A variable frequency drive is a power electronics-based device that converts a basic fixed frequency, fixed voltage sine wave power to a variable frequency. It regulates the speed of a three-phase induction motor by controlling the frequency and voltage of the power supplied to the motor. Variable frequency drives are also known as adjustable frequency drives(AFD), variable speed drives(VSD), and AC drives.
VFD consists of mainly four parts- rectifier, intermediate DC link, inverter, and controlling system:
It is the first stage of a variable frequency drive. It converts AC power from mains to DC power. This section can be unidirectional or bidirectional based on the application used like the four-quadrant operation of the motor. It utilizes diodes, SCR’s, transistors, and other electronic switching devices.
2. DC bus
DC power from the rectifier is fed to the DC link. This section consists of capacitors and inductors to smooth against ripples and store the DC power. The main function of the DC link is to receive, store, and deliver DC power.
This part comprises electronic switches like transistors, thyristors, IGBT, etc. It receives DC power from the DC link and converts it into AC which is delivered to the motor. It uses modulation techniques like pulse width modulation to vary output frequency for controlling the speed of the induction motor.
4. Control circuit
It consists of a microprocessor/microcontroller unit and performs various functions like controlling, configuring drive settings, fault conditions, and interfacing communication protocols. It receives a feedback signal from the motor as current speed reference and accordingly regulates the ratio of voltage to frequency to control motor speed.
Important features of Variable frequency Drive
● Variable speed
● Improve process efficiency and control
● Acceleration and deceleration control
● Saves energy
● Reduce mechanical stress on machine to extend their lifetime
● Improve the working environment
● High power factor
Application of VFD
● They are mostly used in industries for large induction motors whose power rating ranges from kW to MW.
● They are used in traction system(a component used in the train)
● They are also used in modern lifts, escalators, and pumping systems.
● In some applications such as speed control for a conveyer, the variable frequency drive is installed with a remote potentiometer that personnel can adjust manually to set the speed for the conveyer.
● They are widely used on machine tool drives, compressors, and in ventilation systems for large buildings.
● The main advantage of VFD is that it can vary the power supplied to match the energy requirement of the driven equipment, and saves energy.
● Increased motor longevity
● Reduced power line disturbances
● Energy saving
● Reduced risk of motor damage during start-up and stop
● High efficiency
● Initial drive cost
● Motor heating at low speed
● High maintenance
● Induced power line harmonics
To see how does it programmed and used in Automation systems go through this article - Getting started with AB Powerflex VFD