Where are these mystery motors?

What does a hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, computer, and a blueray player have in common? They all contain electric motors. However, if you ask your friends or parents if they have seen an electric motor most will say they don’t see them on a daily basis like they see a light bulb or a smartphone. The main reason is that an electric motor is usually found inside appliances like a hair dryer or a blender. If you do take a walk through your home, you’ll probably find as many as 20 or 25 motors hidden in electrical devices, appliances, and toys.

A motor turns electrical energy into mechanical energy. As such, a motor can take electricity and turn it into mechanical advantage that can be used by us in our everyday living.

Once we understand that a motor uses electricity to function, we can then introduce the second requirement for a motor and that is magnetism. An electric motor uses both magnetism and electric currents to work. You can classify motors in various ways. One of the major classifications has to do with the types of motors and the current they use – the first is called Alternating Current (AC) and the second one is called Direct Current (DC). In this site we mainly consider and build those that use DC motors driven by batteries or what is called a “brick.” A brick is an electrical device designed by Electrical Engineers that converts AC to DC.

Michael Faraday, an English scientist, began his career in chemistry. Eventually he made his greatest contributions to technology and science in the study of electricity, particularly electrolysis. In 1821 he invented and built the first electric motor. Joseph Henry was also working with motors. Faraday and Henry have both been credited with building the first electric motors.

To sum up – motors are used everywhere and we cannot live without them. They are used in cars (to help start them or as fans for air conditioning) or in many appliances and toys. So, even though many people cannot identify where motors are located, the electric motor has become a very useful and practical invention.


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