My understanding is that in the US (and Canada?) residential units receive split-phase 120V/240V power meaning the voltage between two phases is 2x the line-to-neutral voltage. Here in Europe residential units receive 3-phase 230V/400V power meaning the voltage between two phases is only 1.7x the line-to-neutral voltage.
Is there a reason for the European arrangement? If Europe also used split phase power then we could get one of these:
- 200V/400V power meaning most appliances would be safer due to the lower line-to-neutral voltage while power-hungry appliances (like stoves) could still get the same 400V as before.
- 230V/460V power meaning power-hungry appliances (like stoves) could get 60V higher voltage without there being a need raise the line-to-neutral voltage so most appliances would be just as safe as before.
- Some intermediate option between these.
To a layman like me 2x just seems better than 1.7x. Surely no one has an AC motor at home that would actually need all 3 phases? Is there some reason for delivering 3-phase power to households I'm not seeing or what is the reason for the European arrangement? Is it just an artifact of history that's too costly to change now?