Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

220V Split Phase Generator for International Use

  1. Nov 19, 2015 #1
    I am trying to convert a 240/120V 60Hz genset for international use, specifically for China at the moment. I need 50 Hz, which I can achieve by slowing the engine down and making the necessary changes to the voltage regulator in the generator. I can also adjust my Line-to-Line voltage to the necessary 220V. I am under the impression that I can neglect the neutral terminal in the generator and only use the two lines to get my 220V.

    From what I understand, the power they would typically use in China (or Europe, etc.) is 220V (or 230V) measured line to neutral. Even though I am using line-to-line, is there a difference to devices being powered? I know that voltage is a measure of the potential difference across two wires which is why I can achieve the correct voltage, but I now need double-pole breakers and I don't have a true neutral in the system. And I'm not sure if I need to bond the neutral terminal within the generator to ground, or leave it floating.

    How will this affect devices that are used to the line-to-neutral power? And is what I am trying to do acceptable and safe? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As far as frequency is concerned it will not be an issue for some things like incandescent lights, resistive heating elements and universal motors such as portable drills and some power tools with brushes. However, I have a concern with the fact that the generator may have it's neutral tied to the chassis. So both sides of the 240 volt line are hot and I assume equipment in this country is typically not set up for this. Be very careful here. I see this as a safety issue.
  4. Nov 20, 2015 #3
    I agree, I am very concerned about a potential safety issue. I believe the issue would be if a load internally had its neutral tied to ground. I don't know how common that is, or if that is against any and all electric codes. But then again, if that created a short, my double pole breakers would open the circuit to protect it.

    I suppose that would mean it was safe, but the generator would not be able to power that load because it would trip the breaker every time.
  5. Nov 20, 2015 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    What will be the application for this power? Can you consult the manufacturer of the motor/generator to see if they are familiar with China's power system and regulations?
  6. Nov 20, 2015 #5
    The power is for diesel burning heaters that we provide with the genset. But one of our selling features is that they can power the heaters with shore power instead of the genset. Otherwise we could leave the genset at 60 Hz. We are trying to set it up to run the same type of power that would normally be available.

    I have contacted the manufacturer and sales rep, but so far they are about as knowledgeable as I am. We are trying to find a solution, but it is moving slow so far.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook