Protection and Reliability in Motor Control: Soft Starters

Posted by Michelle Szemanski on Aug 31, 2016 8:42:15 AM

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After a month without significant downtime or hitches, all seems right in the world, or at least your facility – until the energy bill comes in thousands of dollars above the norm.

Many manufacturers budget for unforeseen costs, but the penalty from a utility company for demanding too much power from the grid during peak hours can be incredibly harsh on the bottom line. When motors start malfunctioning the next month from mechanical stress or product starts getting damaged from rough movement through the conveyor line, you may need a soft starter.

What are Soft Starters?

When industrial motors go from zero to sixty, high inrush currents and the stress of a hard power-up can degrade the motor over time. Soft starters ramp up or down the voltage over a set amount of time to soften the demand—and need for maintenance or repair—on the motors.

Soft starters are ideal solutions for applications like pumps and fans, conveyors, or any application where hard stops and starts could damage motors, equipment, or product. The high inrush currents that soft starters prevent can also drive up bills from the local power company, so soft starters are also a great option for long-term cost savings on utilities.

Advantages of Soft Starters

Soft starters are simpler in design and functionality compared to variable frequency drives (VFDs), but are also more affordable and very reliable. If you don’t need all the bells, whistles, (and costs) of a VFD, soft starters are the answer.

With a soft starter properly rated for your motor, you’ll gain:

  • Longer lifespan for affected equipment
  • Improved system uptime
  • Less heat build-up in enclosures due to soft starter heat sink
  • Protection from punishing bills from the utility company

These are just the advantages of soft starters to start. Today's soft starters can offer quite a bit more, including:

  • Continuous torque and current control of the motor
  • Power monitoring
  • Optional localized and/or remote reset
  • Protection for the motor from sudden spikes or drops from the power grid
  • Protection from collateral damage when pressure affects the line

Choosing a Soft Starter

If you already invested considerable costs into choosing and maintaining powerful industrial motors, it just makes sense to protect your investment with soft starters.

Manufacturers like Solcon USA offer both medium and low voltage starters with a small footprint and industry-leading design. Whether you need off-the-shelf starters or you're looking for tailored AC motor control protection, Solcon USA's range of products covers a variety of unique industrial needs. The experts at ACD can help you find the right soft starter for your motor:

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Topics: Motor Control

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