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I have a Toshiba 3kw single to three phase inverter drive for my old Colchester lathe. When I power it up it causes the 30ma RCD to trip in my consumer unit. This only happens when I first switch it on. Once I reset the trips I can switch it on and off without a problem. I think that the tripping is caused by the capacitors in the inverter charging up initially. Is there an easy fix for this problem?
And got the following answer:
My understanding is that there are transients/noise fed back to the RCD (perhaps during charging of the DC link capacitor in the inverter as you say). These confuse the trip device in some way, probably because the current during charging of the DC link is asymmetrical or some sort of interference/noise is fed back to the RCD device. It should be possible to verify this by leaving it on all the time for a few days. This may even be a reasonable solution to tripping, though it seems to me safer to have it turned off and isolated when not in use. Asymmetrical current just means the average is not zero. This is because the first half cycle charges the capacitor more than any following cycles. This depends to some extent on just when during the AC cycle the switch is turned on. There are RCDs with higher trip currents and delays, but these are generally for fire situations rather than for protection against electric shock. There may be RCD models that work better (see the first link). There are regulations covering just what is allowed in terms of changing specifications to less sensitive or time delay. Presumably at this power level you have a separate circuit just for the lathe itself. This is a first step anyway, as it allows the other circuits to be protected properly and "normally" according to regulations, while the lathe can be treated differently. It is important that the wiring of the lathe circuit is correct, with associated grounds and neutral correctly connected back to the switchboard upstream of the RCD. If the RCD is combined with a suitable isolation switch it may be used as the on/off/isolator switch, located beside the lathe, and you would hardly notice the nuisance tripping at switch on. This can be combined with the lockout device too. I think the best approach is to get a suitably experienced electrician to check this out and advise you on a solution, taking into account the regulations in your region. It may be that the lathe can use a separate hard wired circuit with no RCD or a specialised type of RCD (not for shock protection). If the grounding is done properly, and proper circuit breakers are used for the circuit, this is safe. The first and second links both explain some of the situations. Towards understanding, the balanced transformer arrangement is fed through an amplifier/detector to operate the trip magnet. This amplifier and the transformer core are susceptible to interference, as well as saturation of the core due to asymmetrical current during charge of the capacitor for example. That is why different brands may be more or less susceptible. A possible solution is for the initial turn on of the VFD to be done via a 240V 100W lamp, or a resistor like 100 to 1000 ohms x 25W, that is bypassed after a short delay by a suitable "power on" timer. This just means the DC link capacitor is charged through the resistor first, minimising the surge, before the drive is actuated.