The power factor is defined as the ratio between kilowatts and kilo-volt amps drawn from the electrical load.
The kilowatt is the actual load and the kilo-volt is the apparent load.
This is how the current is measured to see if it is being converted to a working output.
If you have a reading of a poor power factor, the result is a phase difference between the current and the voltage by the load terminals.
The power factor is an involved subject that is understood by a professional electrician…but not as much by a layperson without an electrical background.
To explain in non-technical language…the utility company supplies you with kilo-volt amps. However, they bill you for kilowatts.
The formula is volts x amps x power factor = watts.
Some examples of the power factor are as follows:
A 60-watt incandescent lamp divided by the power factor of 1.0 will equal 60-volt amps. A 13-watt fluorescent lamp with a magnetic adapter divided by the power factor .25 equals 64 volt-amps.
You use the watts supplied by the utility company in volt-amps. They bill you for watts even though you are using volts.