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January 24, 2017

7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your EC Motor

You're probably aware that Electronically Commutated (EC) motors are the perfect solution for manufacturers that need to comply with the U.S. Department of Energy's efficiency regulations for commercial refrigeration units, pumps, fans and blowers. 

While they come with a higher pricetag, ECMs quickly pay for themselves. But you can get even more bang for your buck by extending the life of your EC motor with these seven tips.

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1. Store them in a reasonable temperature environment

Electronically commutated motors have a generous storage temperature range, and you'll avoid premature fatique of the electronic components as long as you don’t store them in extreme heat or cold. A -40° to +80°C spread is pretty typical, but double check first, as the storage temperature is usually listed on the data sheet. 

2. Check the operating temperature range

Make sure that the “worst case” conditions of your operating environment are within the operating temperature limits of the ECM. Some motors may not be rated to operate in extreme cold temperature conditions, such as -40°C, without the use of special low-temperature bearing grease and low-temperature rated electronic components. The same is true in very hot temperatures, as motors often have a maximum ambient temperature range somewhere in the +50 to 70°C range. If the EC fan is pulling air from a condenser fan coil or mounted inside an enclosure in an attic or on a rooftop, it could see temperatures exceeding the permissible upper temperature limit. 

3. Know your environment

ECMs can have IP (Ingress Protection) ratings ranging from IP00 (no protection vs. particulates or moisture) to IP68 (protection against dust and submersible in water) and anywhere in between. Make sure the IP rating of your motor is meant to survive the intended environment as ingress from dust, salt fog, rain, pressure washing or submersion in water can lead to premature failures.

4. Check your incoming power quality

EC motors have built-in electronics to convert the incoming AC mains power to a DC voltage. The acceptable upper and lower limit are usually specified on the data sheet. Electronics and power surges don't mix. If you feel that your incoming power quality is unstable, consider installing equipment that will stabilize the incoming power to regulate the voltage within the motor's acceptable limits.

5. Make sure you have a “drip loop”

When installing an ECM outdoors or in areas of high moisture, make sure you have a proper “drip loop." This means making sure that the power cord into the motor is oriented so that gravity causes water droplets to run down the power cord to the ground rather than down the cord and into the motor area.

6. Use vibration isolation mounts if needed

If your ECM is installed in an application where it will experience frequent shock or vibration, consider using rubber isolation mounts to avoid vibration transmitted to the motor, which would potentially prematurely fatigue the bearing system.

7. Make sure your fan blade is properly balanced

A wobbly fan blade will tax the motors bearing system and lead to shorter motor lifetime. Ideally the motor and blade should be balanced as a complete system. If the motor and blade cannot be balanced as a system, use a fan blade that has been properly balanced. If you notice that the fan blade is out of balance, remove it and install a balanced blade to extend the life of your motor. 

By paying attention to the use details and operation of your EC motor, and making adjustments as needed, your ECM should keep humming along for years to come.

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Filed Under: EC Motors