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VFD Means Variable Frequency Drive: Any Questions?

Posted June 1, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog


VFD means Variable Frequency Drive. The name is actually pretty straight forward to what this device does. A VFD is a controller for motors to vary the frequency and voltage. So what does that mean? You can vary/adjust the speed (RPMs) of a motor. You can see a picture of the family of Yaskawa VFDs below.

Motors use nearly 30% of the electricity in the world. Shouldn't we do something, like use VFDs?

Motors use nearly 30% of the electricity in the world. Shouldn't we do something, like using a variable frequency drive?

Why is varying the speed of a motor important? Just like your vehicle, you want to go different speeds, right? The same goes for machinery. Just because your spaceship can go 140 mph doesn’t mean you need to drive that fast. Sometimes you may want to drive just 40 mph, like if it is raining, or a bumpy road. Basically, machinery wants to be able to do the same thing...but for some different reasons.

In the analogy with a car, the harder you drive the car, the more likely it is to need service sooner (or even break down). This applies to motors as well. Allowing the VFD to vary the frequency (and hence the speed) of a motor, allows the motor a better chance at a longer life. The bearings in the motor are not worked as hard and will generally need less maintenance because of that situation.

Talk about ENERGY!! Did you know that most motors in the world (especially in the good ole U-S-of-A) do NOT have a VFD on them? So what, right? Well the WHAT being that 25% of the world’s electricity is consumed by motors. That is actually a very conservative number. Some reports list the average usage anywhere up to 48% of the world’s electricity. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Electric motors are the largest single user of electricity in this world and that is a fact. And that is important because varying the speed of these motors using a VFD will vary the energy consumption.

That’s good news.. Anyone here want to see their electric bill at their facility to go down in stead of up? Yeah, exactly.

Variable Frequency Drive in Summary

  • Drives vary the speed of motors by varying the frequency.
  • Running a motor with a Drive increases its efficiency and life span.
  • Motors are the single largest user of electricity on the planet.
  • Yaskawa is the best of the best…of the best….sir.

So why Yaskawa VFDs? Yaskawa has manufactured more VFDs to date than any other VFD manufacturer in the world. They also have the lowest Field Assembly Failure Rate out of anyone of .00043%. Why is that important? Yaskawa's nearest competitors are between 4% and 6%. Let’s do some math…so out of 1,000,000 drives shipped to our customers, Yaskawa drives will experience 43 failures or DOAs while their competitors will have between 40,000 and 60,000 DOAs. FORTY THOUSAND! That’s insane.



Should you have any other questions regarding VFDs, don’t hesitate to email me.

Brandt King is a longtime member of the Innovative-IDM team at the Houston branch. You can reach him at brandt.king@iidm.com

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