Industrial electronics made for European applications end up in American repair shops.
In the repair industry, one of the highest fail items we see are European made products.
The power grid in Europe runs at 50Hz or lower. In the US, Mexico and Canada the power grid runs at 60Hz.
So how can running at a different frequency effect how a machine runs?
European made equipment is designed to run at 50Hz, were as American made equipment is made to run at 60Hz. It is not that big of a deal on TVs, computers and other commercial electronics. But in the world of Industrial electronics it is huge.
The primary difference between 50 Hz (Hertz) and 60 Hz (Hertz) is, well, 60Hz is 20% higher in frequency. For a generator or induction motor pump (in simple terms) it means 1500/3000 RPM or 1800/3600 RPM (for 60Hz).
Lower the frequency; you'll get iron losses and eddy current losses.
Lower the frequency; speed of induction motor and generator will be lower.
For example, with 50 Hz, generators will be running at 3000 rpm against 3600 rpm with 60 Hz. Mechanical centrifugal forces will be 20% higher in case of 60 Hz (rotor winding retaining ring has to bear centrifugal force while designing). But with higher frequency, output of generator and induction motors will be higher for same size of motor/generator because of 20% higher speed.
The design of such magnetic machines is such that they are really one or the other. It may work in some cases, but not always, and to change between different power supply frequencies will certainly have an effect on efficiency, and may mean de-rating is necessary. There is little real difference between 50 Hertz and 60 Hertz systems, as long as the equipment is designed appropriately for the frequency. It is more important to have a standard and stick with it.
The more significant difference is that 60Hz systems usually use 110V (120V) or thereabouts for the domestic power supply, while 50Hz systems tend to use 220V, 230V etc., for different countries. This has the impact that house wiring needs to be twice the cross section for the 110V system for the same power. However, the optimum system is accepted as around 230V (wire size and power required versus safety). In most of the US the 110V power system is in tandem with the 240V US system that provides for the higher powered appliances like stoves and clothes dryers, while 110V does wall outlets and lights.
As mentioned earlier, in commercial electronics like TVs and computers this difference is not that big of a deal. In fact many commercial electronics are designed to handle both power sources.
In Industrial electronics, where motors and gears are involved, a difference
in Hz could mean a difference in RPMs. It is very easy to check your systems for European units. Contact me at the email below or any Innovative-IDM representative and they can assist you in identifying them, ensuring they are set up properly, repairing them and even replacing them if necessary.
Marc Phelps is manager of the Innovative-IDM repair facility in Houston. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org