By Christopher T. Burke, P.E., Lead Electrical Engineer
Send your question to our team of experts.

Q: Am I being billed for "power factor." -- or what you call "reactive power?"

A: "Power Factor" is not a concern when discussing our residential power bills. Yes, we have motors running within our homes. Our refrigerators, furnace blowers, and air conditioner compressors contain the largest motors and exhibit the longest running times. Other motors we might have included well pumps, sump pumps, garbage disposals, and room fans. These motors, like all others, require a magnetic field in which to operate and therefore consume reactive power. So, why don't we care about the power factor at home?
Simply because our electricity supplier does not bill us for the reactive power required to operate these motors, this is universal across the nation (and probably around the world) for residential customers. So, at home, there is no additional cost.

The situation can be quite different for those responsible for paying the electric bill for a commercial or industrial facility. Not all, but many electricity suppliers have been...Read More>>>