A generator is a critical appliance for your home and business during times of a brownout or a blackout. If you are looking to buy your first one or to upgrade your current model to a more powerful or advanced generator, one thing you must consider is to buy a single-phase or three-phase generator.
In this article, we will highlight the major differences among single-phase and three-phase generators and under which circumstances you should buy a single-phase or a three-phase generator.
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Single-Phase vs. Three-Phase Generators
Both the types of generator convert mechanical energy into electrical energy using a combustion engine and Faraday’s law of electricity. We have done considerable research on generators and we are happy to share our knowledge with you so that you can make the best possible decision.
It is pertinent to highlight the basic working mechanism of a single-phase generator. A single-phase system produces electricity by forming single alternate current and all the voltage differs in an identical way.
Single phase voltage is 120 volts and it is delivered in alternate current (AC) power. Single-phase generators use two wires to distribute electric current to the mainline of your electrical system. One wire carries the live current and the other wire is neutral. The current flow between the two wires in a cyclical manner and the electrical current change in magnitude and direction.
If you want to run appliances like electrical lights, heating and small electric motors like the ones found in small water pumps and devices like mobile phone chargers and your internet modem, then single-phase generator is a good choice.
In a single-phase generator, the total power can also be consumed by a single appliance. The reason behind it is that the entire power of the generator applies to the single phase.
Since the power capacity of a single phase-generators is less, they also require less fuel to run and produce electricity.
The price tag of single-phase generators is high as compared to three-phase generators. The increase in the prices is due to the high price of the alternator that is used in them.
Other Specifications and Maintenance
Apart from the parts in the generator where the type of current generation is decided, single-phase and three-phase generators almost have the same specification and same equipment. Spark plug, air filters, exhaust system, and batteries are the same in both types of generators. There is no difference in both the generators as far as the maintenance is concerned.
Dipping Power – A drawback
Single-phase generator has one obvious drawback attached to them and it is the issue of dipping power. They are not good at providing continuous and stable power to your appliances. So appliances that need a continuous and stable supply of electricity will not work well with a single-phase generator.
In a three-phase generator, the system is a system of production, distribution, and consumption of electrical energy formed by three alternating single-phase currents of equal frequency and amplitude. The frequency and amplitude have a phase difference if 120 degrees between.
Three-phase generator uses a four wire AC system with three power wires and one neutral wire.
Three-phase generators are used to power heavy appliances. Almost all the industrial and commercial generators are three phase systems. If you want to power your entire home during an electrical outage, you also need to buy a three-phase generator.
In a three-phase generator, the total power is divided into three phases, a connected appliance can consume up to one-third of the total power being produced by the generator. If the connected device starts to eat up more power than one-third of the power, this can result in serious consequences of the generator. Therefore, it is important that the load should be carefully added on the generator.
The fuel consumption of the three-phase generator is according to the size of the generator. There is no noticeable difference in the fuel consumption ratio when it comes to the phase selection of the generator.
Other Specification and Maintenance
As already explained, there is no such difference in both the types. If any issues arise, you will have to pay the repairing cost according to the problem diagnosed and not according to the phase type of your generator.
Three-phase generators offer continuous power supply and are more stable in operation as compared to single-phase generators.
Conclusion: Which is better and why?
Single-phase generator is usually used for residential purposes where you only intend to run small devices as we already explained. It is an ideal generator for rural areas; small equipment can run very well without constant high power. Single-phase generators operate between 120-140 volts, this power range is ideal for small devices. If you are looking for a small source of power to be used occasionally, then you can buy the single-phase generator.
The three-phase generator is used for commercial and industrial purposes. Places like hospitals, banks, grocery stores, data centres, and shopping malls have three phase-generators installed. Three phase-generators are highly efficient for equipment that is designed to run on a three-phase system. They are more reliable than single-phase generators. If your use is more frequent and needs a large source of power which is stable and reliable, then you must get a three-phase generator as a secondary source of electrical power.
The final verdict about the superiority of one over another really depends on the intended use of the generator. As already explained in the above couple of paragraphs, the use of each varies. If you try to run three-phase devices on single-phase generator, it will be catastrophic for both the device and the generator.