Why Electric Motors Are Tough To Scrap

Electric Motors. They are everywhere you can look, even if you don’t see them working. Ever roll the window down in your car? We’re guessing the answer is yes, and that window rolls all because of an electric motor (or multiple).

Ever enter a garage door, whether it is a house or a commercial parking lot? How do you think that the door comes up? Yup! You guessed right again: electric motors.

Electric motors are everywhere you look, and you rarely see them until you start scrapping, and then you’ll see them everywhere.

Should I Take My Electric Motor Apart for Scrap?

Many people ask one of the most common scrapping questions out there, “whether or not to take apart an electric motor,” and we tell them to try. But before you try for the first time, let us give you some background on them.

An average electric motor you will come across while scrapping will weigh about 10-20 pounds, including the housing and all the copper and steel inside. Should you take it apart? That’s a tricky question, but we will try to help answer it.

The Math of Scrap Electric Motors

electric motors usually have #2 copper and steel inside

Let’s say you have a 10lb electric motor. It is worth $0.15 per lb in scrap (prices vary, depending on market demands, etc.), meaning the motor is worth $1.50 as-is.

If you take that electric motor apart, you will need tools, time, and patience. These are not that easy to take apart, and when you start to get all your tools out, you will have to take some serious time to do it.

On average, out of the 10 lbs., the copper inside is only about 10-15% of the weight, equaling about 1.5 pounds. Let’s say that your scrap yard buys the copper at .00 per pound so that you will have $3.00 worth of copper, but you will also have 8.5 pounds left of steel, which could be worth $0.05 per pound.

  • Value w/out taking it apart = $1.50 per lb.
  • Value after taking it apart = $3.00 of copper + $0.425 worth of steel = $3.43 for that same motor!!

You may look at that and say, “Wow! Of course, I will take it apart and double my money!!!” Just don’t forget a few things…

Potential Drawback Of Scrapping A Motor

Time is the one thing that you cannot forget to factor out of this. What are YOU worth per hour? Let’s say you are making $15 per hour at your regular job (for those of us who can’t scrap full-time!), so that’s what you would make in one hour of work.

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03/13/2024 05:06 pm GMT

We have tried taking apart an average-sized motor, and even having all of the tools ready and knowing how to take it apart, it will still take about 7-10 minutes to dismantle them.

That means (10 minutes/60 minutes * $15 per hour = $2.50 of your time) you actually would have lost about $1 by taking it apart if you were being paid by the hour.

Now, most of you who are taking these apart are doing it on your own time, so you are not being paid, and it is extra income at that point, but we still like to point it out.

The Best Way To Recycle Electric Motors

If you love taking motors apart and scrapping, we have a few suggestions for you.

  1. Save your motors up. This way, instead of getting your tools out of your station prepped, you maximize your time by doing 10-15 motors at a time.
  2. Watch out for aluminum wound motors. Many companies have started to use aluminum in their motor windings instead of the traditional copper ones. This will yield a much smaller return on your hard work.
  3. Size Matters. There are a lot of smaller motors that you may want to take apart or be tempted to take apart. Our advice is do not do it. They are just too small and not ever worth the effort.