When one operates a motor system that features a variable frequency drive (VFD), one runs the chance of damaging their running motor over time. This is a result of electrical currents and harmonics that are detrimental, and it is important to have a solution in place for the wellbeing of the assembly. The most common solution is to use a compact component known as a line reactor, that of which is an electromagnetic device that utilizes inductors to guard assemblies from voltage spikes, surges, transients, and other such disturbances.
Harmonics are a type of current distortion, often resulting from the operation of non-linear loads. With the implementation of a line reactor within an assembly, one can mitigate harmonics and current peaks through the rounding of wavelengths. As harmonics and other related electrical disturbances are the primary culprits driving machine motor failure, it is extremely beneficial to enact the proper use of line reactors.
Line reactors are simply one of two types of reactors, and the difference between both boils down to where the reactor is placed in the system. The line reactor, also known as an input reactor, is when the reactor is placed between the VFD and power source. The other type of reactor is a load reactor, and it is when the reactor is installed between the VFD and motor. While a line reactor serves to protect the drive, a load reactor protects the machine motor.
When a VFD is operating, line reactors stabilize electrical currents for the benefit of operations. Alongside rounding out wavelengths, they also serve to deter disturbances such as voltage spikes and surges, operating similarly to circuit protection devices. Line disturbances are most commonly faced by heavy-duty machinery where power is always switching between on and off states, causing rapid changes and circuit breaks as a result of constant heavy loads. By installing a line reactor, such power surges and circuit trips are reduced.
Meanwhile, load reactors are best for protecting a motor by serving as a buffer when there is a long distance between the VFD and motor. When the drive is first turned on for operations, high-frequency noises can easily occur. These noises then result in voltage spikes that are detrimental to the system and its operations. Through the implementation of load reactors, the noise stemming from the motor can be filtered out with ease. Generally, a load reactor is beneficial when motor wiring exceeds a length of 100 feet. If distances are extreme, then a DV/DT filter may be required to guard against voltage peaks. With more variability surrounding such concerns, one should always refer to the advice of a qualified technician to ensure that the right solution is procured and implemented.
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