induction motor


The speed of the rotating magnetic field is referred to as synchronous speed (NS). Synchronous speed is equal to 120 times the frequency (F), divided by the number of poles (P).

Ns = 120 F / P

If the frequency of the applied power supply for the two-pole stator used in the previous example is 60 Hz, synchronous speed is 3600 RPM.

N s =( 120 x 60 )/ 2

N = 3600 RPM

The synchronous speed decreases as the number of poles increase. The following table shows the synchronous speed at 60 Hz for the corresponding number of poles.

no of poles synchronous speed
2 3600
4 1800
6 1200
8 900

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The magnetic field rotates at synchronous speed, VS—the motor’s theoretical top speed that would result in no torque output. In actual operation, rotor speed always lags the magnetic field’s speed, allowing the rotor bars to cut magnetic lines of force and produce useful torque. This speed difference is called slip speed. Typical slip values range 2-5% of VS at running speed, but can be large at motor startup. Slip also increases with load, so for accurate control of speed, closed-loop control or feedback is needed.



To see how a rotor works, a magnet mounted on a shaft can be substituted for the squirrel cage rotor. When the stator windings are energized a rotating magnetic field is established. The magnet has its own magnetic field that interacts with the rotating magnetic field of the stator. The north pole of the rotating magnetic field attracts the south pole of the magnet, and the south pole of the rotating magnetic field attracts the north pole of the magnet. As the rotating magnetic field rotates, it pulls the magnet along causing it to rotate. This design, used on some motors, isreferred to as a permanent magnet synchronous motor.

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The squirrel cage rotor acts essentially the same as the magnet. When power is applied to the stator, current flows through the winding, causing an expanding electromagnetic field which cuts across the rotor bars.

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When a conductor, such as a rotor bar, passes through a magnetic field a voltage (emf) is induced in the conductor. The induced voltage causes a current flow in the conductor. Current flows through the rotor bars and around the end ring. The current flow in the conductor bars produces magnetic fields around each rotor bar. Recall that in an AC circuit current continuously changes direction and amplitude. The resultant magnetic field of the stator and rotor continuously change. The squirrel cage rotor becomes an electromagnet with alternating north and south poles.

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The following drawing illustrates one instant in time during which current flow through winding A1 produces a north pole. The expanding field cuts across an adjacent rotor bar, inducing a voltage. The resultant magnetic field in the rotor tooth produces a south pole. As the stator magnetic field rotates the rotor follows.


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There must be a relative difference in speed between the rotor and the rotating magnetic field. If the rotor and the rotating magnetic field were turning at the same speed no relative motion would exist between the two, therefore no lines of flux would be cut, and no voltage would be induced in the rotor. The difference in speed is called slip. Slip is necessary to produce torque. Slip is dependent on load. An increase in load will cause the rotor to slow down or increase slip. A decrease in load will cause the rotor to speed up or decrease slip. Slip is expressed as a percentage and can be determined with the following formula.

% Slip = (Ns - Nr) x 100/Ns 

For example, a four-pole motor operated at 60 Hz has a synchronous speed (NS) of 1800 RPM. If the rotor speed at full load is 1765 RPM (NR), then slip is 1.9%.

% Slip = (1800 - 1765)   x 100 / 1800 

% Slip = 1.9%



The discussion to this point has been centered on the more common squirrel cage rotor. Another type is the wound rotor. A major difference between the wound rotor motor and the squirrel cage rotor is the conductors of the wound rotor consist of wound coils instead of bars. These coils are connected through slip rings and brushes to external variable resistors. The rotating magnetic field induces a voltage in the rotor windings. Increasing the resistance of the rotor windings causes less current flow in the rotor windings, decreasing speed. Decreasing the resistance allows more current flow, speeding the motor up.

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Another type of AC motor is the synchronous motor. The synchronous motor is not an induction motor. One type of synchronous motor is constructed somewhat like a squirrel  cage rotor. In addition to rotor bars coil windings are added. The coil windings are connected to an external DC power supply by slip rings and brushes. On start AC is applied to the stator and the synchronous motor starts like a squirrel cage rotor. DC is applied to the rotor coils after the motor reaches maximum speed. This produces a strong constant magnetic field in the rotor which locks in step with the rotating magnetic field. The rotor turns at the same speed as synchronous speed (speed of the rotating magnetic field). There is no slip. Variations of synchronous motors include a permanent magnet rotor. The rotor is a permanent magnet and an external DC source is not required. These are found on small horsepower synchronous motors.

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Induction motors have five major components of loss; Iron loss, Copper loss, Frictional loss, Windage loss and Sound loss. All these losses add up to the total loss of the induction motor. Frictional loss, windage loss and sound loss are constant, independent of shaft load, and are typically very small. The major losses are Iron loss and Copper Loss. The iron loss is essentially constant, independent of shaft load, while the copper loss is an I2R loss which is shaft load dependent. The iron loss is voltage dependent and so will reduce with reducing voltage.



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