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Real Power vs Reactive Power vs Apparent Power | Difference between Real Power, Reactive Power, Apparent Power

This page compares Real Power vs Reactive Power vs Apparent Power and mentions difference between Real Power, Reactive Power and Apparent Power.Real power is also known as true power or active power or actual power. The formula or equations are also mentioned.

The cosine of the angle value between voltage and current is known as power factor (PF).

real power vs reactive power vs apparent power

The figure-1 depicts relationship between these three types of powers. Let us understand these power types.

Real Power | True Power | Active Power | Actual Power

It is basically function of dissipative circuit elements. Usually resistors are dissipative in any electronic or electric circuit. It can be expressed as follows.
➨ P = I2*R = V2/R
➨ The unit of measurement of real or true or active power is Watts.

Reactive Power

It is basically function of reactive circuit elements. Usually inductors and capacitors are reactive in any electronic or electric circuit. It can be expressed as follows.
➨ Q = I2*X = V2/X
➨ The unit of measurement of reactive power is VAR (Volt-Amps-Reactive).

Apparent Power

It is basically function of total circuit impedance. It is combination of real power (P) and reactive power (Q). It is designated as 'S' in the figure-1.
➨ S = I2*Z = V2/Z
➨ The unit of measurement of apparent power is VA (Volt-Amps).

Also refer Power vs Energy to know the difference between power and energy.


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