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Difference between Active and Reactive Power

Difference between Active and Reactive Power

When it comes to electricity, active and reactive power are two key concepts that are important for any engineer or electrical enthusiast to understand. Commonly referred to simply as AC power, these two forms of electrical energy differ in their characteristics and behaviors—and need to be observed with precision. Here’s a closer look at the differences between active and reactive power so you can effectively produce efficient electrical systems while reducing associated risks like overloading.

What is Active Power?

Active power is an important concept in terms of energy generation and usage. Active power refers to the electricity that is drawn from or supplied to, the power grid.

  • Active power is measured in watts and indicates the actual amount of electric energy needed at a given moment to complete any given task. Active power can be acquired through several sources such as solar, wind, hydraulic, and other electric plants.
  • Active power is an essential part of our everyday lives, as it provides us with a reliable source of energy for powering our homes and businesses.
  • Understanding how active power works enables consumers to effectively manage their energy needs and helps support renewable energy sources that are vital for a clean environment and a healthy planet.

What is Reactive Power?

Reactive power is a type of electrical energy that cycles back and forth through an AC circuit but doesn’t contribute to the flow of true power. Reactive power is important because it helps AC circuits maintain their stability in a reliable manner, providing increased efficiency and other utilitarian benefits.

Reactive power can be found in mechanical systems as well, with momentum-producing reactive forces like electromagnetic fields causing temporary displacement before returning the machine to its original state. Reactive Power aids in allowing the AC circuit to work optimally for transmission and distribution applications.

Difference between Active and Reactive Power

Active and Reactive Power are both integral components in the operation of our electrical grids.

  • Active power, also known as real or true power, is directly responsible for producing mechanical energy and causing electrical equipment to move or rotate.
  • This makes Active Power a crucial component for powering lights, machines, and other physical components of our society.
  • On the other hand, Reactive Power does not produce any mechanical work but it does play an important role in maintaining network stability.
  • It helps to maintain an optimal voltage throughout the system so that all users can have reliable sources of power.

Active and reactive power together helps keep electricity stable, strong, and available no matter where it goes.


The difference between active and reactive power is important to understand when it comes to electrical grids, motors, and loads. Active power is the real work that gets done; it’s what powers your devices. Reactive power helps maintain the balance of the grid and keeps everything running smoothly; without it, active power would cause voltage fluctuations. Now that you know a little more about these two types of power, you can be sure to ask for the right type of generator or transformer when your business needs one.

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