# Re: Exact meaning of KVA??

Discussion in 'Electrical Engineering' started by daestrom, Feb 1, 2004.

1. ### daestromGuest

As others have pointed out....

Transformers ratings are typically their current capabilities and the design
voltage. Of course, these vary from the primary side to the secondary side
by the turns ratio. But a convenient thing to notice is that while the
voltage may step down by the turns ratio, the current capability steps up.
So the VA rating is the same for the high-voltage side and the low-voltage
side. So rather than list each winding's voltage and ampacity, often just
supply voltage ratio and VA. To keep numbers easy, for larger units list in
kVA or MVA.

Since a Watt is a Joule/sec, if you integrate the power over time you get
the energy that has 'flowed' over time period. If the power of the load is
constant, the integration is easy, just multiply the power times the time.
Traditionally, the amount of electric energy used has been stated in
Watt-hours, although Watt-seconds is also used. For larger amounts,
kiloWatt-hours is often used. It is somewhat 'redundant' since you are
taking a unit that is "unit of energy per unit time" and multiplying by
"time" to get back to "unit of energy", but it has been with us a long time
now, and not likely to be replaced by kiloJoule anytime soon.

Ratings of generators are actually quite complicated. The sales literature
of portable units leaves a lot to be desired ;-)

Commercial generators actually have a whole set of curves (called
appropriately, "capability curves"). The main windings are limited in the
total current they can carry continuously. The nominal voltage is fixed by
insulation, terminal spacing, electronic regulators etc... So, combining
the nominal voltage and current of the armature winding, one rating is kVA
or MVA.

Another rating of generators is the amount of current the field winding they
can handle. This limits how poor a power factor (lagging) that a unit can
operate with rated kVA and still maintain nominal voltage. If the unit must
supply a load with a lower pf, the total armature current capability must be
reduced or terminal voltage suffers. If the unit is to supply a leading pf
load, the capability is reduced because of severe iron-end heating of the
rotor.

If it is a three phase unit, the total imbalance of the three line currents
must be limited to avoid iron heating of the stator caused by
negative-phase-sequence currents.

Notice, that I haven't mentioned kW (what you found some portable generators
rated in). This is because the kVA is the true *generator* limit. Of
course, if a *generator* has a rating of 10kVA, then it cannot safely handle
more than 10kW, assuming the load has a unity power factor. But the maximum
kW of a genset is more a function of the prime mover (engine, turbine,
windmill, whatever makes it go 'roundy 'roundy) than the generator.

You can hook a 20kVA generator up to a 5kW engine. Although the generator
*could* handle a 20kW load (if pf is unity), the engine will stall out long
before you reach 20kW.

Conversely, you can hook a 20kVA generator up to a 4000 hp engine. Load it
up with a few 100kW and the engine won't even blink, just keep right on
spinning. But the windings of the generator will start to smoke in no time
at all because you have exceeded the generator's kVA limit.

Small portable units for retail sale are rated based on a few assumptions.
That the load you will connect is 'typical' with some lights and light-duty
motors (pf of between 1.0 and .8 lagging). So manufacturers build/buy an
engine for 5kW, and a generator for 5kW / 0.8 = 6.25kVA and call it a '5kW'
unit. Keeps the average consumer's life simple.

But some manufacturers would like to cut corners and boost the sales 'hype'.
So some might build a 5kVA unit (slightly cheaper) and *assume* the pf is
1.0 and call it a 5kW unit (sells better than a 4kW unit). And the engine
might only be able to supply 5kW for a short time, not continuously. So,