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The Differences Between Single and Three Phase Power Systems

Electricity is an important part of everyday life, yet most of us don’t pay any attention to the specifics about how it works, and how precisely it gives us the power to power everything around us. We use electricity in the form of alternating current, which is a flow that constantly changes direction. Most industrial and commercial facilities have high electricity demands, which is why they need to use a 3 phase plug, whereas most homes could probably do with single phase plugs.

Most motorised equipment demands power from a 3 phase plug. Such equipment can include air conditioning systems, plants with heavy machinery, heating systems, pumps, motors, etc. You might wonder how exactly 3 phase systems do that, and how that impacts the quality and consistency of the power that goes through them. Well, 3 phase systems feature 3 power wires, and all of them are 120 degrees out of phase with one another.

3 phase plug

Wye and delta are the two circuits used to maintain an equal load across the entire system, each resulting in a wire connection that’s different. In the delta config, there’s no neutral wire used, while the wye configuration makes use of both a ground wire and a neutral wire. Once all three phases of power have entered the cycle, and once the cycle is complete, all three phases will each have peaked in voltage twice. All of this allows the system to carry more load.

As a result, 3 phase systems provide you with several benefits, such as fewer safety risks for employees who operate the area and equipment, greater conductor efficiency, lower labour-handling costs, reduction of copper consumption and of course, the ability to run higher loads. With that said, 3 phase systems also provide you with savings in maintenance, installation and cost production. So if you’re wondering why anyone would use anything else besides a 3 phase system, there are a couple of good reasons.

3 phase systems aren’t always the better option. Single phase units have a wide use of applications, as long as the power demand doesn’t extend 1000 watts. These systems feature less complex designs, and are cheaper to get. They’re very efficient for operating equipment that runs on lower loads. But as aforementioned, power isn’t provided at a constant rate, as there are only two wires between which current flows. The constant changes in direction and magnitude change the flow of current and voltage.

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