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Best insulation material for VFD cables Many electrical contractors u se PVC/Nylon (THHN) wiring in conduit

Best insulation material for VFD cables

Many electrical contractors u se PVC/Nylon (THHN) wiring in conduit or TH HN power tray cables to connect Pulse Wi dth Modulation (PWM) drives to the motor. Ho wever, PVC is not a good insulator for thi s application. The dielectric strength, the ca pacitance and

impedance of PVC insulate d wires, is simply not good enough to cope w ith the power distortions caused by the P WM. Often times the contractor does not know that there are better alternatives. The app lication would be better served by shielded V FD cable with

thermoset XLPE insulation

which offers superior electrical performance

and improved

safety to any VDF applicatio n compared to power tray cables with PVC/Nylo n insulation.

Let’s review why the electric al characteristics of the VFD cable are importan t by analyzing the basic function of the AC VFD utilizing PWM:

The purpose of an AC V FD is to gain control over the motor speed and
The purpose of an AC V FD is to gain control over the motor speed and t orque. This
control is achieved by va rying the frequency at which the VFD sends po wer to the
motor. Many AC VFDs u se Pulse Width Modulation to accomplish this g oal.
Electric
motor
VFD
Power
Source

The VFD input receives

a sinusoidal wave which is converted into pulse s on the

output that the motor per ceives as a standard three phase sinusoidal cu rve. This process gives you contro l over the motor but causes high frequency ele ctrical noise which is entering the cab le. This is also creating voltage spikes much hi gher than

nominal voltage and cap acitive charges higher than expected and referr ed to as power distortions. These power distortions are being amplified especiall y in long cable runs from VFD to motor.

Best insulation material for VFD cables Many electrical contractors u se PVC/Nylon (THHN) wiring in conduit
PVC/Nylon insulation (also r eferred to as THHN or THWN) is not a suitable solution for

PVC/Nylon insulation (also r eferred to as THHN or THWN) is not a suitable solution for the following three reasons:

  • 1. It is thermoplastic ma terial which allows deformation or might even m elt at high temperatures caused by overload or short circuit.

  • 2. It causes high cable current to be required

charging current due to high capacitance resulti ng in more

from the VFD to operate the motor

  • 3. The dielectric strengt h of PVC is not strong enough to cope with the voltage spikes caused by the VFD. Some cable manufacturers include cond uctor stress relief layers before ex xtruding the PVC in order to strengthen the PVC , but this does not solve the is sue of high capacitance and therefore high cabl e charging current.

XLPE insulation offers better electrical performance and is safer than produ cts using PVC insulation. XLPE is thermose t insulation resulting in improved overload and short circuit temperature ratings. A prope r VFD cable should be listed by a national reco gnized testing laboratory as Flexible Motor supply cable or even as Flexible VFD Servo ca ble. XLPE insulation typically comes in two versions, RHW-2 or XHHW-2. The differen ce is mainly in

the wall thickness. Both type s offer very good characteristics for a VFD cabl e; the RHW-2

offers better electrical perfor mance while the XHHW-2 results in cable with outer diameter.

a smaller

Use this checklist to select th e proper VFD cable:

Give preference to th ermoset materials over thermoplastic materials

Look for the designat ion RHW-2 or XHHW-2 in the cable print legen d for XLPE

Avoid PVC/Nylon ins ulated cables with THHN or THWN designation on cable print

legend

insulation Use shielded cable a nd terminate the shield according to the VFD m anufacturer's

instructions The cable should be dual-listed "Flexible VFD Servo" and TC-ER for the intended

use with VFDs and to

be installed in cable trays per NEC 336.

PVC/Nylon insulation (also r eferred to as THHN or THWN) is not a suitable solution for

Stefan Grunwald Product Manager LUTZE Inc 13330 South Ridge Drive Charlotte, NC 2827 3 www.lutze.com

PVC/Nylon insulation (also r eferred to as THHN or THWN) is not a suitable solution for