How Can I Convert Single Phase Power to 3 Phase Power?

  • By Trina

You just bought an exciting new machine for your home or commercial shop only to find that it takes 3 phase power and you only have access to single-phase power from your power lines. What options do you have to get your machine up and running as quickly and cost-effectively as possible?

The most important question we ask to figure this out is: what kind of equipment are you powering?

A Single Motor (Ex: stand-alone pump or compressor)

Do you have a single motor that needs to be speed controlled or to run on 3 phase power? Would you like to reduce the amps your motor draws when it starts up? Then a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) can be a great cost-effective solution to power your single motor.

VFDs connect directly to a motor and are not designed to power a whole machine or multiple motors. A VFD is primarily used to control the speed of a motor. This is great when you need to adjust the speed of your operation (eg. speed up a drill press or slow down a conveyor belt), or when you want to start or stop slowly.

The electrical output of a VFD creates a pulse rather than a constant electrical supply which is called Pulse Width Modulation. A VFD will output pulses so that the average of those pulses over time produces a sine wave. Variable Frequency drives ramp up the speed of the motor over time, which is called soft-starting. People buy VFDs for variable speed control of motors or to reduce the amps a motor draws when it starts up. This can make for the smooth operating of your motor and extend the motor’s life span.

If you have a single motor that you are trying to power then a Variable Frequency Drive is a great cost-effective solution.

A Machine with One or More Motors (Ex: drill press, Lathe, Rooftop units)

If you have a machine with one or more motors that need 3 phase power then a Rotary Phase Converter is a great choice.

A Rotary Phase Converter is a power supply that converts single phase power to 3 phase power. They can power a machine with a single motor or multiple motors.

Rotary Converters are made up of a panel and an electrical generator. When the converter is on, the generator is spinning. The generator is basically a specially designed electric motor with no driveshaft. The generator needs to spin continuously even when there is no load on the converter. The larger the rotary phase converter, the more power it will consume to produce three-phase electricity from a single-phase source.

Rotary Phase Converters are a cost effective option and can work well for people with 1 or 2 machines, often in a home shop or commercial workshop.

A CNC Machine (A machine controlled by a computer)

If you have a machine that requires high-quality power, such as a CNC machine or a machine that is computer controlled then a Digital Phase Converter is the best option for you.

Digital Phase Converters produce high-quality power which is balanced across 3 lines. A digital phase converter is a power supply. Digital Phase Converters have the versatility to be able to connect directly to your machine or through a breaker panel to power multiple machines.

On a rotary converter, when the machine is loaded down the rotary converter’s voltage fluctuates. This would be problematic with a CNC machine. When you have a precision machine the voltage imbalance and fluctuation that can occur in a rotary phase converter can cause the motor on a CNC machine to not perform ideally. With a Digital Phase Converter, you get perfectly balanced power that can run your CNC seamlessly.

Whether you have a computer-controlled machine in your shop or farming equipment out in the field, Digital Phase Converters come in multiple different sizes and voltages to fit your phase conversion needs.

Make The Best Choice For Your Machine

If your machine uses computer controls then a digital phase converter will give you the best possible power. If your machine doesn’t use computer controls (for example, a table saw or edge bander) a rotary phase converter is a good cost-effective option. If you are looking to control the speed, or power a single motor then a VFD may be right for your job.

Let the experienced journeymen at Electram help you find the right phase converter for your equipment. Give us a call or fill out our quick and easy phase converter checklist to get your machine up and running in no time!

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