Application Note: Harmonics and Utility Costs

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In this age of electronics, most modern electrical equipment has embedded microprocessors and electronic circuitry to increase functionality and efficiency. This type of equipment generally represents a nonlinear load resulting in nonsinusoidal line currents, which are rich in harmonics. Moreover, modern LED lighting generates line current harmonics. Nonlinearities of magnetic fields in transformers and rotating air gaps create some harmonics as well. The objective of this Application Note is to briefly show how these types of harmonics in a customer's facility affect utility-measured quantities and costs. For simplicity and ease of reading, the laborious math associated with the concepts presented here will be omitted.

Readers are encouraged to read Dataforth's two Application Notes on RMS measurements as reference background for this Application Note; both documents contain some background calculations that one might find refreshing. See References on page 5.