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How Variable Speed Works -2-



With one pole pair isolated in a motor, the rotor (shaft) rotates at a specific speed: the base speed. The number of poles and the frequency applied determine this speed (Fig. 4). This formula includes an effect called "slip." Slip is the difference between the rotor speed and the rotating magnetic field in the stator. .Figure 4. Motor Speed Formula (including Slip)

  When a magnetic field passes through the conductors of the rotor, the rotor takes on magnetic fields of its own. These rotor magnetic fields will try to catch up to the rotating fields of the stator. However, it never does -- this difference is slip. Think of slip as the distance between the greyhounds and the hare they are chasing around the track. As long as they don't catch up to the hare, they will continue to revolve around the track. Slip is what allows a motor to turn
We can conveniently adjust the speed of a motor by changing the frequency applied to the motor. You could adjust motor speed by adjusting the number of poles, but this is a physical change to the motor. It would require rewinding, and result in a step change to the speed. So, for convenience, cost-efficiency, and precision, we change the frequency. Fig. 5 shows the torque-developing characteristic of every motor: the Volts per Hertz ratio (V/Hz). We change this ratio to change motor torque. An induction motor connected to a 460V, 60 Hz source has a ratio of 7.67. As long as this ratio stays in proportion, the motor will develop rated torque. A drive provides many different frequency outputs. At any given frequency output of the drive, you get a new torque curve. Figure 5. AC Motor Linear Volts per Hertz Ratio
How Drive Changes Motor Speed Just how does a drive provide the frequency and voltage output necessary to change the speed of a motor? That's what we'll look at next. Fig. 6 shows a basic PWM drive. All PWM drives contain these main parts, with subtle differences in hardware and software components. Figure 6. PWM Drive (VFD) Block Diagram