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S z ng gensets for motor start ng

A pract ca gu de to understand ng how motor-start ng oads affect genset performance

Today’s standby power loads are reliable operation. The purpose

By: more complex than ever before. In of this article is to explain how
d nK u many industrial and commercial motors affect genset performance
Senior Field applications, standby gensets must and how sizing software, such as
Applications Engineer
Kohler Power supply power to a mixture of linear Kohler Power System’s QuickSize™,
and nonlinear loads in addition to deals with motor loads. Armed
r kV nm n large motor loads that cycle on and with this understanding, power
Senior Staff Engineer
Kohler Power off. Of all the diverse loads a standby system speci ers will be able to
Systems-Americas genset must supply, applications with select the most cost-effective and
motors present the most sizing issues. reliable genset for motor-
The dynamic interactions of motors starting applications.
and gensets – along with the impact
of motor starters, system inertia, Ba s ic c h a r a c t er is t ic s o f
motor loading, frequency dip, genset mo t o r l o a d s
preload and nonlinear loading – make Motor loads cause dif culty because a
manual genset sizing dif cult, if motor draws high current when started
not impossible. at full voltage. Starting current is typically
six times a motor’s rated full-load current,
Not only is sizing an application and this inrush current stays high until the
with large motors complex, but motor reaches about 75 percent of rated
different genset manufacturers have speed. When a motor is started on normal
different approaches for specifying utility power, the high inrush current will
a standby power system that cause only a small voltage dip because
will function reliably. Each major the utility is a more robust voltage source.
genset manufacturer has created However, when a motor is started on
genset-sizing software to help genset power, the high inrush currents
with this complex task, but due to (measured in kilovolt-amperes or KVAs) can
manufacturers’ differing approaches result in a large voltage dip that can inhibit
to motor starting, this software the motor from reaching its
can yield quite different results – operating speed.
sometimes specifying a larger and
more expensive generator or too small The challenge, then, is to size the genset
a generator than is necessary for to handle the motor-starting load, but also

K P . © 2009 by Koh er Co.


KVa p h p Manufacturers Association (NEMA) sets design

l d n n
l k r standards for motors and has established a
a 0 - 3.14 NEMA code-letter designation for classifying
B 3.15 - 3.54
motors according to the ratio of locked-rotor
c 3.55 - 3.99
KVAs (LRKVAs) per horsepower. These code
d 4.0 - 4.49
letters range from A to V, covering motors with
e 4.5 - 4.99
an LRKVA-per-horsepower ratio of 3.14 or less
f 5.0 - 5.59
to a ratio of 22.4 LRKVA-per-horsepower or
g 5.6 - 6.29
more. See Figure 1.
h 6.3 - 7.00
J 7.1 - 7.99 For example, a 50 hp Code F motor requires
K 8.0 - 8.99 279.5 LRKVA per horsepower upon starting
l 9.0 - 9.99 (50 hp x 5.59 LRKVA per hp = 279.5 LRKVA/hp).
m 10.0 - 11.10 LRKVA is also known as “starting KVA”
N 11.2 - 12.49
or “SKVA.”
P 12.5 - 13.99
r 14.0 - 15.99 Small motors have a higher NEMA code
s 16.0 - 17.99 letter and correspondingly higher LRKVA-per-
t 18.0 - 19.99 horsepower requirement than large motors.
U 20.0 - 22.39 Typical motor sizes and codes are shown in
V 22.4 n up Figure 2.
f u 1: l k r in n c l
Source: 2006 NEMA
Vo l t a g e d iP
to minimize the impact on the other connected
The KVA requirements of a motor running at
loads that may be affected by voltage dips or
full load and rated speed are normally less than
frequency dips.
one KVA per horsepower. With the possible
Therefore, when sizing a genset, it is critical exception of small motors, it would be overly
to accurately predict voltage dips and to conservative to size a genset set simply by
understand how much excess starting capability matching the alternator’s KVA to the motor’s
is available in the motor and what amount of KVA. This would typically result in a genset
voltage dip can be allowed. The most common with more than twice the capacity necessary.
methodology for sizing gensets for motor However, due to the dynamic interaction of the
starting focuses on understanding allowable system components, several characteristics
instantaneous voltage dips, as the combine to make this approach impractical.
primary criteria. However, there is
l k r
one manufacturer that considers s z c
KVa / h P
allowable sustained voltage dips 1 - 2 hP l m 9 - 11
as the primary criteria for 3 hP K 8- 9
motor-load starting. 5 hP J 7-8
7.5 - 10 h P h 6-7
The motor-starting KVA can
15 h P n up g 5.6 - 6.3
be determined by the motor’s
f u 2: t p c l V u hP m
nameplate. The National Electrical Source: 2006 NEMA

K P .
p. 2

Values for motor LRKVA are based on full-

voltage starting. In practice, there is always
a voltage dip when a motor is started on
genset power, and there is even a small dip
PF when a motor is started on utility power.
AT When the voltage drops, inrush current is also
VA proportionally reduced so that starting KVA is
E PF reduced as the square of the voltage dip. A 30
IN 0.4
EN A AT percent voltage dip reduces starting KVA by
/ KV
E HP about 50 percent (0.7 kilovolts x 0.7
amps = 0.49 KVA).

At least for the rst few cycles, the voltage

AMPS OR KVA dip is determined by the size of the load
0.4 Power Factor = 50% HP Factor (i.e., the motor’s LRKVA) and the reactance of
f u 3: en n P r qu the alternator – which is somewhat proportional
l P -f l
Source: Kohler Power Systems to the total mass of copper and iron present in
the alternator. The issue in sizing a genset is
The rst characteristic is power factor. Three-
determining what voltage dip will be acceptable
phase genset sets are usually rated in KVA at 0.8
for a particular load when considering its effect
power factor. Starting power factors of motors
on all components in the system, some of
vary from 0.3 to 0.5 and increase towards unity
which may have unknown transient
as the motor accelerates and its KVA demand
acceptance speci cations.
drops. With a 0.4 power-factor load, a typical
genset is capable of producing nearly twice A voltage dip can affect motors themselves,
its continuous-rated KVA for the time required in addition to other loads on the system. For
to accelerate a motor to the speed at which example, excessive voltage dip can cause
its KVA requirement drops sharply. The genset control relays or magnetically held motor-
engine will not stall even though it is being asked starting contactors to drop out, or ultimately,
to supply more than its rated KVA, because cause the motor to not start at all. If the relays
low power-factor loads (see Figure 3) do not or contactors drop out, the load is removed
require as much horsepower as higher power- from the genset, causing voltage to rise and
factor loads. This genset characteristic allows the cycle to repeat rapidly. This can damage
satisfactory motor-starting results with a genset contactors if allowed to continue. Most control
half the size predicted by the conservative relays and motor-starting contactors will tolerate
approach, which matches the genset 0.8 power- a 35 percent voltage dip. However, there are
factor KVA rating to the motor-LRKVA rating. exceptions. Some relays or contactors will
start to chatter if subjected to a voltage dip as
Vo l t a g e d iP little as 20 percent. Likewise, other voltage-
The other characteristic that can substantially sensitive loads need to be accounted for
reduce the size of the genset needed for a (e.g., UPS systems, medical equipment, HID
particular motor-starting load is voltage dip. lighting) in any genset-sizing exercise. To ensure
satisfactory operation on a given standby power

K P .
p. 3

system, consult the voltage/frequency mo t o r s t a r t er s c a N r ed Uc e

limitations of control components from the Vo l t a g e d iP
manufacturers or suppliers. The high inrush current and high starting
torque associated with full-voltage starting
Voltage dips also reduce the torque a
of motors on utility power may create
motor can supply to its load. A common
problems with the equipment driven by
NEMA Design B motor will develop 150
the motor, or the voltage dips may raise
percent of rated full-load torque during
objections from the electric utility. To
starting. Torque is proportional to the KVA
circumvent these issues, many facilities
delivered to the motor, so a 30 percent
use various types of motor starters for their
voltage dip that reduces KVA to 49 percent
motors. Some of these devices also bene t
also reduces torque to 49 percent of its
motor starting when running on genset
rating. If the motor starts unloaded – as
power, often allowing a smaller genset to
most fans, centrifugal pumps and motors
be utilized.
used with elevators do – this torque
reduction produces no problem other than r u -v – Most
a somewhat longer acceleration time. reduced-voltage starters connect the load
Other types of loads, such as positive to the power source in two or more steps.
displacement pumps, may require more The starters may be either “open”- or
“closed”-transition starters, but only closed-
transition, reduced-voltage starters are
Closed Transition Open Transition helpful when running on genset power. As
6 6 seen in Figure 4, open-transition starters
create an unacceptable spike in KVA
4 4 demand when switching between
Line Circuit

Line Circuit

Start steps occurs.
2 2
P - n n – Part-winding
Run Run
starters are used with motors that have two
Time Time
identical windings intended to be connected
f u 4: c t n n v .op n t n ns in parallel. These windings can be energized
Source: Kohler Power Systems
in sequence to provide reduced starting
torque than the motor can develop at
current and torque. Since part-winding
reduced voltage, which prevents the
starters are inherently closed-transition
motor from reaching full speed. Additional
starters, the maximum inrush current occurs
consequences could include tripping of
at the moment the rst winding is energized,
breakers or overheating of the motor. To
and the maximum inrush KVA load on a
ensure proper motor starting in these
genset set will be reduced to 60–70 percent
applications, it is necessary to compare the
of normal.
torque curves of the pump and the motor at
See Figure 5.
reduced voltage.
au n – This type
of starter provides reduced voltage at

K P .
p. 4

the motor terminals from a tapped 3-phase 33 percent of the delta connected values. Use
autotransformer and generally gives the best only with closed-transition starters, however.
results with gensets. See Figure 6. Taps on See Figure 7.
the transformer provide selection of 80, 65 or
50 percent of initial line voltage to the motor f a c t o r s a f f ec t iNg r ea l -w o r l d
mo t o r s t a r t iNg
terminals. Starting torque is reduced by the
voltage squared to give 64, 42 or 25 percent g n qu n p – The genset’s engine
of the full-voltage value, respectively. To avoid cannot be ignored in motor starting due to
reducing starting torque to unacceptable levels, the high horsepower demanded when a large
use either the 80 or 65 percent taps. motor is started. When the engine slows under
load, frequency dips; this, in turn, increases
s - ( - ) – This
the alternator voltage dip. The amount of
type of starter is most popular and provides
impact on engine RPM during motor starting is
exceptional operating exibility. It is a form
dependent on the performance characteristics
of reduced-voltage starter that utilizes silicon
of a given con guration of engine and alternator.
controlled recti ers (SCRs) to increase voltage
These factors are taken into consideration
at a predetermined rate. Limits on the starting
when running the sizing software based on a
current can also be adjusted to increase system
maximum allowable voltage and frequency dip.
performance. A note of caution: any performance
prediction made at a speci c value will change V u n x n
when the settings are changed in the eld. Also, p n – Thorough testing has revealed
since solid-state starters utilize nonlinear SCRs, that in addition to the transient reactance of the
they can cause voltage distortion during motor
starting that must be considered. 600

Full Voltage Starting

w - – Some motors have six

leads that allow them to be connected in either

Autotransformer Starting on 65% Tap


600 Full Voltage Starting

Full Load Current
Part-Winding Starting

f u 6: a u n s n
Source: Kohler Power Systems
Full Load Current
alternator, voltage regulators and exciters affect
0 voltage dip and recovery. A fast-responding
Speed excitation system can limit the initial voltage dip
f u
5: P
5. Part-Winding
-w n n s n
Starting as shown in Figure 8.
Source: Kohler Power Systems

wye or delta con gurations. By connecting the On voltage dips of 35 percent or less, a fast-
motor winding in the wye con guration and using responding system will start the motor faster.
a voltage source corresponding to the delta
rating, starting current and torque are reduced to

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p. 5

operation of magnetic motor starters and other



Full Voltage Starting equipment running on the genset, never exceed
a 35 percent instantaneous voltage dip.

l – These tend to take longer to

Wye-Delta Starting
Closed Transition
accelerate and recover to full voltage, due to the
initial loaded condition of the motor. With loaded
100 motors, there is a more signi cant relationship
Full Load Current
0 between recovery voltage during motor starting
and the genset’s ability to accelerate the motor
Figure 7. Wye-Delta Starting
f u 7: w -d s n to full speed and rated voltage. A few examples
Source: Kohler Power Systems
of loaded motors include the following:
P n – The pre-existing load on rock crushers, elevators, conveyors, single/
the genset can affect both the frequency dip and multicylinder compressors and
voltage dip during motor starting. For example, submersible pumps.
a 50 percent preloaded genset may dip an
additional 2 percent compared to the Vo l t a g e r ec o Ver y Ver s Us
Vo l t a g e d iP
published gure.
Genset manufacturers differ on some of the
N n n – Electronic motor starters and fundamental criteria for proper genset sizing for
Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) are nonlinear motor starting. Most manufacturers focus on
loads. VFDs are not actually a motor-starting instantaneous voltage dip as the primary factor
problem but a potential harmonic distortion in genset sizing, while at least one manufacturer
problem. Check the genset manufacturer’s sizing stresses voltage recovery during motor starting
program to see if it predicts the voltage
harmonics present when running nonlinear Motor Starting
loads. This can be very useful for analyzing Voltage vs Time
harmonic concerns. 110%
mo t o r l o a d iNg 90%
There are two types of motor loading: high-
breakaway-torque loads (i.e., unloaded 60% Fast Responding
motors) and high-inertia loads (i.e., 50% Conventional Exciter
loaded motors). 40%
Un – These tend to reach
operating speed quickly. A few examples 10%
of unloaded motors include the following: 0%
centrifugal blowers, rotary and centrifugal 0 0.5 1 1.5
pumps (starting under low head pressure),
f u 8: m -s n V v t
clutched motors and fan motors (starting Source: Kohler Power Systems
with low restriction). To avoid improper

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p. 6

105 f UNd a meNt a l c r it er ia f o r

V4 mo t o r s t a r t iNg

V2 +%
Regardless of what sizing method is used or
V3 how manufacturers specify motor-starting
performance, the following fundamental criteria
V1 for motor starting must be accomplished – and
in the following sequence – to successfully
85 start a motor:

T0 T1 T2 1. s u n l r KVa n n n u
v p n u u n –
The required LRKVA at the maximum
V1 = Voltage dip T0 = Point at which load is applied
V2 = Maximum transient voltage overshoot T1 = Time to recover to a specified band permissible instantaneous voltage dip is
V3 = Recovery voltage T2 = Time to recover to and remain considered to be the rst step for motor starting
V4 = Steady-state regulator within the specified band
by most genset and alternator manufacturers.
f u 9g n t n n V v .t su nl c n Typical motors are designed to sustain a 30 to
Source: 2006 NEMA MG1 Part 32
35 percent instantaneous voltage dip before
as the primary driver for genset sizing, which the motor-starting contacts drop out. Many
can lead to confusing speci cations. However, specifying engineers prefer a maximum 20
extensive eld experience indicates that voltage percent instantaneous voltage dip limit to
recovery is more a function of exciter size ensure the motor will start and hold in the
than of main alternator size, and not a true starting contacts.
representation of the genset’s ability to start
2. s u n n qu n p –
the motor.
Next, the torque available from the genset must
While it is necessary to account for the extended exceed the torque required by the motor load,
acceleration time of motors starting under or the motor will stall or never start.
a loaded condition, addressing the required
3. s u n n x n
LRKVA at the maximum instantaneous voltage
n – The genset must have suf cient
dip experienced by all the connected loads
excitation system strength and adequate
should remain the primary criteria. In lab testing
response to accelerate the motor and return it
with actual motors and very high inertia loads,
to operational voltage and speed. This third and
researchers ha e found that because of the
nal step addresses voltage recovery.
or inrush current and power
actual motor-starting capability
iNs t a Nt a Neo Us Ver s Us s Us t a iNed
orrelated with instantaneous Vo l t a g e d iP
with voltage recovery. Both
While most genset manufacturers focus
tandards have recognized that
on instantaneous voltage dip as a primary
dip is the primary criteria to be
criterion for genset sizing, at least one genset
manufacturer writes speci cations with a

K P .
p. 7

different maximum motor-starting KVA value

that allows the genset voltage to recover to 90 c o Nc l Us io N
percent of rated voltage. This concept – known When using a genset to supply motor-starting
as “sustained voltage dip” maximum KVA – loads, the interactions are dynamic and complex.
assumes that when the genset can recover to 90 For the most reliable and accurate results, the
percent of rated voltage, the motor will develop sizing exercise needs to consider the genset as a
81 percent rated torque, allowing the motor to system, including the engine, alternator, voltage
accelerate to full speed in most applications. regulator and excitation system, along with motor
Real-world experience reveals that using a 90 starters. Dynamic conditions, such as systems
percent sustained-voltage motor-starting KVA inertia, motor loading, motor type and genset
value can overstate motor-starting performance preload, are also important. By analyzing this
and lead to improper sizing of the genset due to dynamic system and evaluating the functions
dynamic conditions during motor starting. in real-world applications, speci ers will have a
better understanding of how to properly predict
Please see the graph below for a
motor-starting performance in a more consistent
visual explanation.
and reliable way.

Finally, due to the complexity of total system

60.0% loads and the dynamics of the genset and
Instantaneous Voltage Dip Rating
55.0% at 90% Sustained Voltage Dip
50.0% motor-starting applications, it’s important
45.0% to utilize proven genset-sizing software to
Voltage Dip (% )

ensure performance of the entire system in
35.0% The entire red shaded area is not
30.0% available if the motor starting
contacts drop out at a 35% voltage
its speci c application.
25.0% dip. At a 20% voltage dip
requirement, the area of available
20.0% LRKVA is further reduced.
15.0% QuickSize™ s Koh er’s genset-s z ng software;
10.0% t nc udes ndustry- ead ng features, such as
5.0% Nameplate
the ab ty to se ect gensets based on vo tage
0 0%
d p, frequency d p and tota harmon c d stort on.
These features a ow the user to se ect the genset
set that best ts h s or her power requ rements.
The user can se ect d fferent types of near and
non near oads, nc ud ng motors, VFDs, UPS
systems, battery chargers, of ce equ pment, a r
stained cond t on ng, m sce aneous oads, ght ng and
med ca - mag ng equ pment.
ge dip QuickSpec ™ s an ndustry- ead ng system
LRKVA spec cat on wr t ng too from Koh er that can
n be output a comp ete power system spec cat on
once for gensets and transfer sw tches. Qu ckSpec
outputs the spec cat on nto a r ch text e that
us can be saved n M crosoft Word for easy ed t ng
tor. and custom zat on, a ow ng the user to ntegrate
the power system spec cat on nto a comp ete
bu d ng spec cat on. To request access to the
Qu ckS ze and Qu ckSpec programs, contact the
Koh er Power Systems d str butor nearest you.

K P .
p. 8


Dan Krueger s a Sen or Fe d Rick Van Maaren s a Sen or Staff
App cat ons Eng neer w th Koh er Power Eng neer w th Koh er Power Systems-
Systems-Amer cas. He has worked Amer cas. He has worked n a ternator
w th n the power generat on ndustry for deve opment of standby, mar ne,
more than 15 years, n manufactur ng, res dent a and mob e generator sets
product and bus ness management, for more than 25 years. He ho ds a
and sa es both domest ca y and BSEE from M ch gan Techno og ca
nternat ona y. Krueger jo ned Koh er n 1998, pr mar y Un vers ty, s a reg stered profess ona eng neer n the
work ng w th the eng neer ng commun ty, support ng State of W scons n, a sen or member of the iEEE and
system sa es and prov d ng tra n ng on KOHl ER® a ho der of four patents. He has authored an iEEE
products and para e ng sw tchgear systems. iAS paper t t ed “Rotor l am nat on Des gn for Surface
Permanent Retent on at H gh Speeds” and a chapter of
the EGSA On-Site Power Generation reference book t t ed
“Permanent Magnet Generators.”

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©2009 by Kohler Co.

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