is a not-for-profit organization which helpsindividuals and businesses answer questions and give resources about where, howand why "3 phase" power is used. For information on3 phase wiring,mathematicsand power calculation, principles of three phase power solutions see the links to theleft and 3 phase power notes and articles below.
3 phase power
is a common form of electrical power and a popular method of electric power transmission. This is due to its inherent benefits for high powertransmission and its smooth wave form quality which allow3 phase electricalequipmentto run smoothly and last longer. There are many other benefits to 3phase power. Three phase has properties that make it very desirable inpowerdistribution. First, all three wires can carry the same current. Secondly, powertransfer is constant into a linear and balanced load. Most domestic utility suppliedpower is single phase only. In most cases three phase power either is not availablefrom a utility company to domestic houses, rural business and farms, at all, or inrare cases where it is, it is split out at the main distribution board. See3 phasepower generating phase convertersfor solutions to getting 3 phase power whereutility companies do not offer it or where it is cost prohibitive. In these situations 1phase power can be converted to 3 phase power with a phase converter from acompany such asACE Phase Converteror TEMCoPhase Converter. The 3 phasepower generated from some of today's high qualityRotary Phase Convertersis betterbalanced with closer voltage tolerances and a smoother wave form than utilitysupplied power. For this reason the 3 phase power output from these 3 phasegenerating converters is preferred for sensitive equipment than what is availablefrom utility supplied 3 phase power.
Three phase systems may or may not have a neutral wire. The neutral wire allows 3phase systems to use a higher voltage while still supporting lower voltage 1 phaseappliances. Inhigh voltage 3 phase distributionsituations it is common not to have aneutral wire as the loads can simply be connected between phases (phase-phaseconnection).
The 3 phases are typically indicated visually in electrical diagrams by colors. Thestandards for these colors vary by country. See the3 phase wiring color code table
for details.Conductors of a 3 phase system are usually marked by color code, to allow forbalanced loading and to assure the correct phase rotation for3 phase inductionmotors. Colors used vary widely and may adhere to old standards or to no standardat all, and sometimes vary even within an installation. However, the current NationalElectrical Code (2005) does not require color identification of conductors other thanthat of the neutral (white or white with a color stripe), the ground (green or greenwith a yellow stripe), or in the case of a High Leg Delta system, the High Leg mustbe identified with orange. Click here to read more on3 Phase Wiring and ColorCoding.
After numerous further conversions in thetransmission and distribution network the3 phase poweris finally transformed with apower transformerto the standard mainsvoltage (the voltage of "house" or "household" current in American English). This isdone with step down3 phase transformers. The power may already have been splitinto single phase at this point or it may still be three phase power. Where thestep-down is 3 phase, the output of thistransformeris usually star connected with thestandard mains voltage (120V in North America and 230V in Europe) being thephase-neutral voltage. Another system commonly seen in the USA is to have a deltaconnected secondary on thestep down transformerwith a center tap on one of thewindings supplying the ground and neutral. This allows for 240V 3 phase as well asthree different single phase voltages (120V between two of the phases and theneutral, 208V between the third phase (sometimes known as a wild leg) and neutraland 240V between any two phases) to be made available from the same supply. Clickhere to read more about3 phase distribution.
Often the advantages of 3 phase motors, and other 3 phase equipment, make itworthwhile to convert single-phase power to 3 phase. Small and large customers,such as residential, rural businesses, or farm properties may not have access to a 3phase supply, or may not want to pay for the extra cost of a 3 phase service, butmay still wish to use 3 phase equipment. A 3 phase generating Rotary PhaseConverter can benefit these situations or where high quality 3 phase power isrequired. Some of the Rotary Phase Converters manufactured today produce 3phase power output that is better quality and will allow 3 phase equipment to runbetter and last longer than the 3 phase power from provided by a utility company.Such3 phase convertersmay also allow the frequency (see alsofrequencyconverters) to be varied allowing for different equipment frequency requirements(50Hz, 60Hz, 400Hz, etc.) and also for motor speed control (VFDs). Somelocomotives are driven by 3-phase motors with 3 phase converters converted fromthe incoming supply of either DC or 1 phase AC. The two main types of 1 phase to 3phase converters areRotary Phase ConvertersandStatic Phase Converters.One very important resource is the rating system that theU.S. Phase ConverterStandards Organizationoffers of variousphase converter types and technologies.Click here to read more about3 phase converters. Read what this very importantindustry organization has to say about the different technologies. As a non-profit