Electric Motors 101

The need for motors extends far beyond the gas or diesel-powered components that make your car run. Most every mechanical system requires some type of motor to function. From vacuum cleaners to fridges and microwaves to power drills, electric motors help our lives run smoother. Think about all of the major appliances you use every day, and if you could live without them.

Unless you’re an electrician or mechanic, you may not realize how many electric motors we encounter every day. These motors help our world go-round. Read on to learn everything you need to know about electric motors.

What is an Electric Motor?

In the simplest terms, electric motors are machines built to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Instead of getting its power from gas like automotive motors, most electric motors use and convert electrical currents in power instead. That’s why you find them in smaller applications, like appliances, blowers, fans, and more.

Electric motor

Electric motors are not limited to small-scale operations only. Major production in factories and manufacturing plants rely on electric motors to run cooling systems, belts, water pumps, and more. Even more, electric motors can be used in conjunction with other motors to perform a wide variety of tasks.

Are There Different Kinds of Electric Motors?

There are two main types of electric motors, each for a different purpose. The first type is an AC electric motor. AC motors, or alternating current motors, are powered by alternating electrical currents. These motors usually have two or more coils that produce alternating currents. The opposite currents rotate, creating a magnetic field – this magnetic field is what allows the motor to give off energy.

The second type of electric motor is the DC, or direct current, motor. DC motors are in a broader class than AC motors – they can be any type of motor that converts electrical energy directly into mechanical energy. There’s no current alternation with a DC motor; just a direct supply of energy.

How are AC Motors Used?

AC motors tend to be low-cost and highly-efficient. This combinations means you’ll find AC motors in a lot more than you would expect! The most common type of AC motor is an induction motor. These are the electrical motors that can be found in most of your daily things – like kitchen appliances and air conditioning systems. AC induction motors have the same input as output, meaning the electrical energy matches the mechanical energy given off.

AC air conditioning motor

Alternating current motors aren’t limited to small appliances, though. Large scale AC motors can be used in commercial machinery and even on railroads. These heavy’duty motors are much larger and run at a higher speed than their smaller counterparts.

How are DC Motors Used?

DC motors were invented in the late 19th century, and are still used in a wide variety of applications today. This type of electric motor is so popular because of its ability to alternate speeds. AC Induction motors run at one, steady speed. This steady output isn’t ideal for all applications. That’s where DC motors that can run at variable speeds come into play.

Even though some DC motors can run at a constant speed, they are most valuable when their speed can be controlled. DC electric motors are used in everything from elevators to sewing machines, and even hair driers and cranes!

Motors don’t just run your car – their electrical counterparts helps power everything from household appliances to heavy machinery. A staple since electricity was discovered, electric motors literally help our world go-round!