Alternating Current - AC Power Supply Frequencies

AC Power Supply Frequencies

Further information: Mains power around the world

The frequency of the electrical system varies by country; most electric power is generated at either 50 or 60 hertz. Some countries have a mixture of 50 Hz and 60 Hz supplies, notably Japan.

A low frequency eases the design of electric motors, particularly for hoisting, crushing and rolling applications, and commutator-type traction motors for applications such as railways. However, low frequency also causes noticeable flicker in arc lamps and incandescent light bulbs. The use of lower frequencies also provided the advantage of lower impedance losses, which are proportional to frequency. The original Niagara Falls generators were built to produce 25 Hz power, as a compromise between low frequency for traction and heavy induction motors, while still allowing incandescent lighting to operate (although with noticeable flicker). Most of the 25 Hz residential and commercial customers for Niagara Falls power were converted to 60 Hz by the late 1950s, although some 25 Hz industrial customers still existed as of the start of the 21st century. 16.7 Hz power (formerly 16 2/3 Hz) is still used in some European rail systems, such as in Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Off-shore, military, textile industry, marine, computer mainframe, aircraft, and spacecraft applications sometimes use 400 Hz, for benefits of reduced weight of apparatus or higher motor speeds.

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