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Three Phase Versus Single Phase Energy Meters

Have you ever heard of the term "three phase and single phase meters"? If you have applied for a meter service from ECG, my guess is that you might have heard of these terms. But what are three phase and single phase meters? And what are the differences? I am sure you must be wondering why you must even care, after all, all that you need as a customer is a service. However, it is worth having an understanding of the types of services ECG provides, and which one will best meet your need. I would say you need this understanding even before you get your house or property wired by a qualified electrician.

It is very important, since the three phase and single phase terminologies are not just words but in most cases have financial implications. The type of wiring in your residence or a commercial property could be meant for a three phase or single phase connection. Knowing the kind of connection you actually need beforehand will save you some unnecessary expenditure.  Let me try and give it a shot without sounding too technical.

 

The types of meter, apart from the several classifications there are, can be grouped into either single phase (1ph) or three phase (3ph) meters. The kind of meter suitable for a customer's need would depend mainly on the kind of installation one has. Customers with high electricity demand, such as commercial and industrial customers, would require 3ph energy meters, whilst residential customers with comparably low demand would require 1ph energy meters.

The infographic below details the major differences between single phase and three phase meters:

threephasevrssingle3

Table: Main Difference between single phase and three phase meters

With the above, it is important that your house is wired by a qualified electrician depending on the service you require.

Three phase wiring is much more expensive than the single phase wiring. Therefore if you require a single phase service based on the explanation above, there is no need wiring the house for a three phase service.

Myth: Three phase customers enjoy supply frequently

There are some residential facilities with 3phase energy meters. This could be as a result of some 3phase equipment/machine like big pumps or equipment/machine used in the house.

Assuming there is a fault on one phase, customers are normally in the habit of swapping all their 1phase equipment to the healthy phases thereby enjoying power supply.

This is what results in the myth that 3phase customers enjoy frequent supply.

The Truth is, the swapping of 1phase loads (equipment/machine) from faulted phases to healthy phases damages transformers that serve the entire community. This is because you will end up damaging the other healthy phases by overloading them. Transformers work best when all the phases have the same amount of load (power consumption). As such, swapping of loads will result in an imbalance which could possibly damage the transformer.

Conclusion

  1. Go for a three phase energy meter if you have three phase equipment
  2. Swapping of loads on 3phase systems results in transformer damage.
  3. Choosing a single phase service and wiring would save you unnecessary expenditure

The next time you want to apply for a meter I believe you would remember Three Phase and Single Phase and know which of them will best suit your needs.

 

  About the Author

 

Enoch Yaw Asante is an Electrical Engineer with the Central Regional Substation Maintenance Unit.

He is currently the Safety Officer for the Central Region.

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