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Let’s start with the first part of the question. What is hertz?

Hertz (hz) is the unit measurement for frequency, which is the number of times that an event occurs in a given length of time. One hertz equals one cycle per second.

There are a wide range of things that can be measured using hertz with the most common being electromagnetic waves, sound and alternating electric currents.

If you are looking at a household application, you probably haven’t had to worry about hertz much. This is because most devices designed to work in our homes have a range of frequencies that can be used and are not something we usually need to worry about.

Did You Know?

In 1930, IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) honored Heinrich Hertz by naming the unit used to measure frequency the hertz.

He was able to prove that electromagnetic waves existed and was able to determine their varying lengths. He transmitted, and received, controlled radio waves which confirmed an electromagnetic theory by James Clerk Maxwell.

Fun Facts About Hertz

  • A human voice averages a frequency band of 1000 hertz
  • Our hearing goes from about 20Hz (a very low pitch) to 20,000Hz (a very high pitch)
  • A megahertz (MHz) is one million hertz
  • A gigahertz (GHz) is one billion hertz

Now let’s tackle the second part of the question. Is hertz important?

In the industrial automation world, equipment can be sensitive to the power supply frequency. This is especially true for motors and other electronic devices.

Motors are often designed to run at a specific frequency while some electronic devices may not function properly if the frequency is outside of their specified range. In either case, this will affect performance and can cause damage if the frequency is not correct.

Another side effect of using the incorrect frequency might be audible noise or vibration which can be a big concern, depending on the application.


It’s Time To Talk About Drives

The question about hertz often comes up when customers are looking to buy VFDs (variable frequency drives). 

A VFD determines the speed of the motor by controlling the frequency and voltage of the AC signal that is delivered to it.

If your VFD increases the frequency, it will be increasing the speed of the motor. To slow the motor down, the frequency would be decreased.

Hertz is important because if the frequency is too high or too low you can cause the motor to overheat or operate inefficiently

The Bottom Line: Does Hertz Really Matter?

Yes, hertz does matter and is important to know for your application. Using the correct hertz will help your devices and equipment run safely and efficiently.

Hertz information can usually be found on the product nameplate or in the specifications.

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