Did you know that if you run cables that connect your variable frequency drives (VFDs) to your motors you could have a significant safety risk in your plant or factory? Fear not, there is a simple solution to this potential problem. It’s a fact. Non-shielded cables emit noise. In many cases, this is not a significant prob- lem. Most of us have heard that 60 Hz hum that happens when a phone line is run too close to a standard 600 Volt power cable. It’s really nothing more than a nuisance with standard power. But the same physics behind that hum may be creating a safety issue in your facility. VFDs change standard 60 Hz power in to variable frequency power that allow us to ex- perience significant energy savings, better control of our equipment, and reduced main- tenance costs. However, like most things in life, there are trade-offs. The down-side of a drive system is that it generates lots of high frequency voltage components that can cause problems with motors, drives, and other plant equipment. These same high frequency waveform components can also cause safety issues. Let’s look at how.
Author archives: Steve Wetzel
Correctly sizing a VFD Cable for your drive and motor is really not difficult if you know where to look. By knowing what sections of the National Electrical Code (NEC) to ref- erence, you can correctly size cable conductor size for your system. Just follow these five simple steps to size cables for low voltage drive systems with operating voltages not greater than 575 volts. STEP ONE: Determine the minimum temperature rating of your equipment. Temperature ratings are important to know when derating the cable for the application as higher temperature ratings allow cables to handle more current. The NEC tables for ca- ble ampacity for low voltage cables have columns for 60°C, 75°C and 90°C. The column you use will be based on the minimum temperature rating of your drive terminals, your motor terminals, and your VFD Cable. Most drive terminals are rated for 75°C. All Southwire VFD Cables carry a 90°C conduc- tor temperature rating but this is not true of all VFD Cables from other manufactures. Motor terminal temperature ratings can vary from 60°C to 90°C. Each of these temperature ratings needs to be verified with the manufacturer’s datasheets or user manuals. If other equipment is being used that is in the cable’s path, like a quick disconnect, collect that devices temperature raring too. Once you have all the temperature ratings, record the minimum value.
DC Hi-Pot Testing is used for proof testing shielded cables (5kV to 46kV) in the field. The test can be done at various times such as acceptance of new cable installation, maintenance testing to track insulation degradation and as a pre and post test for splicing existing cables to new ones. The test will expose gross imperfections that are caused by improper handling, installation techniques or termination workmanship. A DC Hi-Pot test is not capable of locating the point of failure, rather it gives you an assessment of the whole system.
Insulation resistance testing is a non-destructive test procedure. The test measures the insulation resistance between the phases and/or between phase and ground. It is commonly used in the industry for acceptance testing prior to energizing the cable and for maintenance testing programs.
A variable-frequency drive (VFD) cable is a special cable construction for the inverter-to-motor cable that has some or all of the following attributes:
• An overall shield that keeps bad stuff such as electrical magnetic interference (EMI) from escaping.
• A robust insulation system that keeps good stuff such as voltage and current from escaping.
• A symmetrical design that reduces the amount of bad stuff in the cable, such as common mode current and EMI.