Premium Membership ♕

Save 50% on all EEP Academy courses with Enterprise Membership Plan and study specialized LV/MV/HV technical articles & guides.

Home / Technical Articles / What to check when commissioning variable speed drives

The purpose of commissioning VSDs

The main purpose of commissioning VSDs is to ensure that:

  1. The AC converter and motor have been correctly installed and meet the wiring and safety standards such as IEC 60364 or Australian standard AS 3000.
  2. The power and motor cables are correctly sized, installed and terminated.
  3. All power cable shields have been correctly earthed at both ends, to the PE terminal at the converter, at the motor and at the DB or MCC.
  4. The control cables have been installed according to the control system design.
  5. All control cable shields have been correctly earthed at one end only, preferably at the process control system end (‘cleaner’ earth).
  6. There are no faults on the cables prior to energization for the first time.
What To Check When Commissioning Variable Speed Drives
What To Check When Commissioning Variable Speed Drives (on photo: Control techniques drives at Michelin; by

Selecting the correct application settings

Once all the basic checks have been completed and the commissioning test sheet completed, the VSD is ready for energization.

It is recommended that, when energizing the converter for the first time, that the motor cables should be disconnected until all the basic parameter settings have been installed into the converter.

This will avoid problems with starting the motor in the wrong direction, starting with an acceleration time which is too fast, etc. There is no danger in running a PWM converter with the output side completely open circuit.

Danfoss variable frequency drive setting/operation
Danfoss variable frequency drive setting/operation

Once all the initial settings and on-load checks have been completed, the motor cable can be insulation tested and connected for the final on-load commissioning tests.

Selecting the correct parameter settings

A variable speed drive will only perform correctly if the basic parameters have been correctly set to suit the particular application.

The following are the basic parameters that must be checked before the VSD is connected to a mechanical load:

  • The correct base voltage must be selected for the supply voltage and to suit the electric motor connected to the output. In Australia, this standard voltage is usually 415 V, 3-phase. This will ensure that the correct output volts/Hz ratio is presented to the motor.

  • The correct base frequency must be selected for the supply voltage and to suit the electric motor connected to the output. In Australia, this standard frequency is usually 50 Hz. This will ensure that the correct output volts/Hz ratio is presented to the motor.

  • The connections to the cooling fan should be checked to ensure that the correct tap on the transformer has been selected.

Thereafter, the remaining parameters settings can be selected as follows:

1. Maximum speed

Maximum speed, usually set to 50 Hz, but often set to a higher speed to suit the application. Ensure that the maximum speed does not take the drive beyond the loadability limit.

2. Minimum speed

Minimum speed, usually 0 Hz for a pump or fan drive, but often set at a higher speed to suit constant torque applications. Ensure that the minimum speed does not take the drive below the loadability limit.

3. Rated current of the motor

Rated current of the motor, this depends on the size of the motor relative to the rating of the converter. The current rating of the converter should always be equal to or higher than the motor rating. For adequate protection of the motor, the correct current rating should be chosen.

4. Current limit

Current limit, determines the starting torque of the motor. If a high breakaway torque is expected, a setting of up to 150% will provide the highest starting torque.

5. Acceleration time

Acceleration time, determines the ramp-up time from zero to maximum speed. This should be chosen in relation to the inertia of the mechanical load and the type of application. For example, in a pumping application, the acceleration time should be slow enough to prevent water hammer in the pipes.

6. Deceleration time

Deceleration time, determines the ramp-down time from maximum speed to zero. This setting is only applicable if the ‘ramp to stop’ option is selected. Other alternatives are usually ‘coast to stop’ and ‘DC braking’.

On high inertia loads, this should not be set too short. If the deceleration time is below the natural rundown time of the load, the DC voltage will rise to a high level and could result in unexpected tripping on ‘over-voltage’.

The deceleration time can only be shorter than the natural rundown time if a dynamic braking resistor has been fitted.

7. Starting torque boost

Starting torque boost, can be selected if the load exhibits a high breakaway torque. This feature should be used cautiously to prevent over-fluxing of the motor at low speeds. Too high a setting can result in motor over-heating.

Only sufficient torque boost should be selected to ensure that the VSD exceeds the breakaway torque of the load during starting.

Final words //

There are also many other settings commonly required on modern digital VSDs.

The above are the most important and must be checked before starting. The remaining parameters usually have a ‘default’ setting which will probably be adequate for most applications. However, these should be checked and adjusted for optimum operation.

Reference // Practical Variable Speed Drives and Power Electronics – Malcolm Barnes (Get hardcopy from Amazon)

Premium Membership

Get access to premium HV/MV/LV technical articles, electrical engineering guides, research studies and much more! It helps you to shape up your technical skills in your everyday life as an electrical engineer.
More Information

Edvard Csanyi

Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for design of LV/MV switchgears and LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, commercial buildings and industry facilities. Professional in AutoCAD programming.


  1. Siza
    Nov 01, 2019


    Thank you, your information is helpful

    Sep 05, 2019

    Hai can any one share the testing format for VFD/VSD

  3. 12.5 HP Variable frequency drives
    Aug 10, 2018

    Variable frequency drives need to be considered with many factors and electrical stuff is one of them. Thank you for such an informational post, i m hooked up to your blog from now on. Please suggest me some more tips about electrical stuff.

  4. Jamie
    Aug 04, 2018

    Hi Edvard,

    I’ve never heard of grounding both ends of the shield.
    I think it should only be done at the end where the cable originates, unless there is a special reason for it?

  5. C.Mak
    Sep 27, 2017

    Hi Guys,

    Do any of you have a VFD Commissioning Checklist ?

  6. John Thaxton
    Nov 25, 2015

    We installed VSDs on motors set-ups that required lube oil. Be sure your minimum RPMs ensures adequate oil protection.

  7. John Thaxton
    Nov 25, 2015

    Question. The VSDs we installed used feedback from the power cables for diagnosis and controls. The electrician grounded both sides of the power cables for the motor. We experienced a lot of noise that was confusing the controls system. We took the cable grounds off at the motor side. The diagnosing engineer said we turned the shield into an antenna to pick up electrical noises from the rest of the power plant. Why do you recommend grounding the motor power cable at both ends?

  8. godel
    Sep 10, 2015

    hi Edvard Csanyi
    great site.
    is there a standard for commissioning, is it mandatory to measure the THD?

  9. ivor loke
    Jun 24, 2015

    Great help in explaining, keep up the good work. Appreciate it.

  10. Ram
    Jun 10, 2015

    What happens to the motor / VFD if acceleration time set to the maximum. (too high)

    • yosi
      Jun 17, 2015

      its deponent on your load type, you can conect the motor with out the load for max natural speed and it takes 1.5-1.7 nominal to start for 1-3 second .

    • Abdul
      Aug 17, 2015

      if u set acceleration time is max means….. u giving long time delay to motor for reaching the max speed… so 5.0sec accl/deccl time is good.

  11. st01
    May 01, 2015

    Thanks Edward, For this article. It’s a big help.

  12. Dro
    Apr 29, 2015

    Thanks for the information. The simplicity of it goes a long way in the Cx process.

  13. Shantanu
    Apr 25, 2015

    Thanks Edward, For this article. It’s a big help.

  14. ampalavanar sampanthar
    Apr 24, 2015

    I am regular visitor of eep site there are many good articles published. I am also an electrical engineer. Good job done.thanks


Leave a Reply to Dro

Tell us what you're thinking. We care about your opinion! Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or it will be deleted. Let's have a professional and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for dropping by!

seventy  ⁄  fourteen  =  

Learn How to Design Power Systems

Learn to design LV/MV/HV power systems through professional video courses. Lifetime access. Enjoy learning!

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to our Weekly Digest newsletter and receive free updates on new technical articles, video courses and guides (PDF).
EEP Academy Courses - A hand crafted cutting-edge electrical engineering knowledge