how to reverse a three phase ac motor


To reverse the direction of a 3-phase induction motor using contactors, you can use either mechanical or electrical interlocks to ensure safe operation and prevent accidental engagement of both contactors simultaneously. Here’s a detailed explanation of how this can be achieved:

Using Contactors to Reverse a 3-Phase Motor

  1. Identify Motor Terminals:

    • Locate the motor's terminals labeled U, V, and W (or T1, T2, T3). These terminals connect to the motor's stator windings.
  2. Basic Wiring:

    • Normally, to reverse the motor, you would swap any two of the three power leads (U, V, W). This physically changes the phase sequence and consequently reverses the motor's rotation direction.
  3. Using Contactors for Reversing:

    • Instead of manually swapping wires each time, you can use contactors to automate the reversal process. Here's how it works:

    • Mechanical Interlock:

      • Install two contactors in the circuit, each controlling a set of wires to the motor.
      • Wire one set of wires directly through one contactor (let’s call it Contactor A).
      • For the second set of wires, route them through another contactor (Contactor B) but swap any two phases (e.g., swap U and V).
      • This swapping ensures that when Contactor A is engaged, the motor turns in one direction, and when Contactor B is engaged, it turns in the opposite direction.
    • Preventing Simultaneous Engagement:

      • Without proper interlocking, simultaneous engagement of both contactors (A and B) could short out the power phases, leading to equipment damage or failure.
      • Mechanical Interlock: A mechanical interlock physically prevents both contactors from closing at the same time. This is typically a device that mechanically couples the contactors so that when one is engaged, the other cannot be.
      • Electrical Interlock: An electrical interlock involves using normally closed auxiliary contacts on each contactor. These contacts are wired in such a way that if one contactor is active, it opens the circuit preventing the coil power from reaching the other contactor.
  4. Choosing the Right Interlock:

    • Mechanical Interlock: Simple and effective, it physically prevents simultaneous closure of both contactors.
    • Electrical Interlock: Provides additional safety by using electrical circuits to ensure only one contactor can be energized at a time.
  5. Implementation:

    • Follow manufacturer instructions for wiring the contactors and interlocks correctly.
    • Ensure all connections are secure and insulated to prevent electrical hazards.
  6. Testing:

    • After installation, thoroughly test the motor to confirm it rotates in the correct direction when each contactor is engaged.
    • Verify that the interlocks are functioning properly to prevent accidental simultaneous engagement.


Using contactors to reverse the direction of a 3-phase induction motor involves careful wiring and consideration of safety interlocks. Mechanical and electrical interlocks are essential to prevent potential short circuits and ensure safe operation. By following these steps and choosing the appropriate interlocking mechanism, you can effectively control the direction of rotation of your motor as needed for your application. Always prioritize safety and follow manufacturer guidelines and local electrical codes when working with electrical equipment.