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The performance of the brushless doubly-fed machine (BDFM) is analysed using a per-phase equivalent circuit. An expression for the rating of the machine as a function of magnetic and electric loadings is developed, and the rating is compared to those of the doubly-fed induction machine and cascaded induction machines. As the magnetic field in a BDFM is complex, the magnetic loading is considered in detail and a new generalised loading is derived. The BDFM suffers a reduction rating of about one-quarter in comparison to comparable conventional machines, arising from penalties in magnetic and electric loadings consequent on the presence of two stator to rotor couplings. The handling of reactive power has an important effect on the machine performance and this point is illustrated with experimental results from a frame size 180 BDFM. The tests were carried out at modest flux densities to avoid the effects of saturation, but the implications of saturation are considered.