Motor vs Engine: The Definitions and Differences

Could there be an argument about motor vs engine? Especially, it seems odd in the modern time since we use these words interchangeably. However, these two words denote very different things originally.

Motor vs Engine: The Definitions

The dictionary definition of ‘motor’ represents it as a machine that produces kinetic power as the primary output and sends it to an automobile or other devices. On the other hand, an ‘engine’ is a complex machine with moving components that transform power into motion.

motor vs engine
A car engine.

1. Motor

Most motors these days are electrical motors and they transform electrical power into mechanical energy. You can divide them into two broad categories – AC motor and DC motor.

AC current is the power behind running AC motors while DC electricity runs DC motors. You can divide these two types into more categories based on horsepower, power rating, and other factors.

2. Engine

The engine is a mechanical component that converts any form energy into mechanical power. Based on the functions, you can put them into several groups. For example, combustion engines transform heat into mechanical power while hydraulic engines produce mechanical energy from pressurized fluids. Similarly, the electrical engines convert electrical power.

motor vs engine
An electric motor.

If you take the engine of an automobile as an example, it converts the chemical power of fuel into heat through combustion, which means the transformation of heat into mechanical power. On the other hand, a motor does nothing of this sort. It works as an actuator that converts electrical power or fluid energy to make a device work.

Motor vs Engine: The Components

The mechanism of these two devices are quite different and they also have different types of components. The engine has cylinders and pistons. The piston moves by the pressure created by the burnt fuel and pushes the cylinder to move.

A motor has a rotor and stator instead. The supplied electricity creates an electromotive force that makes the rotor to move and generate mechanical power.

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Motor vs Engine: The Differences

As the definitions suggest, these are completely two different types of devices with separate functions. Follow the chart to know their differences:

Engine Motor
The word ‘engine’ usually refers to the reciprocating engine variations such as internal combustion or steam engines. The word ‘motor’ is commonly used to indicate a rotating device such as an electric motor.
It produces mechanical power from chemical energy. It transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy.
Most engines are run by fuel. Motors mostly run on electricity or batteries.
Lubrication is needed for its components to run continuously with reduced friction. No lubrication is needed.
Main components are pistons and cylinders. Coils and rotors are the main components of motors.
Given that both devices produce the same power, an engine is heavier than a motor. Motors are lighter than engines.
Engines are less efficient than motors because the ratio of fuel to converted energy is lower. Motors are highly efficient because the percentage of lost power is minimal.
Engines are noisy. Motors are relatively quieter.
Examples: Cars, trains, large ships, and more. Examples: fans, washing machines, vacuum cleans, and more.

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