Frequency Converter FAQs


 1. Are electronic frequency converters better than rotary units?  I mean, rotary is old technology and electronic is cutting edge and therefore better, right?

While rotary units are simple, large, and a bit noisy, they are extremely reliable and easy to troubleshoot.  With all else being equal, we’ll ask customers how long they can afford to have the converter down if an unexpected failure occurs.

A rotary unit can be diagnosed by almost anyone with a meter in about an hour and parts can be ordered from a variety of suppliers overnight.  An electronic unit will often require a few hours to troubleshoot and parts can only be ordered through us.  While we attempt to have parts available on-hand, we often have to ship these in from one of our Asian factories which can take up to two weeks.

Additionally, electronic units have an average life of 10-15 years.  A rotary unit, with proper maintenance, can last 50 years or more.

2. I want to take my U.S. household appliances, i.e., washing machine, blender, etc. to another country that has 50Hz power.  Is a frequency converter needed?

Yes, anything with a motor in it will need a frequency converter.  Unfortunately, a converter that will work for just one appliance will cost more than all the appliances in your home.  We recommend buying new appliances in the country you’re going to.

3. I contacted my electrical supplier and bought a 480V to 380V step-down transformer.  However, that didn’t work with my foreign equipment and I need a frequency converter.  Can you supply a converter that operates from 380V, 60Hz and supplies 380V, 50Hz?

We cannot do this for rotary units because 380V at 60Hz is not a motor we can obtain.  This only leaves us with an electronic converter which cost much more since they must be sized larger to handle motor loads.  It is much more cost effective to skip the transformer altogether.

4. I want to save money, if I buy a transformer to convert the voltage before or after the converter, can you just supply a converter that converts 50Hz to 60Hz at the same voltage?

Due to their nature, frequency converters inherently transform the voltage as well.  You are not paying any more to convert voltage.  Adding a transformer only adds to the total cost of the system.

5. What are common applications for solid state frequency converters?

A short answer:

Solid state frequency converters are ideal where noise, size, precision or adjustability are paramount. 

A long answer:

Solid state frequency converters are inherently quiet, much like computers, with the main “noise” coming from forced air cooling fans.  This makes solid state units ideal for office and laboratory environments.  Also, solid state circuitry lends itself to precision and accuracy, limited only by the amount of expense the client wishes to spend on the subject.

Typical limits on these issues are noise levels less than or equal to 65 decibels (dB), and accuracies well within the 1% range for all meaningful parameters.

6. What is the function of a frequency inverter?

A frequency inverter is often confused with a frequency converter since both appear to change output voltage, frequency and amperage.  The frequency inverter, also called an adjustable speed drive (ASD) or a variable frequency drive (VFD) is used to vary the speed, power, and torque of a connected induction motor to meet required load conditions.

The primary difference between the two technologies is that the inverter section in a converter attempts to maintain consistent voltage and frequency output regardless of current output.  The adjustable speed drive varies the voltage and frequency with generally consistent current output to speed up or slow down a motor load.  Frequency inverters are typically rated in terms of maximum current output, while frequency converters are rated in terms of power output.  In many cased, the “quality” of the output, as measured by “distortion” of the sine wave output, is better in the converters, since that precision is not requires in adjustable speed drives.

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