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VFD - Variable frequency drive

A modern VFD is a compact, well-developed unit which is relatively easy to install.

The cost of a VFD has decreased over the years while the performance has
VFDs are usually installed to allow for better process control. The use of VFD is
unfortunately not so straight forward. There are numerous technical aspects to take
into account when designing a VFD controlled pumping system.
See technical aspects.
A modern VFD is a compact, well-developed unit which is relatively easy to install.
Unlike an old VFD, a modern version generally does not require as much power
margin compared to ans old one since it uses higher switching frequencies that
does not affect the induction motor to the same extent. The high switching
frequency however, induces electrical transients which can lead to other problems
such as nuisance tripping of control equipment. These transients are also more
aggressive against stator insulation.
Regardless of the type of pump or VFD used, there are several technical aspects to
Clogging: VFD-controlled pumps often run at reduced speeds, which mean that the
energy available for the impeller to keep itself from clogging also is reduced.
Therefore it is recommended to control the pumps in a way that long periods of
running the pumps at low frequencies are avoided, especially in tough sewage

Sedimentation in pipes: Avoid running at low frequencies that will result in

velocities in the pipes lower than 0.7 metres per second to minimize the risk of
having sedimentation.
Nuisance tripping: The high-frequency emission from a VFD can interfere with
sensor control systems and other equipment. The use of shielded cables and
appropriate filters are therefore recommended.
NPSH/power limit problems: The VFD does not dirctly have an impact on the
NPSHrequired of a pump. However, decreasing speed with a VFD will in many cases
significantly change the duty point for the pump. The new duty point could be at a
position on the pumps perfromance curve where the NPSHrequired is much higher
than at the duty point at full speed.
VFD is used in many sewage pumping applications with the intention of saving
energy. Not every pump application will benefit from VFD control. The only way to
determine if VFD is the correct choice is to do a thorough analysis. The system
characteristics determine if VFD control is economically motivated or not.
See economical aspects.
Not every pump application will benefit from VFD control. The only way to
determine if a VFD will result in an economically satisfying solution is to do a
thorough analysis. Pumping with variable frequency drive (VFD) controlled systems
can be separated into two different cases:
- A variable continuous flow is required by the process (common for industrial
applications). The normal way to control the flow is by throttling. The use of a VFD
will, in most cases, lead to a substantial energy reduction.
- VFD vs. ON-OFF regulation (common for sewage applications). Variable speed
drive is used to reduce pipe system losses when pumping. The effect of the VFDcontrol depends on the pipe system used. Systems with high losses relative to the
geodetic head will benefit from VFD control, while the impact of a VFD in lift
systems (low losses relative to geodetic head), is negligible at best. A though
system analysis has to be performed in order to determine whether variable
frequency control might be economically motivated.
This type of analysis can be performed with Xylem Water Solutions pump selection