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Phase rotation errors

Phase rotation errors are not as rare as they ought to be. I've seen more than one building with a systematic phase rotation error. This can be prevented by carefully following the color coding system (Yellow Orange Brown and Red Blue Black for 480 volt and 208 volt systems in the US for example) and tagging feeders at both ends to assure proper connections.

To check for proper phase rotation sequencing (ABC and not ACB) you can use a phase rotation meter. Without that you can bump a three phase motor that should be correctly connected to see if it turns in the right direction. If it's wrong, reverse any two phase wires from the source to the distribution equipment. However, if you have a tie breaker and intend to operate the secondaries of two transformers in parallel by closing it that is not good enough. Both transformer distribution networks have to be connected correctly on all three phases. You have to check the voltage across each corresponding pair of terminals on the tie breaker and be certain they are all about zero volts. If you don't and there is an error, closing the tie breaker if that is possible at all (some electronic breakers may lock you out) will result in a phase to phase bolted fault that can result in severe damage to your distribution equipment. Phase rotation errors are invariably the result of incompetent installation, inadequate specifications for feeder identification, and inadequate inspection.

There are times when the phase rotation error is made on the primary side of the transformer. If this happens it can be compensated for by reversing the phase rotation error from the secondary side. This is less desirable but it will work. If you have multiple phase rotation errors in the same distribution network you have quite a mess to clean up. It will be time consuming and expensive tracking all of them down to be certain you have eliminated them. False economies by cutting corners on the initial installation of substations and distribution equipment will result in necessitating very expensive and inconvenient repairs. If it is not corrected you risk severe damage to three phase load equipment.

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