Evaluation of lightning surges transferred from medium voltage to lowvoltage networks
A. De Conti and S. Visacro
Abstract: The effects of transferred lightning surges on loads connected in long branched low voltage power distribution networks are evaluated by means of computational simulations. Sensitivity analyses are presented to indicate the role of several parameters in the development of transferred surges. Based on the obtained results, remarks are made regarding load protection.
1 Introduction
The impact of lightning overvoltages on distribution systems is of great concern, especially for lowvoltage (LV) networks. In such environments, low insulation levels and the increasing presence of sensitive loads create a scenario in which lightningrelated effects may often become critical. Attempts have been made to characterise typical surges in LV circuits [1, 2]. The obtained results are a clear picture of how varied they can be. LV networks are inherently complex, as a great diversity of loads and connections is usually found in practical conditions. This imposes serious difﬁculties on the study of lightning overvoltages in such circuits, making the deﬁnition of a typical case almost impossible. As a consequence, the prescription and adop tion of practices able to protect consumer loads in a general sense is difﬁcult. This paper focuses on the transference of surges from mediumvoltage (MV) to LV networks. This phenomenon is believed to be the most frequent among all possible mechanisms of overvoltage generation on consumer loads, as it is related to both, induced voltages due to cloudto ground strikes and direct strikes over MV lines [3].
2 Transference of lightning surges from MV to LV networks
The transference of surges from MV to LV networks may take place according to three main mechanisms: (i) coupling
of both circuits through distribution transformers and their connections; (ii) electromagnetic coupling between MV and
LV conductors if they are installed one above the other; (iii)
indirect current injection into the LV circuit due to
ﬂashovers across MV and LV insulators. Case (iii) is related to the incidence of direct strikes over distribution systems in urban areas, where MV and LV circuits usually share the same poles. This is believed to be relatively rare
but serious damage to the connected loads is expected when
r IEE, 2005
IEE Proceedings online no. 20041306
doi:10.1049/ipgtd:20041306
Paper ﬁrst received 15th December 2003 and in revised form 7th December 2004. Originally published online: 8th April 2005 The authors are with the Lightning Research Center, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Av. Antonio# Carlos 6627, Pampulha 31.270901, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil Email: conti@cpdee.ufmg.br; LRC@cpdee.ufmg.br
IEE Proc.Gener. Transm. Distrib., Vol. 152, No. 3, May 2005
it occurs [4]. Case (ii) is related to currents unable to cause
ﬂashovers along the MV system. Their inﬂuence on the LV circuit depends on several factors but it is usually not as strong as in cases (i) and (iii). This paper deals exclusively with the mechanism (i), which is always present if a surge propagates along a MV line. Surges transferred through distribution transformers can usually be split into two components. One is related to the electromagnetic coupling between transformer primary and secondary. This coupling allows only highfrequency components of incoming surges to be transferred to the
LV circuit. The resulting voltages have an oscillatory shape
and short duration and their effects on the connected loads tend to be small [3, 5]. Currents drained by MV surge arresters are responsible for the other transferred compo nent, by generating a potential rise at the transformer grounding [3, 5]. This potential rise is able to determine the
injection of intense currents into the LV circuit, especially if
the neutral conductor is shared by the LV and MV lines.
Laboratory and computational evaluations of transferred surges on consumer loads have been presented in [6]. In the
investigated cases, only one consumer was considered, i.e. a single branch was derived from the transformer secondary
and connected to the loads. However, in many applications,
a single transformer may be designed to supply LV lines
with lengths in the range 100–200 m and several connected loads (Fig. 1). The presence of branches and the existence of
distributed earthing terminations make this condition very different from the one evaluated in [6]. To understand the inﬂuence of system parameters on the development of transferred surges in LV networks with such features, several computational analyses have been performed, which
are presented in Section 3.
Fig. 1 Evaluated system
_{3}_{5}_{1}
3 Developments
3.1 System modelling
The evaluated system consists of an inﬁnitely long MV line terminated at the primary of a distribution transformer. It was supposed to be divided into spans of 60 m except near
the transformer, where six spans of 30 m were assumed.
From the transformer secondary, a 150 m long threephase
LV line divided into spans of 30 m was derived (see Fig. 2).
Threephase loads C0–C5 were connected to the LV line at
poles P0–P5 by means of 15 m long service drops.
Fig. 2 Schematics of evaluated system
In the simulations, the alternative transients program (ATP) was extensively applied. All transmission lines were
modelled using the JMarti model. It represents the variation
of the characteristic impedance and the propagation
function of a given line with the frequency by synthesising
both parameters as a sum of rational functions with simple real poles [7]. A soil resistivity of 1000 O m was assumed. Figure 3 illustrates the simulated line conﬁgurations.
Fig. 3 Schematics of simulated lines
A continuous neutral conductor was assumed. It was
effectively grounded at the transformer pole (R _{t} ), at every service entrance (R _{c} ) (see Fig. 2) and at intervals of 180 m along the MV line (240 O). All earthing terminations were represented as simple resistances. To represent the LV loads, 30 O resistors were connected between each phase
and neutral at the service entrances. This resistance value is
able to represent the module of the impedance of a LV
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installation reasonably well, according to the experimental data presented in [8]. The adopted transformer model consists of a simple RLC equivalent derived from the experimental analysis of the frequency response of typical threephase d–y distribution transformers [4]. In all simulations, ZnO surge arresters were supposed to protect its MV and LV sides. Their V I curves are illustrated in Fig. 4a [9].
current, kA
a
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0
timetochop, µs
b
Fig. 4 Nonlinear characteristics of elements applied on simulations performed
a V I curves of surge arresters [9]
b V t curves of insulators [4]
The occurrence of ﬂashovers in the MV line was taken into account by representing the line insulators as ideal switches controlled by a modiﬁed version of the integration method. In the original integration method, it is supposed that the behaviour of a given insulation when submitted to impulsive waveshapes is governed by the parameters DE* (deﬁned as the critical disruptive effect), U _{0} (onset voltage) and k (a dimensionless voltagedependent factor), which can be obtained experimentally [10]. If k ¼ 1, a ﬂashover occurs as soon as the area DE delimited by the waveshape of the applied voltage U(t) and U _{0} reaches DE*, for U(t)4U _{0} . The modiﬁed integration method (MIM) proposed in [10] extends the original one to simulate the response of an insulation when submitted to voltage waveshapes with oscillatory proﬁle. According to the MIM, the ionisation process in a given insulation is extinguished only if U(t) stays below U _{0} for t4t _{p}_{r} , t _{p}_{r} being related to the diffusion time associated with the breakdown phenomenon in gases. While this condition is not reached, DE is accumulated. A ﬂashover occurs only if DEZDE*. In the performed simulations, typical V–t curves were assumed for the MV insulators (see Fig. 4b), with t _{p}_{r} ¼ 1.0 ms. This value was selected by taking as reference the experimental results presented in [10]. In the case of effectively grounded poles, the scheme illustrated in Fig. 5a was adopted to represent the MV insulators. For none ffectively grounded poles, the action of concrete reinforced poles as nonintentional earthing terminations was taken into account by representing them as 350 O resistors (Fig. 5b). This value is based on the experimental results presented in [2]. The occurrence of ﬂashovers along the LV line was disregarded in the performed simulations. In some cases, this may lead to unrealistically high overvoltages on the
IEE Proc.Gener. Transm. Distrib., Vol. 152, No. 3, May 2005
Fig. 5 Representation of ﬂashovers in MV line
a Intentionally grounded pole
b Nonintentionally grounded pole
connected loads. However, such overvoltages can serve as an indication of points prone to lightninginduced failures.
3.2 Simulations
Cloudtoground strokes generate currents with peak values usually below 1 kA in close distribution lines [11]. Preliminary evaluations have indicated that currents of
such magnitude propagating along MV lines are unlikely to
cause severe stresses on LV loads connected in long branched circuits [5]. In this paper a direct strike over the
MV line is assumed. A pole 420 m from the transformer was
arbitrarily chosen as the incidence point. The lightning stroke was represented as a current source in parallel with a 400 O surge impedance [2]. A ramptype current waveshape (5/70 ms) with peak value of 30 kA was adopted in the simulations, following the median values associated to ﬁrst negative lightning strokes measured in [12]. Resultant voltages and energy on the connected loads were calculated for a total simulation time of 300 ms as the assumption of a larger simulation time would not imply signiﬁcant differ ences in the calculated energy levels.
4 Results and analyses
4.1 General aspects
Figure 6 illustrates typical overvoltages obtained in the simulations. Flashovers, multiple reﬂections and the pre sence of arresters at the transformer primary determine the proﬁle of the resultant waveforms in the MV line. Regarding the effects of transferred surges on the connected loads, it is clear that they depend strongly on the location of the service entrances in respect to the transformer. It is also
IEE Proc.Gener. Transm. Distrib., Vol. 152, No. 3, May 2005
apparent that arresters placed at the transformer secondary fail to reduce the voltages developed along the LV line. Finally, if different grounding resistances were considered in the simulations, the resultant overvoltages on the connected loads would also be different. The inﬂuence of all of these aspects on the transferred surges is further discussed below.
4.2 Line length and number of loads
To understand how the presence of several branches and loads affects surges transferred from MV to LV networks, a circuit identical to that of Fig. 2 was initially simulated, assuming R _{c} ¼ R _{t} ¼ 80 O and an openwire conﬁguration. Afterwards, load C5 and sections P4–P5 and P5–C5 were removed and a new simulation was performed. In this case, C4 corresponded to the end of the LV line. After this, sections P3–P4 and P4–C4 were removed, together with load C4 and so on, until only C0 was connected to the transformer. The obtained results are illustrated in Fig. 7 in terms of voltages and the maximum value of energy dissipated per phase at each service entrance. Labels P0–P5 in the Figure indicate the last pole along the LV line. It can be seen in Fig. 7 that the lowest overvoltages and energy levels on loads are obtained if only C0 is connected
loads
loads
Fig. 7 Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages and dissipated energy on connected loads as a function of extension of LV line
R _{t} ¼ R _{c} ¼ 80 O
to the transformer. As new loads are added to the circuit, a gradual increase is observed at the ﬁnal point of the LV line. As an example, if only C0 and C1 are connected, C1 is submitted to higher stresses than C0. The same behaviour is observed if three loads are considered (C0, C1 and C2). Interestingly, a saturation point is reached for line lengths
beyond pole P2. In this case, loads connected to the end of the line tend to experience constant voltage values irrespective of the fact that the line has a total length of 60 m (ﬁnishing at P2) or 150 m (ﬁnishing at P5). Analysing a speciﬁc load (C2, for instance), we see that overvoltages tend to be reduced with the progressive inclusion of C3, C4 and C5. This fact, together with the saturation observed on voltages developed at the end of the line, suggests that long LV lines tend to behave better
in terms of transferred overvoltages than short ones, if multiple loads and distributed earthing terminations are present. Nevertheless, two aspects are contrary to this hypothesis. First, as indicated in Fig. 7, shorter line lengths always lead to lower energy levels on the connected loads.
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Secondly, although voltage reductions are observed on loads connected at intermediate positions for longer LV lines, these reductions are not sufﬁcient to guarantee their protection. In this case, as it will be discussed in Section 4.5, the application of surge protective devices could be necessary. As indicated in [5], if a single additional set of surge arresters is to be installed along the LV line, its protective action tend to be extended to a larger number of loads if the LV line is shorter. 
on loads are lower than those presented in the former. This was already expected, as the R _{t} /R _{c} general ratio for the circuit becomes lower. However, for R _{c} ¼ 20 O one could suppose that a proportional increase on the load over voltages would happen due to an increase in the R _{t} /R _{c} ratio, which is not particularly true for the multiplexed conﬁg uration. Actually, in this speciﬁc condition, low values of R _{c} determine slight voltage reductions on loads C2–C5, in comparison to the case in which R _{c} ¼ 80 O. This phenom 

enon is associated with propagation effects and the high 

4.3 
Line conﬁguration 
electromagnetic coupling present in multiplexed conductors. 
A 
comparison between the performance of multiplexed and 
For the conventional conﬁguration, such reductions are not 
openwire conﬁgurations is illustrated in Fig. 8. In the simulations, R _{c} assumed three different values (20 O, 80 O and 320 O), for R _{t} ¼ 80 O, and overvoltages and energy on the connected loads were calculated. Comparing the voltage curves depicted at on the left hand side of Fig. 8, one can see that multiplexed conductors always determine lower stresses than openwire conductors. 
observed, although the curves obtained for R _{c} ¼ 80 O and R _{c} ¼ 20 O are close to each other. When it comes to the energy dissipated by the connected loads, low values of R _{c} in relation to R _{t} also lead to higher stresses. This happens mainly due to the current division during the slow portion of the surge. In this stage, current 

In 
some cases, as for R _{c} ¼ 320 O, loads connected at the end 
amplitudes in different paths are inversely proportional to the values of grounding resistances seen in these paths. 
of 
the LV line experience overvoltages twice as high if open 
In the simulations presented in Fig. 8, all the service 
wire conductors are installed instead of multiplexed ones. As indicated on the righthand side of Fig. 8, the use of multiplexed conductors is also favourable in terms of the dissipated energy. The higher electromagnetic coupling inherent in multiplexed conductors determines energy levels on loads that, in some cases, are ten times lower than those observed for the conventional conﬁguration. 
entrances were supposed to have the same values of grounding resistance (R _{c} ). If a speciﬁc load now has its grounding resistance reduced in respect to the others, overvoltages at its terminals are ampliﬁed, as illustrated in Fig. 9. The level of this ampliﬁcation depends on the load location and on the values of the existing grounding resistances. For the simulated conditions, it is never lower 

than 30%. This suggests that, in some cases, additional 

4.4 
Grounding 
protection may be necessary for loads with very well an improved grounding resistance, overvoltages at its 
In LV lines where there is a single service entrance, transferred surges reach their lowest levels if the R _{t} /R _{c} ratio 
grounded service entrances. As a critical example, if C0 has 

is 
at a minimum, i.e. if the transformer grounding is much 
terminals increase by 70% whereas voltage reductions of 
better than the grounding at the service entrance, preferably with both having reduced resistance values [5]. In this favourable condition, currents collected by arresters at the transformer primary tend to be drained to soil locally, reducing the side effects on the connected loads. In LV lines with distributed loads, the same tendency is observed. This can be seen in the lefthand side of Fig. 8. By comparing the curves for R _{c} ¼ 80 O and R _{c} ¼ 320 O, one can see that, in the last case, phasetoneutral overvoltages 
about 35% are observed elsewhere. This happens due to the proximity between C0 and the transformer (15 m), which makes their earthing terminations share a signiﬁcant amount of the transferred surge, specially in the ﬁrst microseconds. Usually, utilities do not have much control over the grounding connections performed at service entrances. Therefore, the achievement of an optimal R _{t} /R _{c} ratio depends mostly on the improvement of the transformer 
Fig. 8 Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages and dissipated energy on connected loads, for different values of R _{c} and R _{t} ¼ 80 O
a Openwire conﬁguration
b Multiplexed conﬁguration
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IEE Proc.Gener. Transm. Distrib., Vol. 152, No. 3, May 2005
loads with reduced grounding resistance values
Fig. 9 Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages on loads C0– C5 if a speciﬁc load is grounded with R ¼ 20 O whereas the others are grounded with R _{c} ¼ 80 O
Reference condition calculated for a multiplexed LV line
R _{t} ¼ R _{c} ¼ 80 O
grounding. The effects of reducing the value of R _{t} on the stresses to which loads C0 and C5 are submitted are shown in Fig. 10, in the curves labelled as case 1. In case 2, R _{t} and the earthing resistance of load C0 (R _{c}_{0} ) are varied simultaneously, whereas the other loads keep constant grounding values. This practice corresponds to an attempt to use service entrances close to transformers as remote grounding connections. By analysing the results concerning load C5 for case 1, it can be seen that, if R _{t} ranges from 0.5R _{c} to 2R _{c} , little variation is observed in the slope of the obtained curve. For R _{t} o0.5R _{c} , voltages at C5 are more sensitive to the variation of R _{t} , although a peak value of 2.7 kV is experienced by the connected loads even if R _{t} ¼ R _{c} /8. The presence of surge arresters at the transformer secondary makes voltages developed at load C0 less sensitive to the variation of R _{t} because the protective level of such devices is somewhat
R _{t} /R _{c} ratio
b
Fig. 10 Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages at C0 and C5 as a function of R _{t} /R _{c} ratio in a multiplexed LV line, for R _{c} ¼ 80 O
case 1: R _{t} is varied case 2: R _{t} and R _{c}_{0} are varied for R _{c} constant
a Load C0
b Load C5
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extended to C0 due to the proximity between them (15 m). If not only R _{t} but also R _{c}_{0} is improved (case 2), further but not very signiﬁcant reductions are observed in voltages developed at C5 for R _{t} /R _{c} o1, whereas load C0 experiences slightly higher overvoltages. These results indicate that improvements in the transformer grounding have a limited effectiveness in long branched LV lines, as extremely low values of R _{t} would be necessary to ensure voltage levels compatible with the supportability of LV loads.
4.5 Surge arresters
Even if short multiplexed lines are applied in LV networks together with optimal R _{t} /R _{c} values, loads may be exposed to severe stresses, as discussed in the previous Sections. Therefore, in many cases, the application of surge protective devices may be necessary to reduce the vulnerability of connected loads to transferred surges. In Brazil, for example, LV surge arresters are regularly applied only at the transformer secondary. However, if a customer reports damage attributed to lightning, utilities usually install a set of arresters at the pole from which the service drop that feeds the complaining client is derived. These arresters are connected between phases and neutral, without an additional grounding connection. Figure 11 depicts the proﬁle of overvoltages developed on loads if an additional set of arresters is inserted in the circuit of Fig. 2. The horizontal axis indicates poles where arresters are placed (for instance, P0–P3 stands for arresters at poles P0 and P3). Case P0 is illustrated for comparison purposes.
p oles with LV sur g e arresters
Fig. 11 Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages on loads C0– C5 as a function of positioning of additional surge arresters in a multiplexed LV line
R _{t} ¼ R _{c} ¼ 80 O
In Fig. 11, it is clear that the effectiveness of installing surge arresters along the LV line strongly depends on their location. If they are placed near the end of the line, overvoltages are more effectively reduced. Nevertheless, even in the case of lower overall stresses (case P0–P4), overvoltages may damage connected loads. Installing arresters at each service entrance would yield better results,
but economic aspects should be taken into account. A special comment can be made regarding loads directly connected to the transformer secondary (C0). Figure 11 indicates that placing arresters along the main trunk brings no beneﬁts to them. Their protection can only be improved with the installation of dedicated arresters at their service entrance.
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All analyses presented so far have not considered a dedicated earthing termination for the additional set of LV arresters. This condition is now evaluated in Fig. 12, assuming that arresters are placed at pole P4. It is clearly seen in Fig. 12 that further voltage reductions are not obtained if a grounding path is available at the installation point of the arresters, even if comparatively low resistance values are obtained. Therefore, if an additional set of arresters is needed, a dedicated grounding connection is not necessary provided that there are earthing points at the service entrances.
Fig. 12
C5 as a function of the grounding resistance of additional set of arresters installed at P4
Multiplexed LV line, R _{t} ¼ R _{c} ¼ 80 O
Peak values of phasetoneutral overvoltages on loads C0–
5 Conclusions
Several simulations were performed to evaluate the effects of transferred surges on loads connected in long branched LV lines, for a direct strike over a MV network. The main conclusions are summarised as follows: the existence of several branches and grounding connections along the LV network tends to reduce the importance of each element for
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the development of transferred surges. Thus, integrated actions may be necessary to effectively protect connected loads. LV lines with short lengths are recommended, preferably using multiplexed conductors. The best condition for load protection requires a low value for the R _{t} /R _{c} ratio, preferably with reduced values for both parameters. Loads with improved earthing terminations tend to experience higher levels of transferred surges. Arresters placed along the main trunk lead to better results if installed near the end of the line. Dedicated grounding points are unlikely to improve their performance. Finally, arresters placed at every service entrance and close to sensitive loads could satisfactorily reduce overvoltages to acceptable levels, but economic issues should be taken into account.
6 References
1 
IEEE Std. C62.411991, ‘IEEE Recommended practice on surge voltages in lowvoltages AC power circuits’, 1991 
2 
Nakada, K., Sugimoto, H., and Yokoyama, S.: ‘Experimental facility for investigation of lightning performance of distribution lines’, IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., 2003, 18, (1), pp. 253–257 
3 
Mirra, C., Porrino, A., Ardito, A., and Nucci, C.A.: ‘Lightning overvoltages in low voltage networks’. Proc. Int. Conf. on Electricity distribution, 1997, (Session 2, paper 2.19) 
4 
Bassi, W., and Janiszewski, J. M.: ‘Evaluation of currents and charges in lowvoltage surge arresters due to lightning strikes’, IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., 2003, 18, (1), pp. 90–94 
5 
De Conti, A.R.: ‘Protection of LV networks against lightning: 
transference of surges through distribution transformers’. M.Sc. Thesis, Federal University of Minas Gerais, 2001, (in Portuguese) 

6 
IEEE Task Force, ‘Secondary (lowside) surges in distribution transformers’, IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., 1992, 7, (2), pp. 746–756 
7 
Marti, J. R.: ‘Accurate modelling of frequencydependent transmission lines in electromagnetic transients simulations’, IEEE Trans. Power Appar. Syst., 1982, 101, (1), pp. 147–155 
8 
Hoidalen, H.K.: ‘Lightninginduced voltages in lowvoltage systems and its dependency on voltage line terminations’. Proc. 24th ICLP Int. Conf. on Lightning protection, U.K., 1998, pp. 287–292 
9 
‘Selection and fundamental principles of application of surge arresters in MV and LV networks’. CEMIG internal report 02.111EG/PR 2025, 2000, (in Portuguese) 
10 
Savadamuthu, U., Udayakumar, K., and Jayashankar, V.: ‘Modiﬁed disruptive effect method as a measure of insulation strength for non standard lightning waveforms’, IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., 2002, 17, (2), pp. 510–515 
11 
Eriksson, A.J., Stringfellow, M.F., and Meal, D.V.: ‘Lightning induced overvoltages on overhead distribution lines’, IEEE Trans. Power Appar. Syst., 1982, 101, (4), pp. 960–968 
12 
Anderson, R.B., and Eriksson, A.J.: ‘Lightning parameters for engineering application’, Electra, 1980, pp. 65–102 
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