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Motor Upgrade: Savings and Payback

Key Points
  • Premium efficiency motors use less energy and can save substantially on operating costs.
  • While they cost more, many premium efficiency units provide a payback within two years.
  • Use the Motor Calculator to estimate your savings and potential return on investment.

Motor sizesMotors, widely used in commercial and industrial facilities, consume more than half of the electricity used nationwide. Premium efficiency motors are up to 8 percent more efficient than standard units and offer substantial benefits in energy savings and lower operating costs. But investing in new motors can be expensive. You want to know how much you'll save and when you'll get your money back. 

The financial benefits of premium efficiency motors

High-efficiency motors may cost more, but many models can provide a return on investment within two years. For example, an energy-efficient, full-load, 50-hp motor with 75 percent load factor can save approximately 4,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year over a standard model. At $.06 per kWh, the annual savings would be $240.

Other benefits include:

  • Longer insulation and bearing lives
  • Lower heat output and less vibration
  • Extended winding life
  • Increased tolerance of overload conditions
  • Higher tolerance for increased voltage rates or phase imbalance
  • Lower failure rates and extended manufacturer warranties

In certain applications—such as a pump or fan—high-efficiency motors may actually result in increased energy consumption because of their tendency to have less slip, or because they run faster. This is because the energy consumption is proportional to rotational speed in such loads. In these cases, the rotational speed may need to be lowered with a variable speed drive, gears or pulleys. Also, high-efficiency motors tend to exhibit much higher power draw upon start-up.

The purchase of high-efficiency motors is highly recommended for all new installations, and to replace failed standard models that operate at 4,000 hours per year or more. Make sure to specify high-efficiency models when purchasing equipment packages and use high-efficiency motors as part of any preventive maintenance program.

The actual financial impact of any energy efficiency investment depends on the application. Use the Motor Calculator to estimate your savings and return on investment.  

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