Can a motor run with 2 phases?

Can a motor run with 2 phases?

The operation of a motor with only two phases is possible, but there are some important considerations and potential issues to be aware of. Let’s explore this topic in detail.

Working with Two Phases

Yes, a motor can run on two phases, but certain conditions must be met for it to operate effectively. The phases should have a phase difference of 90 degrees and an appropriate winding sequence. One example of a motor working with two phases is the common ceiling fan, which often uses a capacitor to create the required phase difference in its winding.

Challenges of Running on Two Phases

While it is possible for the motor to run on two phases, there are some drawbacks to be aware of:

  1. Increased Power Consumption: Operating the motor with only two phases can lead to increased power consumption, which can result in higher energy costs.
  2. Noise Generation: The motor may start making more noise during operation due to the uneven intake of power from the two phases.
  3. Starting Difficulty: Running the motor on two phases during startup can cause additional strain on the motor, potentially leading to starting difficulties.

Single-Phasing: Abnormal Operation

In the case of a three-phase motor, if one phase is opened or disconnected in any way, it can lead to an abnormal operation known as single-phasing. When single-phasing occurs:

  • The motor draws more current from the remaining two phases.
  • This increased current can cause overheating of the motor and the other two phases.
  • Prolonged single-phasing can damage the motor over time.

Starting and Running Requirements

While it is possible to run a motor with two phases, it is important to note that a three-phase motor typically requires all three phases of the main power supply to start and operate efficiently. The starting process relies on the interactions of all three phases to initiate motion.

However, once the motor has started, it may be possible to continue running it with only two phases by cutting one phase of the main line. In such cases, the motor will work but with reduced load capacity, as the two remaining phases compensate for the missing phase.

Considerations for Different Motor Classes

The heat produced during operation can vary based on the motor class. Class E induction motors may generate higher levels of heat, while motors of other classes may produce less heat and withstand a considerable load.


While it is technically possible for a motor to run with two phases, it is not recommended for extended periods due to the potential drawbacks and risks involved. For optimal performance and efficiency, a three-phase motor should operate with all three phases connected properly. If any issues with the motor arise, it is best to consult a professional motor rewinder or repairer for proper diagnosis and resolution.

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