I’m not an electrician. I don’t play with electricity. However I purchased a bandsaw mill that is powered by a 3 phase electric motor. Currently at the farm I don’t have 3 phase electric. I’ve got a few options. One would be replace the electric motor with a Diesel engine. I could also purchase a 3 phase generator which would allow mobility as well. A friend suggested a third option, a phase converter. I have zero experience with this setup so I’m wondering if it’s reasonable. I could also call the power company and have a 3 phase service installed but it’s expensive and prevents mobility with the mill. I’m asking for suggestions as usual from folks that know more than me. Thanks in advance. I don’t have the numbers in front of me at the moment but the mill is fully hydraulic and can handle 24’ logs with 28” diameter.
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What hp is your 3 phase motor? If less than 5 hp, might consider replacing the three phase motor with a single phase motor.
The industrial phase converters I have seen are large & heavy. Maybe attach it to a 1/2 pallet base for moving.
I used to repair machine tools and am familiar with your situation. In my shop, I used a device called a Phase A Matic phase converter to start 3 phase motors on equipment I was working on. The devices are available in several sizes based on what the HP of the motor is you are starting. They are basicaly a capacitor and a relay that creates the third phase for starting then drops out and the motor runs on 2 phase with a small drop in efficency. Not that expensive either. Do a google search and you will find them all over the place. Good luck, let me know if you have any questions.
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You want a VFD, variable frequency drive that converts single to three phase.
I've had a phase converter for years but if I was doing it over or this one broke down a VFD would replace it.
Do a search, read up on them and call one of the vendors you like. You can even buy them on Amazon but I would use someone that specialized in them so you can get any technical questions answered.
Avoid buying ChiCom/CCP products whenever possible.
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I don't know anything about it but this thread discusses VFD installations.
Milsurp diesel generators are cheap. Last year I almost bought a 25kw unit for $3200. It was trailered and ready to go. You can get 10kw units for even less. I ended up going with a 15kw unit powered by a Kubota 1505v driving a Marathon 3 phase generator. I paid $2200 for it. It was a pull from a Sunbelt Rentals light tower.
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A variable speed drive is not going to convert single phase to three phase . It's used to vary the speed of a motor .
You have several choices if you have 220v single phase power available. If the saw has a single motor, you can use a static phase converter. This would be cheapest option but you lose 1/3 of your HP. You can use a rotary phase converter which will give you full power and would also work if there are multiple motors in it. You can use a VFD. They can convert single to 3-phase and also give you variable speed. Prices are reasonable for these but they can be tricky to configure. I have had good luck with Phoenix rotary phase converters and the company gives great phone support to answer your questions.
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Years ago my older brother used a phase converter to power his Bridgeport mill in the garage of his tract home. Worked great. Sorry, don’t know the brand. It was a rotary and had 240v single phase as the input and 240v three phase as the output. He used it happily until he moved where he had three phase.
As someone who deals with a lot of diesel equipment on the ranch and just finished a refresh of the four inverters and the battery bank that power our off-grid solar house, I would not be looking to replace with diesel. Not that a bandsaw is quiet, but I’d prefer not to listen to a diesel motor as well while cutting, without even going into the ongoing maintenance.
We do use a couple of VFDs, and if I remember correctly, the VFD installations involved replacing the single phase motors on the pumps with three phase motors, so I expect that a VFD can convert single phase to three phase. There does seem to be a bit of programming involved and I know nothing about the efficiency of a VFD versus a phase converter.
My suggestion would be to read up on and study both and make your own decision. My experience with tradesmen has been that often they tend to be very knowledgeable about what they have experience with and tend to push that solution over others they are unfamiliar with regardless of efficiency or cost. I can’t blame them, it is often a pain in the neck figuring out to get XYZ to work and given that the customer is going to want them to get it to work, it is natural to push the solution where they know what they are getting into.
By researching and understanding the pros and cons, you’ll better understand the trade offs. You may well choose the less efficient option or the more costly option for the same efficiency in order to go with something that the tradesman you are working knows and is comfortable standing behind, but you’ll know what trade offs you are making.
You sir, have NO IDEA what can be done with modern 230 volt single and/or 3-phase vfds.
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I bought a lathe and milling machine a few years ago that were 3 phase. I bought a phase converter sized to the bigger piece of equipment and wired in multiple receptacles. Got mine from American Rotary and never had any issues. Guy that I ended up selling the equipment to was beyond happy when I told him the phase converter was included.
I use a homemade 5hp rotary phase converter for my machine tools. It works great.
My newest edition is a bandsaw which is 3ph. I opted for a VFD for it. They're great but not as versatile as a rotary phase converter.
From the sounds of it, a saw this big with hydraulic pumps etc. Will need some pretty significant HP. They make VFDs for this but you'll need a big one and their not cheap when your talking over 7HP (especially going from single to 3 phase) from what I've seen.
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pillboxesghost is correct.
For many many years at work, we've been using Variable Frequency Drives to turn single phase power into 3-phase power. Lower power bills but the real money saver is it frequently saves us running 3-phase power lines for miles.
I had a family member screw up on a purchase at his hobby farm. He bought a $5000 3-phase electrical device (should have bought two $2600 single phase devices) and thought he was FUBAR'd. He called me feeling sorry for himself and I told him about VFDs. Also, told him to fire his residential electrician and hire an electrician with an industrial background. A week later the new electrician had everything up and running with the VFD. The new electrician said he had dozens and dozens of farmers as customers and they all powered their corn/soybean irrigation pumps with 3-phase and VFDs.
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