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Used Generators > News > What does kVa mean for generators?

What does kVa mean for generators?

Power ratings of generators are sometimes expressed in kW and sometimes in kVa. So what is kVa? First of all “k” here means kilo that is equal to 1000 units of Va power. When we talk about power there are 3 powers involved.

  1. Apparent Power (S)
  2. Reactive Power (Q)
  3. Real Power (P)
This picture explains the relationship between them.


So what is the difference between kW and kVa?
The primary difference between kW (kilowatt) and kVa (kilovolt-ampere) is the power factor. kW is the unit of real power and kVa is a unit of apparent power. The power factor, unless it is defined and known, is therefore an approximate value (typically 0.8), and the kVa value will always be higher than the value for kW. In relation to industrial generators, kW is most commonly used when referring to generators in the United States, and a few other countries that use 60 Hz. While the majority of the rest of the world typically uses kVa as the primary value when referencing generator sets.

To expand on it a bit more, the kW rating is essentially the resulting power output a generator can supply based on the horsepower of an engine. kW is figured by the horsepower rating of the engine times .746. For example if you have a 500 horsepower engine it has a kW rating of 373. The kilovolt-amperes (kVa) are the generator end capacity. Generator sets are usually shown with both ratings. To determine the kW and kVa ratio the formula below is used.

Example: You own a 500 kVa UPS unit (apparent power) with a 0.9 power factor. The resulting real power is 450 kilowatts.

.9 (pf) x 500 (kVa) = 450 kW



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