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Thread: Troubleshooting Soft Start Drive

  1. #1
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    Troubleshooting Soft Start Drive

    I'm troubleshooting a Telemechanique Altistart 46 ATS46D88N soft start for a filter pump at an aquatic center...approximately 12 years old I'm estimating. After pushing the start button to run the motor, the code PhF comes up and the motor won't start. What I do know is...this code stands for phase fault yet I have 124v to ground on all three phases and 216v between each of the three. I'm finding very little troubleshooting tips in any manual I look up. I've always had pretty good luck here with all of your experiences. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Look for a load side phase fault.
    Tom
    TBLO

  3. #3
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    9.9 times out of 10, this is the result of the load on the motor being too light.

    Most soft starters on the market require that the current flowing through the current sensors inside of it be at least 20-30% of the rating of the unit (varies by mfr.). That's how they determine phase loss, because they do not actually measure voltage, only current. So if AT LEAST one phase current is below that threshold, it means you have a phase loss somewhere. But if ALL 3 phases are below that threshold, the condition is still true, so it ASSUMES this is a phase loss.

    You have most likely:
    A) not yet connected the motor,
    B) left the motor disconnect switch open
    C) left a valve closed somewhere so no water is flowing and since water flow = load on a pump, the motor is unloaded and not drawing enough current to satisfy the Phase Loss trip condition.
    D) a SERIOUSLY clogged filter!

    I almost guarantee it...
    Last edited by Jraef; 04-23-13 at 04:47 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jraef View Post
    9.9 times out of 10, this is the result of the load on the motor being too light.

    Most soft starters on the market require that the current flowing through the current sensors inside of it be at least 20-30% of the rating of the unit (varies by mfr.). That's how they determine phase loss, because they do not actually measure voltage, only current. So if AT LEAST one phase current is below that threshold, it means you have a phase loss somewhere. But if ALL 3 phases are below that threshold, the condition is still true, so it ASSUMES this is a phase loss.

    You have most likely:
    A) not yet connected the motor,
    B) left the motor disconnect switch open
    C) left a valve closed somewhere so no water is flowing and since water flow = load on a pump, the motor is unloaded and not drawing enough current to satisfy the Phase Loss trip condition.
    D) a SERIOUSLY clogged filter!

    I almost guarantee it...
    Very Interesting and does make sense...let me throw this out at ya though. Here is the whole story. You are correct that the pump is not moving any water so the motor is indeed not loaded. There are two identical 230 volt 25 HP motors for Filter Pump #1 (FP1) and Filter Pump #2 (FP2). Both motors look to be the same age at approx 12 years old. The soft starts however, are not...FP1 drive has since been replaced with a Telemechanique Altistart 48 ATS48D88YU though I'm not sure when as it was before they started calling me. The staff tried to start them a couple of days ago (with no water) to check and make sure everything works (which is a traditional annual practice with no previous issues)...FP1 starts and runs, FP2 will not. In my troubleshooting, I moved FP2 over the the ATS48 to see if it would run and it did just fine. So...the ATS48 will run both motors under no load but the ATS46 will not. I have not yet tried FP1 with the ATS46...though I'm assuming I will have the same result. Is it worth trying to reprogram the ATS46 or do I just replace it with a new ATS48?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerjwillelec View Post
    Very Interesting and does make sense...let me throw this out at ya though. Here is the whole story. You are correct that the pump is not moving any water so the motor is indeed not loaded. There are two identical 230 volt 25 HP motors for Filter Pump #1 (FP1) and Filter Pump #2 (FP2). Both motors look to be the same age at approx 12 years old. The soft starts however, are not...FP1 drive has since been replaced with a Telemechanique Altistart 48 ATS48D88YU though I'm not sure when as it was before they started calling me. The staff tried to start them a couple of days ago (with no water) to check and make sure everything works (which is a traditional annual practice with no previous issues)...FP1 starts and runs, FP2 will not. In my troubleshooting, I moved FP2 over the the ATS48 to see if it would run and it did just fine. So...the ATS48 will run both motors under no load but the ATS46 will not. I have not yet tried FP1 with the ATS46...though I'm assuming I will have the same result. Is it worth trying to reprogram the ATS46 or do I just replace it with a new ATS48?
    Speaking from the experience I gained today, you might want to check out the simple stuff first. Unless you can afford to have a spare SS sitting around.
    Tom
    TBLO

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptonsparky View Post
    Speaking from the experience I gained today, you might want to check out the simple stuff first. Unless you can afford to have a spare SS sitting around.
    Ok...what am I missing here?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jraef View Post
    9.9 times out of 10, this is the result of the load on the motor being too light.

    Most soft starters on the market require that the current flowing through the current sensors inside of it be at least 20-30% of the rating of the unit (varies by mfr.). That's how they determine phase loss, because they do not actually measure voltage, only current. So if AT LEAST one phase current is below that threshold, it means you have a phase loss somewhere. But if ALL 3 phases are below that threshold, the condition is still true, so it ASSUMES this is a phase loss.

    You have most likely:
    A) not yet connected the motor,
    B) left the motor disconnect switch open
    C) left a valve closed somewhere so no water is flowing and since water flow = load on a pump, the motor is unloaded and not drawing enough current to satisfy the Phase Loss trip condition.
    D) a SERIOUSLY clogged filter!

    I almost guarantee it...
    Jraef, thanks for a well reasoned and experienced reply. While I have a fair amount of miles on me in the trade, VFD's add a great deal of complexities that can only be dealt with by experience and sound engineering thought. I have learned a lot from your reply's over the years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerjwillelec View Post
    Ok...what am I missing here?
    I ended up owning a VFD I did not need because I did not check for simple problems/solutions first.
    Tom
    TBLO

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerjwillelec View Post
    Ok...what am I missing here?
    Check everything in Jraef's list for starters. Try running the one in question with water in the pump instead of running dry, that is one thing in the list.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptonsparky View Post
    I ended up owning a VFD I did not need because I did not check for simple problems/solutions first.
    I guess I'm running out of simple problems to check for... The FP2 motor will run on the ATS48 so I know the motor is good. I'm going to see if FP1 (the other motor) will run on the ATS46 and add that result to what I already know. Using the information I have so far ie: the fact that one of the origional ATS46 drives have already been replaced previously and that the motor in question is good...I'm not sure what else I can to check...

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