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Line Protection

Line Protection With Distance Relays

Distance relaying should be considered when overcurrent relaying is too slow or is not selective. Distance relays are generally used for phase-fault primary and back-up protection on subtransmission lines, and on transmission lines where high-speed automatic reclosing is not necessary to maintain stability and where the short time delay for end-zone faults can be tolerated.

Overcurrent relays have been used generally for ground-fault primary and back-up protection, but there is a growing trend toward distance relays for ground faults also. Single-step distance relays are used for phase-fault back-up protection at the terminals of generators. Also, single-step distance relays might be used with advantage for back-up protection at power-transformer banks, but at the present such protection is generally provided by inverse-time overcurrent relays. Distance relays are preferred to overcurrent reIays because they are not nearly so much affected by changes in short-circuit-current magnitude as overcurrent relays are, and, hence, are much less affected by changes in generating capacity and in system configuration.

This is because, distance relays achieve selectivity on the basis of impedance rather than current.

The choice between impedance, reactance, or MHO

Because ground resistance can be so variable, a ground distance relay must be practically unaffected by large variations in fault resistance. Consequently, reactance relays are generally preferred for ground relaying. For phase-fault relaying, each type has certain advantages and disadvantages. For very short line sections, the reactance type is preferred for the reason that more of the line can be protected at high speed. This is because the reactance relay is practically unaffected by arc resistance which may be large compared with the line impedance, as described elsewhere in this chapter. On the other hand, reactance-type distance relays at certain locations in a system are the most likely to operate undesirably on severe synchronizing power surges unless additional relay equipment is provided to prevent such operation.

The mho type is best suited for phase-fault relaying for longer lines, and particularly where severe synchronizing-power surges may occur. It is the least likely to require additional equipment to prevent tripping on synchronizing-power surges. When mho relaying is adjusted to protect any given line section, its operating characteristic encloses the least space on the R-X diagram, which means that it will be least affected by abnormal system conditions other than line faults; in other words, it is the most selective of all distance relays.

Because the mho relay is affected by arc resistance more than any other type, it is applied to longer lines. The fact that it combines both the directional and the distancemeasuring functions in one unit with one contact makes it very reliable.

The impedance relay is better suited for phase-fault relaying for lines of moderate length than for either very short or very long lines. Arcs affect an impedance relay more than a reactance relay but less than a mho relay. Synchronizing-power surges affect an impedance relay less than a reactance relay but more than a mho relay. If an impedance-relay characteristic is offset, so as to make it a modified relay, it can be made to resemble either a reactance relay or a mho relay but it will always require a separate directional unit.

There is no sharp dividing line between areas of application where one or another type of distance relay is best suited. Actually, there is much overlapping of these areas. Also, changes that are made in systems, such as the addition of terminals to a line, can change the type of relay best suited to a particular location. Consequently, to realize the fullest capabilities of distance relaying, one should use the type best suited for each application. In some cases much better selectivity can be obtained between relays of the same type, but, if relays are used that are best suited to each line, different types on adjacent lines have no appreciable adverse effect on selectivity.

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FIGURE 1 – Voltage gradient around a substation under fault condition

FIGURE 1 – Voltage gradient around a substation under fault condition

The purpose of this paper is to report a new test method and make a recommendation to improve the procedures according to the findings.

The test method involves measurement of high voltage substations earth grid impedance, by utilization of a variable frequency current source and frequency selective measurement techniques.

Safety policies require that the values of earth impedances remain within the specified acceptable range and every utility is required to guarantee safe step-and-touch potential levels. It is therefore necessary to carry out periodic testing on substation earthing to monitor the condition of the substation earthing system.

Knowledge of earth grid impedance of high voltage substations is also very important for correct operation of protection schemes and fault clearance. As the condition of grounding components change over time due to corrosion of earth cables, changes in the adjacent infrastructures and so on, it is necessary to measure the impedance of earthing grid periodically to ensure that the values are within expected range.

Knowledge of the overall resistance ZE allows calculation of the total voltage rise of a substation under maximum fault current. Knowledge of the voltage gradient around the substation, especially close to the substation allows calculation of the step-andtouch voltages under worst-case conditions.

Measurement principle

According to international standards such as CENELEC HD637S1 [1] or ANSI IEEE 80-2000 [2], 81-1983 [3] it is recommended to use a current-voltage method otherwise known as fall-of-potential [4].

Generally in a 90° angle (birds-eye view) two electrodes are placed outside the influence of the grounding system under test. One is used to inject the current (current electrode) and one to measure the voltage (voltage electrode). However because the area which is influenced by the grounding system is not so easy to determine, the current electrode is usually placed at a distance of at least 10 times, and up to 15 to 20 times the diameter of the grounding system under test. The voltage electrode then is placed in various distances.

Close to the system under test, large voltage degradation is visible. The further the voltage probe is located from the system under test, the more stable the measured voltages become (FIGURE 2 & 6).

FIGURE 2 – Voltage Degradation

FIGURE 2 – Voltage Degradation

Problems with Conventional Measurement Methods

For small grounding systems like a single tower, it is generally no problem to place the two needed electrodes and low currents generated by battery-operated equipment can generally do the job satisfactorily. However when measuring large substations, the distances are substantial and should be as large as 10 to 20 times the diameter of the substation. In some cases, measurements show peaks and drops until an area free of buildings and buried conductors or pipes is reached. Until then, erroneous results can be obtained.

Voltage drops can be observed when measurement points are set close to objects, like towers of power lines leaving the substation, connected to the grounding system under test. Voltage rises can be observed when for example measurement points are placed over a buried pipe that runs close to the current electrode. Therefore it is often difficult to distinguish between drops, rises and stable results.

To place the current electrode very far away is certainly a good idea, because then at least the influence of the current electrode can be minimized, however here the effort becomes even bigger. The biggest challenge is when the current electrode has to be relocated several times, before a stable measurement can be achieved.

Usage of existing power lines

One method to overcome these measurement problems is to use diesel generators (weighing several tons) to generate currents that have frequencies slightly different from mains frequency and to feed in the currents over existing, de-energized power lines leaving the substation. The grounding system of the remote substation where the power line terminates is used as current electrode (see FIGURE 2 Impedance Measurement).

The amount of current needed for such a test still has to be quite large to overcome mains frequency disturbances and the power requirement is enormous. But with these devices it is possible to measure ground impedances. However, the effort is by far too high to use it as a realistic approach for maintenance measurements.

Combination of the good ideas

FIGURE 3 – Test equipment for line impedance measurement

FIGURE 3 – Test equipment for line impedance measurement

A new approach of Omicron is to combine the principle of simple battery operated equipment based on the variable frequency principle and use the existing power lines and the grounding system of the remote substation as current electrode.

The test set CPC 100 and CP CU1 from OMICRON comprises of a frequency variable amplifier (29 kg), a coupling unit (28 kg) and a protection device (6 kg).

The CPC 100 is a multi-functional, frequency-variable test set for testing various primary equipments. It is capable of generating currents up to 800 A or voltages up to 2000 V, with special software modules to be used for various automated tests on CTs, VTs, power transformers or other primary equipments. With other accessories it can also be used for tangent delta testing on power transformer bushings or windings, with test voltages up to 12 kV.

In the application of ground impedance measurement it is used as frequency variable power generator, measurement tool and analyzer. Due to the variable frequency generation, it is possible to generate signals first under and then above mains frequency. Using digital filter algorithms, the test set will measure only the signal with the frequency that is currently generated and filters out signals at other frequencies. Disturbances due to noise and electrical interference thus no longer influence the result.

FIGURE 4 – Frequency selective measurement

FIGURE 4 – Frequency selective measurement

For safety reasons, the coupling unit CP CU1 is used for galvanic decoupling of the current output and the measurement inputs from the power line. This way, if fault or lightning occur during the test, the operator can be safe from dangerous voltages. For optimum performance there is a range selector switch for the current output, and a built-in voltmeter for a quick check of induced voltages or burden. Test currents of up to 100A can be generated for short cables, and for long lines of up to a few hundred kilometers, currents over 1A are still possible.

The protection device CP GB1 is a tool for easy connection to the overhead line or power cable and existing grounding cables of the substation may be used. In case of unexpected high voltage on the power line due to faults on a parallel system, lightning discharges or transients due to switching operations, the GB1 is capable of discharging short transients or permanently shorting fault currents of up to 30 kA for at least 100 ms. These features will protect the operator in unexpected situations.

The test itself is simple: the combination of CPC 100, CP CU1 and CP GB1 is connected to a de-energized power line (FIGURE 2&5); after removing the near end ground connection, test current with a different frequency than the mains frequency is injected. The voltage test probe then is located at various distances until stable voltage measurements can be observed. At this point the measurement is completed And the results can be stored in the CPC, downloaded to a PC and analyzed in a Microsoft Excel application.

Case study

The test was carried out on 7th October 2004 by confirming outage on Western Power Corporation’s Landsdale Northern Terminal line. Northern Terminal Substation was the remote terminal and the earth grid at Landsdale Substation was measured.

Earth Switches at both substations were closed and portable earths were applied to the lines in preparation for the test.
CPC 100 and CP CU20 (a predecessor of the CP CU1) were connected to the line as per test set up and voltage measurements stake was inserted at different distances from the test point in a different direction from that of the transmission line in order to avoid induction. Measurements were carried out and test files were saved to the CPC 100 memory to be retrieved in the office.

Test was performed at various frequencies (between 30-110 Hz) to suppress the noise and achieve a precise characteristic of the grid impedance under test. Impedances for 50Hz were extrapolated from the test results.

FIGURE 5 – Measurement of Landsdale Local Substation's Earth Grid

FIGURE 5 – Measurement of Landsdale Local Substation's Earth Grid

The mass of the earth is not the only path for feeding the ground current. All metal structures such as pipes tubes, railway lines and Multiple Earthed Neutral (MEN) of distribution systems between the test point and the current auxiliary electrode form the path for the ground current, including the shield wire on the top of the pole.

Test Results

The graph for the impedance measurement was as follows:

FIGURE 6 – Voltage degradation measurement results

The impedance profile of the earthing system was obtained and the stabilization of the impedance at a distance above 100m was obvious.

This data was then used to calculate the earthgrid potential rise during maximum earth fault conditions.


Substation earthing system testing using the conventional method is arduous, time consuming and involves multiple heavy equipment producing end results that are sometimes unreliable due to electrical interference and noise. The conventional method requires high test currents in order to achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio, therefore heavy equipment and generators are required to produce such currents.

The alternative method using variable frequency technique, achieves the desired outcome with less cost, effort and resources and increases efficiency and accuracy.

Ulrich KLAPPER  – OMICRON electronics (Australia)


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Transformer Ratings

Transformer Ratings

Transformer size or capacity is most often expressed in kVA. “We require 30 kVA of power for this system” is one example, or “The facility has a 480 VAC feed rated for 112.5 kVA”.

However, reliance upon only kVA rating can result insafety and performance problems when sizing transformers to feed modern electronic equipment.

Use of off-the-shelf, general purpose transformers for electronics loads can lead to power quality and siting problems:

  • Single phase electronic loads can cause excessive transformer heating.
  • Electronic loads draw non-linear currents, resulting in low voltage and output voltage distortion.
  • Oversizing for impedance and thermal performance can result in a transformer with a significantly larger footprint.

It is vital for the systems designer to understand all of the factors that affect transformer effectiveness and performance.

Thermal Performance

Historically, transformers have been developed to supply 60 Hz, linear loads such as lights, motors, and heaters. Electronic loads were a small part of the total connected load. A system designer could be assured that if transformer voltage and current ratings were not exceeded, the transformer would not overheat, and would perform as expected. A standard transformer is designed and specified with three main parameters: kVA Rating, Impedance, and Temperature Rise.

KVA Rating

The transformer voltage and current specification. KVA is simply the load voltage times the load current. A single phase transformer rated for 120 VAC and 20 Amperes would be rated for 120 x 20 = 2400 VA, or 2.4 KVA (thousand VA).


Transformer Impedance and Voltage Regulation are closely related: a measure of the transformer voltage drop when supplying full load current. A transformer with a nominal output voltage of 120 VAC and a Voltage Regulation of 5% has an output voltage of 120 VAC at no-load and (120 VAC – 5%) at full load – the transformer output voltage will be 114 VAC at full load. Impedance is related to the transformer thermal performance because any voltage drop in the transformer is converted to heat in the windings.

Temperature Rise

Steel selection, winding capacity, impedance, leakage current, overall steel and winding design contribute to total transformer heat loss. The transformer heat loss causes the transformer temperature to rise. Manufacturers design the transformer cooling, and select materials, to accommodate this temperature rise.

Transformer Heat Loss

Transformer Heat Loss

Use of less expensive material with a lower temperature rating will require the manufacturer to design the transformer for higher airflow and cooling, often resulting in a larger transformer. Use of higher quality materials with a higher temperature rating permits a more compact transformer design.

Transformer Insulation Systems

Transformer Insulation Systems


“K” Factor Transformer Rating

In the 1980′s, power quality engineers began encountering a new phenomenon: non-linear loads, such as computers and peripherals, began to exceed linear loads on some distribution panels. This resulted in large harmonic currents being drawn, causing excessive transformer heating due to eddy-current losses, skin effect, and core flux density increases.

Standard transformers, not designed for nonlinear harmonic currents were overheating and failing even though RMS currents were well within transformer ratings.

In response to this problem, IEEE C57.110-1986 developed a method of quantifying harmonic currents. A “k” factor was the result, calculated from the individual harmonic components and the effective heating such a harmonic would cause in a transformer. Transformer manufacturers began designing transformers that could supply harmonic currents, rated with a “k” factor. Typical “K” factor applications include:

  • K-4: Electric discharge lighting, UPS with input filtering, Programmable logic controllers and solid state controls
  • K-13: Telecommunications equipment, UPS systems, multi-wire receptacle circuits in schools, health-care, and production areas
  • K-20: Main-frame computer loads, solid state motor drives, critical care areas of hospitals

“K” factor is a good way to assure that transformers will not overheat and fail. However, “K” factor is primarily concerned with thermal issues. Selection of a “K” factor transformer may result in power quality improvement, but this depends upon manufacturer and design.

Transformer Impedance

Transformer impedance is the best measure of the transformer’s ability to supply an electronic load with optimum power quality. Many power problems do not come from the utility but are internally generated from the current requirements of other loads.

While a “K” factor transformer can feed these loads and not overheat, a low impedance transformer will provide the best quality power. As an example, consider a 5% impedance transformer. When an electronic load with a 200% inrush current is turned on, a voltage sag of 10% will result. A low impedance transformer (1%) would provide only a 2% voltage sag – a substantial improvement. Transformer impedance may be specified as a percentage, or alternately, in Ohms (Ω) from Phase- Phase or Phase-Neutral.

High Frequency Transformer Impedance

Most transformer impedance discussions involve the 60 Hz transformer impedance. This is the power frequency, and is the main concern for voltage drops, fault calculations, and power delivery. However, nonlinear loads draw current at higher harmonics. Voltage drops occur at both 60 Hz and higher frequencies. It is common to model transformer impedance as a resistor, often expressed in ohms. In fact, a transformer behaves more like a series resistor and inductor.

The voltage drop of the resistive portion is independent of frequency, the voltage drop of the inductor is frequency dependent.

Standard Transformer impedances rise rapidly with frequency. However, devices designed specifically for use with nonlinear loads use special winding and steel lamination designs to minimize impedance at both 60 Hz and higher frequencies. As a result, the output voltage of such designs is far better quality than for standard transformers.

Recommendations for Transformer Sizing

System design engineers who must specify and apply transformers have several options when selecting transformers.

Do It Yourself Approach

With this approach, a larger than required standard transformer is specified in order to supply harmonic currents and minimize voltage drop. Transformer oversizing was considered prudent design in the days before transformer manufacturers understood harmonic loads, and remains an attractive option from a pure cost standpoint. However, such a practice today has several problems:

  • A larger footprint and volume than low impedance devices specifically designed for non-linear loads
  • Poor high frequency impedance
  • Future loads may lead to thermal and power quality problems
Standard Isolation Transformer

Standard Isolation Transformer


“K”-factor Rated Transformers

Selecting and using “K”-factor rated transformers is a prudent way to ensure that transformer overheating will not occur. Unfortunately, lack of standardization makes the “K” factor rating a measure only of thermal performance, not impedance or power quality.

Percent Impedance

Percent Impedance

Some manufacturers achieve a good “K” factor using design techniques that lower impedance and enhance power quality, others simply derate components and temperature ratings. Only experience with a particular transformer manufacturer can determine if a “K” factor transformer addresses both thermal and power quality concerns.

Transformers Designed for Non-Linear Loads

Transformers designed specifically for non-linear loads incorporate substantial design improvements that address both thermal and power quality concerns. Such devices are low impedance, compact, and have better high frequency performance than standard or “K” factor designs. As a result, this type of transformer is the optimum design solution.

This type of transformer may be more expensive than standard transformers, due to higher amounts of iron and copper, higher quality materials, and more expensive winding and stacking techniques. However, the benefits of such a design in power quality and smaller size justify the extra cost, and make the low impedance transformer the most cost effective design overall.


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