Column-by-Column: Locked Rotor Amps and KVA

In our column-by-column review of single-phase motor specifications, we are finally at the last two columns on page 13 of the Franklin Electric AIM Manual. These two columns are Locked Rotor Amps and KVA Code.

Locked Rotor Amps, sometimes abbreviated LRA, is exactly what the name implies. If the rotor is locked and can’t move while electrical power is applied, the motor will draw this many amps. Locked Rotor Amps are much higher than running amps, generally around five times max running amps. For example, maximum load for a 1.5 hp, 2-wire motor are 13.1 amps. Locked Rotor Amps for this same motor are 66.2 amps.

An example of when the motor draws Locked Rotor Amps is in the case of a bound pump. In this scenario, the motor’s overloads will trip and take the motor offline in a few seconds to protect the motor.

However, another, much more common instance where the motor draws Locked Rotor Amps is at start up. That is, every time a motor is started, it pulls Locked Rotor Amps for a split second. The reason is that at the moment electrical power is applied, the rotor hasn’t started to rotate yet. So, for that instant, the motor thinks the rotor is locked. Once the motor starts to turn, amperage falls to something between full load and maximum amps. Once again, this happens very quickly, in a few tenths of a second.

Knowing the value of Locked Rotor Amps can be important in some installations, especially in terms making sure we’ve got the appropriate electrical service. For example, many older homes still have 50 amp service. So a 4-inch, 2-wire, 115 volt, ½ hp motor that pulls 64.4 amps at start up could potentially fail to start. There simply isn’t enough electrical current available to get the motor started. The equivalent 230 V motor in this case would be a much better option.

Locked Rotor Amps is also an important aspect of sizing reduced voltage starters (RVS). Reduced voltage starting is one type of soft starting, and these devices “ramp up” the voltage versus applying the full voltage all at once. This greatly reduces the Locked Rotor Amps at start-up.

Reduced voltage starters are rarely used with the single-phase motors listed here. However, if they were, this is where KVA Code comes in, and is used to specify the size of reduced voltage starters. Since reduced voltage starters are much more common and important with higher horsepower, 3-phase motors, we’ll save explaining where the KVA Code comes from when we discuss 3-phase motor specifications.

That wraps up the eighteen columns on page 13 of the AIM Manual. Next week, we’ll jump over to page 14 and start covering fuse and circuit breaker sizing.

For more help in the field concerning troubleshooting and installation, call our Technical Service Hotline at 800.348.2420 or email at hotline@fele.com.