Machine and Process Management

5 ways to solve the harmonics challenge

As any plant manager would tell you, an invisible liability lurks in the electrical system: Harmonics can hamper operations and cause equipment to wear out way before its time.

For an industrial business, protecting margin is a priority – and controlling the cost of operations and equipment is an important factor in achieving that goal.

Harmonics are unwanted currents that overload wiring and transformers, creating heat (or even fire) and sending interference over utility lines. When you’re running multiple motors, unchecked harmonics can overload the electrical system, increase power demand and outages, damage equipment, and shut down your systems.

If you have to replace equipment because of damage caused by harmonics, it can increase your capital expenses by as much as 15% and operations costs by as much as 10%. But applying an appropriate harmonic mitigation solution can help you avoid such costs.

What are the solutions? And how do you know which one will work for you?

  • AC line reactors and DC link chokes for drives
  •  12 pulse
  • Passive filter
  • Active filter
  • Low harmonic drive

You’ll find a comparison guide with a full discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each option in my white paper, “Operational Cost Avoidance through Harmonic Mitigation in Industrial Environments.” The comparison criteria are compactness or overall space required, simplicity in operation, total harmonic mitigation effectiveness, energy efficiency, and price performance – the value you get for the money.

Harmonics graphic

Comparison of harmonic mitigation solutions based on selection factors: Scale: 1 = worst rating, 5 = best rating
* View on the MV side
** Compensation rate depending on settings and sizing
*** Efficiency depending on compensation rate

Sneak peek: Highlights of the comparison guide

The line choke solution is the best option for applications where the heaviest distortions should be filtered, but harmonic mitigation is not the first priority. The active filter is a good solution to mitigate the harmonics of several drives in parallel operating on one point of coupling. The 12-pulse solution is the most efficient, but also the most complex. For applications where harmonic mitigation is very important, the low harmonic drive offers the best solution.

The solution you choose for your operation will depend on the nature of the load and the power demand of connected equipment within your industrial environment, but this guide will help you figure out the best approach.

Which harmonic mitigation solution would be right for you?

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