Which industrial AC drive should I use? Picking the correct features of a Variable Frequency Drive for your particular application can leave you scratching your head. Here are 7 things to know and should consider when picking the right AC drive for your need.
1. Know the AC drive’s electrical current limit
Your industrial AC drive supplies current to your motor and shut it on and off. Every time your motor shuts off and on, current will spike in your AC drive. Knowing your AC drive’s electrical current limit will ensure that the motor doesn’t burn itself or the AC drive out. It can also let your AC drive shut the motor off in the event the motor begins to draw too much current.
2. Find the motor’s name plate information
The motor your AC drive operates will have a plate of information on it giving you the specs it needs an AC drive to have. Information like horsepower, torque, current draw and etc., are all displayed on the motor so it’s important to match the AC drive to the motor, not the overall system itself.
3. Know your motor’s duty cycle
The AC drive you choose will need to account for the duty cycle of its motor. If the motor is running nonstop or for extended periods of time, it will generate heat and begin to operate less efficiently or even burn up as a result. Picking the right AC drive with the right programming allows it to monitor the motor’s condition and mitigate the productive losses to a minimum.
4. Know what your industrial AC drive communicates with.
Your AC drive needs to chat with other buddies besides the motor. As part of a larger, complete system, your AC drive may need to communicate with a Data Collection System (DCS) or Controlling System. These systems can PC-Based or controlled automatically by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Knowing your systems communication protocol allows you to choose an AC drive with the same or even multiple communication protocols.
5. Know your AC drive’s control method.
Your AC drive can be controlled using a variety of different methods. Depending on whether it will be a local, analog or digital control method, the AC drive will need to be set up differently. Each method requires different wiring and ports, so knowing this beforehand will make selecting an industrial AC drive easier.
6. Know the environmental conditions.
An AC drive will likely operate under less-than-perfect conditions. Take into account how dusty its operating environment will be. How hot will it get? Is there moisture? Industrial AC drives can come built with an Ingress Protection rating, which will give it varying degrees of resistance to adverse conditions. You could also choose a housing cabinet that will protect a standard AC drive.
7. Know your available power.
Knowing what kind of electrical supply you already have will let you select the right industrial AC drive. For example, if you’re using a 120 volt wall outlet, you can select an AC drive that’s capable of operating on that power supply. If it’s more, pick a higher volt AC drive. If it’s lower, pick a lower volt AC drive. -- Troy Hardy, Field Application Engineer