3 Phase Motor Running on Single Phase Power Supply

Three phase asynchronous AC motor is widely used in industrial and agricultural production due to its simple structure, low cost, easy maintenance and easy operation. 3-phase AC motor uses 3 phase power supply (3 ph 220v, 380v, 400v, 415v, 480v etc.), but in some actual applications, we have single phase power supplies only (1 ph 110v, 220v, 230v, 240v etc.), especially in household appliances. In the case to run the three phase machines on single phase power supplies, there are 3 ways to do it:Three phase motor

  1. Rewinding the motor
  2. Buy a GoHz VFD
  3. Buy a frequency/phase converter

I: Rewinding the motor
It has some works to do to convert 3 phase motor work on 1 phase power supply. Here will show you how to convert 3 phase 380v motor to run on single phase 220v power supply.

Rewinding Principle
Three phase asynchronous motor uses three mutually separated 120° angle of the balanced current through the stator winding to produce a time-varying rotating magnetic field to drive the motor. Before talking about the usage of three phase asynchronous motor being converted to work on single phase power supply, we should explain the issue of establishing single phase asynchronous motor rotating magnetic field, because single phase motor can be started only after the establishment of rotating magnetic field. The reason why it has no initial starting torque is because single phase winding in the magnetic field is not rotating but pulsating. In other words, it is fixed in terms of the stator. In this case, the pulsating magnetic field of the stator interacts with the current in the rotor conductor cannot generate torque because there is no rotating magnetic field, so that the motor cannot be started. However, the position of the two windings inside the motor has a different angle of space. If it tries to produce a different phase current, the two phase current has a certain phase difference in time to produce a rotating magnetic field. So the single phase motor stator should not only have a working winding, but also must have a starting winding. According to this principle, we can use the three phase winding of the three phase asynchronous motor, and shift one of the winding coils with a capacitor or inductance, so that the two phase can go through a different current to establish a rotating magnetic field to operate the motor. When the three phase asynchronous motor uses single phase power supply, the power is only 2/3 of the original.

Rewinding Method
To use 3 phase motor on 1 phase power supply, we can connect any 2 phase winding coils in series, and then connected to the other phase. At this time, the magnetic flux in the two windings have a phase difference, but the working winding and starting windings are connected to the same power supply, so the current is the same. Therefore, connect a capacitor, inductance coil or resistor to the starting winding in series make the current have a phase difference. In order to increase the starting torque on the connection, an autotransformer can be used to increase the single phase power supply voltage from 220v to 380V, shown in Figure 1.
3 phase 380v motor running on 1 phase 220v power supply

General small motors are Y connection. For the Y-type three phase asynchronous motor, the capacitor C winding terminal connects to the autotransformer starting terminal. If you want to change the shaft rotation direction, wire it as Figure 2.
Convert 3 phase motor to single phase 220v
If you do not want to increase the voltage, the 220V power supply can use this too. Because the original three phase 380V power supply voltage winding is now used for 220V power supply, the voltage is too low, so the torque is too low.

Figure 3 wiring torque is too low. If you want to increase the torque, you can connect the phase-lock capacitor to the two-phase winding together in the coil and use this as the starting winding. A single coil directly connected to the 220V power supply, see Figure 4.

In Figure 3 and 4, if you need to change the shaft rotation direction, you can simply change the end-to-end direction of starting winding or working winding.

The magnetic moment after the two windings are connected in series (one of which is a reverse string) is composed by two angles of 60° magnetic moment (Figure 5). The magnetic moment is much higher than those of 120° magnetic moment (shown in Figure 6), so Figure 5 wiring starting torque is bigger than Figure 6 wiring.

The value of the access resistor R (Figure 7) on the starter winding should be closed to the stator winding phase resistance and should be able to withstand the starting current, which is 0.1-0.12 times of the starting torque.

Selection of Phase Shift capacitor
Working capacitor c=1950×Ie/Ue×cosφ (micro-law), Ie, ue, cosφ is the original motor rated current, rated voltage and power laps.
General working capacitor used in single phase power supply on the three phase asynchronous motor (220V): each 100W use 4 to 6 micro-law capacitor. The starting capacitor can be selected according to the starting load, usually 1 to 4 times of the working capacitor. When the motor reaches 75%~80% of rated speed, the starting capacitor should be disconnected, otherwise the motor will burn out. Increase torque for three phase motor running on single phase power

The capacity of the capacitor should be correctly chosen to make the currents 11, 12 of the two phase windings are equal and equal to the rated current Ie, means 11=12=Ie. If require high starting torque, you can add a starting capacitor, and connected to the working capacitor. When the starting is normal, disconnect the starting capacitor.

There are many benefits in running three phase motor on single phase power supply, the rewinding work is easy. However, the general capacity of single phase power supply is too low, it has to withstand high starting current, so this method can be applied to 1kw motor or less only.

II: Buy a GoHz VFD
VFD, short for Variable Frequency Drive, it's a device to control motor running in adjustable speeds. The single phase to 3 phase VFD is the best option for a 3 phase motor running on single phase power supply (1ph 220v, 230v, 240v), it will eliminate the inrush current during motor starting, make the motor run from zero speed to full speed smoothly, plus, the price is absolutely affordable. GoHz VFDs are available from 1/2hp to 7.5hp, higher capacity VFDs can be customized according to actual motors.

GoHz Single Phase to Three Phase VFD Wiring Video

Benefits of using GoHz VFD for 3-phase motor:

  1. Soft start can be achieved by adjusting the VFD's parameters, the starting time can be set to a few seconds or even tens.
  2. Stepless speed regulation function to make the motor work at its best status.
  3. Make the inductive load motor to capacitive load which can increase the power factor.
  4. VFD has self-diagnosis function, and overload, overvoltage, low pressure, overheating and more than 10 protection functions.
  5. Can be easily programmed through the keypad to achieve automatic control.

III: Buy a frequency/phase converter
A GoHz frequency converter or phase converter also can be used for such situations, it can convert single phase (110v, 120v, 220v, 230v, 240v) to three phase (0-520v adjustable) with pure sine wave output which is better for the motor performance rather than VFD's PWM waveform, they are designed for lab testing, aircrafts, military and other applications which require high quality power supplies, it's extreme expensive.

Related article: Impact of 60Hz (50Hz) motor being used on 50Hz (60Hz) power supply

Leave your comment (Registered user only)


7/17/2022 3:11 PM
I have an industrial sized grinder that uses 12" grinding wheels. It is powered by a 2 HP 3-phase motor.
I have 220 Volt single phase only.
I tried a phase converter on it and it will turn but it will not go to full speed. A VFD has been suggested, I nave no experience with VFD's. I have heard that I would need more HP???
Could you suggest one of your VFD's that would work?
Thank You, Bob
7/14/2020 11:21 PM
I have a 39"x31" Heat press that is Voltage: 220V, 60Hz, 3P, 42A and the box on the building that I am in is only 2P is there any modification that I can do to this machine to be able to connect to the current electrical box? Please help me aasewingservices@gmail.com
7/10/2020 10:05 PM
Please help me. I have a 50v 70a 3phase motor I want to run it on single phase how can I do that? Please help me I will be very grateful. Thanks
9/4/2019 6:42 AM
May I use a single to three phase converter to run a three phase stationary battery charger?
8/13/2019 12:38 AM
I used a surplus 3 phase motor,  wired two of the 3 inputs to single phase through a switch close to the motor.  Spin the motor manually with a rope and throw the switch. Alternately a motor run capacitor of suitable size across across one of the other two pairs of will start it without manually spinning it.   Wire the 3 phase machines to the converter motor.   Converter has to be large enough, minimum of about 1/3 of equipment HP for starting under no load. More would be better up to equal HP of equipment motor.  Just have to be sure the motor starts the right direction so the equipment motors run the right direction. 3 phase motor starts either way on single phase. Or reverse 2 of the 3 wires between it and the equipment and it reverses direction.   I worked on my uncles crew for awhile in 1983,  his truss shop on a farm used several 3 phase machines and I would start the converter motor in the morning when I arrived.  Spin the shaft with a rope and throw the switch.  It was large.   He was pulling so much power off the single phase line it would visibly sag between the poles when the equipment was turned on, heating the wire.
7/1/2019 8:40 AM
Can you advise me of right "running capacitor" for my 3 phase Ac motor 5.5hp, 380 volts, 2amps, to be powered by 220 volts single phase.
4/6/2019 5:09 PM
just would like to know will the power usage be the same on connecting it up from single to there phase and will the kw out put of the motor aslo be the same
2/5/2019 9:55 AM
Amazing knowledge and research. Thank you. I wish I could understand it all but my English is not at that level. I m beginning to see the possibilities. Maybe it will work, than I will send best wishes to you.
Finally some one who knows what he is talking about.
2/1/2019 2:44 PM
I need a simple 1 Phase to 3 Phase converter with fixed 50 Hz frequency to run my 3 phase squirrel cage motor kindly help me i want to make my own.

7/16/2018 2:14 PM
3Phase 415V 3HP 5A How to calculate the capacitor value ?

please Reply

Mail: bentennyson1234567@gmail.com
4/17/2018 10:24 AM
What a shitty article man!
4/17/2018 10:24 AM
Leave your comment.
3/23/2018 9:38 AM
I have a electric motor 3 phase rated 7.5 hp 220-240 VAC 60 Hz. and I want to run in 220-240 VAC line single phase, what type of GoHz frequency converter should I used. please advice.

8/4/2017 8:23 AM

I need a very simple 1P -> 3P converter with fixed 50 Hz output frequency.
Input: 230 V 50 Hz single phase (Europe)
Output: 3×230/400 V 50 Hz three phases

The preciseness of frequency and the shape of sine aren't too important. (The "almost sine" is enough...) I don't need VFD and other features.
I looked for over the internet but I found VFDs only. I though a fixed frequency 1P -> 3P converter must be cheaper than a VFD but it seems it isn't true...
6/28/2017 4:19 AM
If you have a single phase supply and want to run a 3 phase motor, I would recommend a VFD instead of a phase converter. All you need to do is de-rate the VFD to account for the higher current required for 1 phase operation. This sort of thing is done all the time when amateur machinists purchase industrial mills and lathes and provides a smoother operation.
6/28/2017 4:10 AM
I have wondered if it's possible to reconfigure a 3 phase motor so that it runs as a single phase motor?
6/28/2017 2:17 AM
As you know the 220 volt in the USA is different than the 220 Volt in Europe.
In the US the 220 Volts are obtained from two live 120 Volts wires + neutral.
In Europe, there is only one live 220 Volt wire and neutral.
Is there a way to rewire a motor designed for the US 220 volt to run in Europe?
4/21/2017 8:10 AM
A variable frequency drive (VFD) rectifies each pair of phases to dc and inverts the dc to the power for the three-phase output, which means a VFD can be used with single-phase input to operate a three-phase motor. Manufacturers' support can be spotty, so it is recommended to derate the drive by 1 divided by the square root of 3 (about 58%). Also note that the kW VFD rating is there for convenience in sizing drives as they are rated by current. For example, a 7.5 kW motor would use a VFD rated for 11 kW. It is recommended for the installer to talk with the drive manufacturer in sizing the VFD.
4/12/2017 8:18 AM
To run on a 1 phase supply you need to make 2 changes:
1. Add a large capacitor.
2. Reconnect all the windings as normal motors are designed for 120 degree spaced external voltage vectors. The 6 internal windings per phase for a pole pair are spaced every 60 degrees. If we call the internal windings per phase of a pole pair A, B, C, D, E, F. The external connections are normally connected A, -E, C. You need different connections for 1 phase as A and B + C for capacitor.
4/5/2017 7:54 AM
That was actually my academic project. I designed a 3 phase 4 pole 0.5HP Motor as main motor. Calculated capacitance required to start and run the motor. Actually had lap distributed winding and leads of each coil brought out in a panel. However connected same as Huge mentioned. 2 windings in series for running condition and 1 phase as auxiliary. End result was slow RPM around 600 RPM @50Hz in 1 phase connection. Probably because it was distributed winding and pole formation was not correct. Mostly low rating 3ph lv motors are concentric wound. And practically these motors work with 2ph in series and 1 along with capacitor. Output you can expect is about 1.5 to 2 times less than 3 phase rating.