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Agriculture and Variable Frequency Drives

Currently, the Inland Empire territory in Washington is experiencing a water drought. Farmers in the area need to ration water and optimize delivery to their crops. Their most effective solution is to install Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s, or Drives) on their water pumps to precisely control the speed and, therefore, the flow of water to eliminate waste and conserve precious water allocations. VFD’s also feature provisions for pressure or flow transmitters to be connected directly to them, and can control and maintain pump speed for optimum efficiency.

Water is critical for the agricultural industry.  VFD’s help manage this valuable resource that is shared by all. VFD’s work by varying the frequency and voltage to a motor.  By changing these characteristics motor speeds can be adjusted to control pumps, conveyors, feed augers, fans, or any other process where varied speed is desired. VFD’s also offer “soft-starting” capabilities.  When a motor can be ramped up and down during start and stop, equipment can benefit from reduced potential for failure due to impact from sudden starts and stops.

Another advantage to using VFD’s is energy savings.  With the ability to slow down motors less power consumption is required resulting in energy savings.  By eliminating across-the-line starters, inrush and peak demand charges are eliminated which equates to long-term savings for the end-user. There are many applications that can benefit from energy savings like fans, pumps, and conveyors.

With proven energy savings, many utilities are offering rebates to install VFD’s to conserve precious water and energy resources.


Written By: Patrick Kern, Drive Specialist at North Coast Electric