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Old 09-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #1
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


I have a question about the wiring of 208V/3 phase outlets. I believe that the wiring color code for 208V/3 phase is L1 => Black, L2 => Red and L3 => Blue (along with Neutral => White and Ground => Green). However, outlets are usually labeled X, Y and Z, rather than L1, L2 and L3. Depending on how an outlet is wired, you can have either clockwise or counterclockwise phase rotation. Shouldn't there be a standard way of wiring outlets so that the phase rotation is consistent from outlet to outlet?

The reason I'm asking is that I work at a place that has 208V/3 phase power, and the phase rotation varies from outlet to outlet. This is a pain, because every time I move a piece of equipment, I have to check the phase rotation of the outlet and potentially rewire the equipment.

I suggested to our Facilities department that we adopt a standard method of wiring our outlets: L1 (Black) => X, L2 (Red) => Y and L3 (Blue) => Z. That way I can move equipment around without any problems.

They looked at me like I had two heads. Am I missing something here?

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:17 PM   #2
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


You CANNOT have a "standard" to keep rotation consistent. You cannot be sure that every panel is wired the same, so even with a color standard there is no guaranty.

What you should do is have a rotation standard instead of, or in addition to, a color standard. Every receptacle that is installed should be rotation checked and kept consistent.
Do you have a phase rotation meter?

Also, 208V-3-phase does not have a neutral. It's just three phase conductors and a ground. 120/208V-3-phase would have a neutral.

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:43 PM   #3
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


In my world....we typically use Orange/Brown/Yellow for the 3 phases...

And like speedy said....you just have to test for rotation. It's a normal part of startup. If fact, it's sort of a contest to see how many motors are wired right the first time. Overall I would say it's running about 50/50.

And it wouldn't be the first time that the PoCo changed the incoming phasing after doing some work. Customer comes in the next morning and all the motors are running the wrong way.
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:55 PM   #4
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


In my world brown yellow orange is 480V 3 phase. Black red blue is 208V 3 phase.
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:58 PM   #5
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
In my world....we typically use Orange/Brown/Yellow for the 3 phases...

And like speedy said....you just have to test for rotation. It's a normal part of startup. If fact, it's sort of a contest to see how many motors are wired right the first time. Overall I would say it's running about 50/50.

And it wouldn't be the first time that the PoCo changed the incoming phasing after doing some work. Customer comes in the next morning and all the motors are running the wrong way.
I don't know which world you live in..... The BOY colors Brown Orange Yellow is usually used for 277/480
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:06 PM   #6
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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I don't know which world you live in..... The BOY colors Brown Orange Yellow is usually used for 277/480
My 3 phase world is 480vac....

Except as noted....no real standard....just 'practice'....

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Since 1975, the U.S. National Electric Code has not specified colouring of phase conductors. It is common practice in many regions to identify 120/208Y conductors as black, red, and blue. Local regulations may amend the N.E.C. The U.S. National Electric Code has colour requirements for grounded conductors, ground and grounded-delta 3-phase systems which result in one ungrounded leg having a higher voltage potential to ground than the other two ungrounded legs. Orange is only appropriate when the system has a grounded delta service, regardless of voltage.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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And it wouldn't be the first time that the PoCo changed the incoming phasing after doing some work. Customer comes in the next morning and all the motors are running the wrong way.
Must be a Kalifornia thing. And I have to say I'm not sure I buy this.
I have NEVER seen a POCO do this. Most go through some very strict rotation test and verification to prevent this. The liability is WAY too high not to.
In the litigation state of California I find it hard to believe that would be nonchalant about rotation.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:24 PM   #8
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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Must be a Kalifornia thing. And I have to say I'm not sure I buy this.
I have NEVER seen a POCO do this. Most go through some very strict rotation test and verification to prevent this. The liability is WAY too high not to.
In the litigation state of California I find it hard to believe that would be nonchalant about rotation.
Actually....it was a Tucson AZ thing....went to a customer site after a lightning strike took out a transformer....lots of motors were running backwards.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:28 PM   #9
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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Actually....it was a Tucson AZ thing....went to a customer site after a lightning strike took out a transformer....lots of motors were running backwards.
So that was one time. Was there a second?
You made it seem like it's something not uncommon.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:14 PM   #10
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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Actually....it was a Tucson AZ thing....went to a customer site after a lightning strike took out a transformer....lots of motors were running backwards.
That has the potential to damage or destroy some types of equipment, and could be a hazard to people with conveyors and cutting equipment. It has to be extremely uncommon.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:08 PM   #11
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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Originally Posted by electures View Post
In my world brown yellow orange is 480V 3 phase. Black red blue is 208V 3 phase.
In my world. ( In France ) Black , Red , Brown or Black, Grey , Brown is 415 volts three phase,


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Old 09-28-2012, 09:41 AM   #12
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


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So that was one time. Was there a second?
You made it seem like it's something not uncommon.
And then another time in Belfast, N Ireland....specifically...at the old Delorean plant (Dunmurray Park)....new transformer for an autoclave...there was a wireing issue...when it was hooked back up, all of my motors were phased wrong.

In my case, I deal with stuff that pulls a lot of amps....2000 + is not uncommon.....hence, there tends to be little mini substations near our MCC's.

Ok...now that I think of it....it's only happened twice....

But it has caused me to make sure all the stuff in my house is phased right. My wife gets upset when the washing machine runs backwards.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:22 AM   #13
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208V/3 Phase Wiring Question


We generally use red black blue for 120/208 and orange Brown yellow for 347/600.

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