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AC INVERTERS

What is an AC Inverter?
An AC Inverter is an electronic device that converts a fixed frequency and voltage to an adjustable frequency and AC voltage source. It controls the speed, torque, horsepower and direction of an AC motor. AC Inverter is also a term used for an AC adjustable frequency drive and is sometimes used to describe a particular section of an AC drive. The section uses the DC voltage from a previous circuit stage (DC Bus) to produce an AC current or voltage having the desired frequency. AC Inverters are also referred to as Variable Frequency Drives (VFD's) or Adjustable Speed Drives (ASD's). These inverters are gaining in popularity due to the energy savings that can be obtained related to the AC technology. In addition, AC motors are simpler than DC and usually an "off-the-shelf" item compared to DC motors. Advances in technology have made the size, cost, reliability and performance of AC inverters very appealing in industrial variable speed applications.

The AC Inverter drive system is very simple. It consists of three components:


AC Motor - Usually NEMA Design B, squirrel cage induction, 3-phase motor Motor Control Section (also called Inverter section) Operator Interface

The operator control allows the operator to command the motor to function as desired through the use of motor control inputs and outputs. The motor control section controls the motor's speed by converting utility power into adjustable frequency power. The AC motor drives the device (fan, pump, etc.) by converting the electrical power to mechanical power. AC Inverters convert a fixed, 3 phase voltage and 60Hz frequency source into a variable voltage and frequency source. In order to control the speed of the motor, the frequency applied to the motor must also be controlled. The formula for this is N=120 x F/P. N=Speed in RPM, F=Frequency in Hz, and P=Number of pole pairs.

Since the number of poles is relatively constant, the only convenient factor to vary is the frequency. Frequency determines motor speed. However, the motor needs to supply rated torque, no matter what the speed is. In order for rated torque to occur, it is necessary to keep the voltage and frequency in a constant relationship. This is called the Volts per Hertz relationship and is in the following proportions: 230 VAC Input: 230V/60Hz = 3.83V/1Hz 460 VAC Input: 460V/60Hz=7.67V/1Hz as seen in the proportions, there is a specific voltage to frequency relationship that exists in an AC motor. With this relationship supplied to the motor, the motor will be able to develop rated torque at all speeds. There is one exception - low speed operation. At low speeds, the stator losses tend to rob the motor of its full torque producing capability. In order for the motor to compensate for this problem, additional voltage must be supplied by the drive.

AC Inverter Advantages:

Versatile - more than motor control, this device has self-diagnostics, current status, multi-use programmability, and precise speed control Energy Savings - reduces peak energy demands by ramping up power drawn from the motor & maximizes energy put through the unit Performance - simple operation, fast motor load change response (small setpoint for precise operation) Reliability - solid-state unit, no external controls Size - lighter and smaller than most other methods of speed control

AC Inverter Applications:

Conveyors, belts, chains, screws, bulk/packaged material handlers Fans, blowers, compressors, pumps Machine tools, grinders, lathes, stamping presses Custom machines, labelers, bottle washers, wire drawing, textiles, etc. Extruders, process machinery, kilns, grinders, blenders, agitators

AC Inverters are available 110, 240, 480 and 575 voltages, and .25-500 HP in continuous or variable torque styles. Select from a variety of NEMA types to fit your application.

Find out more about AC Inverters at the Galco Industrial Electronics Website