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Selecting The Right Conveyor Motor

Specify the right motor for even the most challenging, heaviest loads

Conveyor Inquiry

powered belt conveyor

Electric motors are available to suit most conveying applications and have multiple variables to consider when making a selection. Understanding the terms used with electric motors is important to making a selection.

Basic Electric Motor Terms:

  • Horsepower: Determined by the equipment requirements, total load, operating conditions, and speed.
  • Voltage: The voltage of a motor is determined by the supply to which it is attached. The common voltages are 115, 200, 208, 230, 460, 575.
  • Phase: The most common power supplies are either single-phase or three-phase.
  • Common Motor Types: Totally Enclosed (TE), Totally Enclosed Non-Ventilated (TENV), Energy Efficient (EE or XL), or Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled (TEFC).
  • Cycles: 60 Hz (cycles per second) AC power is common throughout the US and 50 Hz is common in many foreign countries.

An example of the motor designation is 1/2 HP- 230V- 3 Ph.60 Hz.  TEFC or  1/2HP/230V/3Ph/60 Hz. TEFC.

This is translated as 1/2 Horsepower, 230 Volts, 3 Phase, 60 Hertz, Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled.

Designating Horsepower

Horsepower ratings (as provided in our conveyor site) are calculated according to the standard speed listed for that conveyor. When increasing the speed, more horsepower may be needed. It typically takes twice as much horsepower to move a given package at 130 FPM than at 65 FPM. The formula below may help to determine the approximate power requirements:


– Model TA, 11 ft long requires 1/2 Hp motor at 65 Feet per minute for a total load of 320 pounds.
– You desire your conveyor to operate at 90 Feet Per Minute.
– Calculate as follows: (1/2 X 90) / 65 = .69
– You should select the next highest horsepower or 3/4 Hp.

This formula may be used to give you a good estimate, but we can always help you designate the right motor. Ask us to do a complete horsepower calculation is you have any concerns. Some notes on speed & horsepower:

  • The service life of a conveyor running at a higher speed may be shortened considerably.
  • Most conveyors are not designed to run over 200 FPM. When they do, some parts may need to be balanced to prevent excessive vibration, and special bearings may be required.
  • The type of belting used on a conveyor may also need to be considered.
  • NOTE: Pallet handling conveyors generally operate at 30 FPM and 30 may be substituted in the denominator of the formula

Motor Types

  • Totally Enclosed: A motor enclosure, which prevents free exchange of air between the inside and the outside of the enclosure but is not airtight. This is the standard motor on many conveyors
  • Totally Enclosed Fan-Cooled: Provides for exterior cooling by means of a fan integral with the motor, but external to the enclosed parts
  • Totally Enclosed Non-Ventilated: Has no provisions for external cooling of the enclosed parts. The motor is cooled by heat radiation from the exterior surfaces to the surrounding atmosphere
  • Energy Efficient: Energy efficiency motors are specially designed to be more effective at converting electrical input to mechanical output

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Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.

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