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Understanding the Impact of Pole Numbers on Permanent Magnet Motor Performance: From Speed to Torque

The characteristics and capabilities of a permanent magnet motor can vary dramatically based on numerous design decisions. One of these crucial factors is the number of poles the motor’s magnet rotor contains. In this article, we’ll explore how altering the number of poles impacts critical motor performance elements such as speed, torque, size, cost, efficiency, and operational smoothness.

The Poles in a Permanent Magnet Motor

A permanent magnet motor is so named because its rotor contains one or more permanent magnets. These magnets interact with the motor’s stator windings to generate motion. The number of magnetic poles on the rotor is a crucial factor in determining the motor’s operational characteristics. The poles can range from a mere 2 to as many as 18 or more, depending on the design. But how does the pole number alter the motor’s performance?

Speed and Pole Number

In a permanent magnet motor, the relationship between the number of poles and the motor’s speed is inverse. The higher the number of poles, the lower the motor’s maximum speed. It’s crucial to note that while this relationship is valid for permanent magnet motors, it’s different from that of AC induction motors, where the motor speed also depends on the AC power frequency.

Torque and Pole Number

On the other hand, more poles can lead to higher torque at lower speeds. The reason for this is simple: more poles mean more magnetic fields interacting with the stator windings, producing a stronger torque. Applications that require high starting torques or smooth low-speed operation often favor permanent magnet motors with a higher pole count.

Size, Cost, and Pole Number

Motor size and cost are generally directly related to the number of poles. More poles require additional materials and a more complex rotor and stator winding design, which leads to a larger and more expensive motor. However, the higher cost can be justified if the application requires the superior torque or smoother operation provided by a higher pole count.

Efficiency and Pole Number

A higher number of poles can potentially decrease efficiency due to increased magnetic reversals, leading to more opportunities for losses like eddy current and hysteresis losses. However, advances in motor design and materials can help mitigate these losses, making higher pole count motors more efficient.

Smoothness of Operation and Pole Number

Motors with more poles can offer a smoother operation, especially at lower speeds, because they have more power cycles per revolution. This can be advantageous in precision applications where smooth, steady motion is critical.


The number of poles in a permanent magnet motor plays a pivotal role in its performance characteristics. While fewer poles might be favorable for high-speed, low-cost applications, more poles are better suited for high-torque, smooth operation at lower speeds. The choice ultimately depends on the specific requirements of the application for which the motor is being used. Understanding these trade-offs is key to selecting the right motor for your needs.


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Jonah Jin

Jonah Jin
Managing Director

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