What is Electrical Load? Types, Calculations And Examples

In the context of electrical engineering, “load” refers to the device or component that consumes electrical power in a circuit.

It can be any electrical component, equipment, or appliance that draws power from a power source, such as a generator or a power grid. The load can be resistive, capacitive, inductive, or a combination of these, depending on the nature of the electrical device.

Electrical load Example

Electrical loads come in various types, serving different functions in both residential and industrial settings. Here are some common examples of electrical loads:

  1. Lighting Fixtures: These include incandescent bulbs, fluorescent lamps, LED lights, and other types of lighting used for indoor and outdoor illumination.
  2. Heating Appliances: Devices such as electric heaters, electric furnaces, and baseboard heaters that use electricity to generate heat.
  3. Cooling Appliances: Air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers are examples of electrical loads used for cooling purposes.
  4. Motors: Electric motors are used in various applications, including fans, pumps, compressors, conveyor belts, and various industrial machinery.
  5. Electronics and Appliances: Devices like televisions, computers, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, and other household appliances are common electrical loads in residential settings.
  6. Industrial Equipment: Electrical loads in industries include various machinery, motors, and equipment used in manufacturing processes, such as presses, lathes, CNC machines, and welding equipment.
  7. Power Tools: Electric saws, drills, grinders, and other power tools used in construction and workshops are considered electrical loads.
  8. HVAC Systems: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, including electric furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioning units, are significant electrical loads in both residential and commercial buildings.
  9. Charging Devices: Electrical loads also include chargers for mobile phones, laptops, electric vehicles, and other portable electronic devices.

Understanding the different types of electrical loads is essential for designing electrical systems that can handle the specific power requirements and fluctuations of these devices, ensuring that the electrical system operates efficiently and safely.

What is the measuring Unit of Electrical Load?

The unit of electrical load is typically measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). These units represent the rate at which electrical energy is generated, transmitted, or consumed.

Other related units used in the context of electrical loads include:

  1. Volt-Amperes (VA): This unit is used to measure the apparent power in an electrical circuit, which is the combination of real power (watts) and reactive power (VARs) in an AC circuit.
  2. Kilovolt-Amperes (kVA): This is a larger unit of apparent power, commonly used for larger electrical systems, such as in industrial or commercial settings.
  3. Power Factor (PF): This is a dimensionless quantity representing the ratio of real power to apparent power in an AC electrical circuit. It indicates how effectively electrical power is being used.

Understanding these units is crucial for electrical engineers and technicians to properly design, maintain, and manage electrical systems, ensuring that the electrical loads are appropriately matched with the power supply capacity and that the system operates efficiently and safely.

What are electrical load types?

In the context of electrical engineering, there are different types of electrical loads, each with its specific characteristics and behavior. The main types of electrical loads include:

  1. Resistive Loads: These loads primarily resist the flow of current. They convert electrical energy into heat. Examples include incandescent bulbs, electric heaters, and electric stoves.
  2. Inductive Loads: Inductive loads are characterized by the presence of inductance, which causes the current to lag behind the voltage. Examples include electric motors, transformers, and electromagnets.
  3. Capacitive Loads: Capacitive loads are characterized by the presence of capacitance, which causes the current to lead to the voltage. Examples include capacitors and long transmission lines.
  4. Reactive Loads: Reactive loads are those that consume reactive power but do not contribute to the actual work done. Inductive and capacitive loads are types of reactive loads.
  5. Active Loads: Active loads consume electrical power and convert it into useful output, such as light, heat, or mechanical work. Resistive loads are a type of active load.

Understanding the different types of electrical loads is crucial in designing and managing electrical systems. Engineers need to consider the specific characteristics of these loads to ensure that the electrical system can handle the power demands efficiently and operate reliably.

Additionally, the presence of different types of loads affects the power factor and can impact the overall efficiency of the electrical system.

For more information about Active (apparent) Power, Read My article here. And, if you need more information about Reactive Power, Read my article

 What are the examples of three-phase loads?

Three-phase loads are commonly used in industrial and commercial settings where a significant amount of power is required. Here are some examples of three-phase loads:

  1. Three-Phase Motors: These are widely used in various industrial applications, such as pumps, compressors, conveyors, and machine tools. Three-phase motors offer high efficiency and are capable of handling heavy loads.
  2. Three-Phase Heating Systems: In some industrial applications, three-phase electric heating systems are used to provide consistent and reliable heat for various processes, such as in industrial furnaces and ovens.
  3. Three-Phase Welding Equipment: Industrial welding equipment often operates on three-phase power to provide the high levels of energy required for welding thick metals and performing heavy-duty welding tasks.
  4. Three-Phase Air Conditioning Units: Large commercial and industrial air conditioning units often utilize three-phase power for efficient cooling of large spaces such as factories, warehouses, and office buildings.
  5. Three-Phase Compressors: These are used in industries for applications such as refrigeration, air compression, and other processes that require high-power compression.

Understanding these examples of three-phase loads is essential for designing and managing electrical systems in industrial and commercial settings.

It is important to ensure that the electrical distribution and supply systems can handle the power demands of these three-phase loads efficiently and reliably.

Is the battery Considered an electrical load?

In the context of electrical engineering, a battery is not typically considered an electrical load. Instead, it is regarded as an electrical energy storage device.

Batteries store electrical energy in the form of chemical energy, which can later be converted into electrical energy to power various devices or systems. When a battery is connected to a circuit, it can act as a source of electrical power, supplying current to the load.

On the other hand, electrical loads refer to devices or components that consume electrical power from a power source, such as generators, power grids, or batteries. Examples of electrical loads include lighting fixtures, motors, heating systems, cooling systems, and various electronic devices.

While batteries are not classified as electrical loads, they play a critical role in providing portable and backup power for a wide range of applications, including consumer electronics, electric vehicles, renewable energy systems, and backup power systems.

What is the electrical load list?

An electrical load list typically includes a comprehensive inventory of all the electrical loads within a building or facility.

This list serves as a reference for engineers, electricians, and other professionals involved in designing, maintaining, or upgrading electrical systems. While the specific items on the list can vary depending on the type of building or facility, here is a generalized electrical load list:

  1. Lighting Fixtures:
    • Incandescent bulbs
    • Fluorescent lamps
    • LED lights
    • Emergency lighting
    • Outdoor lighting
  2. Power Outlets and Receptacles:
    • Wall outlets
    • Dedicated outlets for specific equipment
    • USB charging outlets
  3. Heating Systems:
    • Electric heaters
    • Baseboard heaters
    • Radiant heaters
    • Heat tracing systems
  4. Cooling Systems:
    • Air conditioning units
    • Refrigeration units
    • Chiller systems
    • Cooling fans
  5. Motors and Machinery:
    • Electric motors
    • Pumps
    • Compressors
    • Conveyors
    • Elevators and escalators
  6. Appliances and Equipment:
    • Kitchen appliances (ovens, stoves, microwaves, etc.)
    • Laundry equipment (washing machines, dryers, etc.)
    • Computers and servers
    • Audiovisual equipment
    • Medical equipment
  7. Industrial Equipment:
    • Manufacturing machinery
    • Processing equipment
    • Industrial ovens and furnaces
    • Welding equipment
  8. Special Systems:
    • Fire alarm systems
    • Security systems
    • Emergency power systems (generators, UPS units)
    • Communication systems
  9. Miscellaneous Loads:
    • Electric vehicle charging stations
    • Water heaters
    • Fans and ventilation systems
    • Sump pumps

Having a detailed electrical load list is crucial for load balancing, energy management, and ensuring that the electrical system can accommodate the power demands of all connected devices and equipment.

How to calculate the electrical load schedule for a house?

Calculating the electrical load schedule for a house involves determining the total electrical load, considering the power requirements of various appliances and devices that will be used in the house. Here’s a general guide on how to calculate the electrical load schedule for a house:

  1. Create a List of Electrical Appliances: Make a comprehensive list of all the electrical appliances and devices that will be used in the house, including lighting fixtures, heating and cooling systems, kitchen appliances, entertainment devices, and any other electrical equipment.
  2. Determine the Power Ratings: Look up the power ratings (in watts or kilowatts) of each electrical appliance and device. This information can usually be found on the manufacturer’s label, the appliance itself, or in the user manual.
  3. Calculate the Total Wattage: Add up the power ratings of all the appliances and devices to determine the total wattage or kilowatt (kW) load. This total will give you an estimate of the maximum power demand the house will require.
  4. Consider Simultaneous Usage: Take into account the possibility of multiple appliances running simultaneously. Determine the peak load scenario by identifying which appliances are likely to be used together and calculating the combined power demand during these times.
  5. Account for Diversity Factors: Apply diversity factors if applicable, as not all appliances are used simultaneously at their maximum power rating. Diversity factors account for the probability that all appliances will not be operating at full power simultaneously.
  6. Factor in Future Expansion: Anticipate any potential future expansions or additions to the electrical load, such as the installation of new appliances or equipment, and incorporate these into the load calculation.
  7. Consult Electrical Codes and Standards: Refer to local electrical codes and standards to ensure that the calculated load does not exceed the capacity of the electrical system and is compliant with safety regulations.

By following these steps, you can accurately calculate the electrical load schedule for a house, ensuring that the electrical system is appropriately sized to handle the expected power demands and operate safely and efficiently.

If you are unsure about the calculations or need specific guidance, it is recommended to consult a qualified electrical engineer or electrician.

Electrical load calculations, formula, and examples

Calculating electrical loads can be performed by calculating load power or load current.

Electric load current formula:

Single-Phase current calculation:

Single Phase Load current, I = P ÷(V× PF)

Where P is power in watts, V is operating voltage and PF is the power factor.

Let’s Take the values of P (Watt) and Voltage, P= 800 W, V= 230V, P. F= 0.9

Load current, I = 800 / (230× 0.9) = 3 Amp

Three-phase current calculation:

Three Phase Load current, I = P÷ √3 V × P.F

Let’s Take the values of P and Voltage P=1000 W, V= 440 V, P.F = 0.9

I (3 phase) =1000 ÷ (1.73 × 400 × 0.9) = 1.60 Amp

Now, let’s calculate load power, Power can be real or apparent power. Real power is calculated in KW, and apparent power is calculated in KVA.

Load in the KW Calculation formula:

The unit used to estimate the real power is KW, we calculate power in KW in case of resistive loads or calculating the real power of the load.

Single-Phase Load Power Calculation:

P (KW)= (V × I × PF) ÷ 1000


Let’s assume the values of current and volts V (Voltage)=220 V, I (Current)=5 Amp, Power factor = 0.9

P (KW)= (220 x 5 x 0.9) ÷ 1000 = 0.99KW

Three-Phase Load Power Calculation:

P(KW)= (√3 x V x I x P.F) ÷ 1000


Let’s assume the values of current and volts, V= 435 Volts and I=25 Amp

Load power= (1.732 x 435 x 25 x0.9) ÷1000 =16.95 KW

 KVA load calculation:

The unit that calculates apparent power is KVA, we use it with generators and transformers loads.

Single-Phase Load in KVA

S (KVA)= (V × I) ÷ 1000


V (Voltage)=220 Volts

I (Current)=5 Amp

S (apparent power)= (220 x 5)÷ 1000, Load Power = 1.1KVA

Three-Phase Load in KVA:

S (KVA)= (V × I× 1.732) ÷ 1000

Let’s assume the values of current and volts V= 435 Volts, I=25 Amp

Load apparent power, S= (435 x 25× 1.732)÷1000= 18.835 KVA

Difference Between kW load and kVA load

The primary difference between kW (kilowatt) load and kVA (kilovolt-ampere) load lies in the distinction between real power and apparent power in an electrical system.

  1. kW Load: kW is a measure of real power or actual power consumed in an electrical circuit. It represents the rate at which energy is transferred or used. In an electrical system, the kW rating indicates the actual power that is converted into useful work, such as heat, light, or mechanical energy. It represents the power that performs useful work and is the power that you are billed for in an electricity bill.
  2. kVA Load: kVA is a measure of apparent power in an electrical circuit. It represents the total power in an electrical system, including both the real power (kW) and the reactive power. Reactive power arises due to the phase difference between the voltage and current in an AC circuit. It does not perform any useful work but is necessary for maintaining the electromagnetic fields in inductive devices like motors and transformers.

The relationship between kW, kVA, and power factor (PF) is given by the formula:

kW = kVA × PF

where PF is the power factor, a measure of how effectively electrical power is being used.

Understanding the distinction between kW and kVA is crucial in designing and managing electrical systems, especially in scenarios where the power factor is a significant factor.

It is essential to size the electrical system appropriately to handle the real and reactive power demands efficiently and ensure that the system operates reliably and effectively.

What type of load is an electric motor?

An electric motor is classified as an inductive load in electrical engineering. Inductive loads are characterized by the presence of inductance, which causes the current to lag behind the voltage in an alternating current (AC) circuit. When an electric motor is operational, it induces a magnetic field that allows it to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, thereby driving the motor’s motion.

The inductive nature of electric motors means that they require an initial surge of current, known as inrush current, to overcome the inertia and start rotating. This inrush current can have implications for the design and capacity of the electrical system, as it affects the sizing of the conductors, protection devices, and overall power distribution network.

Managing inductive loads like electric motors requires careful consideration of factors such as power factor correction, motor starting methods, and the impact on the stability and efficiency of the electrical system. Proper sizing and protection of the electrical components are essential to ensure the reliable and efficient operation of electric motors within a given electrical system.

Is a transformer an inductive or a capacitive load?

A transformer is primarily an inductive device. It consists of two or more coils of insulated wire wound around a core, which is typically made of ferromagnetic material.

When an alternating current (AC) flows through the primary winding, it creates a changing magnetic field, which, in turn, induces a voltage in the secondary winding through electromagnetic induction. This process of electromagnetic induction is a fundamental principle of transformers.

The inductive nature of transformers means that they exhibit characteristics similar to other inductive loads in an AC electrical system. This includes features such as a lagging power factor, which can affect the efficiency of the electrical system and the need for power factor correction in some cases.

It is important to note that while transformers are primarily inductive, they can also exhibit some capacitive effects, especially in high-voltage applications or in cases where there is a significant length of transmission lines involved.

In such scenarios, the capacitance between the windings and the ground or between the windings themselves can become relevant and must be considered in the design and operation of the transformer and the overall electrical system.

However, the primary behavior of a transformer is inductive, and it is predominantly treated as such in electrical engineering analyses.

What is the critical load in the power system?

In the context of a power system, the critical load refers to the portion of the electrical load that is deemed essential for the functioning of crucial operations or services.

These services are often vital for public health, safety, or security and can include critical infrastructure, emergency services, hospitals, data centers, and other essential facilities that must remain operational even during a power outage or electrical system failure.

The critical load is typically supported by backup power systems, such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units, standby generators, or emergency power systems, to ensure continuous and reliable power supply in the event of a power disruption.

These backup systems are designed to provide immediate power support to critical loads, preventing any disruption that could lead to severe consequences or significant financial losses.

Ensuring the resilience and reliability of critical loads is a key consideration in power system design and operation.

It involves implementing redundant power sources, backup power systems, and protective measures to safeguard critical infrastructure and services from power interruptions, equipment failures, or other electrical system disturbances.

This focus on critical loads is essential for maintaining the continuity of essential services and minimizing the impact of power disruptions on public safety and welfare.

What is the function of an electrical load in the circuit?

The function of an electrical load in a circuit is to consume electrical energy, thereby converting it into other forms of energy such as light, heat, motion, or other useful outputs.

Electrical loads play a crucial role in various electrical systems and devices, performing specific functions depending on their types and applications. Some common functions of electrical loads include:

  1. Generating Light: Loads such as incandescent bulbs, fluorescent lamps, and LEDs convert electrical energy into light energy, providing illumination for various applications.
  2. Producing Heat: Electric heaters, stoves, and other heating appliances convert electrical energy into heat energy, which is useful for warming spaces, heating liquids, or cooking food.
  3. Creating Motion: Electric motors and other electromechanical devices convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, enabling the movement of various machines, appliances, and industrial equipment.
  4. Providing Power for Electronics: Electrical loads in the form of various electronic devices and appliances, such as computers, televisions, and kitchen appliances, use electricity to perform specific functions, making them essential for modern living.

Understanding the functions of electrical loads is essential for designing and managing electrical systems effectively.

Electrical engineers and technicians must consider the specific requirements of different loads to ensure that the power supply can meet the demands of the load while maintaining system stability, efficiency, and safety.