Variable Frequency Drives Technical Note - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Industrial  -  November 1, 2011

Variable Frequency Drives Technical Note

A variable frequency drive, or VFD, is a type of adjustable speed drive used to control the rotational speed of an alternating current electric motor by adjusting the frequency and voltage applied to the motor. Electric motors drive many types of equipment, including fans, pumps, and air compressors. Motor-driven equipment accounts for 64% of the electricity consumed by U.S. industry, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Although equipment can generally operate at velocities less than the maximum design speed, motors typically drive equipment at a constant rate. Flow and pressure are regulated through the use of a throttling device, such as a valve, damper, or bypass. A variable frequency drive provides a more efficient way to control varying flow rates and pressures. VFDs are also often called variable speed
drives, variable frequency inverters, or frequency converters.

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