What is 3 Phase Power?

Need more Power? Need to upgrade your power supply to 3 Phase Power?

Need to run industrial machinery, power large motors or heavy loads?

Is your current air conditioning system costing you a fortune to run on single phase?

Does your 3 phase factory require an upgrade, due to an insufficient power supply?

How does 3 Phase Power work?

Electricity is either connected at 230 or 240 volts (single-phase, which accounts for the majority of domestic situations), or 400 and 415 volts (three-phase). A 3 phase system is much more efficient for high-capacity installations. The increase in power efficiency reduces the amount of power distribution equipment (circuit breakers, PDUs, cabling) that must be installed. This then reduces installation and labour costs.

A 3 phase circuit combines three alternating currents of the same frequency, each 120 degrees out of phase with each other. This produces three separate ‘waves’ of power. The power in a 3 phase power supply never drops to zero, but in single-phase the power falls to zero 3 times per cycle. Thus, in a 3 phase power supply, the power is being constantly delivered.

What are the benefits of running 3 Phase Power?

  • Instantaneous power
  • Transmission efficiency – minimum of 2% to 3% more power efficiency of 3 phase over single phase
  • More efficient use of conductors – 3 phase delivers three times the amount of power with three wires instead of two, doubling the usefulness. Over long distances, this is a significant cost saving
  • 3 phase motors run smoothly – power is delivered at a constant rate, with no torque variation or vibration. Reversing can be as simple as interchanging any two phases. The advantage of smoothness also applies to the 3 phase generators as they absorb power
  • 3 phase is easy to generate, easy to transmit, and easy to manipulate in many different ways – 3 phase delivers 1.7 times more amps per whip, reducing number of cables to run
  • 3 phase may be the only distribution option – at very high rack densities: 60 amps+/rack
  • electric motors will be more powerful if using 3 phase power – they will last longer, can be cheaper (no starter required)

What are the disadvantages of running 3 Phase Power?

  • Slightly more complex to design and wire – generally very thick electrical cables are used with 3 phase input cables
  • Must maintain a balanced power consumption across all wire pairs to maintain efficiency – this is mainly applicable to a 3 phase motor operation and less of a problem for a single phase load
  • More current means more risk – 10 kVA per circuit is common. A good idea is to use circuit breakers


Call Prolux Electrical Contractors on 1800 800 880
The Melbourne electrician for all of your power upgrades and 3 phase power electrical requirements.

3/52 Corporate Boulevard, Bayswater VIC 3153

How Power Factor Correction will reduce your commercial building’s energy costs.

Large electrical users face peak demand charges from power companies, effective July 2016.

Facility and Property Managers need to be aware of the new changes associated with electricity and how it will impact electricity costs. Implementing correct Power Factor within a building will be the most effective and economical way of saving costs.

Large electrical users will be affected by the new billing structure from power companies, effective July 2016. From this date, power companies will be charging all large users based on peak demand. Power Factor Correction will ultimately reduce the demand and save on electricity costs.

What is Power Factor Correction?

Power Factor Correction reduces the electrical current drawn from a power company for INDUCTIVE loads. It does this by storing power and providing it to INDUCTIVE loads when required. Energy is stored in capacitor banks, otherwise known as Power Factor Correction Units. Storing power and providing it to INDUCTIVE loads when it’s required will in turn draw less energy from a power company, for the same amount of power that would be required for equipment to work.

Power Factor Correction is a way of raising Power Factor that is less than 1, and bringing it closer to 1, to be more efficient. The closer it gets to 1, the more efficient it’s going to be.

Prolux Electrical Contractors provide Power Factor Correction for Facility Managers of large commercial and industrial factories and corporate office buildings alike, wanting to reduce their energy demand costs. This form of energy efficiency is particularly suitable where large starting currents are required and the Power Factor is brought to an undesirable level.

What is Power Factor? How does Power Factor Correction work?

Power Factor is simply the measure of the efficiency of the power being used. Power Factor is the ratio between the kW and the kVA drawn by an electrical load where the kW is the actual load power and the kVA is the apparent load power.

A Power Factor of 1.0 means that 100% of the power supply is being used efficiently; zero angle, so kW (actual power) = kVA (alleged power). A power factor of 0.5 means that you’re paying more for every kWh used, as the power is being used inefficiently and wasted; the power being used doesn’t match the needs of the load correctly.

In order to fully understand Power Factor and the relevance of Power Factor Correction you must grasp the concept behind it, utilising electrical loads.

A site would typically be made up of two different types of electrical loads: RESISTIVE loads and INDUCTIVE loads.

Halogen / Incandescent Lights         T8 Fluorescent Lights
Heating Elements – Hot Water           Refrigeration Units
Heating Coils – Kitchen Appliances           Air Conditioning Units
Computers & Televisions           Pumps

For RESISTIVE loads, the energy (or electricity) supplied by a power company is exactly the same as the electricity used.

For INDUCTIVE loads, some energy is used up to create a magnetic field, which is a waste of energy. This waste of energy is not used by the load, but is required in order for it to operate.

Power Factor is measured between 0 and 1, with 0 being the least economical, and 1 being the most economical.

Power Factor is the ratio between the electricity required to operate the equipment and the electricity supplied by a power company.”


Power Factor Correction

Think of it like this, if you purchase a bottle of water, you pay for the whole bottle, including the section at the top, which is full of air. In this instance, the bottle is only 99% full. If this was equated to Power Factor, your Power Factor would be 99%, or as we call it, ‘a Power Factor of 0.99.’ If you purchased a bottle with no air in it at all, it would be 100% full, therefore the Power Factor would be 1 – perfect Power Factor.

If you purchase a bag of chips, you pay for the whole bag, even if it’s only three quarters (3/4 or 75%) full. If this was equated to Power Factor, your Power Factor would be 75%, or as we call it ‘a Power Factor of 0.75.’

The air in the bag is referred to as REACTIVE Power, the chips are referred to as REAL Power and the bag of chips before it’s opened is referred to as APPARENT Power.


With an understanding of the difference between REACTIVE, REAL and APPARENT power you’ll be able to comprehend how implementing Power Factor will cost you less.

RESISTIVE loads are like the bottle of water. INDUCTIVE loads are like the bag of chips.

Similarly, if you use a motor which is 10 horsepower (hp) and you run it with a Power Factor of 0.75, the energy that a power company has to supply to you in order for the motor to run is 13.3 hp (10 hp + 75% of 10 hp which is 3.3 hp = 13.3 hp). There is a 3.3 hp loss in creating a magnetic field in the motor. Remembering a motor is an INDUCTIVE load, so all INDUCTIVE loads will have this same issue.

If the Power Factor was 1 (perfect), then the 10 hp motor would only need to draw 10 hp from a power company. If the Power Factor was 0.5, then the 10 hp motor would need to draw 15 hp from a power company.

When to use Power Factor Correction

One very important aspect of improving quality of supply is the control of Power Factor. Low Power Factor means poor electrical efficiency. The lower the Power Factor, the higher the apparent power drawn from the distribution network.

By installing suitably sized switched capacitors into the power distribution circuit, the Power Factor is improved and the value becomes closer to 1.0, therefore minimising wasted energy, improving efficiency, liberating more kW from the available supply and saving you money.

The purchase cost of the installation is usually repaid in less than a year’s electricity savings.

How Power Correction affects your electricity bill

From July 2016, kVA will be used to measure electricity demand, instead of kW.

kVA encourages users to manage their peak kVA demand, improve electrical efficiency and drive down overall electricity costs. Reducing maximum kVA demand is the most effective way of reducing an electricity bill. The most economical way this can be reduced is by improving Power Factor.

An electricity company supplies you with VOLTS x AMPS, they have to supply you with extra to make up for the loss caused by a poor power factor. When the power factor falls below a set figure, the electricity supply companies charge a premium on the kW being consumed, or, charge for the whole supply as kVA by adding reactive power charges (kVar) to your bill.

The better the Power Factor, the less energy you are going to require from a power company. You are billed for your usage of power as well as the demand. Demand is the amount of power that a power company supplies to you.

There are generally two major components on an electricity bill that your charge is calculated on. DEMAND and USAGE.

The higher the DEMAND, the more you will be billed and the more the USAGE the more you will be billed.

Power Factor Correction will lower the DEMAND, and in turn this will then lower the USAGE.

Reflects the amount of power required on site, for all equipment to work.

Reflects the amount of power actually used by all of the equipment.


If we only have 1 x 10 hp (7.4 kw) motor being billed and the Power Factor is 0.75 (as per the example shown previously), we know that 13.3 hp (9.8 kVA) is required, therefore the demand charge will be based on 9.8 kVA.

If we only have 1 x 10 hp (7.4 kw) motor being billed with Power Factor of 1 (corrected by a Power Factor Correction Unit), the demand charge will be based on 7.4 kVA.

Power Factor Correction Solutions:

  • Voltage Improvement
  • Filter Reactors
  • Capacitor Ratings
  • Power Loss Reduction
  • Power Factor Correction Capacitors

Maintenance of Capacitor Banks

It is important that regular inspections are carried out to help prevent an early failure and pick-up any faults. A routine inspection should ensure:

  • fuses are not damaged
  • contactors are operational
  • discharge resistors are operational
  • tightness of all electrical connections
  • removal of dust and deposit build-up
  • filters are checked and cleaned
  • tong test of capacitor current

How you’ll save money with a Power Factor Correction Unit

For a 25 storey building that’s 15-20 years old, a Power Factor of 0.65 would be expected.
Based on this, supply and installation of a Power Factor Correction Unit would cost circa $14,000 and generate savings of $450-$500 per month (refer to Preliminary Proposal).



Power Factor Correction is an investment that helps to improve your profit performance. Victoria has existing penalty structures in place for customers that operate on a poor Power Factor.

If you’d like a complimentary Preliminary Proposal with your ROI for the buildings you manage, simply provide us with the interval data for the past 12 months (available from your current electrical retailer).

Call Prolux Electrical Contractors on 1800 800 880 for more information.

Chameleon LED Lighting Solutions

Save energy and reduce your lighting costs…

Case Study
Car park lighting – installation of Chameleon LED lights

To improve lighting in underground car park. Lighting currently used is halogen globes and the company is requesting to save costs, reduce energy consumption and the frequency of service and maintenance required for these lights also.

Scope of Works
To install LED tubes as a direct replacement to the fluorescent tubes currently in place. To remove 232 x 36w tubes from 116 existing twin fluoro fittings. The project consists of opening up the fittings, bypassing the ballast and starter and re-assembling the fitting. Installing 232 LED tubes with a microwave sensor will reduce the lights to 30% brightness after no motion is detected (integrated microwave sensor instantly turns the light to full power mode once a presence is detected in the area). Furthermore, removing 117 x 36w tubes from one side of the existing emergency battens and fitting a new tube with a microwave sensor will again reduce the lights to 30% brightness after no motion is detection. Only one side can be done, as the other side must remain as a fluoro tube so the emergency light will operate correctly. Replace lighting in store room to LEDs (a premium LED replacement will last 20,000 hours). Supply, wire and install 5 x replacement LED globes to the store room area on level 6. Supply, wire and install motion detector controls for the above lights and remove the key switch control.

“Did you know lighting can make up to 80% of your total electricity bill?”

Outcome and Benefits
LED tube change over to car park to reduce energy consumption by up to 90% and CO2 emission by 200.3 tonnes p.a. A financial cost saving for the company of $160,000 by Year 5 and a maintenance and electrical saving for the company of $35,438 by Year 5; significant savings. Furthermore, a benefit of an annual electrical consumption reduction from 160,000 kWh to 20,000 kWh.

“On average, most companies will save over 50% on their overall lighting cost.”

Conclusion and Recommendations
Replace all 236 T8 Fluoro Tube 1200mm lamps/lights (double and single) with Chameleon 10 Chip lamps/lights in the car park. The Chameleon provides light when it is needed. It is designed for use in fire stairs, car parks and service corridors. It has a generous integrated heat sink to maximise LED performance supporting a life span of 50,000 hours. It also has a keyed lock for fast & easy removal of fixture, without requiring power to be isolated if required. Data logging of completed installations has demonstrated use of these areas of less than 3%, enabling industry leading energy saving results.

“Every kilowatt per hour saved in lighting can help save greenhouse gas emissions.”


Call Prolux Electrical Contractors today on 1800 800 880 for a discussion on how we can help you achieve maximum energy efficiency for your building’s lighting requirements.

Exit and Emergency Lighting Tests

What are the requirements for testing exit and emergency lighting?

  1. Faulty tube or globe: Check that the light globe isn’t damaged in anyway. Replace if necessary.
  2. Faulty switching: Disconnect the existing battery and connect a ‘fully charged’ battery (of the same type or voltage). Test the switch/circuit breaker, if the light fails to illuminate then the switch is faulty and will need to be repaired or replaced.
  3. Faulty charging circuit: Disconnect the battery and check its voltage by connecting a voltmeter on dc volts across the positive and negative output terminals of the circuit board. The voltage will read between one volt and that of ten volts higher than the battery. If it’s a faulty charger circuit then the voltage will be overly high, lower than the voltage of the battery or have no voltage at all. It will need repairing or replacing. Connect an ammeter on dc amps in series with the positive lead of a fresh battery to check the current flowing to the battery. To do this connect the red lead of the meter on the positive battery output terminal of the circuit board and the black lead of the meter to the positive side of the battery, while the negative lead of the battery is connected to the negative output battery terminal of the circuit board. The current flow should read between 120 milliamps and 400 milliamps or .12amp to .4amp. If the reading is below .12amp or there is no current flow at all then it has a faulty charger circuit and it will have to be repaired or replaced.
  4. Faulty battery: The battery life in an exit or emergency light is anywhere between three to five years duration, depending on the type of battery used, fixtures/fittings, location of light and the lighting operation conditions. Check the battery’s condition first, is it distorted or leaking? A faulty (existing) battery can still show a correct test result, voltage current flow, but may not be holding its charge correctly.

NOTE: After conducting any work on any exit or emergency lighting it should be rechecked on power fail and a duration test should also be performed after replacing and charging (24 hours) the batteries.

Electrical Maintenance of exit and emergency lighting and equipment

Electrical Maintenance testing should be carried out every six months, along with duration testing, for a minimum of 90 minutes, as per the guidelines outlined in the emergency evacuation lighting in buildings Part 2 – inspection and maintenance.

The test results are to be logged in the relevant evacuation logbook for future reference and performance analysis of simulated mains failure and battery performance.

Discharging of lights is advised by turning off the corresponding circuit breaker, not via an emergency light discharge facility.

When it’s necessary for the batteries to be replaced, the system shall be recommissioned, fully charged and a duration test carried out, to ensure correct operation of the system.