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What is a

Premium motor

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) established the NEMA Premium program for four main reasons: 

      1. Electric motors have a significant impact on the total energy operating cost for industrial, institutional and commercial buildings.
      2. Electric motors vary in terms of energy efficiency. The NEMA Premium program will assist purchasers identify higher efficient motors that will save users money and improve system reliability.
      3. NEMA Premium labeled electric motors will assist users to optimize motor systems efficiency in light of power supply and utility deregulation issues.
      4. NEMA Premium motors and optimized systems will reduce electrical consumption thereby reducing pollution associated with electrical power generation. 

What are the anticipated energy and environmental impacts?

Based on U.S. Department of Energy data, it is estimated that the NEMA Premium motor program would save 5,800 gigawatts of electricity and prevent the release of nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the next ten years. This is equivalent to keeping 16 million cars off the road. 

How Premium Efficiency Motors Conserve Energy

In order to minimize and balance the common energy/power losses listed above, premium efficiency motors must be designed by manufacturers who have plenty of knowledge and experience in test facilities with precision instrumentation.

Premium efficiency motors are designed by including more iron and copper material than is used on standard electric motors. As a result, premium efficiency motors are typically larger and heavier than standard electric motors. Other common characteristics of premium efficiency motors include:

    • Higher slot fill in the copper winding
    • Thinner laminations of improved steel properties
    • Reduced air gap
    • Optimized cooling fan designs
    • Special & improved bearings

Copper is a valuable material in a premium efficient design because it produces higher electrical conductivity compared to other metallic conductors. Manufacturers can increase a motor’s electrical energy efficiency if they increase the mass and cross section of copper in its coil winding.

Premium Efficiency Motor Advantages

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it would only take ten years for the NEMA premium efficiency motor program to:

    • Save 5.8 terawatts of electricity
    • Prevent approximately 80 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere

To put this into perspective, the results would be the same as keeping 16 million cars off the road.

Energy & Cost Savings

Electric motor systems are responsible for consuming 40% of the world’s electricity to drive compressors, pumps, and fans, and other mechanical applications. Premium efficiency motors can help to significantly lower global greenhouse gas emissions.

However, motor buyers generally concentrate on price, not electricity consumption. What some buyers don’t know is that, because energy accounts for over 97% of a motor’s total lifetime operating costs, improvements in efficiency could bring enormous savings on energy and cost. If you pay a little more money upfront for a premium efficient motor you’re sure to receive significant payback in energy savings.


Contact your local electric cooperative

Learn more about high efficiency motors.

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