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How do you

measure energy
consumption? Application Note

With energy costs high, and getting higher, many

facilities are trying to reduce their energy consumption.
Most have not previously analyzed their monthly energy
usage, traced it to operational components, or broken
out the utility fees. And until you understand how youre
using energy, its hard to make smart decisions on how
to reduce consumption.

Core components of the current, and then multiply

energy the two values to get demand
kiloVoltAmperes (kVA.)
If you havent measured energy This works for a simple single
before, take a minute to under- phase circuit where the load
stand how it differs from volts remains stable for the period
and current. When we talk of the two measurements. For
the utility, were talking about account for a few other elements.
two primary components: power
and demand. Power factor, imaginary
Power, kW, is commonly power, and harmonics
measured in Watts, which indi-
cate the rate at which energy Power factor. If the circuit is
is expended in one second. operating at 100 % efficiency
Watt-hours describe the total (which rarely happens), then
energy expended over other demand is also a measure of
time periods, such as a month, power. In reality, power (kW) is
as recorded for ac energy use usually less than demand (kVA).
by our electrical utilities. Watt- The difference, kW/kVA, is
hours measure actual work, such called power factor (PF). Utilities
as heating or cooling buildings, often collect a penalty charge
moving objects or liquids, etc. if PF falls below 0.95. Some
Demand, kVA, measures the utilities are setting the bar even
total requirement that a cus- higher. Remember: Low power
tomer places on the utility to factor is bad; high power factor
deliver voltage and current, is good.
without regard to the efficiency The typical industrial or com-
of that delivery or whether or mercial facility uses three phase
not it does actual work. energy distribution, and then
Now lets start measuring. Use uses that energy in a number
a regular digital multimeter with of waysto provide heating, Using a Fluke 1735 Power Logger to log power consumption at a
an accessory current probe to operate three phase motors and chiller to determine equipment efficiency.
measure the voltage and then motor drives, or handle single
phase loads such as computers Harmonic currents, reflected
and lighting. Three phases make back into the supply system, are
it harder to measure power or produced by the input rectifier
plan to use improved efficiency drives, computers, and similar
to reduce energy use. electronic devices. Harmonics
Imaginary power: Volt-Amps also reduce power factor.
Reactive (VAR) is a strange
type of current flow that pro- How to measure power
duces no work, but is present To measure real power, we need
on your electrical distribution a meter that can simultaneously
system. Its part of the difference measure voltage, current, and
between power and demand all the stuff mentioned above
and thus contributes to lowering that lies in-between, over a one
power factor. Its usually caused second period. A digital multim-
by motor inductance, and is eter cant do that. The solution
greater when those motors are lies in a power quality tool.
not loaded to their full capacity. Depending on the make and
A constant speed motor driv- model you select, you can test
ing a large air movement fan single phase, split-phase, three
is an example where mechani- phase (3 wire or 4 wire) mea-
cal dampers have been used to surement configurations, and
regulate air flow, making a fan measure or record, V, A, W, VA,
less efficient. This also reduces VAR, PF and Harmonics. Some
the load on the drive motor and of the recording models also
increases imaginary power in provide the means to record
the electrical supply system. measurements over time to
Many facilities opt to change report the energy readings used
their motor supply from direct by the utilitykWh, kVAh and
line drive to an adjustable speed kVARh (see Figures 1 and 2).
motor drive, so that they can The good news here is that
optimize the motors opera- these tools will account for all
tion and speed to its load. That of the issues mentioned above
optimization uses energy more and accurately report energy use
Setting up logging intervals.
efficiently in the fan and motor when it happens, as a function
and increases power factor. of instantaneous voltage and
current measurements over time.

Figure 1. Fluke 435 energy screen. The Energy tab allows you to Figure 2. Fluke 435 power screen. This is a real time view of all the
track accumulated kWh, kVAh, and kVARh. common power calculations. The kW, kVA, kVAR, PF, dPF, along with
Vrms are displayed for each phase and total. The symbol to the right
of kVAR indicates whether the load inductive or capacitive.

2 Fluke Corporation How do you measure energy consumption?

Getting started
start monitoring. Check your
Power (kW), Demand (kVA),
and the resulting Power Factor.
High PF is a good thing. Then
Harmonics. If they are both low,
then your power supply is pretty
pure and you should be running
relatively efficiently. In terms of
energy consumption, kW and
KVA are the values to compare
over time, as you make changes
Figure 3. PowerLog Energy. This 30-day load study graph allows us to view the kWh and within your facility to reduce
kVARh for each phase and total. An averaging period can also be selected to help match the consumption.
billing period used by the local utility (typically 15 minutes).

If you really want to save

Timing It gets a little more compli- money
cated with motors, variable
Heres the last complication. You speed motor drives, and com- So yesyou could use your
can only measure energy as the puters, but if you measure the multimeter to measure voltage
work that your electrical system power usage for one hour and and current, make your calcula-
delivers to your loads, and that then apply some assumptions to tions, and go from there. But the
takes time. You can estimate the results, you can estimate the whole point of energy reduction
what energy usage will be by energy usage for a month or a is that for the first time, elec-
observing power use for a short year, provided the rate of energy trical measurement accuracy
period of time. Using that infor- usage stays the same. The other makes a monetary difference. If
mation you can project longer option is to do a 30-day load your energy calculations are
term energy usage with some study with a power logger. That inaccurate, because they dont
simple math. will get you the results shown in account for power interferences
Example: A 100 watt light Figures 3 and 4, and an absolute in your system, then you really
bulb burning for one hour con- understanding of your power dont know how much youre
sumes 100 watt-hours of energy. consumption over time. consuming, or what impact your
That same bulb would use 100 x reduction efforts have. Its worth
24 x 365 = 864,000 watt-hours, it to use at least an entry-level
or 864 kWh, over a year. power quality tool to get real
energy values, and to then track
those over time.

up and running.

Fluke Corporation
PO Box 9090, Everett, WA 98206 U.S.A.
Fluke Europe B.V.
PO Box 1186, 5602 BD
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
In the U.S.A. (800) 443-5853 or
Fax (425) 446-5116
In Europe/M-East/Africa +31 (0) 40 2675 200 or
Fax +31 (0) 40 2675 222