Depending on their type, design, components, and standard operation, electric motors have a broad range of longevity. Some can last for years or even decades with minimal maintenance requirements, while others will fail after a surprisingly limited period of use. Whether you’re ready to buy induction motors for original equipment or you need a simple DC motor for a standard machinery update, you want to make that device last as long as possible. Fortunately, there are simple but effective things you can do to ensure it.
Choose Your Motor Wisely
Though it may seem obvious—and yet, failing to do this is a common reason why electric motors fail prematurely—it’s very important to evaluate the operational parameters of the application to make sure the motor and its components can meet your requirements. The main parameters of a motor will vary based on the specific motor type. For example, some motors will have various phases, as in the case of one, two, and three phase induction motors, or operational frequencies, while others, like brushless motors, will mainly be categorized based on voltage and speed.
A motor’s operational parameters will determine its performance capacity. Attempting to run a motor in a way that stresses its components and their capacity will cause the motor to perform poorly and eventually fail ahead of its standard operational lifespan.
A motor will also perform reliably and last longer when high-quality components are combined with an expertly engineered design. This is why AC induction motors purchased directly from a capable induction motor manufacturer will usually offer better performance than one that’s made to basic commercial off-the-shelf requirements.
Heat is one of the primary factors in determining a motor’s longevity. Anything that can be done to reduce the amount of heat during operation is favorable for a smooth and long-lasting performance. A motor’s insulation and ventilation will play a major role in regulating operational temperatures, especially in circumstances where heat is inherent to the application.
Preventing or reducing friction between parts will also ensure lower operational temperatures. This is why brushless DC motors will last longer than brushed DC motors because the lack of a brushed commutator means less friction.
Motors that must operate in high heat applications can be made with components that draw heat away from the motor, such as potted coils, which can reduce operational temperatures by 20 degrees F.
If a motor is well made and its parameters meet the application requirements but it’s still not performing reliably or lasting as long as it should be without maintenance, look for possible means of reducing the operational temperature. This alone can sometimes remedy the problem.
Like heat, dust or debris can easily take a fully functional motor and interfere with its operational life. Even small obstructions can contribute to excessive vibration and friction, which ultimately contribute to the motor’s burn out.
A motor’s housing and sealing are critical to keeping out exterior contaminants. Ensuring there are no openings, cracks, or other entry points for dust, dirt, and debris is a simple but effective step towards preserving a motor’s longevity. Thorough sealing and encapsulation will help prevent contact with contaminants and extend the motor’s operational life.
Plan For Maintenance
If a motor is a considerable investment, it’s important to anticipate some degree of preventative maintenance, which can include simply checking the bearings, winding, rotor, brushes, assembly, housing, and other components. These will vary by the motor’s type.
Monitoring various elements can help address smaller needs for upkeep, which are relatively low cost compared to repairing or replacing the motor. These small steps go a long way towards ensuring a motor will last and perform reliably for many, many years.
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