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Automatic Power Factor Controller

by Team Digireach

Efficient generation of power at present is crucial, as in the present technological revolution, power is very precious and its wastage is a global concern. We need to find out the causes of power loss and remediate them to improve the power system. This is where the power factor comes into play. Power factor measures a system’s power efficiency and is an important aspect in improving the quality of supply. It is defined as the ratio between the KW (actual load power) and the KVA (apparent load power) drawn by an electrical load. It is simply a measure of how efficiently the load current is being converted into useful work output.

The actual amount of the power being used, or dissipated, in a circuit is called active power (P), and it is measured in watts. Active power is the product of the sinusoidal voltage and current wave form. Reactive power is the power consumed in the ac circuit because of the inductive and capacitive field. The unit used for measuring reactive power is KVAR. Apparent power is the combination of the active power and reactive power.

Hence, the lower the power factor is, the lower is the economic efficiency of the system. A low power factor can be the result of fluctuating current waveforms i.e. unstable input, or a significant phase difference between voltage and current at load terminals. Usually the presence of inductive loads reduces power factor by causing the current to lag behind the voltage and this can be corrected by power factor correction methods.

Power factor correction (PFC) is the process of compensating a lagging current by a leading current, through connecting capacitance to the supply. The capacitor draws current which leads the voltage, thereby offsetting the lag caused by the inductive elements. This Automatic Power Factor Controller (APFC) is designed such that they utilize the scope of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the fullest, to closely monitor the working of the system and make necessary changes to the capacitive components to ensure the power factor is made as close to unity as practically possible without causing unintended side-effects.

APFC devices find application in industries, power distribution system and commercial power lines to increase stability and efficiency of the system. They help in reducing charges on utility bills by pulling in high current drawn from the system. Lesser power consumed means lower greenhouse gas emissions and lesser fossil fuel consumption by the power stations, thereby benefitting the environment.


Sensors and Data Streams in IoT

by Team Digireach

Internet of Things (IoT) brings a whole new world of data, real-time streaming requirements, operational difficulties, security, and a large stream of massive data that needs to be made available for use at scale. IoT devices find application in various settings- factories, industries, power plants, vehicles, etc. to name a few. These devices output massive amounts of data from the sensors they use. This data is streamed non-stop and is used for making future predictions, assess the current conditions, optimize the working, etc.

The data from the onboard sensors is based on things like humidity, temperature, air conditions, luminance, etc. The data from these sensors is used by billions of other devices, people, organizations and places. While the management of such a network has its own problems, the opportunities are abundant too.

First, let’s talk about the sensors. Sensors first appeared decades ago, as a means to detect changes in quantity and give the output as an electrical or optical signal. They have been used for many purposes and in various fields over the years, from utilities and energy, to manufacturing and industries. Now with the rise of IoT, the uses of sensors – and the data streaming from them – has diversified manifold and continues to do so. From the largest of aircrafts to the smallest of pacemakers, the data from the sensors flows from the devices to the network and back and this has made the IoT a major contributor to Big Data.

Today, organizations are investing heavily in capturing and store the data from the sensors, but it is extraction and analysis of that data which is the daunting task. To take full advantage of data streams in the IoT, organizations must understand the exploding number of ways “big” IoT data needs to be filtered, mashed up, compared, contrasted, interpolated and extrapolated. The 4 ‘V’s which need to be considered by the organization are-

  1. Volume- whether the massive amount of data being received can be accessed, stored, processed and analyzed.
  2. Variety- whether the various types of data and their formats can be managed on the fly.
  3. Velocity- whether the data can be captured and analyzed as fast as the rate at which it is being generated.
  4. Veracity- whether the data has been filtered, validated or cleansed and made trustworthy enough for use as basis of data-driven decisions.

If these conditions are suitably met by the organization, they can easily distinguish themselves from their competitors and be at the forefront of the IoT Industrial Revolution aka Industry 4.0.


Solar Power Monitoring

by Team Digireach

The biggest achievement, and also one of the best features of IoT (Internet of Things) is the ability to monitor devices remotely and take necessary action as needed. This monitoring feature has widespread applications, not the least of which being more efficient generation of energy from inexhaustible sources. And what better energy source than the Sun itself.

At present, the solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is one of the pivotal renewable energy sources. Solar energy is becoming a potential solution towards sustainable energy supply in future. As more and more Rooftop Solar PV Systems are getting integrated in the existing grids, there is even more need to monitor real time data from solar PV plants to optimize the overall performance.

Solar power plants require continuous maintenance and are hence limited in scale. However with IoT technology, we can remotely monitor the functioning of the solar power plant.

A monitoring system is an essential part of a PV plant. It allows the yield to be monitored and compared with theoretical calculations, and raise warnings in case of performance shortfall. This helps to rectify and detect faults before any appreciable production loss occurs. This same fault could take months before it is noticed and rectified in absence of a proper monitoring system, which would lead to unnecessary revenue loss.

In general, monitoring systems have to fetch, analyze, transmit, manage and feedback the remote information, by making the best use of the most advanced communication technology available. It also merges comprehensive use of instrumentation, electronic technology and computer software and has a huge potential in the upcoming years.