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power factor correction
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 15:27:38 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: mo () ccr org (Mike O'Dell)
Date: August 18, 2008 12:51:11 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: power factor correction

the Europeans certainly started it, but their focus on true
efficiency has required builders of switching power supplies
(used pervasively in PCs, for example) to provide power-factor
correction (PFC).  of course that takes a few more parts, so
one can often buy them with and without PFC if bought outside
the EU. since the US doesn't currently have consumer PFC
requirements, most consumer products don't pay for the extra
parts, or at least that's been the case in the past. US products
shipped to the EU do have to meet the PFC requirements, so
it's not like US mfgs are unfamiliar with the technology.

non-european compact flourescent lamps usually have poor power
factors because they use switching power supplies and as a
result of the lack of US PFC requirements. this does put the
problem back on the grid where reactive power must be created
and managed to maintain grid voltage stability. achieving
unity power-factor at the house power entrance would be a good
idea, but it has so far been resisted since there has been
no regulatory requirement to share the pain.


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