I have recently acquired a planer, jointer, and band saw that all have a 3 phase motor. I am planning on building a shop on my land, and am left with 3 options and would be interested in others opinions. The options are to:
1. Try to get the power company to pull 3 phase lines to my shop (3 phase runs in front of my house).
2. Change out the motors to single phase.
3. Use a phase converter.
Which is the easiest and cheapest?
From contributor R:
I went through this a few years back when I bought my first Bander. I never considered changing out the motors as an option. The power company wanted $8,000 to get a 3 phase to my shop and I was still going to have to pay an electrician to get the 3 phase into the shop, so I was looking at well beyond $10K.
It was a simple decision to go with a 15 horse-power rotary converter which cost $1,500. The electrician charged me $500 to install it with one outlet. If you go with the converter, go with the biggest you can afford. I should have looked into a 20 horse power converter.
I have also used rotary converters and they do work ok, but they aren’t as nice as the real thing. If you buy any new equipment like a edgebander, widebelt sander, CNC, etc., phase converters can cause you problems with warranties. All this type of equipment requires all legs of the power to be balanced. I'm not saying you can't do it, but it often requires buck boosters to go with your converter.
I have used a rotary converter for 6 years with no problems, but if I add the new wide belt I am going to have to make major additions. All in all, if you can get a 3-phase from the power company, you will be better off over the long haul.
Comment from contributor O:
When I showed the power company how much load would be dumped on their line for new single phase equipment, they decided it would be better for them if we bought three phase and they ran the lines to the shop at their expense.