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Choosing the Right Motor Protection and Control Solution

March 3, 2017

Choosing the right motor protection and automated control system solution for your application can be a complicated task. That applies to whether you’re considering using an across-the-line starter to simply connect and disconnect full power to a motor, a soft starter to smoothly ramp up a motor, or a variable frequency drive (VFD) to adjust motor speed.

As these motor protection and control components become more technologically advanced and competitively priced, it’s increasingly important to know more information about the application in which these controls will be used before selecting one. This will allow you to size the protection and automated control system appropriately, reduce troubleshooting time and better manage costs.

Accurate and complete motor name plate information is an essential starting point. The name plate will give you key motor specifications such as horsepower, voltage and insulation class. The next consideration for choosing the right solution is your motor and application’s torque and speed requirements, along with accurate acceleration and deceleration rates. Knowing whether the application is more suitable for variable torque or constant torque is important to know beforehand. Also note that fine-tuning the control’s inputs and outputs and adjusting the PID can be performed on site, however, it’s beneficial to at least know whether these adjustments are likely to be needed in order to select the proper starting method to begin with.

If possible, knowing accurate information about the installation site power source is also important to selecting the right solution. Knowing voltage, type of power, grounding information, transformer configuration and generator type can greatly reduce the amount of time spent troubleshooting the start-up. Other useful information outside of the control panel would include whether any power factor correction products will be used, and the effects of nearby equipment that may draw large amounts of current themselves. Case resistors, battery banks or other ride-through products may be necessary to reduce down time.

Environmental considerations may also be a factor in selecting the correct solution. Variables such as altitude, internal and ambient temperatures, and the expected exposure to liquids, chemicals, vapors, dust or debris can influence the type of protection and control device you should use. This information is also the basic starting point for selecting the appropriate enclosure to house your application’s controls. It will also help you to take appropriate derating methods and to ensure the proper ventilation, air circulation, heating and cooling of your enclosure.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing protection and control solutions, such as harmonic mitigation, communication and motor feedback needs, proper wire shielding, VFD cable selection and proper wiring layout. Not only does Control Assemblies provide motor protection and control components, as a leading control systems integrator, we also provide recommendations based on your unique application needs, and the service and support team to install and maintain your solution.