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Inductive and Capacitive Load Banks: What’s the Difference?

Are you familiar with the different types of reactive load bank solutions? A reactive load bank simulates systems affected by electric motors or other electromagnetic devices on a power network. If a facility houses a significant amount of motor-driven devices, transformers and capacitors, the load banks used during load testing will require reactive power compensation.

A reactive load bank can simulate either an inductive or capacitive load depending on the type of load expected on the power system.  Here’s a breakdown of these two loads:


Inductive Loads


An inductive load converts current into a magnetic field. Inductive reactance resists the change to current, causing the circuit current to lag voltage. Examples of devices producing reactive/inductive loads include motors, transformers and chokes. When used in combination with resistive load banks, reactive/inductive load bank solutions can simulate real-life mixed commercial loads consisting of lighting, heating, motors, transformers and chokes. In other words, you’re able to evaluate performance of the full power system, including generators, voltage regulators, conductors, switchgear and other equipment.


Capacitive Loads


A capacitive load charges and releases energy. Capacitive reactance resists the change to voltage, causing the circuit current to lead voltage. A capacitive load bank is similar to an inductive load bank in rating and purpose. However, lightly loaded switched mode power supplies (applied to reduce harmonic currents) and long cable runs cause a system draw, a leading power factor, allowing reactive power to be supplied from these loads to the system. As a result, power factor improves. Capacitive load banks are used in a variety of industries and applications. Some examples include telecommunications, IT, manufacturing and mining.