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Difference Between Single-Phase and Three-Phase Systems

Single-Phase vs Three-Phase Systems

When it comes to delivering power from one point to another, there are two common ways of doing so; single-phase and three-phase systems. There are also higher order poly-phase systems, but those are less common. The main difference between three-phase and single-phase systems is the number of separate currents that are sent across the lines. A single-phase system only has one sine wave voltage while three-phase systems use three, separate sine waves that are offset 120 degrees from each other.

Since a single-phase system only has one, it only needs two wires to complete the circuit. In comparison, three-phase systems need at least three wires, one for each phase. But a fourth wire may also be employed to serve as the neutral line.

What we have in our homes are single-phase systems. This is mainly because of its simplicity and because single-phase systems were established long before three-phase systems. What most people do not know is that electric companies utilize three-phase systems in order to deliver the power from the plant right to the transformers which then split the signals into separate single-phase lines and are fed to our homes. Industrial plants and those who use large, electric-powered machines also prefer three-phase systems over single-phase systems for the reasons outlined below.

Power distribution companies prefer three-phase systems because they are more economical in terms of the cables they need. A three-wire, three-phase system increases the power delivered at the same voltage and current levels by about 73 per cent compared to a two-wire, single-phase system that only increases the conductor needed by 50 per cent since you only add one additional wire.

With industrial establishments, three-phase systems are preferred because of their greater efficiency when it comes to electric motors. A three-phase supply is able to create a rotating magnetic field that controls the movement of the shaft. It greatly simplifies the design of motors, reduces wasted energy, reduces vibrations, and eliminates the need for parts that easily wear out like commutators and slip rings.

Summary:

1.Single-phase systems use a single, sine wave voltage while a three-phase system uses three.
2.A single-phase system uses two wires while a three-phase system uses three or four.
3.Three-phase systems are used mostly in industrial environments while single-phase systems are used in homes.
4.Three-phase systems are less costly for transferring power than single-phase systems.
5.A three-phase system performs better in motors than single-phase systems.


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