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Motor Calculations Part 2: Feeders

By Mike Holt, NEC Consultant

May 1, 2004 12:00 PM
What`s the correct way to size motor Ieeders and related overcurrent protection?

Part 1 oI this two-part series explained how to size overload protection devices and short-circuit and ground-Iault protection Ior motor
branch circuits. Understanding the key point oI that article, which was that motor overload protection requires separate calculations
Irom short-circuit and ground-Iault protection, clears up a common source oI conIusion and a point oI error. But another source oI
conIusion arises when it comes to sizing short-circuit and ground-Iault protection Ior a Ieeder that supplies more than one motor. Let's
look again at branch-circuit calculations and then resolve the Ieeder issues so your calculations will always be correct.
Branch-circuit conductors and protection devices. Per 430.6(A), branch-circuit conductors to a single motor must have an ampacity
oI not less than 125oI the motor Iull load current (FLC) as listed in Tables 430.147 through 430.150. To illustrate this, let's size the
branch-circuit conductors (THHN) and short-circuit ground-Iault protection device Ior a 3-hp, 115V, single-phase motor. The motor
FLA is 31A, and dual-element Iuses Ior short-circuit and ground-Iault protection are in use (Fig. 1).
Per Table 430.148, the FLC current is 34A.
Per Table 310.16 (60C terminals |110.14(C)(1)(a)|), the conductor must be a 6 AWG THHN rated 55A.
Per the motor FLC listed in Table 430.52, size the branch-circuit short-circuit and
ground-Iault protection devices by using multiplication Iactors based on the type oI
motor and protection device. When the protection device values determined Irom
Table 430.52 don't correspond with the standard rating oI overcurrent protection
devices listed in 240.6(A), you must use the next higher overcurrent protection
device. To illustrate this, let's use the same motor as in the previous example.
Per 240.6(A), multiply 34A175
You need a 60A dual-element Iuse.
To explore this example Iurther, see Example No. D8 in Annex D oI the 2002 NEC.
Once you've sized the motor overloads, branch-circuit conductors, and branch-circuit
protective devices, you're ready to move on to the next step.
Motor feeder conductor calculations. From 430.24, you can see that conductors
that supply several motors must have an ampacity not less than:
125oI the highest-rated motor FLC |430.17|, plus
The sum oI the FLCs oI the other motors (on the same phase), as determined
by 430.6(A), plus
The ampacity required to supply the other loads on that Ieeder.
Use Fig. 2 and solve the Iollowing problem.
Example No. 1. For what ampacity must you size the Ieeder conductor iI it supplies
the Iollowing two motors? The terminals are rated Ior 75C.
One 7.5-hp, 230V (40A), single-phase motor
One 5-hp, 230V (28A), single-phase motor
(a) 50A
(b) 60A
(c) 70A
(d) 80A
Let's walk through the solution.
The largest motor is 40A.
80A is the closest selection that's at least 78A.
What size conductor would give us this ampacity?
(a) 2 AWG
(b) 4 AWG
(c) 6 AWG
(d) 8 AWG
Per Table 310.16, a 6 AWG conductor rated at 75C provides 65A oI ampacity, so it's too small. However, a 4 AWG conductor
provides 85A oI ampacity, which will accommodate the necessary 78A. ThereIore, you need to size this Ieeder conductor at 4 AWG.
Next, we have to determine what size overcurrent protection device (OCPD) we must provide Ior a given Ieeder.
Example No. 2. Using a slightly more complex example, try sizing the Ieeder
conductor (THHN) and protection device (inverse-time breakers, 75C terminal
rating) Ior the Iollowing motors (Fig. 3):
Three 1-hp, 120V, single-phase motors
Three 5-hp, 208V, single-phase motors
One wound-rotor, 15-hp, 208V, 3-phase motor
ReIer to 240.6(A), 430.52(C)(1), Table 430.148, and Table 430.52. Start by
determining the ampacities required Ior each size oI motor, then walk through each
step until you arrive at the correct OCPD size.
1-hp motor: FLC is 16A.
5-hp motor: FLC is 30.8A.
30.8A25077A (Next size up is 80A.)
15-hp motor: FLC is 46.2A.
569A (Next size up is 70A.)
Now, let's look at the Ieeder
conductor. Conductors that
supply several motors must
have an ampacity oI not less
than 125oI the highest-rated
motor FLC (430.17), plus the
sum oI the other motor FLCs
|430.6(A)| on the same phase
(Fig. 4).
Continuing with this example,
add up all the ampacities,
multiplying the highest rated
motor by 125. Thus:
Table 310.16 shows you need 1/0 AWG THHN because at 150A it's the smallest conductor that accommodates the 136A oI ampacity
we're working with. When sizing the Ieeder conductor, be sure to include only the motors that are on the same phase. For that reason,
these calculations only involve Iour motors.
You must provide the Ieeder with a protective device with a rating or setting not greater than the largest rating or setting oI the branch-
circuit short-circuit and ground-Iault protective device (plus the sum oI the Iull-load currents oI the other motors oI the group) |430.62
(A)|. Remember, motor Ieeder conductors must be protected against the overcurrent that results Irom short circuits and ground Iaults
but not those that result Irom motor overload.
When sizing the Ieeder protection, be sure to include only the motors that are on the same phase.
ReIer to Fig. 5 Ior this sample motor Ieeder protection calculation.
Example No. 3. What size Ieeder protection (inverse-time breaker) do you need Ior
the Iollowing two motors?
5-hp, 230V, single-phase motor
3-hp, 230V, single-phase motor
(a) 30A breaker
(b) 40A breaker
(c) 50A breaker
(d) 80A breaker
Let's walk through the solution.
Step 1. Get the motor FLC Irom Table 430.148.
A 5-hp motor FLC is 28A.
A 3-hp motor FLC is 17A.
Step 2. Size the branch-circuit protection per the requirements oI 430.52(C)(1), Table
430.52, and 240.6(A)
5-hp: 28A2.570A
3-hp: 17A2.542.5A (Next size up is 45A.)
Step 3. Size the Ieeder conductor per 430.24(A).
The largest motor is 28A.
Table 310.16 shows 6 AWG rated 55A at 60C as the smallest conductor with suIIicient ampacity.
Step 4. Size the Ieeder protection per 430.62.
It must not be greater than the 70A protection oI the branch circuit plus the 17A oI the other motor, which is the total oI all
loads on that Ieeder.
Choose the next size down, which is 80A.
How can you be saIe iI you're selecting the next size down instead oI the next size up? Remember, you've already accounted Ior all the
loads, and the NEC requires that you not exceed the protection oI the branch circuit. Again, keep in mind that you aren't calculating Ior
motor overload protection. Motor calculations are diIIerent Irom other calculations. With motor Ieeders, you're calculating Ior
protection Irom short circuits and ground Iaults, only not overload.
Putting it all together. Motor calculations get conIusing iI you Iorget there's a division oI responsibility in the protective devices. To
get your calculations right, you must separately calculate the motor overload protection (typically near the motor), branch-circuit
protection (Irom short circuits and ground Iaults), and Ieeder-circuit protection (Irom short circuits and ground Iaults). Remember that
overload protection is only at the motor.
Any time you Iind yourselI conIused, just reIer to NEC Figure 430.1. It shows the division oI responsibility between diIIerent Iorms oI
protection in motor circuits. Example D8 in Annex D oI the 2002 NEC illustrates this with actual numbers. Keeping this division oI
responsibility in mind will allow you to make correct motor calculations every time.
Fig. 1. Don`t make the mistake oI using a motor`s
FLA nameplate rating when using the short-circuit
and ground-Iault protection devices. You must use
the FLC rating given in Table 430.148.
Fig. 2. Motor Ieeder conductors shall be sized not
less than 125oI the largest motor FLC plus the
sum oI the FLCs oI the other motors on the same
Fig. 3. To size overcurrent protection devices Ior
each Ieeder, start by determining the ampacities
required Ior each motor and move on Irom there.
Fig. 4. Each motor`s FLC will come into play when
sizing the conductor.
Fig. 5. In this example, the largest branch-circuit
Iuse or circuit breaker allowed Ior Motor 1 is 70A.