New Energy-Saving Fan Motor Aims to Disrupt Commercial Refrigeration

DN Staff

July 30, 2015

4 Min Read
New Energy-Saving Fan Motor Aims to Disrupt Commercial Refrigeration

There are various ways for end users of industrial machinery to reduce their energy use. While most organizations, under mandate either by internal policies or state or federal rules, can choose to reduce power consumption in any way they wish, it makes sense to look at machine drives since this is often where the most energy can be saved. Replacing older machinery with new, higher-efficiency equipment is also an option, but can be an expensive one.

QM Power, a Missouri-based manufacturer of electric motors, generators, and actuators, is attempting to enable both. It recently publicized data around its Q-Sync permanent-magnet synchronous fan motor with an integrated motor drive installation for two commercial refrigerator cases at a Kansas City supermarket, showing 27.38% less watt draw, 55.74% better power factor, and a net 53% reduction in amp draw/total energy usage compared with an electronically commutated motor from a major supplier.

Verified by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy (DoE), the QM Power motor amounted to taking one out of every two fan motors off the grid for the commercial refrigeration application.


The Q-Sync’s electronic control circuit gets the motor to speed quickly and drops out of the circuit once synchronous speed is reached. It works on an AC waveform, avoiding AC-to-DC power conversion to elevate efficiency and power factor.

Although QM Power was hesitant to provide further details on its technology, the ORNL- and DoE-backed results gives the company the confidence to believe that Q-Sync will launch a wave of fan motor retrofits, with end users even potentially choosing to swap out ECMs in their applications.

QM Power is currently working with the DoE to demonstrate the technology in up to 50 different grocery-store sites, according to company president and CEO, P.J. Piper. The UL-approved synchronous motor solution is meant to be a drop-in replacement to ECMs, according to the company.

The company is one of four emerging energy-saving technologies receiving up to $6 million in funding from the Energy Department. The projects are aimed at showcasing energy-saving technologies for the commercial building industry.

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“We’ve already got projects in Kansas City, California, and Texas,” Piper told Design News. “The DoE hired Oak Ridge National Laboratory to validate the results. Of the first projects we’ve already completed, we’ve reduced amps by over 50 percent compared to ECMs, through our solution’s synchronous design. The advantage is that, unlike ECMs, the Q-Sync doesn’t require power conversion from AC to DC and back to AC,” he said.


Piper said that any equipment with a fan-related application could benefit. QM Power’s first offering is for fractional horsepower applications (9-to-12-watt fan motors), but it hopes to work its way up to 1-HP motors. The DoE and USDA are sponsoring QM Power in programs to scale into these additional air handling applications.

“What a lot of these industries are coping with now is DoE minimum efficiency regulations by type of equipment,” he told Design News. “The technologies exist to help them reduce energy, and there’s a bit of a carrot-and-stick thing where the utilities are also giving rebates to induce customers to reduce energy and use more energy-efficient equipment.”

Piper said that with a power factor that is 50% higher than that of ECMs, QM Power can offer a longer warranty on its motors because they’re more reliable. He added that they’re priced the same as ECMs.

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Piper noted that in the future, the QM Power solution can benefit compressor and other variable-speed applications. Energy-intensive data centers could get the kinds of power savings they are eager to implement either for regulatory compliance or energy rebates.

“What we’ve really invented is an innovative, low-cost way to start high-efficiency synchronous motors that avoid the continuous power conversion losses in ECM solutions,”Piper said.

Tracey Schelmetic graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a technology and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Today, she is a freelance writer specializing in manufacturing and technology, telecommunications, and enterprise software.

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