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Business Energy Contracts | what is kVA?

14/07/2020

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What is kVA?

kVA or Kilo Volt Amperes, to give it its official title, is the amount of electrical power that a meter can supply to a building/site. If you have a half-hourly meter (MPAN starts 00) it’s worth getting to know what your kVA limit.  Getting it wrong could prove very costly.

What does kVA really mean?

The best way to visualise this is to imagine that electricity is water. The amount of water you can get to your building will depend upon the size/width of the pipe coming into your premises. You may not want all the water to come in quickly and may be happy to fill your bath over a long period. If, however, you want your bath filled fast, the size of the pipe is critical. 

Now think about the power coming into your premises, shop or factory. You may have one machine that uses a lot of energy over a short space of time and having the capability to deal with this surge is determined by your kVA availability.

It is common for a business to misjudge the amount of kVA they require by trying to equate it to their total annual energy usage, i.e. the total kWh consumed per annum.  This can lead to problems, using the water analogy above if I was to fill a 100-gallon tank in 5 minutes, I would need a much larger hose than filling it over a day. Note that the result would be the same, 100 gallons in the tank. It’s the peak total you use at any one time that’s important, not how much you use in aggregate.

Similarly consider a business consuming 100,000 kWh in a day before shutting and another that used 100,000 kWh for the week before closing. Note, these have both consumed the same amount 100,000 kWh for the week. The first business, however, requires a far higher kVA as there is much more energy transferred to the building in a much shorter space of time. 

What if my kVA is too low?

Since April 2018, getting your kVA limit wrong suddenly became very costly. A piece of legislation named DCP161 (Excess capacity charges) meant if you exceeded your kVA allowance, you could be charged up to three times the standard rate. The charge has been put in place to encourage users to review their usage and energy performance but can be a very unpleasant shock if you are not ready for it.

What if my kVA is too high?

As you would expect, kVA is not free, and you receive a fixed charge for the right to have the capacity when you need it. In these times of watching costs, reviewing your kVA is critical, and reducing it could lead to savings.

What is the right kVA?

There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer to this. Too low and you may be facing hefty extra charges and overworking your wiring and electrical equipment. Too high and you could be paying for power you will never use.

At troo, we take all the hard work out of kVA by answering two simple questions.

  • What is your kVa peak demand requirements?
  • What are your forecast power consumption requirements going forwards?

The last question can be vital as reducing kVA is easy, but getting it back can be problematic. The nightmare scenario, reducing your kVA only for new equipment meaning you need it back, but it may not now be available

Why not call troo now for a free kVa analysis? call the troo team now on 0808 164 2222

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