Energy Efficiency in Appliances

By Aaron Small 29/07/2009


I saw this article on Scientific American about new EU regulations for energy efficiency in appliances. It made me think about a great NZ company, that most of you have probably never heard of, called Wellington Drive Technologies (WDL).

WDL, who are listed on the NZ Stock Exchange, are in the business of making energy efficient electric motors and fans that are used in appliances and ventilation systems. Their motors are brushless DC motors, or Electronically Commutated Motors (ECM), because the reversal of electric current (what makes the motor turn) is done using electronic switches and not a physically rotating switch.

There are a number of advantages in using this type of electric motor. Firstly, they are more efficient, typically using one third to a half less electricity than traditional electric motors, and as a result, run cold so there is no energy loss to heat. Secondly, because they don’t have brushes , they are quieter, and have a longer lifetime. Additionally, WDT’s design uses 30% less copper and 80% less steel, making them incredibly lightweight.

WDL have struggled to grow substantially in the last few years, which may partly have something to do with the fact that ECM’s are more expensive than the traditional inefficient motors used for these applications. However, with regulation looking likely in big markets like Europe, appliance manufacturers may be forced to move towards more energy efficient components, and so this could be a big win for WDL. Share tip?

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