Motors In Wet Locations And Outdoors

Humidity and wet locations, as well as different factors, may hurt the efficiency of electric motors.
Getting wet can destroy electric motors. I have come through motors completely burnt out due to water ingress to the motor windings.


In this article, we will discuss the effect of humidity and moisture on an electric motor.

What Happens, If An Electric Motor Gets Wet?

If an electric motor gets wet, it can lead to several potential issues and malfunctions.

The severity of the consequences depends on the type of motor, the amount of water exposure, and how quickly the issue is addressed.

Here are some common problems that can occur when an electric motor gets wet:

  1. Short Circuits: Water is a good conductor of electricity, and if it enters the motor housing, it can cause short circuits. This can damage the motor windings and other components.

  2. Corrosion: Water exposure can lead to corrosion of metal components within the motor. Corrosion can affect the efficiency of the motor and lead to long-term damage.

  3. Insulation Breakdown: Water can compromise the insulation of the motor windings. Insulation breakdown can result in decreased resistance and increased current flow, which may lead to further damage.

  4. Rust: The presence of water can lead to the development of rust on metal parts, affecting the motor’s performance and longevity.

  5. Bearing Damage: Water entering the motor housing can damage the bearings. Rust and corrosion can cause increased friction and wear, reducing the lifespan of the motor.

  6. Reduced Efficiency: Even if the motor continues to operate after getting wet, its efficiency may be compromised. The presence of water can increase resistance, reduce performance, and potentially lead to overheating.

To minimize the impact of water exposure on an electric motor, it’s crucial to take prompt action. If a motor gets wet, follow these general steps:

  1. Disconnect Power: Turn off the power supply to the motor immediately to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of electrical shock.

  2. Inspect and Dry: Open the motor housing and inspect for water ingress. If water is present, carefully dry the motor components. Use absorbent materials and allow sufficient time for the motor to dry thoroughly.

  3. Check for Damage: Examine the motor for any visible damage, such as corrosion, rust, or insulation breakdown. If damage is identified, repairs may be necessary.

  4. Test Before Reconnecting: Before reconnecting the motor to the power supply, perform thorough testing to ensure that it operates correctly. This may involve checking for proper insulation resistance and conducting a trial run.

It’s important to note that some electric motors are designed to be more resistant to water than others.

Motors with higher IP (Ingress Protection) ratings are generally more resilient to water and dust.

However, even with a high IP rating, it’s advisable to take precautions and address any water exposure promptly to prevent potential damage.

Which Motors Are Suitable For Wet Locations?

Motors designed for wet or harsh environments typically have features that protect them from the adverse effects of moisture, water, and other environmental factors. Here are some types of motors that are suitable for wet locations:

  1. IP-Rated Motors: The Ingress Protection (IP) rating is a standard that classifies the degree of protection provided by the enclosure of electrical equipment, including motors. Motors with higher IP ratings are more resistant to dust and moisture. For wet locations, motors with IP ratings such as IP55, IP66, or higher are commonly used.

  2. Submersible Motors: These motors are specifically designed to be fully submerged in water. Submersible motors are often used in applications such as wastewater treatment, underwater pumps, and other situations where the motor needs to operate while immersed.

  3. Washdown Duty Motors: These motors are designed to withstand high-pressure washdowns with water and cleaning agents. They are commonly used in applications where frequent cleaning is necessary, such as in food processing plants or outdoor environments where exposure to water is common.

  4. Corrosion-Resistant Motors: Motors made from corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or epoxy-coated components, are suitable for wet environments. These materials help protect the motor from corrosion caused by exposure to moisture and other corrosive substances.

  5. Sealed Motors: Motors with sealed enclosures are designed to prevent the entry of moisture and contaminants. Sealed motors are often used in outdoor applications where exposure to rain or other environmental conditions is likely.

  6. Explosion-Proof Motors: In certain industrial settings where there is a risk of flammable gases or dust, explosion-proof motors are used. These motors are designed to prevent sparks and ignition sources, and they often have robust enclosures that protect against the entry of moisture.

  7. Tropicalized Motors: These motors are designed to operate in humid or tropical climates. They typically have additional protective measures, such as enhanced insulation and corrosion-resistant coatings.

When selecting a motor for wet locations, it’s important to consider the specific environmental conditions and requirements of the application.

Additionally, adherence to local electrical codes and safety regulations is crucial. Regular maintenance and inspection of the motors in wet environments are also important to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Always consult with motor manufacturers or experts to determine the most suitable motor for a particular wet or harsh environment.

Read my article on my SparkyFrenzy site: Is Your Phone Charger Wet? Here’s What You Need to Know

Which Motor IP Rating Is Suitable For Outdoors Rainy Locations?

For outdoor locations with exposure to rain, it’s advisable to use motors with a minimum IP rating of IP55.

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating consists of two digits: the first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects, and the second digit indicates the level of protection against liquids, including water.

In the context of protecting against water ingress, here’s what the IP ratings mean:

  • IP5x (First digit): Protection against dust. The motor should be protected to a level that prevents the ingress of dust that could harm the motor.

  • IPx5 (Second digit): Protection against water. A rating of 5 means that the motor is protected against water jets from any direction, which is suitable for outdoor locations with exposure to rain.

So, for outdoor locations where the motor may be exposed to rain, a minimum IP rating of IP55 is recommended.

This ensures that the motor is adequately protected against dust and water jets, providing sufficient durability and reliability in such conditions.

However, for more demanding outdoor environments or locations where the motor might be subjected to heavy rain or direct water spray, a higher IP rating, such as IP66 or even IP67, may be preferred.

These higher ratings provide a greater degree of protection against water, making the motor more resilient in extremely wet conditions.

Always check the specific requirements of your application and consult with motor manufacturers or experts to ensure that the chosen motor meets the necessary IP rating and other specifications for the outdoor environment in which it will be used.

Additionally, consider factors such as the materials used in the motor construction (corrosion-resistant materials are beneficial) and any additional environmental challenges the motor may face.

S.No IP Rating Object Protection Water Protection
1. IP20 Offer protection from Solid objects over 12.5mm Does not offer protection from water
2. IP23 Offer protection from Solid objects over 12.5mm Spray at an angle up to 60° Vertical
3.  IP24 Offer protection from Solid objects over 12.5mm Offer protection against Splashed water
4. IP44 Offer protection from Solid objects over 1mm Offer protection against Splashed water from any side
5. IP54 Offer protection against dust Water splashed against the machine from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
6. IP55 Offer protection against dust Water projected by a nozzle against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
  IP56 Offer protection against All types of dust Water from heavy seas or water projected from jets shall not enter the machine in any harmful quantity
7. IP65 Offer protection and exclude from All types of dust Water projected by a nozzle against the machine from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
  IP 66 Complete protection against live moving objects and dust Water from heavy seas or water projected from jets shall not enter the machine in any harmful quantity
8. IP68 Offer protection and exclude from all types of dust All types of tight water sources

So from the chart mentioned above motors IP protection depends mainly on the weather or environmental conditions.

Install my Free Android App on Google Play:

Electrical Cables Most Common Tables “Electrical Cables Tables”

And, my Electrical Calculations App Fast Electrical Calculator

Discover more great content by subscribing to My channel

Looking to stay ahead of the game in the world of electrical engineering? Subscribe to my YouTube channel and gain access to exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else!

The staff I recommend

(Amazon Affiliate Links to products I believe are high quality):

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links to Amazon products. I may earn a commission for purchases made through these links.