What is a Farm Duty Motor?

May 16, 2023

If you’ve been in the business of purchasing and using electric motors, you’ve likely come across the “Farm Duty” motor category. Did you wonder what the difference might be? Why do farms need specific motor types? Does my application need a farm duty motor?

While many electric motors can be used in agricultural applications, there are some key features “Farm Duty” motors have that help them work well in the harsh and rugged applications found on the farm. Below are the features that help make these workhorses handle anything you can throw at them.

Common Farming Motor Applications

Sourcing Farm Duty Motors in Canada

Check out our interview with Saskatoon's Brent Loucks for Cory's agriculture motor advice. Cory covers supply chain basics when sourcing farm duty motors in Saskatchewan.

What Does Farm Duty Motor Mean?

Farm duty electric motors have specific construction and capabilities including:

  1. AC Single-Phase Power
  2. TEFC Enclosure
  3. High Starting Torque
  4. Manual Reset Thermal Overload Protection
  5. Additional Non-Standard Features

1. AC Single-Phase Power

The standard farm duty electric motor runs on 115V or 230V single-phase power. Historically, farms were not fed with three-phase power that comes from the grid, and as such, three-phase motors were rarely required. Single-phase power is still to this day the most common power source on farms, so farm duty motors are still designed for single-phase use to avoid needing to add a phase converter to your circuit.

Of course, there are now many agricultural applications where three-phase power is available and even required. So, you can find three-phase farm duty motors on the market.

2. TEFC Enclosure

The standard farm duty motor is designed and manufactured with a totally enclosed, fan-cooled enclosure (TEFC). The TEFC enclosure protects the motor’s critical internal components and houses a shaft-mounted cooling fan to off-put heat. Often rated at IP54 or IP55, this enclosure type provides an added layer of protection against contaminants like dust and water reaching the internal components and causing damage. This added protection offers you the opportunity to leave your motor in place year-round.

3. High Starting Torque

Standard farm duty motors are rated with a high starting torque, often accompanied with a start capacitor (but not always) to increase the motor’s torque at start-up and mitigate any current issues with cycling the motor on and off rapidly. The high starting torque allows the motor to start under heavy load conditions, which is quite common in harsh and rugged farm applications.

In the past, electric motors applied to agricultural systems have not been up to the task and failed due to overload. Farm duty motors are now “over-built” to meet and exceed the demands of life on the farm.

4. Manual Reset Thermal Overload Protection

The standard farm duty motor is equipped with a manual reset thermal overload protector. Meaning, if an overload situation or someone or something were to get caught up in the attached equipment, the motor will trip out and not restart unless done so manually. If the motor were to restart automatically, it could cause additional damage to the driven equipment or injure your livestock or, worse, you.

5. Additional Non-Standard Features

While the following features are not standard on all farm duty motors, they are features that we see more and more often. Many farmers seek out motors with these features as they bring many benefits like added protections and cost savings.

  • Duty Cycle: Duty cycle is a rating you’ll find on the nameplate of your electric motor. It is the ratio of time for which the motor can run vs the time it needs to be turned off to prevent excessive wear or critical damage. Increasingly, farm duty motors are designed with higher duty cycle ratios or are even being rated for continuous duty. So, no matter how often you use your motor, whether seasonally, frequently, or continually, it will be up to the task at hand.
  • Efficiency: Electric motor manufacturers are designing and releasing increasingly more efficient motors all the time. Gone are the days where you have no options when it comes to energy efficiency. Brands like WEG and Baldor farm duty motors are paving the way to energy efficiency for the electric motor industry. Regal Rexnord also offers a popular line of Leeson farm duty motors with standard efficiency ratings. The purchase price of your motor only accounts for about 2% of its lifetime costs, while upwards of 97% of its total lifetime operating costs goes to energy consumption alone. An improvement in energy efficiency could save you thousands over a single motor’s lifetime. Try out an efficiency pay-back calculator to determine the cost savings you’d receive by investing in a motor that meets or exceeds NEMA premium efficiency standards.
  • Bi-Directional Rotation: Depending on your application, you may need a motor capable of providing a driving force in both a clockwise and counterclockwise rotation. Not all motors have this bi-directional ability, so you must ensure that your motor selection is capable of being reversed before making your purchase.

What are the Top Farm Duty Motor Brands?

Some of the most frequently requested farm duty brands are Leeson farm duty, Baldor farm duty, and US Motors (Nidec) farm duty. For a full overview of each brand, check our our article on top farm duty motors in Canada.


The motors on your farm need to be both versatile and reliable; it’s likely going to be doing a tough job. Finding a motor capable of handling the rugged environment on your farm doesn’t need to be an impossible task. Select a farm duty motor; they come standard with features that allow it to handle everything you can throw at it.

Here at eMotors Direct, we stock Canada’s top trusted farm duty motor brands. Shop over 1800 SKUs today.

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