3-phase noob moving to Australia


#1

Well, as some of you may know, in a few months I’m moving to Australia with my wife and I have a TON of projects to work on before losing all the support and tools DMS has to offer.

Many of you have seen me working on my electric brewing setup (using a couple of stainless kegs for my HLT, Mash Tun, Bill Kettle, and fermenter). And while the ‘2-phase’ setup I’ve been using off of my 4 wire dryer outlet (120/120/N/G) has been working great, the electrical system down under is very different and very limited.

With that in mind, I’m goin to start converting my setup to work on the three phase 408 (or whatever 230v mains gets me)… while I have a good grasp of the way things work pulling from US 2 phases (2x 120), I have no idea how I’d start converting to the new system and not melt… or worse burn up… my system.

Anyone want to help explain what I may be walking into?


#2

Having lived overseas for about 15 years while working, the main thing to be aware of AC electric motors. Going from 60hz to 50hz can cause them to overheat even if a transformer is used to correct voltage. If you have major appliances you are taking, look to buy the correct motor and swap it out.

Other advice: If you like Mexican food - load up on spices to take with you! One thing great about Aussies is they love the barbie, Texans fit in very well there.

Have a grand adventure!


#3

I think you might be ok. You are still single phase like here just your frequency is different. Not sure if they have a Neutral or not. They basically don’t have 120v


#4

My question though is what happens if I’m not using the 3 phases together… I realize that they go out through the neutral, but what if I have one heating element using one phase (and neutral) and another heating element using another phase (and neutral) and a pump using the 3rd phase (and neutral).

How does one wire something like this and not go poof?


#5

Spices for sure. They have majorly bland food.


#6

The long answer: Aussieland is a 230 / 400 V country. Having done a little research, I can tell you that means that they distribute power using a wye-transformer configuration (see image on the LEFT):

https://www.plugsocketmuseum.nl/US/ThreePhaseSchemes.jpg

What that means, is that for your project you need L1, plus neutral, N, and a ground for good measure.

Connecting any single leg to N will get you your 230V. Connect the two legs together (ignore neutral, its not needed here) and you would get 400V, single phase. Connect L1 to L2, L2 to L3, and L3 to L1, and you’d have all three phases, each delivering 400V. You’re actually not going to be doing this. You’re just using single-phase 230V

For reference, your USA standard residential power distro is the image on the right, above. You’re heating elements are most likely using L1 and L2 to get 240V, and all the home brew mash pumps I’ve seen run 120V, which is just a single leg wired to neutral.

The short answer: You have a heating element and a motor. Basic. Your heating shit should work fine. The heating elements are all 240V, and that’s close enough to 230V (seriously, though somebody’s gonna bitch at me). Your pumps may need to be switched from 120 to 240 or 230, if they’re not already 240V. More importantly, take a picture of the data plate, that will tell us what the motor is rated for and whether it can handle 50hz. If it can’t, you’re buying new chugger pumps, rated for 230V/50Hz. Getting them down under will likely be more cost efficient than buying them here in USA. Over there, one prong of your plug will be L1, the other N, ground on the bottom, and you won’t need a L2.


#7

In the USA, with a typical RESIDENTIAL service, 120/240V, you can’t get three phase cause you’re in delta (wild-leg / high-leg) configuration.

With COMMERCIAL 120/208V you can get three phase 208V and do what you’re thinking of, because its a Wye (star) transformer. You can do what you’re talking about all day long; it’s called load-balancing. You’re balancing three single phase loads across a single three phase supply, and this is good practice.