Consider the Merits of Variable Frequency Drives for Commercial HVAC Systems

July 11th, 2017
Consider the Merits of Variable Frequency Drives for  Commercial HVAC Systems

Variable frequency drives can help prevent commercial HVAC systems from breaking down.

As summer temperatures climb higher, effective energy management systems become increasingly important. If commercial HVAC systems overheat, they can break down and cost your business unnecessary amounts of time and money to repair them. One such energy management system is known as the variable frequency drive. This technology has existed for over two decades, and previous iterations of the technology could only perform as well as the systems they were attached to. However, modern versions can be attached to commercial HVAC systems with up to 500 horsepower. That’s plenty of power, but how else do VFDs benefit your commercial HVAC systems?

VFDs for Commercial HVAC Systems

Commercial HVAC systems are often calibrated to operate at one standard speed. Although the user’s input and building demands may call for lower speeds, most drive motors will continue to run at maximum speed. Different parts of the day may be hotter or cooler, depending on weather conditions outside, and drive motors need to be able to adjust for that. What VFDs do is allow the motors to adjust and operate at lower speeds.

Peak load parameters are a design setting that causes surprising amounts of energy waste. Commercial HVAC systems are intended to meet these parameters, but often do not need to do so, causing the energy waste. Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of the time commercial HVAC systems are running, they do not need to reach peak loads. How fast the drive motor is running determines how much energy is used. Lower speeds result in less energy consumption, which in turn can reduce energy bills by up to 60%.

Reasons to Install Them

  • Reduced energy bills: With modified speeds from VFDs, you can expect to see the energy bills decrease. The minimum amount of savings you can expect? Thirty-five percent.
  • Less damage to the drive motor: Less damage to the drive motor will also mean less maintenance is needed.
  • More precise control settings: Airflow will improve, which protects the pump and brings energy savings.
  • System efficiency measurements: VFDs will monitor the exact needs of the building based on current environmental conditions. Commercial HVAC systems are often built to be too large in order to fit future upgrades and components or new personnel in the building. System efficiency measurements are taken to gauge how fast the motor should be running.
  • Information about system performance: System performance is also monitored. Any potential problems can be detected and resolved before they escalate. Preventative maintenance will keep the entire system in better shape and save you money as well.

What Else Works?

Variable frequency drives can also be attached to particular pieces of equipment within the commercial HVAC system. For instance, the chiller pump motor can better distribute water flow based on need in terms of gallons per minute. Components of the cooling tower also benefit from having a VFD attached. Motor pumps, condenser pumps, and boiler pumps all work together to set the speed of the building’s cooling tower fan.

Crockett Facilities Can Help!

Crockett Facilities Services, Inc. (CFSI) is committed to helping building owners, property managers, engineers, and facility professionals lower their operating expenses through HVAC preventive maintenance. We can develop a cost-effective, customized preventive maintenance plan for your commercial building that will provide you with peace of mind, improved comfort, and energy savings.

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To learn more about the importance of HVAC Preventive Maintenance, please contact us at 202.600.2787 or Our PM contract customers receive priority service with 24/7 emergency service in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.


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