IE3 / IE4 ready for premium-efficiency motor starting and the new AC-3e utilization category

Raising efficiency to reduce emissions

There is rapidly growing demand worldwide for more efficient products to cut energy consumption, reduce emissions and help to build a more sustainable future. The EU’s Ecodesign legislation is an effective way to improve the environmental performance of products by setting minimum energy efficiency requirements.

The European Union’s Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 sets efficiency requirements for low voltage induction motors and variable speed drives. The objective is to boost energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.

Implementation is in two steps:

  •  Step 1 effective from July 1, 2021.
  •  Step 2, with a wider scope and increased requirements for motors, effective from July 1, 2023.



Direct-on-line low voltage motors


Ecodesign Regulation timeline

What distinguishes an IE3/IE4 motor from less efficient motors

IE3/IE4 motors can achieve higher efficiency thanks to innovative design and the use of better conducting material. The higher efficiency design ultimately shows a lower rated motor current for any given kW rating. However, during the motor’s starting phase, there may be an increase in inrush and starting current. The increased inrush and starting current can in some cases affect the selection of the starter components as well as the short-circuit protection device.
The new utilization category AC-3e is a category of electrical switching devices designed for operating premium-efficiency motors. The AC-3e category was specifically developed to meet the latest requirements for IE3 and IE4 premium-efficiency motor applications. The AC-3e category is an extension of the AC-3 category and provides higher performance than the AC-3 category. The AC-3e category is an important advancement in energy efficiency and helps reduce energy demand.

 ABB has validated coordination solutions for AC-3 and AC-3e direct online (DOL) applications. The results of these tests can be found in ABB’s motor coordination tables and in the ABB’s Selected Optimized Coordination tool (SOC)

For a deeper look into the technical background of switching high-efficiency motors, we recommend our application note:

PDF - Motor starting and protection for premium-efficiency motors (

Minimum energy performance standards (MEPS)

MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards) for low voltage motors have played an important role in helping countries to meet their energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions targets. For motor users, MEPS have led to an overall increase in motor efficiency and made it easier to compare efficiency levels between manufacturers.

These benefits have prompted many countries around the world to adopt their own MEPS. However, the actual requirements vary between the different countries - please click the highlighted link to see for more information about the main regions and countries.

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