Understanding Pool Pump Motor Types
July 14, 2017
There are more than a few pool pump motor types. At their core, they all use electromagnetic technology, a principle that calls for an exterior electrical winding (a stator) and a shaft-mounted electrical winding (a rotor), but things become a mite more complicated once you get past the fundamentals. For example, where do capacitors fit into the design?
Pool Pumps: Electrical Differences
Single-phase alternating current isn't very good at starting a motor, which is why an electrical capacitor is added to the motor circuitry. The charging device alters the AC slightly so that a rotating magnetic field is generated. Popular in high-torque pool pumps, capacitor-equipped motors produce more raw horsepower than other motor types. On the other hand, there's also split-phase pool pumps on the market. Bereft of a capacitor, an added electrical winding starts the motor but doesn't produce large quantities of torque. Smaller pools and spas use split-phase motors.
Variable Speed Pumping
There are a handful of variations on the above theme. Some examples use intelligent circuits to swap out one circuit for another, which is a function that works well when the pump reaches its full operational speed. Talking of supplementary circuits, variable speed motors still use stators and rotors, bearings, and electrical windings, but they also incorporate an electronic speed control stage. By adding this feature, pumping efficiency is maximised. Meanwhile, older two-speed motors use a simpler electrical windings trick to emulate that function, but they never quite match the savings gained by installing a variable speed motor.
Understanding the Differences
This is obviously a tech-heavy topic. There are electrical windings and magnetic fields at work. Stationary coils and shaft-supported coils are somehow interacting with each other, and strange electrical devices are changing the way the pumps operate. Fundamentally, all of the wires inside your swimming pool pump are like the muscles in your arms. If there are more wires and more magnetic poles, motor horsepower climbs. Still, none of that power matters if the motor isn't moving. That's why supplementary devices, such as capacitors and starting windings, are added to the appliance as a horsepower augmenter and a start-up aid.
Beyond the single-phase (Domestic alternating current) devices that use special switches and capacitors, there are variable speed motors. Beyond these devices, however, three-phase power dominates commercial technology. Out there, among the Olympic size swimming pools, three power lines drive large induction motors and recirculate massive volumes of water while happy swimmers enjoy a day out at their municipal pool.
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