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This paper describes a design methodology to achieve optimal performance for a short-stroke single-phase tubular permanent-magnet motor which drives a reciprocating vapor compressor. The steady-state characteristic of the direct-drive linear-motor compressor system is analyzed, an analytical formula for predicting iron loss is presented, and a motor-design procedure which takes into account the effect of compressor loads under nominal operating condition is formulated. It is shown that the motor efficiency can be optimized with respect to two leading dimensional ratios. Experimental results validate the proposed design methodology.