New Automation Technology: Variable Speed Starter

Dec. 2, 2014
Eaton’s new PowerXL DE1 combines the operation of a fixed speed starter with a variable speed drive’s function to create a new class of automation product—a variable speed starter.

The decision to use either a soft starter or variable speed drive is a fairly common one. And it’s a decision that has become increasingly important with the advent of global energy efficiency standards such as IE3, due to the high inrush current associated with premium efficiency motors. Though a variable speed drive may seem to be the more obvious choice, many users are wary of moving from soft starters to drives because of potential complexity issues, says Guido Kerzmann, product line manager at Eaton, Electrical Sector EMEA.

To address this issue, Eaton has created a new product for motor control that it calls a variable speed starter (VSS). Eaton’s product, known as PowerXL DE1, is essentially, a combination of a soft starter and a variable speed drive.

The PowerXL DE1 VSSs are available in two sizes. The 45 mm wide slim-line version is suitable for motors up to 1.5 kW, while the 90 mm wide model can be used with motors from 2.2 to 7.5 kW. Both models have internal motor protection functions as well as motor thermistor and short-circuit protection. Kerzmann says the principal applications for the PowerXL DE1 will be in controlling pumps and fans, as such applications are most commonly seen as being too simple for the use of more complex tools like variable frequency drives.

According to Kerzmann, the PowerXL DE1 VSS is designed to provide “trip-free operation” through its ability to detect regenerative energy fed back from the motor. The VSS also provides a DC braking function prior to start up which, Kerzmann says, is particularly useful in fan applications. An automatic restart function helps ensure continuous motor operation after a fault.

While the VSS’s standard, out-of-the-box settings are expected to be suitable for most applications, Eaton offers a plug-in configuration tool that allows for key parameters, such as ramp time, motor protection and terminal arrangement, to be reconfigured with the use of a screwdriver. The VSS can also be configured with Eaton’s drivesConnect software or with external keypads with an LED or OLED display and buttons. Parameters can also be copied from one device to another via Bluetooth, Kerzmann adds.

PowerXL DE1 comes standard with a Modbus interface and can be integrated with Eaton’s SmartWire-DT wiring system. The VSSs have an operating temperature range of -10 to +60 degrees C.

See the video below for more information about the PowerXL DE1.

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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