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# reasons for electric motors failure

Abdulrazeg Bargathi-hello my friends;; last week, one of my friends ask me what are the reasons behind the failure of small electric motors, by the way he is not electrical, so I tried to explain to him by the following email: regarding the power and voltage, as you know, Voltage = Current * Resistance the resistance of any regular machine is fixed, and it's not function in any variable. so the current will be equal to the rated current of the machine, because the voltage should be constant 240 Volt nominal voltage, I in amps = 240/Z, where Z is the impedance of the motor winding of the machine such as A/C hence we have two cases: 1) V more than 240 volt, in this case the current will be increased, and this extra current will rise the temperature of the wires and if the insulation fails, there is a risk of short circuit fault occurs. 2) V is less than 240 volt, the current will be reduced, as we know that the mechanical torque of the motors, is directly related to the current, hence the motor will not able to drive the load, and sometimes the motor will stall, in either case heat will be generated, because part of the electrical energy can't be converted to mechanical energy, and the insulation will fail again and the motor windings will be damaged. hope this brief analysis will be helpful could anyone, assist this explanation, or add any missing point. pls note that, I'm talking about single phase motors. it will be highly appreciated

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UnfollowFollow Jim Phipps, P.E. Owner, Trek Engineering, LLC Abdulrazeg, I would like to clarify some points regarding induction motors. All induction motors behave as constant power loads when they are running at stead-state speed. For any constant power load, if the voltage is increased, the current will decrease by the same proportion such that P = V*I = constant; and likewise, if the voltage is decreased, the current increases. When an induction motor is starting, however, it behaves like a constant impedance while the rotor accelerates the load from zero speed up towards rated speed. Motors will experience addition heating due to increased losses in both the

stator and rotor when the voltage drops below the motor rated voltage causing the current to rise above the full-load rating (assuming the motor is heavily loaded). This additional heat can produce higher winding temperatures which can age the winding insulation at a faster rate (as well as causing the motor shaft bearing lubrication to breakdown faster) and, thus, lead to shorter operational life of the motor. Another major factor that will cause additional heat buildup in an induction motor is how often it is started and stopped. Every time a motor starts, it essentially draws locked-rotor current for nearly the full duration of the acceleration. This current draw is on the order of 4-6 times full-load current so it produces a tremendous amount of heat in both the stator and rotor. If the motor is stopped suddenly, then the cooling air flowing through the motor from the rotor fan will not transport the heat out of the motor resulting in a motor temperature rise. If the motor is then cycled through more short duration start/stop cycles, the temperature rise can become excessive and lead to a shortened life. Conclusion: (1) maintain rated voltage or up to 1.05 per-unit voltage to all motors that are heavily loaded; and (2) limit the number of start/stop cycles so that the motor has time to dissipate the additional heat produced during starting.
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## UnfollowFollow Yudhi Susetyo Sr. Technical Supervisor at PT Jakarta Land.

Agreed for Jim .. Voltage is inversely proportional to the current, then the current is directly proportional to the load ... like description above is complete. Regards.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

UnfollowFollow Sanu Pal Graduate Engineer Trainee at Teracom Pvt Ltd Totally agree with Mr. Jim...Reasons behind the failure of motors are given below 1.Electrical Overload or Over current- Electrical devices start to draw more current than their overall capacity due to different operating conditions which cause overheating and reduce the insulation resistance of wire due to this short circuit fault occur. 2.Over Heating- Overheating causes the motor winding insulation to deteriorate at a very fast rate Overheating occurs when an electric motor is forced to operate in a high temperature environment. 3. Dirt is one of the major sources that cause damage to the electric motors. It can damage the motor by blocking the cooling fan which causes it's temperature to raise. It can also affect the insulating value of the winding insulation if it settles on the motor windings.

4. Vibration are caused by a number of possible reasons such as the misalignment of the motor which causes the motor to vibrate. Corrosion affected parts also cause the motor to vibrate. 5. Thermal deterioration of the insulation in all phases of the motor normally is caused by very high currents in the stator winding due to a locked rotor condition. It may also occur as a result of excessive starts and reversals.
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## Ajay John, Abdulrazeg B. like this

UnfollowFollow John DeSilva Oil & Energy Professional Heat is the enemy. If you put too much load on, you raise the heat. If the ambient temperature is too high or the cooling system blocked you can't dissipate heat Heat degrades the insulation causing shorted turns that decrease voltage applied increasing current and HEAT Bearing failures increase friction, slowing the motor, increase the slip angle requiring more current to get back to speed and that means you overload and heat up the motor. The simple answer is "They get too hot and break down".

Here is a really interesting application I once installed. GE started a Gas Turbine with a 4160V 900 HP motor. For a 15 Minute duration the motor was used as a 2000 HP load about 250% of the Current it would normally be specified for constant duty, or about 222% rated FLA.. During the startup, it was very easy to watch the motor RTD's (Resistance Temperature Detectors) rise steadily toward the alarm/trip level. Scared the heck out of me watching that poor motor get tortured. Finally the Gas turbine runs away from the Starting Mechanism and the motor goes to a NO-LOAD Condition where the program demands it run for a full 15 minutes to cool the windings down to ambient temperature and then shuts the motor down. In this intermittent duty, the motor would theorhetically last the life of the turbine: 25 years. The motor was also allowed by program to start up only ONCE each day so if things went wrong and you bypassed the program to get it running, then you are taking life out of that motor and it will fail prematurely. This was the application specified by the GE Engineeering group for the elctric start, not something I would dream up because it just seamed wrong to do. I checked the insulation level before I left site just to see if there was any noticable deterioration and found it had improved now that the motor had been "Baked" several months.
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## UnfollowFollow Dinesh Bansal Chief Electrical Engineer (Ret.) at INDIAN RAILWAYS

Abdulrazek had talked about failure of small motors, so let me share the experience with single phase capacitor start and run motors in fans, air conditioners...... While the reasons above do contribute; the aging of capacitor (5-10 years in tropical climate) results in reduction in capacitance value and increase in dielectric losses in the insulation. The result is increased current in starting phase winding and eventual failure due to overheating. A simple solution was to assess the temperature of the accessible motors by Infra red thermometer or "back of the hand, touch" and investigate if temperature rise is >30.C. It helped us reduce the failure rate substantially. Also the current drawn by capacitor at 240V can be compared with new ones, during periodic overhaul, and weaker ones replaced, to save expensive burnouts. I recall a research report by Indian Power Research Institute, Bengaluru about 20 years back, leading us to this solution. Of course some times the capacitors in window type air conditioners are secluded in ventilation free metal boxes, resulting in even lower life at higher ambient temperature. I hope it helps.
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## Ashish J., Abdulrazeg B. like this

Roger Roger Wright Electrical Engineer Abdul, your explanation to your friend is well meant, I'm sure, but it's not accurate. Resistance is a negligible factor in motor operation. Jim provided an excellent description of what really happens.

I live in a place where air conditioning isn't a convenience, it's a survival tool. As a result, I see a lot of single-phase induction motors, and the two most common causes of failure are 1) short cycling, and 2) failed capacitors. Electric motors are designed to operate at varying duty cycles, because of the need for cooling between the high-current startup events. When a system is about to fail, it commonly will run too often each hour, resulting in a cumulative overheating as the motor tries to dissipate the heat caused by the starting current in too short a time, before being called upon to start again. A second, and more common problem in our climate, is the gradual failure of the start/run capacitor used in these small systems. Capacitors fail rather quickly in hot areas, and as they degrade they cause the starting and running currents in the motor to rise considerably. Eventually the motor fails completely and, sadly, all too often people replace the motor but neglect the capacitor. The new motor will run for a while, depending on just how badly the capacitor has degraded, but its lifetime will be significantly shortened. Other things can affect the life of the motor, as well. Often I see people sizing the service conductors to handle the FLA rating of the motor; this leads to overheating and poor starting torque because of the constant power behavior Jim mentioned. At the high starting current phase of operation, the voltage drops due to undersized wire, which further increases the current as the motor attempts to start, and the heat generated is proportional to the square of the current. This is deadly to motors, and installing minimal conductors is a really dumb way to save money - it always costs far more than doing it right the first time. Not being an electrical guy, your friend may have a lot of difficulty understanding the best of explanations; I wish you luck. I've been doing this for 35+ years and sometimes it still seems like magic. :-)
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## Ireneusz Ireneusz Szczesny

MSc in Energy Engineering with specialisation in Electrical Power Systems and High Voltage Dear colleagues, i have seen some data regarding operation of induction motor in the industry. The most often factor affecting the machine reliability is bearing damage (approximately 50% of all the failures), Next point on the list is stator winding fault(25%) and then external devices like startup capacitors (15-20%). My question is what causes bearings so low reliable? Does it have relation to one of the following aspects; -rotor asymmetry, -operation temperature/ improper lubrication -zero sequence component?
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Eric Eric Stark Sr. Eng. Training & Consulting @Ireneusz Bearings are mechanical devices under constant grinding operation and in most cases under pressure in one mechanical direction. It is in it's fate to fail regularly. @Abdulrazeg Z in a motor is NOT constant. Z depends on the frequency, and the ROTOR frequency is changing from your rated value during locked rotor conditions (like starting...) to 4-2hz during unloaded run in n=sync speed-slip. Torque, counter emf, eddie currents,skin effect, losses (heat) and more will change during the operation of the motor and therefore your DC like calculations are not correct. Hope it helped,

Eric Stark RNItechnology Sr. Eng. Trainer & Consultant Protection & Control Engineering T: 1-416-546-546-1 rnitech@gmail.com www.RNItechnology.com
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Abdulrazeg Abdulrazeg Bargathi -Mr Erric, thank you for your comment, you are right, but I'm talking about fixed speed motors supplied by a constant frequency power source, I know that in Variable frequency drives, the frequency is variable and hence the impedance, I'm talking about the steady state conditions, but all comments are very valuable information, thank you all for your comments
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 12 days ago

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Ian C

Ian C Evans Managing Director, Sentinel Power Quality Group FZE Sabah Anoor Abdulrazeg. Keff Halek ? In VFDs frequency and the voltage (v/f) have to be varied to let the motor think it is on constant frequency/voltage supplies and thus produce the nominal air gas flux to produce rotation within the rotating magnetic field. Electrical motors can also suffer from bearing and shaft damage due to the excessive common mode voltage (between each phase and ground) due to the operational of VFDs. This usually takes to the form of the VFD carrier frequency being superimposed on the phase to ground voltage. Anything connected to ground see it. Ian
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Ashok Ashok Krishnan Manger Commissioning at SIEMENS we can use law of conservation of energy. if the motor is driving a mechanical load the energy drawn from the electricity would be equal to the energy needed to drive the load plus the losses. so, the energy drawn from electricity will also remain constant. when voltage increase the current reduce and vice versa. as suggested by many in this forum, when the voltage drops the current increases to meet with the load and motors heats up. faulty bearing or friction in bearing may add up to the load. Imbalance in the rotor shaft can have unbalanced flux distribution causing more stress to the motor. In industries if proper IP classes were not selected, it may cause penetration of particles in the bearing and even inside motors to case trouble.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Dinesh Dinesh Bansal Chief Electrical Engineer (Ret.) at INDIAN RAILWAYS A lot has been said about the bearing failures, very correctly. The bearing grease enthusiastically pumped into the motor, could accumulate on the stator windings, choke ventilation and cause failures. Another cause could be shaft misalignment between the two halves of the coupling between the driving motor and (may be) compressor. The limit could be as low as .02mmpp. I have witnessed these failures in large numbers, particularly on DOL starting motors with Voltage unbalance.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Gerald Gerald Wirth Shift Manager, Transmission System Operations at Comed In 1920 Westinghouse Electric Corporaton published a little hand book on electrical aparatus. For motors it said keep it clean, dry and friction free. That is as true today as it was then and covers fractional horsepower single phase motors up to 10,000 horse motors. Keep them clean to facilitate proper cooling. Keep them tight, mechanically to keep vibration to a minimum and do proper bearing maintenance to to keep them from having a rotor to stator rub.

All the stuff about z and r and VFDs may be important application information, but of very little value to determiing how to keep motors from failing prematurly.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Ian C Ian C Evans Managing Director, Sentinel Power Quality Group FZE Gerald. Install the VFD in accordance with EMC practice and avoid long cable lengths and standing waves which burn out first few turns in winding. Anything you would like to add from A to Z ?
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Robert Robert Beltz Enjoying retirement at Self employed / retired power system engineer No one has mentioned the most insidious destroyer of induction motors. Voltage distortion. If the induction motor is supplied from a bus where the voltage distortion exceeds 4%, the current circulating thru the rotor shaft and the bearings. This current will destroy the bearings in short order. Note in this induction motor is fed from a VFD, the motor will likely have insulated bearings to prevent the current from circulating!

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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 11 days ago

Dinesh Dinesh Bansal Chief Electrical Engineer (Ret.) at INDIAN RAILWAYS Robert, it is an interesting feature. Wonder, if you have observed such failures in the field? What does such a failed bearing look like and how does 4% Voltage THD translate into dangerous bearing current? We are talking about small motors in HVAC and white consumer appliances mainly.
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 11 days ago

Robert Robert Beltz Enjoying retirement at Self employed / retired power system engineer Dinesh, Yes, I have seen the effects, however it was. In a manufacturing environment where some very large VFDs are used. In this particular case, they were distorting the 4160 v plant wide distribution. Thus, everything connected was distorted 4% to 6% at 480 and 208 / 120. The motors, in this case, were 1/2 to 10 hp 3 phase. An. Inspection of the bearing shows a gaulding on the bearing races. We examined some that had not failed yet and the same tracking was visible. I have also seen this same failure on 800 hp 4160 v motors. If you check motor vibration, a fifth harmonic voltage dist will yield 6th harmonic mechanical vibration on 60 Hz systems.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Ing. Ole Ing. Ole Knudsen Lead Electrical Engineer at UGL Limited It is fairly reasonable to expect 6th (and 4th) harmonics vibrations caused by 5th harmonics in the supply CURRENT irrespective of the supply frequency, but I do not quite understand what can cause the bearing currents. I wonder if it is the differences in the magnetic circuit between drive end and non-drive end, that can set up some parasitic uni-polar generator which drives current through the bearings? I will start a thread in the electrical machines forum and in the electrical power engineering forum to see if anybody can shed light on this
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 10 days ago

Robert Robert Beltz Enjoying retirement at Self employed / retired power system engineer Sir, the 5th voltage distortion results in negative seq current in the stator and circulates stator / rotor circuit via the non insulated bearings... I. Am sure we have a motor expert out there that can explain the situation in more detail..
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 10 days ago

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Jim Jim Phipps, P.E. Owner, Trek Engineering, LLC The discussion above regarding bearing currents and what causes them is referred to as "shaft voltage." It is produced by both non-symmetrical magnetic flux pathways in the stator and rotor magnetic circuits as well as the distributed capacitance linking the stator and rotor. Shaft voltage is not produced by the harmonic voltages and currents in the stator windings being supplied from a VFD; however, for VFDs with high frequency PWM carriers, the distributed capacitance will look like a low impedance pathway and can produce a greater shaft voltage than that produced in a similar direct drive machine. It is important to note that shaft voltage can be produced in non-VFD applications as well as in DC machines and has been observed in both motor and generator applications. When the rotating shaft develops a voltage as described above and the voltage has sufficient magnitude to breakdown the dielectric strength of the bearing lubrication, a current can flow from one end of the shaft (call it the positive end or source) through a bearing to the machine frame and return through the opposite bearing to the shaft thus completing an electrical circuit. Obviously, electrical currents will cause bearing systems to become damaged and there are methods to minimize (or block) the effects of the current flow so that the bearings can be protected from electrical pitting. One last comment regarding the 6th harmonic mentioned above. The 5th and 11th harmonic currents flowing in the stator windings produce air-gap fluxes that rotate opposite the rotor at 6 and 12 times synchronous speed relative to the rotor. The 7th and 13th harmonics produce air-gap fluxes that rotate in the direction of the rotor also at 6 and 12 times synchronous speed relative to the rotor. Thus, the 6th harmonic in the rotor is produced as a result of the 5th and 7th in the stator. In fact, the rotor current harmonics are 6, 12, 18, 24, etc. times the stator frequency. These currents produce additional rotor heating losses.
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 10 days ago

Dinesh Dinesh Bansal Chief Electrical Engineer (Ret.) at INDIAN RAILWAYS Thanks Robert, I am still learning at 70! This was an excellent primer on damage caused to the motor bearings by Voltage harmonics, generated by non linear loads, to other motors connected to the system.
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Michael Michael Anderson Superintendent Electrial Power Operations at New York City Transit Must take into account dirt and hours motor is running. How often do you rest motor and blow out dust. Then regrease bearings so it will stay cooler.
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## JORDAN JORDAN Borissov energy advisor at consultant and free lancer

Ihave liked the harmonic analysis of Jim!Realy we don't care about harmonics voltage or currrent..and later we don't know how the devices could be dameged!!
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Ian C Ian C Evans Managing Director, Sentinel Power Quality Group FZE In that case Jordan you are burying you head in the sand. Do you not know that all UL/NEMA and IEC explosion proof motors (of all protection concepts) are not legally cerified if the applied goes above 0% Uthd ? It does not mean they are unsafe but that they have lost third party verification that they are safe. You ignore harmonics and power quality at your peril. Ian
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## Abdulrazeg B. likes this

Norman Norman Chambers Electrical & Mechanical Engineer Even number harmonics does pose a significant problem, odd number are significant problems, they add to the neutral current causing significant damage to shaft and bearing. therefore harmonics cannot be ignored misuse of appliance and other factors such as dirt

A power supply system has to be highly harmonics polluted to produce these damages. A single user on a dedicated supply transformer may never experience this problem
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 1 day ago

Ian C Ian C Evans Managing Director, Sentinel Power Quality Group FZE Norman. I assume these are 3 phase motors we have been taling about *which do not have a neutral conductor). Shaft and bearing currents/voltages are caused by common mode voltage and currents; typically the switching frequency with a voltage level (we have seen up to 206V) from wrongly installed VFDs from an EMC perspective, superimposed on phase to ground voltage. Ian
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 1 day ago

Norman Norman Chambers Electrical & Mechanical Engineer Based on the posting, it referred to small appliances so my reasoning was along that line with rebuttal to a number of comments. However, you dont have neutral but you have ground and that is the culprit in a 3-phase system with VFD's. VFD's are a huge producer of harmonics and it add current to both neutral and ground causing vibration. not disagreeing with your wrongful installed comment.
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## Flag as inappropriate 1 day ago

Jim Jim Phipps, P.E. Owner, Trek Engineering, LLC See comment thread above..."shaft voltage" is produced by both non-symmetrical magnetic flux pathways in the stator and rotor magnetic circuits as well as the distributed capacitance linking the stator and rotor. Shaft voltage is not produced by the harmonic voltages and currents in the stator windings being supplied from a VFD; however, for VFDs with high frequency PWM carriers, the distributed capacitance will look like a low impedance pathway and can produce a greater shaft voltage than that produced in a similar direct drive machine.
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 1 day ago

Norman Norman Chambers Electrical & Mechanical Engineer Jim. i am not sure of how to interpret your comment, You see, we are talking about zero sequence current which causes torsional oscillation of motor shafts which causes a host of damages. Plz clarify.
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 17 hours ago

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Jim Jim Phipps, P.E. Owner, Trek Engineering, LLC My comment above was in response to the discussion regarding bearing currents.
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## UnlikeLike Reply privately Flag as inappropriate 17 hours ago

Ian C Ian C Evans Managing Director, Sentinel Power Quality Group FZE Norman. Zero sequence current (e.g. 3/9/15/21,,,,) is just that. It has no effect on the shaft. -ve sequence current (5/11/17,,,) does as it produces -ve torque which tries to drive against the direction of rotation. Similarly, +ve sequence curents provide +ve torque which acts in the same direction as the shaft is rotating.
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## Dinesh Dinesh Bansal Chief Electrical Engineer (Ret.) at INDIAN RAILWAYS

Abdulrazeg, single phase induction motors have a back emf induced by the rotor. Therefore the applied Voltage (say 240V) is dropped across leakage impedance (5-10%) of the stator and rotor (reflected) windings and the back emf (90%). The raising of Voltage (to 270V) would result only in a minor increase in speed but magnetic saturation could cause overheating; on the other hand a reduction in Voltage (to 200V) would result in drop in speed and increase in current. I hope it helps.
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