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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My son loves making sawdust and is always looking for good buys on tools. He scours Craigslist, etc and finds incredible prices on used stationary tools that are 3 phase. For instance, he found a 52" double belt sander for $3000, when a 16" open ended single phase is around the same price. Well, he doesn't have 3 phase in his garage and keeps talking about getting a phase converter. I know nothing about them other than they cost a bunch.
http://www.phase-a-matic.com/PDF/RPL.pdf

Question is: should that be an option for him to explore? or should he just keep looking for a score on single phase equipment?
 

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It depends. Does he have a large enough service to support these rather large tools? Phase adders work well, but not often used in other than industrial applications.
 

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A sander that size can be up to 25hp. The service may not be able to handle the startup surge.
 

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What are the power requirements of the sander? If it's 5HP or less, then a VFD with single phase input is probably best. That is still an option for 5-15HP or so, but it gets much harder. Rotary phase converters are functionally acceptable, but inefficient, huge, and annoying. You can make a rotary converter much cheaper than you can buy one. All you need is a large 3-phase motor, some capacitors and contactors, and optionally a small single phase motor to start up the big motor.
 

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25HP is doable with a rotary converter, which you could build fairly easily with a 30HP 3-phase motor.
 
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