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What is three-phase current

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between single phase current and three phase current? The three-phase current, or three-phase current installation, is a type of installation that is used in large complexes, such as factories or warehouses, in which a very high power is required for the electrical equipment to work perfectly. The triphasic current becomes a common method of generation, transmission and distribution of alternating current powerspecifically from three simultaneous alternating currents.

What is three-phase current

In other words, it is an installation with three phases of alternating current that have the same direction of electron flow and that arrive and return at regular intervals, like the electricity that comes from the sockets in the house. This current is the most used by the systems of the general electrical networks around the world —or what is the same, by the light wiring that passes through the electricity poles—. Although, it is also used in the world of photovoltaic solar panels due to the large amount of energy they generate —depending on the type of installation that is carried out, of course—. Next, we explain in detail what triphasic current, or triphasic alternating current, consists of, how triphasic current is generated and what the differences are between monophasic and triphasic current, among others. Go for it!

What is triphasic current?

The definition of three-phase current, or three-phase alternating current, has to do with the system in which energy is distributed, produced and consumed. This electrical energy It is made up of three single-phase alternating currents. that have a phase difference between them of 120º electrical —with balanced loads—. That is, triphasic energy is one that has 3 phases and 3 alternating currents. Now, what exactly does this mean? What really happens with the three-phase alternating current is that it is made up of 3 single-phase alternating currents. Single-phase alternating currents are those with a single phase and a alternating current from 220 to 230 volts.

Single-phase installations have a total of two or three cables inside them —depending on each installation—. In the case of having only two cables, this type of single-phase installation will be bipolar. The current flows through one, while the other wire is neutral. In the event that it has three cables, the installation is called tripolar. This means that it has a total of three cables: the power cable, the neutral cable and the ground cable. A three-phase installation has three phases of single-phase installations inside it, so inside it can contain from 6 to 9 cables —as we explained, depending on the single-phase installations—. In addition, electric current circulates through each of the three phases of which this installation is made up.

What is triphasic current used for?

A three-phase current system intensifies the capacity of energy that can circulate through it, the one that it can distribute or the one that it can generate —as in the case of the three-phase current for solar energy—. The voltage of the three-phase current is 380 volts.. This type of energy is used for large factories, as well as for motors, electrical grid installations and solar panels. In general, it is an alternating current system that is used when the facilities of a place require a high power, greater than 14.49 kW. As we mentioned, its installation is carried out mainly in shops, industrial buildings and factories, although we can also find it in photovoltaic solar installations for industrial complexes. In this case we would refer to three-phase current photovoltaic panels for solar energy.

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How is the three-phase current generated?

Three-phase electrical current is generated from alternators that have three coils. These wrap around three other pole piece systems that are equidistant from each other. What is achieved with triphasic energy is generate three different voltages with a phase difference between each of 120º. This is achieved by rotating the magnetic field through three coils separated by 120º angles.

What type of electrical installation do I need in my house?

Usually the most suitable installation for a home it is single-phase. This is so because most of the electrical devices or household appliances will not need a power as high as that which may be needed by the devices in a factory, for example. That is, it is less than 14.49 kW. In fact, most electrical appliances are single phase. It is possible that some old homes have three-phase installations, in which case it is recommended that you switch to a single-phase installation to save electricity costs, among others.

Difference Between Single Phase and Three Phase Current

The differences between single-phase and three-phase current are several, as we have seen in this article. Next, we briefly and concisely detail what are the main differences between single-phase currents and three-phase currents —or alternating three-phase currents—:

  • Constitution: While the single-phase installation uses an alternating current in a single phase, the three-phase current uses three in different phases. This gives rise to a difference of 120º electrical between each phase of alternating current.
  • Voltage: The voltage of single-phase current, or single-phase current systems, are lower than those of three-phase current. In the case of single-phase current voltage, this is usually between 220 and 230 volts, while in the case of three-phase installations the voltage is usually 380 volts.
  • Power: The power required for a three-phase current so that the electrical components that are connected to it can work is usually greater than 14.49 kW, while, in the case of single-phase current installations, the voltage is much lower.
  • Use: The use of three-phase alternating current is closely linked to department stores, factories, solar panels, motors, etc. In the case of single-phase alternating current, its use is more ideal for homes or electrical appliances in common use, as well as for household appliances.

These are the concepts that define what the triphasic current is.

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