Difference Between Motor and Engine

Man has made many innovations to ease the mundane tasks of daily life. There was a time when humans had to ride animals for travelling and spend hours doing the simplest things because there were no mechanical inventions.

Today, humankind has reached a level where travelling to far places can be done in hours and the daily life chores take just a few minutes. All of this credit goes to the technological advancements that man has achieved in all these years.

One such industry where humans have made their mark in the world is the automobile industry. This industry is a billion dollar-industry where vehicles of all kinds are designed, manufactured and sold.

The two most important components in the development of these vehicles are the motor and engine. These two terms are often used interchangeably but are different in their technical meanings.

Motor vs Engine

The main difference between motor and engine is that motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy while the engine converts other forms of energy like chemical, heat, steam into mechanical power. The other differences between the two devices lie in their structure, working principles and arrangement of their components.

Motor vs Engine


Comparison Table Between Motor and Engine (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonMotorEngine
DefinitionA device that converts electrical energy into mechanical work.A device that converts other forms of energy into mechanical works.
Running MechanismMotors run on batteries or electricity.Engines mostly run on fuel.
Main ComponentsRotor, stator, commutator and brushes are the main components of a motor.Piston, cylinder and crankshaft are the main components of an engine.
EfficiencyMotors are more efficient due to less power loss.Engines are less efficient due to power loss in combustion.
ExamplesWashing machine, fans, vacuum cleanerCars, ships, trains and other automobile vehicles.


What is Motor?

A motor is a device that converts electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy.

Motors work on the principle of electromagnetism. When an electric current is passed through a rectangular coil placed in a magnetic field, a force acts on the coil which makes it rotate continuously.

The coil rotates as long as the current is applied to it.

There are four major components of the motor: The stator, rotor, commutator, and the brushes. The stator is the stationary part of the motor which consists of a permanent magnet.

The rotor is the moving part of the motor and is usually the coils winded around the stator. When the current flows through the coil, it interacts with the magnetic field to impart rotational mechanical force.

The commutator acts like a switch that reverses the direction of current in the motor. This is important so that the ends of the coil do not halt the motion because of the attraction or repulsion of the north pole and the south pole.

The brushes of a motor are typically made of graphite and supply electric current between the stator and the rotor. There are two main types of motors: DC motor and AC motor.

DC motors work on direct current such as batteries whereas AC motors work on alternating current cycles.


What is Engine?

An engine is a device that converts other forms of energy like chemical, heat, and steam into mechanical energy.

Have you ever wondered how a car works? A car has an internal combustion engine which converts the heat of burning fuel into mechanical work.

The main body of the engine is a cylinder. The cylinder has pistons that move up and down inside the cylinder case.

Pistons are connected to a crankshaft that turns the piston’s motion circular which then rotates the crankshaft.

In the combustion chamber, there is an explosion occurring after each minute due to the mixing of fuel with the oxygen. The mixture is compressed when the pistons move up.

Here the spark plug plays its role by igniting the mixture and creating an explosion. This powers the pistons to move up and down.

There are an intake valve and an exhaust valve that lets the air in and the burnt gases out. But the valves remain closed during the combustion and compression of the fuel mixture.

This is how the engine powers the wheels to keep the car moving.

There are two types of engines in general: External combustion engine and Internal Combustion engine.

In the external combustion engine, the combustion takes place outside the engine. The energy could be heat produced by burning of the fuel or steam produced by water.

In the internal combustion engine, the combustion occurs inside the engine. Here the combustion takes place only by the burning of the fuel such as diesel and petrol.


Main Differences Between Motor and Engine

The four major distinct features which differentiate motor and engine are listed below:

  1. A motor is a device that converts electrical energy into mechanical work whereas an engine converts other various forms of energy into mechanical work.
  2. Motors mostly run on batteries or electricity while engines run on fuel such as petrol, steam or heat.
  3. The main components of motor include rotor, stator and commutator whereas the main components of the engine include pistons, cylinder and crankshaft.
  4. The efficiency of motors is high due to less power loss while the efficiency of engines is low as compared to motors due to high power loss during combustion.
Difference Between Motor and Engine



The engine and the motor have several applications in the automobile industry as well as in home appliances. They are widely used in fans, fridge, compressors, washing machines, cars, ships and trains.

These appliances and vehicles have made our lives really simple and made the world enter into an era of the industrial revolution. Because of these inventions, it was possible for a man to manufacture planes and conquer the sky.

Now, we are making electric cars and driverless vehicles. The automobile industry has turned into a leading industry of the world and its demand is all over the world.

All the companies are trying to invest in it and make their mark in the world.

Key Differences Between Motor and Engine (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Motor and Engine



  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es00141a010
  2. https://p2infohouse.org/ref/46/45553.pdf
  3. https://trid.trb.org/view/795411
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