Every year, facility managers sit down to review their operating costs and every year there is a huge figure that never seems to shrink: the electricity cost. There is so much equipment that uses electricity and trying to simply “turn off the lights” doesn’t seem to help reduce that figure. The aquatic facility pump room is a big consumer of electricity so it’s a logical place to start when looking at ways to reduce operating expenses.
Acu Drive XS™ Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) by Pentair offers one of the fastest, most significant ways to reduce energy consumption and the return on investment for commercial aquatic operations. These drives allow the pump to run at its most efficient point on the curve and preventative maintenance costs drop due to motor protection, motor soft start and a significant decrease in water hammer protecting the shaft and impeller.
The VFD will clean up the power going to the pump giving solid power and voltage to the motor helping lengthen the life of that motor. It will also better control the pump itself and allow the drive to dial in the pump to exactly what the flow rate is needed rather than using butterfly valves to bring the pump to within the given parameter. The VFD also houses the motor starter which, without the use of the VFD, would have to be purchased separately at a cost of $500-$750. The VFD also allows for a ramp up start of the motor which is easier on the motor and will eliminate the potential water hammering effect on the plumbing systems.
The greatest long-term benefit of the VFD is that it helps to lengthen the life of the pump motor so the maintenance and motor replacement is significantly increased. Pump motors last longer by having a VFD installed not only because of the ‘Soft Start’ 2-step ramp up feature but also because of the overload trip protection which protects motor and drive from voltage spikes and phase unbalance. Installing a VFD not only saves you on energy usage costs, but also keeps motors working better, longer, so motor replacement is far less frequent.
Cost Calculator: Luckily, Pentair Commercial offers a ‘cost calculator’ that allows facility managers to get to the detail about where exactly that electricity is being used in the pump room. Many pool professionals are using the figures they generate from the cost calculators as the basis for presenting the need to upgrade to more efficient equipment or add a variable frequency drive and even to show prospective savings capabilities to an electric company to be approved for possible rebates. Knowing the potential energy savings from an equipment upgrade is the first step in renovating an aquatic facility pump room. When an aquatic facility sees on paper that they can save from $300 to $1,000.00 a year in electricity costs, or in some cases potentially more, it becomes much easier to decide there is a need to upgrade pump room equipment.