What Is A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD)?

About This Video

This video explains, in detail, what a variable frequency drive (VFD) is. Many people believe a variable frequency drive is for supplying 3 phase power to electronics. The truth, however, is that variable frequency drives are for motor speed control.

Here it is: my first official video on behalf of the company that I work for – Precision Electric.

I’ve been working here for about 10 years. [It is a] family-owned business. We’ve been doing this for quite some time. System integrator – we do all kinds of things. Anything ranging from drive repair, motor repair, electronics, digital electronics, drive sales of course, which is what we’re talking about today.

We also do all kinds of really intricate systems retrofits. Now this is a variable frequency drive. Now a variable frequency drive is a cool piece of technology, a very sophisticated piece of technology. But it’s gotten a lot simpler to use these things. This one in particular is an SMVector Series and it’s made by Lenze or formerly AC Tech. We have distributed these drives online for about eight years now (before AC Tech was bought by Lenze and now after AC Tech was bought by Lenze) and we still distribute them straight from our website.

Now the reason I like these things is because essentially they’re designed to be connected to motors. A lot of people will ask, Hey man, I need to take my 120 volts from my wall and I need to convert it into 230 volts [and] three-phase. Now while you can do that, the three-phase that it converts it into, for those of you who don’t know basic power, is you have a phase of electricity coming out of your wall of your house. It’s a single phase of electricity. Most bigger motors run on three phases of electricity which is three hot wires instead of just the one. These are designed to run motors, not electronics. Because what this does is it takes that power that comes into it – 120 volts typically or 230 volt single phase – and then it will convert that into three phases. It does that by creating a simulated sine wave. When the simulated sine wave is created it has jagged edges on it.

Now the reason you don’t want to power like a cabinet electronics with one of these bad boys is because that simulated sine wave will actually destroy electrical equipment. The motors are designed to withstand that kind of abuse and that’s why they are a beautiful solution for most motors.

Most people use these, believe it or not, as simple phase converters for their motors. They have single-phase at their shop or their house. They need to convert it into three phase and then power whatever device or whatever motor they may have in their facility because that motor is big and has three phases. So this works beautifully as that kind of solution. A lot of other people will get into the more advanced functions of these. So it can be something very simple but it can also be used for controlling the speed of your motor. You can change the speeds and it uses this little keypad here: the Up and Down arrows. Pretty much every drive universally has that. This drive in particular – we enjoy it. This is very easy to set up. Again this is the SMVector Drive. This is the one youll see on the website right now. We’re going to be expanding that soon – the availability of different products.

What’s nice about these is you can easily change your speeds right here. Energy efficiency is a big reason why people may use this because they can run their motors at the optimal speed so that they don’t pull as much current or more current than necessary.

These drives can get a lot more complicated than that. You can obviously have preset speeds and you use these little terminals. These are control terminals and you electrically wire to the control terminals. Now make sure you subscribe to my channel because we’re going to go into some detail on how these things work. We’ll get into more discussion on that. Essentially what these allow you to do is do everything from a basic simple phase converter all the way up to very sophisticated control. They talk about things like PID your loops, where you take feedback or real world feedback from a sensor. You can adjust your speed on the fly. You can talk to other electronic devices like PLCs or Programmable Logic Controllers.

The world of digital electronics is vast. There’s a lot of stuff to cover and that’s why I kind of created this segment talking about digital electronics. It’s dedicated to what we kind of do here. Remember, we’ve sold these drives for a long, long time and one of the main things we offer along with what you guys buy is support. So that’s a big part of the product service. So make sure you guys check that out. If you’re in the market for one don’t hesitate to ask questions. That’s why we’re here.

So that’s it for this video. Basically a variable frequency drive is an electronic device. It could be very small or very large. [It is] designed specifically to run a motor at varying speeds or different profiles depending on what you’re trying to do with it. Now how you’re going to get it to do those things depends on the drive itself. This one we like because it’s a lot easier to use and it’s very reliable and robust. But if you want to get into something more sophisticated, it depends on the application. So thank you guys for stopping by. I hope we answered your question and of course, if you have any questions or if you’re in the market for a variable frequency drive post it in the comments below. Or, if you’re in the market be sure to check out the website. There’s an online shopping cart system now and you can also contact us by phone.

So thanks for stopping by. [This was the] first digital electronics video. Hopefully you guys you liked it. There’s plenty more to come, so I’m excited to come back covering this drive in particular.

I’ll see you guys in the next episode!

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