Variable frequency drives (VFD’s) can provide significant energy savings and increases overall process/system efficiency by effectively matching the power applied to the level the process requires. By controlling motor speed, changes in load demands can be adjusted for quickly and automatically to maintain optimum process conditions. Also, the energy the driving motor needs to begin rotating, manifested as a high amperage commonly referred to as “in-rush” current, can be slowly increased to ramp up the motor while minimizing current draw. The VFD shares this soft-start functionality with the reduced voltage starter, often referred to as a soft-starter, but goes beyond this by allowing adjustable speed control. Let’s examine these two characteristics of the VFD – speed control and controlled starting and stopping – to understand how energy savings and other cost benefits are achieved.
VFD controls motor speed by comparing a reference signal to a pre-set value. The reference signal can be generated externally, for example via a process setpoint, or internally by the VFD using software to model motor parameters. The latter is accomplished by most VFD’s through the auto-tuning process during initial drive setup. It then adjusts the frequency and voltage to match the reference signal, which in […]