Cahier technique no 207 Electric motors

Cahier technique no 207 Electric motors
Collection Technique ..........................................................................
Cahier technique no. 207
Electric motors
... and how to improve their control and
E. Gaucheron
Building a New Electric World
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no. 207
Electric motors
... and how to improve their control and
Etienne Gaucheron
Graduate electronics engineer by training. After a short period with
Thomson he joined the VsD (Variable speed drives and starters)
division of Telemecanique in 1970. He then completed his training at
ENSAM (the national college for arts and vocational training) in Paris
during his position with Telemecanique's after sales service.
As a specialist in motor control, he was involved in the development
of variable speed control for AC motors. He has gained a wide range
of experience in various positions: systems platform engineer,
product manager for machine tool drive products, product manager
for drives for asynchronous motors (Altivar products) and manager of
the VSD project marketing team.
He is currently a motor control "applications" specialist within the
advance development team for the Schneider Electric PCP (Power
Control and Protection) division.
ECT 207 first issue, October 2004
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no. 207 / p.2
Electric motors
... and how to improve their control and protection
Nowadays, apart from lighting devices, electric motors represent the
largest loads in industry and commercial installations. Their function, to
convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, means they are
particularly significant in economic terms, and hence, they cannot be
ignored by installation or machinery designers, installers or users.
There are many types of motor in existence, but 3-phase asynchronous
motors, and in particular squirrel cage motors, are the most commonly
used in industry and in commercial buildings applications above a certain
power level. Moreover, although they are ideal for many applications when
controlled by contactor devices, the increasing use of electronic equipment
is widening their field of application. This is the case for start/stop control
with soft start/soft stop units, and when precise speed adjustment is also
necessary with variable speed drives/regulators.
However, slip-ring asynchronous motors are used for certain high power
applications in industry, and single phase asynchronous motors remain
suitable for limited power applications, mainly for buildings applications.
The use of synchronous motors, known as brushless or permanent magnet
motors, combined with converters is becoming increasingly common in
applications requiring high performance levels, in particular in terms of
dynamic torque (on starting or on a change of duty), precision and speed
After presenting the various types of electric motor and their operating
principles, this "Cahier Technique" describes the technical and operating
features of asynchronous motors, covering in particular the main starting
devices, speed control and braking methods. It provides a solid grounding
for the reader to gain a good understanding of all the problems involved
with motor control and protection.
This "Cahier Technique" touches briefly on variable speed control of
electric motors. However, this subject is covered more specifically in
"Cahier Technique" CT 208 "Electronic starters and variable speed drives".
Motor protection is the subject of another "Cahier Technique" currently in
1 Three-phase asynchronous motors
2 Other types of electric motor
3 Operation of asynchronous motors
4 Conclusion
1.1 Operating principle
1.2 Construction
1.3 The various types of rotor
p. 4
p. 6
p. 6
2.1 Single phase asynchronous motors
p. 10
2.2 Synchronous motors
2.3 DC motors
p. 10
p. 14
3.1 Squirrel cage motors
p. 17
3.2 Slip-ring motors
3.3 Other speed variation systems
p. 19
p. 20
p. 22
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no. 207 / p.3
1 Three-phase asynchronous motors
This section covers 3-phase asynchronous
motors, the most commonly used motors for
driving machinery. The use of this type of motor
has become the norm in a large number of
applications because of its numerous
advantages: it is standardized, rugged, easy to
maintain and use, and inexpensive.
Other types of motor are presented in section 2.
Section 3 describes and compares the main
starting devices, and speed control and braking
methods associated with the motors.
1.1 Operating principle
The operating principle of an asynchronous
motor is based on the creation of an induced
current in a conductor when the conductor cuts
the lines of force of a magnetic field, hence the
name "induction motor". The combined action of
this induced current and the magnetic field
creates a motive force on the motor rotor.
Let us take the example of a turn with short
circuit ABCD, located in magnetic field B, and
rotating around an axis xy (see Fig. 1 ).
If, for example, we rotate the magnetic field
clockwise, the turn is subject to a variable flux
and becomes the source of an induced
electromotive force which causes an induced
current I (Faraday’s law).
According to Lenz’s law, the direction of the
current is such that it opposes the cause that
produced it by its electromagnetic action. Both of
Fig. 1: Creation of an induced current in a shorted turn
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.4
direction of
(positive to
of the wire
Fig. 2: Fleming’s left hand rule to find the direction of
the force
direction of
magnetic field
the conductors are therefore subject to a Lorentz
force F (also known as Laplace force), in the
opposite direction to its relative displacement in
relation to the field coil field.
The left hand rule (action of the field on a
current, see Figure 2 ) helps demonstrate the
direction of the force F applied to each
The thumb points in the direction of the
movement field. The index finger indicates the
direction of the field. The middle finger points in
the direction of the induced current. The turn is
therefore subject to a torque that causes it to
rotate in the same direction as the coil field,
called the rotating field. The turn therefore starts
to rotate and the electromotive torque produced
balances the resistive torque.
Creation of the rotating field
Three windings, geometrically offset by 120°, are
each supplied by one of the phases of a 3-phase
AC supply (see Fig. 3 ). The windings have AC
currents flowing through them that have the
same electrical offset and that each produce a
sinusoidal AC magnetic field. This field, which
always follows the same axis, is at its maximum
when the current in the winding is at its
The field generated by each winding is the
resultant of two fields rotating in opposite
directions, each field having a constant value of
If the three diagrams are superimposed, it can
be seen that:
v The three fields rotating anticlockwise are
offset by 120° and cancel one another out.
v The three fields rotating clockwise are
superimposed on one another. These fields are
added together to form the rotating field with
constant amplitude 3Hmax/2. It is a field with one
pair of poles.
This field performs one rotation during one
period of the supply current. Its speed is
dependent on the line supply frequency (f), and
the number of pairs of poles (p). It is called the
"synchronous speed".
The flux corresponding to phase 3 is negative.
The field is thus directed in the opposite direction
to the coil.
Motor torque can only exist if there is an induced
current flowing in the turn. This torque is
determined by the current flowing in the turn and
can only exist if there is flux variation in this turn.
There must therefore be a difference in speed
between the turn and the rotating field. This is
why an electric motor operating according to the
principle we have just described is called an
"asynchronous motor". The difference between
the synchronous speed (Ns) and that of the turn
(N) is called the "slip" and is expressed as a
percentage of the synchronous speed.
Ph3 Ph2 Ph1
Fig. 3: Principle of a 3-phase asynchronous motor
slip = [(Ns - N) / Ns] x 100
half that of the maximum field. At any instant t1
in the period (see Fig. 4 ), the fields produced by
each winding can be represented as follows:
v Field H1 decreases. Its two component fields
tend to move away from the axis OH1.
v Field H2 increases. Its two component fields
tend to move towards the axis OH2.
v Field H3 increases. Its two component fields
tend to move towards the axis OH3.
The steady state slip varies according to the
motor load and the level of the supply voltage
applied to it: the lower the motor load, the lower
the slip; and if the motor is under-supplied the
slip increases.
H1 max
During operation, the rotor current frequency is
obtained by multiplying the supply frequency by
the slip. The rotor current frequency is therefore
at its maximum on starting.
H2 max
H1 max
H3 max
H3 max
H2 max
Fig. 4: Fields generated by the three phases
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.5
Synchronous speed
The synchronous speed of 3-phase
asynchronous motors is directly proportional to
the supply current frequency and inversely
proportional to the number of pairs of poles
comprising the stator.
For example:
Ns = 60 f/p
v Ns: synchronous speed in rpm
v f: frequency in Hz
v p: number of pairs of poles
The rotation speeds of the rotating field, or
synchronous speeds, according to the number of
poles, are given in the table in Figure 5 for
industrial frequencies of 50 Hz and 60 Hz and
one other frequency (100 Hz).
In practice it is not always possible to increase
the speed of an asynchronous motor by
supplying it with a higher frequency than that for
which it is designed, even if the voltage is
suitable. It is therefore necessary to check
whether its mechanical and electrical design
allows this.
of poles
Speed of rotation in rpm
50 Hz
60 Hz
100 Hz
Fig. 5: Synchronous speeds according to the number
of poles and the current frequency
It should be noted that in view of the slip, the onload rotation speeds of asynchronous motors are
slightly lower than the synchronous speeds
indicated in the table.
1.2. Construction
A 3-phase squirrel cage asynchronous motor
consists of two main parts: a field coil or stator
and an armature or rotor.
This is the fixed part of the motor. A cast iron or
light alloy frame surrounds a ring of thin
laminations (around 0.5 mm thick) made of
silicon steel. The laminations are insulated from
one another by oxidation or an insulating
varnish. The "lamination" of the magnetic circuit
reduces losses via hysteresis and eddy currents.
The laminations have slots in them for holding
the stator windings that produce the rotating field
(three windings for a 3-phase motor). Each
winding is made up of a number of coils. The
way these coils are joined to one another defines
the number of pairs of poles of the motor, and
thus the speed of rotation.
This is the moving part of the motor. Like the
magnetic circuit of the stator, it is made up of a
stack of thin laminations insulated from one
another, forming a keyed cylinder on the motor
shaft. Two different technologies can be used for
this part, which separate asynchronous motors
into two distinct families: those with a “squirrel
cage” rotor and those with a wound rotor which
are referred to as “slip-ring”.
1.3. The various types of rotor
Squirrel cage rotor
There are several types of squirrel cage rotor.
They are all designed as shown in the example
in Figure 6 .
These motors are (from the least common to the
most widely used):
c Resistive squirrel cage rotor
The resistive rotor mainly exists in the single
cage version (see later for the definition of the
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.6
single cage motor). The cage is closed by two
resistive rings (special alloy, small cross-section,
stainless steel rings, etc). These motors have
high slip at nominal torque. Their starting torque
is high and the starting current is low
(see Fig. 7 ). The efficiency of these motors is
low due to the losses in the rotor.
This type of motor is mainly used for
applications in which it is useful to have some
Fan end shield
Fan cover
Cage rotor
Shield end flange
on shaft end side
Fig. 6: Exploded view of a squirrel cage rotor motor
Single cage rotor
slip in order to adapt the speed to the torque,
for example:
v In the case of several motors connected
mechanically, across which the load must be
distributed, such as rolling mill roller tables, or
the drive system of a lifting crane
v For winder/unwinder functions using Alquist(1)
motors designed for this purpose
v When a high starting torque with limited inrush
current is needed (lifting hoists or conveyors).
They are used to control the speed by modifying
the voltage alone. But this application is on the
decline, being increasingly replaced by
frequency inverters. Although, in general, motors
are self-cooled, some resistive squirrel cage
motors are force-cooled (separate motorization
of their fans).
Double cage rotor
Resistive cage rotor
Fig. 7: Torque/speed curves for the various types of
cage rotor (at Un)
1. This force-cooled asynchronous motor with high slip is
used in speed control. Its stalling current is close to its
nominal current, and its torque/speed characteristic falls
very steeply. With a variable power supply it is possible to
adapt this characteristic and adjust the motor torque
according to the required traction.
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.7
c Single squirrel cage rotor
Conductors are placed in the holes or slots
around the edges of the rotor (on the outside of
the cylinder created by the stacking of the
laminations) and connected at either end by a
metal ring. The motor torque generated by the
rotating field is applied to these conductors. To
make the torque regular, the conductors are at a
slight angle in relation to the motor shaft. The
whole assembly resembles a squirrel cage,
hence the name of this type of rotor.
The squirrel cage is generally fully molded, (only
very large motors are made with conductors
inserted in slots). Aluminum is pressure injected
and the cooling fins, which are cast in the same
operation, are used for short-circuiting the stator
These motors have a relatively low starting
torque and the current drawn on power-up is
much higher than the nominal current (see
Figure 7).
On the other hand they have low slip at nominal
These motors are mainly used at high power to
improve the efficiency of installations on pumps
and fans. They are also used with frequency
inverters at variable speed. The torque and
current problems on starting are thus fully
c Double squirrel cage rotor
This consists of two concentric cages, one outer,
with a small cross-section, and highly resistive,
and the other inner, with a large cross-section
and lower resistance.
v At the beginning of the starting phase, when
the rotor current frequency is high, the resulting
skin effect causes the whole of the rotor current
to flow around the outer surface of the rotor and
thus in a smaller surface area of the conductors.
Thus, at the beginning of the starting phase,
when the rotor current frequency is high, the
current only flows in the outer cage. The torque
produced by the resistive outer cage is high and
the current inrush low (see Fig. 7 ).
v At the end of the starting phase, the frequency
decreases in the rotor and it is easier for the flux
to flow through the inner cage. The motor then
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.8
behaves very much as if it had been built with a
single low resistance cage.
In steady state the speed is only slightly lower
than that of a single cage motor.
c Rotor with deep slots
This is the standard version.
The rotor conductors are molded into the rotor
slots which are trapezoidal shape, with the small
side of the trapeze located on the outer surface
of the rotor.
Operation is similar to that of a double cage
motor: the intensity of the rotor current varies
inversely to its frequency. Thus:
v At the beginning of the starting phase, torque
is high and the current inrush is low.
v In steady state the speed is more or less the
same as that of a single cage motor.
Wound rotor (slip-ring rotor)
Identical windings to those of the stator are
inserted in the slots around the outer edge of the
rotor (see Fig. 8 ). The rotor is generally
One end of each of the windings is connected to
a common point (star connection). The free ends
can be connected to a centrifugal switch or to
three insulated solid copper rings that form part
of the rotor. The graphite-based brushes
connected to the starting device rub against
these rings.
Depending on the values of the resistors inserted
in the rotor circuit, this type of motor can develop
a starting torque of up to 2.5 times the nominal
The current on starting is more or less
proportional to the torque developed on the
motor shaft.
This solution is now being phased out in favor of
electronic solutions combined with a standard
squirrel cage motor. In fact, the latter solutions
resolve maintenance issues (replacement of
worn rotor power supply brushes, servicing of
adjustment resistors), reduce the energy
dissipated in these resistors and also
significantly improve the efficiency of the
Brush inspection
end shield
Fan cover
Slip rings
Wound rotor
with open slots
Shield end flange
on shaft end side
Fig. 8: Exploded view of a slip-ring rotor moto
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.9
2 Other types of electric motor
2.1 Single phase asynchronous motors
Although the single phase asynchronous motor
is less widely used in industry than its 3-phase
counterpart, it nevertheless represents a
significant proportion of low power and buildings
applications that use a 230 V single phase line
It is more bulky than a 3-phase motor of the
same power rating.
Moreover, its efficiency and its power factor are
much lower than with the 3-phase motor and
they vary considerably depending on the power
and the manufacturer.
Single phase motors up to ten or so kW are
widely used in the United States.
Like the 3-phase motor, the single phase motor
consists of two parts: the stator and the rotor.
c Stator
This consists of an even number of poles and its
coils are connected to the line supply.
c Rotor
More often than not this is a squirrel cage rotor.
Operating principle
Let us consider a stator consisting of two
windings, L1 and N, connected to the line supply
(see Fig. 9 ).
The single phase AC current creates a single AC
field H in the rotor, which is the superimposition
of two rotating fields H1 and H2 with the same
value rotating in opposite directions.
On stopping, because the stator is energized,
these fields have the same slip in relation to the
rotor and consequently produce two equal and
opposite torques. The motor cannot start.
A mechanical pulse on the rotor causes the slips
to become unequal. One of the torques
decreases while the other increases. The
resulting torque causes the motor to start in the
direction in which it has been set going.
In order to solve this torque problem during the
starting phase, a second coil, offset by 90°, is
inserted in the stator. This auxiliary phase is
powered by a phase angle device (capacitor or
inductance). Once starting is complete the
auxiliary phase can be disabled.
Note: A 3-phase motor can also be used in
single phase operation. The starting capacitor is
then connected in series or in parallel with the
unused winding.
Fig. 9: Operating principle of a single phase
asynchronous motor
2.2 Synchronous motors
Like the asynchronous motor, the synchronous
motor consists of a stator and a rotor separated
by the air gap. It differs from the asynchronous
motor in that the flux in the air gap is not due to a
component of the stator current: it is created by
magnets or by the field coil current provided by
an external DC source energizing a winding
placed in the rotor.
c Stator
The stator consists of a housing and a magnetic
circuit generally comprising silicon steel
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.10
laminations and a 3-phase coil similar to that of
an asynchronous motor supplied with 3-phase
AC to produce a rotating field.
c Rotor
The rotor carries field magnets or coils through
which a direct current flows and which create
interposed North and South poles. Unlike
asynchronous machines, the rotor rotates with
no slip at the speed of the rotating field.
There are therefore two different types of
synchronous motor: magnet motors and wound
rotor motors.
v With magnet motors, the motor rotor is fitted
with permanent magnets (see Fig. 10 )
(generally rare earth magnets), in order to
achieve increased field strength in a small
volume. The stator has three-phase windings.
These motors can tolerate significant overload
currents in order to achieve high-speed
acceleration. They are always used with a
variable speed drive, and these motor-drive
assemblies are intended for specific markets
such as robots or machine tools, for which
smaller motors, acceleration and passband are
(4 poles)
Fig. 10: Cross-section of a permanent magnet motor
v The second type of synchronous machine has
a wound coil, and is a reversible machine that
can operate as either a generator (alternator) or
a motor. For many years these machines have
been mainly used as alternators. Their use as
motors was virtually confined to applications
where it was necessary to drive loads at fixed
speed despite relatively wide variations in their
resistive torque.
The development of direct (cycloconverters) or
indirect frequency inverters operating with
natural switching due to the ability of
synchronous machines to provide reactive
power, has enabled the creation of high
performance, reliable variable speed electric
drives that are particularly competitive in relation
to competitors' solutions for power ratings over
one megawatt.
Although it is possible to find synchronous
motors used industrially in power ratings ranging
from 150 kW to 5 MW, it is above 5 MW that
electric drives using synchronous motors
become virtually essential, for the most part
combined with variable speed drives.
Operating characteristics
The motor torque of the synchronous machine is
proportional to the voltage at its terminals,
whereas that of the asynchronous machine is
proportional to the square of that voltage.
Unlike the asynchronous motor, it can work with
a power factor equal to one or very close to it.
The synchronous motor therefore has a number
of advantages over the asynchronous motor with
regard to its ability to be powered via the
constant voltage/frequency line supply:
v The speed of the motor is constant, regardless
of the load.
v It can supply reactive power and increase the
power factor of an installation.
v It can withstand relatively large voltage drops
(around 50% due to its over-excitation
properties) without stalling.
However, the synchronous motor supplied
directly by the constant voltage/frequency line
supply has two disadvantages:
v It has starting difficulties. If the motor is not
combined with a variable speed drive, starting
must be performed at no-load, either by DOL
starting for small motors, or using a starting
motor that drives it at a speed close to
synchronous speed before direct connection to
the line supply.
v It may stall if the resistive torque exceeds its
maximum electromagnetic torque. In this case,
the entire start process must be repeated.
Other types of synchronous motor
To conclude this overview of industrial motors,
we must also mention linear motors,
synchronized asynchronous motors and stepper
c Linear motors
Their structure is identical to that of synchronous
rotary motors: they consist of a stator (plate) and
a rotor (forcer) which are in line. In general the
plate moves along the forcer on a guide.
This type of motor does away with all
intermediate kinematics for converting the
movement, which means there is no play or
mechanical wear on this drive.
c Synchronized asynchronous motors
These are induction motors. During the starting
phase, the motor operates in asynchronous
mode and when it has reached a speed close to
synchronous speed, it switches to synchronous
If it has a high mechanical load, it can no longer
operate in synchronous mode and returns to
asynchronous mode. This feature is obtained by
special construction of the rotor and is generally
for low power motors.
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.11
c Stepper motors
The stepper motor is a motor that operates
according to the electrical pulses supplying its
coils. Depending on its electrical power supply, it
may be:
v Unipolar if its coils are always supplied in the
same direction by a single voltage, hence the
name unipolar.
v Bipolar when its coils are supplied sometimes
in one direction and sometimes in the other.
They sometimes create a North pole, and
sometimes a South pole, hence the name
Stepper motors can be of variable reluctance or
magnet type or a combination of the two
(see Fig. 11 ).
The minimum angle of rotation between two
modifications of the electrical pulses is called a
step. A motor is characterized by the number of
steps per revolution (that is, for 360°). The most
common values are 48, 100 or 200 steps per
The motor therefore rotates discontinuously. To
improve the resolution, the number of steps may
be increased in a purely electronic way (microstep operation). By varying the current in the
coils in steps (see Fig. 12 ), a resulting field is
created that slides from one step to another, thus
effectively reducing the step.
The circuits for micro-steps multiply the number
of motor steps by 500, thus changing, for
example, from 200 to 100,000 steps.
The electronics can be used to control the
chronology of these pulses and count the
number of pulses. Stepper motors and their
control circuits thus enable a shaft to rotate with
a high degree of precision in terms of both speed
and amplitude.
Their operation is thus similar to that of a
synchronous motor when the shaft is rotating
continuously, which corresponds to specified
frequency, torque and driven load inertia limits
(see Fig. 13 ). If these limits are exceeded, the
motor stalls, the effect of which is to stop the
2 phases, 4 wires
4 phases, 8 wires
2 phases, 4 wires
No. of steps/rev.
Operating stages
Step 1
Intermediate state
Step 2
Fig. 11: The three types of stepper motor
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.12
Accurate angular positioning is possible without
a measurement loop. The small models of these
motors, generally with power ratings of less than
one kW, have a low voltage power supply. In
industry, these motors are used for position
control applications such as setting stops for
cutting to length, controlling valves, optical or
measurement devices, loading and unloading
presses or machine tools, etc.
The simplicity of this solution makes it
particularly economical (no feedback loop).
Magnet stepper motors also have the advantage
of a standstill torque when there is no power
On the other hand, the initial position of the
moving part has to be known and taken into
account by the electronics in order to provide
effective control.
Fig. 12: Current steps applied to the coils of a stepper motor to reduce its step
Starting frequency limit
Acceleration range
Working torque limit
Starting range
Maximum step frequency
Step frequency (Hz)
Fig. 13: Maximum torque according to step frequency
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.13
2.3 DC motors
Separate field excitation DC motors are still
sometimes used for driving machines at variable
These motors are very easy to miniaturize, and
essential for very low powers and low voltages.
They are also particularly suitable, up to high
power levels (several megawatts), for speed
variation with simple, uncomplicated electronic
technologies for high performance levels
(variation range commonly used from
1 to 100).
Their characteristics also enable accurate torque
regulation, when operating as a motor or as a
generator. Their nominal rotation speed, which is
independent of the line supply frequency, is easy
to adapt by design to suit all applications.
They are however less rugged than
asynchronous motors and much more
expensive, in terms of both hardware and
maintenance costs, as they require regular
servicing of the commutator and the brushes.
A DC motor is composed of the following parts:
c Field coil or stator
This is a non-moving part of the magnetic circuit
on which a winding is wound in order to produce
a magnetic field. The electro-magnet that is
created has a cylindrical cavity between its
c Armature or rotor
This is a cylinder of magnetic laminations that
are insulated from one another and
perpendicular to the axis of the cylinder. The
armature is a moving part that rotates round its
axis, and is separated from the field coil by an air
gap. Conductors are evenly distributed around
its outer surface.
c Commutator and brushes
The commutator is integral with the armature.
The brushes are fixed. They rub against the
commutator and thus supply power to the
armature conductors.
same direction and are thus, according to
Laplace's law, subject to a force. The conductors
located under the other pole are subject to a
force of the same intensity in the opposite
direction. The two forces create a torque which
causes the motor armature to rotate
(see Fig. 14 ).
When the motor armature is powered by a DC or
rectified voltage supply U, it produces back
emf E whose value is E = U – RI
RI represents the ohmic voltage drop in the
The back emf E is linked to the speed and the
excitation by the equation E = k ω Φ in which:
v k is a constant specific to the motor
v ω is the angular speed
v Φ is the flux
This equation shows that at constant excitation
the back emf E (proportional to ω) is an image of
the speed.
The torque is linked to the field coil flux and the
current in the armature by the equation:
If the flux is reduced, the torque decreases.
There are two methods for increasing the speed.
c Either increase the back emf E, and thus the
supply voltage at constant excitation: this is
known as "constant torque" operation.
c Or decrease the excitation flux, and thus the
excitation current, while keeping the supply
voltage constant: this is known as "reduced flux"
or "constant power" operation. This operation
requires the torque to decrease as the speed
increases (see Fig. 15 ). However, for high
reduced flux ratios this operation requires
Field coil pole
Operating principle
When the field coil is energized, it creates a
magnetic field (excitation flux) in the air gap, in
the direction of the radii of the armature. This
magnetic field "enters" the armature from the
North pole side of the field coil and "exits" the
armature from the South pole side of the field
When the armature is energized, currents pass
through the conductors located under one field
coil pole (on the same side of the brushes) in the
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.14
Field coil pole
Fig. 14: Production of torque in a DC motor
specially adapted motors (mechanically and
electrically) to overcome switching problems.
load with a certain inertia), the device provides
electrical energy and operates as a generator.
The operation of this type of device (DC motor)
is reversible:
Various types of DC motor (see Fig. 16 )
v If the load opposes the rotation movement (the
load is said to be resistive), the device provides
a torque and operates as a motor.
v If the load is such that it tends to make the
device rotate (the load is said to be driving) or it
opposes the slow-down (stopping phase of a
a: At constant torque
c Parallel excitation (separate or shunt)
The coils, armature and field coil are connected
in parallel or supplied via two sources with
different voltages in order to adapt to the
characteristics of the machine (e.g.: armature
voltage 400 volts and field coil voltage
180 volts).
b: At constant power
Operation at:
U = Un
U = 0.8 U n
U = 0.6 U n
U = 0.4 U n
U = 0.2 U n
U = - 0.2
U = - 0.4
U = - 0.6
U = - 0.8
U = -U n
I = Imax
I = In
Un ; Φn
I = -In
I = -Imax
Fig. 15: Torque/speed curves for a separate field excitation motor
a: Separate field excitation motor
Supply 1
c: Shunt wound motor
Supply 2
b: Series wound motor
d: Compound wound motor
Fig. 16: Diagrams of the various types of DC motor
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.15
The direction of rotation is reversed by inverting
one or other of the windings, generally by
inverting the armature voltage due to the much
lower time constants. Most bidirectional speed
drives for DC motors operate in this way.
c Series wound
The design of this motor is similar to that of the
separate field excitation motor. The field coil is
connected in series to the armature coil, hence
its name.
The direction of rotation can be reversed by
inverting the polarities of the armature or the field
coil. This motor is mainly used for traction, in
particular on trucks supplied by battery packs. In
railway traction the old TGV (French high-speed
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.16
train) motor coaches used this type of motor.
More recent coaches use asynchronous motors.
c Compound wound (series-parallel excitation)
This technology combines the qualities of the
series wound motor and the shunt wound motor.
This motor has two windings per field coil pole.
One is connected in parallel with the armature. A
low current (low in relation to the working
current) flows through it. The other is connected
in series.
It is an added flux motor if the ampere turns of
the two windings add their effects. Otherwise it is
a negative flux motor. But this particular
mounting method is very rarely used as it leads
to unstable operation with high loads.
3 Operation of asynchronous motors
3.1 Squirrel cage motors
Consequences of a voltage variation
c Effect on the starting current
The starting current varies with the supply
voltage. If the supply voltage is higher during the
starting phase, the current drawn at the moment
of power-up increases. This current increase is
aggravated by the saturation of the machine.
c Effect on the speed
When there are voltage variations, the
synchronous speed is not modified, but for a
motor under load, an increase in the voltage
results in a slight decrease in the slip. In
practical terms, this property cannot be used as,
due to the saturation of the stator's magnetic
circuit, the current drawn increases significantly
that may cause an abnormal temperature rise of
the machine, even during operation with a low
load. On the other hand, if the supply voltage
decreases, the slip increases, and the current
drawn increases to provide the torque, with the
resulting risk of temperature rise. Moreover,
since the maximum torque decreases as the
square of the voltage, the motor may stall if there
is a significant decrease in the voltage.
Consequences of a frequency variation
c Effect on the torque
As with any electrical machine, the torque of
the asynchronous motor is of the type
(K = constant coefficient depending on the
In the equivalent diagram in figure 17 , coil L is
that which produces the flux and Io is the
magnetizing current.
At first approximation, disregarding the
resistance ahead of the magnetizing inductance
(that is, for frequencies of a few Hertz) current Io
is expressed as:
Io = U / 2π L f
and the flux will be expressed as:
Φ = k Io
The machine torque is therefore expressed as:
T = K k Io I
Io and I are the nominal currents for which the
motor is designed.
To avoid exceeding the limits, Io must be kept at
its nominal value, which can only be achieved if
the U/f ratio remains constant.
inductance losses
Fig. 17: Equivalent diagram of an asynchronous motor
Consequently, it is possible to obtain nominal
torque and currents as long as the supply
voltage U can be adjusted according to the
When this adjustment is no longer possible, the
frequency can always be increased, but the
current Io decreases and the useful torque also
decreases, as it is not possible to continually
exceed the nominal current of the machine
without risking a temperature rise.
To achieve constant torque operation whatever
the speed, the U/F ratio must be kept constant.
This is what a frequency inverter does.
c Effect on the speed
The speed of rotation of an asynchronous motor
is proportional to the frequency of the supply
voltage. This property is often used to make
specially designed motors operate at very high
speed, for example with a 400 Hz supply
(grinding machines, laboratory and surgical
equipment, etc). It is also possible to achieve
variable speed by adjusting the frequency, for
example from 6 to 50 Hz (conveyor rollers, lifting
equipment, etc).
Adjusting the speed of 3-phase
asynchronous motors
(subject described in detail in "Cahier
Technique" no. 208)
For many years, there were very few possibilities
for adjusting the speed of asynchronous motors.
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.17
Squirrel cage motors were mostly used at their
nominal speed. In practice only pole-changing
motors or motors with separate stator windings,
which are still frequently used nowadays, could
provide several fixed speeds.
Nowadays, with frequency inverters, squirrel
cage motors are controlled at variable speed,
and can thus be used in applications previously
reserved for DC motors.
Pole-changing motors
As we have already seen, the speed of a squirrel
cage motor is dependent on the frequency of the
line supply and the number of pairs of poles. It is
therefore possible to obtain a motor with two or
more speeds by creating combinations of coils in
the stator that correspond to different numbers of
This type of motor only allows speed ratios of 1
to 2 (4 and 8 poles, 6 and 12 poles, etc). It has
six terminals (see Fig. 18 ).
For one of the speeds the line supply is
connected to the three corresponding terminals.
For the second, the terminals are linked to one
another, as the line supply is connected to the
other three terminals.
More often than not, at both high and low speed,
starting is carried out by connecting directly to
the line supply without using any special device
(DOL starting).
In some cases, if required by the operating
conditions and permitted by the motor, the
starting device automatically performs the
change to low speed before initiating the change
to high speed or before stopping.
Depending on the currents drawn during the Low
Speed -LSP- or High Speed -HSP- connections,
protection may be provided by one thermal
overload relay for both speeds or by two relays
(one for each speed).
In general, these motors have a low efficiency
and a fairly low power factor.
Motors with separate stator windings
With this type of motor, which has two electrically
independent stator windings, two speeds can be
obtained in any given ratio. However their
electrical characteristics are often affected by the
fact that the LSP windings must withstand the
mechanical and electrical stresses that result
from operating the motor at HSP. Thus, this type
of motor operating at LSP sometimes draws a
higher current than at HSP.
It is also possible to create three and four speed
motors by coupling the poles to one or both of
the stator windings. This solution requires
additional connectors on the coils.
∆/Y Dahlander connection (for constant torque)
Low speed
Low speed
High speed
Ph1 Ph2 Ph3
2U 2V 2W
2U 2V 2W
1U 1V 1W
High speed
1U 1V 1W
Ph1 Ph2 Ph3
Y/YY Dahlander connection (for quadratic torque)
Low speed
High speed
Low speed
High speed
Ph1 Ph2 Ph3
Fig. 18: Different types of Dahlander connection
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.18
2U 2V 2W
1U 1V 1W
Ph1 Ph2 Ph3
2U 2V 2W
1U 1V 1W
3.2 Slip-ring motors
Use of the rotor resistor
The rotor resistor for this type of motor is used to
v Its starting torque (see section 1)
v Its speed
Connecting a permanent resistor to the rotor
terminals of a slip-ring motor lowers its speed
(the higher the resistance the lower the speed).
This is a simple solution for varying the speed.
3.2.2. Adjusting the speed by the slip
These rotor or "slip" resistors can be shortcircuited in several notches to obtain either a
discontinuous adjustment of the speed, or
gradual acceleration and complete starting of the
motor. They must withstand the period of
operation, in particular when they are intended to
vary the speed. Hence, they are often quite
sizeable and fairly costly.
This extremely simple process is being used less
and less as it has two major disadvantages:
v During operation at low speed, a large
proportion of the energy taken from the line
supply is dissipated in straightforward losses in
the resistors.
v The speed obtained is not independent of the
load, but varies with the resistive torque applied
on the motor shaft by the machine (see Fig. 19 ).
For a given resistance, the slip is proportional to
the torque. Thus, for example, the reduction in
speed obtained by a resistor can be 50% at full
load and only 25% at half load, while the no-load
speed remains virtually unchanged.
If an operator continuously monitors the
machine, he can set the speed in a certain zone
for relatively high torques by modifying the
resistance value on demand, but adjustment for
low torques is virtually impossible. In fact, if the
operator inserts a very high resistance in order to
obtain a "low speed at low torque" point, the
smallest variation in the resistive torque causes
the speed to increase from zero to almost 100%.
The characteristic is too unstable.
For machines with special variation of the
resistive torque according to the speed,
adjustment can also prove impossible.
Example of slip operation:
For a machine which applies a resistive torque of
0.8 Tn to the motor, different speeds can be
obtained, represented by the sign • on the
diagram in figure 19 .
At steady torque, the speed decreases while the
rotor resistance increases.
Natural curve
of the motor
Curve with
low rotor
Curve with
high rotor
0.8 1
Fig. 19: Speed/torque curve with "slip" resistor
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.19
3.3 Other speed variation systems
Variable voltage regulator
This device is only used for low power
asynchronous motors. It requires a resistive
cage motor.
Speed variation is achieved by increasing the
motor slip by reducing the voltage.
It is fairly widely used in ventilation, pump and
compressor systems, applications for which its
available torque characteristic provides
satisfactory operation. However, as frequency
inverters are now becoming very competitive,
they are gradually replacing this solution.
Metal drum
DC powered coil
Other electromechanical systems
The use of the electromechanical speed
adjustment systems described below is on the
decline since the generalization of electronic
variable speed drives.
c AC commutator motors (Schrage)
These are special motors. Speed variation is
achieved by varying the position of the brushes
on the commutator in relation to the neutral line.
c Eddy current drives
This consists of a drum directly connected to the
asynchronous motor operating at constant
speed, and a rotor with a coil supplied with DC
(see Fig. 20 ).
The movement is transmitted to the output shaft
by electromagnetic coupling. The slip of this
assembly can be adjusted by adjusting the
excitation of this coil.
A built-in tachogenerator is used to control the
speed with a high degree of accuracy.
Fig. 20: Schematic cross-section of an eddy current
variable speed drive
Line supply
AC motor
DC motor
A ventilation system is used to evacuate the
losses due to the slip.
This principle was widely used in lifting
equipment and in particular cranes. Its
construction makes it a robust system with no
wearing parts, which is suitable for intermittent
operation and for power levels up to a hundred
or so kW.
c Ward Leonard set
This device, which was widely used in the past,
consists of a motor and a DC generator which
supplies a DC motor (see Fig. 21 ).
Speed control is achieved by regulating the
excitation of the generator. A low control current
enables powers of several hundred kW to be
controlled in all the torque-speed quadrants. This
type of drive was used on rolling mills and
elevators for mining.
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.20
Fig. 21: Diagram of a Ward Leonard set
This variable speed control solution was the
most economical and provided the highest
performance levels prior to the appearance of
semiconductors, which have now rendered it
Mechanical and hydraulic speed drives
Mechanical and hydraulic drives are still used
Many solutions have been devised for
mechanical drives (pulleys/belts, ball bearings,
cones, etc). These drives have the disadvantage
of requiring meticulous maintenance and are
difficult to use for servocontrol. These drives face
strong competition from frequency inverters.
Hydraulic drives are still very widely used for
specific applications. They are characterized by
significant output powers and the ability to
develop high torques at zero speed continuously.
In industry they are mainly to be found in
servocontrol applications.
This type of drive will not be described here as it
does not fall within the framework of this study.
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.21
4 Conclusion
The following table gives a quick overview of all
the available electric motors, together with their
main characteristics and the areas in which they
are used.
We must stress the importance of 3-phase
squirrel cage asynchronous motors. The term
Type of motor
Squirrel cage asynchronous
single phase
wound rotor
"standard" applied to this type of motor is now
even more appropriate since they are ideal for
uses that have arisen from the development of
electronic devices for variable speed control.
rare earth
Motor cost
Dust and damp
proof motor
On request,
On request,
very expensive
DOL starting
Special starting
Not possible
above a few kW
Not possible
Not possible
Variable speed
Very rare
Cost of variable
speed control
Speed control
Very low
Very high
Medium to high High to very
Constant or
variable speed
Constant speed Constant or
for the majority variable speed
Constant or
variable speed
Variable speed
Variable speed
Industrial use
For low power
High power
Machine tools,
ratings at
high dynamics
medium voltage
Cahier Technique Schneider Electric no 207 / p.22
Variable speed
Open loop
position control,
for low powers
Direction Scientifique et Technique,
Service Communication Technique
F-38050 Grenoble cedex 9
Fax: 33 (0)4 76 57 98 60
© 2004 Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric
DTP: SEDOC Meylan.
Transl.: Lloyd International - Tarporley - Cheshire - GB.
Editor: Schneider Electric
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E-mail : [email protected]
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