Drives and Control Solutions

Motors, Control Solutions, Power Transmission and Advanced Motion Technology                                                                 

April 13, 2020

By Ryan Doxsey

Energy overload situations can cause braking resistor failure, but is easily prevented with the right equipment and system design. In this article we’ll explain the cause of overload conditions and present three methods that will help you address this common problem. After all, you want to protect your VFD and related equipment in order to prevent unhappy customers and co-workers that experience a system failure.

Brake Resistor – Normal Operation

Under normal operation, the brake resistor is driven by a brake chopper transistor when excess energy is returned to the VFD. The brake chopper continuously turns the brake resistor on and off until the extra energy is dissipated. The resistors are sized to be used with a brake chopper and not for direct, continuous connection to the VFD’s DC bus.


What is Brake Chopper Failure?

If a brake chopper fails, it most likely fails in a “shorted” state. During a short-circuit failure, the brake resistor is subsequently connected, unrestricted, to the DC bus voltage of the VFD. As mentioned earlier, the brake resistor is sized to be used with a chopper circuit. Consequently, a direct connection to the DC bus overloads the brake resistor and can cause external damage and also become a fire hazard.

3 Ways to Safeguard a Brake-Resistor from an Overload

There are several options to prevent a braking resistor failure from an overload situation. KEB suggests at least one of these options:

  1. Brake-Chopper Transistor Monitoring Board
  2. Installation of Brake Resistors with a Thermal Switch
  3. Intrinsically-Safe Brake Resistors




1. Brake-Chopper Transistor Monitoring Board

KEB offers an optional monitoring board for various sizes of F5 VFDs. This board monitors for short-circuit failures within the brake chopper circuit. When a brake chopper malfunction is detected, a drive fault is generated that triggers a dedicated form C relay. The control system should be designed in such a way that power is removed from the drive or resistor when this relay is opened.


2. Brake Resistors with a Thermal Switch

Brake resistors can be equipped with a thermal switch to detect a potential overload condition. When a resistor is overloaded, it attempts to dissipate more heat than it was designed to do. In this case, the thermal switch will open when the temperature of the resistor becomes too hot. KEB recommends interrupting one of the high voltage supplies to either the VFD or the resistor. Refer to the next 2 diagrams on how this can be implemented.


3. Intrinsically-Safe Braking Resistors

KEB also offers braking resistors that are intrinsically safe. These resistors come equipped with an internal overload protection that will open, similar to a fuse, when overloaded. This option does not require any additional hardware or control devices as the protection is built-in to the resistor.


 Nexans Webinar - Key 2021 Electrical Code Changes Impacting Wire and Cable  

Nexans Free WebinarJoin NEXANS for a free webinar with Isaac Müller, Applications Engineer for Nexans as he reviews and discusses the changes to the 2021 Canadian Electrical Code related to wire and cable. This free webinar will take place Wed, Jan 27, 2021 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

This webinar includes:
- Updated rules to protect cables (12-514,12-516)
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- An opportunity to ask your questions

Click here to register today.


Editor's Pick: Featured Article

Automation DevicesBy Guido Selhorst, Head of Marketing Services, HARTING Technology Group

75 years of the HARTING Technology Group: During this period there have been many innovative developments and solutions in the automation market. Even though HARTING has been working in partnership with SEW-EURODRIVE for less than 75 years, there have been numerous successful joint projects over the past few decades.

The SEW group of companies – with headquarters in Bruchsal, Baden and with more than 18,000 employees worldwide – is one of the global market leaders in the field of drive technology and drive automation. 

Read More


Machine SafetyAs factory automation evolves with Industry 4.0, advanced technology continues to introduce more accurate and innovative features, many of which are used to protect personnel and equipment.

In competitive industrial operations, quality, throughput, uptime, and other production attributes are key. Operations must not only be precise, but also safe. Safety, however, relies on new innovations in sensors, controllers, relays, and other controls, to prevent mishaps that can potentially be life threatening. Manufacturers and distributors of automation and control technologies are responding with accurate controls to ensure unprecedented levels of safety.

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