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Damping of Inrush Current in Low-Voltage PFC Equipment

Low-Voltage PFC Application Note 2001

Power Quality

Contents General The risks of high inrush current Single capacitor connection, inrush current calculation Parallel capacitor connection, inrush current calculation Various solutions for limiting inrush current serial aircoils Detuning reactors, connection cable selection Capacitor contactors with damping resistors Functionality / comparison Comparison Capacitor bank switching under various conditions 3 4 6 7 7 8 9 10 11


Damping of Inrush Current in Low-Voltage PFC Equipment

General The market trend to reduce losses in modern low-voltage powerfactor-correction capacitors (LV-PFCs) and the requirement for high output density result in reduced ohmic resistance in PFC capacitors. Especially the switching of capacitors in parallel to others of the bank, already energized, causes extremely high inrush current, up to 200 times the rated current, and limited only by the ohmic resistance of the capacitor itself. According to the formula (Eq1), such a capacitors AC resistance is very low and thus contributes to high inrush current.

1 xc = 2**f*c
Eq1: Switching operation: f xc 0 200 * Ir

M 3~
12.5 kVAr

25 kVAr

25 kVAr

25 kVAr

25 kVAr

25 kVAr

25 kVAr

187,5 kVAr

High inrush current for grid, high balancing currents for capacitors

LV-PFC capacitor bank Inrush current (pulse) is a factor of: a Remaining capacitor voltage due to fast switching in automatic capacitor banks a Shortcircuit power of supply transformer a Output of capacitor switched in parallel to others already energized a Fault level of supply network a Output of capacitors already energized a Ohmic resistance of capacitor itself and distribution switch gear, connection cables or conductors

Automatic capacitor bank with 6 capacitors in parallel

25 kVAr


Inrush Current by Connecting Capacitor in Parallel (Energization)

Capacitor connection: IN = rated current = 21A
Current (A) 4000 i 3000 2000 1000 0 -1000 -2000 -3000 73.2

Capacitor inrush current







77.6 t (ms)

5th capacitor connected Peak current occurrence i = 157 * IN = 157 * 21 = 3300 A

The risks of high inrush current Connecting LV-PFC capacitors without damping to an AC grid stresses the capacitor like a shortcircuit. To avoid negative effects and to improve a capacitors life time, adequate damping of inrush current is highly recommended. Influence of high inrush current and resulting distortion: a High stress on the capacitor reduced lifetime a Welding or fast wearing out of the main contacts of contactors a Negative effects on power quality (eg. voltage transients) a Overvoltage: insulation problems defects of electronic equipment production stop a Undervoltage/voltage zero crossing measurement failure problems with numerical control equipment production stop due to computer failure a High cost of maintenance and production standstill 4

Inrush Measurement of Capacitor Steps

PFC capacitor cascade connection: High voltage transients occurrence due to no damping
Voltage (V) 1500 1000 500 0

- 500 -1000 -1500 0

1 2 1 1 2 1
1st step on 2nd step on 3rd step on 4th step on 5th step on 6th step on






100 t (ms) High peak voltage (transients) occurrence > UINS risk of shortcircuit 0 V results in wrong measurements causing control failures





Voltage at 0.69 kV - busbar

Switching of power factor correction (PFC) capacitors is not only related to high currents but also to high voltage transients (ref. capacitor switching-on steps 1 6), causing degradation of power quality, if the negative influence is not prevented by damping. Capacitor sample, contact surface damaged by high inrush currents High inrush current occurrences due to insufficient damping caused high electromechanical forces within the capacitor. Especially the contact area between electrodes (windings) and the metal-spray layer was extremely stressed by high current forces. The example shows that a fraction of metal-spray layer separated from the windings. Even the MKK capacitor with excellent pulse current capability and enhanced contactability due to wavy cut and heavy edge design of the film shows that extensive power can cause failures.

Example Metal-spray layer separated from the capacitor windings

Inrush Current Calculation

Connecting a single capacitor


Circuit and formula ^ i= 2*Sk Q *IN

L1 L2 L3


Eq 2

Calculation example
Terms Peak inrush current Transformer shortcircuit power Rated capacitor output Rated capacitor current Rated voltage Ohmic resistance = 3 * UN2* (1/Q1 + 1/Q2) Grid impedance = o * L () including contactor fuse busbars ^ i Sk Q IN UN XC XI A kVA kVAr A V ^ i= Given parameters: Grid connection of a single 50 kVAr capacitor, no other capacitor connected: a Grid 400 V/50 Hz a Transformer shortcircuit voltage: 5% a Transformer output: 1600 kVA a Capacitor Q = 50 kVAr; IN = 72 A 2* 1600 kVA 0.05 = 2575 A *72 A 50 kVAr

The inrush current is approximately 35 times the rated current.


Typical inrush currents are 1040 times the rated current for single capacitors during connection.



Various Solutions
for Limiting Inrush Current
Parallel connecting of capacitor:
L1 L2 L3

Serial air coils

L1 L2 L3 K1

^ i= 2*UN


Contactor C2 C3 C2 C3 Capacitor C1 Q1 C1 Q2

^ i= 2*UN



Eq 3

Xc*(XL1+ XL2)








Eq 4

Given parameters: Connection of a 50 kVAr capacitor, other 300 kVAr capacitors are already connected: a Grid 400 V/50 Hz a Transformer shortcircuit voltage: 6% a Transformer output: 630 kVAr a Q1 = 50 kVAr a Q2 = 300 kVAr a IN = 72 A ; VN = 400 V ; f = 50 Hz 1 1 a XC = 3 * U2N * ( Q + Q ) = 11.2 2 1 a L /phase = 0.4 H (empirical) a XL = o * L = 2 * * f * L = 0.125 m ^ i= 2*400 V = 15118.6 A 1 1.2 *0.125*103

Given parameters: Parallel connection of a 50 kVAr capacitor with cable turns (serial aircoils) for damping, other 300 kVAr capacitors are already connected, 400 V/50 Hz, shortcircuit power 10.5 MVA, rated capacitor current 72 A: damping with approx. 6 H with turns. a Xc = 11.2 a XL1 = 2 * * f * L = 2 * * 50 * 6 H = 1.88 m a XL2 = 2 * * f * L = 0.125 m a XL total = 0.125 + 1.88 = 2 m a L /phase = 0.4 H (empirical value) 1) ^ i= 2*400 V = 3780 A 1 1.2 *2 *103

The inrush current is approximately 210 times the rated current.

The inrush current is approximately 50 times the rated current. This means only about a quarter compared to a capacitor without damping (turns). This example shows that some cable turns in series with the capacitor contribute to reducing inrush current (to 50 times rated current). This improves capacitor life cycle.

Typical inrush currents are 100250 times rated current for single capacitors in parallel connection to other capacitors in operation.

This example shows that cable turns in series between contactor and capacitor reduce the inrush current. Contactor suppliers recommend inductivity of 6 8 H for damping inrush current. To achieve this inductivity, the following table provides tips for selecting the required turns, diameters and cross sections.

1) For switch gear and connected cables



Various Solutions for Limiting Inrush Current

Damping as described is a possible simple solution, but this method deals with two contradicting effects: a Longer (or additional) cables cause electrical losses higher losses cause higher inherent temperature within the capacitor. a On the other hand, cable turns reduce the inrush current and increase the life cycle of capacitors and contactors. Plus, you must make sure that the capacitor works below its maximum operating temperature. Selection table for connection cables Capacitor rating 5 kVAr 10 kVAr 12.5 kVAr 16.7 kVAr 25 kVAr 33 kVAr 50 kVAr Turns 10 10 10 7 7 7 7 Approx. diameter 100 mm 100 mm 100 mm 100 mm 100 mm 100 mm 100 mm Cable cross-section 2.5 mm2 4 mm2 4 mm2 6 mm2 10 mm2 25 mm2 35 mm2

This table should help to find the appropriate cable and required turns. Our PFC-CDROM (available upon request) contains calculation software which enhances precise calculation of the application (capacitors and switch gear).

Detuning reactors (series anti-harmonic reactors) In detuned capacitor banks the inductivity of filter circuit reactors provides an excellent damping effect for limiting inrush current. The following diagrams show the connection of a detuned and non-detuned (reactor and capacitor) system. The peak current of a conventional capacitor is higher than 4000 A. The peak current of detuned capacitors is only approx. 500 A. The purpose of filter circuit reactors is of course not the damping of inrush current, but this example shows that in the case of detuned capacitors no additional damping measures are required.

Conventional capacitor without damping

Detuned capacitor with series reactors

i = 500 A > 4000 A

= 190 * IN

= 24 * IN

Fig. 1: 25 kVAr (21 A /690 V) vertical: 2000 A /div horizontal: 0.625 ms /div

Fig. 2: 25 kVAr (21 A / 690 V) vertical: 200 A / div horizontal: 10 ms / div

Because of the high inductance in the circuit, the breaking quality of the contactor is important to avoid restriking during switch-off. Especially large contactors (oversized motor contactors) may be too slow and are therefore critical.

Examples for detuned capacitor banks (ref. page 2)


Capacitor contactors with damping resistors

Damping resistor

Pre-switching aux. contacts

How does it work? The series damping resistors are switched by socalled precontacts or auxiliary contacts. The precontact closes before main contacts and preloads the capacitor. a Reduced voltage differences. a The peak current is limited. a The resistor is temporarily in the circuit and has no thermal losses. a The total resistance of the resistor wires is mainly ohmic in nature, its inductance can be neglected. The coiling up of the damping resistors is only a matter of construction. a During operation (main contacts are closed) the resistor wires are disconnected or shorted out, and do not cause any permanent losses at all. Due to the very short operation time (a few milliseconds only) during switch-on of the contactor, a long life cycle of the damping resistors is ensured.

Grid/ Mains

Auxiliary switched contact with serial resistor (precontacts) Capacitor contactor (main contacts)


Functional diagram Main contacts Precontacts

on off on off

on 2...10 ms

Note: Due to pre-loading via aux. contacts the capacitors voltage difference will be reduced. Consequently also the capacitor current according to the formula: Eq 5

d ^ i = C* V dt


The following two diagrams show the difference between a capacitors inrush current without and with damping series resistors when a capacitor is switched in parallel to an already energized capacitor bank/unit: Without damping resistors
i = 1200 A

With damping resistors

i = 260 A

Fig. 3: 12.5 kVAr (18 A /400 V) vertical: 250 A /div horizontal: 0.5 ms /div

Fig. 4: 12.5 kVAr (18 A /400 V) vertical: 250 A /div horizontal: 0.5 ms /div

Facts and conclusion a Rated current of a 12.5 kVar/400 V capacitor is 18 A a Peak inrush current without series resistors is 1200 A a Peak inrush current with series resistors is only 260 A a 1200 A is equal to 66 times the rated current a Inrush current with series resistors is only one fifth of that of the standard contactor a Substantial difference also in terms of power (integrated area) a Superior switching behavior of contactor with series resistors compared with a standard contactor, results in extended life cycle of contactors as well as of capacitors a Improved power quality ensures trouble-free and safe operation of the PFC system and application



Capacitor bank switching under various conditions
Without precontacts (non-detuned capacitor) Without precontacts (detuned capacitor) With precontacts (detuned capacitor)

i > 4000 A

i = 500 A
i < 200 A

Fig. 5: 25 kVAr (21A /690 V) vertical: 2000 A /div horizontal: 0.625 ms /div

Fig. 6: 25 kVAr (21 A /690 V) vertical: 200 A /div horizontal: 10 ms /div

Fig. 7: 25 kVAr (21 A /690 V) vertical: 200 A /div horizontal: 10 ms /div

Facts and conclusion The peak current during switching without using precontacts (Fig. 5) exceeds 4000 A If capacitors are detuned (Fig. 6) the peak is only 500 A The latter case shows the influence of inductivity and precontacts of a capacitor contactor, the peak current (Fig. 7) is reduced to approx. 200 A



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