# Homework Help: Complex power question. What is S exactly?

1. Oct 11, 2014

### influx

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I know that S = P +jQ however I am kind of unsure of what S exactly is.

Is S the power supplied to the circuit of which only P is used by a load (e.g. powering a light bulb) whilst the Q component is wasted?

Thanks

2. Oct 11, 2014

### zoki85

S = apparent power
P = real power
Q = reactive power

Q is not wasted. It is not dissipated but circulates between source and load and back from load to source.

3. Oct 11, 2014

### Staff: Mentor

Q represents supply current that does nothing useful as far as the power company is concerned. A non-zero value of Q means the power company is having to supply you with more current than you really need, so their transformers have to be larger and cables have to be heavier, and powerline I2.R losses are greater.

Ordinary power meters record your time usage of P and you aren't billed for Q. Power companies would prefer every consumer reduced their load's Q to zero (or else paid or it, I guess )

Over one cycle, Q is first +ve then goes -ve, so it's being taken from, then delivered back to, the mains. So it's no net flow.