# Leading vs Lagging Power Factor: Difference and Comparison

Power factor is used in AC circuits irrespective of whether single-phase or three-phase. Unlike AC circuits, in DC circuits, one can determine the power by multiplying the voltmeter readings and ammeter connected to the circuit.

To determine the actual power, a wattmeter is introduced in the circuit to measure the true power. The ratio of active power to apparent power is called the power factor.

## Key Takeaways

1. A leading power factor occurs when the current waveform leads the voltage waveform in an electrical circuit, which is typical in capacitive loads.
2. A lagging power factor happens when the current waveform lags behind the voltage waveform, which is common in inductive loads such as motors or transformers.
3. Leading and lagging power factors describe the phase relationship between current and voltage in electrical circuits. Still, they represent opposite-phase relationships and are associated with different types of loads.

## Leading vs Lagging Power Factor

When the current leads the voltage, it is called the leading power factor. In the leading power factor, the load is capacitive. Inductive loads can be added to make a correction in the leading power factor. When the voltage leads the current, it is called lagging power factor. In the lagging power factor, the load is inductive. Most of the AC motors work on lagging power factors.

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Also, the power factor continuously varies between 0 to 1. It can be determined by the lag or lead of load more regarding supply voltage.

## What is Leading Power Factor?

The leading power factor describes where the load current leads the supply voltage. It is a property of an electric circuit that determines if the load current is capacitive.

A positive power factor is the power factor of a maximum current. It is sometimes called the positive power factor.

To sum it up, the load must be capacitive to get a leading power factor.

## What is Lagging Power Factor?

The lagging power factor describes where the load current lags behind the supply voltage. It is a property of an electric circuit that determines if the load current is inductive.

Capacitive loads should be added to the circuit to correct a lagging power factor. The most common form of a three-phase motor is the repulsion induction motor which is an inductive load and always has a lagging power factor.

The current that reaches its peak value up to 90 degrees later than the supply voltage can be described as a lagging power factor.

All the AC motors except the overexcited synchronous motors and transformers operate at a lagging power factor. Repulsion induction motors, power generators, and relays are examples of inductive loads.

## Main Differences Between Leading and Lagging Power Factors

1. The leading power factor describes where the load current leads the supply voltage. In contrast, the lagging power factor describes where the load current lags behind the supply voltage.
2. The resulting current phase angle of the leading power factor is positive about the driving voltage phase angle. In contrast, the resulting current phase angle of the lagging power factor is negative.

References

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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