Most homes in Australia have single phase power but if you have larger home, you might be connected to the grid by 3 phase power. Electricity is generated and distributed in 3 phases which is why you see multiple overhead cables on the poles in the street. Having 3 phases allows us to have both 240V and 415V power from the same electricity supply.
Here are tips from Kenner Electrics, your reliable Eastern Melbourne Electrician
What is the difference between Single Phase and 3 Phase power?
Single phase power has two wires; an active and a neutral. It supplies power at around 240 volts and is used in homes and businesses for most appliances and lighting.
3 phase power has four wires; three actives and one neutral, and supplies power at both 240V and 415V. When we bring 3 phase supply into a home it triples the amount of power available. This is because we have access to all 3 phases, so essentially this means we have 3 x single phase supplies connected.
In larger homes that might have hundreds of power points, lots of 240V cooking appliances and larger 415V 3 phase air-conditioners, having access to more power is essential to make sure that a single phase is not overloaded which will cause it to nuisance trip.
So why would I need 3 Phase power at home?
3 phase power is able to cope with the electricity demands of larger and more powerful appliances. This is why it is more commonly used in commercial and industrial settings for driving big pieces of equipment that need a lot of power. But you may need it for your home if you have a big air-conditioning system, large electric cooktop, powerful instantaneous electric hot water system or a home workshop with machinery. Upgrading to 3 phase power will mean you can safely run all your appliances simultaneously without worrying about them tripping the circuits.
Most small homes and apartments don’t need 3 phase power as all their appliances and power needs will run perfectly well on single phase supply. But if you’re renovating or adding high-energy appliances, talk to your electrician to get advice on whether you need 3 phase power.
How do I know which type of power I have at my house?
Have a look at your main switch in your switchboard. If it is 1 pole wide (about 1 finger width), then your electricity supply is single phase. If the main switch is 3-pole wide (about 3 finger widths), then you’ve likely got 3 phase power.
Another way to tell is that it’s usually written on your electricity meter. But if the jargon on your electricity meter is too hard to figure out, you can just give your electricity distributor (such as United Energy) a call and they’ll be able to let you know.
What do I do if I need to upgrade to 3 phase power?
If you need to upgrade to 3 phase power, or if you’re building a new home with large power needs, get in contact with Kenner Electrics. Our qualified electricians will be able to help you through the entire process, and will submit all the paperwork to the electricity distributor on your behalf.