# What is a Power Factor?

 By: Andy Electrician
 The power factor is defined as the ratio between kilowatts and kilo-volt amps that is drawn from the electrical load. The kilowatt is the actual load and the kilo-volt is the apparent load. This is how the current is measured to see if it is being converted to a working output. If you have a reading of a poor power factor, the result is a phase difference between the current and the voltage by the load terminals.The power factor is an involved subject that is recognized by a professional electrician and not as much by a person without an electrical background. Non-technical language might be easier to understand. The utility company supplies you with kilo-volt amps. However, they bill you for kilowatts. The formula is volts x amps x power factor = watts. This is how your utility bill usually looks when you get it in the mail.Some examples of the power factor are as follows: A 60-watt incandescent lamp divided by the power factor of 1.0 will equal 60-volt amps. A 13-watt fluorescent lamp with a magnetic adapter divided by the power factor .25 equals 64 volt-amps. The utility company still has to generate the same amount of volt-amps for magnetic adapter event though the fluorescent lamps are supposed to save money.The high power factor ballast needs ninety percent or more power but if the power required is lower than one, it is considered a normal power factor. The high power ballast is more efficient than the normal power ballast because it uses apparent power not metered power. If you use the high power ballast, you can have more fixtures per circuit.You use the watts supplied by the utility company in volt-amps. They bill you for watts even though you are using volts. You should hopefully have a better understanding of the power factor now than before.