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Motor starter , types of starter and why do we need starter for

motors? …………………….. In this blog we are going to cover all these topics.
As we all know, when the stator windings of an induction motor are connected directly to its 3-
phase supply, a very large current (5-7 times full load current) flows initially. This surge current
reduces as the motor accelerates up to its running speed.Normally induction motors started with
Direct-on Line (DOL) starter.But when very large motors are started direct-on-line(DOL) they
cause a disturbance of voltage (voltage dip) on the supply lines due to the large starting current
surge. This voltage disturbance may result in the malfunction of other electrical equipment
connected to the supply.
So some large induction motors are started at reduced voltage to limit the starting current and
then, reconnected when they have run up to near rated speed.

The starting current as we have already seen may be five to eight times the full load current, and
the heating of the windings is proportional to the square of the current. At starting it will be 25-64
times than normal. Furthermore, at the instant of start there is no windage and no radiation.
Therefore a very long starting period may result in overheating.

Since starting of a motor draws a substantial amount of electricity . So when large electricity (i.e.
starting current) is flowing through wires, even for the very slight time, it’s important to provide
a preventive system to prevent damage and ensure safety at all times.When the start button is
pressed the control supply is connected to the contactor coil. The contactor closes and then starts
the motor. When the start button is released its contacts spring open. An auxiliary contact on the
contactor keeps the contactor coil energised after the start button is released.Pressing the stop
button breaks the control circuit to the contactor coil; the contactor trips and the motor stops.
If the motor takes too much current because it is mechanically overloaded or stalled, the overload
coils will either magnetically or thermally open the overload trip contacts which will stop the
motor and prevent overheating. Note, the correct term is ‘overcurrent’ rather than the commonly
used ‘overload’.

The purpose of motor starter does not just start the motor, but it performs the two main
1. To reduce the heavy starting current and start the motor in
2. To provide overload and under voltage protection
According to Ohm’s law V ∝ I. If the applied voltage is reduced by 50%, then the starting current
will also be reduced by the same percentage. From the torque equation of the three-phase
induction motor, the starting torque is approximately proportional to the square of the applied
voltage.That means, if the applied voltage is 50% of the rated value, the starting torque will be
25% of its normal volume. Starters are sized to suit the motor and voltage of your specific

Types of motor starter

There are following starters for induction motor:-

 Direct Online Starters

 Star-Delta Starters
 Autotransformer starters
 Soft starters
 VFD starters
 Resistance Stator starters
 Slip ring motor starters
Direct-On-Line (DOL) starter:-
This is the simplest method to start the small induction motor up to 5-10 kilowatt.In this method
rated supply voltage is directly applied to the motor.But starting current would be very large, up
to 5 to 7 times of rated current. The starting torque is likely to be 1.5 to 2.5 times the full load

The switching sequence for this starter circuit is as follows

Power circuit operation

 manual closing of motor starter protector – Q1

 closing of main contactor -KM1, KM1 contactor ‘hold-in’
 KM1 contactor drops outControl circuit operation
Control circuit operation

 Control circuit voltage available (eg 24 V from control transformer)

after closing -F2 miniature circuit breaker
 Press start button -S1
 Auxiliary contact 13-14 of -KM1 ‘latches’ contactor
 Remote indicator lamp -H1 ‘on’
 Press stop button -S2
 On overload, the OCR -F1 trip out the NC contact 95-96 (to start
motor again, -F1 should be reset by hand)

on Line starter
DOL demand large staring current of 5-7 times FLC and is generally acceptable to the supply
generator as long as the corresponding voltage dip is not greater than 10-15% within the run-up
Advantages of Direct Online Motor Starting
1. Construction is very simple.
2. Cost effective.
3. Does not require any extra space.
Disadvantages of Direct Online Motor
Starting Methods:
1. High Starting Torque.
2. High in-rush current.
3. Can not be used on big motors.

Star-Delta Starter:-
This is a starting method that reduces the starting current and starting torque. This method is used
for the large size of induction motor more than 10 kilowatts.

The starter design consists of three contactors, an overload relay and a timer for setting the time
in star connection to delta connection. In this method, the motor should be connected in Delta for
the normal run.For starting, star connection used for normal run Delta connection used in the
motor windings.When the stator winding is Star connected, the voltage over each phase in the
motor will be reduced by a factor one by  √3 of that would be for Delta connected windings.The
starting torque will be 1/3 times that it will be for delta-connected windings.

The switching sequence for this starter circuit
is as follows
Power circuit operation
 manual closing of fused -isolator -Q1
 Closing of contactor -Km1 : neutral contactor
 closing of -KM2 : star contactor
 opening of -KM2: star connection opens
 closing of -KM3: delta contactor
 -KM1, KM3 contactor drop out, motor stops
Control circuit operation

 Control circuit voltage available (eg 24 V from control transformer)

after closing -F2 miniature circuit breaker
 press start button -S1 to close -KM1; -KM1 holds in; -KM2  closes
interlocking -KM3 (-KM2 NC contact 21–22 open)
 time relay -KT1 energises and begins to count down preset time
 -KT1 time delay elapsed, -KM2 de-energises by -KT1
Advantages of Star-Delta Motor Starting
1. Relatively simple starter construction.
2. relatively low inrush current.
3. Good for long acceleration times.
Disadvantages of Star-Delta Motor Starting
1. Relatively low output torque versus starting current.
2. Limited flexibility in starting Characteristics.
3. The number of wire connections is more.

Resistance Stator Starting:-

Purpose of primary resistors is to drop some voltage and apply a reduced voltage to the stator.
This method is generally used for small induction motors for smooth starting.It is not
recommended for the motor, where high starting torque is required. Resistors are generally
selected so that 70% of the rated voltage can be applied to the motor. At the time of starting, the
full resistance connected in series with the stator winding and it is gradually decreased as the
motor speed up, when the motor reaches on appropriate speed, the resistance is disconnected
from the circuit and the stator phases are directly connected to supply lines.

Advantages of Resistance Starter Motor

Starting Methods:
1. Smooth acceleration available.
2. Good flexibility in starting characteristics.
3. It can be used for speed control.

Disadvantages of Resistance Starter Motor

Starting Methods:
1. Complicated controller design
2. Require expensive resistor

Autotransformer Starting:-
Autotransformers are also known as Auto-starters.They can be used for both star or Delta
connected motors.It is basically three phase step down transformer with different taps provided
that permit the user to start the motor at 50%, 65%, or 80% of line voltage. Reduced voltage
reduced the current in the motor windings with 50% tapping used motor current is halved and
supply current will be half of the motor current.At starting switch is at ‘start’position and a
reduced voltage is applied across the stator.When the motor gathers an appropriate speed, say up
to 80% of its
rated speed, the autotransformer gets disconnected from the circuit as the switch goes to ‘run’
position. This method used for large machines and is costly.

o-transformer starting
The switching sequence for this starter circuit
is as follows
Power circuit operation

 Manual closing of fused isolator -Q1

 Closing -KM1: star connection of transformer
 Closing of -KM3: motor supply via transformer
 Opening of -KM1; star connection opens
 closing of -KM2: direct supply to motor (note the electrical interlock
of -KM1 and -KM2)
 -KM2 contactors drop out, motor stops
Control Circuit operation 

 manual closing of MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker) -F2: control circuit

voltage available (eg 24 V from -T1)
 press start button S1 to energises -KM1 which hold in by -KM1 / 13-
 energising of -KM3 via closed -KM1 / 43-44
 interlocking of -KM2 by -KM1 /21-22
 de-energising of -KM1 by opened -K1 /43-44
 closing interlocking contact -KM1 /21-22
 energing -KM2by closed K1/ 67-68
 interlocking of -KM1 by -KM2 /21-22
Advantages of Auto Transformer Motor
Starting Methods:
1. High output torque versus starting current
2. flexibility in starting characteristics
3. Can be used for speed control in manual, but with limited options.
Disadvantages of Auto Transformer Motor
Starting Methods:
1. Limited Duty cycle.
2. Large equipment size
3. expensive.

Soft Starting Method:-

Soft Starter
A soft starter is another form of reduced voltage starter of AC induction motors.The soft starter
employes the solid state devices to control the current flow and therefore the voltage applied to
the motor. These solid state switches are phase controlled in a similar manner to a light
dimmer.The average voltage is controlled by varying the conduction angle of the
switches.Increase the conduction angle will increase the average output voltage.The power
dissipation in the starter during start will be less than 1% of Power dissipated by the primary
resistance starter.

The solid-state devices used with A.C electric motors to ramp up the voltage and torque on the
motor during startup. This ramp-up reduces mechanical stress on the motor and shaft, as well as
the electro-dynamic stresses on the attached power cables and electrical distribution network.The
soft starters extend the lifespan of your system and reduce maintenance cost.

Advantage of Soft starter Motor Starting

1. Improved efficiency
2. Controlled startup
3. Controlled acceleration
4. Low cost and size
Disadvantage of Soft starter Motor Starting
1. Relatively expensive
2. Sensitive to power quality
3. Heat dissipation is more

Variable Frequency Drive:-

Stages of Variable Frequency Drive

This is actually a speed control method for motors but can be used for stating also. In this
incoming, electrical supply of fixed frequency and voltage into a variable frequency and variable
voltage that is output to the motor with a corresponding change in the motor speed and
torque.The motor speed can be varied from zero rpm through to 100-120% of its full rated
Speed.The motor may be operated in either direction. The first step in this process is to convert
the AC supply voltage into DC by the use of the rectifier. DC power contains voltage ripples
which are smoothed using filter capacitors.This section of the VFD is often referred to as the DC
This DC voltage is then converted back into AC.This conversion is typically achieved through the
use of the power electronics such as IGBT the power transistor using a technique called pulse
width modulation. The output voltage is turned on and off a high frequency.
Advantage of Variable Frequency
Drive Starting Method:
1. Smooth acceleration
2. Low inrush current
3. High flexibility in starting characteristics.
4. Deacceleration and speed control is possible.
Disadvantage of Variable Frequency
Drive Starting Method:
1. Cost prohibitive unless speed control is required.
2. Heat dissipation at ambient temperature is a concern.
3. Continuous harmonic current is there.

Slip Ring Motor Starting:-

Wound Rotor
These motors are started with full line voltage, as external resistance can be easily added to the
rotor circuit with help of slip rings.A star connected rheostat is connected in series with the rotor
via slip rings. Introducing resistance in rotor current will decrease the starting current in the
rotor(and, hence in stator). Also, it improves power factor and the torque is increased. Slip ring
motors can be started on load. The external resistance introduced is only for starting purpose, and
is gradually cut out as the motor gathers the speed.

Advantage of Slip Ring Motor Starting

1. Starting torque is increased with power factor increase.
2. The motor can be started under load.
Disadvantage of Slip Ring Motor Starting
1. Complicated construction of motor.
2. Expensive.