News & Insights
Three Phase Vs Single Phase - What's The Difference
Exploring the differences between single-phase and three-phase power and the benefits of both.
Monday, 12 December 2022
Single-Phase Vs Three-Phase Power
With an abundant range of generators and power solutions available to buy or hire in the market, it can be challenging to understand which type of power solution you need to provide optimum power in the most efficient, cost-effective way for your project.
What is single-phase power?
It all starts with how power is delivered. Single-phase power does exactly what it says in the name. Single-phase power provides a single alternating (AC) current in a single wave through two wires, a neutral and a phase wire. The phase wire carries the load current, and the neutral returns the current.
The current begins at zero, and the power peaks at 230 Volts in a single wave, so power fluctuates from zero to maximum power at 230 Volts. Single-phase operates in a 360° cycle, with a maximum power of 230 Volts provided at two intervals, 90° and 270°.
Essentially, it does not provide power continuously. In domestic settings, like our homes, where power needs for lighting, heating, or small electrical appliances are low, we do not detect low or zero levels of power; however, for the more considerable power demands of large construction sites and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) used on construction sites, the dips in power can impact operations.
When should you use a single-phase generator?
Single-phase generators are ideal for low-load applications across construction sites or where power applications are below 20 kVA. Single-phase generators can usually power sites with up to six welfare cabins or can be used for power tool charging, low-load EV charging, or to provide general on-site temporary power.
Also, as single-phase generators are less complex and easier to build; they’re often cheaper to buy and will run more efficiently without wasting power or fuel that’s not needed for low-load applications.
Prolectric’s single-phase ProPower hybrid generator uses the latest solar and battery storage technology to reduce diesel use on-site, helping to cut carbon emissions. The ProPower is also a great option to help reduce noise pollution for overnight or residential build sites.
Its 8-panel 3kW solar array generates power to store in the 35kW LI-ion battery, helping to reduce diesel use. Its single-phase 22kVA and 130-litre HVO-compatible diesel generator can be used for backup power and connected to an external fuel tank if required.
What is three-phase power?
Three-phase power has three power waves and three power wires arranged independently but sharing the same 230 Volts power load. Each power wave enters the power cycle at 120° but at alternating intervals, so they each peak at maximum power at different times to one another, providing a continuous stream of maximum power.
Unlike single-phase power which dips up and down from zero to 230 Volts in a single wave over a period, three-phase power delivers three waves of power that overlap to provide continuous maximum power with no dips to zero.
Three-phase power, therefore, produces a more reliable and continuous maximum output of power when compared to a single-phase and provides three times the power output of a single-phase generator.
When should you choose a three-phase power solution?
It would be best to choose a three-phase power solution where your power demands are greater than 20kVA. A three-phase power solution can power higher-load applications and industrial equipment. Three-phase systems offer a more continuous power supply.
The ProPower three-phase comes with 105kWh of battery storage, three times that of the single-phase ProPower. It also has double the inverter output at 30 kVA and an 8-panel 3kW solar array. It passes through up to 60kW of power output.
It can be connected to most existing diesel generators up to 100kVA to provide higher power generation and offers flexibility to integrate with existing machinery/fleets.
The ProPower three-phase is also compatible with most UK work sites, which operate on three-phase distribution boards and other three-phase equipment such as pumps and power cranes.
Prolectric’s complete range of sustainable solar hybrid power, lighting, and security products, including the ProPower single-phase and three-phase solar hybrid generators, are on tour in January and February 2023.
To find out more about our Solar Hybrid Range of power solutions below, call us on 01275 400 570 to arrange a site visit or product demonstration.