Motor capacitors AC induction motors, also known as asynchronous motors, use a rotating magnetic field to produce torque. Three-phase motors are widely used because they are reliable and economical. The rotating magnetic field is easily achieved in three-phase asynchronous motors because the phase angle offset between the individual phases is 120 degrees. However, single-phase AC motors require external circuitry which creates the phase angle offset in order to produce a rotating magnetic field. This circuitry can be realized using advanced power electronics, or more simply using a motor capacitor. The video below shows an easy to understand explanation of the working principle of the AC induction motor. AC single-phase induction motors Single-coil AC induction motors AC induction motors usually use two or more coils to generate a rotating magnetic field, which produces torque on the rotor. When a single coil is used, it will generate a pulsating magnetic field, which is enough to sustain rotation, but not sufficient to start the motor from a standstill. Motors with a single coil have to be started by using an external force, and can rotate in either direction. The direction of the rotation depends on the external force. If the motor was started in a clockwise direction, it will continue to rotate and build up speed in the clockwise direction, until it reaches a maximum speed which is defined by the power source frequency. Similarly, it will continue rotating counter-clockwise if the initial rotation was counter-clockwise. These motors are not practical due to their inability to reliably start rotation on their own. Start capacitor AC induction motors One way to improve on the single coil design is by using an auxiliary coil in series with a motor starting capacitor. The auxiliary coil, also called starting coil, is used to create an initial rotating [… read more]

Impedance and reactance An element in a DC circuit can be described using only its resistance. The resistance of a capacitor in a DC circuit is regarded as an open connection (infinite resistance), while the resistance of an inductor in a DC circuit is regarded as a short connection (zero resistance). In other words, using capacitors or inductors in an ideal DC circuit would be a waste of components. Yet, they are still used in real circuits and the reason is that they never operate with ideally constant voltages and currents. As opposed to constant voltage circuits, in AC circuits the impedance of an element is a measure of how much the element opposes current flow when an AC voltage is applied across it. It is basically a voltage to current ratio, expressed in the frequency domain. Impedance is a complex number, which consists of a real and an imaginary part: where Z is the complex impedance. The real part R represents resistance, while the imaginary part X represents reactance. Resistance is always positive, while reactance can be either positive or negative. Resistance in a circuit dissipates power as heat, while reactance stores energy in the form of an electric or magnetic field. Impedance of a resistor Resistors in AC circuits behave the same way they do in DC circuits. Basically, the impedance of a resistor consists only of the real part, which is equal to the resistance of the resistor. Therefore, the impedance of a resistor can be expressed as: where Z is the impedance, and R is the resistance of the resistor. It is obvious that a resistor has no reactance, and can therefore store no energy. Also, when a voltage is applied across the resistor, the current flowing through the resistor will be in phase with the voltage, [… read more]