Varying run capacitor for speed control of single phase motor

If I want to vary speed of single phase electric motor within say, 10 to 20 % max of its rated speed (or torque), is it a good idea to change its run capacitor setting? Either via multiple capacitor and switches or by using variable capacitor?

• It probably won't work (at least for a normal induction motor) and you certainly won't find a suitable variable capacitor.
– user16324
Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:06
• Is the motor an induction motor or brushed motor? Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:14
• Have a read through this similar question. It might answer this for you: [Calculating the capacitor values to control ceiling fan speed] (electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/217828/…) Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:17
• This method is used for ceiling fans. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 1:13

The wording of your question implies that you are asking about an induction motor that has a capacitor that remains connected to the auxiliary winding while the motor is running. That type of motor is called a permanent split capacitor (PSC) motor. The following is based on that assumption.

Changing the capacitor value changes the amplitude and phase shift of the current in the auxiliary winding. Reducing the capacitor value lowers the torque values of the torque vs. speed curve as shown below. This method of speed control is often used for fans, because the torque requirement of a fan is lower at lower speed. That means that the fan load requirement curve crosses the motor torque capability curves only at one point. For loads that require not much less torque at reduced speeds, this method can be used only for a much smaller speed reduction.

Note that this speed control method works by weakening the motor so that the load forces the motor to operate at a reduced speed. If the load varies, the speed changes. If the load drops to zero, the motor goes to full speed. Without a load, there is no speed variation.

Increasing the motor slip causes increased power to be lost in the rotor. Motors that use this speed control method are generally designed for this type of use. They are not very efficient and are designed to dissipate higher losses. With a motor that is not designed for this operation, this speed control method may not work as well and may cause the motor to overheat. Proceed with caution.

• I'm guessing these motors are generally below 100W, right? By 0.5hp this would surely be hopelessly inefficient?
– user16324
Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 19:49
• Yes. Not hopeless in the sense that it hasn't been done successfully at higher power levels, but hopeless in the sense that no one will tolerate the waste of energy. Even at 100W and below, this sort of thing will probably be eliminated in due course.
– user80875
Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 20:49

The speed of an induction motor is largely determined by the AC frequency. The capacitor is there to set it running. Altering the cap value may prevent it from starting or cause it to stall under some mechanical load conditions.

If you look at an AC fan speed controller, you will notice that the first speed setting is the highest speed, not the lowest. This is because the fan induces so much slip at low speed that at the motor may not start reliably at the low torque (low speed) setting. Putting the high speed position next to the "off" position means that the motor gets an initial kick at maximum torque to get it started.

• Welcome to EE stack exchange. You have chosen to answer a question that is almost 2 years old. Also, your answer doesn't seem to address the specific question being asked. In the future, I recommend finding newer questions where you are able to give a good answer. Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 4:09

your question related with single phase capacitor run induction motor and my answer is this method is not suitable.

• Wow! 66 words in one sentance. Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 7:37