Kele Blog

Should you add a bypass to your VFD?

Sponsored by Honeywell

The steps and considerations for selecting a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) are mostly straightforward. In fact, the nameplate on the motor usually provides the essential information, such as voltage and horsepower. Once you determine whether it will be installed indoors or outdoors, and if it needs communication, you’re almost done!

The final question is often the most misunderstood: Is a bypass needed? Why or why not? Let’s look at when you should include a bypass and the different types of bypasses available.

Kele offers five configuration options of the Honeywell Smart VFD.

Option 1 is the drive only without any disconnect or bypass. The most common is Option 2, which includes a fused disconnect. These disconnects are required by most electrical codes and a good idea in general. If your electrician does not add a disconnect during installation, you can order one with your new drive.

Option 3 is a 2-contactor bypass, and Option 4 is a 3-contactor bypass. Both are designed to minimize system downtime should the VFD fail. These bypasses are ideal for facilities that run 24/7 and can neither afford downtime nor wait for after-hours repairs, such as a big-box store or casino. The difference between the two centers on how easily the failed drive can be replaced. If a VFD fails, the motor it controls will stop running completely.

A 2-contactor bypass allows a technician to flip the switch, bypass the VFD, and the motor will resume running at 100 percent speed. Eventually, the systems should be shut down in order to safely replace the drive.

A 3-contactor bypass adds another contact before the drive that removes power going to the VFD when placed in bypass mode. This means that if the VFD fails, it will be bypassed to maintain motor operation, and the VFD can also be safely removed and replaced with a new unit without interruption in motor operation. This is the main difference between a 2- and 3-contactor bypass:

  • With a 2-contactor bypass, you must kill the power before changing the VFD.
  • A 3-contactor bypass allows the VFD to be changed while in bypass mode with the motor running.

The final option to consider when selecting a VFD is a 3-contactor bypass with auto changeover. This is typically used only in mission critical spaces that are constantly occupied and cannot tolerate downtime. A hospital operating room is a perfect example. The built-in fault contact on the VFD is monitored by the bypass and automatically bypasses the drive if it begins to have problems. This basically eliminates any loss of service while the VFD is being repaired or replaced. This option is rarely needed in a typical HVAC application.

As you may have guessed, bypasses are complex and can add substantial cost to an already higher-cost device. Typically, a bypass is only added at the request of the customer or if required by a spec. In most cases, a simple fused disconnect provides plenty of protection.

Call Kele with your specific VFD needs, and we will find the right drive for you!

A Flow Meter with Features That Raise the Bar, Not the Price

Kele offers a variety of flow meters for commercial applications. The FLOMEC® QSE Mag Meter from Great Plains Industries delivers impressive performance and innovative features for a competitively priced mag meter. Launched in late 2017, the QSE Mag Meter is an excellent choice for water/ wastewater, cooling tower deduct, turf, landscape, and other water reclamation applications.

The QSE reads flow rates with an accuracy of ± 0.5% and provides cumulative total monitoring in applications. With no moving parts, the QSE permits open unobstructed flow, minimizing flow disturbances and straight pipe requirements, resulting in less maintenance and downtime. The wide turndown ratio of 60:1 reads accurately at low flow rates to detect unintended fluid transfer and measure total volume of fluid movement.

The QSE provides an optional input/output interface module, the QSI, that can be used with many telemetry applications. The QSI offers basic 4-20mA and pulse outputs, a BTU calculator allowing for temperature inputs, data logger, and Modbus protocols through an RS-485 connection.

Additionally, the QSE uses Bluetooth® wireless technology—compatible with the FLOMEC mobile phone app—for complete meter configuration and programming in minutes. This allows real-time viewing of meter operation and the ability to receive technology downloads and feature upgrades via Bluetooth. For contractors, this means ease of use and programming without expensive software.

Learn more about the FLOMEC QSE Mag Meter.

View the QSE data sheet here.

Kele Can Help You Plan for Tariff Impact

Update — September 28, 2018: On Sept. 17, the Trump administration announced a new 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. The tariff became effective Sept. 24 and will increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019. The list of affected product types grew to nearly 6,000. Read more at the links below:

United States Trade Representative announcement

Final tariff list

August 31, 2018: The 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports could have far-reaching implications across the BAS industry. Enacted by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in July and August, the tariff was imposed on $50 billion of products imported from China. The tariff may expand to an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports in the future.

The list of product types subject to the 25 percent tariff grew in August to more than 1,000, including products in the manufacturing and construction industries. However, the full tariff-related dollar impact on a product depends on whether it is a finished good or a component. Finished goods will be hit with the highest tariff.

Affected products can be identified via a Harmonized Tariff Code, and manufacturers have begun the process of confirming the country of origin of their related lines. How cost effects are being handled varies by manufacturer. Some are taking a “wait-and-see” approach while others are adjusting list prices and/or adding a surcharge based on the tariff impact. List price increases and surcharge amounts also vary.

What does this mean for BAS contractors and their customers?

Essentially, cost increases on numerous products for the duration of the tariff. While unknowns exist, many suppliers will begin or continue passing along tariff-driven costs over the coming months. This introduces the potential for mid-project material inflation and the inherent hassle of managing that with your customers.

Kele can help you mobilize now! Here’s how:

  • Products already in stock at Kele will not be subject to tariff-related increases.
  • If you need products that will be affected by the tariff in the future, Kele can source these products now to avoid a cost increase.
  • Kele can also help you select alternative parts from more than 400 suppliers.
  • If bidding on a project, Kele can help plan, source, organize, and ship the right products.

With more than 1.8 million parts in stock—including a variety of Kele-branded parts—we will find a solution that helps you keep winning. Contact Kele today!

What you need to know:

  • USTR recently imposed a 25 percent tariff on $50B of products imported from China. More tariffs looming.
  • Impact varies by product. Finished goods will receive the highest tariff.
  • BAS manufacturers handling differently—some with list price increases and/or surcharges.
  • Total impact on BAS contractors unknown, but cost increases will hit.
  • Kele can help you plan and source products before the tariff takes full effect.


Helpful tip:

Tell your customers. Proactive communication is key. Be sure they know how the tariff may affect them. And assure them you are planning now to reduce the impact.

The Protection Zone: Applying Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are relatively simple devices, yet they must be carefully selected and applied to function properly. When selecting and applying surge protectors, there are a few essentials to keep in mind.

First, the operating voltage of the system is important. Surge protectors are voltage-sensitive switches and must not clamp the normal system voltage. The surge protector clamp voltage must be higher than the system voltage. For example, a 24 VDC system voltage generally uses a 30-volt surge protector.

Second, some surge protectors have an input side and an output side. If installed backwards, they will fail prematurely.

Lastly, grounding is often misunderstood when it comes to proper installation of surge suppressors. This can seriously affect the performance of protection systems and lead to electronics damage. Use the Protection Zone Concept to effectively apply surge protectors to EMS and BAS installations.



The Protection Zone

The protection zone is an imaginary circle drawn around and encompassing electronic equipment items that are located in close proximity to each other (see Figure 1). Everything passing through the imaginary circle should be commonly grounded and should have surge protection.


The Single Point Ground

The single point ground is a common ground point or node used in the protection zone to bond together all ground references inside the zone. Surge currents passing through a ground conductor generate a voltage across the conductor. This is primarily due to inductance of the wire. Inductance is highly dependent on conductor length; therefore, it is very important to keep suppressor ground wires to the single point ground very short.

The Protection Zone Window

The protection zone window is a hypothetical small opening in the zone through which all electrical conductors enter or leave. The single point ground is located at the protection zone window.

Figure 2 illustrates a typical installation of equipment within a small area; however, there are three problems associated with the installation depicted.

Problem #1

There are four ground references in Figure 2. AC outlet #1, AC outlet #2, AC outlet #3, and the data line all present separate ground references. The three AC outlet grounds are connected together at the power panel many feet away. The ground wire lengths offer enough inductance to effectively create separate grounds. In addition, the data line may run hundreds of feet to yet another ground reference in remote circuitry.

Problem #2

Notice in Figure 2 that there is substantial distance between various conductors leaving the imaginary circle of the protection zone. Even if ground conductors were bonded together, destructive voltages would exist during a surge due to wire inductance.

Problem #3

While the data line shows a surge suppressor, the lack of suppressors in the power receptacles leaves an opening in the protection zone. Even the best data line suppressor cannot prevent damage under these conditions.

The problems listed for the installation in Figure 2 are solved using the Protection Zone Concept. Figure 1 illustrates the proper installation:

  • All devices are powered from the same AC outlet.
  • The AC service incorporates a Model HSP-121BT1RU surge suppressor.
  • The single point ground is established in the protection zone window.
  • Data line suppressor(s), Model PC642C, are added at the single point ground.
  • A ground bus bar is located at the ground area to facilitate multiple ground connections.
  • Ground wires to the suppressors are very short.
  • An optional (depending on code) ground conductor connects the ground bus to the main building power ground. This conductor may be quite long, but that does not create a problem now that the ground area has been established.


The Protection Zone Concept can also be applied to multi-building, multi-drop data and control systems. In Figure 3, the surge protectors located at the building entrance are improperly positioned to protect the CPU and the controllers. During lightning activity, ground potentials at opposite ends of a building can be thousands of volts, causing damage to electronic equipment.

Also, surge protectors for data lines that enter buildings have series resistance. The series resistance of the surge protectors is additive. The total series resistance often is too great and can cause communication or data line problems. The installation in Figure 3 shows five protectors in series over the length of the data line.

To properly configure surge protection on a multi-building, multi-drop system (see Figure 4), connect the surge protector on each controller drop so that the protector is not in series with the main data line. When connected in this manner, no more than two surge protectors are connected in series. Using the Protection Zone Concept, locate the data line surge protectors within the protection zone window along with an AC service outlet surge protector for each respective controller. Remember to keep the ground connections to the single point ground very short.



Remember the following when applying surge protection:

1. Keep all grounds inside the protection zone at the same potential. If different ground potentials are present on electronic equipment, damage will occur regardless of the suppression used.

2. Protect all electrical and data circuits entering or leaving the protection zone at the protection zone ground window. Doing this keeps circuits at a safe voltage with respect to the ground window. This safe voltage is the clamp voltage (let-through voltage) of the respective suppressors.

The majority of surge protection installations are fairly simple and only involve bonding suppressor grounds to AC service grounds at the ground window. Existing sites may involve some rewiring to accomplish the best results. In order to keep the data line surge suppressor ground and AC service ground wires very short, wiring must sometimes be moved. When applying surge protectors, using the Protection Zone Concept will effectively protect EMS and BAS installations.


Tech Talk: How do surge suppressors protect circuits from harmful voltages?

Q:   How do surge suppressors protect circuits from harmful voltages?

A:   The short answer is that they shunt (“short out”) the high voltage to ground.

Each surge suppressor is connected to a specific circuit. It switches the connected power—or communication circuit—to earth ground much like an automatic “Off/On” switch. Or if the surge device is a fuse, it opens the connection, thus protecting the main device. The trick is to clamp at a voltage high enough for the control circuit to operate normally while dissipating highly damaging voltage to ground. This is called the “clamp level voltage” of the surge protector.

Certain high voltages happen very fast—sometimes as fast as microseconds (µ sec). Lightning is a perfect example. The table below shows many of the devices Kele offers. It also describes the “clamp level voltage” and speed of each protecting technology component built within the suppressor. Notice that many suppressors have multiple stages of components to better protect the circuits connected.

Learn more by reading, “The Protection Zone,” an insightful article describes how to place needed suppressors for equipment protection.

Click here to download a copy of the table below.


Are you choosing the correct flow meter?

Most buildings require some aspect of water flow and, often, BTU measurement. Several different flow sensor techniques can be used depending on need. These include water type, application, accuracy, required measurement, installation challenges, and cost effectiveness. Below is a table to help you determine which technique, product, and installation is most relevant for your project.

Kele offers a variety of products (shown below) from suppliers Badger Meter and Data Industrial that meet all aspects of these flow requirements. Continue reading “Are you choosing the correct flow meter?”

Changes at Kele to Help You Win!

The Kele family has been hard at work making some exciting changes. These changes are driven by our mission.

Our mission is to help you win by simplifying your supply chain and delivering an unrivaled customer experience through personalized solutions, innovative technology, an unparalleled product offering, and world-class logistics.

Here are a few of the changes we are making to help you win:

  • Added one Northeast and two West Coast locations, bringing people and products closer to you
  • Enhanced technology and logistics capabilities to serve you faster
  • Doubling the capacity of our UL panel shop
  • Expanding regional business development team in key markets to help you in person

Continue reading “Changes at Kele to Help You Win!”

Kele Hires New Chief Financial Officer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Kele, Inc. announced today that Danny Lyons has joined the company as Chief Financial Officer. Lyons previously served as Kele’s corporate controller for three years between 2014 and 2017. Prior to being named Kele CFO, Lyons spent one year as director of financial reporting and controls with VIP Cinema Seating in New Albany, Miss.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Danny back to the Kele family,” said President and CEO Richard Campbell. “Danny not only brings a tremendous balance of financial experience and strategic skill, he also understands the private equity ecosystem and where Kele is headed.”

Lyons returns to Kele as the company is growing via acquisition. Last month, Kele acquired MIControls of Seattle and Portland, Ore., and last October acquired CCI of Boston. In addition to maintaining overall financial discipline, Lyons will focus on integration and paving the way for strategic growth.

“A welcome challenge is balancing the acquisition model with Kele’s core business,” said Lyons. “We want to grow our legacy business at the same time we are integrating the new acquisitions across accounting and finance, as well as IT and marketing systems. It’s critical that we hit financial targets in that process and make smart investments as we move forward.”

Lyons began his career as an auditor for BDO USA before moving to KPMG. He worked with multiple private equity-owned clients, which paved the way for his first stint at Kele.

“As a finance professional, I am attracted to  the discipline that accompanies the private equity  ownership structure and the  growth opportunities for the business,” he said. “However, the people at Kele, and incredible family-oriented culture, are major reasons that I came back.”

Lyons is a Memphis native, He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Mississippi State University and master’s degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi.


About Kele, Inc.

Kele, Inc. is a leading distributor of building automation products and controls solutions globally. Kele serves the $50+ billion building automation systems (BAS) market with more than 400 brands and 1.8 million parts in stock, including sensors, transmitters, switches, gauges, valves, actuators, relays, and more. Kele’s products can be integrated into existing buildings or new construction. Value-added services include custom panel assembly, specialized sourcing and technical support. Strategically headquartered in America’s logistics hub, Memphis, Tenn., and with regional locations in Boston, Seattle and Portland, Ore., Kele provides building automation and industrial customers with fast and reliable services. Kele is owned by private equity firm Snow Phipps, LLC. To learn more about Kele, visit

Kele, Inc. Completes Acquisition of MIControls, Inc.

Acquisition strengthens both companies’ service to the Western United States

MEMPHIS, Tenn. and SEATTLE – Kele, Inc. today announced the acquisition of MIContols, Inc. The acquisition expands Kele’s footprint and enhances its ability to serve customers in the Western United States. MIControls, which is co-located in Seattle and Portland, Ore., will increase its service offering through new products, customer programs, and technology capabilities.

Kele President and CEO Richard Campbell says the move benefits both Kele and MIControls customers, and accomplishes another goal within Kele’s strategic growth plan.

“This strategic combination brings together two value-added distributors,” says Campbell. “It highlights both Kele’s and MIControls’ commitments to providing industry leading products and solutions to our customers.”

MIControls distributes building automation controls, industrial process controls, and instrumentation. The company is Kele’s second acquisition in the past nine months. Last October, Kele acquired Boston-based Control Cosultants, Inc. (CCI).

“With the CCI acquisition, Kele has seen success getting products closer to our customers in the Northeast from our Boston location,” says Campbell. “We look forward to accelerating our delivery and strengthening our ability to serve customers in the Western United States.”

The new entity will operate as separate brands. Campbell will serve as president and CEO of the combined company. Steve Roe will remain as president of MIControls and lead the Seattle location. Dave Innocenti will continue as vice president and lead the Portland office.

“MIControls is excited to join Kele,” says Roe. “Our customers will enjoy the same quality service they’ve experienced for nearly 100 years in this region. Aligning with Kele will provide them access to thousands more products, along with enhanced tools to help them win jobs. This enables us to continue delivering on our mantra, ‘We Sell Confidence.’”

Kele’s acquisition of MIControls was effective June 29, 2018. Blank Rome, LLP acted as legal counsel to Kele. Carney Badley Spellman, P.S. acted as legal counsel to MIControls, and Bernston Porter & Company, PLLC served as its financial advisor.

About Kele, Inc.

Kele, Inc. is a leading distributor of building automation products and controls solutions globally. Kele serves the $50+ billion building automation systems (BAS) market with more than 400 brands and 1.8 million parts in stock, including sensors, transmitters, switches, gauges, valves, actuators, relays, and more. Kele’s products can be integrated into existing buildings or new construction. Value-added services include custom panel assembly, specialized sourcing, and technical support. Strategically headquartered in America’s logistics hub, Memphis, Tenn., and with a regional location in Boston, Kele provides building automation and industrial customers with fast and reliable services. Kele is owned by private equity firm Snow Phipps, LLC. To learn more about Kele, visit

About MIControls, Inc.

MIControls, Inc. is the premier wholesale distributor serving the Pacific Northwest for building automation controls, industrial process controls, and instrumentation. MIControls traces its roots back to 1920 as the Therm Gas Generator Company of Seattle, which served the Washington State oil heat and the Alaska fishing fleet industries. A series of mergers and acquisitions between Therm Gas, Mortemp Company, and Portland-based Industrial Controls Company, led to the creation of MIControls, Inc. in 2001. For more information, visit

Achieving Energy Efficiency at Ted Glasrud Associates with Honeywell JADE Economizers

Ted Glasrud Associates (TGA) is a commercial and residential real estate development and property management firm with a wide variety of properties to manage. Because no two buildings are alike, the company and its maintenance team are continually challenged to optimize HVAC systems across a wide variety of building types. Continue reading “Achieving Energy Efficiency at Ted Glasrud Associates with Honeywell JADE Economizers”