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Drivepower

Planning for Motor Failure

When a motor fails in an industrial setting, it is often the first of two failures. The second is the (usually panicked) choice of a replacement for the failed motor. Research from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that only 11 percent of U.S. corporations plan for motor contingencies, and energy efficiency is infrequently among the criteria used in that decision-making process. When a motor fails, the cost of downtime is usually the predominant concern. Future operating costs are often only vaguely understood and are therefore unlikely to be considered. Yet the financial and environme…

Making Motor Repair or Replacement Decisions

The prevailing view among many facility managers is that it is cheaper to repair failed motors larger than 15 horsepower (hp) than to replace them. Although this is usually true in terms of first cost, the best economic decision for a given motor is not always as straightforward as it might seem. When all the relevant factors are considered, replacement with an energy-efficient motor makes economic sense in many situations. One such factor is the efficiency degradation that is common when motors are repaired. Motor repair can preserve and, in rare cases, even improve efficiency slightly, if sk…

Voltage Controllers

If your facility employs alternating-current (AC) induction motors that require constant speed but operate for considerable periods at very low load—which means at less than peak efficiency—you may be able to achieve modest energy savings by installing a device known as a voltage controller. Voltage controllers are electronic devices that sense the load on a motor and reduce the voltage applied to the motor’s terminals when it’s operating at low load. When motors operate at partial load, they draw excess magnetizing current, creating unnecessary losses in the motor co…

Variable-Frequency Drives

Variable-frequency drives (VFDs)—also sometimes referred to as variable-speed or adjustable-speed drives—allow induction-motor-driven loads such as fans and pumps to operate at rotational speeds ranging from 10 to 300 percent of a motor’s nameplate speed rating. By controlling motor speed to correspond with varying load requirements, retrofitting electric motors with VFD controls can increase motor energy efficiency—in some cases by as much as 50 percent. VFDs can also improve power factor and process precision, and they can deliver other performance enhancements and no…

AC Induction Motors

Some of the largest opportunities to save energy and reduce operating costs in buildings and industrial facilities come from optimizing electric motor systems. About half of all electricity consumed in the U.S. flows through motors, 90 percent of which are alternating-current (AC) induction motors. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that on average, the manufacturing sector could reduce industrial electric motor energy use 11 to 18 percent by using proven efficiency technologies and practices. In a single year, a fully-loaded motor operating continuously can consume energy worth abo…

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