Generator Power Factor?
The primary difference between kW (kilowatt) and kVA (kilovolt-ampere) is the power factor. kW is the unit of real power and kVA is a unit of apparent power (or real power plus reactive power). The power factor, unless it is defined and known, is therefore an approximate value (typically 0.8), and the kVA value will always be higher than the value for kW. In relation to industrial and commercial generators, kW is most commonly used when referring to generators in the United States, and a few other countries that use 60 Hz, while the majority of the rest of the world typically uses kVa as the primary value when referencing generator sets.
To expand on it a bit more, the kW rating is essentially the resulting power output a generator can supply based on the horsepower of an engine. kW is figured by the horsepower rating of the engine times .746. For example if you have a 500 horsepower engine it has a kW rating of 373. The kilovolt-amperes (kVa) is the generator end capacity. Generator sets are usually shown with both ratings. To determine the kW and kVa ratio the formula below is used. .8 (pf) x 625 (kVa) = 500 kW
The power factor (pf) is typically defined as the ratio between kilowatts (kW) and kilovolt amps (kVa) that is drawn from an electrical load, as was discussed in the question above in more detail. It is determined by the generators connected load. The pf on the nameplate of a generator relates the kVa to the kW rating (see formula above).
Generators with higher power factors more efficiently transfer energy to the connected load while generators with a lower power factor are not as efficient and result in increased power costs. The standard power factor for a three phase generator is .8.
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