Contactors; What do the terms AC1 and AC3 mean?

AC-1 - This category applies to all resistive loads (non-inductive) or slightly inductive loads where the power factor is more than 0.95. Breaking the arc remains easy with minimal arcing and contact wear.

AC-3 - This category applies to high inductive loads, squirrel cage motor switching with breaking during normal running of the motor once it is up to speed. On closing, the contactor makes the inrush current, which is about 5 to 7 times the rated full load current of the motor. On opening, the contactor breaks the rated full load current of the motor. This rating is lower than AC1 because of high inrush current switching.

Below is a table listing further ratings:

Utilization category Typical application[2][3] Applicable IEC norm[4]
AC-1 Non-inductive or slightly inductive loads, example: resistive furnaces, heaters 60947-4-1
AC-2 Slip-ring motors: switching off 60947-4-1
AC-3 Squirrel-cage motors: starting, switches off motors during running time 60947-4-1
AC-4 Squirrel-cage motors: starting, plugging, inching 60947-4-1
AC-5a Switching of discharge lamps 60947-4-1
AC-5b Switching of incandescent lamps 60947-4-1
AC-6a Switching of transformers 60947-4-1
AC-6b Switching of capacitor banks 60947-4-1
AC-7a Slightly inductive loads in household appliances: examples: mixers, blenders 60947-4-1
61095
AC-7b Motor-loads for household appliances: examples: fans, central vacuum 60947-4-1
61095
AC-8a Hermetic refrigerant compressor motor control with manual resetting overloads 60947-4-1
AC-8b Hermetic refrigerant compressor motor control with automatic resetting overloads 60947-4-1
AC-12 Control of resistive loads and solid state loads with opto-coupler isolation 60947-5-2
AC-13 Control of solid state loads with transformer isolation 60947-5-1
AC-14 Control of small electromagnetic loads 60947-5-1
AC-15 Control of A.C. electromagnetic loads 60947-5-1
AC-20 Connecting and disconnecting under no-load conditions 60947-3
AC-21 Switching of resistive loads, including moderate overloads 60947-3
AC-22 Switching of mixed resistive and inductive loads, including moderate overloads 60947-3
AC-23 Switching of motor loads or other highly inductive loads 60947-3
AC-31A
AC-31B ³) Non-inductive or weakly inductive loads 60947-6-1
AC-33A
AC33B³) Motor loads or mixed loads including motors, resistors and up to 30% incandescent lamp load 60947-6-1
AC-35A
AC-35B ³) Gas discharge lamp load 60947-6-1
AC-36A
AC36B ³) Incandescent lamp load 60947-6-1
AC-40 Distribution circuits of mixed resistive and inductive loads 60947-6-2
AC-41 Non-inductive or weakly inductive loads, resistance furnaces 60947-6-2
AC-42 Slip ring motors: Starting, switching off 60947-6-2
AC-43 Squirrel cage motors: Starting, switching off during operation 60947-6-2
AC-44 Squirrel cage motors: Starting, counter-current braking ¹) or reversing ¹), typing ²) 60947-6-2
AC-45a Switching of gas discharge lamps 60947-6-2
AC-45b Switching incandescent lamps 60947-6-2
AC-51 Induction-free or slightly inductive loads, resistance furnaces 60947-4-3
AC-52a Control of the stator winding of a slip-ring motor: 8-hour operation with starting currents for starting processes, maneuvering, operation 60947-4-2
AC-52b Control of the stator winding of a slip ring motor: Intermittent operation 60947-4-2
AC-53a Control of a squirrel cage motor: 8-hour operation with starting currents for starting processes, maneuvering, operation 60947-4-2
AC-53b Control of a squirrel cage motor: Intermittent operation 60947-4-2
AC-55a Switching of electrical controls of discharge lamps 60947-4-3
AC-55b Switching incandescent lamps 60947-4-3
AC-56a Switching transformers 60947-4-3
AC-56b Switching of capacitor batteries 60947-4-3
AC-58a Control of a hermetically sealed refrigeration compressor motor with automatic reset of overload releases: 8-hour operation with starting currents for starting, maneuvering, operation 60947-4-2
AC-58b The control of a hermetically sealed refrigeration compressor motor with automatic reset of the overload trips: Intermittent operation 60947-4-2
AC-140 Control of small electromagnetic loads with holding current ≤ 0.2 A; e.g. contactor relays 60947-5-2
A Protection of circuits, with no rated short-time withstand current 60947-3
B Protection of circuits, with a rated short-time withstand current 60947-3
DC-1 Non Inductive or slightly inductive loads, resistance furnaces, heaters 60947-4-1
DC-3 Shunt-motors, starting, plugging(1), inching(2), dynamic braking of motors 60947-4-1
DC-5 Series-motors, starting, plugging(1), inching(2), dynamic braking of motors 60947-4-1
DC-6 Switching of incandescent lamps 60947-4-1
DC-12 Control of resistive loads and solid state loads with opto-coupler isolation 60947-5-1
60947-5-2
DC-13 Control of D.C. electromagnetics 60947-5-1
60947-5-2
DC-14 Control of D.C. electromagnetic loads having economy resistors in the circuit 60947-5-1
DC-20 Connecting and disconnecting under no-load conditions 60947-5-1
DC-21 Switching of resistive loads, including moderate overloads 60947-5-1
DC-22 Switching of mixed resistive and inductive loads, including moderate overloads (i.e. shunt motors) 60947-5-1
DC-23 Switching of highly inductive loads (i.e. series motors) 60947-5-1

Sources:
Schneider Electric - What do the terms AC1 and AC3 mean?
Siemens - Forum - AC2, AC3 & AC4 contactors
Wikipedia - Utilization categories

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