LAS VEGAS — The term “higher efficiency” is used a lot throughout the HVAC industry. It’s an important facet of nearly every component associated with the market, and manufacturers are consistently pushing the limits of their respective product lines, looking to gain higher efficiencies and revolutionize the industry.

Flip through the pages of this issue, and you will see many segments of the marketplace are determining that higher efficiency is critically important in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Nowhere is that truer than in the motors and drives segment, where the introduction of variable-speed equipment has taken a bite out of what was once a traditionally single-speed marketplace. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is frequently introducing tougher motor-efficiency regulations, and manufacturers have shown a willingness to adapt and modify their offerings to keep pace.

At the 2017 AHR Expo, variable frequency drives (VFDs) and variable-speed motors dominated the proceedings.


Vickie Blakey, marketing manager, advanced technologies, commercial and industrial systems, Regal Beloit America Inc., said the commercial HVAC industry is being continually driven toward improving energy efficiency, but the systems need to be easy to operate and service in addition to efficient.

With those requirements in mind, Regal Beloit designed a motor platform called the UlteMax™.

“The configurability of the UlteMAX motor allows for speed and horsepower configurations to cover a wide range of specifications while still optimizing system efficiency,” said Blakey. “The motors are variable-speed, and, due to their integrated software, are easily configured on-site. With their slotted mounting systems, installing and configuring the axial horsepower motors is simple: The motors drop right in.”

Nidec Motor Corp. is launching a new generation of its U.S. MOTORS® brand PerfectSpeed® Advanced electronically commutated motor (ECM) and SelecTech® Constant Torque ECM. The PerfectSpeed ECM system offers a wide range of control options, voltages, and mechanical configurations. Motor electronics can be mounted remotely, which is suitable for applications requiring dual shaft or in which there is limited space around the motor.

Fuji Electric Corp. of America’s FRENIC-Ace is a high performance, full-featured drive designed to suit a wide variety of applications, including fans, pumps, specialized machinery, and more. All products in the series come standard with customizable logic, sensorless dynamic torque vector control, a two-channel on-board RS485 communication port, and permanent magnet synchronous motor control (PMSM).

“The flexibility, PM motor control, and multiple power ratings of the FRENIC-Ace make it an ideal choice for OEM applications,” said David Schrader, general manager, AC drives and HMI departments, Fuji Electric Corp. of America.

“We’re seeing demand for an increase in density allowing for a variety of packing configurations,” said Schrader. “Efficiency is still a key driver leading to demand for drives that can be applied to high-efficiency permanent magnet motors.”


Brian Stromberg, sales, Danfoss, said with energy savings, government grants, and subsidies enticing manufacturers to go energy efficient, there are simply more drives entering the marketplace.

There are a lot more drives out there now,” said Stromberg. “With that, we are seeing a lot more harmonic mitigation. With a drive, we convert AC to DC and then back to AC again, and through that process, there is a lot of byproduct called harmonic mitigation. When it comes to a sine wave, it gets distorted with the drive operation. What happens is that mitigation goes back out onto the grid and causes problems for anybody else down the line.”

Baldor Electric Co.’s RPM XE motors combine permanent magnets with an induction technology to achieve efficiency performance two to four bands above the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Premium® (IE3) efficiency on sine wave power. The motors are available in standard NEMA frame sizes for drop-in replacements or a power-dense design, providing a solution for applications requiring premium efficiency at a lower operating cost. It combines the starting attributes of a conventional induction motor with the high-performance running characteristics of a synchronous motor, which makes the platform interchangeable with standard induction motors.

Those interchangeable characteristics are important staples of motors, as they can be utilized to help control speed and airflow, cool compressors, and drive efficiency.

Rosenberg USA has introduced a line of single- and double-inlet Ecofit forward-curved blowers, including constant-pressure, constant-airflow, and standard-pressure/airflow models. The new blowers come standard with ECMs. Per the company, the ECMs in the new blowers allow for easy speed control, offer a long life expectancy, and feature low operating costs. They meet European ErP 2015 efficiency requirements, and standard features include a black-painted steel scroll housing, galvanized impeller, ball bearings, IP44 protection, G2.5 balancing, Class F winding, and thermal protection. Finger guards are available as options.

Carel Industries features compressors (learn more about compressors from this year’s show on Page 42) with permanent magnet motors controlled by DC inverters, which only further highlights how important the continued development and improvement in this segment of the industry will be moving forward.

Staying ahead of efficiency requirements while striving to improve product performance and reliability is important to manufacturers.

“This type of innovation is directed by continual customer feedback as they look for solutions to their application issues in addition to abiding to new DOE regulations and ASHRAE code,” said Blakey. “This information is what helped drive the game-changing development of the UlteMAX motor’s new form factor. The design change simplified the implementation of electronics and controls within the small footprint, which is a key to high output from a significantly more compact, easily mountable motor.”  

Publication date: 2/27/2017

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