Not every country supplies power in quite the same way, especially when it comes to things like 50Hz vs. 60Hz.
Curious what the differences between 50Hz and 60Hz are, and when and why you’d use one over the other?
In this article, we’re covering these two electrical systems and the differences between them so you can better understand why you’d use one over the other.
Before we jump into the specifics of 50Hz, it’s important to know what “Hz” means.
Hz (Hetz) is a basic unit of frequency. It measures the vibration cycle time of electric, magnetic, mechanical, and acoustic vibration. The word is named after Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, a German physicist who discovered electromagnetic waves.
50 Hertz means the rotor of a generator turns 50 cycles per second, and that the current changes 50 times per cycle.
With 50Hz, voltage bounces between positive to negative, and then negative to positive voltage.
With 60Hz, the rotor of a generator turns 60 cycles per second, which means the current changes 60 times per cycle.
The voltage changes in a similar way to 50Hz.
This option is mostly used in North America and Northern South America with household electrical outlets. The UK, Africa, South America, and Australia tend to have household electrical currents of 50Hz.
Why do some countries use one type of Hertz over the other?
Most of it comes down to the equipment used in those countries. For example, companies in the U.S. have historically made 60 Hz equipment, which is why it’s more prominent in the U.S. than in other places.
Now that you have a basic idea of what 50Hz and 60Hz are, you’re probably wondering how they differ and whether those differences are significant.
Here are some of the major differences you should know about.
For most standard motors, the RPM is proportional to the frequency, which means there is a speed increase when you use 60Hz versus 50Hz.
In fact, 60Hz can be up to 20% faster.
In general, 50 Hz systems tend to use more voltage for the domestic power supply than 50Hz.
Voltage is higher at 50Hz than at 50Hz however and increases by roughly 20%.
As mentioned above, the rated voltage is 20% at 60Hz than it is at 50Hz.
The output difference at 60Hz is roughly the same percentage difference as well.
There are little to no differences, however, between factors like bearings difference, rated torque difference, and slip difference.
Most small 3-phase motors can run well with either 50Hz and 60Hz.
But in some cases, one frequency is preferred to the other, which is usually noted on the nameplate or within the manufacturer’s catalog.
At the end of the day, however, there are no major differences between 50Hz and 60Hz.
They’re both equally valid power supply standards, and whether you use one over the other will depend more on your circumstances rather than the pros and cons of either.
Think you may need to switch between one Hertz type to the other? Check out this frequency converter to see how you can do that.
As you can see, there are many differences when it comes to 50Hz vs. 60Hz, but the option you use will depend on factors beyond that.
By knowing these options and how they work, you can make the most informed power decisions going forward.
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