Kvar/Kw/Kva would make understanding much easier. Thank you!

Beer glass analogy will impart wrong concept among the students as real power is vector sum of active power and reactive power but, beer glass analogy suggests real power as algebraic sum of active power and reactive power.Requesting to delete beer glass analogy to describe the power factor.

We have 2000KVAR shunt capacitor

We need to convert KW kindly workout formula and share me to given mail ID

33KV supply

HT current 75Amps

Thank you for the simplest explanation and beer analogy to help me understand P.F. As a non electrical engineer, this is a very handy information.

Thanks for the simple and easy explanation by the author and by the corrections by readers.