AC and DC Motors: Differences and Advantages

Suppose you’re on the lookout for a new motor to power up appliances or machinery for your business. In that case, you’re probably wondering whether AC motors or DC motors are a better choice.

While both types of motors serve similar functions, they do have some distinct differences. This article will highlight those differences and discuss the main advantages of both options, helping you make the right choice for your company.

What is an AC motor?

AC motors are a type of electric motor that works thanks to alternating current. The motor applies the current through its armature circuit, producing an alternating rotation of the rotor. 

You’ll find these types of motors in a wide range of applications, powering up devices like vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, garden equipment, ovens, water heaters, and pumps.

While DC motors feature electrons flowing in one direction all the time, AC motors work thanks to an alternating current flowing in both directions at varying speeds.

In this way, electricity goes back and forth through the coil of wire inside the motor. The electromagnet inside the motor then produces a magnetic field, which is what causes the rotation.

What is a DC motor?

DC motors are the most popular motor type in industries and households around Australia. DC stands for direct current—so, as you’d expect, DC motors use electrical power from a direct current to convert energy into a mechanical rotation. 

There are two main types of DC motor—brushed and brushless. Both types work thanks to a spinning or rotary magnet that drives the motor shaft’s motion, but there are several differences beyond that. 

Brushed DC motors are less popular today, but were the most common variety in the past. They’re used in simple applications like basic industrial machinery and consumer products.

Brushless DC motors are the more common modern variety thanks to their benefits over brushed motors. 

Advantages of AC motors

While AC motors are more expensive than DC varieties, they do come with a range of benefits, including:

  • More precise acceleration and starting level control,
  • Higher longevity and durability,
  • More customizability (i.e. torque, speed, and configuration requirements)
  • Lower startup power.

Advantages of DC motors

DC motors boast a wide range of advantages, especially when compared with AC motors. These benefits include:

  • Quick and easy installation,
  • More precise speed control,
  • Higher starting torque,
  • Quick reversing, acceleration, stopping, and starting,
  • Less expensive than AC motors,
  • Fantastic for small appliances and tools,
  • Available in a broad range of voltages.


While AC motors and DC motors are similar, there are key differences that you should be aware of as a business owner. Remember—while AC motors offer greater customizability and durability, they’re often more expensive and harder to install than DC motors. DC motors also offer a higher starting torque and more precise speed control, among other benefits.   

With your new knowledge of the type motor types—and their unique benefits—you’ll know which type will work best for your industry and organization.    

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