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When a VFD starts a motor, it initially applies a low frequency and voltage to the motor. The starting frequency is typically 2 Hz or less. Starting at such a low frequency avoids the high inrush current that occurs when a motor is started by simply applying the utility (mains) voltage by turning on a switch. When VFD starts, the applied frequency and voltage are increased at a controlled rate or ramped up to accelerate the load without drawing excessive current.
This starting method typically allows a motor to develop 150% of its rated torque while drawing only 50% of its rated current. When a motor is simply switched on at full voltage, it initially draws at least 300% of its rated current while producing less than 50% of its rated torque. As the load accelerates, the available torque usually drops a little and then rises to a peak while the current remains very high until the motor approaches full speed. A VFD can be adjusted to produce a steady 150% starting torque from standstill right up to full speed while drawing only 50% current.