Power Outages And Three Phase Electric Power

Power outages can be destructive to sensitive electronic equipment, resulting in data loss and possible physical damage as power is restored and surges into vulnerable components.

However, sudden loss of power can also cause damage to massive industrial equipment that are running on three phase electric power systems.

What is three phase electric power and why is it used in industrial equipment?

Three phase power systems use three separate lines working in synchronicity rather than a larger single phase line in large capacity applications, such as in powering industrial motors. This enables the use of smaller conductors and a constant supply of instant power.

Three phase systems are designed for each line to work in conjunction with the other two lines, with one line supplying power as the previous line stops, maintaining a constant steady flow of power.

This configuration is ideal for electric motors, because it can be designed to create a directional magnetic field that can compliment the consistent turning of electric motors.

What happens to three phase equipment when power outages occur?

Because the three lines are interdependent but still separate from each other, equipment damage may occur when power loss and a resulting surge takes place. Three phase systems are usually protected by a separate fuse box that is placed between the main breaker or fuse that controls power to the equipment.

This added protection consists of three separate fuses that work to shut off power to the phase line that is operating when power is lost and restored, saving the machinery from the effects of a power surge.

What can you do when a power outage occurs?

The most important action you can take to prevent possible damage to machinery powered by three phased systems is to turn off the machinery as soon as possible. Power loss sometimes occurs for only a few seconds, so you may have only a minimal amount of time to prevent damage from a power surge.

What should you do if your equipment doesn't work after a power outage?

Your first step should be to test the three fuses in the fuse box at the machinery location. You will first need to turn off the main breaker or fuse box to the equipment before you attempt to remove and test the three fuses in the secondary box. 

You'll need an industrial fuse puller/tester tool for this task. Test all three fuses for viability and replace as necessary. You must replace the fuses with the identical voltage capacity as the original fuses.

If the machinery is still inoperable or fuses keep blowing, you will need to bring in an industrial electrician to diagnose and repair the problem. Contact a business, such as Brian Thornton Sons Electric, for more information about industrial electrical work.   

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