When we talk about power we always need to indicate the direction and which sort of power.
We can have:
- Active power, P
Active power is expressed in watt (W). Sometimes this power is also called “real power”
This is the power you are actually consuming.
- Reactive power, Q
Reactive power is expressed in volt-ampere reactive (var)
This power is stored in components, then released again back to the source through the AC cycle. Capacitors and inductors do this.
- Apparent power, S
Apparent power is expressed in volt-ampere (VA)
(RMS voltage times the RMS current). A power supply must be capable to output the full apparent power delivered to a circuit, not just the active power.
Quadrant I is defined as an area where both powers flow positively. Both are delivered to the consumer load. In many cases the CLOU terminology is forward. The power factor is lagging, we have inductive influence.
The IEC literature is using the term import.
In this quadrant we have Import of active power and Import of reactive power.
In quadrant II, reactive power is positive and active power flows negatively. In many cases the CLOU terminology is reversed. The IEC literature is using the term export.
In quadrant III, reactive and active power flow negatively (both powers are received from the customer). This is also a export condition.
In quadrant IV, reactive power flows negatively, and active power flows positively. This is a import condition.
The interactive diagram below shows the relationship between the phase angle φ, apparent-, active- and reactive power respective energy. The diagram is in accordance with clauses 12 and 14 of IEC 60375. Reference is the current vector (fixed on right-hand line, 0°). The phase angle φ between voltage V and current I is taken to be positive in the mathematical sense (counter clockwise).
Four Quadrant Simulation (IEC62053-23)
Geometric representation of active and reactive power
Note: The sine-wave diagram was changed to mathematical expression with reference on current (green). The oscilloscope view with reference on voltage was leading to misunderstanding. (24.11.2020)
Thank you for taking a look and for valuable comments.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.