The Disruptive Innovation of VFD and PMAC Motors

VFD, motor strategies for energy efficiency

CSE Mag, January 21, 2015

Motors get no respect. Although they’re present in many of the systems that we design and they often drive the overall energy usage profile of a building, they usually end up as an afterthought. Traditionally, mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection designs for buildings have been focused on system level considerations of health/safety, functionality, and initial capital cost. However, the adoption of more stringent energy codes and standards has put greater emphasis on energy efficiency in our designs.

While this emphasis on energy efficiency may seem like a relatively recent development, it is the direct evolution of federal legislation that was passed almost 40 years ago in response to the 1973-74 oil crisis. The key is to recognize that this is all part of an ongoing progression and that efficiency requirements will only become more stringent. So while many building owners will be more than satisfied with minimal code-compliant designs, as proactive engineers and designers, there is a need to understand how the components in the systems we design use power and how they can be optimized without compromising those traditional design values. In some cases, there may be technological “dead ends” in the individual system components that may require emphasis on different solutions for energy efficiency.

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