Drives secure fresh air inside South America’s tallest building

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

They lead a quiet, mostly unnoticed life in the basement. But their mission is important. They secure fresh, conditioned air for visitors in shopping-heaven, restaurants and hotel, up on ground floor and above.

We’re talking about the approximately 100 VLT® drives of different type and size which Danfoss has supplied to the Costanera Center business and commercial complex in Santiago, Chile – home to South America’s biggest mall and tallest skyscraper.

The drives make sure that the electric motors – which power the fans blowing fresh, airconditioned air into the center – are optimized to never consume more energy than necessary. An electric motor cannot control its own speed. Without a drive, therefore, it typically runs full speed as soon as you turn it on – also when much lower speeds would do the job.

Francisco Rodriguez, Maintenance Manager, Cencosud, the company owning the Costanera Center, says:

“The VLT® drives are key. Without them, the center’s electricity bill would run loose. We installed the first Danfoss drives in 2012. We haven’t had any problems with them. They have lived up to all expectations."

Learn how the VLT® drives optimize performance and efficiency

The drives installed at the Costanera Center include 102 units VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102 in the power range 1.5-220 kW, which control axial fans running on induction motors. Two more fans with accompanying drive control were installed in 2022, to meet increasing airflow demand in line with more visitors to the building. These drives contribute to optimizing the HVAC system in several ways.

Integrated DC coils reduce harmonics to an absolute minimum. The Automatic Energy Optimizer saves 5-10% energy to ensure optimal efficiency and low cost of ownership. In the event of a fire, the Emergency Fire Mode feature integrated into the VLT® HVAC Drive ensures optimal safety for personnel and visitors. The drives operate for as long as physically possible to ensure fire escapes are kept smoke free, for safe evacuation.

To maintain a powerful head on the water supply right up to the upper stories, 4 VLT® AQUA Drive FC 202 units control pumps delivering the water supply. With built-in redundancy, some of the drives control two pump motors at once.

Likewise, these drives are also equipped with integrated DC coils for harmonic mitigation, which eliminates the need for any additional harmonic filters in the building.

The Costanera Center has signed a so-called power purchase agreement with its utility company. The agreement means that each kilowatt of electricity the center uses comes from renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

Felipe Martell, HVAC Coordinator, Danfoss in Chile:
“I am proud to have been part of this project. The center is famous in South America – not least for its approach to sustainability. That Danfoss plays an important role inside says a lot about the quality of our products and our reputation as a green solutions supplier.”

Cencosud is Chile’s biggest retail company operating more than 1,000 stores in South America, including department stores and supermarkets.


Electric motors account for an estimated 50 percent of the world’s total electric energy-usage annually. A variable speed drive typically cuts 15-40 percent off an electric motor’s energy consumption.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Chile has become a leading market for the global solar and wind industry. The country has also enacted legislation that encourages the generation of extra capacity in its electricity sector. Chile, says IEA, is on a “clear decarbonization pathway that addresses all sectors of the national economy.” Read more here.


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