I was trying to use what I thought was a 220V receptacle at work but the
voltage was only 208V. When measuring, I see 120V between each hot and
neutral but only 208 V between the hot leads.
Am I really looking at two legs of a three phase Wye connected branch
circuit as opposed to a 220V single phase supply (common in residential).
Is this a common practice in commercial buildings? Should the round twist
lock style plug be telling me something? (nothing like a range or dryer
Does that sound right or do I need to open the panel and trace it back to
figure it out. These receptacles are leftover from the previous tenant so
their original purpose is lost to me. They are protected by a regular two
pole breaker (with tie bar).
On Sat, 05 Aug 2006 11:54:30 GMT, email@example.com (Doug Miller)
The company's electric bill should tell you if you are being supplied
with 3-phase service. This is typical in commercial buildings that
have a lot of medium to heavy-duty motors such as for elevators,
larger-size air conditioners, etc. 120/208 volts is standard for a Y
connected, three-phase secondary.
This is also a common voltage in mult-dwelling residential units
(condos and apartments) as one economical three-phase transformer can
supply all of the power, lighting, and electro-motive needs of the
If the service entrance outdoors is overhead and you see 2 or 3
transformers on the pole, you can almost be certain that this is so.
If you have a pad (ground) mounted transfomer, odds are that it is a 3
phase transformer with this voltage configuration.
For single phase circuits....
As opposed to the more commonly used 240V, 208 V. is sometimes a
problem with electric clothes dryers, electric ranges (often special
heating elements can be obtained for this voltage by special order).
whirlpool spas and air conditioners (many require 240V).
So the tradeoff is that you get 3-phase power with convenient 120V
phase-to-ground voltage, all with just one 3 phase transformer (or 2
or 3 single phase transfomers) but with the slightly less desirable
208 Volt phase-to-phase voltage...
instead of the 240 volts available as the higher standard voltage in
the split phase 3 wire 120/240 single phase system.
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