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November 2003

Continued on Page 4
By Tom Bishop, P.E.
EASA Technical Support Specialist
How do we know if a motor is operating
within its temperature rating? The simple answer,
and a good one, is that the National Electrical
Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has defined
temperature rise for electric motors in Motors and
Generators, NEMA standard MG 1-1998. In this
article we will focus on temperature rise and tem-
perature sensing of three-phase induction motors.
We will begin by identifying some key terms.
Temperature rise is the increase in temperature
above ambient. Ambient temperature is the tempera-
ture of the air (or other cooling medium) in the area
surrounding the motor, frequently termed room
temperature. The sum of the ambient temperature
and the temperature rise is the overall, or hot, tem-
perature of a component. Insulation temperature
classes are based on the overall temperature. For ex-
ample, a Class B winding system is rated 130 C.
The normal maximum ambient, per NEMA, is
40 C. The temperature rise limit for the Class B
winding would be estimated at 90 C (130-40).
Other Factors To Consider
However, there are other factors that NEMA
uses in establishing temperature rise for motors.
Therefore, our estimate is not precise and not appli-
cable to motor windings. The other factors are
primarily allowances for hot spot temperatures.
That is, a safety factor is built in to the rating to ac-
count for parts of the winding that may be hotter
than the location at which temperature is measured.
Temperature rise limits for medium motors are
Understanding Motor Temperature Rise Limits
in MG1-12.43, and
shown in Table 1. The
temperature rise values
are in degrees Celsius
( C) and are based on a
maximum ambient of
40 C. In the most com-
mon speed ratings the
NEMA designation of
medium motors in-
cludes horsepower
ratings from 1/2 horsepower (hp) (0.37 kW) up to
500 hp (370 kW) for 2 and 4 poles, and up to 350
hp (260 kW) for 6 poles.
Temperature rise limits for large motors, those
above medium motor ratings, differ based on the
service factor. Table 2 is taken from MG1-20.8.1
and lists the temperature rise for motors with a 1.0
service factor (SF) and Table 3, taken from MG1-
20.8.2, applies to motors with 1.15 SF.
Measuring Resistance
The resistance method is useful for motors that
do not have embedded detectors such as thermo-
couples or resistance temperature detectors (RTDs).
Note that temperature rise limits (Table 1) for me-
dium motors are based on resistance. The
temperatures of large motors can be measured by
resistance or by embedded detectors. Resistance
testing is performed by measuring the lead-to-lead
resistance of line leads of the winding. An initial
test is done with the motor cold, i.e., room (am-
bient) temperature. Verify that the motor is at room
temperature by checking the winding temperature
directly if possible.
Alternative checks that are
not as precise would be check-
ing the temperature of the
stator core or the external
frame. The motor winding hot
resistance is tested after the
winding temperature stabilizes
with the motor operating at
rated load and the change in
resistance is used to determine
the hot temperature. (Note: It
may take as long as 8 hours at
rated load for the winding tem-
perature to stabilize.) The
ambient temperature is sub-
tracted from the hot winding
temperature to determine the
Table 1: Temperature rise by resistance method for medium
induction motors.
Medium Induction Motors Insulation Class and
Temperature Rise C
Motor Type A B F H
1 Motors with 1.0 service factor (SF)
other than those in 3 or 4. 60 80 105 125
2 All motors with 1.15 or higher SF 70 90 115
3 Totally-enclosed nonventilated
motors with 1.0 SF 65 85 110 130
4 Motors with encapsulated windings
and with 1.0 SF, all enclosures 65 85 110
Continued on Page 3
temperature rise. An example will help illustrate
how this is done. An un-encapsulated, open drip-
proof medium motor with a Class F winding and a
1.0 SF has a lead to lead resistance of 1.02 ohms
at an ambient temperature of 25 C, and a hot re-
sistance of 1.43 ohms. The formula to determine
temperature is:
= [ (R
) x (K + T
) ] K
The meanings of the terms are:
hot temperature
cold temperature
hot resistance
cold resistance
K 234.5 (a constant for copper)
The hot winding temperature for the example
is calculated as follows:
= [ (1.43/1.02) x (234.5 + 25) ] 234.5
= 129.3 C
The temperature rise is the hot winding tem-
perature minus the am-
bient. The temperature
rise for the example is
129 C (rounded
value) hot temperature
minus the 25 C ambi-
ent, or 104 C (129
25) rise. The tempera-
ture rise limit for Class
F in Table 1 is 105 C.
The example value is
only one degree below
the temperature rise
limit. That is accept-
able, but it also
indicates that any in-
crease in load would
result in excessive
temperature rise and
consequent thermal
degradation. Further, if
the ambient at the mo-
tor installation were to
go above 40 C, the
motor load would have
to be reduced so as not
to exceed the total
temperature (hot wind-
ing) capability.
Detectors Monitor
Motors equipped with temperature detectors
embedded in the windings are monitored by di-
rectly reading the output of the detectors with
appropriate instrumentation. Typically, the motor
control center has panel meters indicating the
temperatures sensed by the detectors. If the detec-
tors are in the windings but not connected to the
controls, a hand held temperature meter can sense
the output of the detector leads. The output tem-
perature displayed is the hot winding temperature
at the location of the sensor. If the detector read
129 C as in the example above, the same tem-
perature concerns would apply. From a practical
perspective, it is easier to measure a detector out-
put rather than the winding lead-to-lead
resistance. Further, the detector resistance can be
measured when the motor is operating. That cant
be done with the lead-to-lead resistance test.
What if we want to determine the winding
Understanding Motor Temperature . . . Continued From Page 1
Table 2: Temperature rise for large motors with 1.0 service factor.
Large Motors with 1.0 Service Factor at Rated Load
Insulation Class and
Temperature Rise C
Motor Rating Method of A B F H
1 All horsepower (or kW) ratings Resistance 60 80 105 125
2 1500 hp (1120 kW) and less Embedded 70 90 115 140
3 Over 1500 hp (1120 kW) Embedded 65 85 110 135
and 7000 volts or less detector
4 Over 1500 hp (1120 kW) Embedded 60 80 105 125
and over 7000 volts detector
Table 3: Temperature rise for large motors with 1.15 service factor.
Large Motors with a 1.15 Service Factor at Service
Insulation Class and
Factor Load
Temperature Rise C
Motor Rating Method of A B F H
1 All horsepower (or kW) ratings Resistance 70 90 115 135
2 1500 hp (1120 kW) and less Embedded 80 100 125 150
3 Over 1500 hp (1120 kW) Embedded 75 95 120 145
and 7000 volts or less detector
4 Over 1500 hp (1120 kW) Embedded 70 90 115 135
and over 7000 volts detector
November 2003
Understanding Motor Temperature . . . Continued From Page 2
temperature of a motor that does not have embed-
ded detectors and that cant be shut down? If the
motor voltage is rated 600 volts or less it may be
possible to (following all applicable safety rules)
open the terminal box and access the back of the
stator core iron laminations. The stator lamination
temperature will not be the same as the winding
temperature, but it will be closer to it than any
other readily accessible part of the motor. If the
lamination temperature minus the ambient ex-
ceeds the temperature rise for the motor, it can be
assumed that the winding is operating beyond its
rating. For example, if the stator core temperature
measured 136 C and the motor was the same one
as in the example above, the stator core rise would
be 136 25, or 111 C rise. That is above the
105 C limit for the winding, and the winding can
be expected to be hotter than the laminations.
Hot Spot Temperature Is Key
The critical limitation on winding temperature
is the hot or overall temperature. That is the sum of
ambient plus rise. In large part, the load determines
the rise. The other key factor that must be dealt
with is ambient. The NEMA standard limit for am-
bient temperature is 40 C. Operation above that
temperature may require de-rating of the motor so
as not to exceed the hot winding limit. The limit for
the temperature rise must be reduced by the num-
ber of degrees the ambient exceeds 40 C. If the
ambient were 50 C, and the motor had a tempera-
ture rise limit 105 C from one of the tables above,
the temperature rise limit would have to be reduced
10 C (50 40 C ambient difference) to 95 C.
The total temperature in both cases is limited to the
same amount. That is, 105 plus 40 equals 145 C,
and 95 plus 50 also equals 145 C. Regardless of
the method used to sense winding temperature, it is
the total, or hot spot, temperature that is the real
limitation. Further, winding life can be halved if the
temperature increases 10 C, so the lower the hot
winding temperature, the better.