Today's technologically advanced electric motors are often designed with increased efficiency and longevity as key attributes for consumer satisfaction. Consumers expect their electric appliances and devices to serve them with years of trouble-free use. For example, many appliances have a tough life and are expected to perform perfectly on a daily basis. Their motors should, in theory, last well if used within their normal operating conditions and limitations and are properly maintained according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
The questions leading this article will ultimately depend on what type of motor or appliance we are talking about. Some motors are designed to last for many decades. For example, a motor that is used on a pump for the purpose of cooling down a nuclear reactor. This type of motor must literally last forever and will likely only be replaced due to the increasing probability of failure over time. Brushed motors - still very common in many applications, require frequent maintenance in the form of brush replacement. Brushless motors alleviate this problem and will therefore potentially extend the motor's life. In the case of electric vehicles, there are many car manufacturers making big advances in the longevity of their car motors and batteries. For the purposes of this article, let's look at washing machine motors.
A direct drive washing machine motor will have a life expectancy of at least ten years, possibly up to 15, although of course there may be some minor repairs needed during that time. Being the type of appliance that is not frequently bought, consumers want the best they can get (or afford) at the time of purchase and will expect it to go the distance. Of course, there are other components such as electronics, software, and controllers, etc., that may affect the life expectancy of the washer, but used correctly, the motor should last the duration. In some cases, washing machine motors can be repurposed when they have outlived other remaining parts of the appliance. After refurbishment, the motor may live on in another form for a good few more years.
The advancement of electric motor technology, brought to life by way of new materials, manufacturing processes and product designs, ultimately means that the technology is being refined constantly, and with each iteration comes further advancements in areas of efficiency, noise reduction, size, and many more.
Some factors that can lead to breakdowns and ultimately affect the life expectancy of an electric motor include:
In addition, things like pollution, vibrations, insulation failures and electrical overload can also add to shortening the life of an electric motor.
Even though electric appliances such as direct drive washing machines require very little maintenance due to the fact they contain much fewer moving parts, routine maintenance is always advisable. Much like any other machine, regular maintenance should be performed on an electric motor, in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, to help it continue to work correctly and efficiently for many years. Things like dust or debris buildup or changing to heavy usage could make a big impact on the motor and lead to premature failure or expensive repairs, so mitigating these scenarios can be hugely beneficial.
As stated, the life expectancy of an electric motor can depend on what type of appliance or machine it is, along with its expected usage. There are many factors that can contribute to premature aging of the motor, but if used correctly and with recommended maintenance, the life expectancy should be excellent.