Main Types of DC Motors

By Juliet D'cruz

DC motors are electric motors that use direct current to run. They work by converting electrical energy into mechanical energy.

Thanks to their simplicity and low cost, DC motors are the most popular electric motor type in the world today. They’re common in a broad range of industries, including automotive, robotics, and manufacturing, handling tasks involving propulsion, braking, and steering.

There’s more than one type of DC motor. If you use mechanical energy in your industry, it’s worth learning about the different types of DC motors and how they work. This information can help you make a smarter choice when investing in new DC motors for your business. Plus, you can purchase one at any reputable supplier e.g. RS Components.

  • Series DC Motors

A series DC motor uses the principle of electromagnetism to produce motion. The motor uses a large wire carrying the entire armature current to wind the field. They’re also known as universal motors because you can use them for DC or AC supply.

Series DC motors boast a range of benefits over other motor types. For example, they offer:

  • High starting torque
  • Simple assembly and design
  • Low cost
  • Easy protection

On the other hand, DC motors cannot regulate their speed and, when you run with them with no load, they can become damaged. They’re not a great choice for variable speed applications for these reasons.

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  • Shunt DC Motors

The field connects parallel to the armature’s windings in a shunt type DC motor. They’re a brushless motor and commonly power household appliances like vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, blenders, refrigerators, and washing machines.

Some benefits of shunt DC motors include:

  • Affordability
  • Great speed regulation
  • Simplified reversing controls
  • Can run at a predetermined speed 
  • Permanent Magnet DC Motors

As you might guess, permanent magnet DC motors work thanks to a permanent magnet creating a field flux.

Among other benefits, these motors offer:

  • Portability
  • Low cost
  • High efficiency
  • Great starting torque
  • Good speed regulations

Because torque is limited with permanent magnet DC motors, you’ll typically find them in low horsepower applications such as windshield wipers, children’s toys, and computer hard drives.

  • Compound DC Motors

Compound DC motors, like shunt motors, are self-excited, meaning the motor generates its own current for the magnetic field system. Essentially, they’re a combination of shunt and series motors.

In terms of advantages, compound DC motors have:

  • Good speed control
  • Good starting torque

Despite their good speed control, compound DC motors are a poor choice for applications with varied loads or where the load is set to zero initially. Because compound DC motors combine shunt motors and series motors, they have some disadvantages of both, such as the risk of damage when running them with no load.

To summarise…

DC motors boast a huge range of applications, from moving rudders on boats to helping trains brake safely. Different DC motors serve different applications, with some common types including series motors, shunt motors, compound motors, and permanent magnet motors.

You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each motor type, considering your budget, needs, and applications, to decide which DC motor is right for your business.

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