Choosing the Proper VFD Can
Limit Harmonics / by Aziz
Zehachi / electrical and
instrumentation supervisor
Kbr Usa .
 Published on March 4, 2016

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Zehachi / electrical and instrumentation supervisor Kbr Usa .


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Hundreds of articles have been written about their advantages when used with a pump motor compared with an across-the-line motor and flow control valve. however. their intelligence is greater and the cost has remained flat despite other . some would view this as a success story. Advantages of VFDs VFD sizes are smaller. When the electrical loading of a facility is predominantly made up of VFDs. One primary benefit occurs when slowing the motor speed leads to reduced kilowatts. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) have vastly evolved during the last 25 years. The power company. resulting in reduced electrical usage.aziz zehachi FollowFollowingUnfollowaziz zehachi Sign in to follow this author MECHANICAL INSPECTOR chez SAMSUNG C&T mechanical inspector consultant GE TURBINES GAS TURBINE STEAM TUR BINE Facilities predominantly using these drives may face concern from power utility companies. might disagree because VFDs can add unwanted harmonics to the system.

This method can best be explained by splitting the VFD into three parts In general terms. VFDs remove this concern. power companies had to deal with across-the-line motors. The latter two-thirds of the drive are consistent throughout several types and brands of drives. Basic VFD Topology To change the speed of an alternating current (AC) motor. also known as six-pulse drives. The output section of the VFD has little effect on how the input section behaves. but rarely is the input discussed. Utilities are taking note of this new phenomenon. the voltage and frequency must be varied proportionally. It is also the section that receives the most processor control and hype of how one technology of volts/hertz control or sensorless vector control is best. and starting these motors meant short-term heavy demands on the system. they will not behave as a . it can be derived that the line voltage needs to be converted to DC in some manner. Before the advent of VFDs. and the input section will be explored further. The VFD s input configuration sets the stage for how clean the power consumption will be. Exploring the VFD inputs can help end users find clarity about harmonics. the harmonics content created by VFDs increases as well. From the information above. VFDs use traditional AC to direct current (DC) conversion and then invert DC to AC to change both the voltage and frequency to the motor. No special hardware is required outside the VFD. The most common method comprising the majority of the installed base uses six diodes/SCRs. Both would warrant a penalty on the user. VFDs dominate variable torque applications like those found in pumps and fans. so it will be excluded at this point from this article. when six-pulse VFDs are used. VFDs are noted for their precise motor control output. These drives use standard three-phase power and have single unit rectification. silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) or a combination of both to convert the fixed AC line voltage into DC voltage. Transistors are then used to chop up the DC voltage and re-create a simulated AC waveform. but with the popularity of VFDs increasing in facilities. This method is typically referred to as pulse width modulation (PWM). However. Lightly loaded motors had poor power factor. The DC voltage has some ripple because SCR/diode bridges are not a perfect rectification and capacitors are used to smooth out the DC.industrial products following inflation prices. VFDs use diodes.

These multi-pulse drives configurations continue in multiples of six: 12- pulse. 18-pulse.linear load on the system. If this were the only loading in the facility. Non-linear loading simply means the current is not consumed in the same format as the voltage is supplied by the utility. 11th. capacitors and inductors. Passive filters consist of passive electrical components. The current as seen by the utility is cleaner and the harmonic content is reduced below 15 percent. and this is what first catches the attention of a utility provide . 7th. A custom-wound transformer is required in front of the VFD. The transformer uses a voltage phase-shift to create two new three-phase voltages electrically displaced 30 degrees apart. However. These come in many different configurations. the utility does not provide industrial consumers with six phases. Each continues to need custom configurations in order to gain the additional phase shifted voltages. More hardware equals more cost in trade for less harmonic content. It can be concluded that the 12-pulse configuration is more expensive and requires additional installation costs. but the two primary options discussed here are passive and active. Expectations with this device . this is the 5th. These are relatively inexpensive and will reduce the harmonic content from above 60 percent to the 40 percent range. the utility would say the load is "harmonic rich" and would likely require the user to add a harmonic mitigation device to correct the problem. One choice is to add an inductor. At 18 pulses and up. configured to trap or notch offensive frequencies. or THDi). However. The harmonics created are in the range of 50-70 percent current harmonics (total harmonic distortion current. expectations of harmonics content are less than 5 percent THDi. For a six-pulse drive. This may also be referred to as "harmonic current" because it will have multiples of the line frequency inside the waveform. Why is there concern about harmonics if the user has actually lowered the amount of usage? Harmonic Mitigation Options There are several methods to reduce or eliminate the harmonics content that a VFD creates. This is significant cost and size reduction for a small device. more commercially known as a reactor. Harmonic Filters An alternative choice for harmonics correction is to use harmonic filters. 17th and 19th harmonics. An alternative choice is to use a 12-pulse drive that has two rectification modules with six-phase power. it was stated earlier that VFDs reduce kilowatt usage. 24-pulse and 30-pulse. to the input of the VFD. 13th. These perform best at rated loads and should be sized accordingly.

Simulation tools and measurement devices can also help when predicting and passing power quality requirements from the utility provider. the solution may seem cost prohibitive when spanning a mass of VFDs. active filters are placed in parallel to the VFD load. . This is why it is best to consult with a professional who is not concerned with his or her product being the solution. For example. an active filter would perform better because it is not load-dependent. Active filters share some components but add processor-controlled transistors (fast switches) to inject negative harmonics back into the system. is there a filtering method to support the entire structure—including harmonics created by high- efficiency lighting and computing equipment as well as VFDs? Quite possibly some loads can alter other load harmonics. the end user must view the system as a whole circuit and consider different combinations of mitigation products that could be used to prevent a power quality concern. essentially reducing harmonic content to levels below 5 percent THDi. Be aware that the amount of harmonic correction begins to deteriorate with passive devices at lighter loads. since they actively adjust to changing conditions Putting It All Together To obtain the best overall harmonics mitigation solution. If only a singular VFD is taken into account. A non-biased approach can look at the overall system and offer recommendations for unraveling and solving the issues. At the service entrance of the building.are less than 8 percent THDi. Unlike passive filters that are placed in series with the VFD load. These positive and negative harmonics cancel out. Active filters cost more than their passive counterparts but perform better from light loads to heavy loads. If that same bank of 40-HP VFDs were on booster pumps that vary speeds (thus a varying load) throughout the day. a company with a bank of 10 40-horsepower (HP) VFDs might find purchasing a large 400-HP passive filter more economical than individual filters at each VFD.