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New efficiency classes for low-voltage three-phase motors.


Along with the international discussion on energy efficiency a worldwide harmonized energy efficiency classification system has been established for low-voltage three-phase asynchronous motors.

The efficiency factor defines the efficiency of motors when transforming electrical into mechanical energy. For many years low-voltage three-phase motors in the European Union have been sold in three efficiency classes EFF3, EFF2 and EFF1. Aside from this, many different efficiency classification systems have been introduced and well-proven in many countries all over the world. They unfortunately differ from each other in terms of scope, wording and values.


That was the reason for the International Electrotechnical Commission IEC to develop and publish an energy efficiency standard which replaces all previous national issues. In parallel IEC developed and issued a new standard for determining the motor efficiency.

The new standard IEC 60034-30 defines and harmonizes worldwide the efficiency classes IE1, IE2 and IE3 for low-voltage three-phase motors. 


Previous efficiency classes of motors in Europe according to CEMEP (1998)

The voluntary agreement proposed by CEMEP (European Comittee of Manufacturers and Power Electronics) and the European Commission defined three efficiency classes:

• EFF3 = Motors with a low efficiency level
• EFF2 = Motors with improved efficiency level
• EFF1 = Motors with a high efficiency level


Mentioned above efficiency classes were defined for general purpose motors with synchronous speed 3000rpm or 1500rpm and with rated power from 1,1kW to 90kW (400V – 50Hz).

The agreed minimum levels of the respective classes are based on efficiency measurements according to the old IEC 60034-2 standard.


New international efficiency classes of motors (IE = International Efficiency)

The new IEC 60034-30 standard defines worldwide the following efficiency classes of low-voltage three-phase asynchronous motors in the power range from 0.75 kW to 375 kW:

• IE1 = Standard Efficiency (comparable to EFF2)
• IE2 = High Efficiency (comparable to EFF1)
• IE3 = Premium Efficiency


The higher the efficiency class the higher is the complexity of motor production and the higher is the amount of material to be used (as for instance copper). The motor price will increase accordingly. In relation to the motor life time the purchase price is only a few percentage points and due the saved energy cost the pay-back period is short.

From now motors can be offered and sold with the new classes IE1, IE2 and IE3. In that case the efficiency has to be determined according to the new measuring standard (IEC 60034-2-1). The old European designations EFF3, EFF2 and EFF1 will not become void, but will step by step disappear from the market.

According to the Comission Regulation (EC) No 640/2009 (introduced in July 2009) the required efficiency class of general-purpose motors (introduced to the market in future) will be as follows:

- from 16th June 2011motors must meet IE2

- from 1st January 2015 motors with a rated output between 7.5 and 375kW must meet IE3 if single speed or IE2 if used with a variable speed drive

- from 1st January 2017 motors with a rated output between 0.75 and 375kW must meet IE3 if single speed or IE2 if used with a variable speed drive.




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