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Transformer Protection

Gas Monitoring Relays:

These relays will sense any amount of gas inside the transformer. A tiny little
amount of gas will cause transformer explosion.
Temperature Monitoring Relays:
These relays are used to monitor the winding temperature of the transformer
and prevent overheating.
Transformer Protection
Ground Fault
For a wye connection, ground fault can be detected from the
grounded neutral wire.
Transformer Protection
Ground Fault and Differential Relay
Buchholz Relay
Buchholz relay
What is a Buchholz relay?
Buchholz relay is a type of oil and gas actuated protection relay universally
used on all oil immersed transformers having rating more than 500 kVA.
Buchholz relay is not provided in relays having rating below 500 kVA from
the point of view of economic considerations.
Why Buchholz relay is used in transformers?
Buchholz relay is used for the protection of transformers from the faults
occurring inside the transformer. Short circuit faults such as inter turn
faults, incipient winding faults, and core faults may occur due to the
impulse breakdown of the insulating oil or simply the transformer oil.
Buchholz relay will sense such faults and closes the alarm circuit.
Working principle

Buchholz relay relies on the fact that an electrical fault inside the
transformer tank is accompanied by the generation of gas and if the
fault is high enough it will be accompanied by a surge of oil from the
tank to the conservator
Whenever a fault occurs inside the transformer, the oil in the
transformer tank gets overheated and gases are generated. The
generation of the gases depends mainly on the intensity of fault
produced. The heat generated during the fault will be high enough to
decompose the transformer oil and the gases produced can be used
to detect the winding faults. This is the basic principle behind the
working of the Buchholz relay.
Transformer with Buchholz Relay

Buchholz relay can be used in the transformers having the

conservators only. It is placed in the pipe connecting the conservator
and the transformer tank. It consists of an oil filled chamber. Two
hinged floats, one at the top of the chamber and the other at the
bottom of the chamber which accompanies a mercury switch each is
present in the oil filled chamber. The mercury switch on the upper
float is connected to an external alarm circuit and the mercury switch
on the lower is connected to an external trip circuit.
Transformer with Buchholz Relay

Operation of the Buchholz relay is very simple. Whenever any minor

fault occurs inside the transformer heat is produced by the fault
currents. The transformer oil gets decomposed and gas bubbles are
produced. These gas bubbles moves towards the conservator through
the pipe line. These gas bubbles get collected in the relay chamber
and displaces oil equivalent to the volume of gas collected. The
displacements of oil tilts the hinged float at the top of the chamber
thereby the mercury switch closes the contacts of the alarm circuit.
The amount of gas collected can be viewed through the window
provided on the walls of the chamber. The samples of gas are taken
and analyzed. The amount of gas indicates the severity of and its
color indicates the nature of fault occurred. In case of minor faults the
float at the bottom of the chamber remains unaffected because the
gases produced will not be sufficient to operate it.
During the occurrence of severe faults such as phase to earth faults
and faults in tap changing gear, the amount of volume of gas evolves
will be large and the float at the bottom of the chamber is tilted and
the trip circuit is closed. This trip circuit will operate the circuit
breaker and isolates the transformer.
When does a buchholz relay operate?

Buchholz relay operates during three conditions:

1. Whenever gas bubbles are formed inside the transformer due to
severe fault.
2. Whenever the level of transformer oil falls.
3. Whenever transformer oil flows rapidly from the conservation tank
to the main or from the main tank to the conservation tank.
Advantages and Limitations of Buchholz relay
Buchholz relay indicates inter turn faults and faults due to heating of
core and helps in the avoidance of severe faults.
Nature and severity of fault can be determined without dismantling
the transformer by testing the air samples.
Limitation of Buchholz relay
It can sense the faults occurring below the oil level only. The relay is
slow and has a minimum operating range of 0.1second and an
average operating range of 0.2 seconds.
Protection of Alternators and Transformers 533
troublesome conditions imposed by the wide variety of voltages, currents and earthing conditions
invariably associated with power transformers. Under such circumstances, alternative protective
systems are used which in many cases are as effective as the circulating-current system. The principal
relays and systems used for transformer protection are :
(i) Buchholz devices providing protection against all kinds of incipient faults i.e. slow-develop-
ing faults such as insulation failure of windings, core heating, fall of oil level due to leaky
joints etc.
(ii) Earth-fault relays providing protection against earth-faults only.
(iii) Overcurrent relays providing protection mainly against phase-to-phase faults and overloading.
(iv) Differential system (or circulating-current system) providing protection against both earth
and phase faults.
The complete protection of transformer usually requires the combination of these systems. Choice
of a particular combination of systems may depend upon several factors such as (a) size of the trans-
former (b) type of cooling (c) location of transformer in the network (d) nature of load supplied and
(e) importance of service for which transformer is required. In the following sections, above systems
of protection will be discussed in detail.
22.8 Buchholz Relay
Buchholz relay is a gas-actuated relay installed in oil im-
mersed transformers for protection against all kinds of faults.
Named after its inventor, Buchholz, it is used to give an alarm
in case of incipient (i.e.
slow-developing) faults in
the transformer and to dis-
connect the transformer
from the supply in the
event of severe internal
faults. It is usually in-
stalled in the pipe con-
necting the conservator to
the main tank as shown in
Fig. 22.11. It is a univer-
sal practice to use
Buchholz relays on all
such oil immersed trans-
formers having ratings in Buchholz Relay
*excess of 750 kVA.
Construction. Fig. 22.12 shows the constructional details of a Buchholz relay. It takes the form
of a domed vessel placed in the connecting pipe between the main tank and the conservator. The
device has two elements. The upper element consists of a mercury type switch attached to a float.
The lower element contains a mercury switch mounted on a hinged type flap located in the direct path
of the flow of oil from the transformer to the conservator. The upper element closes an alarm circuit
during incipient faults whereas the lower element is arranged to trip the circuit breaker in case of
severe internal faults.
Operation. The operation of Buchholz relay is as follows :
(i) In case of incipient faults within the transformer, the heat due to fault causes the decompo-
sition of some transformer oil in the main tank. The products of decomposition contain
more than 70% of hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas being light tries to go into the conserva-

* Its use for oil immersed transformers of rating less than 750 kVA is generally uneconomical.
534 Principles of Power System

tor and in the process gets entrapped in the upper part of relay chamber. When a pre-
determined amount of gas gets accumulated, it exerts sufficient pressure on the float to
cause it to tilt and close the contacts of mercury switch attached to it. This completes the
alarm circuit to sound an *alarm.
(ii) If a serious fault occurs in the transformer, an enormous amount of gas is generated in the
main tank. The oil in the main tank rushes towards the conservator via the Buchholz relay
and in doing so tilts the flap to close the contacts of mercury switch. This completes the trip
circuit to open the circuit breaker controlling the transformer.
(i) It is the simplest form of transformer protection.
(ii) It detects the incipient faults at a stage much earlier than is possible with other forms of
(i) It can only be used with oil immersed transformers equipped with conservator tanks.
(ii) The device can detect only faults below oil level in the transformer. Therefore, separate
protection is needed for connecting cables.
* The conditions described do not call for the immediate removal of the faulty transformer. It is because
sometimes the air bubbles in the oil circulation system of a healthy transformer may operate the float. For
this reason, float is arranged to sound an alarm upon which steps can be taken to verify the gas and its