Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Peter Cox, the director of industrial projects for our industrial cable group.
VFD cables are used to connect Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to motors and, when specified correctly, they play a large role in mitigating harmful electrical noise. This noise can disrupt production and lead to downtime or quality control issues, which can be a major drawback to VFDs that otherwise have a quick payback.
In previous articles on VFD cable, I discussed the reasons you want to specify high-performance rather than construction-grade VFD cable for your VFD applications. I also pointed out that for high-power motors there are advantages to using two or more parallel VFD cables over one very large VFD cable or pipe and wire solution.
Today, I am going to give you a preview of an upcoming webinar we are holding on parallel VFD cable. This webinar will help you specify the right cable for high-power motor and drive applications. You can register for it using a link at the end of this blog.
Multiple parallel VFD cables are easier to terminate
in confined spaces than a single large cable.
Common Issues for VFD Applications
While VFDs provide multiple benefits, including longer motor life, energy savings, improved process control and higher reliability – they also create issues. The four main issues are described below.
The table above highlights potential issues with VFD applications.
High-Performing VFD Cable Mitigates Issues
The right VFD cable does an excellent job of reducing or eliminating VFD application issues. Such a cable is designed with:
- Lots of copper at ground potential
- Flexible tinned strand for high-frequency conduction and reliable termination
- Low capacitance, high dielectric strength insulation
- Effective shielding
As there is no standard for VFD cables, remember that their performance is all about copper, especially copper in the ground system.
When the application involves motors of 200 horsepower (149 KW) or more, the conductors must grow out in proportion to the power, in order to ensure the required ampacity. Ampacity is the maximum amount of electrical current a conductor can carry before overheating, or as limited by statutory requirements.
When multiple smaller cables are paralleled, as permitted under the National Electrical Code (NEC), more efficient conduction is achieved. Additionally, VFD cables provide more copper at ground potential and this benefit is enhanced with parallel cables.
Communications in the Factory LAN
My next article in this series will continue to look at the requirements for communications within a manufacturing site’s LAN for achieving the vision of the factory of the future. I will look at data rates, cyber security, reliability and other aspects of what’s in store for upcoming industrial communications systems.
Parallel VFD cable solutions have as much as 500 percent more copper at ground potential than a single cable solution meeting NEC minimums.
CMA: circular mil area, HP: horsepower
In addition, parallel cables provide more amps for each dollar spent on copper.
Finally, parallel cables are much easier to handle, lighter weight and have more flexibility than a single large cable. This facilitates installation and termination, particularly in tight spaces.
Parallel VFD cables are more flexible and easier to install than a single large cable.
A high-performance solution with multiple parallel VFD cables has the following advantages:
- Overall copper use is reduced
- More ground copper is installed, leading to reduced noise emissions
- Cables are more flexible, lighter weight and easier to terminate
- Lower pulling force is required during installation
What do you think about the Smart Factory? Are you taking steps to enable it? I look forward to hearing from you.
- Blog:Parallel VFD Cables Enhance the Performance of High-Power Motors
- Blog:Why High Performance VFD Cable is Important
- Webpage:VFD Cable
- Document:Unarmored Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Cable Termination Guide
- Blog: VFD Cable Line Extension with MCM VFD to Support Large Horsepower Motors
- DesignNews.com blog: Engineering Directives Not Followed... Again
- Webpage: VFDS.com
- Electro-labs.com webpage: Cabling-Effects and Selecting the Right Cable
Peter Cox is the Director of Global Industrial Projects with Belden. He has a Bachelor in degree in Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa Ontario and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He has worked in the Cable, Drives, or Automation Industry or as a consultant to those industries and markets for his entire 34 year career. Peter has extensive experience in the application of Systems Drives, as well as extensive first hand exposure to many if the common application issues.