Permanent-magnet (PM) motors are available in fractional and low integral-horsepower sizes. They have several advantages over field-wound types.

Excitation power supplies and associated wiring are not needed. Reliability is improved, since there are no exciting field coils to fail, and there is no likelihood of overspeed due to loss of field.

Efficiency and cooling are improved by elimination of power loss in an exciting field. And the torque versus-current characteristic is more nearly linear. Finally a PM motor may be used where a totally enclosed motor is required for a continuous-excitation duty cycle.

Temperature effects depend on the kind of magnet material used. Integral-horsepower motors with Alnico-type magnets are affected less by temperature than those with ceramic magnets because flux is constant.

Ceramic magnets ordinarily used in fractional-horsepower motors have characteristics that vary about as much with temperature as do the shunt fields of excited machines.

Disadvantages are the absence of field control and special speed-torque characteristics. Overloads may cause partial demagnetization that changes motor speed and torque characteristics until magnetization is fully restored.

Generally, an integral-horsepower PM motor is somewhat larger and more expensive than an equivalent shunt-wound motor, but total system cost may be less.

A PM motor is a compromise between compound-wound and series-wound motors. It has better starting torque, but approximately half the no-load speed of a series motor.

In applications where compound motors are traditionally used, the PM motor could be considered where slightly higher efficiency and greater overload capacity are needed. In series-motor applications, cost consideration may influence the decision to switch.

For example, in frame sizes under 5-in diameter the series motor is more economical. But in sizes larger than 5 in, the series motor costs more in high volumes. And the PM motor in these larger sizes challenges the series motor with its high torques and low no-load speed.

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