Which should you choose for your power consumption?

ITA Electrical on 9 December 2019

When making upgrades to your home you naturally want to be as informed as possible. The electricity you choose to use is a huge part of the efficiency of your home, and can make a big difference to your comfort (and your power bill).

Homes which are connected to the grid, as opposed to being powered by alternative energy sources such as solar, will predominately operate using either single phase or three phase power. 

You may have heard these terms and may be wondering what the difference is, and how it affects you. In this article we are going to discuss the differences between single and three phase power, and look at where each type of power is best used.

The wrong type of power can lead to electrical problems, while the right power choices can help you save on your power bill. This article will help you make the right choice between single and three phase power for your home and family. 


Single phase vs 3 phase power: What is the difference?

Single phase power

single phase vs 3 phase power

Single phase power is common in many new homes and businesses.

  1. Single phase power is transported using two wires: active and neutral.
  2. When you use power, electricity which is drawn from the grid flows through the active wire.
  3. The neutral wire is connected to the earth at your switchboard, and provides a path back to the switchboard in the event of an overload or fault.
  4. If a fault happens the breaker will trip or a fuse will blow, cutting off your electricity supply and keeping you safe

Single phase power creates a single sine wave due to the two wire conductors which are distributing the power.

Three phase power

3 phase power

Three phase power is common in larger homes, commercial sites, and businesses.

  1. Three phase power has four wires: three active and one neutral.
  2. The neutral wire is connected to the earth at the switchboard and will circuit back to the switchboard in the event of a fault, protecting your premises.

Three phase power relies on three coils mounted on a rotor at 120 degree intervals, and this configuration produces three sine wave voltages.

How to know which type of power you have?

The easiest way to find out what type of power you have in your home is to check your fuse box. If you have three fuses (black rectangular cartridges) you have three phase power. If you have one fuse, you have single phase power. If you cannot access your fuse box or are unsure, an electrician can assist you to identify what type of power you have.

What are the benefits of each type of power?

The benefits of single phase power supply

When you have single phase power in your home or business you can run small appliances such as fans, heaters, and air conditioners up to 1,000 Watts.

The benefits of single phase power include:

  • Less expensive to purchase compared to three phase power
  • Versatile and can be transmitted long distances over two wires
  • Sufficient power use for a family home with standard appliances

The benefits of three phase power

Three phase power gives you the capacity to transmit three times as much power using fewer wires. 

Benefits of three phase power include:

  • Consistent load and increased performance compared to single phase power
  • Peak start currents are half the level needed for similar single phase motors — so less issues with power dips and flickering when a large motor is started, for example
  • Superior performance in a smart home, or a home where more appliances are being used consistently

Which type of power do you need for your home?

power consumption

The type of power you wish to have in your home will depend on the amount of power you are using, and what type of concurrent use you wish to employ. 

  • Single phase is best for homes where the largest electrical load comes from something like a dryer and an electric range.
  • Three phase power is superior when multiple appliances or electrical devices are being used and where power consumption performance is important. 

It is best to speak to a qualified electrician about the type of power you need for your home or business.

Switching from single phase to 3 phase power

If you are thinking about changing the heating sources in your home, if you are looking to install extra appliances such as smart home technology, or if you are looking to add in a pool, then you may need to increase to three phase power to meet the additional demands of these appliances. 

When it comes to your home, three phase power is a solid investment in your future energy needs. It makes sense to look at three phase power as part of any home upgrades you are making. 

Speak to an ITA Electrical technician about your power consumption today. We can help ensure your power needs are met with three phase power supply.