Let’s be honest: If you’re thinking about motor control, you’re probably focused on the output of your controlling device. You’re concerned with velocity, torque and position.
Unless, of course, issues with the input have resulted in serious equipment damage, additional costs or lost productivity. Then, your focus can turn to harmonic distortion.
The harmonic distortion of incoming power is essentially electrical pollution. This distortion is caused by loads that draw currents which are not necessarily sinusoidal. It can then impact everything that shares the power source:
And, of course, all of these issues can lead to unplanned downtime and reduced productivity.
Addressing Harmonic Distortion
How concerned should you be with harmonic distortion? It’s relevant for facilities across a number of industries, but there are two key factors to consider.
First, look at the size and impedance of the power source relative to the drive. A small drive on a large power source does not present a problem. On the other hand, when the source is smaller relative to the drive or the drive system is relatively large, the distortion creates a more severe problem.
Second, think about your neighbors and environment. Who shares the electrical grid with your facility? It is common for municipal facilities, like water and water treatment facilities, to share the grid with residential or commercial areas. Harmonic issues are more severe for these types of facilities than factories in industrial parks. They can increase energy costs and cause issues for your neighbors.
A number of drive solutions are available for reducing harmonic distortion. Based on my experience as an engineer, I have two key criteria for selecting the best drive:
This is a high-level look at harmonic distortion and its impacts – the start to what may require a more in-depth conversation for some organizations. To learn more about drive solutions available to address harmonic distortion, visit this webpage.