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Two vs. Three Wire Motors


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Since Franklin Electric was the motor manufacturer for every American submersible pump company in the United States up until recently; the information below will relate to only one brand of motor.

The two wire Franklin motor has three wires. Two of these wires are black and connect directly to the power source. The third wire is the green ground wire.

The three wire motor has four wires. A red (start wire) a black, a yellow and the green ground wire. The red, black and yellow all connect to their perspective terminals in a control box which is installed above ground in a convenient location. The green is connected to the ground terminal. The other two terminals in the control box are the L1 and L2 connections which accept the power from the electric company. In this control box are a start capacitor, a relay and sometimes an overload protector and run capacitor.

The two wire motor has a biac switch that energizes the start winding in the motor to get it up to speed. When the motor is almost at normal RPMs, the biac switch disconnects the start winding for the remainder of that cycle.

The three wire motor uses the start capacitor along with the start winding to get the motor nearly up to speed, then the relay points open and disconnect the start winding and the start capacitor until needed again. In the case of the run capacitor, it is in line all the time and does not need a relay to disable it.

When a pump gets locked up due to sand or grit, the three wire motor depends on the start capacitor to have enough strength to kick start the pump. But in the case of the two wire, if the pump is locked up, the biac switch will kick the motor in a reverse direction then back in the foreward direction to try to break the pump loose. Of coarse if the pump is hopelessly froze up, it will have to be pulled and serviced.

The cost for a two wire pump or a three wire with/control box is usually the same . But for my money, I will stick with the two wire. It has been proven to last longer, it is easier to install and you donít have to look for a mounting spot for the control box.

Two wire motors are available in 1/2, 3/4, 1 and 1.5 horsepower only. Two, three and five horse are three wire only.

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