Single-Phase vs Three Phase Generators

Published On: September 13, 20230 Comments on Single-Phase vs Three Phase GeneratorsTags: Last Updated: January 24, 20244.1 min read

Generators are a critical part of modern life. Hiring a generator keeps our construction, mining and healthcare industries moving, providing a reliable source of electricity when mains power isn’t available. Generators come in a huge range of sizes and functions, depending on the application. From emergency backups to power for commercial and industrial sites, generators are one of the most convenient solutions for keeping your facility powered.

portable generator

In this article we’ll explore the two core types of generators, as well as how three phase generators are commonly used.

What is Single-Phase Power?

Single-phase power is a type of electrical power distribution where electricity is transmitted using an Alternating Current waveform. It is usually used in residential homes, small businesses and small industrial applications. In a single-phase system, there is only one voltage waveform that varies in magnitude and direction over time.

The voltage waveform in single-phase power alternates between positive and negative values, completing one full cycle in a fixed period of time. In most countries, this cycle occurs at a frequency of 50 or 60 hertz (Hz). This type of system is easily capable of carrying the 240V electricity that’s commonly found in houses and used by household devices. A single-phase power system typically consists of two conductors – the “live” or “hot” wire, which carries the alternating current, and the neutral wire, which completes the circuit. In some cases, a protective grounding wire is also included.

What is Three Phase Power?

Three phase power uses three separate AC waveforms that are out of phase with each other by 120 degrees. This is commonly used in industrial, commercial and large-scale electrical systems where higher power demands are required. Three phase power provides several advantages over single-phase power, including higher efficiency and the ability to deliver more power over longer distances. three phase power is supplied at voltages ranging from 240V to 415V, which are commonly required by industrial and commercial machinery.

In a three phase power system, there are three “live” or “hot” wires, each carrying an AC waveform. These three waveforms are generated simultaneously and have the same frequency, typically 50 or 60 Hz. The phase difference between each waveform results in a more balanced and constant power supply when compared to single-phase power.

three phase generator

Applications of Three Phase Generators

Three phase generators are commonly used in residential, commercial and industrial settings. The additional electricity they provide makes them highly suited to powering large machinery and equipment, as well as for supplying large sites with many small points of demand.

Some of the most common applications of three phase generators include:

  • Backup power banks – Major facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and shopping centres require backup power in the event of an outage. This power is usually supplied by banks of three phase generators that are capable of supplying large-scale sites.
  • Emergency relief – Generators are indispensable in the event of a disaster. They are used to power tools and equipment, as well as to supply electricity for disaster relief shelters.
  • Construction sites – Many new constructions take place on sites that aren’t connected to existing power supplies. Single-phase generators are commonly used, but construction sites tyically require three phase generators for tools such as welders and large-scale equipment.
  • Mine sites – Mine sites run 24/7 in remote locations. With high power demands, three phase generator banks are a critical component of keeping the operation moving.
  • Major events – Large events, festivals and concerts often use three phase power to supply lighting, audio equipment, rides and other facilities. This reduces the demand on the local grid and allows event organisers to control where and how participants are generating power.

Pros and Cons of Three Phase Generators

three phase generators provide serious power for major events and worksites. While 3 phase generator hire is a great way to ensure you have the electricity you need, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of the system:


  • More fuel and energy efficient than single-phase generators
  • Higher power generation requirements means that three phase generators are built with tougher engines and more durable components
  • three phase generators provide about 50% more power than a comparably sized single-phase generator
  • Most three phase generators can also supply single-phase power, allowing you to service all points of demand with a single system


  • three phase generators cost more to purchase and more to hire than a single-phase generator
  • Complex power generation and conversion components require more maintenance, more frequently
  • The additional power generation requirements makes three phase large and noisy, so they often aren’t suitable for residential applications

In the end, three phase generators are typically the most effective solution for commercial and industrial applications. The additional power generation capabilities are suitable for large-scale equipment, and the efficiencies offered by larger generators can make a big difference to overall expenses.

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