Energy-efficient electric motors

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As the founder of a clean energy startup, Catalan knows that he has a long way to go. But as a parent and a family man, he says the stakes for future generations are high. A growing number of countries around the world agree. Norway, India, Britain, France and China are moving quickly to phase out internal combustion engines. And Swedish automaker Volvo recently announced plans to phase out all conventional gasoline powered vehicles.

Open main navigation Live TV. Full Schedule. Live Radio. Live TV. English voanews. Learning English learningenglish. Shqip zeriamerikes. Bosanski ba. Srpski glasamerike. Azerbaijani amerikaninsesi. Central Asia. South Asia. Bahasa Indonesia voaindonesia. As mentioned previously, how electric motors are used by manufacturers, industries and homeowners will determine their efficiency. Below are some specific steps users can take to ensure motor efficiency and longevity:. While smart motors are widely used and available, it is crucial to choose the best fit to minimize downtime, improve efficiencies and lower costs.

Industrial engineers know the burden that electrical consumption by motors can put on their operating budgets. To mitigate this, they often utilize motor control technologies that use only the necessary amount of energy to start motors, reveal diagnostic data and reduce downtime.

Energy Efficiency

As motor starters gain acceptance, motor starter technology is also increasing in prominence. Following are a few important questions to consider before deciding on potential applications for electric motors:. Will the application require speed control even when the motor is at a certain speed?

Speed control requirements should be decided upon as early as possible.

Why is electric motor efficiency so important?

Some soft starters have limited slow-speed control between starting and stopping. The important thing to remember is that the operating speed of the motor cannot be changed because the soft starter regulates only the voltage of the motor and not the frequency. Usually, start and stop times with soft starters are dependent on the load.

Energy-Efficient Electric Motors, Revised and Expanded - CRC Press Book

If the load is light, the motor can take less time to start than the programmed value. New-age soft starters have employed advanced algorithms, leading to more accurate and less load-dependent start and stop times. VFDs may work best with applications that require full torque at zero speed.


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They can produce rated motor torque from zero to rated speed and even provide full torque at no speed. Soft starters, on the other hand, typically operate between the frequency of 50 to 60 hertz, and full torque can only be achieved at full voltage. Initial torque available at zero speed normally ranges from zero to 75 percent and can be programmed.

Electric Motors

Soft starters alter the voltage to control current and torque. At the time of starting, the current varies according to the voltage, while the motor torque varies as the square of the applied voltage. The torque may not remain constant at different applied voltages, a condition which may become more complex with varying loads. Certain soft starters work on torque control algorithms, but this does not necessarily relate to constant torque. During acceleration, however, VFDs use different frequencies on the motor while changing the voltage.

The VFD control mode is referred to in terms of constant volts per hertz and produces a constant torque.

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At an amperage of less than 40 amps, soft starters can offer a minor cost benefit when compared to VFDs. As the amperage and power increase, the cost of VFDs increases faster than that of soft starters and can reach extreme levels at high amperages. When it comes to size, soft starters have an advantage over VFDs at all amperages, thanks to their construction. As the current and power increase, the difference can become larger.


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  • When soft starters are teamed with an internal or external electromechanical bypass, they are even more effective and can produce less heat. This is because soft starters have fewer active components in the circuit during start, run and stop modes. Installation concerns can be categorized into cost, size, temperature and power quality. Soft-starter installations involve smaller sizes and lower costs, which is why they are not much of a concern. In addition, soft-starter harmonics are less than those of VFDs. Long cable runs for VFDs need more attention than those for soft starters.

    Furthermore, special wire types may not be needed for soft starters. Electromagnetic compatibility may also not be considered. As simple as it sounds, the most effective way to save energy is to turn off the motor when it is not in use. More often than not, users hesitate to switch off a motor because they believe that starting it up repeatedly will lead to major wear and tear.

    One way to mitigate this is by using soft starters, which can reduce wear and tear. A properly installed and specified soft starter can also decrease the pressure on mechanical and electrical systems. Reducing motor wear and tear is among the primary concerns of users. A great deal of wear and tear takes place when an electric motor is started, as the high initial currents and forces pressurize the mechanical and electrical systems.

    Although this can be detrimental, the damaging effects can be controlled with the help of soft starters. You may also employ VSDs, but these may be costly and less efficient. Motor efficiency can be derived from two factors: the size of the motor and its efficiency quality. For smaller motors in particular, size is an important factor that affects efficiency. For larger motors, it is the efficiency classes that matter more.

    Table of contents

    Energy-efficient motors use less electricity, do not heat up as easily and last longer. These types of motors are characterized by a better design, which results in less heat loss and lower noise. The use of high-quality materials, tighter tolerances and improved manufacturing techniques also help to reduce losses and enhance efficiency. More efficient electric motor systems can reduce energy demand from the industrial and commercial sectors, as well as improve the energy costs and competitiveness of companies. As in many countries, most existing are older or lower efficiency designs, often used at fixed speeds that waste power.

    This represents an enormous opportunity for conserving energy and saving costs.

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