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WhatsTheDifferenceBetweenBrushDCAndBrushlessDC
Motors?
ElectronicDesign
MatDirjish
MatDirjish
Thu,2012021600:17

Themotorandmotorcontrolmarketsarethrivinginanumberofareas,particularlymedicalandrobotic
applications.Also,thereisarichdemandforsmall,efficient,highandlowtorque,andhighandlowpower
motorsintheautomotivesector.

Theseapplicationscanchoosefrombrushdcmotors,brushlessdc(BLDC)motors,oracombinationof
both.MostmotorsoperateinaccordancewithFaradayslawofinduction(seehere).Still,therearekey
differencesbetweenthesemotorsandintheemploymentopportunitiesthatawaitthem.

TableofContents

1. BrushDCMotors
2. BrushlessDCMotors
3. ToBrush
4. OrNotToBrush
5. TheChoiceLiesInOurApps
6. References

BrushDCMotors
Aroundsincethelate1800s,dcbrushmotorsareoneofthesimplesttypesofmotors.Sansthedcsupplyor
batteryrequiredforoperation,atypicalbrushdcmotorconsistsofanarmature(a.k.a.,rotor),a
commutator,brushes,anaxle,andafieldmagnet(Fig.1)(seeBrushedDCMotorFundamentals).
1.Simpleinconstruction,ageneralpurposedcbrushmotorincludesanarmatureorrotor,acommutator,brushes,anaxle,andafield
magnet.Naturally,abatteryorpowersupplyisrequired.

Related

OptionsEnhancePopularDCMotors

InterfaceCircuitAllowsUsersToControlDCMotor'sSpeed

DCMotorsComeWithPlanetaryGearboxes

MotorDriver/ControllerLineExpands

Themotorspropertiesaredeterminedbythematerialitsmadeof,thenumberofcoilswoundaroundit,
andthedensityofthecoils.Thearmatureorrotorisanelectromagnet,andthefieldmagnetisapermanent
magnet.Thecommutatorisasplitringdevicewrappedaroundtheaxelthatphysicallycontactsthebrushes,
whichareconnectedtooppositepolesofthepowersource(Fig.2).

2.Asplitringwrappingaroundtheaxle,thecommutatormakesphysicalcontactwiththebrushes,whichconnecttooppositepolesofa
powersourcetodeliverpositiveandnegativechargestothecommutator.

Thebrusheschargethecommutatorinverselyinpolaritytothepermanentmagnet,inturncausingthe
armaturetorotate.Therotationsdirection,clockwiseand/orcounterclockwise,canbereversedeasilyby
reversingthepolarityofthebrushes,i.e.,reversingtheleadsonthebattery.

BrushlessDCMotors
Intermsofdifferences,thenameisadeadgiveaway.BLDCmotorslackbrushes.Buttheirdesign
differencesarebitmoresophisticated(seeBrushlessDC(BLDC)MotorFundamentals).ABLDCmotor
mountsitspermanentmagnets,usuallyfourormore,aroundtheperimeteroftherotorinacrosspattern
(Fig.3).

3.Viewedfromthetop,thisbrushlessdc(BLDC)motoremploysfourpermanentmagnetsmountedtothetopofitsrotor,eliminating
theneedforconnections,acommutator,andbrushes.

EfficiencyisaprimarysellingfeatureforBLDCmotors.Becausetherotoristhesolebearerofthemagnets,
itrequiresnopower,i.e.,noconnections,nocommutator,andnobrushes.Inplaceofthese,themotor
employscontrolcircuitry.Todetectwheretherotorisatcertaintimes,BLDCmotorsemploy,alongwith
controllers,rotaryencodersoraHallsensor(seeBrushlessDCMotorControlMadeEasy).

BLDCmotorsaresynchronousmotors,whichmeanstheirrotorsandstatorsturnatthesamefrequency.
Theycomeinsingle,dual,andtriphaseconfigurations(seeBrushlessDC(BLDC)Motor).

ToBrush
Whenitcomestoalooselydefinedrangeofbasicapplications,onecoulduseeitherabrushorbrushless
motor.Andlikeanycomparableandcompetingtechnologies,brushandbrushlessmotorshavetheirpros
andcons.

Ontheproside,brushmotorsaregenerallyinexpensiveandreliable.Theyalsooffersimpletwowire
controlandrequirefairlysimplecontrolornocontrolatallinfixedspeeddesigns.Ifthebrushesare
replaceable,thesemotorsalsoboastasomewhatextendedoperationallife.Andbecausetheyneedfew
externalcomponentsornoexternalcomponentsatall,brushmotorstendtohandleroughenvironments
reliably.
Forthedownside,brushmotorsrequireperiodicmaintenanceasbrushesmustbecleanedandreplacedfor
continuedoperation,rulingthemoutforcriticalmedicaldesigns.Also,ifhightorqueisrequired,brush
motorsfallabitflat.Asspeedincreases,brushfrictionincreasesandviabletorquedecreases.

However,torquemaynotbeanissueinsomeapplicationsandcouldactuallybedesirable.Forexample,
electrictoothbrushesrequirehigherspeedswithdecreasingtorque,whichisgoodforthebrushandyour
teethandgums.

Otherdisadvantagesofbrushdcmotorsincludeinadequateheatdissipationcausedbytherotorlimitations,
highrotorinertia,lowspeedrangeduetolimitationsimposedbythebrushes,andelectromagnetic
interference(EMI)generatedbybrusharcing.

OrNotToBrush
BLDCmotorshaveanumberofadvantagesovertheirbrushbrothers.Forone,theyremoreaccuratein
positioningapps,relyingonHalleffectpositionsensorsforcommutation.Theyalsorequirelessand
sometimesnomaintenanceduetothelackofbrushes.

Theybeatbrushmotorsinthespeed/torquetradeoffwiththeirabilitytomaintainorincreasetorqueat
variousspeeds.Importantly,theresnopowerlossacrossbrushes,makingthecomponentssignificantly
moreefficient.OtherBLDCprosincludehighoutputpower,smallsize,betterheatdissipation,higherspeed
ranges,andlownoise(mechanicalandelectrical)operation.

Nothingisperfect,though.BLDCmotorshaveahighercostofconstruction.Theyalsorequirecontrol
strategiesthatcanbebothcomplexandexpensive.And,theyrequireacontrollerthatcancostalmostas
muchasifnotmorethantheBLDCmotoritgoverns.

TheChoiceLiesInOurApps
Thebottomlinesformakingachoicebetweencomponentsofanytypearethetypeofapplicationandthe
costcutofffortheendproduct.Forinstance,atoyrobottargetingthesixtoeightyearoldmarketmay
requirefourtoninemotors.Theycanallbebrushorbrushlessdccomponentsoramixtureofboth.

Ifthisrobotonlyperformsbasicmovementsorispartofanintroductorykit,theresnoneedtogowith
longlifeBLDCsthatcostmorethanbrushedcounterparts.Thetoyorkitwillprobablyendupinthe
recyclingbinwellbeforethebrushmotorshaveburnedout.

Typicalbrusheddcmotorapplicationsincludemotorizedtoys,appliances,andcomputerperipherals.Auto
makersenlistthemforpowerwindows,seats,andotherincabindesignsbecauseoftheirlowcostand
simpledesign.

BLDCmotorsaremoreversatile,mainlybecauseoftheirsavvyinthespeedandtorquedepartments.They
alsocomeincompactpackages,makingthemviableforavarietyofcompactdesigns.Typicalappsinclude
computerharddrives,mechanicalbasedmediaplayers,electroniccomponentcoolingfans,cordlesspower
tools,HVACandrefrigeration,industrialandmanufacturingsystems,anddirectdriveturntables.

TheautomotiveindustryalsoputshigherpowerBLDCmotorstoworkinelectricandhybridvehicles.These
motorsareessentiallyacsynchronousmotorswithpermanentmagnetrotors.Otheruniqueusesinclude
electricbicycleswheremotorsfitinthewheelsorhubcaps,industrialpositioningandactuation,assembly
robots,andlinearactuatorsforvalvecontrol.

References
1. FaradaysLaw
2. MichaelFaraday(17911867)
3. ZnobeThophileGramme
4. Condit,Reston,BrushedDCMotorFundamentals
5. Yedamale,Padmaraja,BrushlessDC(BLDC)MotorFundamentals
6. Brown,Ward,BrushlessDCMotorControlMadeEasy
7. BrushlessDC(BLDC)Motor

SourceURL:http://electronicdesign.com/electromechanical/whatsdifferencebetweenbrushdcand
brushlessdcmotors