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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.

5 Tips For Maintaining Electric Motors

maintaining electric motors
Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_motor

In this article, we will go over five points on how to keep your electric motors running properly and help extend the life expectancy of your motors. We will go over lubrication, bearing inspection, checking your rotor and stator, motor mount and how important keeping records are. Follow these and you should see sustained performance and reliability with your motors.

Lubrication

In this section, we will walk you through making sure the bearings on your electric motor are properly lubricated. Without proper lubrication, it will cause the bearings to wear out prematurely. Here are a few pointers on how to lubricate your electric motors bearings.

1. Don’t over lubricate your bearings. Over lubrication can cause the grease or oil to get into the windings. This will cause the insulation to deteriorate around the winding causing arcing and shorting inside the motor to the case. This will cause excessive heat and wear on the rotor and stator as well.

2. Always use the lubricant designated by the manufacturer. Use of other lubricants can do damage to the bearings, causing them to wear faster or unevenly.

3. Consult your manual or the manufacturer’s website to find out the proper interval for lubrication. Lubricating too often or not lubricating often enough could also cause premature wear in your bearings if under lubricated or degradation of the insulation around the winding if over lubricated.

Bearing Failures

Bearing failures are one of the most common and easiest problems to prevent. If your bearings fail, there are multiple things that could go wrong with your electric motor. This section will go over how to inspect the bearings on your motor and prevent unnecessary wear to the bearings.

1. Make sure your load attached to your motor is aligned properly. Misaligned loads can throw the rotation off balance, straining one or both bearings.

2. Keep the motor clean of contaminants and moisture. You may have to blow out the motor every so often to keep it free of moisture and small particles that could work their way into the bearings.

3. Take temperature readings occasionally to monitor how warm or hot the bearings get. Compare those readings to the safe temperature range provided by the manufacturer. If the bearings are getting too hot, stop using the motor, let it cool down and promptly inspect the bearings for damage or contaminants.

4. If you hear any abnormal sounds coming from your motor, you can use a stethoscope to better identify what part of the motor the sound is coming from. It is also preventative maintenance to just periodically use the stethoscope to listen for any abnormal sounds coming from the motor so you can address the issue before it does any further damage to the other components of the motor.

5. Check oil rings (if applicable) and keep an eye out for excessive shaft play. Excessive play in the shaft is a good indicator that you have a bearing that is defective or will be soon.

Rotor and Stator

The rotor and stator are the heart of your electric motor. Without these components working properly, your motor will function very poorly or not at all. These are a few pointers to help you make sure all is well with the rotor and stator.

1. Use a feeler gauge to check the gap between the stator and rotor for equal clearance all the way around.

2. Record the gap sizes at the top, bottom, and both sides at each end.

3. Compare to any previous readings you may have or to manufacturer’s gap specifications.

4. Any differences are a good indication that there is excess wear in your bearings and it may be time to replace those bearings.

Motor Mount

It is wise to inspect your motor mount on occasion to make sure it is still in good condition. A faulty motor mount can do damage internally to your motor and may even have an adverse effect on your load as well.

1. Check the mounting bolts for proper tightness. If they are loose, tighten them up until there isn’t any play in the mounts.

2. Make sure there isn’t any play between the mounts, whether it is between the plate and rubber isolation feet or between the plate and hard mount.

3. Inspect the motor plate for any warping or cracks that could cause unnecessary flexing under load or at start up.

4. If it is mounted to concrete, check the concrete for cracking or chipping/erosion around the anchor bolts.

5. Repair anything on an as found basis to extend the life of the motor.

Record Everything

It is essential that records be kept for your machines. It makes maintaining your machines that much easier and minimizes downtime.

1. Document everything! That way you know exactly what is going on with your motors.

2. If there are any symptoms that repeat, it will be easier to solve the problem the next time it occurs.

3. Keeping records will also help figure out the common problems so you can have backup parts if needed.

4. You might even notice a pattern so you can preemptively address a problem pattern.
Use this as a guide when it comes to maintaining your electric motors. By following the items in each of the 5 sections above, you should be able to optimize the performance and prolong the life of your motors.

Save on Your 2016 Taxes When You Buy an American Rotary Phase Converter

Taxes are costly. Fortunately, there are incentives such as Section 179 that can help you save on your taxes so you can grow your business.  

Who qualifies for this deduction? According to Section179.org, “all businesses that purchase, finance, and/or lease less than $2,000,000 in new or used business equipment during the tax year 2016 should qualify for the Section 179 Deduction.” In other words, you get to deduct the entire purchase price of your equipment from your gross income in the tax year that you purchased it.

There are a few limits. The first is that the deduction is limited to $500,000 the first year, plus 50% bonus first year depreciation and normal first year depreciation.

Second, the total amount of the equipment purchased cannot exceed $2,000,000 (making it a true small business tax incentive).

Lastly, the equipment must be purchased and put into service within the applicable tax year, which means the deadline for getting some new three phase power is by the end of the day on December 31, 2016.

As you can see, Section 179 is a simple tax incentive created specifically for small and mid-sized business owners to take action and continue moving their business in a positive direction.

As a guide for how Section 179 can help your business, please see the chart below…..

As always, be sure to speak with your tax professional for more information and if you qualify for this and any other tax deductions. For more information visit Section179.org.

2016 section 179
2016 section 179 tax deduction write off. Image from section179.org

Granite Countertops From Start to Finish with American Rotary Phase Converters

We recently dropped by 301 Granite & Marble in Sarasota, Florida where they design, manufacture, and install premium counter-top surfaces, cabinets, and flooring. In this video, we specifically took a look at their bridge saw they use for cutting granite counter-tops, and how they were meeting the output they need with an American Rotary phase converter.