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logoShaping Tomorrow's Built Environment Today

A Smaller, Smarter, Quieter HVAC Motor

The winner of the Innovation Award in the ventilation category at the 2020 AHR Expo was not originally planned. Rather, it was born out of a necessity.

At the inception stage of the development process, the product was supposed to be a concept to harvest waste from residential HVAC systems. Fast forward to 2020, and Infinitum Electric (Booth 7485) has created a significantly smaller, smarter and quieter HVAC motor. The product, the IEx series motor from Infinitum Electric, has benefits that equate to an ultra-high-efficiency motor that results in up to 25% lower costs for customers.

Ben Schuler, Infinitum Electric’s CEO, said his team has not looked back since creating the now award-winning motor.

“The printed circuit board (PCB) stator concept came from the necessity to reduce the cost of the motor in our original product idea. We designed the first stator, kept iterating and decided that the stator itself was where our focus should be,” he said.

Schuler said the electric motor has evolved very little since it was invented more than a century ago.

“In a world of ever-increasing efficiency, it’s an invention that has lagged behind. With patented PCB-based technology, we’ve solved this problem (by) revolutionizing the motor,” he said.

Designed specifically for HVAC applications, the motor mostly replaces traditional fan, compressor and pump motors in HVAC units. By entering the HVAC market, the company is on a mission to disrupt the way electric motors consume and create electricity, he said.

“On top of increased efficiency, replacing the traditional stator with our patented version equates to quieter operation and reduced vibration—both benefits especially impactful in HVAC units,” Schuler said.

Different parts of the Infinitum Electric HVAC motor work together to create a significantly smaller,
smarter and quieter HVAC motor compared to a traditional motor.

Behind the Product

Conventional motors include a stator made of copper windings wound around an iron-laminated core, said Schuler. Infinitum replaces the copper windings and iron core with a smaller, lighter-weight printed circuit board that includes etched copper conductors.

“This has resulted in our ability to design an ultra-high-efficiency motor that, when compared to traditional electric motors, is up to 60% lighter, saves customers up to 25% in cost, has superior durability, improved performance and, due to the circuit board technology, includes IoT connectivity,” he said. “This means that we’re able to provide the HVAC industry the highest-performing and most cost-effective motor in the market today.”

Infinitum’s patented PCB-based stator benefits the design of the electric motor and how it is manufactured, which would not otherwise be possible, he said.

“While we’re entering the market with HVAC-specific products, our innovations will extend into a multitude of industries as we continue to ramp and grow,” Schuler said.

The motors open up new service-oriented business opportunities for original equipment manufacturer (OEMs), said Schuler. The motor’s printed circuit board-nature of the stator allows the motor to have direct IoT features that allow it to directly monitor its power, speed, torque, vibration, temperature and pressure as opposed to using an aftermarket solution.

The data the OEMs can receive from the products they sell can help alert customers to service needs. Infinitum worked with OEMs while creating the product, according to Schuler.

“Infinitum’s motors give HVAC industry OEMs the ability to rise to the top of the competition with a breakthrough offering. Offering their customers HVAC fans, compressors and pumps that increase HVAC efficiency and decrease cost like no other product can, will have a tremendously positive impact on their position in the market,” he said.

Beyond the Product

It took three years of research and development, with relatively no money, to create this motor, said Schuler. The motor’s design principles are the same as traditional motors, but the layout is different, he said.

“We made lots of mistakes and learned a lot along the way,” he said. “We invented an entire new way of laying out coils for an electric motor. We invented an entire new motor. We invented a VFD controls system to go with our motor, and we invented everything else between. This took a significant amount of time and effort from a very dedicated team that has showed tremendous perseverance with each challenge.”

Infinitum launched the technology at the 2019 AHR Expo, said Schuler. The company plans to deliver its first goods this June. Infinitum recently closed a $12.5M Series B round funding to deliver its motors with an expanded employee base and a new Austin, Texas-area manufacturing facility.

For additional coverage of AHR Expo, visit ASHRAE Journal’s AHR Today web page.

ASHRAE has compiled this publication with care, but ASHRAE has not investigated and ASHRAE expressly disclaims any duty to investigate any product entered in the 2021 AHR Expo Innovation Awards. The appearance of any technical data or editorial material on any product does not constitute endorsement, warranty or guarantee by ASHRAE.