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Single Phase VFD Applications – Sizing and Selection

Jonathan Bullick | June 27th, 2016

There is often a desire to vary motor speeds. This is not possible when motors are connected directly to a fixed-frequency power source. The most common solution that allows variable speed control is to add a VFD to a motor. However, single-phase applications present a challenge since nearly all single-phase motors cannot be operated with a VFD.

The solution, as outlined here, is to use a three-phase motor with a VFD that allows for a single-phase input.


Sizing VFDs for Single Phase Applications

Small VFDs are often dimensioned and rated to handle the input power through a single phase. However, larger drives typically list their three-phase input ratings as standard. Single-phase input is likely possible but special precautions should be taken. This post describes the process for dimensioning a KEB F5 VFD for single-phase inputs.


KEB’s F5 drives support single-phase inputs above 20Hp.

Step 1 – Size input rectifiers

Since the current through a single input rectifier is going to be higher through one phase rather than through three phases (this is because a system supplied by a single-phase input needs the current of three-phase system times √3 to produce the same amount of power), it is necessary to upsize the input rectifier stage of the drive to match the higher current requirement. This can be done by selecting an inverter in the correct voltage class that has a rated output current of at least 2x the motor full load current.

Step 2 – Size DC bus capacitors

Rectifying power through a single phase produces more current ripple on the DC bus capacitors, so additional bus capacitance is needed to smooth the associated ripple. To ensure that the drive selected in step 1 has the necessary DC bus capacitance, find the drive that has a rated output current equal to or slightly greater than the full load current of the motor. Refer to the capacitance chart and see if the drive selected in step 1 has a DC bus capacitance that is approximate 2x the drive selected here. If this is the case, the drive selected in step 1 can be used for your single-phase application. If the capacitance is below the 2x requirement, find the next largest drive that has double the capacitance and use that one for your application.

Voltage Housing Size DC Bus (μF)
230V E 13 3280
E 14 4100
G 14 3280
G 15 4000
H 15 3600
H 16 5400
H 17 8800
H 17 8800
R 19 15600
R 20 16500
R 21 19800
460V E 13 705
E 14 820
E 15 1230
G 15 880
G 16 1230
G 17 1500
H 17 1800
H 18 1800

Step 3 – Install 5% reactor

Single-phase supplies have extremely high current spikes and will cause more mains distortion and DC bus capacitor heating (heat = shorter VFD lifetime). Install a 5% choke at the input of the inverter. Below is a chart that provides a drive size based on voltage class and motor full load current for single-phase applications. It should be possible to simply match your voltage class and FLA to the chart and select the correct drive for your application.

Voltage class Motor FLA Correct drive size
230V 10-28A 16F5A1H-Pxxx
28-42A 17F5A1H-Pxxx
42-57A 19F5A1R-Pxxx
57-65A 20F5A1R-Pxxx
65-77A 21F5A1R-Pxxx
460V 0-11A 15F5A1E-Rxxx
11-17A 17F5A1G-Rxxx
17-20A 18F5A1H-Rxxx
20-26A 19F5A1H-Rxxx
26-33A 20F5A1H-Rxxx
33-48A 22F5A1R-Rxxx
48-68A 23F5A1U-Rxxx
68-86A 24F5A1U-Rxxx
86-115A 26F5A1U-Rxxx


Questions on Single Phase Options

Do you have questions on sizing a VFD for single-phase applications? Contact a KEB America Sales Engineer today.

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