13 Difference between Active and Reactive Power | with an Examples

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In an earlier post, we have learned different types of power in electrical circuits with the help of the circuit diagram. Now, in this post, we are going to study the difference between active and reactive power.

What is the difference between Active and Reactive Power?

Let’s compare the two different powers with their specifications and examples in the tabular form.

Sr. No.ContentActive PowerReactive Power
01Basic
Definition
Active power is the power that continuously flows from source to load in an electric circuit.Reactive power is the power that continuously flows from source to load and returns back to source in an electric circuit.
02Called asActive power is called as ‘Real power’ or ‘Watt full power’ or ‘True power’or Actual power.Reactive power is called as ‘Imaginary power’ or ‘Watt less power’ or ‘Useless power’ or Complex power.
03Represented
by
Active power is denoted by the capital letter ‘P‘.Reactive power is denoted by the capital letter ‘Q‘.
04Formula
(Online Power Calculator)
You can calculate the active power (P) by using the below formula.

Active Power=[Voltage*Current*Cos(θ)]
You can calculate the reactive power (Q) by using the below formula.

Reactive Power= [Voltage*Current*Sin(θ)]
05Measuring UnitIt is measured in Watt (W) or Kilowatt (kW) or MegaWatt (MW).
It is measured in Volt Ampere Reactive (VAR) or Kilovolt Ampere Reactive (kVAR) or MegaVolt Ampere Reactive (MVAR).
06Measuring
Instruments

(How to measure active and reactive power?)
For measuring the active power, a wattmeter is required. For measuring the reactive power, a VARmeter is required.
07Power
Direction
This power flows in only one direction with resepctive time.This power flows in both directions with respective time.
08Function IActive power is utilised or dissipated in the circuit through the connected resistive load. Reactive power is stored in the circuit through the connected inductive load.
09Function IIIt consumes useful power by the load. It consumes use less power by the load.
10Useful
Circuit
It works in both AC and DC circuit. It works in an AC circuit.
11Working
Role
It converts electrical energy into other forms of energy
like optical, thermal, mechanical.
It does not convert energy. But, it produces the electrical or magnetic flux.
12Power
Contribustion
In an electrical circuit, active power contributes to the current component which is in the phase with circuit voltage. In an electrical circuit, reactive power contributes to the current component which is in out of phase with circuit voltage.
13UsageActive power is used in incandescent light, oven, coffee makers, iron, toaster, heater, machine, etc. Reactive power is used in fan, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, washing machine, the compressor in the refrigerator, air conditioners, transformer, etc.

With the help of the basic concepts, functions, and uses, we have differentiated active power and reactive power.

Read Related Comparisons:

If you have any doubts or queries regarding difference between active and reactive power, ask me in the below comment section.

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