Showing posts with label motor control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motor control. Show all posts

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Star Delta Motor Starting Explained


Star Delta Power Circuit

Star Delta starting is when the motor is connected (normally externally from the motor) in STAR during the starting sequence. When the motor has accelerated to close to the normal running speed, the motor is connected in DELTA. 

The change of the external connection of the motor from Star to Delta is normally achieved by what is commonly referred to as Star-Delta starter. This starter is simply a number of contactors (switches) that connect the different leads together to form the required transition from Star to Delta. 

When the motor is started in the star connection, the phase voltage of the motor is reduced by a factor of √3. The reductions in starting current, starting power, and starting torques for a reduced Voltage can each be calculated by using equation 1 (This ignores other factors like saturation, etc.):  

These starters are normally set to a specific starting sequence, mostly using a time setting to switch between Star and Delta. There can be extensive protection on these starters, monitoring the starting time, current, Voltage, motor speed etc. 

For example, if the supply voltage is 380 Volts. During starting in which the motor is connected into Star, the impressed voltage across each coil is 380/ 1.73 which is 220 Volts. As a result of the reduction of the impressed voltage, the starting torque will also reduce to 67%. 

Control Circuit

From the control circuit above, when switch S1 is pressed, there will be a complete path of electric current that will flow from L1 to L2 causing the following coils to be activated: 

Read: Electric Motor Control in Industrial Plants

  • K1 -  line or main contactor
  • K2 - star contactor 
  • K4 - timer (set at 3 to 5 seconds)

After the predetermined time, there will be a transition of timer contact. As such the time delay close contact (K3)which controls the star contactor will now become open while the time delay close contact (K2) will do the opposite. In this way, the transition from star to delta is executed. 

The auxiliary contact of contactor K1 is connected in parallel with the start button S1 (latched) so that the circuit will remain activated even when S1 goes back to the open position. Note that S1 is characterized by a pushbutton that will return to its original state after being pressed. 

The normally closed contacts K3 and K2 are also interlocked to prevent activating STAR and DELTA connection at the same time that can cause serious damage to the motor. 

What are the advantages of using Star Delta starting? 

The most significant advantage of this starting method is the reduction inrush current during starting. The reduction of the starting current can also reduce the mechanical stress of motor due to high starting torque. Note that when reduce voltage starting is not applied, the starting current could reach as high as 600%. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

How to Calculate Motor Circuit Branch Circuit Protection According to NEC 430.52


Motor Circuit Protection

Motor circuit protection describes the short-circuit protection of conductors supplying power to the motor, the motor controller, and motor control circuits/conductors. 430.52 provides the maximum sizes or settings for overcurrent devices protecting the motor branch circuit. A branch circuit is defined in Article 100 as “The circuit conductors between the final overcurrent device protecting the circuit and the outlet(s).”

NEC Motor Control Protection Requirements

Note that the branch circuit extends from the last branch circuit overcurrent device to the load. Table 430.52 lists the maximum sizes for Non-Time-Delay Fuses, Dual Element (Time-Delay) Fuses, Instantaneous Trip Circuit Breakers, and Inverse Time Circuit Breakers. Sizing is based on full load amp values shown in Table 430.247 through 430.250, not motor nameplate values. For example, the maximum time-delay fuse for a 10HP, 460 volt, 3 phase motor with a nameplate FLA of 13 amps would be based on 175% of 14 amps, not 175% of 13 amp.

Courtesy: Cooper Bussmann


Standard sizes for fuses and fixed trip circuit breakers, per 240.6, are 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 600, 700, 800, 1000, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3000, 4000 5000, and 6000 amps. Additional standard fuse sizes are 1, 3, 6, 10, and 601 amps. 

The exceptions in 430.52 allow the user to increase the size of the overcurrent device if the motor is not able to start. All Class CC fuses can be increased to 400%, along with non-time-delay fuses not exceeding 600 amps. Time-delay (dual-element) fuses can be increased to 225%. All Class L fuses can be increased to 300%. Inverse time (thermal-magnetic) circuit breakers can be increased to 400% (100 amp and less) or 300% (larger than 100 amps). Instant trip circuit breakers may be adjusted to 1300% for other than Design B motors and 1700% for energy efficient Design B motors. 
  • 430.52(C)(2) reminds the user that the maximum device ratings which are shown in a manufacturer’s overload relay table must not be exceeded even if higher values are allowed by other parts of 430.52. 
  • 430.52(C)(3) details the requirements that instant-trip CBs can only be used if part of a listed combination motor controller. 

Courtesy: Cooper Bussmann

Friday, March 06, 2015

Electric Motor Control in Industrial Plants



Motor controller is a device or group of devices that serves to govern in some predetermined manner the performance of an electric motor.

A motor controller includes a manual or automatic means for starting or stopping a motor, selecting a forward or reverse rotation, selecting and regulating a speed, regulating or limiting the torque and protecting against overloads and faults.

In short industrial motor control are essential to the operation of an electric motor.

Control Circuit and Power Circuit

In electric motor control we are dealing with two types of circuits namely the control circuit and the power circuit.
  • Control Circuit - the circuit that governs the action of control  elements such as magnetic contactor, push button, overload relay, limit switch, auxiliary contacts of protection devices and others.
  • Power Circuit - this is the circuit that directly control the flow of electrical energy from the source to the load. 
Control circuit and power circuit are totally independent with each other and they can be both installed in one application with different voltages. Some industries use 440 VAC as the supply voltage for their electric motors while using 24 VDC to supply their control circuits.

Figure 1. Control Circuit and Power Circuit

The above diagram describes how control circuit and power circuit interact with each other.
  • In that figure, when the switch S is close it will energize the relay coil which is connected in series with that switch. 
  • In effect the auxiliary contact M1 will also close due to the magnetic action of the coil of the relay.
  • And obviously the motor which is connected in parallel to the 480 VAC supply will also be energize. 
The given example used a method where the control circuit and the power circuit have the same voltage supply which is 480 Volts AC.

Now imagine that the path taken by the switch and the relay coil is supplied by another source, is it possible? The answer is yes all we have to do is to change the specification of the relay coil to be used from 480 VAC to the new supply voltage i.e. 24 VDC or 110 VAC.

Figure 2. Power Circuit and Control Circuit have different supply voltage

The circuit in figure 2 describe a certain case where the control circuit and power circuit have different supply voltage. Motor control designers have different views in choosing the method they want. For convenience and practicality some engineers opted that the two circuits have similar supply while others on the contrary since they avoid the risk of humming effect as a result of supplying AC voltage to the contactor. The latter used DC supply and of course DC voltage contactor.

Types of motor controllers

1. Full Voltage Starting

The most common type of motor starter is full voltage starter, some people call this method as a direct-across-the-line or direct-on-line (DOL) motor starter.

Figure 3. Full Voltage Motor Starter

This is used to control motors in one direction and in using this the starting current will reach as high as 600% of it's full load current.


A 3 phase 20 HP motor that is connected to a supply voltage of 220 VAC @ 80% pf. Find the starting current when it is connected to a full voltage starter. (Use 80% pf and 85% efficiency)

  • IFL = (20 HP x 746) / [ sqrt (3) x 220 x 0.8 x 0.85) ] = 58 Amperes
  • Starting current = IFL  *  600% = 345 Amperes
  • This starting current will last for  3-5 seconds
This method of starting is cheap and easy to install but it has a detrimental effect when used in motors larger than 10 HP. This type of starter is commonly used in small conveyors, pump and air-conditioning unit.

2. Full voltage starter reversing

Commonly known as forward-reverse, this motor starter similarly used full voltage starting method but it can control the motor in two directions.

Figure 3. Forward-Reverse (photo:

  • In this case there are two magnetic contactors, the forward contactor F and the reverse contactor R.
  • The key for reversing the direction of the motor is  to interchange lines L1 and L3 during the time that the R contactor activates.
  • The two normally closed contacts that are connected in series in F and R rung respectively are called electrical interlocks. This is to prevent the simultaneous activation of the 2 rungs that might cause serious damage to the equipments if happen.
Similar to non-reversing full voltage starter, this is practical when use for motors lower than 10 HP. Since it is reversing this is commonly used in applications that needs reversing action such as dumb waiter, overhead cranes, reversing conveyor and others.

How to determine the contactor sizes?

We can determine the contactor sizes for full voltage starter by first determining the motor continuous current. Continuous ampere rating should always more than the rated current or the full load current.

We can derive the maximum continuous current based on the design of the motor. Some NEMA AC motors have service factor of 1.35. That means that motor is allowed (by design) to run more than its full load capacity without being damaged. For example a 10 HP with a service factor of 1.35 can supply a load up to 13.5 HP without being damage. Therefore we can base the contactor rating in consonance to the service factor to expect that such a motor would serve that overload.


A 3 phase 20 HP motor that is connected to a supply voltage of 220 VAC @ 80% pf. Find the maximum continuous ampere rating if that motor has a service factor of 1.35. (Use 80% pf and 85% efficiency)

  • IFL = (20 HP x 746) / [ sqrt (3) x 220 x 0.8 x 0.85) ] = 58 Amperes
  • Apply service factor = 1.35 x 58 amperes = 78.3 Amperes
Therefore we can set the maximum continuous current to 78.3 Ampere. And after getting the maximum ampere rating, check the table below for right NEMA size of the contactor to be used to served that load.

Maximum HP Rating for Each Voltage Category
Continuous Amp. Rating
Single Phase
Three phase
115 V
230 V
208 V
240 V
480 V
600 V







Table 1. NEMA Contactor Sizes

3. Reduced Voltage: Wye-Delta

Wye-Delta or star-delta motor starting methods is a type of reduce voltage starting method where the 3 phase motor is connected first to WYE or STAR then after 3-5 seconds it will be connected to DELTA. This can be accomplish through actions in the magnetic contactor.

During starting period the line voltage  that supplies the motor is still the same but the voltage across the each phase of the motor coil is reduced. Thus,

  • Starting Voltage Reduction = Line Voltage / sqrt (3)
  • For example the motor rated 440 V has a starting voltage cross each coil of the three phase motor of 440 V/ 1.73 = 254 Volts.

Figure 4. Wye-Delta Control Circuit (photo:
  • When the start button is press the main coil M1, timer TD and starting coil S1 (WYE) are activated.
  • The auxiliary contact M1 is latched therefore the circuit is energized until the stop button is press.
  • Right from the time the timer TD is activated it will count automatically until it reaches its pre- determined value i.e. 3-5 seconds.
  • The auxiliary contact of the timer TD will change its initial state once the pre- determined time has been reached.
  • For example the predetermined time is 3 seconds then during that time the normally closed contact of TD will open and at the same time the normally open contact of TD will closed. This is the time where the starting coil S1 (WYE) will be deactivated while the running coil M2 (DELTA) will be activated.
  • The whole circuit will shutdown once the stop button is pressed or the overload contact in the right most side will open due to overload condition.

Starting Methods Comparison
% Voltage Start during starting
% Full load starting torque
% Full load Rated Current
Full Voltage
Table 2. Comparison of starting methods

In effect the load rated ampere will also reduce since the voltage applied across the coil is also reduced, thus
  • Starting Current = Full Load Ampere x 200%
  • If we have motor that has  FLA of 52 Ampere, then SRC = 52 x 200% = 104 Amperes
  • 104 Amperes is very much lower compare to 308 Ampere when full voltage starting is use.
The reduction of the torque would be approximately equal to the square of the reduction of the voltage across motor winding, thus
  • Starting toque reduction = %V ^2 = .58 ^2 = 33% of full load torque

4. Reduced Voltage: Auto-transformer 

Figure 5. Auto-transformer schematic diagram
 Auto-transformer is kind of transformer with only one winding. Auto-transformer reduce the voltage level of one circuit to the other thru taps. Different taps have different voltage value measured from the common end of both primary and secondary.

Figure 5. Auto transformer method of starting
Auto-transformer motor starter used auto-transformer to suppressed the effect of high starting current. The auto-transformer have commonly three tap settings: 50%, 65% and 80% of the full voltage. The result of the following settings are as follows:

% Voltage
% Torque
% Rated Current
Table 3. Effect of auto transformer starting (Rockwell Automation)

The control sequence of auto-transformer is almost similar to wye-delta but the auto-transformer is more flexible compare to wye-delta. Wye-delta is tagged at 58% reduction of starting current while auto-transformer is flexible based on the requirement.

Advantage over wye-delta:
  • Auto-transformer needs only 3 leads to operate and it is advisable for installations in submersible pump where the motor is at least 100 ft. from the MCC. WYE-DELTA for submersible pump operation  is disadvantageous since it needs at least 6 leads to operate. Therefore, we can reduce 50% for the cost of the conductors in choosing auto-transformer over wye-delta.
  • Auto-transformer is flexible since it can be set at 50%, 65% or 80% while wye-delta on the other hand is tagged at 58%.
Disadvantage over wye-delta:
  • Auto-transformer is more expensive compare to wye-delta starter.

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