The first capacitor was developed in 1745 by Ewald Georg von Kleist, in Germany. Shortly thereafter, Dutch physi- cist Pieter van Musschenbroek invented a similar capaci- tor, which was named the Leyden jar, after the University
of Leiden where he worked. Benjamin Franklin later popularized
the concept during his electricity studies and coined the word battery
(Franklin also coined the electrical terms: charge, conductor, plus,
minus, positively, negatively, armature, and condenser, which was
the former name for a capacitor).
Great. So, what does this have to do with real estate? And how
can capacitors help your business?
Simply put, modern capacitors can be used in businesses and
homes to reduce the cost of electricity. It is most effective when
dealing with inductive loads, which are, “Any device that has coils
of wire in it's make up.” This includes HVAC systems, hydraulics,
pumps, compressors, motors of all types, solenoids, generators, and
The primary use of capacitors is to store electricity and release it
when called for. Electricity moves in waves and is a series of spikes
and surges. It travels through the wires this way and much of its
efficiency is lost through heat transfer and other factors. A capacitor
has the ability to store this electricity and then release it in a smooth
straight-line fashion, which is much more efficient and beneficial
to the componentry it is supplied to. A capacitor has the ability to
reduce demand by being available for inductive load demands,
thereby minimizing demand at the meter. So the capacitor simply
captures the electricity and releases when called upon.
A capacitor’s even incoming power will act as a buffer between
the inductive load in a facility and the breaker panel, thereby reducing “motor lag.” Motor lag is where the most electricity is consumed,
which occurs during startup. The capacitor provides a boost of power
at this time which promulgates a reduction in demand. Moreover,
this mitigates wear and tear on the motors and other inductive equipment, enhancing life expectancy as well as lowering maintenance
costs. A collateral benefit to a capacitor is that it will act as a surge
protector throughout the entire system it is tied into, thereby eliminating the need for local surge protectors for computers, and other
office equipment. If you are in an area that is prone to frequent outages, you may know the havoc it imparts to computers, printers and
other such devices.
Installation of a capacitor is a pretty straight forward process and
can be installed by a competent electrician in conjunction with tech-
nical support from the manufacturer. The capacitor looks much like
a small breaker box and is tied in after the meter. It should not be
confused with “net metering” for there is no back flow to the utility.
Once the device is connected, it requires no maintenance.
Commercial capacitors for applications over 400 amps are usually hard wired, while there are capacitors for residential and small
business applications that can be simply plugged into a standard
receptacle near the home or business breaker panel. Just turn it on
and you’re saving money.
Payback is fairly quick, depending on application. One well
known capacitor manufacturer guarantees a minimum of 8 percent
savings with a money-back guarantee. Most applications experience
a 12-20 percent savings. So paybacks in smaller applications can
take one-to-two years and longer for larger commercial applications.
Nevertheless, we are not talking long payback periods.
Although not well known yet, now is the time for building owners should embrace this technology. The U.S. Department of Energy
has calculated that 25 percent of billable electricity used in homes
and business is nonproductive and unusable. Power factor correction, which is the by-product of a capacitor is both simple and justifiable and travels directly down to the bottom line.
We installed capacitors at our LEED certified property www.
motorparkwayplaza.com last year and savings have been ranging
20-30 percent over the previous year’s costs.
If you really want to know more about how a capacitor works,
watch this You Tube video:
For more information on capacitors, contact Gary Joel Schacker,
SIOR at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Joel Schacker, SIOR, is
a principal of United Realty
and has been with the firm
since 1978 and represented
Long Island's entrepreneurial
and corporate community
for over 35 years. He is past
President of SIOR's New
York City, and Downstate
New York Chapter, and vice
chair of the Digital Media and