How Do Electric Motors Work?

Posted - July 11, 2023

Electric motors are everywhere. They are essential to a plethora of industries, including (but not limited to) power generation, oil and gas, mining and aggregate, chemical, pulp and paper, and industrial manufacturing. But how do they actually work? Let’s talk about it. 

Electric motors function using the principles of electromagnetism. In short, they use magnets to generate movement. There are two main types of electric motors: alternating current and direct current. AC motors and DC motors have different operating mechanisms. 

DC Motors

A DC motor is made up of a stator, a rotor, a commutator, a power source, and brushes. The stator makes up the outer part of the motor. It is a magnet that does not move. The rotor—a coil mounted on an axle, which is connected to the power source—is inside the stator. The rotor spins inside the stator. The commutator reverses the current each time the rotor makes a half-rotation, which allows it to make full rotations. This, in turn, allows the engine to generate mechanical power. 

AC Motors

An AC motor is made up of a stator, a rotor, a solid axle, coils, and a squirrel cage. The stator consists of a ring of electromagnets, which create a rotating magnetic field. Inside the stator is a “squirrel cage”, a set of rotor bars connected to two rings. The rotating magnetic field produced by the stator induces the rotor to spin as well, trying to “catch up” and reach stasis. The electromagnetic field always rotates slightly faster than the rotor, however, so rather than reaching stasis, it will continue to spin, eventually creating the torque required to generate mechanical power. 

In need of an electric motor for your industrial application? BK Industrial Solutions distributes Baldor electric motors to customers throughout Texas and Louisiana. To learn more about our product offerings, contact us today. Call (409) 838-1641, send an email to, or click here to request a quote.