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Phase-to-phase balancing. What is worth knowing about it?

The way of energy accounting is for many people very important, but not very understandable. What is worth knowing about phase-to-phase balancing?

In order to understand phase-to-phase balancing, you first need to familiarize yourself with the billing capabilities of electric utilities, the so-called prosumers. As the name suggests, this is a combination of “producer” and “consumer”. Usually this term appears in the case of photovoltaics. 

It is worth noting that a detailed description of who can be considered a prosumer can be found in the RES Act. According to the regulations, it is primarily a person who simultaneously produces and consumes electricity. It is worth knowing that an amendment has been introduced in 2019. According to it, the definition of prosumer was slightly expanded. Entities that are engaged in business activities were also added to it.

What is phase-to-phase balancing?

Once we know who a prosumer is, we can move on to explaining phase-to-phase balancing. What is it? It is one way of accounting for the energy consumed and that which the owner of the photovoltaic installation gives back to the electric utility. Usually it is done so that electrical installations are loaded asymmetrically. That is, each phase is characterized by a different demand for energy. The idea is that one of the phases is responsible for powering devices that require high power consumption, such as air conditioners or heat pumps, and the second phase powers, for example, lighting. 

With an electrical device like an inverter, it is possible to evenly distribute the power that has been produced – the same amount for each phase. If there is no one at home during the day and the power consumption is lower, then there are surpluses, which are returned to the grid. This can lead to a situation where we give out electricity on one phase and take it on the other two phases. In the case of phase-to-phase balancing the negative and positive values are added together. This is quite a profitable solution, because you only have to pay for the consumed energy if the value is negative. If there is a surplus of energy, you do not have to pay for the electricity.

However, if you do not use phase-to-phase balancing, then each phase is billed separately. 

In a single phase installation there is no such thing as phase-to-phase balancing.

main photo: unsplash.com/Zbynek Burival

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