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Base Load and Peak Load: understanding both concepts

What are Base Load and Peak Load?

Load, in electrical engineering, is the amount of current being drawn by all the components (appliances, motors, machines, etc.).

Load is further categorised as base load and peak load depending upon the nature of the electrical components connected. As you may be familiar, all electrical appliances at your home do not run at all times.

  • A toaster or microwave oven may be used for a few minutes,
  • A television or computer may be used for a few hours
  • Lighting in the house is only required during the evening and so on.

There are several appliances which keep running at all the times, no matter what. The refrigerator, for example, has to be plugged in at all the times. Another such example are the heating, ventilation and cooling systems in the house (HVAC system).

Peak Load and Base Load defined

Base load is the minimum level of electricity demand required over a period of 24 hours. It is needed to provide power to components that keep running at all times (also referred as continuous load).

Peak load is the time of high demand. These peaking demands are often for only shorter durations. In mathematical terms, peak demand could be understood as the difference between the base demand and the highest demand.

Now going back to the examples of household loads: microwave oven, toaster and television are examples of peak demand, whereas refrigerator and HVAC systems are examples of base demand.

A broader perspective of understanding these concepts

Now on a broader perspective, it could be assumed that the electrical grid is a big household. Under normal circumstances, the power required by the electrical grid is fairly constant during various period of the day.

This constant power, which is required at all times, is called the base loading. But during a special event, like the final match of World Cup, the demand will be more, as a lot of people will watch TV. This short, high demand period is considered to be a peak loading.

Base Load and Peak Load

Base Load and Peak Load power plants

Power plants are also categorised as base load and peak load power plants.

Base Load Power plants

Plants that are running continuously over extended periods of time are said to be base load power plant.

The power from these plants is used to cater the base demand of the grid. A power plant may run as a base load power plant due to various factors (long starting time requirement, fuel requirements, etc.).

Examples of base load power plants are:

  1. Nuclear power plant
  2. Coal power plant
  3. Hydroelectric plant
  4. Geothermal plant
  5. Biogas plant
  6. Biomass plant
  7. Solar thermal with storage
  8. Ocean thermal energy conversion

Peak Load Power plants

To cater the demand peaks, peak load power plants are used. They are started up whenever there is a spike in demand and stopped when the demand recedes.

Examples of gas load power plants are:

  1. Gas plant
  2. Solar power plants
  3. Wind turbines
  4. Diesel generators

    Comment Section

    17 thoughts on “Base Load and Peak Load: understanding both concepts


    By Sylvester Kemei on 29 April 2016

    I can now tell the difference.


    By Jain k b on 22 January 2017

    Crisp understanding.Thanks


    By Austin on 9 May 2016

    Nice write up. I learnt from this.


    By James on 22 May 2016

    Thanks. Well understood


    By madhu on 7 June 2016

    Tq nice explain and gud examples


    By sylvester Ossai on 27 June 2016

    thanks for this important piece of information. Is a light-bulb


    By Elisha Akobueze .U on 7 July 2016

    my quest satisfied. thanks for nice explanation.


    By sivaprakasam on 13 July 2016

    very nice explanation,now i understood.


    By Fagbemi Ademola on 18 July 2016

    These explosions are simplified and i assimilated the concepts so easily. Nice work


    By Aziaka D.S on 19 July 2016

    Good explanation, but would have been more professional if graphical representation was shown.


    By Ashish on 27 November 2016

    Good explanation


    By bhagwat on 28 December 2016

    well understand your explanation


    By M rashid on 4 January 2017

    A brilliant piece of work.thanks


    By Manoj Arora on 5 January 2017

    A significant fraction of the average wind power production is available with 95% or greater probability, and so may be used for baseload power.


    By SAYAK PAL on 19 February 2017

    Good answers and easy to understand.


    By Sunday Baduku on 8 September 2017

    nice explanation


    By Sahibzada Abdul Haseeb on 11 October 2017

    It’s explained in a very simple, yet comprehensive way. Keep up the good work.

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