I am building a relay circuit for pump control with a microcontroller. It is a 1.5 HP single-phase water pump that draws around 13A during normal running and has a starting current that briefly (< 1 second) reaches 25A.

My relay is rated for 20A. The datasheet rates it for over 50,000 operations for steady state currents at about 13A, which is my nominal power draw. Can anyone with experience in this kind of thing provide some insight on the degradation of the relay over time? I expect the relay to accumulate less than 15,000 cycles over 20 years.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless the datasheet says it's OK, it's not OK. But you don't provide the relay type or link to datasheet, or datasheet of the load, it is quite difficult to say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Aug 30, 2020 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ "rated" doesn't come from nowhere. People desiging relays know about turn on currents, and that's why they rate for peak and continuous operation separately. If your peak current exceeds the rated peak current: no guarantees. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30, 2020 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? AC motor control with triac or relay or this electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/288922/… \$\endgroup\$
    – user80875
    Aug 30, 2020 at 14:19

2 Answers 2


Motors are inductive and take start currents that are much higher than their run currents .This is hard on relays .Reputable relay manufacturers show a curve of current Vs number of operations .You can read down on the curve and estimate product life .Finding a suitable relay is easy when the number of operations per day is low and difficult when the number of daily operations is high .Some larger relays that are sometimes referred to as contacters give a rating in terms of HP so selecting a relay for your motor is easy .


You should use a relay that has a motor rating, obviously a rating that is high enough to include the motor you intend to operate.

Here is a relay with such a rating.

enter image description here

If you use an underrated relay it's possible to have a failure that is not as benign as failing to close after a fair number of cycles. For example, the contacts may well weld closed. And maybe after 10 cycles or 20.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's quite informative. I'll try to use such a relay. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30, 2020 at 16:12

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