Shaft currents can have a destructive effect on electric motor bearings. This article, with information from our friends at AEGIS Shaft Grounding Rings, is intended to inform professionals about these voltages and their effects on bearings in electric motors.
Because of the high-speed switching frequencies in PWM inverters, variable frequency drives induce shaft currents in AC motors. The switching frequencies of insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) used in these drives produce voltages on the motor shaft during normal operation through parasitic capacitance between the stator and rotor. These voltages, which can register 10-40 volts peak, are easily measured by touching an oscilloscope probe to the shaft while the motor is running. (Reference: NEMA MG1 Section 184.108.40.206)