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Author Topic: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)  (Read 714 times)

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Offline Woodslabs

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Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« on: October 10, 2017, 11:14:56 am »
Hi All,

Recently purchased a 16 HP 240V 3 phase planer.  My shop only has single phase.  I had someone recommend phase perfect but they quoted me $5500 USD.  I only need one machine to run on 3 phase.  I was under the impression that the converter would be cheaper.  Am i looking at the wrong kind or are they really that expensive.

Offline Crusarius

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 11:41:10 am »
I purchased a static converter for my mill it was only $70. but that was for a 3 HPO motor. I don't know how well running that unit will work using a static converter but it may be worth looking into. Rotary ones are not cheap. Someone else will have to talk about VFD since I know nothing about them.
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Offline Larry

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 12:51:03 pm »
Phase Perfect uses a different technology (high dollar) to make a converter.  You would only need one if your running computer controlled stuff. 

A regular rotary phase converter just uses a idler motor, few capacitors, and a relay or two.  Plenty good for a planer.  I could build a turn key job for less than $200 easy.  Store bought big enough might cost a couple of thousand.  Make sure you have enough single phase power for 16 HP, DC, lighting, and HVAC.

A VFD would be too expensive for 16 HP.
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Offline woodworker9

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 03:53:19 pm »
Go check out American Rotary's website. 

I have built one of my own, and have purchased two from American Rotary.  The typical rule of thumb is that you will need twice the size rotary phase converter as the size of the machine you will want to start.  That being said, often less is capable.  For instance, I can start a 7.5 hp mill I have with my 10 hp converter, simply by starting my 5 hp table saw first, on the same circuit.  The table saw acts as a booster to the starting capacity of the RPC.

Similarly, I operate a 15 hp 30" planer with a 20 hp CNC balanced RPC.  Once again, I start any 5 hp machine in the shop first, and then start the planer.  Once it's running, everything can be turned off except the planer, and it will run just fine.

No offense to any previous poster, but static phase converters are very hard on motors, especially larger ones.  A static converter runs out of balance, and will ruin a motor much faster, depending on the load.  I wouldn't recommend it for any motor, let alone a 16 hp motor.  The magic blue smoke comes out sooner than you ever want it to.

For a 30 hp converter, you will need a dedicated circuit of 100 amps to power it.  Start up requirements can get up to 140% over rated draw, and you have to account for that so you are not blowing the breaker all the time.  A properly made RPC, like American Rotary, allows for that in their units. 

I don't work there......just a happy customer, several times over.   I run 23 different 3 phase machines in my shop, varying from 3/4 hp up to 15 hp.
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Offline Woodslabs

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 08:35:28 pm »
I spoke with them today and i think i narrowed one down for around 2k.  I have 135 amps going into my shop and the planer looks to be around a 90 amp breaker. dust extraction will be 22 amps. Lights are all LED.  Does anyone know how to calculate the exact max amps the planer will pull?

so it looks like it will pull around 45 3 phase amps

so 45x 1.73 =  77.9 amps.

Not too bad :)


Online 4x4American

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 09:53:35 pm »
If I'm not mistaken, look at the data tag on the motor, where it says FLA is your answer.  FLA = full load amperage. 
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Online YellowHammer

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2017, 11:05:12 pm »
Another vote for American Rotary phase converter.
When I bought my Straight Line Rip saw, the seller would not warrant it unless it was powered by American Rotary.
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Offline Stuart Caruk

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2017, 11:43:09 pm »
On the plus side, a planer starts up without a load, so it's a simple matter to build your own phase converter for it. My first one used a 25HP three phase motor, with a single phase kicker and a spare disconnect I had lying around. Total cost was around $125.

I still use it today, and it was built over 25 years ago. My main converter now though is based on a 60 HP 3 phase motor, balanced with caps. It's been running 80KVA rated very high dollar CNC machines for years with zero issues. Cost me $200 +/- to build.

If you have access to 3 phase motors, building a converter is simple, and a rotary converter works way better than an electronic device.
Stuart Caruk
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Offline Morewood

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2017, 10:03:35 pm »
Look into a V.F.D , 
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Offline woodworker9

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Re: Phase Converters (single to 3 phase)
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 09:27:50 pm »
Look into a V.F.D ,

VFD's are great.  I have 2 machines that I run off of VFD's....my Oliver patternmaker's lathe, and my 2X72 belt grinder.  Both are made more versatile by being able to change speeds easily.  Both machines are under 3 hp..

For a 16 hp motor, however, a VFD would be cost ineffective for creating 3 phase out from single phase input power.  A VFD gets derated by 50% for single phase input control, so a 32 hp VFD would be required........that would be a sizable investment.
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