It’s a serious question we ask you.
Because as you’ll see in some cases companies like yours lose as much as 40% of all the electricity they purchase.
How is this happening, what is The Problem?
Electric is invisible so you can’t see it leaking, but imagine trying to carry water in a bucket full of holes. That’s what our electricity infrastructure is like: outdated, poorly maintained and leaking like an old bucket. 100’s of Millions of kWh are lost every year. Coming back to the bucket, if it was water leaking you might be up to your knees in it by now.
This waste of electricity is called a Reactive Loss. We also call it Power Factor.
A simple way to picture Power Factor in your mind: imagine filling your fuel tank with diesel and paying for the full tank. But unknown to you your tank has a hole in it. So before you get a chance to use the diesel 1/4 of it leaks out. If it was diesel you might see or smell it, but electricity is invisible so you don’t see it leaking. But like the diesel you do pay for it.
Sometimes the hole is even bigger and you leak more like half. And if you own or operate a business that consumes 3 Phase Electricity you could be severely affected by This Problem.
What is Power Factor? How do we lose all that electricity?
It happens when the current flowing through an electrical system is higher than that which is required to operate the electrical equipment.
The excess power escapes in the form of heat as the reactive current flows through resistant components like wires, switches and transformers. Keep in mind that whenever energy is used, you pay. It makes no difference whether the energy is used in the form of heat, or use it to power the machine as intended.
To determine the total amount of Reactive Power loss we use a measurement known as Power Factor (PF). The PF is simply the ratio between total power purchased and the power you get to use for the intended purpose. A power factor of 1 (i.e. 100%) means that all electrical power is applied towards real work, there is no reactive loss.
In other countries like the UK and Northern Europe the electricity infrastructure has received continual investment and development. But in Africa, you know the story, we get special treatment. According to Zesco’s own studies, Reactive Losses can sometimes be as high as 50%.
How much electricity are you losing?
Every business is different, and we’ve measured many over the years. The average loss over all companies we’ve recorded is 22%. We’ve worked with some companies that were losing as much as 40% of all their electricity. We’ve also surveyed companies who had very good power factor.
But the trouble is, you can’t know until you measure it.
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 measured are losing somewhere between 20% and 50% of all electricity.
It passes the meter, you pay for it, and then you lose it. And of course you need more to replace that which was lost.
What does this mean to You?
It really depends on the size of your company, the size of your annual electricity spend and your Power Factor.
But here are a few examples for you:
Company A spends ZMK 20,000 on electricity every month. They have an average Power Factor of 22%. Reactive losses amount to ZMK 53,000 every year. Our solution would cost that company around ZMK 75,000.
Company B spends ZMK 50,000 on electricity every month. They have an average Power Factor of 30%. Reactive losses amount to ZMK 180,000 every year. Our solution would cost that company around ZMK 130,000.
Company C spends ZMK 100,000 on electricity every month. They have an average Power Factor of 15%. Reactive losses amount to ZMK 360,000 every year. Our solution would cost that company around ZMK 170,000.
The companies above are fictional, but the numbers are not. If anything they are conservative.
What if Company C had reactive losses of 40%. That would amount to ZMK 960,000 every year.
Your company could be losing 40%, or your Power factor could be good. But the only way to find out is measure and test your PF. If nothing else it will give you peace of mind.
We can survey and measure your equipment for you. If you need to place an order with us, the survey fee will be refunded in full. To find out more here.
You’ll find more information about our Power Factor Solutions throughout this website.
For an informal discussion on how we can help your business and answer any questions you have, please use the CONTACT US page.