X-13 Motors — What Are They?

Since posting the information on ECM motors and standard motors, I have had a number of request for information on the X-13 motors. Before we get into troubleshooting, I think it is important to understand what an X-13 motor is and why they are used.

GE ECM by Regal-Beloit introduced the Constant Torque motor (model X13) to the residential HVAC industry (split systems and package systems 5 ton or less) in 2006.The term “Constant Torque” defines the type or style of ECM it is programmed to function as.

The X13 is constructed as one piece, with the two components of any ECM, the motor control and motor, housed inside one motor shell. It is programmed to provide a constant level of torque (power) to the motor. This is a multi-tap motor with the ability to have from 1 to 5 programmed levels of torque, similar to the speeds of a PSC induction motor.  It is a cross between a full-blown ECM motor and a standard PSC motor.

However, the torque value programmed into each tap is determined by the HVAC Manufacturer. Each value equals a specific amount of torque/power to create the proper amount of airflow for each system demand (heat, cool, continuous fan). This value is also specific and unique to each manufacturer’s model and size system.

To summarize, this motor is operated by two programs. The HVAC manufacturer’s programmed torque value determines what amount of torque/power is needed by demand  and,  the constant torque programming makes sure that selected amount of torque is maintained even if static pressure changes.

The three main benefits of this motor over conventional PSC motors include higher efficiency, more precise airflow, and properly maintained torque during changes in system static pressure (constant torque).


Constant torque allows the motor to maintain the torque delivered to the motor if static pressure increases. PSC motors will decrease in torque when static pressure increases, causing the airflow to decrease as well. When torque is maintained, airflow does not decrease as fast. This decreases the effect static pressure has on loss of airflow, providing better system performance and efficiency.

The ability to program the torque value by demand allows the HVAC manufacturer to deliver more precise airflow and only program the amount of selections needed..

Even though changing tap connections does change the speed of the motor, it is important, in theory at least, to understand that these are programmed levels of torque. Referring to the taps as “speeds” or “speed taps” could be confusing if the following key points are not also understood.

  1. Manufacturers could program the taps in any order they choose. For example they could put the higher cooling airflow selection on Tap 1 and the lower heating airflow selection on Tap 2. Most manufacturers are programming the motor starting at Tap 1 and building in torque values respectively.
  2. -Each tap can have a unique amount of torque programmed for a specific purpose. For example switching from Tap 1 to Tap 2 may very well increase the airflow but not necessarily at a specific interval like changing from low-speed to medium low-speed on a PSC motor would. Even more important, each motor has a unique program. Changing taps on one motor will most likely have different results than any other.
  3. -It is not necessary to program all of the taps. If the manufacturer only needs two functions, they may only program two taps, and so on up to five. All X13 motors will physically have 5 taps.

The static pressure of the installed system should be checked and compared to the manufacturer’s blower performance charts. If it is above the maximum listed for that unit, improvements should be made to lower it.  Any static pressure below the maximum is typically acceptable. However, the closer the pressure is to the manufacturer’s recommended, the quieter and more efficient it will be.

The X13 motor provides the energy savings of an ECM with the simplicity of traditional PSC motor set-up and service.

Hopefully, this explains what an X-13 motor is? In my next post, I’ll give you some troubleshooting tips so you can properly diagnose the X-13 constant torque motor.

About yorkcentraltechtalk

I have been in the HVAC industry most of my life. I worked 25 years for contractors on anything from residential to large commercial boilers and power burners. For the past 23+ years I had been employed by York International UPG Division ( a division of Johnson Controls) as a Technical support/Service Manager but I am now retired. One of my goals has always been to "educate" dealers and contractors. The reason for starting this blog was to share some knowledge, thoughts, ideas, etc with anyone who takes the time to read it. The contents of this blog are my own opinions, thoughts, experiences and should not be construed as those of Johnson Controls York UPG in any way. I hope you find this a help. I always welcome comments and suggestions for postings and will do my best to address any thoughts, questions, or topics you may want to hear about. Thanks for taking the time to read my postings! Mike Bishop
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27 Responses to X-13 Motors — What Are They?

  1. PSC motors when used in their design parameters are far more reliable than ECM. They can last 20 years. ECM’s fail all the time, 7 years is a long time for them to last, just Google it, Don’t get me wrong they are a good idea but they are not ready for prime time. Give then 10 years. Manufactures buy them from china and they don’t obviously have the engineering resources to understand how deal with Asian manufacturers. So ask yourself this… is saving a few bucks a year on electricity worth a early $1000 dollar repair? I personally will not consider any upgrade till they bring reliability to at least 30K hrs. 100k would be on Par with good PSC’s. These HVAC system may not be good for anyone, including independent repair service companies.

  2. Art Veiga says:

    Totaly agree with Joe, I would like to replace all my ECM motors (I have 8) as they go bad,with conventional Motors. Any suggestions on that? Art

    • the most common cause of ECM motor failures is voltage issues. Regal Beloit has a choke coils (see my post on that)to help regulate voltage and eliminate failures. The motors seldom go bad. The program module, which is susceptable to voltage issues, is what fails. The choke coil helps prevent that from happening.. All York ECM products have factory installed choke coils to make them more reliable.
      Contact your manufacturer or distributor for more information on this.

      • Art Veiga says:

        The problem I had with one of my X-13 is that the Magnets on the Rotor
        became separated.The motor had very little use, and was less than one year old. Any fixes for that? anyone. Thanks.

      • The issue involves Regal Beloit motors who make all the X-13 motors for all manufacturers -they had a problem:
        The issue with these motors was caused by rotors produced with steel that exhibited different hysteresis characteristics. The controller can lose position of the rotor and shaft at high torque and RPM settings which can cause a sudden drop in airflow with recovery back to full airflow in a second or two. In most applications the homeowner would not notice the issue, but some may hear a “bump” or “thump” noise when an airflow drop occurs.`
        I am not aware of any other issue but you could check with Regal Beloit if there were other issues.

  3. Ron Barski says:

    At this moment The Rheem techs are installing a new 2 ton heat pump system in my home.
    I was told the air handler has the X-13 blower motor in it. The label on the box is marked RHKLHM2417A which I cannot find online. I only find RHLLHM2417JA. THE INSTALLER DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS. I emailed Rheem and have not received a answer yet.
    Of course I was told that I would save money on my electric bill but not that the motor has a short life. Can you tell me if the KL has the X-13 motor?
    Ron Barski

  4. ben says:

    RHLL units carry X13 motors…. RHKL units carry ECM motors

  5. Ron says:

    The tech was good enough to let me know about the ECM motor being in the unit I purchased.
    He did say that the X13 has ben a problem and they were very expensive. Supposedly the installing dealer cost is around 700.00.
    My unit is doing just fine without one.
    Thanks, Ron

  6. dave says:

    IMO, anything that has “Beloit” in it is a “locked in ” scam. Taylor Ice Cream Machines are manufactured there.

  7. Brad says:

    Great article Joe…..

    Does anyone have any information on peak efficiency operating points for X13 motors (i.e. max airflow, minimum watts)? Is it possible to reconfigure the motor programming to hit this efficiency level if it is not pre-set by manufacturer?

    I’m also interested in the articles regarding reliability of X13’s, can someone link me to a reliable article?

  8. Brad says:

    Correction….Great article Mike! Thank you

  9. Andy says:

    Just had my first X-13 motor fail after 3 years. Not impressed. These motors should have serviceable parts in the control module as there is nothing wrong with the motor itself. I am getting a new motor on warranty, but am really thinking about a ECM to PSC conversion. This air handler is at our cottage and I need a reliable heat source in the winter when we are not there for long periods of time. BOO RHEEM.

  10. Brad I think if you take a look at the Azure motor by Mars they have a programmer you can actually over ride the self programming within the motor to suit. Also they do have an inline surge protector which might eliminate voltage issues but not guaranteed. These motors do work with not only ECM motors but PSC as well 208/230 and 115. They come in two sizes from 1/5 to 1/2 and the other 1/2 to 1HP. Not sure if that helps or I answered your question.

  11. Aldo says:

    I’m writing to you following the reading of an article on static pressure. My tech wants to replace the 5 inch Merv 11 m1-1056 with a 2 inch in order to reduce static pressure. York system requires .50 but was read at 81. Is this justifiable or the high static pressure indicates issues with the system other than filter is causing restriction The air cleaner is sized for a 5 inch. Thank you Aldo

  12. Tom Determan says:

    I had a Lennox unit put in less than four years ago and the x-13 motor has had to be replaced 2x already. Never had problems with the old unit, but then again, the x-13 motor wasn’t involved either.

    • I can’t speak for Lennox but their motor should not be any different than any other manufacturer. ECM and X-13 motors are usually very reliable. In my experience, most failures are due to moisture, too high static pressure, or power problems. It is one thing to replace a motor, and another to find out why it failed in the first place (let alone a second time).. Your contractor should investigate why these keep occurung.

  13. freggersjr says:

    Motors should not be designed in such a way that a failed part cannot be replaced. Thus, they should all be designed so that the bearings can periodically be re-oiled easily and any electronic parts can easily be replaced. Anything else is irresponsible design.

    Recently I had to replace a condenser fan motor for my central A / C system. The only thing wrong with the motor was that a bearing had become stiff. I know from experience that when that happens, a motor can often be returned to service if it is disassembled and the bearing oiled.

    • There are shops that do rebuild motors.

      • freggersjr says:

        That’s fine except for the following problems:

        1) It would be necessary for most home owners to call a technician to remove the motor and take it to the rebuild company.

        2) The A / C would be out of commission for some time while the motor was being rebuilt.

        3) The technician would have to re-instal the motor.

        4) The cost would be considerable.

        Obviously it would be simpler, faster, and less expensive to use motors that have provision for re-oiling. Having motors rebuilt is no substitute for having motors which can easily be re-oiled.

  14. Gene Garner says:

    I have a Lennox G21v propane furnace, installed when we built in 1997 and the ecm motor has failed twice, once in 2005 and again in 2013. Each failure cost me $1100-$1200. After the second failure I kept the old motor and control module the tech pulled out to find what had failed.
    I took the CM off the motor and opened it up. I could smell burnt components and after a quick look I noticed a fried thermistor. It was rated @ 20 amps–in my opinion, seriously under rated. I ordered
    a 36 amp thermistor from Radio Shack and replaced the burnt 20 amp. I reassembled the control module and motor, removed the new ($1200) unit, installed my repaired and turned on the furnace. It is operating today with the repaired motor and hasn’t missed a beat -plus I have a brand new motor and control module still in the box. The repair cost me less than $3, including postage.

    The moral of this story? The $2400 I spent on ecm motors will never justify the $2-$3 a month I saved on my electric bill. In my opinion ecm motors are great in theory but you’re betting you will never have a failure. My next system will have a psc motor.

    • I would suggest you read my post titled PF-CHOKE FOR ECM MOTORS. I think it’s great that you were able to repair the module. The average homeowners would not know where to begin.
      York has been factory installing these choke coils on all furnace with ECM motors once REGAL BELOIT found that this cures almost all power related problems with the motor module. Since the motor portion is a DC BRUSHLESS motor, very rarely do they fail. Most ECM motor failures are power related and that is why the module can be replaced separate from the motor.

      • Gene Garner says:

        You’re right the average homeowner wouldn’t be able to repair the control module, I didn’t add that I have 40+ years of experience in electronics.. Your article is interesting and will help control power surges but this under-rated thermistor serves to absorb the initial voltage surge that will always be there (you go from 0 volts to 110 volts) and the resulting high current. This thermistor will eventually
        burn out but hopefully I’ll burn out first. I don’t blame engineering for this design, you would have to run a life test to see what components would fail and that would be expensive. The main reason for my first post is the small return (less power consumption) for the initial cost of an ECM motor/module and the high repair cost makes the PSC motor a safer choice. But that’s just my opinion.

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