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  1. #1
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Powtran VFD not working

    I have a PI500 004G1 VFD which shows nothing at all on the display. It did show an error code but I didnít write that down. Error code showed for a few days , then blank screen.
    There is 240v power going into the unit. I fiddled with input wiring today & when I turned it on it flashed a display for a few seconds & the fan ran. I think I saw a code beginning with ďdĒ flash up before it died.
    Does anyone know if these can be or are worth repairing? If not, are there any other brands worth considering?This is my second Powtran that has died.
    Thanks

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  3. #2
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    Jun 2005
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    Default

    I have a few questions, what died in the first one and how long have you had the second one and were they sourced from within Australia. Was the second one supplied as a warranty replacement due to the failure of the first?

  4. #3
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    Default

    Both were sourced in Australia. I bought the first about 10?? years ago & it just stopped working after about 6??? years. I did a bit of box making in those days but it did not get a lot of work. I would think both might have run for max!! 2 hours a week. I have no idea what was wrong with the first unit but I was told it was not worth trying to repair it (same answer for the second).
    From my old memory I paid for the second unit but I could be proved wrong.
    Cheers
    Lester

  5. #4
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    Feb 2006
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    It wilf be too late for your VFD but for others, if a VFD is not use it for more than about 12 months the capacitors have to be reconditioned or it can die very quickly.

    Basically you need a variable AC voltage supply and you slowly increase the supply V the VFD so that the VFD lights come on but shows a "Low voltage error" - this can be as little as half the nominal mains voltage and is exactly whet it should do.. At this point you leave it for about 1/2 an hour.
    Then you increase the voltage to about 3/4 of the nominal mains voltage and leave it for about 1/2 an hour. The Low V error may or may not disappear - either way it doesn't matter
    Then you increase the voltage to about full nominal input voltage and leave it for about 1/2 an hour. The Low V error should disappear - if it doesn't its not worth proceeding.
    Then connect to a motor and run it up and down several times at no load for about 1/2 an hour, and then on some load for half an hour.

    I just went through this with a 5HP VFD that has not been used for about 5 years and it has come out working fine. I used a variac as a variable DC power supply.

  6. #5
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    Jan 2014
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    Default

    The VFD is question appears to have been in constant use, reading the OP’s post.

  7. #6
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    Perth
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappa View Post
    The VFD is question appears to have been in constant use, reading the OPís post.
    Thats not necessarily how I read what the OP said. ie "I did a bit of box making in those days but it did not get a lot of work. I would think both might have run for max!! 2 hours a week."

  8. #7
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    I read it as 2 hr a week not 2hrs total. I hardly think someone would spend that much money and run it for 2hrs in 6 years.

  9. #8
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    Aug 2007
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    Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
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    Bob would the capacitor reconditioning be needed with a still in the box since new unit that is several years old?

    Pete

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by QC Inspector View Post
    Bob would the capacitor reconditioning be needed with a still in the box since new unit that is several years old?
    Pete
    Yes.
    If you have VFDs attached to machinery that you don't use for long periods the need for cap reconditioning can be avoided by running the motor/VFD for say about once a month for half an hour or so. The longer they are left the more important the capacitor recon becomes. Of course it's possible to get lucky. Before I knew about cap conditioning I bought a "still in original box" VFD that was about 2.5 years old and it's been working for several years without any problems. Conditioning is also supposed to be more significant for higher voltages (3P-3P) VFDs. It depends on the capacitors voltage rating and quality, cheaper VFD may use lower quality and lower V rated caps so probably more important for these.

    read it as 2 hr a week not 2hrs total. I hardly think someone would spend that much money and run it for 2hrs in 6 years.
    Remember he did say "Max of 2 hours a week", while unlikely it could still mean weeks, months of "zero" hours a week. He could have been on an extended holiday.

  11. #10
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    So where does one find a variable ac voltage supply or what kind of repair shop would have one. Except for factory testing, if they do it on every unit, mine has never been plugged in. Just want to know what to do when the day arrives.

    Pete

    One of these? If so I might just as well spend a few bucks more and get a new VFD.

    220V Single-phase voltage regulator 0-300V variable voltage AC power supply 1KVA | eBay

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by QC Inspector View Post
    So where does one find a variable ac voltage supply or what kind of repair shop would have one. Except for factory testing, if they do it on every unit, mine has never been plugged in. Just want to know what to do when the day arrives.

    Pete

    One of these? If so I might just as well spend a few bucks more and get a new VFD.

    220V Single-phase voltage regulator 0-300V variable voltage AC power supply 1KVA | eBay
    I agree Variacs are not cheap and conditioning may not be a task for the everyday DIYer especially for "once of" occasions.

    Most decent AC repair shops should have a Variac and it should not be expensive as all they have to do is plug them in and leave them for a while.

    Because the VFD is not running the motor while it's caps are being conditioned (connect VFD direct to mains power for that) you could use even a lightly rated Variac, even a 0.5kVA unit would do it.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    I agree Variacs are not cheap and conditioning may not be a task for the everyday DIYer especially for "once of" occasions.

    Most decent AC repair shops should have a Variac and it should not be expensive as all they have to do is plug them in and leave them for a while.

    Because the VFD is not running the motor while it's caps are being conditioned (connect VFD direct to mains power for that) you could use even a lightly rated Variac, even a 0.5kVA unit would do it.
    So this puppy then?

    Voltage Regulator APS-500W 0.5KW 220V Variac Autotransformer Powerstat 0-300V Ou | eBay

    There is an electrician in the club that plays with fractal burning among other things so he may have the equipment. I'll see what he has when the time comes, otherwise I'll try the AC companies in town.

    Had I known I wouldn't have bought the VFD until ready for it. Does the Powtran manual describe the procedure?

    Thanks for the help.
    Pete

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    if a VFD is not use it for more than about 12 months the capacitors have to be reconditioned or it can die very quickly.
    Hi Bob,

    This has piqued my interest and have just surfaced from the rabbit hole which is reconditioning/reforming capacitors in VFD drives. So thanks for raising it.
    One question I couldn't find an answer to however, is what makes this an issue in VFDs, and not the plethora of other electronic devices which make use of electrolytic capacitors? The explanation of why a capacitor "goes bad" when not used seems fairly straight forward, so can't understand why it's not an issue in every application.

    As I type this I'm looking at a valve guitar amp which I built and only recently started playing after sitting idle for many years, and am wondering...
    Lance

  15. #14
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    All electrolytic capacitors need to have their plates "formed" by being exposed to a voltage close to their designed working voltage.

    In the case of DC caps they just don't have the right value untill they are "formed" and if run at a lower voltage than they are rated at will never have the right value.

    In the case of old caps they just loose their ability to reach the rated value so if more than about ten years old should be replaced. Some time ago there was a batch of chinese caps that lost it after only a few years.

    The old guitar amp will still work with old caps, just not as good as it should.

    Not too familiar with AC caps but I think that something similar would apply.

    As to why the VDFs failed, I think that there must be some smarts that realizes that the caps aren't working correctly and shut it down.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by QC Inspector View Post
    Had I known I wouldn't have bought the VFD until ready for it. Does the Powtran manual describe the procedure?
    What I provided was a generic reconditioning I read somewhere on teh web a few years ago.

    The Powtran PI500 manual does have a detailed description of what to do in section 8.4.

    Here is a summary
    Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 12.45.15 pm.jpg

    I don't think the exact reconditionings times matters all that much as long as its more for longer periods of inactivity.

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