Design Brief: Drivepower

March 31, 2010
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Table of ContentsTo truly minimize the energy use of a drivepower system-which includes the motor, its controls, and the connection between the motor and the equipment it drives-designers need to consider how these components operate as a system rather than looking at them on an individual basis.

In most buildings, motors help provide ventilation, cooling, and vertical transportation. A typical building can contain hundreds of motors, which collectively can account for as much as one-quarter of the building's total energy budget. Unfortunately, many designers don't fully consider the energy costs associated with motors - nor do they seek ways to reduce those costs.

New standards for motor efficiency have improved this situation to some extent. However in order to truly minimize drivepower energy consumption, designers must consider how the components of a drivepower system (the motor, its controls, and the connection to the equipment it drives) operate together - rather than treating each component separately.

By critically evaluating the entire drivepower system, and also combining good engineering with efficient components (such as premium-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives), a designer can reduce drivepower energy use by 50 percent or more. Considering that the cost to buy a motor usually is only about one-tenth of its annual energy costs, drivepower system improvements easily can pay for themselves within a few months.

The first edition of this design brief was prepared for Energy Design Resources in 2003. Between January and April of 2010, an engineering review of this document was conducted to update passages affected by recent changes in the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24 2008). The original content creator was not actively involved in this engineering review, and therefore is not responsible for the updates to the affected passages.

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