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Distribution System Protection


a device for making, breaking, or changing the connection in an electric current.

Disconnect switch:

a switch designed to disconnect power devices at no-load conditions.

Load-break switch:

a switch design to interrupt load currents but not (greater) fault current.

Circuit Breaker:

a switch designed to interrupt fault currents.

Automatic circuit reclosers:

an overcurrent protective device that trips and recloses a preset number of times
to clear transient faults.

Automatic line sectionalizer:

an overcurrent protective device used only with back-up circuit breakers or

reclosers but not alone.


an overcurrent protective device with a circuit-opening fusible member directly

heated and destroyed by the passage of overcurrent through it in the event of an
overload or short-circuit condition.


a device that responds to variations in the conditions in one electric circuit .

Lightning arrester:

a device put on electric power equipment to reduce the voltage of surge applied
to its terminal.
Over-current Protection Devices

The overcurrent protective devices in distribution systems:

Relay-controlled circuit breakers

Automatic circuit reclosers


Automatic line sectionalizers


Two curves of time-current characteristics of a fuse :

1. The minimum-melt curve-is a plot of the min. Time vs.current required to melt the
fuse link.

2. The total clearing curve- is a plot of the max. Time vs. Current required to melt the
fuse link and extinguish the arc.

The liquid-filled (oil-filled) cutouts :

are mainly used in underground installation and contain fusible elements in an

oil-filled and sealed tank.

Expulsion-type distribution cutouts:

the most common type of protective device applied to overhead primary

distribution systems.

Distribution cutouts or power fuses:

Fuses Designed To Be Used Above 600V.

Expulsion-type cutouts are classified according to their external appearance

and operation methods as :

enclosed-fuse cutouts

Open-fuse cutouts

Open-link fuse cutouts

Ratings of distribution fuse cutouts are based on :

Continuous current carrying capacity

Nominal and maximum design voltages

Interrupting capacity

Fuse link type:

1. Type K (fast)

2. Type T (slow)

The 0.1 and 300 s are for fuse links rated 6 to 100A.

0.1 and 600 s are for fuse links rated 140 to 200 A.

therefore the speed ratios for type K and type T fuse links are between 6
and 8, and 10 and 13, respectively.

The difference between these two fuse links is in the relative melting time which
is defined by the speed ratio as:

Power fuses are different from fuse cutouts in terms of:

1. Higher interrupting ratings.

2. Larger range of continuous current ratings.

3. Applicable not only for distribution but also for subtransmission


4. Designed and built usually for substation mounting rather than pole
and crossarm mounting.
Power fuses:

Is made of a fuse mounting and fuse holder and its fuse link is called the refill

In general, they are designed and built as:

1. Expulsion type

2. Current limiting type

3. Liquid filled type

Automatic circuit reclosers

The Reclosers operation sequence:

1. Two instantaneous operation followed by two time-delay operations prior

to lockout.

2. One instantaneous plus three time-delay operation.

3. Three instantaneous plus one time delay operations

4. Four instantaneous operation

5. Four time-delay operation

Automatic Line Sectionalizers

The standard continuous current ratings for the line sectionalizers range from 10
to 600 A.

The advantages they have a lower initial cost and demand less maintenance.

The disadvantage in general, their failure rate has been greater than that of
fused cutouts.
Automatic circuit breakers

Circuit breakers:

are automatic interrupting devices which are capable of breaking and

reclosing a circuit under all conditions.

The circuit breaker used at distribution system voltages are air circuit
breaker or oil circuit breaker.

For low-voltage applications molded-case circuit breakers are available.

Oil circuit breakers controlled by protective relays are usually installed at

the source substation to provide protection against faults on distribution

Objectives of distribution system protection

The main objectives of distribution system protection are:

1) To minimize the duration of a fault.

2) To minimize the number of consumers affected by the fault.

The secondary objectives of distribution system protection are:

1) To eliminate safety hazard.

2) To limit service outage.

3) To protect the consumers apparatus

4) To protect the system from unnecessary service interruptions and


5) To disconnect faulted lines, transformers or, other apparatus.

Overhead distribution system are subject to two types of electrical faults:

1.Transient faults.

2. Permanent faults.

Approx. 75-90 percent of the total number of faults are temporary in nature..
Transient fault:

occur when phase conductors electrical contact with other phase conductor.

Ground momentarily

Permanent faults:

are those require repairs by a repair crew.

Permanent faults on overhead distribution system are usually sectionalized by

means of fuses.

Coordination of protective device


The process of selecting overcurrent protection devices with certain time-current

settings and their appropriate arrangement in series along a distribution circuit.

Protecting device:

The apparatus which furnishes backup protection but operates only when
the protecting device fails to operate to clear the fault.

Properly coordinated Protected device help:

To eliminate service interruptions due to temporary faults.

To minimize the extent of faults.

To locate the fault.

To coordinate protective devices, in general the distribution engineer must

assemble the following:

Scaled feeder-circuit configuration diagram(map).

Locations of existing protective devices.

Time-current characteristics (TCC) curves of protective devices.

Load currents.

Fault currents or megavoltampere.

4. Pick out the necessary protective devices located at the distribution

5. Coordinate protective devices from the substation outward.

6. Reconsider and change, if necessary, the initial locations of the protective


A general coordination procedure, whether it is manual or computerized:

1. Gather the required and aforementioned data.

2. Select initial locations on the given distribution circuit for protective


3. Determine the maximum and minimum values of fault currents.

7. Re-examined the chosen protective devices.

8. Draw a composite TCC curve.

9. Draw a circuit diagram.

Additional factors that need to be considered in the coordination of

protective devices such as:

1. The differences in the TCCs and related manufacturing tolerances

2. Preloading conditions of the apparatus

3. Ambient temperature

4. Effect of reclosing cycles

Figure 10-19 coordinating fuses in series using TCC curves of the fuses
connected in series
Fuse-to-fuse coordination

Factors for the selection of fuse rating:

The selected fuse must be able to carry the expanded load current.

It must be sufficiently selective with other protective apparatus in series.

It must have the capability to clear a minimum fault current within its zone
in a predetermined time duration.

The TCCs of a fuse are represented by two curves as shown in fig. 10-19:

1.The minimum-melting curve:

represents the minimum time and therefore it is the plot of the minimum
time vs. current required to melt the fuse.

2.Total-clearing curve:

represents the total time and therefore it is the plot of the maximum time
vs. current required to melt the fuse.

Methods for the coordination between fuses connected in series:

1. Using the TCC curves of the fuses.(see fig. 10-19).

2. Using the coordination tables prepared by the manufacturers.(see table 10-

3 and table 10-4).
Recloser to Recloser coordination

The need for recloser to recloser coordination may arise due to any of the
following situations that may exist in a given distribution system:

1. Having two three-phase reclosers

2. Having two single-phase reclosers

3. Having a three-phase recloser at the substation and a single-phase

recloser on one of the branches of a given feeder.

The require coordination between the reclosers can be achieved by using

one of the following remedies:

1. Employing different recloser types and some mixture of coil sizes

and operating sequences.

2. Employing the same recloser type and operating sequence but using
different coil sizes.

3. Employing the same recloser type and coil sizes but using different
operating sequences.

Curves A and B symbolize the first and second openings, and the third and
fourth openings of the recloser, respectively
Fuse Cutouts :

To provide protection against permanent faults and installed on overhead

feeder taps and laterals

The backup recloser can be either the

Substation feeder recloser

Branch feeder recloser

Recloser to fuse coordination

Recloser to Substation Transformer high side Fuse Coordination

Usually, a power fuse, located at the primary side of a delta-wye connected

substation transformer

Provides protection for the transformer against the faults in the


Provides backup protection for feeder faults

Coordination of a substation circuit breaker with substation transformer

primary fuses dictates that the total clearing time of the circuit breaker be
less than 75 to 90 percent of the minimum melting time of the fuses

Selected fuses must be able to carry 200 percent of the transformer full-
load current continuously in any emergency

Fuse to circuit breaker coordination

To achieve a coordination between a fuse and circuit breaker:

The minimum-melting-time curve of the fuse is plotted for a phase-

to-phase fault on the secondary side.

If the minimum melting time of the fuse is approximately 135 percent

of the combine time of the circuit breaker and related relays.

However, when the fuse is used as the protective device the relay
operating time is 150% of the total clearing time of the fuse.

When the circuit breaker is tripped instantaneously, it has to clear the fault before
the fuse is blown.

A sectionalizing fuse installed at the riser pole to protect underground cables

does not have to coordinate with the instantaneous trips since underground lines
are usually not subject to transient fault.

Recloser to circuit breaker coordination

Reclosing relay:

recloses its associated feeder circuit breaker at predetermined interval after the
breaker has been tripped by overcurrent relays.

If the fault is permanent, the reclosing relay recloses the breaker the
predetermined number of times and then goes to the lockout position.

The crucial factor in coordinating the operation of a recloser and a circuit breaker:

The reset time of the overcurrent relays during the tripping and reclosing

If the reset time of the relay is not adjusted properly, the relay can
accumulate enough movement in the trip direction during successive
recloser operations, to trigger a false tripping.
To achieve a coordination between a fuse and circuit breaker:

The minimum-melting-time curve of the fuse is plotted for a phase-to-

phase fault on the secondary side.

If the minimum melting time of the fuse is approximately 135 percent of

the combine time of the circuit breaker and related relays.

However, when the fuse is used as the protective device the relay
operating time is 150% of the total clearing time of the fuse.