In cooperation with Austin Energy and the City of Austin, Austin, Texas-based Ideal Power Converters (IPC) is demonstrating its low-harmonic, utility-friendly variable frequency drive (VFD) on a 15-hp air handler at a City of Austin building, where it is significantly reducing the air handler’s energy consumption. VFDs are a $10 billion annual market, but standard VFDs generate damaging harmonics that limit their use. In contrast, IPC’s VFDs have much lower harmonics and higher system efficiency as compared with conventional VFDs.

“The IPC power converter is a radically different approach not discussed in textbooks,” says Dr. Hamid A. Toliyat, director of Texas A&M’s Electric Machines & Power Electronics Lab. “Texas A&M University has jointly published five IEEE peer reviewed scientific papers with IPC regarding the benefits of their converter topology in motor drive, wind converter, solar inverter, and grid-scale battery-inverter applications. IPC’s technology can disrupt established billion-dollar electronic power-converter industries and establish U.S. leadership for this critical clean-energy industry.”

It is estimated that more than 60% of the U.S. grid load is used to drive motors for applications such as HVAC chillers/compressors, air handlers, and water pumping. These applications use AC induction motors which normally run at constant speed, resulting in inefficient energy usage. VFD’s vary the speed of the motor to match the load, resulting in energy savings up to 80%. Conventional VFD’s however generate harmonics that may damage utility equipment and standard AC motors. Expensive harmonic filters, inverter-grade AC motors and other equipment are required to use these utility-hostile VFD products.

The IPC VFD eliminates these damaging harmonics at the source, thereby making the VFD utility-friendly and removing the need for additional equipment. The IPC VFD delivers a utility-quality sinusoidal voltage to the motor, which reduces energy losses and allows standard AC motors to be used. Standard VFDs impose a damaging pulse width modulated voltage to the motor, and inject large and damaging harmonic currents into the utility lines, whereas the IPC VFD has a very low level of harmonics. The remarkably compact and light-weight IPC technology will enable the cost-effective adoption of VFD’s in a wide range of applications including air handlers, commercial HVAC chillers, residential HVAC systems, municipal water systems, industrial drives, and many others.

To see a copy of the IPC Low Harmonic Variable Frequency Drives whitepaper, visit the Ideal Power Converters website.