Variety and Versatility: The Evolution of Variable Speed Drives and How It Affects You

13th August 2013 | Posted by Charlotte Miskell

Way back when, machine speeds required precise speed control and regulation, we would often see the implementation of pricey DC motors or hydraulic couplings. Other than that, other applications would see the use of valves, gears and pulleys. It wasn’t until their introduction in the 80s and 90s that variable speed drives (or variable frequency drives, VFDs) began to make an impact with their ability to adjust an AC induction motor’s electrical supply – subsequently altering both speed and torque output.

The technology behind variable speed drives has gone on to advance dramatically over the last decade or so, with the implementation of magnetic materials and new power devices. With so much available currently on the market, the process of selecting the correct drive for your application can be seen as a daunting task indeed, with the technological leaps and bounds baffling many end users. To add to the confusion, at the moment, there isn’t an all-encompassing VFD that is perfect for all applications universally. So when you are perusing the market, as an installer or end user, you must ensure that you purchase the most useful and appropriate drive for your application.

One of the main benefits of variable speed drives is their versatility, being able to vary speeds from 0rpm to over 100% of the rated speed. This versatility means there are a variety of options available to you – from basic VFD set-ups used in such applications as pumps and fans, to highly complex designs engineered for exact speed precision and torque control.

VFD Investment

Variable speed drives are well worth the investment – particularly when used in applications such as pumps and fans in replacement of more traditional output regulation methods – but whatever the application, you will witness substantial reduction in both energy and cost. For example, in the aforementioned example, installing a VFD to regulate the speed of a fan or pump from full speed down to just 80% can result in up to 50% savings on energy use.

There are numerous factors to bear in mind when selecting a variable speed drive; size, performance, ease of installation, upkeep, efficiency, power, and cost, to name but a few. For more information on how you can benefit from variable speed drive installation, and for advice on which type will be better suited to your  applications than others, contact one of our friendly engineers today either on … or via one of our online forms, and we will get back to you ASAP.


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