American Rotary Blog

What is the UL Listing and Why You May Want it

what is a ul listing

When choosing an American Rotary phase converter you may see on the website or get asked about the option for the UL listing. For those of you not working in the electrical industry day-to-day, it may spark some curiosity. American Rotary is a UL approved Company that utilizes all UL approved components as part of the assembly of the phase converter. Understanding what UL means will help determine if having a UL certified phase converter is necessary for your installation.

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories which is an independent safety science company that tests and certifies products in respect to their safety. If the relevant sample passes the test in any given case, it merits a “listing” which can be seen online at www.ul.com. Once a unit has been UL listed it means a representative of UL has tested a sample of the product and determined that it meets UL’s requirements. They base these requirements on UL’s published and nationally recognized Standards for Safety.

Having a UL listed certified unit is not legally required. It is, however, a common practice because many large companies will only buy equipment that has passed the UL safety tests. It is also common business practice in the United States to only sell products that have a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories) label. It doesn’t have to be UL per se, but a recognized marking is advisable. If a unit has a cULus Listing on it, that means that UL has tested the unit meeting Canadian and US standards. Having a tested product shows that the equipment meets a nationally recognized safety standard.

At American Rotary, we use all UL approved components in the assembly of our phase converters. American Rotary Phase Converters have been tested and approved by UL to meet their safety requirements. This means when using an American Rotary phase converter you will meet any additional safety requirements that your inspector may require. If you are having your installation inspected by your local inspector, it’s important to check with them prior to ordering your phase converter to see what is required to pass inspection. Some cities require the phase converters to include the UL documents in addition to being UL approved.

When the UL documents are required, this gets you all the information that some inspectors will require. This includes but is not limited to the UL licensing numbers, UL forms showing the phase converter does meet UL safety requirements, and other additional documentation on the phase converter. To prevent downtime, it is better to know what is all required up front prior to any installations.

If you have any questions you can always call American Rotary. We are always willing to help our customers make the American Dream their Reality.

Customer Profile: Next Gen Classics

Not long ago, we headed to Clear Lake, Wisconsin to visit American Rotary customer, Jamie Lien of Next Gen Classics where he restores classic cars. 

Originally, Jamie started a pull truck team with Next Gen industries owner Matt Anderson and it eventually led to a new business venture in restoring cars, now in its 7th year. As a true craftsman, he does every facet of the restoration business (body, paint, welding, electrical, machining custom parts, upholstery) as a one-man team.

Growing up in a body shop with his dad he eventually moved onto learning machining as well. His whole family is into cars/motors and also competes in truck pulling. They’re hoping to build the shop into a high-end full restoration business.

They had just moved into the building you see in the videos here and were still getting set up while we were there. However, they did have their American Rotary phase converter hooked up to their lathe and mill as you will see. Enjoy!

Next Gen Classics Customer Profile:

Next Gen’s American Rotary phase converter setup:

Things to Consider When Planning a Car Restoration:

To learn more about how you can get quality three-phase power for your shop at an affordable price, download our three-phase power resource guide:

The Benefits of a Rotary Phase Converter Compared to Utility Three Phase and Three Phase Generator

why rotary phase converter

It is true there are other options out there to get three phase power to your equipment. Each option has their pros but it does come down to what is affordable for you and your situation. The options are to get three phase power are through your utility line, a gas or diesel generator, or through a rotary phase converter. Here we give you a breakdown of the costs associated with each option so you can make an educated decision on which route is best for you.

Three Phase Generator

This option is good if no power is available at the site. These generators can run on gas or diesel fuel. Generators are also available in both single phase and three phase options.  There are many different sizes available depending on specific needs. The price is also reflected by the size of the generator and can range greatly.

What we can look at to evaluate this option is the operating costs of a generator.  With a generator, the operating costs will fluctuate with the cost of oil as it would with driving our cars. Because of this, we are looking at an average of $0.46 per (kW-HR) for your cost to create power off a generator. Then, with it being an engine that is running to create the power you have to keep up with the standard engine maintenance schedule. This option does provide three phase power but the quality of the power can vary depending on the manufacturer of the generator.

Utility Three Phase

This is typically the first option that comes to mind when someone thinks about getting three phase power. Three phase power from the utility company is not always available in all areas and if it is, it can be cost prohibited. On average, the cost to bring in three-phase utility power is approximately $50,000 per mile plus site prep costs. The cost on average for usage is about $0.10 per (kW-HR) plus minimum usage requirements and demand charges. With utility three phase power your power quality is roughly at a 10% voltage balance across the three legs. If three phase utility is a route you choose, it’s a good idea to do a true cost analysis to know all of your cost up front before investing in having it brought in.

Digital Rotary Phase Converter

A digital rotary phase converter is a very cost effective option to provide three phase utility to your shop. This choice gives you the option to run three phase equipment off single phase power whether it’s from the utility company, a generator, or a solar power system.  The American Rotary digital phase converter is available in many different sizes. You can tailor your needs to operate one single load at one time all the way up to a whole three phase operation. Since the converter is available in a wide range of sizes, it’s also very affordable compared to the other three phase options.

One item that a lot of people fear when running their equipment is the quality of power they use. This can be a true statement depending on the rotary system that you are running. This is not true however with an American Rotary system.  Within our digital rotary phase converter lines (AD, ADX, and AI) we feature our patented MicroSmart Controller. This digital controller monitors and controls your voltages across the three legs of power providing precise voltage balance to your equipment and adding additional fail-safe features to your phase converter operation. By monitoring your voltage every 50 Milliseconds and providing better voltage control, this helps prolong the life of your converter, allows significantly more load capacity (ADX and AI), and will run your equipment more efficiently.

With all American Rotary phase converters, we utilize a custom designed induction generator as our idler. This features our VIT Generator which is a true soft start idler that uses a 1/3 of the inrush current of a comparable three-phase motor. This technology also allows you to run the phase converter 24/7 a little to no load without any negative effects. Our idlers run very smoothly, quietly, and efficiently.

Lastly, this technology produces a true three phase sine wave allowing you to run your equipment on full three phase power off a single-phase power source. You will have a voltage balance of about 5% or greater when measured leg to leg. The approximant cost to running a phase converter is $0.12 per (kW-Hr).

Having a phase converter saves you from having to worry about the large expense of bringing in three phase utility power, having minimum usage requirements, and having to worry about having fuel on site to run your generator. To find out how affordable it is to make your American Dream your reality, contact American Rotary today.

Your Most Common Questions Answered When it Comes to Three-Phase Power

frequently asked questions phase converter

Recently, Jim out of California called us and inquired about who exactly American Rotary is and why we do what we do. He was starting up a shop in his pole barn behind his house and had acquired a few solid pieces of three-phase equipment but only had single phase power.  It was a great conversation had by all. From the viewpoint of American Rotary, we were excited to be part of another customer following their American Dream. From Jim’s standpoint, he was very educated about what he needed, to begin with. However, he did have some very good questions we find others ask as well and wanted to share them with you.

How do I size a Rotary Phase Converter and what information is needed to have someone help me size?

To size a rotary phase converter, you want to look at the type of machine you are running and the power requirements the machine needs. Typically, the power requirements are listed in a few different types of measurements; HP, AMPs, kW, or KVA. You will also want to verify the voltage the machine requires. These numbers are typically listed at 208-250v, 380v, or 480v. Once you know this information you can reference one of our load charts at or call one of our Application Engineers to help size a phase converter for your needs.

How does American Rotary stand apart from the competition?

American Rotary features a number of industry leading benefits and patented technology.  With all American Rotary rotary phase converters, we utilize a custom designed induction generator as our idler. This features our VIT Generator which is a true soft start idler that uses a 1/3 of the inrush current of a comparable three-phase motor. This technology also allows you to run the phase converter 24/7 a little to no load without any negative effects. Our idlers run very smoothly, quietly, and efficiently.

Within our Digital Rotary phase converter line (AD, ADX, and AI) we feature our Patented Microsmart Controller. This digital controller monitors and controls your voltages across the three legs of power providing precise voltage balance to your equipment and adding additional fail-safe features to your phase converter operation. By monitoring your voltage every 50 Milliseconds and providing better voltage control, this helps prolong the life of your converter, allows significantly more load capacity (ADX and AI), and will run your equipment more efficiently.

In addition to industry leading technology, American Rotary also offers industry leading support. When you purchase an American Rotary phase converter you become part of the American Rotary family.  We will support you with the best tech support in the industry and back you with the best warranties in the industry. The American Rotary Digital Series (AD, ADX, AI) panels are backed by a Lifetime Warranty.

I’ve read on forums to stay away from rotary phase converters, is this true?

Depending on the technology behind the rotary phase converter this can be true.  Phase converter companies that are using old technology, can produce imbalanced power which can have a negative effect on your equipment. This is not the case with an American Rotary phase converter. American Rotary has a lot of patented technology standing behind it. With our Patented VIT Generator producing a true three-phase sine wave and our patented Microsmart controller monitoring and controlling your voltages, your equipment is receiving very clean balanced power. To give an example, typical utility three-phase power is balanced around 10%. With a Digital Series phase converter, you will get roughly 2-5% balance. This means with a Digital Series phase converter, you are providing your equipment with cleaner power than utility three-phase.

I do not want a loud motor running in my shop.  How loud is the rotary converter?

This is another advantage to using a phase converter that utilizes the custom designed VIT generator versus a standard three phase motor as the idler. Our Induction Generator runs much smoother and quieter than a typical three phase motor. The idler will operate less than 60 Db which is comparable to a box fan running. In most cases, your three-phase machine will drown out the sound of the phase converter.  There are also options available for outdoor rated phase converters if that is desired.

Are rotary phase converters safe to run on CNC machines?

The simple answer is YES! When running a CNC or other computer controlled machine we recommend going with one of the Digital Series (AD, ADX, AI) converters since they are going to produce the tightest voltage balance. The digital phase converter produces power well within a CNC voltage tolerances. Running a CNC machine off of one of American Rotary’s phase converters is a common practice.

I have many different three-phase machines I wish to run; do I need a separate phase converter for each individual machine? 

When you are running a rotary phase converter you can tie in multiple three-phase machines. When going through the sizing process it is a good idea to know which machines will be starting at the same time and which machines may possibly run at the same time if started separately. This is important to know so you can get a phase converter that is going to be large enough to allow for current and future use. Typically, when multiple machines are in use a three-phase load center is added. In this setup, you would come out of your phase converter and feed the three-phase load center which would work as a distribution panel to each machine.  When sized properly, we have customers who power their whole shop off the phase converter.

We hope this helps answer some of your questions when it comes to three-phase power and using a phase converter. Please feel free to contact us should you have any additional questions. One of our Applications Engineers will be happy to go over your plans to ensure you are getting the phase converter that will work best for your needs.  All of us at American Rotary are proud to be part of making your American Dream a Reality!

Tips For Keeping Your Garage or Workshop Organized

workshop organization

Many of us have multiple projects going at one time.  Whether you are running a business or just tinkering around in your home shop, having a clean shop can have some great benefits.  Not only will you be able to work more efficiently and be more productive, but you can also save yourself a piece of mind by not spending half your day looking for that tiny, but crucial part.

Here at American Rotary, we have employees that spend their free time tinkering in woodworking, metal working, and working on their cars.  We all sat down and talked about tips that we recommend to keeping our home shops organized so we can make the most out of the time we have in our shop. Just like you, most of us have many projects going on at once. Here are some great places to start.

1. Tool Organization – Keeping your tools organized will help in your time of searching for that one tool required to move onto the next step. Everyone will have their own method of organization that works for them.  A common one was having your sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers organized by size.  This will make it quick to find the size you are looking for.  Some other practices are keeping your types of tools together.  For example, you may have specialty mechanic or woodworking tools.  If you keep the specialty tools together this will cut down on the time of remembering where in your shop you last left your torque wrench. Depending on the person, you may find it beneficial to have each tool have their own specific spot.  This way if you see an open spot, you know something missing.

2. Keep the Parts Organized From Your Project – This is important when doing a restoration project. Whether you are refurbishing an old piece of furniture or restoring a car, keeping track of what parts you have is important. During tear down sort the pieces by relativity.  For example, if you are restoring a car, place your brackets and bolts for the rear bumper in the same area.  It is also a good idea to make an inventory list of the parts you take off and make a note of what box they are being stored in.  Not only will this remind you of what parts you have, but will also work as a reminder during assembly and help in the budgeting and planning stage.  When that time comes, you won’t be spending a good chunk of your allotted time searching for the parts you know you had.

3. Cord/Hose Management – I am sure we all have dealt with having a tangled drop cord or air hose at one point or another. Storing either of those properly can help greatly lower the risk of having to spend half of your day untangling a webbed mess of cords.  There are lots of inexpensive options out there for cord management.  Some examples include retractable wheels and cord spools.  Both are a nice option to have around your shop.  The retractable wheels are convenient because they can allow you to pull the cord or hose out quickly and have a quick clean up when you are done.  The cord spools are great for storing your extra drop cords and air hoses on a wall or in a cabinet.

4. Pegboard Use – While tool chests are a nice feature to keep your tools organized, you may find it beneficial to mount a peg board above your work area. There are many different types of brackets you can use on a peg board.  On your pegboard, you can store tools that you may need quick access to.  For example; screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measure, and a hammer.  Having these tools right at your fingertips will cut down drastically on the amount of time walking to and from your tool chest.  It will also help you realize if a tool is missing before you forget where you last used it.

5. Use of Open Shelves – While an enclosed cabinet is nice because it can give your shop a nice clean and finished look, they can also have a negative effect. A cabinet can give you the “out of sight, out of mind” effect.  Your cabinet may become a black hole for your tools.  If you are ever quickly cleaning up your shop, it is easy to throw the tools in the cabinet and forget about them.  When you use an open shelf system instead, it forces you to keep it organized.  It is also easier to find your tools that you are searching for since you can see everything on the shelf.  Having an open shelf can also give you more versatility to what is being stored on it, they are typically more adjustable and you can have larger items over hang the shelf.

Following these tips can give you a head start on keeping your shop organized.  We all have different ideas on what will work best in our own shops, so please do what works best for you.  Whichever tips you use to be organized will help your time management greatly.  We all know how frustrating it is looking for a tool or part, being organized will help lower that risk and allow you to spend more time making your American dream become your reality.