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Posted by Trevor Fullwood 20/03/2014 19 Comment(s)

What is a Variable
Frequency Drive?
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How to Read a Motor

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The Big Picture
Reading a motor nameplate can sometimes pose a unique challenge.
Most manufacturers display information dierently, and nameplates
often get dirty, damaged, and occasionally are removed. This can make
reading a motor nameplate a dicult or frustrating task. VFD Buying Guide
You will need information from the motor nameplate throughout the 18/01/2014 48
life of the motor. If you ever need to size a VFD, repair a motor, replace
a motor, connect a motor, correct power factor, purchase parts, or do
just about anything with a motor you will need the information on the
motor nameplate.
Horsepower is the mechanical output of a motor. You probably
already have a good understanding of what horsepower is, so we
What is a VFD Control
wont go into too much detail. However, it is probably important to
mention that outside of North America the output rating is
14/11/2014 3
commonly expressed in watts or kilowatts.

Did you know?

Horsepower was a term coined by James Watt. He used this 1/14
3/22/2017 HowtoReadaMotorNameplate

term to help market his steam engine.

Benets of VFDs,
Inverters, & Drives
20/03/2014 6

Voltage Search VFDs
Motors are designed to run at the voltage listed on their nameplate.
Many industrial motors are designed to run at more than one (line
power) voltage. For example, many motors are dual rated and are SelectHorsePower
designed to run at 230V and 460V.
Typically, motors have an operating tolerance of 10% of the rated SelectVoltage
voltage on the nameplate (consult your manual). This means that a
motor designed to run on 230V can run at 208V (or 240V). Motors SEARCH NOW
should not run outside their designated voltage range, doing so will
damage your motor and or equipment. When working with a motor
rated for dual voltages dont forget to verify the corresponding Blog Categories
amperage rating and lead connection.
Variable Frequency Drives

Your service factor rating will drop if Recent Articles
you utilize your motors voltage

Full Load Amp Rating
The FLA rating is the rate at which a motor will consume power at 100%
of rated load and at rated and balanced voltage. This number is
VFD Panel Buying Guide
extremely important, especially when dealing with electrical (Illustration)
components. The wiring, starter, circuit breaker, and thermal overloads
07/04/2016 0
are all sized based upon the full load amp rating.
When it comes to sizing a VFD the FLA rating is a very important piece
of information. Learn more about sizing VFDs at our VFD Buying Guide.
Unless you have a unique application your motor will be rated for
single-phase or three-phase input power.
RPM (Speed)
The RPM listed on the nameplate is the shaft speed for the motor. The How to wire a VFD
speed of the motor is directly related to the frequency of the line 15/03/2016 8
voltage and the number of poles in the motor. At 60 Hz, a 4 pole motor
will rotate at approximately 1800 RPM (7200/4 poles). However,
depending on the amount of rotor slip the motor was designed for you
may see the RPM listed as 1775 or 1750, et cetera. This number
represents what the manufacturer has engineered the motor will
rotate at under full load with the set frequency listed on the nameplate.
Design Letter
The design letter provides information about a motors starting torque. Industry Spotlight: Using
B (normal starting torque), C (high starting torque), and D (very high VFDs with Reciprocating 2/14
3/22/2017 HowtoReadaMotorNameplate

starting torque) design letters are the most common. A motors starting Compressors
torque is dierent than torque during normal operations. 20/03/2015 2
For example, two motors with similar running torque ratings may have
very dierent starting torque ratings. A motor being used for a
centrifugal fan is likely to have dierent starting torque requirement
than a conveyor belt.
Service Factor
Motors are often designed to handle a temporary increase in
demand. Service factor represents the motors ability to handle
these temporary demand increases. Think of service factor as an Industry Spotlight: Using
VFDs for Irrigation and
insurance policy. It is designed for ambient temperatures, altitude,
high and low line voltages, and imbalanced voltages. It should not be
16/02/2015 2
used as a method of increasing motor horsepower.
The service factor is expressed as a decimal. If you do not see a
service factor rating on the motor nameplate the service factor is
typically 1.00. Additionally, all motors running on a VFD (even at 60
HZ) will lose service factor and be rated at 1.00. Please consult your
manual for more information.

You can dramatically reduce the life of Where to Buy a VFD

your motor by consistently running 11/12/2014 0
into the service factor rating.


Frequency Join and receive exclusive oers,
Frequency is the duration peak to peak of an AC sine wave (60 HZ = 60
news, and more!
cycles per second). Frequency is directly related to the motors speed.
In North America, the standard frequency is typically 60 HZ. Outside Email*
North America 50 HZ is often the standard. Some nameplates will have
multiple frequency ratings.
Code FirstName
AC motors that are started at full voltage will draw a greater current
(amps) than during normal operations. This is commonly referred to as
inrush current or starting current. These codes represent a range of
inrush current.
Approximate Mid-Range
Code Letter KVA/HP

A 0.00-3.14 1.6 Subscribe

B 3.15-3.54 3.3

C 3.55-3.99 3.8

D 4.00-4.49 4.3

E 4.50-4.99 4.7

F 5.00-5.59 5.3

G 5.60-6.29 5.9

H 6.30-7.09 6.7

J 7.10-7.99 7.5

K 8.00-8.99 8.5 3/14
3/22/2017 HowtoReadaMotorNameplate

L 9.00-9.99 9.5

M 10.00-11.19 10.6

N 11.20-12.49 11.8

P 12.50-13.99 13.2

R 14.00-15.99 15.0
*To nd approximate inrush current for your motor match the code
letter on your motor nameplate with the corresponding approximate
mid-range value on the chart; multiply the mid-range value and the full
load amp rating on your motor nameplate.
A motors eciency rating measures how well the motor converts
electrical energy (input) into mechanical energy (output). This is usually
displayed as a decimal.
A motors energy consumption is by far its largest operating expense.
As a general rule, a motor that runs 24/7/365 for one year could cost
three times more than the purchase price in power consumption. In
many applications a VFD can provide considerable savings with regards
to operational costs. Centrifugal pumps often have great potential for
energy savings. Under some circumstances using a VFD to reduce
speed by 20% can result in energy savings of 50%. However, energy
savings will vary based upon several factors, such as motor conditions,
application, and energy costs in your area.
The insulation class describes a motors ability to withstand
temperatures over time. B, F, and H are commonly used insulation
types. Letters occurring later in the alphabet represent insulation that
is better able to withstand temperature. So class F can withstand
temperature better than a class B.
Motor insulation systems that are rated for inverter use will be
specied on the motor nameplate (or a sticker). These systems should
have wire rated for a minimum of 1600 volt spikes, F or H class
insulation, and will be processed with 100% sold resin in a vacuum
pressure impregnation (VPI) system.
Motors that do not t this specication can be rewound to meet these
CT stands for Constant Torque and VT stands for Variable Torque. If
these ratings are on your motor nameplate it typically means your
motor is rated for inverter use. Consult your manual for more
Duty is the length of time a motor can run without a cooling period.
Most industrial motors are rated for continuous duty.
Frame Size
NEMA frame size outlines motor footprint and shaft dimensions. The
rst two numbers represent the shaft height from the mounting base.
This number divided by four represents the shaft height in inches. The
third number is the bolt mounting hole dimensions, some motors may
have multiple holes for dierent mounting options.
The letter is the type of frame, each type is provided below:
Fractional type motors (frame size 48 and 56) 4/14
3/22/2017 HowtoReadaMotorNameplate

C Face mounting (can be round body or footed)

G Gasoline pump motor

H Indicates a frame with a larger F dimension

J Jet pump motor

Y Special mounting dimensions

All mounting dimensions are standard except shaft

extension and or design
Integral type motors (frame size 143 to 449)
A DC motor or generator

C Face mounting (can be round body or footed)

D Flange mounting (can be round body or footed)

P Vertical hollow and solid shaft with P-base ange

Vertical solid shaft with P-base ange, normal


Closed coupled pump motor with C-face mounting

and special shaft extensions

Closed coupled pump motor with C-face mounting

and special long shaft extensions

Vertical sold shaft with P- base ange, medium


S Standard short shaft

T Standardized shaft (1964 and newer)

U Standardized shaft (1964 and older)

V Vertical mounting

Y Special mounting dimensions

All mounting dimension are standard except shaft


Enclosure Type
The enclosure type displays information about how well the motor is
protected from the environment. The most common enclosure types
are Open Drip-Proof (ODP) and Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled (TEFC).
ODP An Open Drip-Proof motor is an open enclosure that allows air
to ow freely inside around the windings. It is protected from drops of
liquid falling downward from a 0 to 15 degree angle, but is not
TEFC A Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled enclosure prevents air from
owing freely into the motor. The motor is cooled by a fan that blows
air on the outside of the enclosure. A TEFC is not fully air or water tight.
Outside contaminants can enter the motor, but this typically doesnt
interfere with normal operations.
There are several other enclosure types not listed here.
Bearings 5/14
3/22/2017 HowtoReadaMotorNameplate

Your motor nameplate may include bearing information.

There may be two bearing specications on a motor nameplate, the
drive shaft bearing and the opposite drive shaft bearing. The dierent
between these two are location in the motor. The drive shaft bearing is
located close to where the drive shaft extends out of the motor. The
opposite drive shaft bearing is on the opposite side of the drive shaft.
Every manufacturer has their own way of displaying bearing
information and this can vary widely between manufacturers.
Consult your manufacturer for more information about bearings.
Voltage Connection (Strapping) Diagrams
Connection diagrams display information about connecting your
motor to the proper voltage. Some motors are designed to handle
multiple voltages, so there may be more than one diagram.

Carefully select the correct diagram.
Incorrectly connecting wiring will
damage your motor.

Model Number and Serial Number
The serial number and model number are used to identify the
equipment with the manufacturer.

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