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Electric motors


Electric motors

Measuring efficiency of electric motors

How International Standards for electric motors are used to support policy and examples of countries using these International Standards in their regulations or referring to these

provided by Rita Werle and Conrad Brunner


The IEC has developed an internationally applicable testing Standard IEC 60034-2-1 for electric motors and a classification scheme IEC 60034-30-1 with four levels of motor efficiency ("IE-code"):

  • IE1 Standard efficiency,
  • IE2 High efficiency,
  • IE3 Premium efficiency
  • IE4 Super premium efficiency.

The IE-code and its efficiency levels create a basic vocabulary for governments to determine the efficiency level for their minimum energy performance standards (MEPS).

  • The European Union sets motor MEPS levels (Directive 640/2009) at IE3 (or IE2 in combination with a variable frequency drive) from 2015 for smaller motors and from 2017 covering also larger motors (see Table 1 for details).
  • The USA was the first country in the world to set MEPS for motors. In 1997 (Energy Policy Act) the minimum required level was set at the equivalent of IE2. In 2007 (Energy Independence and Security Act) MEPS were raised to the equivalent of the IE3 level (NEMA Premium). NEMA Premium and IE3 are coordinated as efficiency levels, the USA currently recognizes in its legal requirements the national testing standard IEEE 112B and the Canadian test standard CSA390 but not yet the IEC test Standard IEC 60034-2-1 (the differences are minimal).
  • Australia and New Zealand set MEPS levels at IE2 in 2000 (AS/NZS 1359.5-2000), effective since 2001 based on the IEC test Standard IEC 61972 from 2002 (a predecessor of IEC 60034-2-1).
  • China decided in 2002 (GB 18693) for small and medium three-phase asynchronous motors to start with motor MEPS. The standard has been updated since in 2006 and 2012 to harmonize with IEC Standards and to move the MEPS level step by step from IE1 to IE2 and IE3.
  • Japan decided to harmonize its national JIS with IEC efficiency classes and to include electric motors at the IE2 and IE3 level in its Toprunner programme in 2014.
  • India has a comparative efficiency label since 2009 and a voluntary standard on IE2 level since 2012.

Many countries use their own national test standards while at the same time also reference the international test Standard IEC 60034-2-1.

Motor energy efficiency measurement standards used around the world. Review of Energy Efficiency Measurement Standards for Induction Motors in the Context of the IECEE Global Efficiency Labeling Initiative

Source: P. Angers, A. Baghurst, M. Doppelbauer in EEMODS'13.


Today, countries consuming more than 70% of the global electricity have set MEPS for motors either on IE2 or by 2015/17 on IE3 level. This is a high level of international harmonization for a globally traded product, recognizing at the same time that MEPS levels can be different according to the market situation of countries. The barriers to trade are reduced through the transparent nomenclature and definitions of the IE-code (MEPS levels at IE1, IE2 or IE3).


MEPS worldwide


Source: A+B International, 2014.


Motor manufacturers are producing and selling electric motors across many countries. As test standards, efficiency levels and certification schemes vary from country to country, manufacturers initiated the Global Motor Labeling Programme under the IECEE. The goal of the programme is to have one recognized test method (IEC 60034-2-1), one test report format, one certification process and one label for electric motors in all participating countries. Thus, each motor would have an "international passport": once certified for one particular level of energy efficiency in one country that would be recognized in another (participating) country as well. This would also make international cooperation among different countries on enforcement of regulations also possible.




Angers, P., A. Baghurst, M. Doppelbauer (2013), “Motor energy efficiency measurement standards used around the world. Review of Energy Efficiency Measurement Standards for Induction Motors in the Context of the IECEE Global Efficiency Labeling Initiative”, EEMODS'13.


IEA (2011), 25 Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations, 2011 Update, IEA/OECD, Paris


IEA Energy Policies and Measures Database


Institute for Industrial Productivity (IIP) Industrial Efficiency Policy Database


Peglau, R, (2014), Inputs provided.