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So after studying the power triangle and trying to conceptualize real power and reactive power, I seem to have come across a contradiction, at least in my own head. Most explanations disregard reactive power as "useless" power or power that we don't want to pay for. But then i came across the fact that reactive power is needed to control voltage. "In general terms, decreasing reactive power causes voltage to fall while increasing it causes voltage to rise." Well, aside from just believing it, i would like to see some type of mathematical proof that shows it? I know the equation for reactive power (Q)=VIsin(theta), but i don't see the relationship that shows reactive power helps control voltage.

Quote is taken from: https://electrical-engineering-portal.com/how-reactive-power-is-helpful-to-maintain-a-system-healthy

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you include a link to where you took your quote from? Or at least cite what book it is from? \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Oct 9 '19 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThePhoton yes, sorry. Just edited. \$\endgroup\$ – RiFF RAFF Oct 9 '19 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I count four basic English grammar errors in the headline and first two sentences of that article. It doesn't look like a professional source of engineering information. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Oct 9 '19 at 3:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThePhoton I would not rely on that source telling me how to connect an AA battery... \$\endgroup\$ – Solar Mike Oct 9 '19 at 6:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dreadful article. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Oct 9 '19 at 8:02
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Most explanations disregard reactive power as "useless" power or power that we don't want to pay for.

Such explanations are wrong. Sources of such information should probably be avoided.

"Reactive power" is a common term for reactive volt-amperes (VARs). Reactive volt-amperes have one very important use, they provide the magnetic fields for every electromagnetic mechanism. Induction motors represent most of the requirement for VARs, but transformers, AC solenoids and relays also require VARs.

Since VARs represent energy that is continually circulated back and forth between the source and load, the only power consumed is due to losses. That is a small amount and is measured as watts when it occurs on the consumer side of the meter. On the utility side of the meter, the losses are a concern for the utility. The utility is also concerned with the use of transmission capacity to carry current that is not delivering power.

Only synchronous generators and capacitors can provide VARs to magnetic loads. If capacitors are connected near the magnetic loads, that avoids the associated transmission losses and frees up generating, transmission and distribution capacity to provide more real power. However if too much capacitance is added to supply VARs, the utility must accept the extra VARs. Only synchronous generators and inductors can accept VARs from excess capacitance. Since utilities are not expecting excess capacitance, they are not prepared to add inductance. The synchronous generators may have difficulty with that kind of load. The result would be excess voltage.

"In general terms, decreasing reactive power causes voltage to fall while increasing it causes voltage to rise." Well, aside from just believing it, i would like to see some type of mathematical proof that shows it?

Since the statement is not entirely correct, there is no proof. Understanding what can happen requires studying the "V curves" for synchronous generators. It is also necessary to understand the various limits on the safe operating conditions for synchronous generators and transmission system component.

More re increased voltage

In order to overcome voltage drops in the transmission system, the voltage at the generator must be higher (on a percentage basis) than the voltage seen by a customer. If the customer had been "consuming VARs," adding capacitors would reduce the current and voltage drop in the transmission lines. That would tend to increase the voltage at the meter, but the utility would adjust the generator to keep the customer voltage within limits. If the customer begins to supply vars, that would tend to make the voltage higher at the customer location. To some extent, VARs supplied by one customer may be absorbed by other customers. That would tend to make that customer's voltage higher than the voltage seen by other consumers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the explanation. The concept makes much more sense. However, you said the statement quoted is not entirely correct. How would you phrase it properly? \$\endgroup\$ – RiFF RAFF Oct 10 '19 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It the reactive power demand is reduced, that would mean a reduction in current transmitted by the generator. That would reduce the voltage drop between the generator and customers. Therefore the generator voltage would be reduced in order to maintain a constant voltage at the customer meters. Reactive power doesn't "cause" the voltage to fall. But it might lead to a lower voltage at the generator. It is really an effect of use or non-use of power factor correction by customers. \$\endgroup\$ – Charles Cowie Oct 11 '19 at 0:19
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Current through an inductor causes a 90° phase-shifted voltage over it. The more current, the more voltage, the more reactive power.

In contrary to a resistor, neither the reactive power nor the induced voltage is lost to the circuit as heat, so you can do neat things with it. The simplest example are autotransformers. Look that up. A more complicated example are quadrature boosters used to control power distribution in parallel pathes of an electrical grid.

More into theory, transformers and AC induction motors cannot function without inductive reactive power as they need a magnetization current for their function.

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