When companies pair their generators with power distribution equipment (or purchase a generator with a power distribution panel already built in), they gain a lot more flexibility from the electricity that the generator supplies. They also save on energy costs, which is both financially and environmentally beneficial.
Despite this fact, it’s amazing how many firms with an industrial diesel or natural gas generator don’t take advantage of the benefits inherent in power distribution equipment. Following are some insights you may find helpful in making your own decisions.
Three-Phase to Single-Phase
Most industrial generators, whether they are prime or backup generators, are what is called three-phase. The power needed for a lot of work site equipment—everything from charging portable devices to running construction tools—must be single-phase. As a result, many companies rely upon “voltage switches” that are built into their generators to convert the power to single phase.
This is simple but financially draining solution. Three-phase is a much more efficient waveform than single-phase, because it uses a lesser amount of conductive material to transmit the electrical power. We won’t discuss the mechanics of alternating current electric power generation here or why using less conductor material makes a difference. If you need verification, any electrician can confirm this fact.
When you use a generator’s voltage switch to convert the power coming out of the generator to single phase, you lose the 30% of the energy that a three-phase generator cranks out. The generator cannot do anything with it, so it just dissipates, unused.
If the conversion is handled by power distribution products—either installed in a panel of an enclosed generator or a operating as a standalone unit—no power is wasted, because the power distribution unit is matched to the voltage output of the generator. It is specifically designed to put that entire three-phase output to work. That means you save fuel and may be able to purchase a smaller generator to meet your needs.
The alternative is to purchase separate three-phase and single-phase generators to avoid wasting power. Why would you want to do that if your three-phase generator has sufficient load capacity to meet both your three-phase and single-phase power needs?
A Wealth of Options
Furthermore, power distribution units come with such a wide range of connection options now that you can connect just about any type of electrically powered equipment to them. Need emergency lighting? If your power distribution panel has the right connections, you can run those lights off your generator and not buy standalone lighting towers with built-in generators. Want to run both three-phase and single-phase equipment from a single, three-phase generator? If your power distribution equipment has Cam-Lok-style connectors as well as outlets, you can.
Of course, your generator and your power distribution unit (or the combined package) must provide the right connections and panel configurations to meet your needs or you still will not be reaping value from your generator. In our next article, we’ll offer some thoughts about selecting power distribution equipment.
HIPOWER SYSTEMS manufactures a wide array of convenient, portable power distribution equipment you can browse on our site. We also invite you to sign up for myHIPOWER to gain access to extended site benefits and to call us about your needs and criteria at 913-495-5557.
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