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Power Factor Correction Challenge

Learn everything you need to know about PFC is 15 minutes or less! 

Power Factor Correction Challenge

Learn everything you need to know about PFC is 15 minutes or less! 

1. What is the problem with electricity in Southern Africa?

Every year in Southern Africa 100’s of Millions of kw’s of electricity (almost $5 billion dollars in value) is lost and wasted.

If you own or operate a business in Southern Africa, you are the one paying for these ever increasing losses.

Total Electricity Losses by Country

  • Zambia: $57 Million/year
  • South Africa: $2.7 Billion/year
  • Zimbabwe: $17 Million/year
  • Kenya: $1.2 Billion/year


In other countries like the UK and Northern Europe the electricity infrastructure has received continual investment and development.

But in Africa the electricity infrastructure is outdated, poorly maintained and leaking like a bucket full of holes.

Across Southern Africa 100’s of Millions of kw’s (billions of dollars in value) are lost every year. This waste of electricity is called a Reactive Loss – we also call it Power Factor.


ZESCO conducted their own Power Factor surveys since 1995. And according to their report “80 percent of the clients surveyed operate at a Power Factor of 0.5 to 0.8” – meaning 8 out of 10 companies in Zambia are losing somewhere between 20% and 50% of all the electricity they purchase.

Companies like yours pay for this electricity (it passes the meter), but then it is lost.

Our own detailed measurements (carried out in Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya) show an average Reactive Loss of 22%.

Some of the companies we helped were losing 40% of all the electricity they buy.

2. Is the problem getting better or worse?

Still no proper investment in infrastructure – Southern Africa continues to lose billions of dollars worth of electricity every year.

Instead of solving the problem at source, power companies respond with price increases, fines and penalties.

  • ZESA Zimbabwe: 2019 electricity prices increase by 320%. 2021, another 30% increase.
  • ESKOM South Africa: in the last 10 years prices have roughly tripled. Expected to rise a further 25% by 2022.
  • ZESCO Zambia: 2015 electricity prices increased by 187%. 2017 increased by 50%. 2019 75% price increase. 2021 15% increase.

For some companies cost increases will be the difference between profit and loss. Survival or failure.

Using PFC equipment to control and minimise your costs is now more important, and more valuable than it’s ever been.

3. Is there a solution to this problem?

In the longer term, wide-scale infrastructure investment is the solution.

But for now the only solution that can help you to reduce costs and save money is Power Factor Correction (PFC) Equipment.

Power Factor Correction in Action

The video below shows our power factor equipment in operation on a 3 PHASE electricity supply in Zambia.

Before the OPP unit is switched on, you see the L3 measurement drops as low as 0.73 in places, meaning that 27% of supply was being lost on that phase.

Remember it makes no difference whether the energy escapes, or you use it to work your machines. Either way, you have to pay.

When the PFC unit is switched on (around the 12 second mark) it immediately begins to correct the supply. It takes about 10 seconds to make the necessary adjustments (correcting to Pf 0.99/1.00) meaning 99-100% of the supply is now being utilised. Almost zero wastage.

In this particular case, monthly electricity expenses were reduced by 18% and reactive penalties/fines were also completely eliminated from all future bills.

4. How does Power Factor Correction Equipment work?

Instead of your electricity becoming reactive/being wasted, PFC equipment uses capacitors to store the excess energy for you. 

You can think of capacitors like batteries that store power. But these are special batteries that charge very quickly. They absorb and store the excess power and then release it back into the system at the rate your machines need it. This way nothing is ever wasted again.

Another way to picture this is like an over-spill tank for water. So instead of your water/electricity overflowing and being wasted, the over-spill tank stores the water so it can be used later. This is what our Power Factor Correction Equipment will do with your electricity supply.

5. What difference will PFC make to my business?

1. The savings you will make

  • Save *25% on your phase 3 commercial electricity bills
  • Save *10% on your monthly diesel fuel generator expenses
  • Continue to control costs and make savings for years to come

*Key Benefits for your business may exceed the stated figures, subject to site survey, data logging and technical report.

2. Increase your capacity/Reduce Energy Consumption – kw/h losses

  • Remove Reactive Power Charge Penalties on Energy Bills
  • Reduce Availability & Capacity Charges on Energy Bills
  • Reduce Maximum Demand based Charges on Energy Bills

3. Reduce damage to your equipment and plant

  • OPP PFC equipment will extend the working life and reduce maintenance of pumps, air-conditioning plants, fridges, chillers and lighting rigs.
  • PFC also reduces damage/wear to power cables, switch-gear and supply transformers.

4. The environmental benefits of power factor correction

  • Reduce your carbon emissions and make your business cleaner.
  • 10’s of millions of tons of carbon emissions could be eliminated if all companies implemented appropriate power factor correction.

6. Who uses Power Factor Correction equipment?

You’ll find our equipment in steel production, tobacco processing, farm facilities, fisheries, abattoirs, dairies, food processing, cold room storage and even flower wholesalers. 

Our Power Factor Correction equipment is the only PFC equipment guaranteed to operate in the rigours of the African climate. Our standard units operate at altitudes up to 2000 metres above sea level and temperatures of up to 65C. Units to operate at altitudes above 2000 metres can be made upon request.

Our energy saving equipment has a typical pay-back time of 12 months. And it’s so good that every unit we supply comes with a Full 5 Year Guarantee.

7. Can OPP also reduce my diesel fuel generator bills?

Yes we can. OPP Power Factor Correction Equipment is the only technology available anywhere that works with diesel generators.

Our units produce minimum diesel fuel savings of 10%, some of our units have recorded savings of almost 30%.

The video below shows one of our units in operation.

When the Power Factor Correction unit is turned off (after 10 seconds), the load on the generator increases by around 22%. Which means that if they didn’t have this unit that generator would increase its fuel consumption by 22%.

You can see the bottom line measures Power Factor (PF). When the unit is on The PF is 99-100%, and when we switch it off it drops to 78%.

Calculate 22% off your own monthly diesel fuel bill – that’s the type of savings you’ll make with OPP.

8. Can OPP help to remove Reactive Charge Fines and Penalties from my electricity bills?

OPP Power Factor Correction targets power factor Pf 0.95 or better, which in most cases will remove reactive power charges and penalties from all your future electricity bills.

Reactive fines and penalties are already being imposed in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Any day now companies in Zambia and South Africa will also face the same fines/penalties/further costs increases.

Below you see a Zesco Bill with Reactive Penalty Charges included.

Electricity Bill 25,406ZMK. Power Factor Surcharge/Fine/Penalty 13,464ZMK – that’s a 53% increase in cost for this company.

9. What is the Typical Payback Period for an investment in Power Factor Correction?

The pay-back period for OPP power factor correction systems may shock you.

Our units pay for themselves (the savings they make) in months. Sometimes it’s even less than that.

To estimate your savings and the pay-back on your investment in Optimised Power Products PFC equipment, visit this page and use our PFC Calculators.

10. What do I need to think about when choosing my PFC supplier?

You need to think about the African climate and topography.

And you need to make sure that your PFC equipment is able to withstand the demands of extreme heat and high altitude.

11. What do customers say about OPP?

“We used to exhaust our 600 litres diesel fuel tank in 12-13 hours of continuous use. But since the installation of power factor correction from Optimised Power Products, the same tank of diesel now lasts 17 hours. This represents a saving of around 30%.”

– Gurende – Branch Manager at Pick n Pay Wholesale

“We have been using the Optimised Power Products PFC Unit and are very impressed by the results. We have realised a significant saving on our electricity bill, we use less Solar and our Generators are using about 10% less fuel. We now also run more machinery on the same Transformer since the PFC unit has freed up additional power.”

– Tinashe Mombeshora – Maintenance Manager at Novafeed Animal Feeds

“Since installation of OPP power factor correction the unit has given us great savings on our electricity bills. We are also very pleased with the service we received and are currently in the process of ordering further units for our other stores. It was very reassuring to be given a full 5 year warranty which no other company could offer us.”

– Niren Ramlaul – Operations Director at Spar Retail

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