Global Voltage and Frequency Standards

One of the difficulties of finding the right generator for your business is understanding the different global voltage and frequency standards. Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla had conceptualized optimal voltages and frequencies for direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) systems, respectively. However, different countries adopted standards at different times and upgraded them differently. This mismatch has created the different voltage and frequency standards that exist across the world today.

Voltage is the pressure pushing charged electrons through a system’s conducting loop. The higher the voltage is, the greater potential energy it has, meaning that it can better power large devices with greater power requirements. With alternating current systems, frequency is another variable that comes into play. Frequency refers to the number of cycles a current will repeat per second in an alternating current system. The standard American voltage and frequency are 120V and 60Hz. This means that the voltage waveform swings between positive 120 and negative 120 volts 60 times per second.

The US adopted this standard early but considered increasing the voltage to gain power with fewer power drops. However, the US decided against this because replacing all electrical appliances was too expensive. Later, after seeing the issues of a lower voltage manifest themselves, the US decided to supply buildings with 240 volts that they split between two 120-volt circuits.

The standard Europe voltage and frequency are closer to 230V and 50Hz. Power requirements pushed European countries to adopt this standard, but it also proved cheaper. The higher voltages required thinner wire, so power companies saved a lot of money using less copper in their power lines. 60 Hz is an optimal frequency, but Europe adopted 50 Hz because it better fits their metric system.

Among global voltage and frequency standards, Australia uses 240V and 50Hz. This Australian voltage and Hz match Europe’s, which makes sense because Australia was a British colony. Across the world, countries like America are the outliers, sharing the same voltage and frequency with other countries like Japan, Brazil, Canada, Liberia, and some other South American countries. It’s tricky to remember, but figuring out voltage and frequency is important when finding a generator. At Turnkey Industries, we know everything there is to know about the voltage and frequencies of our generators, and we can help you get the one that is right for you!

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