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Cut Costs With Phase Converter
If you haven't checked out 3-phase motors for your electrical power needs, you may be paying more and getting less than you could. Not only are 3-phase motors as much as half the cost of their single phase counterparts, but they are considered more reliable, too, with fewer parts to fail. What's more, used 3-phase equipment is cheaper due to the limited availability of 3-phase power. The only catch is getting 3-phase power to your farm.
  You could pay the $15,000 to $30,000 per mile that utilities charge to bring in a 3-phase line but another solution is to buy a converter to produce your own 3-phase power from a single phase line.
  Karam Manufacturing, Madelia, Minn., has been making and selling Phase-O-MaticÍ 3-phase converters since 1975. They received UL approval in 1992 and will soon be UL approved in Canada. Company owner Tom Jorgensen reports that 25-year-old units are still running with virtually no maintenance since they were first purchased..
  "They are practically bullet proof and 96 percent efficient at converting single phase power to 3-phase," says Jorgensen. "About 90 percent of our business is ag related, powering irrigation rigs, grain dryers, elevator legs and air systems."
  "With single phase power, 15 hp motors are about as big as you can go," explains Jorgensen. "Some farmers feel they can't expand because they don't have 3-phase power, but 3-phase motors cost enough less that you can pay for the converters with the savings. I have one customer who has a 40 hp motor operating his manure handling equipment."
  Much of the cost savings on 3-phase motors comes from their simplicity. A single phase motor requires switches, capacitors, relays and governors, none of which are needed on a 3-phase motor. Another big savings comes when used 3-phase equipment comes on the market. Jorgenson tells of one customer who bought a 3-phase 450 amp welder for $500, while a single phase welder of the same size would have sold for $4,000.
  While other converters are on the market, they aren't all equal, cautions Jorgensen. He recommends checking for reliability, simplicity of operation and output. While some converters can only be used with a single motor, Karam's Phase-O-Matic can handle multiple motors as long as no single motor is rated higher than the horsepower rating of the converter and the horsepower needs of all the motors combined doesn't exceed twice the rating of the converter.
  "In a drier setup, you might have two 20 hp motors, a 15 hp wet auger, and another 5-10 hp motor on the side," explains Jorgensen. "All of those could run off a 40 hp converter."
  Karam converters start out at $700 for a 3.5 hp converter and top out at $8,000 for a 100 hp unit. Units are available for either 230 or 460 VAC , 60 Hz power source and are prewired ready for installation.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Karam Mfg., P.O. Box 70, Madelia, Minn. 56062 (ph 800 293-8969; fax 507 642-3993).

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #2