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Electric motors are key components of many consumer products and industrial processes, from kitchen mixers to pump motors generating thousands of horsepower. Motors that use alternating current, or AC, are the most common type of industrial electric motor, because they are very low maintenance and extremely reliable. Low-power applications can be satisfied with single-phase motors, whereas higher-power applications or applications where the size or weight of the motor is important may require a three-phase motor.
Before describing how an AC motor works, we must first understand the difference between direct and alternating current, and between single and three-phase power.