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Electric Motors: Efficiency & Maintenance

Electric motors are vital to all farm and agribusiness operations, whether they involve poultry, swine, cattle feeding, dairy, or crops. Specific uses include:
  • Feed processing and transport;
  • Air movement for ventilation of animal buildings and for crop drying;
  • Refrigeration of milk, eggs, and other perishables;
  • Water pumping for irrigation, livestock watering, or wash-down operations.
To begin analyzing electric motor use, make a list of all motors on the farmstead, including sizes, locations, and dates they were installed. This inventory will be valuable in comparing the amount of energy used by motors with other end-uses on the farm. Concentrate on larger horsepower motors or those with run times averaging six or more hours per day.
Simple lubrication and cleaning can improve efficiency and add years to the life of a motor. Changing motors to high-efficiency models is another option, but it's more important to look at the equipment being driven by the motor. High-efficiency motors can reduce consumption by only 3 to 8 percent and should be considered only for higher horsepower motors that operate 2,500 hours or more per year. Simple maintenance and proper selection of efficient motor-driven equipment can yield much higher savings. Bin-top Auger Motor
Farmers might overlook routine maintenance, especially if motors seem to be operating adequately. However, the fact that a motor is running doesn't mean it is running efficiently. For example, dirty blades on ventilation fans can reduce air flow up to 40 percent. Other trouble spots often causing motors to waste energy include:

  • Rusty or corroded moving parts on motor-driven equipment;
  • Clogged condenser coils on refrigeration systems;
  • Dry or worn bearings;
  • Belt drives that are too loose, too tight, or misaligned;
  • Incorrect tolerances on irrigation pump impellers;
  • Improper modifications made after installation
Vertical Shaft Motors
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Rural Electricity Resource Council (formerly National Food and Energy Council)
Wilmington, Ohio