A single-phase induction motor is a type of electric motor that operates on a single-phase AC power supply, which is commonly found in residential and small commercial applications. Unlike three-phase induction motors, which are more efficient and have better performance, single-phase induction motors are simpler in construction and more cost-effective for smaller power requirements.
The working principle of a single-phase induction motor can be explained as follows:
Stator: The motor's stator consists of a laminated core with evenly spaced windings. These windings are usually copper coils arranged in a specific pattern to produce a rotating magnetic field when energized by a single-phase AC supply.
Main and Auxiliary Windings: In a single-phase induction motor, there are two windings: the main winding and the auxiliary winding (also known as the starting winding). These windings are electrically displaced by a certain angle, typically 90 degrees. The main winding carries the running current, while the auxiliary winding comes into play only during the starting phase.
Start-up: When power is supplied to the motor, a single-phase AC current flows through both the main and auxiliary windings. Due to the electrical phase difference between the two windings, a pulsating magnetic field is created in the motor's stator. This magnetic field is not sufficient to start the motor rotating.
Phase Shift: To create a rotating magnetic field and induce rotation, the single-phase induction motor relies on a method called "phase shifting." This is achieved by introducing an auxiliary component to the magnetic field. During start-up, the auxiliary winding creates a second magnetic field that lags in phase behind the main magnetic field. This results in an effective phase difference between the two fields, producing a net rotating magnetic field.
Induced EMF and Rotor Currents: As the rotating magnetic field sweeps across the rotor (a squirrel-cage rotor is typically used in single-phase induction motors), it induces voltage and current in the rotor bars. This causes a rotor magnetic field that tries to catch up with the rotating stator field.
Rotor Rotation: The interaction between the rotating stator field and the induced rotor field creates a torque on the rotor, causing it to rotate. The motor's rotor will start to accelerate and reach a speed close to the synchronous speed, which is determined by the frequency of the AC supply and the motor's pole configuration.
Synchronous Speed: The synchronous speed (Ns) of a single-phase induction motor is given by the formula: Ns = (120 * f) / P, where f is the frequency of the AC supply and P is the number of poles in the motor.
Running Condition: Once the motor has reached its running speed, the auxiliary winding is no longer required and is disconnected using a centrifugal switch or other control methods. The motor continues to operate with just the main winding, and the rotating magnetic field keeps the rotor in motion.
It's important to note that single-phase induction motors have lower starting torque compared to three-phase motors, which is why they are not suitable for heavy-load applications. However, they are widely used in various household appliances, fans, pumps, and other light to moderate load devices where the starting torque requirement is relatively low.