Articles & Case Studies

Vacon drives down the cost of swimming

Posted: Thursday 18th August 2011

To provide its customers with expert local support, wherever they are located in the UK and Ireland, Vacon UK has appointed 15 Drives Technical Partners. All of the companies selected for membership of the partner programme have proven expertise in drive applications, and all have an outstanding reputation for customer service and support.

One of the first partners to join the programme was Digicon Solutions of Burbage, Hinckley, which provides controls solutions for the industrial and commercial market. Read more on their solutions based on Vacon AC variable speed drives on how to cut down the energy costs of pumps at One Leisure swimming pools.

A solution based on Vacon AC drives brings savings of £ 4,500 per year

As part of its ongoing drive to monitor and reduce energy usage and CO2 emissions, One Leisure, the division of Huntingdonshire District Council near Cambridge, UK, responsible for sports and leisure services, found that the pumps in its swimming pools were consistently using more energy than appeared to be necessary. After investigating the situation, controls expert Digicon Solutions implemented a solution based on Vacon AC variable speed drives, which is expected to deliver savings of £ 4,500 (EUR 5,000) per year.

Digicon’s evaluation of the pump installations at the One Leisure swimming pools in Ramsey, Sawtry and Huntingdon found that they had all been sized to provide generous reserve capacity that was not needed during normal operation. Unfortunately, however, the pumps were fitted with ordinary single speed starters, which meant that they always operated at full speed, irrespective of the actual requirements.

Operating speed matched to demand

Digicon suggested that fitting variable speed drives, which would allow the pump operating speed to be matched to demand, would significantly reduce energy usage. The company advised that the potential for savings in applications of this type is very good, as the power used is proportional to the cube of the speed, which means that reducing the pump speed by just 25 % would cut energy requirements by almost 60 %.

To help One Leisure make a business case for installing variable speed drives, Digicon prepared a detailed report that clearly set out the project costs and the anticipated savings. Following submission of the report, approval to proceed was readily obtained.

Digicon selected 7.5 kW and 4 kW Vacon NXL AC variable speed drives as the basis for its solution, as these units are dependable, compact and cost-effective. They are also available in IP54 versions that could be mounted directly on the wall in the swimming pool machine rooms without the need for additional enclosures. For this application, Digicon modified the drives by fitting them with a day/night selector switch.

Payback in one year

Following the installation of the new drives it was, as anticipated, found possible to run the pumps at reduced speed even when the pool was in use, and the day/night selector made further savings possible by allowing the pumps to operate at minimum speed when the facility was not in use. The projected savings of £4,500 per year means that One Leisure will recover the purchase and installation cost of the new drives in just one year.

Commenting on the success of this project, Pete Corley, the Quality, Facilities and Safety Manager at One Leisure, says, “This scheme is one of several we are implementing at our facilities to cut energy consumption, reduce bills and help combat climate change.”

“We asked Digicon and three other companies to look at our requirements, but the professionalism with which Digicon handled the whole process from start to finish made it the clear choice. The company’s attention to detail was particularly welcome. We were equally pleased with the time scale of the installation, and with the company’s success in ensuring that there was no disruption to our operations,” Mr Corley concludes.

Current members of the Vacon Drives Technical Partner are ACCO Systems of Tamworth; Amtecs Ltd of Hungerford; City Rewinds & Drives of Leicester; Digicon Solutions of Burbage, Hinckley; ESC – Electric Systems & Controls Ltd of Newbridge, County Kildare; Electrical Wholesale Services of Grimsby; Electric Rewinds & Repairs of Hull; PPT Drive Systems of Stoke-on-Trent; Ralspeed of Blackburn; Ritchie Mackenzie & Co Ltd of Glasgow; System Control Solutions of Lowestoft; T.A. Boxall of Horley, Surrey; Trifix Electronic Services of Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne & Wear; Varicon 3D Drives of Malvern, Worcestershire; and Wilson Electric of Battersea, London.

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