Challenges and trends in modern automatic power factor correction systems
18 May, 12:05
ENTES India country manager Mr. Aman Verma's article on power factor correction was published at T&D India.
You can read the article below.
PFC systems are very much integral to Power distribution systems ensuring reactive power compensation in Industrial and commercial establishments and there has been a lot of focus by all utilities as well as engineering organisations to impart adequate awareness amongst customers to incorporate appropriate PF systems and comply to latest regulations. In recent years scenarios such complex industrial applications, Automation, varying power supply, load patterns and increasing customer expectation with regard to simplicity of the system and communication capabilities has brought the need of APFC Systems which are not just robust, but also meet the above scenarios. In the entire Power correction systems, one of the most critical and so called “brain” of the system is the APFC Controller which needs to be smart enough to take care of all such aspects. Lets see the various challenges in modern APFC systems and the possible solutions.
1. With state utilities imposing penalties on leading Power factor along with lag PF, super fine step control is the need of the hour ensuring precise control. So what it means:
- a. Just standard 8 or 12 or 16 step control is not adequate. APFC Controllers needs to have as high as 20 or 24 steps for fine reactive power control.
- b. APFC Controllers should have the capability to switch reactors along with capacitors so as to have optimum control of reactive and capacitive loads
- c. APFC Controllers need to switch as low as 1 or 2 Kvar banks as well , for fine PF correction
2. Operation under extreme low loads is another challenge especially during night when most of the loads are switched off. APFC panel stops responding due to limitation in the sensitivity of APFC Controller. We need to have Controllers which can operate even at 4 to 5 mA currents.
3. With technology getting simplified in most gadgets around us , it is imperative that installation and operation of APFC panel should be also simplified and error free. This means APFC Controllers which incorporate Plug and Play and auto set up procedure which can check all connections automatically, fix the errors in case and put the panel in operation in few minutes.
4. With increased automation, power quality monitoring is need of the hour, for which customers install high end Power analysers which can monitor power quality parameters such as THD, individual harmonics in the system. Now we have advance APFC Controllers in the market which has inbuilt Power analyser so as to monitor current, voltage, Power, Energy, demand, THD and individual harmonics right upto 51st harmonic. This eliminates the need to put an additional Power analyser ensuring not just economies but also high reliability.
5. One of the key aspect in an APFC system is the health check of capacitor and switching devices. This means customer needs to know well in advance as to when the capacitors or contactors needs replacement, ensuring timely preventive maintenance and cutting down breakdown time. APFC Controllers now have the capability to measure real time capacitor values and operating life of contactors with adequate alarms.
6. Communication is another aspect which calls for all critical information to be available with customer as regard to APFC parameters such as power factor ratios, Energy consumption, voltage and current harmonics etc. So its not just that APFC Controllers needs to have communication capabilities, but also the platform for communication has to be simple and effective for the purpose of monitoring and control. There are cloud based PFC management softwares available where in end customer can see all critical information right on his/her screen and take necessary action in case need arises. Now remote monitoring, remote configuration and remote APFC maintenance is also possible through such innovative softwares and APFC Controllers ENTES Electronics is one of the global leader in the field of Power factor correction and energy management components / systems since 1980. ENTES started its Indian operation in 2018 and can be contacted for various APFC components and solutions.