Connecting electric motors

By David Smith Copyright © 2010

Wiring is no casual hobby! Study and use all safety practices. Take the time and effort to do a professional job.
For the purpose of clarity I will describe the features of the common types of fractional horsepower motors, as this is what the average home shop owner is likely to get and use. Universal or series motors are those having brushes and a wound rotor. An example of this type is that found in a portable drill, or a Dermal tool. They are also distinguished by their noisiness. Example: Induction or shaded pole motors are the ones commonly sold in window fans. They have a solid (squirrel cage) rotor and low startup torque, so… they start slowly, gradually building up to speed. Repulsion motors are old and uncommon, in my experience, but they may be encountered at a yard sale or flea market. Being old, they tend to be on the large size. They have a wound rotor and brushes electrically connected to each other but not to the stator windings. (Brushes can wear). A large motor with brushes (assuming that the nameplate doesn't indicate a DC motor or generator) is the tip-off you are likely examining a repulsion motor. This type of motor can be reversed by shifting the position of the brushes. Having seen one of these powering a large drill press in a local blacksmith's shop, I would not recommend investing in a repulsion motor since the remaining types of motor to be described will do the job much better. The final three types of motors are the ones most suitable for powering home shop machinery: split phase motor (split phase start - induction run), capacitor start motor (capacitor start - induction run), and capacitor start - capacitor run motor. All are distinguished by a solid squirrel-cage rotor and an audible click when the motor has been turned off and is slowing down. The split phase motor has no cylindrical hump on the outside for the capacitor; the other two types obviously do. The capacitor start-capacitor run motor will have either two capacitor humps, or will have a capacitor with three separate electrical connections. By the process of elimination, it should seem obvious that a capacitor start motor will have a single capacitor that has only two electrical connections. All of the motors described operate on house current, which is single phase. Three phase motors are commonly found on used industrial machines and will not run on house current without an expensive rotary phase converter. The solid state phase converters are cheaper, but the local electric motor rewinder suggests they have a tendency to burn out. Maybe they do. Because of a lack of experience with three phase power, and my requirements, I have found it best to avoid these motors. The maker's plate (yep, back to the nameplate thing again!) with the electrical information states whether the motor is single phase or three phase.

There are logically four wires involved with supplying the main panel with power. Three of them will come from the utility pole, and a fourth (bare) wire comes from, well, elsewhere. The bare wire is connected to one or more long metal bars pounded into the ground, or to a wire buried in the foundation, or sometimes to the water supply pipe (has to be metal, continuous to where the main water pipe entering the house. Watch out for galvanic action conductivity "breaks" (often between copper and iron pipe). This is the "grounding conductor". It’s there to make sure the third prong on your outlets is connected to ground. This wire normally carries no current, and is there only for safety. One of the other wires will be white (or black with white or yellow stripes, or sometimes simply black). It’s the neutral wire, and is connected to the "centre tap" (CEC; "center tap" ) in the transformer supplying the power. It’s connected to the grounding conductor in only one place (often inside the panel). The neutral and ground should not be connected anywhere else. Otherwise, weird and/or dangerous things may happen. Furthermore, there should only be one grounding system in a home. Some codes require more than one grounding electrode. These will be connected together, or connected to the neutral at a common point - still one grounding system. Adding additional grounding electrodes connected to other portions of the house wiring is unsafe and contrary to code. If you add a subpanel, the ground and neutral are usually brought as separate conductors from the main panel, and are not connected together in the subpanel (i.e.: still only one neutral-ground connection). However, in some situations (certain categories of separate buildings) you actually do have to provide a second grounding electrode - consult your inspector. The other two wires will usually be black, and are the "hot" wires. They are attached to the distribution transformer as well. The two black wires are 180 degrees out of phase with each other. This means if you connect something to both hot wires, the voltage will be 220 volts. If you connect something to the white and either of the two blacks you will get 110V. Some panels seem to only have three wires coming into them. This is either because the neutral and ground are connected together at a different point (i.e.: the meter or pole) and one wire is doing dual-duty as both neutral and ground, or in some rare occasions, the service has only one hot wire (110V only service). One thing where things might get a bit confusing is the different numbers people bandy about for the voltage of a circuit. One person might talk about 110V, another 117V or another 120V. These are all, in fact, exactly the same thing. In North America the utility companies are required to supply a split-phase 240 volt (+-5%) feed to your house. This works out as two 120V +- 5% legs. Additionally, since there are resistive voltage drops in the house wiring, it's not unreasonable to find 120V has dropped to 110V or 240V has dropped to 220V by the time the power reaches a wall outlet. Especially at the end of an extension cord or a long circuit run. For a number of reasons, some historical, some simple orneriness, different people choose to call them by slightly different numbers.

Nameplates on equipment often show the lower voltage (i.e., 110V instead of 120V) to show the device is designed to still operate when the voltage drops that low. 208V is not the same as 240V. 208V is the voltage between phases of a 3-phase "Y" circuit that is 120V from neutral to any hot line. 480V is the voltage between phases of a 3-phase "Y" circuit that's 277V from hot to neutral. In keeping with the 110V is 120V mess, motors intended to run on 480V three phase are often but not always labeled as 440 Volts.

About electronic speed control for different types of motors 1. You can't speed control a single-phase induction motor. 2. You can speed control a 3-phase induction motor, but it's very expensive. Basically, you buy a 1-phase to 3-phase converter with pulse stretcher from Mitsubishi or Danfoss

starting at around $500 US. This is (partially) offset by the cheap availability of small 3phase motors. 3. It's easy to speed control a universal (AC/DC, brush) motor with either a Variac or a commercial solid state unit (basically, a heavy duty lamp dimmer) starting at around $150. 4. New 1HP universal motors go for around $350 from Baldor. 5. If you spend a LOT of time on the phone calling motor rewinding shops, you can find a used unit for $50-$100. 6. These units are BIG compared to synchronous units, and the only thing that'll ever wear out are the brushes. However, they are said to be pretty sensitive to heat, so arrange a good air flow. 7. There's a BIG power surge when you turn it on, because it has to charge both the field and armature coils - you'll definitely want heavy gauge wiring and slo-blo fuses. On motors If you're new to the process of connecting an electric motor, the industrial practices of wiring can confuse you, and the prices of the different items may well overwhelm you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you should say “All of this just to run one simple motor?” A good part of what you see is needed to follow the electrical codes, but the reasons behind the electrical codes are very sound. It may seem like over kill with the metal boxes and conduct pipes just to hold the wires - when you’re paying for them - but I suggest you follow industrial practices, particularly for the larger motors. But to detail every part of industrial wiring practices would be beyond the scope of this report, so all I can say is use them. For example, you may question the need for a different type of plug for each voltage, but that’s cheap insurance against making the wrong connections - and I have seen that happen!. In effect, all of this safety equipment and procedures just acknowledges you’re playing in the big leagues now. Besides, a trip to a good junk yard can turn up most of this stuff. And whatever you do, never be so foolish as ignoring the protection of a good ground wire. Really, you can't have too many nice, large gauge ground wires. By the way… There’s a new safety devise on the market, the ground fault interrupter. This is a useful and reasonably effective device, but it will not prevent all types of shocks - it just provides some protection. It does not prevent a shock if current flows from the hot lead to the return lead; it only cuts the power if it detects a current flow from the hot lead to the ground lead. While this is far better than no protection, there is still no replacement for good safety practices.

I heard of a salesman who demonstrates the ground fault interrupter by jumping into a swimming pool with a live electric fan in his hand. That’s very foolish to say the least; in effect he’s staking his life on the correct operation of every part in the device, and some of those parts only cost 10 cents or less. The size of the fuses Near where the power line enters your house you should find the line fuse box. The function of a line fuse is to protect the house wiring from overheating - that is, to cut off heavy flows of current before the wiring in the wall gets so hot a fire is started. That’s it. The line fuse isn’t intended to protect a motor; and will not offer any protection what so ever to an over loaded motor. You must provide a local over current protection for the motor, or except the possibility of the motor being ruined with a problem situation. I suggest the use of fuses or an overload circuit matched to the size of the motor. The startup current for a motor is about three times the running current the motor would normally draw. The motor draws the same amount of current stalled, so use the correct size of slow blow fuses. Color code for single phase motors Not all motors have the same color coding on their leads, so the table below may not hold true. Check the name plate if in doubt. The terminal identifiers (T1, T2, etc.) are not industry standard, so you may run into motors with different markings. I use these color codes for the circuit diagrams in the rest of this article. T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8 P1 P2 Blue White Orange Yellow Black Usually not brought out Usually not brought out Red no color assigned Brown

(P1 and P2 are often the contacts of the thermal protection switch) You may find the wires are brought out to a terminal block instead. In that case the name plate should help identify the terminal numbers. This is the circuit diagram of a two, three, or four wire motor tester. The center switch is a D.P.D.T. unit. To test a motor with only two leads you use clips 1 and 4, to test a three wire motor you hook 1 to the white wire and 4 to either of the other two leads, and to test a four wire motor you use all four leads. The circuit breaker can be replaced by a 5 to 7 amp slow blow fuse, but whatever you do, be sure to have one or the other in the circuit and on the hot side of the line. And don’t skip the use of the ground lead! Not

ever! One of the reasons the motor was in the junk yard could be bad insulation meaning without a ground the motor will deliver some heavy shocks. Motor wiring diagrams Notice the startup switch in the motor diagram below? It’s marked with an *, and is shown to the left and just a bit above the rotor in the figure below. This is an internal switch, opened by centripetal force when the motor is running fast enough. The starting capacitor is connected directly to the startup switch and the capacitor is represented by two short parallel lines. Now is a good time to warn you; the industrial electronics people frequently show relay contacts by two short parallel lines, closed relay contacts by two short parallel lines with a diagonal line across them. I learned to read radio electronics schematics, and when I see two short parallel lines I tend to think of a capacitor first and open relay contacts second. The starting windings S1 and S2 are a lighter gauge wire than the running windings but are only used for very short periods. As a rule of thumb, the running windings R1 and R2 are hooked in series for the higher voltage operation If the startup switch is damaged beyond repair you still might be able to use the motor in some applications by replacing the startup switch with an external “Push to start” switch. There are two common failures in single phase motors; the internal starting switch and the starting capacitor. The starting switch is usually a centrifugal switch that opens when the motor reaches 3/4 of full speed. If it sticks in the open position the motor will hum but not start turning, but will run if the shaft is given a spin. If the switch sticks in the closed position the motor will start and run but will be very noisy and get very hot. The starting capacitor is a black or silver cylinder with wires going to it, usually mounted under a sheet metal cover on the outside of the motor. If the capacitor weakens the motor becomes slow starting, or if the capacitor shorts the motor will be very noisy when it starts up or act as if the starting switch was stuck in the closed position. If you use a replacement capacitor it must be the same value and working voltage. Connecting the motors There are a number of different ways to build a motor, and these different types of motors are connected in different ways. I’m only covering the most common types the average person is likely to run into, but this should cover about 90% of the motors you get. Look at the second motor diagram, and compare it to the one above. They look similar, don’t they? The main power leads still go to the same field wires (wires 1 and 4, 2 and 3), only the startup switch is hooked up differently. So why does the motor turn clockwise in one case and counterclockwise in the other? Good question. At startup a single phase motor can turn either way. A single phase motor may not run equally well in either direction because of something like an internal fan not turning in the right direction, but the motor itself can run either way. What gets a single phase motor going in one direction or the other is the way the startup coils are connected. Did you know you don’t even need the startup coils to get a motor running? If you can get the motor spinning in the right direction before power is applied, once the motor is turning the power will make it pick up speed and it will continue to run in the direction it was turning.

From now on I will not label the power leads or startup switch as they will be shown in the same way. Just remember what they are. This is the first schematic with a switch in it. To help you understand it, wires connected together end in a dot to suggest a connection point, and wires which must be shown crossing but are not connected do not have a connecting dot. Not everyone will do this, but I go one step father and show no connection between two wires with one wire bridging over the other. *

* A simple center off, double pole, double throw switch (D.P.D.T, center off) is all you really need to reverse a fractional horse power motor. You’ll find a D.P.D.T, center off switch used widely in industry. This is why I’ve shown such a switch in the following circuit. Using a three pole switch for a small, single phase motor is a bit of over kill. Notice the bottom pole set? It really doesn’t do anything, and a reversing switch could be wired as shown. Not all motors are easily reversible, and there are some machines that just shouldn’t be reversed because they were never designed for that. However, if you’re sure it’s ok, here’s how to wire a double pole, double throw switch (D.P.D.T) as a reversing switch for many 110 motors. And here’s how it gets hooked up - if you have easy access to the leads. Usually if the nameplate or connection diagram says interchange leads to reverse motor direction this kind of switch setup can be installed. Naturally you do not do any wiring with power applied to any part of a circuit you’re working on. Industrial reversing switches The reversing switch in the illustration below is an industrial drum switch; a center off, triple pole, double throw (T.P.D.T, center off) type.

Whatever type of switch you use, make sure the switch can safely carry the start up amperage of the motor, which will be about three times the current pulled while running. Notice the running windings R1 and R2 are now connected in series. The two hundred and twenty volts is applied across coils R1 and R2 which means the voltage will be split between them; each coil only gets 110 volts across it. You will measure only about 110 volts across point 1, 8 and point 2, 3, 5. Look carefully and you’ll see the lead marked 4 is not really switched, it could just as well have been hooked directly to the power line. Notes on magnetic starter circuits "Hey! this whole thing could be replaced by a simple switch!" said a friend of mine when he studied the circuit diagram of a magnetic starter. True, but I suggest you stick to using a magnetic starter circuit instead of a simple three pole switch. That's right, a magnetic starter circuit is not really needed to start a three phase motor, not like the starting circuits inside a single phase motor. The real function of a magnetic starter circuit is not starting a motor but providing safety, which it does in several important ways. It protects the motor against overloads (but only if the heaters are the right size - this is up to you to select the right size), and it prevents the motor from starting up again if power should be removed, then restored again. The third function of the magnetic starter circuit is the function of kill switches and interlock switches as part of the same circuit. A fourth function, safely switching the currents needed by large industrial motors, is not likely to be needed for most of the small motors used in the home shop, but then I have no idea what you’re going to need. A magnetic starter has selectable heaters that must be matched to the motor horsepower and the loads expected. Heaters? They’re a part of the overload protection devices. If the heaters get too hot because the motor is pulling too much current this opens a contact and power to the motor is cut. A magnetic starter does not come with the right size heaters installed - this is up to you. A three phase motor does not have any starting windings, nor does it need them. A three phase motor can be reversed by just switching any two of the three leads. The dotted line box encloses the four contacts of the main power relay, which are mechanically linked together to all close or open at the same time. These contacts are normally held open by a spring and are pulled closed by the relay coil. Not shown in this circuit are the fuses for lines L1, L2, and L3, or a reversing switch. The correct size and type of fuse is needed on all three lines, but the fuses are not considered part of the magnetic starter circuit so they aren’t shown. The ground line is never switched or fused, of course. The three lines needed for a three phase motor are why most industrial switches have three poles. Line “A” (connected to line L1) ends up going to one side of the relay coil, line “B” goes to the other side. Any break in the “A” or “B" line will kill the motor, and the motor will not restart until the start switch is momentarily closed.

The two wire and three wire control circuits don’t work the same way. The two wire control doesn’t have the failsafe function of the multi-station control circuit, so if you’re using the two wire control circuit and the power fails the motor will restart when the power returns. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is how you would add more switches to the three wire control circuit. Each station is really two separate switches, with the start switch being a normally open switch and the stop switch a normally closed switch. The starter circuit shown lets any one of the four stations start or stop the motor. I suggest you not use this circuit for safety reasons - limit the number of start switches to one if you can. If the power on L1 or L2 should fail the magnetic starter circuit will open the main power relay. This will shut down the motor and the motor will not start up again until power is restored and the “Start” switch pressed again. If the power on line L3 should fail the magnetic starter circuit will not automatically shut down the motor. Usually if the power fails it will fail on all three lines, and there is seldom a single line power failure on a three phase system. The points in the circuit marked 1, 2, and 3 are of special interest to anyone needing the multi-station control circuit. Any break on the line from point 2 to point 1, or pushing any one of the N.C.S.P. (Normally Closed Single Pole) Stop switches will cut power to the motor, and the power will stay off even when the switch closes again. Power will only be restored when the start switch is pressed. Inside the dotted block of the magnetic starter circuit above are the four normally open contacts of the starter relay. These contacts are mechanically linked to all close or open at the same time (a normally open contact is shown by two parallel lines a short distance apart). Three of these contacts directly control the flow of power to the motor, while the contact between the 2 and 3 is part of the latching circuit. One line of the relay coil goes through three normally closed contacts (a normally closed contact is two parallel lines with a diagonal line across them). If any one of these normally closed contacts opens, the starter relay will cut power to the motor. These normally closed contacts are opened if the motor heaters (the part of the circuit that looks like two hooks touching) get too hot. The heater T1 opens the normally closed contacts just to its right. Actually it doesn’t matter which of the heaters open a contact, with the three contacts wired in series the opening of any one of them will open the main power relay and shut the motor down. Notice the T1, T2, and T3 leads going to the motor? Not all motors have the same color coding on their leads, but many are made with T1 - Blue, T2 - White, T3 - Orange There are several things to be considered when getting ready to hook up an electric motor. The voltage is the most important, and determines the amperage the motor will pull. Note the speed and direction the motor is suppose to run in. Not all homes have 3 phase, 220 voltage available. You might have 220 volts in the house, but that's not the same thing as a 3 phase, 220 volt line. Contact the local power company if you're not sure what's available. On rescuing a half horse 2 speed motor

Remove the rear panel of a domestic washing machine and find the electric motor. You want the motor and all wires as far up as you can cut. Be sure you have the starting capacitor. Be sure you have the start switch, which is centrifugally driven. See that the rotor will turn by hand. Done right, you are now holding a skeleton frame with a capacitor and start switch attached, and just three wires and a ground wire hanging off. *

You are looking at one of the marvels of modern electrical engineering. Nothing is included that is not needed. Nothing is excluded that is needed. People have been fired from big-time companies for getting these little babies wrong. You will probably find no fixing holes other than the 4 mounting the motor to its stand. The skeleton frame may well be glued together with epoxy. It is never to be dismantled. Try to remove the lower bearing dust cap, and inject some heavy oil on the felt oil well. Drop some heavy oil on the upper bearing.



Assuming you can't find the schematic, you need to identify the two wires for 1750 rpm, and the two wires for 1150 rpm (One of the wires is common to the two speeds.) Use a resistance meter to identify the two wires that have the HIGHEST resistance (about 3 ohms) (Preferably) Check this pair still has a resistance higher than zero when the centrifugal switch is operated. Plug these two wires into the mains outlet. Watch out for the startup jerk. This will be the 1150 rpm connection. Remove the power. Now identify which wire goes with the remaining wire to give a lower but non-zero resistance. Plug these two wires in. This is the 1750 rpm connection. Watch for the start up jerk. Do not be disturbed by the blue arcy-spark. The iron pulley is held on by a -screw onto a flat on the 1/2 inch shaft. 1/2 horsepower more honest than you will find on a compressor label. But you need to cover the windings which are highly visible through the skeleton frame with a cover. Remember to connect the ground. These motors have thermal protection.

Foot switch from Harbor Freight There are two basic types Or, step on it and the unit is on as long as your foot is down, and the other is ‘one push on, another push and it’s off’. These switches are not often found in local hardware stores… look to see if you can get them cheaper, but I would be surprised if you can. Hummm ) 110V, 15 amps, more amperage than you can safely pull for a standard wall plug. dimensions: 6-3/8" L x 3-1/2" W x 2-3/4" H Weight: 1.25 lbs. ITEM 96618-1VGA $13.00 Overall