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Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

 The Benefits of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

VFDs help adjust motor speeds to match loads and improve efficiency while conserving energy. The benefits of VFDs are widely documented and may include:

  • An ability to compensate for changing irrigation demands, reducing energy consumption
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Increase productivity and improve crop quality
 How BPA Supports VFDs

Rebates are available from your utility for Variable Frequency Drives on pumps 20hp or greater and storage fans.. Energy savings from VFDs vary and can be calculated from the pump or fan characteristics and the operating conditions.

 How VFDs Work

A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) controls the rotational speed of an electric motor by controlling the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the motor. They are proven to substantially reduce energy use. Non-VFD motor-driven systems are often designed to handle peak loads and the VFD can slow down the motor to better match the part load requirements. Also, they can reduce the impact of starting the motor.

Controlling motors with a variable frequency drive offers energy savings when motor-driven processes and power demand vary over time. Energy savings from variable-frequency drives can be significant, although the amount of energy reduction will vary depending on the motor's operation and energy usage. On a turbine pump, even a small reduction in motor speed can reduce a pump's energy use by as much as 30%. Payback can range from few months to less than 10 years.

Variable frequency drives also allow more control of processes such as water distribution, aeration and chemical feed. The variable frequency lessens mechanical and electrical stress on motors and can reduce maintenance and repair costs as well as extending motor life. Watch the video: Big Bertha: Pumping Up Energy and Water Savings with a VFD

Please note: BPA does not provide incentives directly to Agricultural Producers. Please contact your local utility.

 Program Tools and Resources

For more information please contact Jennifer Eskil, Agricultural Sector Lead, at or Tom Osborn, Agricultural Technical Lead, at

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