Three-phase voltage, frequency and number of wires
Although single-phase power is more prevalent today, three phase is still chosen as the power of choice for many different types of applications. Generators at power stations supply three-phase electricity. This is a way of supplying three times as much electricity along three wires as can be supplied through two, without having to increase the thickness of the wires. It is usually used in industry to drive motors and other devices.
three phase electricity is by its very nature a much smoother form of electricity than single-phase or two-phase power. It is this more consistent electrical power that allows machines to run more efficiently and last many years longer than their relative machines running on the other phases. Some applications are able to work with three-phase power in ways that would not work on single phase at all.
Three phase is a common method of electric power transmission. It is a type of polyphase system used to power motors and many other devices.
This article deals with where, how and why "three phase" is used. For information on the basic mathematics and principles of three phase see three-phase. For information on testing three phase equipment (kit) please see three-phase testing.
Three phase systems may or may not have a neutral wire. A neutral wire allows the three phase system to use a higher voltage while still supporting lower voltage single phase appliances. In high voltage distribution situations it is common not to have a neutral wire as the loads can simply be connected between phases (phase-phase connection).
Three phase has properties that make it very desirable in electric power systems. Firstly the phase currents tend to cancel one another (summing to zero in the case of a linear balanced load). This makes it possible to eliminate the neutral conductor on some lines. Secondly power transfer into a linear balanced load is constant, which helps to reduce generator and motor vibrations. Finally, three-phase systems can produce a magnetic field that rotates in a specified direction, which simplifies the design of electric motors. Three is the lowest phase order to exhibit all of these properties.
Most domestic loads are single phase. Generally three phase power either does not enter domestic houses at all, or where it does, it is split out at the main distribution board.
The three phases are typically indicated by colors which vary by country.
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