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Current Transformer (CT) setting

The standard over current relay is designed to operate from a ratio-type CT with a standard 5A
secondary output. The output of the standard CT is 5A at the rated nameplate primary current,
and the output is proportional to the primary current over a wide range. For example, a 100/5
ratio CT would have a 5A output when the primary current (the current being sensed and
measured) is 100A. This primary-to-secondary ratio of 20-to-1 is constant so that for a primary
current of 10A, the secondary current would 0.5A; for 20A primary, 1.0A secondary; for 50A
primary, 2.5A secondary; etc. For 1000A primary, the secondary current is 50A, and similarly for
all values of current up to the maximum that the CT will handle before it saturates and becomes

The first step in setting the relay is selecting the CT so that the pickup can be set for the desired
primary current value. The primary current rating should be such that a primary current of 110 to
125% of the expected maximum load will produce the rated 5A secondary current. The
maximum available primary fault current should not produce more than 100A secondary current
to avoid saturation and excess heating. It may not be possible to fulfill these requirements
exactly, but they are useful guidelines. As a result, some compromise may be necessary.

On the 50/51 overcurrent relay, the time-overcurrent-element (device 51) setting is made by
means of a plug or screw inserted into the proper hole in a receptacle with a number of holes
marked in CT secondary amperes, by an adjustable calibrated lever or by some similar method.
This selects one secondary current tap (the total number of taps depends on the relay) on the
pickup coil. The primary current range of the settings is determined by the ratio of the CT

For example, assume that the CT has a ratio of 50/5A. Typical taps will be 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12,
and 16A. The pickup settings would range from a primary current of 40A (the 4A tap) to 160A
(the 16A tap). If a 60A pickup is desired, the 6A tap is selected. If a pickup of more than 160A or
less than 40A is required, it would be necessary to select a CT with a different ratio or, in some
cases, a different relay with higher or lower tap settings.

Various types of relays are available with pickup coils rated as low as 1.5A and as high as 40A.
Common coil ranges are 0.5 to 2A, for low-current pickup such as ground-fault sensing; 1.5 to
6A medium range; or 4 to 16A, the range usually chosen for overcurrent protection. CTs are
available having a wide range of primary ratings, with standard 5A secondaries or with other
secondary ratings, tapped secondaries, or multiple secondaries.

A usable combination of CT ratio and pickup coil can be found for almost any desired primary
pickup current and relay setting.

The instantaneous trip (device 50) setting is also adjustable. The setting is in pickup amperes,
completely independent of the pickup setting of the inverse-time element or, on some solid-state
relays, in multiples of the inverse-time pickup point. For example, one electromechanical relay is
adjustable from 2 to 48A pickup; a solid-state relay is adjustable from 2 to 12 times the setting of
the inverse-time pickup tap. On most electromechanical relays, the adjusting means is a tap plug
similar to that for the inverse-time element. With the tap plug, it is possible to select a gross
current range. An uncalibrated screw adjustment provides final pickup setting. This requires
using a test set to inject calibration current into the coil if the setting is to be precise. On solid-
state relays, the adjustment may be a calibrated switch that can be set with a screwdriver.

Setting the time dial

A solid-state relay is not dependent on mechanical forces or moving contacts for its operation but
performs its functions electronically. Therefore, the timing can be very accurate even for currents
as low as the pickup value. There is no mechanical contact bounce or arcing, and reset times can
be extremely short.

For any given tap or pickup setting, the relay has a whole family of time-current curves. The
desired curve is selected by rotating a dial or moving a lever. The time dial or lever is calibrated
in arbitrary numbers, between minimum and maximum values, as shown on curves published by
the relay manufacturer. At a time-dial setting of zero, the relay contacts are closed. As the time
dial setting is increased, the contact opening becomes greater, increasing relay operating time.
Settings may be made between calibration points, if desired, and the applicable curve can be
interpolated between the printed curves.

The pickup points and time-dial settings are selected so that the relay can perform its desired
protective function. For an overcurrent relay, the goal is that when a fault occurs on the system,
the relay nearest the fault should operate. The time settings on upstream relays should delay their
operation until the proper overcurrent device has cleared the fault. A selectivity study, plotting
the time-current characteristics of every device in that part of the system being examined, is
required. With the wide selection of relays available and the flexibility of settings for each relay,
selective coordination is possible for most systems.

Selecting and setting other than overcurrent relays are done in similar fashion. Details will vary,
depending on the type of relay, its function in the system, and the relay manufacturer.

Relay operation

An electromechanical relay will pick up and start to close its contacts when the current reaches
the pickup value. At the inverse-time pickup current, the operating forces are very low and
timing accuracy is poor. The relay timing is accurate at about 1.5 times pickup or more, and this
is where the time-current curves start. This fact must be considered when selecting and setting
the relay.
When the relay contacts close, they can bounce, opening slightly and creating an arc that will
burn and erode the contact surfaces. To prevent this, overcurrent relays have an integral auxiliary
relay with a seal-in contact in parallel with the timing relay contacts that closes immediately
when the relay contacts touch. This prevents arcing if the relay contacts bounce. This auxiliary
relay also activates the mechanical flag that indicates that the relay has operated.

When the circuit breaker being controlled by the relay opens, the relay coil is deenergized by an
auxiliary contact on the breaker. This protects the relay contacts, which are rated to make
currents up to 30A but should not break the inductive current of the breaker tripping circuit, to
prevent arcing wear. The disk is then returned to its initial position by the spring. The relay is
reset. Reset time is the time required to return the contacts fully to their original position.
Contacts part about 0.1 sec (six cycles) after the coil is deenergized. The total reset time varies
with the relay type and the time-dial setting. For a maximum time-dial setting (contacts fully
open), typical reset times might be 6 sec for an inverse-time relay and up to 60 sec for a very
inverse or extremely inverse relay. At lower time-dial settings, contact opening distance is less,
therefore reset time is lower.

SWG to mm conversion calculator

Select gauge #: 8
Diameter in millimeters: 4.064 mm
Diameter in inches: 0.160 in
Cross sectional area in square millimeters: 12.9717 mm2

Wire cross sectional area calculation

The n gauge wire's cross sectional area An in square millimeters (mm2) is equal to pi divided by 4
times the square wire diameter d in millimeters (mm):

An (mm2) = (/4)dn2

SWG to mm conversion chart

Diameter Area
(mm) (mm2)
7/0 12.700 126.6769
6/0 11.786 109.0921
5/0 10.973 94.5638
4/0 10.160 81.0732
3/0 9.449 70.1202
2/0 8.839 61.3643
0 8.230 53.1921
1 7.620 45.6037
2 7.010 38.5989
3 6.401 32.1780
4 5.893 27.2730
5 5.385 22.7735
6 4.877 18.6793
7 4.470 15.6958
8 4.064 12.9717
9 3.658 10.5071
10 3.251 8.3019
11 2.946 6.8183
12 2.642 5.4805
13 2.337 4.2888
14 2.032 3.2429
15 1.829 2.6268
16 1.626 2.0755
17 1.422 1.5890
18 1.219 1.1675
19 1.016 0.8107
20 0.914 0.6567