Is 3 phase power more efficient to generate/use?
How difficult or complicated is it going to be to provide balanced single phase load(s) from a 3 phase service? (equipment & controls required)
If I decide to get connected to the utility at some point, what types of equipment will I need? (3 phase compared to single phase.)
Is there anything else I should be aware of when determining whether to generate single or 3 phase power for my use and potential grid integration?
Here is my scenario:
I am purchasing a 2 acre property that has two buildings:
- a 16'x24' insulated, wired and plumbed single story steel pole bldg (converted dog kennel/house)
- a 20'x24' plywood clad, uninsulated, unwired pole shed (workshop).
There is no electric service on the property as the original electrical supply lines were removed and currently the closest transformer is approximately 300' from the closest building.
There is propane service and wood stoves together with a few small solar panels and a small wind generator hooked up with battery banks and inverters that supply a minimal amount of energy and heating for the buildings.
I have the capability to make biodiesel and clean vegetable oil and a couple diesel engines that can be used as power plants. I am looking into getting a PTO generator (tractor driven Power Take Off) to attach to the diesel engine which then can power the workshop and home and potentially a greenhouse in the future.
I envision also reclaiming and utilizing waste heat from this setup for space and/or water heating/cooling.
Looking forward as I start to layout electrical service and outlets in the unwired workshop and contemplate a separate aquaculture greenhouse in the future, I am trying to determine if my needs would best be served by providing 3 phase or single phase power for the tools and equipment I will be utilizing.
I currently do not own any 3 phase equipment but I am aware of the ability to acquire such at considerably reduced cost via auctions and used equipment sales and am cautiously leaning in that direction. My concerns however center around how costly and complicated it is going to be to separate and provide my single phase needs with a 3 phase generator and which scenario would provide the most efficient production and utilization of the electricity I will be producing. The house is already wired and utilizing single phase AC via PV and wind power. The load is small and optimized for off-grid living. Additional generator provided supply would allow conveniences not currently possible.
As it is my intention to start with a 25kW generator, I am also concerned about not wasting the excess capacity of the generator as my initial needs are considerably less than the 25kW potential maximum. Therefore, I want to investigate if it would be cost effective to pursue a grid intertie and dump my excess capacity to the grid as opposed to just dumping it or before designing an alternative storage/utilization capacity somehow (e.g. batteries, water pumping, alcohol distillation, thermal storage, greenhouse lighting, etc. etc.)
I assume that a future aquaculture venture would likely benefit from 3 phase equipment (lighting, pumps, ventilation, etc.)
My desire is self sufficiency. Waste of any kind is a pet peeve. Therefore the thrust of my questions revolve around:
Is 3 phase a more efficient method of producing and utilizing electrical energy and would it be smart to start with 3 phase generation and step down to provide single phase and possibly grid intertie requirements or should I generate single phase and step it up for specific 3 phase applications?
Cost is definitely a factor in this decision-making process. Therefore, I would like to know if installing 3 phase distribution infrastructure (wiring, transfer switch(s), inverters/converters, etc.) would be smarter than installing single phase distribution infrastructure (wiring, transfer switch(s), inverters/converters, etc.)?
I know that without specific equipment specs and firm usage applications it is impossible to arrive at precise cost estimates but in generalities, (conversion and control equipment, wiring and distribution infrastructure, generation, distribution and utilization efficiency, etc.) which is better and why, 3 phase or single phase?
Note: I'm in Wisconsin, USA. I am in a rural area with single family residences and farms. I don't envision needing 3P in the house, only in the shop and future greenhouse(s) or other crazy experiment(s).
Addendum: I will be producing potentially up to 25kW of electricity using very cheap fuel (vegetable oil and/or biodiesel) with a PTO driven generator designed for continuous operation. My conundrum is to find a use for the electricity generated in the most efficient manner. I have the option of generating either 3 phase or single phase primary power. The shop building is not wired for electricity and there currently is no greenhouse or other major loads to utilize generated capacity. Generated electricity will eventually need to be distributed to various structures on a 2 acre property and there is the potential to tie in to the grid (if the utility will permit such). The house will not need 3P power and the shop will definitely need single phase to operate hand tools,etc. but major equipment such as saws, drills, grinders, welders, dust collection, lighting, etc., etc. can be either single or 3 phase. The same would be true for future structures such as a greenhouse. It would be easier for me to just go with single phase since the culture in the U.S. is primarily structured for it except in industrial/commercial applications. Nevertheless, I have to consider future equipment costs and distribution infrastructure costs with a desire to be efficient (line losses, conversion losses, etc.). My posting here on this venue is an attempt to educate myself further through the experience and perceptions of thoughtful, generous individuals who are much better versed in this field than am I so that when I eventually seek a local electrician I will know somewhat what to look for and inquire about. Thank you for your input and enlightenment.