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What's the difference between single and three phase power?

..and how does it effect you when charging your EV at home and in public?


Electric Cars Charging on Three Phase 

Single-phase power and three-phase power are two different types of electrical power supply. The main difference between them is the number of power wires that are available to deliver electricity.

Single-phase power is a two-wire alternating current (AC) power system, where one wire is the "hot" or active wire, and the other wire is the neutral wire. This type of power is typically used in homes, small offices, and small businesses. Single-phase power can deliver up to 240 volts, but it is limited in terms of the amount of power it can deliver.

Three-phase power, on the other hand, is a three-wire alternating current (AC) power system, where there are three hot wires, and one neutral wire. This type of power is typically used in industrial and commercial settings, where high power demands are required. Three-phase power can deliver up to 480 volts and can deliver more power than single-phase power.

Three Phase versus Single Phase For EV Charging

In terms of kW of power, a single phase electric car can normally charge at a maximum of 7kW (or 240v x 32 amps) while a three phase capable EV can charge at up to a theoretical 22kW (or 3 x 240v x 32 amps) though  many electric cars have on board limitations. For example, the Tesla model 3 can charge at 7kW on single phase but can only charge at 11kW on three phase. And the Nissan LEAF can only charge at 3.3kW on single phase or three phase. As in there is no benefit to offering three phases to this electric vehicle.

Will three phase power reduce EV charging times at home?

When it comes to charging electric cars, the type of power supply can affect the charging time and efficiency. Three-phase power can charge electric cars much faster than single-phase power, as it can deliver more power to the car's charging system. This is because the charging system in most electric cars is designed to take advantage of three-phase power, which allows for faster charging times.

However, not all electric cars are equipped to take advantage of three-phase power. Some electric cars are designed to use single-phase power, and these cars will not charge any faster with a three-phase power supply. It's essential to check the specifications of your electric car before choosing a power supply for charging.

Here's some examples of electric cars  that can charge faster with three phase power supply.

Tesla Model S, Tesla model 3, Tesla Model Y, MG ZS EV 2022 on, Polestar 2, Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5

And here's some examples of electric cars which will not charge faster on three phase

Nissan LEAF, MG ZS EV 2021, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Jaguar iPace, BYD Atto 3, 

Single or Three Phase EV Charger - which is best for you?

In summary, whether an EV driver needs three-phase power to charge their electric car at home depends on the type of EV and the charging equipment being used. Most EVs can be charged using a single-phase power supply, but some high-end EVs require three-phase power to charge at their maximum rate. If you're considering purchasing an EV, it's worth checking our Cars Guides  to determine whether your car can benefit from three-phase power.

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