A PM (permanent magnet) motor does not have a field winding on the stator frame, instead relying on PMs to provide the magnetic field against which the rotor field interacts to produce torque. Compensating windings in series with the armature may be used on large motors to improve commutation under load. Because this field is fixed, it cannot be adjusted for speed control. PM fields (stators) are convenient in miniature motors to eliminate the power consumption of the field winding. Most larger DC motors are of the "dynamo" type, which have stator windings. Historically, PMs could not be made to retain high flux if they were disassembled; field windings were more practical to obtain the needed amount of flux. However, large PMs are costly, as well as dangerous and difficult to assemble; this favors wound fields for large machines.
To minimize overall weight and size, miniature PM motors may use high energy magnets made with neodymium or other strategic elements; most such are neodymium-iron-boron alloy. With their higher flux density, electric machines with high-energy PMs are at least competitive with all optimally designed singly-fed synchronous and induction electric machines. Miniature motors resemble the structure in the illustration, except that they have at least three rotor poles (to ensure starting, regardless of rotor position) and their outer housing is a steel tube that magnetically links the exteriors of the curved field magnets.
Some of the problems of the brushed DC motor are eliminated in the BLDC design. In this motor, the mechanical "rotating switch" or commutator is replaced by an external electronic switch synchronised to the rotor's position. BLDC motors are typically 85–90% efficient or more. Efficiency for a BLDC motor of up to 96.5% have been reported,whereas DC motors with brushgear are typically 75–80% efficient.
The BLDC motor's characteristic trapezoidal counter-electromotive force (CEMF) waveform is derived partly from the stator windings being evenly distributed, and partly from the placement of the rotor's permanent magnets. Also known as electronically commutated DC or inside out DC motors, the stator windings of trapezoidal BLDC motors can be with single-phase, two-phase or three-phase and use Hall effect sensors mounted on their windings for rotor position sensing and low cost closed-loop control of the electronic commutator.
BLDC motors are commonly used where precise speed control is necessary, as in computer disk drives or in video cassette recorders, the spindles within CD, CD-ROM (etc.) drives, and mechanisms within office products, such as fans, laser printers and photocopiers. They have several advantages over conventional motors: