A New Approach to Understanding Planetary Gear Train Efficiency and Powerflow
Understanding planetary gear efficiency is more involved than understanding efficiency of external gears because of the recirculating power that is inherent in planetary gear operation. There have been several publications going back several decades on this topic. However, many of these publications are mathematical in their approach and tend to be overlooked by practicing engineers. This paper brings a new, more visual and more intuitive approach to the problem. It uses lever diagrams, which have been a standard tool in the transmission engineer’s arsenal for almost four decades, to visualize the power flow and develop analytical expressions for the efficiency of simple and compound planetary gears. It then extends the approach to more complex gear trains.