Table of Contents
Electric Motors Basics - The HVAC industry depends heavily on the electric motor. Furthermore, the electric motor is the primary component that powers blowers to move air. Additionally, electric motors drive compressors to compress refrigerant. Lastly, the electric motor powers a pump to move water for chilled water and hot water applications and fuel oil.
Additionally, the electric motor is an integral part of all HVAC systems, and many HVAC applications would be impossible to implement without the old electric motor.
Electric Motors Basics | HVAC Technical
HVAC equipment depends on electric motors to move air, pump water, and run compressors. Therefore, technicians need to understand electric motor basics. Depending on the application will depend on the type of motor required for the job. Additionally, the design engineer must select the appropriate HVAC motor for the job; otherwise, significant and continuous problems will occur throughout the life of the HVAC system.
Electric blower motors or propeller fans usually require electric motors with a low starting torque, while compressors require motors with a high starting torque. Finally, these characteristics are essential, especially when selecting the appropriate electric motor for the application.
Hermetic Compressors with Integral Motors
A compressor electric motor with a low starting torque rating is doomed to failure while a blower motor or propeller blade electric motor with an unnecessarily high torque rating will end up costing more in energy costs over the life of the equipment and electric motor.
That is why the design engineer who designs the equipment must make the appropriate selection of electric motors for the equipment. Furthermore, it is also important that if an electric motor in an HVAC application fails for whatever reason that the electric motor is replaced with an exact replacement motor.
Electric Motors Basics - Single Phase Motors
Split-phase motors are the workhorse of the HVAC industry. Additionally, a split-phase electric motor has two windings – a start and run winding. There two common split-phase motors used in HVAC applications. Furthermore, one of the split-phased electric motors used in HVAC applications is the capacitor-start-induction-run motor, and it is also a single-phase electric motor.
The capacitor start motor uses a start capacitor to boost its starting torque. Additionally, most capacitor start motors use a centrifugal switch to disengage the start capacitor from the start winding circuit when the motor reaches approximately 70 to 80 percent of its run speed.
The other common split-phase electric motor used for HVAC applications is the resistance-start-induction-run electric motor. This electric motor has a start winding and a run winding, and single-phase current applied to both windings on start-up. Additionally, the two windings are out of phase by 45 to 90 degrees, which gives the motor a boost on start-up. Next, this resistance-start-induction-run motor does not utilize a capacitor as the capacitor=start-induction-run electric motor does. Furthermore, the resistance-start-induction-run electric motor does use a centrifugal switch to drop the start winding out of the circuit just as the capacitor-start-induction-run motor does.
Electric Motors Basics - PSC Motors
Another common electric motor used in many HVAC applications is the permanent split capacitor (PSC) electric motor. Unlike the three-phase electric motor, the PSC electric motor is a single-phase electric motor. These electric motors are usually easily reversible from the clockwise direction to the counter-clockwise direction. Furthermore, the PSC electric motor uses a capacitor and has a good running efficiency. Furthermore, it only has a moderate torque rating on startup. However, it is used for many refrigeration and air conditioning compressor applications.
Usually, when a PSC electric motor drives a compressor and has two capacitors attached to its wiring. A start capacitor to boost the starting torque and a run capacitor to increase its running efficiency. Furthermore, the start capacitor is usually only in the circuit for a second at startup. It then drops out of the compressor circuit by a special relay. The start capacitor must drop out of the circuit quickly after startup. Finally, if the relay fails in a closed position and the start capacitor remains in the circuit, the start winding in the PSC electric motor can burn up, rendering the compressor useless.
Lastly, other Resources to help you with Capacitors and HVAC Motors:
- Run & Start Capacitors for HVAC Motors
- Start Capacitors for HVAC Compressors
- Troubleshooting HVAC Capacitors
- Air Conditioner Compressor Troubleshooting
- Condenser Fan Motors
- Air Handler Blower Motors
- Air Conditioner Maintenance and Repair - HVAC Motors
The shaded-pole electric motor is used in HVAC applications. Typically for only fractional horsepower applications where the start and run torque requirements are very minimal. Finally, the shaded-pole electric motor does not use a capacitor and not easily reversible.
HVAC Electric Motors Basics
Technical Resource: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology