Inverter driven pump saves energy in the outback

Written by: Lenze Ltd | Published:

The Lenze SMV frequency inverter is providing the means for isolated rural communities in the Australian outback to save both water and energy at the same time. The SMV, supplied through Lenze's Australian distributor FCR, is at the heart of an innovative pumping system which matches the delivery of water to demand rather than running the pump at full pressure irrespective of demand, the previous default operating mode. The new solution overcomes the problems of operating on a SWER (Single Wire Earth Return) system which is common in remote areas of Australia and other large countries.

With a SWER mains supply there is only a single supply cable, typically strung on poles above ground. In this case the supply is 480V ac. The return path for the power is literally the earth, that is soil, and this creates effectively a 480V single phase supply. Previously special pump motors were used to suit the supply adding to the installation costs. This fixed speed motor/pump combination would be sized for the maximum flow that is most of the community taps on at once, so every time a single tap is opened full power was used to maintain pressure. As the starting currents for the motor can be 200-800% of rated current depending on motor load, this would cause lights to dim and other household appliances to be adversely affected.

The Lenze solution was to use a 3 phase SMV frequency inverter connected for single phase input. The inverter requires derating as the input rating with single phase current needs to be about twice the output current (allowing for a v3 conversion plus a service factor). One immediate gains is that a standard 3 phase motor can be used. In addition the soft starting nature of the drive ends the problem of dimming lights. However the biggest benefit is that, by using the inverters PID input, the pump can run to match demand by maintaining system pressure. The pump speed is varied and energy savings above 50% can be achieved.

The first customers for this new pump concept are situated in the regional areas of Northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.

"On the strength of these two successes, we reckon that there's great potential for this system", commented Adrian Villanti' of FCR. "In addition to the savings in water usage, the reduction in energy usage is considerable, helping to ensure fast payback for the SMV-based pumping system". "To put these savings in context; we were running a 2.2kW motor the pump of the latest application. At rated speed the motor uses all the 2.2kW of power. We measured it from the SMV's power usage parameter. When the motor was running at reduced speed – the speed required to maintain pressure flow requirements were measuring just 0.75kW of power usage." This represents a 65% saving in the power required.

In addition to its water and energy saving benefits, the IP65 rated SMV also saves money on the installation as a secondary control enclosure is not required. Even though the drive is usually installed in a shed or sheltered from the weather, there is still a need to protect the electronics from moisture, wildlife and other contaminants. The IP65 rating on the SMV delivers this protection, and for additional long-term reliability a polycarbonate casing is supplied which does not degrade from the UV rays in sunlight. Furthermore consistent operation is assured even if there are major fluctuations in the supply voltage as the SMV accepts inputs between 320 and 528 ac.

SWER single wire supplies are common in many remote parts of the world including Australia, Canada, Brazil, Africa and parts of the United States. The robust Lenze SMV inverters with wide voltage tolerance provide an energy-saving alternative to direct-on-line pump systems. Installation costs are low and standard motors can be used. A steady water pressure avoids problems with pulsing and leakage, and the amount of energy saved is large, typically more than 50%.

This material is protected by MA Business copyright see Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

Related Content


Lenze Ltd

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code