Power Factor Testing: What It Is and How It Will Help Your Facility’s Electrical Equipment

By North Central Electric,

  Filed under: Electrical
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Whether you operate a casino, aviation center, power plant or oil facility, electrical power equipment can fail—no matter what your facility may be! Often, these failures occur because the insulation system is damaged, and regularly scheduling a power factor test can prevent them from happening. Not only can this test detect if there’s deterioration within the equipment, but through it will also tell you how quickly the deterioration is occurring by performing routine testing. Not sure what a power factor test is? The experts at North Central Electric have broken it down for you, so you can know what they are and why they’re so important for your facility.

An In-Depth Look at Power Factor Tests

Power factor tests are able to detect deterioration in electrical equipment because their sole purpose is to calculate dielectric losses. What this means is: if there is wetness, dryness or deterioration present in electrical insulation, this test will detect it and calculate its severity.

How Dielectric Losses Are Calculated

In a perfect world, insulation measures at an angle of 90°. However, no electrical insulation is perfect, and therefore, most have an angle that measures slightly under 90°. To obtain this measurement, calculate the ratio of the volt amperes (the “charging” current) with the watts (“leakage” current). A power factor test is one of the best methods for predictive and preventative maintenance because it is able to calculate the health of the insulation. Additionally, this method of testing enables the technician to pinpoint insulation issues without having to visually inspect the interior of the electrical equipment, meaning less cost and downtime for a facility.

The 3 Modes of Operation of the Power Factor Test Method

The power factor test is so effective because it uses AC voltage from three different types of operation. These are:

GST Guard: This voltage only calculates current that leaks to the ground, and the power factor test does not take note of current that flows through either the red or blue measurement leads.

UST: Unlike with the GST Guard Test, this one only calculates the current that is flowing through the red and blue measurement leads—anything that flows through ground is ignored.

GST Mode: This operation calculates the insulation between two ungrounded terminals of the equipment. It does so by isolating an area of insulation and testing it while ignoring other insulation that is connected.

If the electrical equipment in your facility has recently failed or it is time for you to schedule a power factor test for routine maintenance, the experts at NCE are here to help! Contact us today to schedule your power factor test.