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Alternating Current Circuit Fundamentals

A practical approach

Last revision:
19 July 2006

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Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering
University of Pretoria

Author:
Werner Badenhorst

Contact details:
Tel: +27 12 420 2587
Fax: +27 12 362 5000
e-mail: werner.badenhorst@eng.up.ac.za
INDEX

1. The Sinusoidal waveform 3


2. AC Voltage, Current and Power for a resistive load 6
3. The Root Mean Square (RMS) value 9
4. Capacitors and Inductors: A practical explanation 12
4.1 Inductors 12
4.2 Capacitors 13
5. Inductor characteristics in DC and AC circuits 15
5.1 DC Circuit characteristics 15
5.2 AC Circuit characteristics 17
6. Capacitor characteristics in DC and AC circuits 25
6.1 DC Circuit characteristics 25
6.2 AC Circuit characteristics 28
7. Resistance, Reactance and Impedance 32
8. Basic single phase AC circuit analysis 34
9. Power in AC circuits 35
9.1 Solving the voltages and current 35
9.2 Instantaneous and average power 36
9.3 Complex power 38
9.4 All is revealed 40
10. Balanced three phase AC circuit analysis and power 42
10.1 What does a balanced 3-phase
AC circuit look like 42
10.2 Analysis 42
10.3 Three phase power 45
10.4 Transforming from Delta to Wye 46

AC CIRCUIT ANALYSIS AND POWER FORMULAS 47

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1. The Sinusoidal waveform

The equation for a sinusoidal waveform should be well known and familiar:
 2πt 
f (t ) = A sin(ωt + θ ) = A sin( 2πft + θ ) = A sin  +θ 
 T 
where:
ω = radian frequency = 2πf
f = frequency in hertz [Hz]= ω/2π
T = signal’s period
A = Amplitude
t = time
θ = phase angle
Figure 1.1 gives a graphical representation of the following functions:
f (t ) = 2 sin( 2π 50t + 0°)
g (t ) = 4 sin( 2π 50t + 45°)
h (t ) = 3 sin( 2π 100t + 180 °)

Figure 1.1: Three different sinusoidal waveforms illustrating differences in


amplitude, frequency and phase shift.

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The basic sinusoidal waveform is represented by f(t) having no phase shift and an
amplitude of 2. Besides g(t) having double the amplitude of f(t), it also seems as if g(t)
has been shifted 45º to the left of with respect to f(t) due to the 45º phase angle. This can
clearly be seen when comparing the positions of the peaks. Thinking in a time frame this
makes perfectly sense. 45ºs equates back to 2.5ms on a 50Hz time scale and hence the
added 45º angle causes g(t) to reach its peak 2.5 ms earlier than f(t). It can also be thought
of as g(t) having been given a 2.5ms head start to f(t). In terms of an equation we can
relate g(t) and f(t) as follows:
g (t ) = 2 f (t + 2.5ms )

A comparison of f(t) and h(t) provides us with a few other interesting observations. First
we observe that where f(t) completes only one cycle (period) in 20 ms, h(t) completes two
cycles. This is due to the 100Hz frequency of h(t) being double that of f(t)’s 50Hz. The
second observation is that where f(t) starts out positive, h(t) starts out negative. This is
due to the 180º phase shift of h(t). Mathematically f(t) and h(t) has the following
relationship:
h(t ) = 1.5 f ( 2t + 180º ) = −1.5 f ( 2t ) = 1.5 f (2t + 10 ms )
As seen in equation above, a 180º phase shift can also be substituted with a negative sign.
Hence the following statement will read true:
− f (t ) = f (t ± 180°) = f (t ± 10 ms )

The phase shift angle plays a crucial role in AC circuit analysis since capacitors and
inductors causes current waveforms to be out of phase with the voltage waveforms. This
will however be discussed in detail later.

Where does the term “Alternating Current” come from?


The voltage generated by big power stations is sinusoidal at a frequency of 50Hz in South
Africa. As a result all loads connected to this sinusoidal voltage supply have sinusoidal
currents flowing through them. As shown in figure 1.1 the value of the sinusoidal
waveform is positive for one half cycle and negative for the other half cycle, hence
sinusoidal voltages and currents will also alternate between a positive and negative value

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each cycle. It is this alternation between a positive and negative value that led to the term
Alternating Current.

Why is electricity primarily transmitted and distributed as AC instead of DC?


AC provided the only means of changing between different voltage levels prior to the
development of effective power electronic devices capable of operating at high voltages
and currents. AC allows the use of power transformers to step up voltages at the power
stations for High Voltage Transmission over long distances and step down voltages for
Distribution between customers. How transformers operate is beyond the scope of this
publication.

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2. Instantaneous AC Voltage, Current and Power for a resistive
load

Since South Africa operates at a frequency of 50Hz all signals used henceforth will have a
frequency of 50Hz setting ω = 2πf = 2π50 = 314.16 radians. Assume the voltage applied
to a 5 Ω resistor R in figure 2.1 is v(t ) = 10 sin(ωt ) V. Knowing we are working at 50 Hz

we can write v(t) in polar format: V = 10∠0° V.

i(t)

v(t) R

Figure 2.1: AC voltage source connected to a pure resistive load

Using the same power equation as in DC circuits, the instantaneous power dissipated in
and the current flowing through the resistor R is:
2
v(t ) 2 10 2 (sin(ωt ) )
p (t ) = v(t )i (t ) = = = 10(1 − cos( 2ωt ) ) [W]
R 5
v (t ) 1
where i (t ) = [A] and sin( x ) 2 = {1 − cos(2 x )}
R 2
The energy consumed by the resistor at time t1 is given by:
t 0 + t1

e (t ) = ∫ p(t )dt
t0
[J]

meaning that the energy consumed at a particular point in time (t1) is the area underneath
the power waveform up to that particular time (t1) relative to a starting time (t0). The total
energy consumption over one period T is calculated by substituting t1 with T:
t 0 +T t0 +T
1
E = ∫ p (t )dt = ∫ v(t )
2
dt [J]
t0 R t0

In this example E equates to 200 mJ.

Dividing the energy consumed during a period by the period results in an average rate of
energy consumption, also known as the average power:

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t 0 +T t 0 +T
E 1 1
∫ ∫ v(t )
2
P= = p (t )dt = dt
T T t0
RT t0

This can be interpreted as the area underneath v(t)2 over a single period divided by the
constant being the resistance R multiplied by the period T.

Figure 2.2 provides a graphical interpretation of the above equations.

Figure 2.2: Instantaneous voltage, current, power and energy (divided by factor 10)
waveforms.
From figure 2.2 the following graphical observations can be made:
i. The voltage and current are positive and negative at the same time, i.e. they are in
phase.
ii. Multiplying v(t) and i(t) in real time equals p(t) which is observed to be:
a. Always positive (since v(t) and i(t) is in phase and v(t)2 is always positive)
b. Double the frequency of v(t) and i(t)
c. Not constant with time as with a constant DC source
1
Both a and b are confirmed by the trigonometric identity sin( x) 2 = {1 − cos(2 x)}.
2
iii. Regarding the instantaneous power and average power:
a. The instantaneous power is never negative
b. The average power’s value equals the amplitude of the instantaneous power.

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c. The area underneath p(t) equals the area underneath P as illustrated in figure
2.3

Figure 2.3: Graphical illustration of area underneath real time and average
power being the same

iv. The energy consumption does not increase linearly with time as with a constant
DC source. Remember that the energy waveform was divided by factor 10 to
allow proportional representation on the same vertical axis.
v. Graphically or Mathematically, calculating instantaneous power and energy for an
AC circuit is much more complex than calculating DC power and energy.

Isn’t there an easier way?!


The last observation calls for a way of simplifying AC circuit analysis such that power
and energy can be calculated with the same ease as in DC circuit analysis. In order to
achieve this one simply has to transform the AC source into its equivalent DC source.
The core behind the transformation lies in the energy consumed by the resistor, which
must be the same at any point in time using either the AC instantaneous analysis or the
equivalent DC analysis. The equivalent DC value for the AC source that adheres to the
above energy requirement is known as the Root Mean Square value of the AC source.

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3. The Root Mean Square (RMS) value

An analytical approach
As mentioned the RMS value of an AC source is the equivalent DC source value that will
result in the same energy dissipation in a resistor at any point in time. Figure 3.1 gives a
graphical representation of the transformation:

i(t) Idc

v(t) R ↔ Vdc R

Figure 3.1: Graphical representation of the RMS transformation

When connecting a constant DC voltage source to the resistor, the energy dissipated in the
resistor over a period T is given by.
2
V
E = dc T
R
Continuing with the previous example, simply substituting Vdc with the amplitude Vmax of
the sinusoidal waveform results in an energy consumption of
10 2
E= 20ms = 400mJ
5
This is double the correct amount of energy. So what must Vdc be if not the amplitude
Vmax? Surely there must be a simple conversion factor that relates Vdc with Vmax such that:
Vdc = kVmax

As mentioned the key lies in the amount of energy consumed by the resistor having to be
the same for both circuits in figure 3.1. It has already been shown that the energy in an
t 0 +T 2
1 V dc
∫ v(t ) dt and in a DC circuit the energy equals E =
2
AC circuit equals E = T.
R t0
R

Hence we can state that


2 t 0 +T
V dc 1
∫ v(t )
2
T= dt
R R t0

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This leads us to an equation that provides the RMS value for any periodic signal:
t 0 +T
1
∫ v(t )
2
Vrms = Vdc = dt
T t0

In the case of a sinusoidal waveform we can use the existing example to determine the
conversion factor k. Substituting the known energy consumption of 200 mJ over a period
2
Vdc
of 20ms into E = T , provides us with:
R
ER 0.2 × 5
Vdc = = = 50 ≈ 7.071 V
T 0.02
Substituting this result into Vdc = kVmax leads us to:

Vdc 50 50 1
k= = = = 0.5 or = 2
Vmax 10 100 k

The last result leads us to the conventional RMS equation for a sinusoidal waveform:
Vmax
Vrms =
2
Using this conversion in our example we find that:
Vmax 10
Vrms = = = 50 ≈ 7.0711 V
2 2
Hence
2
V 50
E = rms T = 0.02 = 0.2 [J] = 200 mJ
R 5
In the same manner the rms current and average power can be calculated as:
V rms
I rms =
R
and
2 2
V 2 V 1 2
P = Vrms I rms = rms = I rms R = max = I max R
R 2R 2
Then of course the energy is calculated as:
E = PT .

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A Graphical example
Figure 3.2 provides a graphical illustration showing what the equations look like in time
in calculating the rms value for the function f (t ) = 2 sin ωt . Since the amplitude is 2 the

rms value will be 2

Step 1: Calculate f (t ) 2 = 2 (1 − cos 2ωt )


t 0 +T

∫ f (t ) dt
2
Step 2: Calculate the area underneath the square: Area =
t0

t 0 +T
1
∫ f (t )
2
Step 3: Calculate the mean of the area underneath the square: ms = dt = 2
T t0

Step 4: Finally calculate the root of the mean of the area underneath the square:
t 0 +T
1 2
∫ f (t ) dt =
2
Frms = 2=
T t0 2

Figure 3.2: Graphical illustration of the steps in calculating the rms value for a
sinusoidal waveform.

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4. Capacitors and Inductors: A practical explanation

Up to now we are able to convert an AC source into its equivalent DC value, using the
rms value calculated from the amplitude of the AC source. We then utilise the rms value
in analysing AC circuits with purely resistive loads in exactly the same manner as DC
circuits with resistive loads. (Un)fortunately purely resistive loads are almost non-existent
in AC networks. AC network loads consist primarily out of inductive and to lesser extent
capacitive loads, both in combination with resistive loads. It is therefore VERY important
to understand the characteristics of capacitors and inductors in an AC environment.

The objective is not to give a detail mathematical analysis of the transient responses of
capacitors and inductors.

In essence inductors and capacitors are energy storage elements. The difference lies in
how and the type of energy that is stored by each.

4.1 Inductors
Inductors basically consist of a magnetic metal with a conductor wound around it. When
current flows through the coil, a magnetic field is created in and around the coils of the
conductor according to Faraday’s laws.

Figure 4.1: Illustration of magnetic field created by a current in a conducting coil


around a magnetic metal

This magnetic field flows through and around the coils and metal as illustrated in figure
4.1. Part of the energy provided by the current source is stored in the magnetic field.
From this it is clear that an inductor stores energy in the form of a magnetic field

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created by current flowing through the inductor coil. The stronger the current or
higher the number of coils (higher inductance), the stronger the magnetic field and the
greater the stored amount of energy will be. The inductor does however have a limit as
to the amount of energy it can store and the rate at which it can store the energy, but more
about this later.

It is important to realise that it takes energy out of the source to set up the magnetic field
in the inductor just as a resistor takes energy out of a source and dissipates it in the form
of heat. There is however a crucial difference! The energy is STORED in the magnetic
field of an inductor, implying that it can be retrieved. In contrast energy in a resistor is
DISSIPATED, implying it cannot be retrieved. This characteristic of an inductor will be
put to good and important use in future discussions.

A detailed study of self-inductance falls beyond the scope of this work. For the purposes
of this publication suffice to say that Inductance is represented by the letter L and
measured in Henry’s [H] as Resistance is represented by the letter R and measured in
Ohms [Ω].

4.2 Capacitors
A capacitor fundamentally consists of two conductive plates separated by an insulating,
dielectric material such as air or Teflon making it impossible for DC current to flow
through the circuit shown in figure 4.2. Though current cannot flow, the capacitor plates
are charged by the voltage source such that the plate connected to the positive terminal is
charged positively and vice versa. Hence an electrical field with a potential difference v
is created between the capacitor plates.

+ + + + + +

Figure 4.2: Illustration of the electrical field created by a voltage source between
two conductive plates separated by an insulator

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Should the voltage source be disconnected from the capacitor, the energy stored within
the electrical field will maintain the potential difference between the two plates for a
certain period of time. The time depends on factors such as the dielectric insulation used,
distance between the plates, voltage of the voltage source and the area of the capacitor
plates. From the above it is clear that a Capacitor stores energy in the form of an
electrical field set-up by potential difference across the capacitor plates. The higher
the voltage or the bigger the capacitor (higher capacitance) the stronger the electrical field
and the more energy is stored within the capacitor. Like the inductor, a capacitor has a
limit to the amount of energy it can store.

Again it takes energy out of the voltage source to set-up the electrical field. However, as
with the inductor this energy is STORED within the electrical field and can hence also be
retrieved. Capacitance is represented by the letter C and is measured in Farad [F].

Summary
i. Inductors store energy in the form of a magnetic field created by current flowing
through a conductive coil wound around a magnetic material.
ii. Inductance is represented by the letter L and measured in Henry’s [H]
iii. Capacitors store energy in the form of an electrical field set-up by the potential
difference over the two conductive plates separated by a dielectric insulator.
iv. Capacitance is represented by the letter C and is measured in Farad [F].

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5. Inductor characteristics in DC and AC circuits

The explanation of the characteristics of inductors in this section and capacitors in the
next will not be entirely textbook style. The aim is for the reader to gain insight into what
happens inside the circuit thinking in engineering laymen’s terms and reference. The
mathematical explanations will be limited to the utmost necessary as will be required in
single and three phase AC circuit analysis.

Figure 5.1 displays an inductor L and resistor R connected in series to a voltage source v,
also referred to as a RL circuit. Assume there is no energy stored in the inductor when
the switch is closed.
R

v i L vL

Figure 5.1: RL circuit with the switch still open.

5.1 DC circuit characteristics

The switch is closed…


When the switch is closed, the potential difference provided by the energy stored in
the DC voltage source is put across the series combination of the resistor and inductor.
The potential difference causes a current to start flowing, at which moment a magnetic
field is created through the inductor. However, creating this magnetic field requires
energy as does creating the flow of current through the resistor. Hence the energy in
the voltage source is divided between creating the magnetic field and creating a
current flow through the resistor and inductor.

As mentioned earlier, the inductor has a limit to the amount of energy it can store and
given enough time will reach a maximum. How much time? That depends on the
amount of current that is allowed through the circuit, which is in turn governed by

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Ohm’s law (I = V/R). The larger the current, the faster the inductor will reach its
maximum.

As the energy level increases towards its maximum, the inductor consumes less and
less energy from the voltage source. This allows for more and more energy from the
voltage source to increase the current flow through the circuit. As long as the inductor
is consuming energy there is a potential difference, a voltage drop, across the inductor
in the direction of the current flow (vL > 0).

The inductor is fully charged…


Once the inductor is fully charged, meaning the magnetic field / energy level has
reached its maximum, all the energy in the voltage source is consumed by the resistor
via the flow of current. When fully charged the inductor acts as a short circuit, since it
is not consuming any energy from the source, allowing the current to flow freely
through it. Since the potential difference across a short circuit is zero, so the potential
difference across the inductor is zero (vL = 0) once the energy level and current
remains constant, thereby not consuming any energy. This is illustrated in figure 5.2.

R R

+ +

V i L vL=0 V i L vL<0
_ _

Figure 5.2: RL circuit with inductor Figure 5.3: RL circuit with voltage
fully charged, acting as a short circuit. source switched off, and short-circuited.

The voltage source is switched off and short circuited…


Next the voltage source is switched off and short-circuited, providing a closed path for
the current to continue flowing. With no voltage source to supply energy to the
circuit, the magnetic energy stored in the inductor is used to maintain the current flow
through the circuit thereby supplying the resistor with energy. As the resistor
dissipates the energy stored in the magnetic field, the current flow decreases over time
until all the energy in the magnetic field has been dissipated.

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As long as the inductor is supplying the resistor with energy, the inductor is a source
of energy instead of a consumer of energy. Again a potential difference appears
across the inductor because of the decreasing energy level. This time however, the
polarity is opposite to when the energy level increased (vL < 0), even though the
direction of the current has not changed. This is depicted in figure 5.3.

What it looks like in real time…


Figure 5.4 illustrates what the inductor voltage vL and the current i would look like if
measured with an oscilloscope.

Figure 5.4: Real time illustration of the circuit current and inductor voltage.

In figure 5.4 the switch was closed at t = 0 and at t = 25 the voltage source was
switched off and short-circuited.

5.2 AC circuit characteristics


Figure 5.5 illustrates the same RL circuit, but this time with a sinusoidal AC voltage
source connected. Remember, a sinusoidal AC source’s polarity changes between
positive and negative once every cycle, or once per period. The polarity indicated on
the voltage source serves only as a starting reference point.

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+ vR -

R=2.65Ω +

v(t) i(t) vL L = 6.14 mH

Figure 5.5: RL circuit with a


sinusoidal AC voltage source.

This way then that way…


In a DC circuit the frequency is 0 Hz whilst per definition, an AC source’s frequency
will always be greater than 0 Hz. Because the frequency is not zero, meaning the
polarity of the voltage across the resistor and inductor changes the whole time, the
current through the circuit will change direction the whole time. This in turn causes
the magnetic field of the inductor to change polarity the whole time (refer back to
figure 4.1).

In other words, because the current changes direction the whole time (alternating
current remember!!), the inductor is charged in one direction during the first half cycle
and charged in another direction during the second half. BUT THERE IS A CATCH!!

The catch lies in “momentum”…


To explain the catch, let us first make use of an analogy, one that hopefully all can
relate with: pushing a car that just won’t start (for whatever reason). We pick up the
action at the time when you are pushing forward at your hardest….

YOU CAR
ROAD

i. The car is still accelerating, but it is approaching its maximum velocity due the
weight of the car, the friction on the road and the fact that you can’t push any
harder…
ii. You start growing tired and pushing less, but still the car accelerates because the
energy you are putting in is still enough to overcome the road friction with extra to
put into the momentum of the car.

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iii. Your input keeps dropping until you finally stop pushing. At some point however
the friction became strong enough to start slowing the car down. But even when
you stop pushing the car keeps going forward due to the kinetic energy stored in
the momentum of the car.
iv. While the car is still moving forward you realise you were suppose to go in the
opposite direction and so you run to the
YOU
front of the car and slowly start pushing CAR
ROAD
harder and harder in the opposite direction.

v. Does the car start moving backwards, in the opposite direction, the moment you
start pushing in the opposite direction? No way!! The kinetic energy stored in the
car’s momentum keeps pushing forward even though both you and the road’s
friction are pushing in the opposite direction. The car does however keep on
losing speed and at some point comes to a standstill.
vi. Since you are still pushing backwards the car now starts accelerating backwards
with the road’s friction now pushing against you.

YOU
CAR
ROAD

vii. You keep increasing your energy input into pushing until again you are pushing at
your hardest in a backward direction. And so the cycle can continue if you decide
to push forwards, then backwards, then forwards, etc…

How does this translate to and inductor in and AC circuit??


Table 5.1 provides the key to the analogy:
Table 5.1: Key to Car and Inductor analogy
You and the car The voltage source and the inductor
Your effort put into pushing The potential difference of the voltage source
Speed of the car Current flowing through the circuit
Kinetic energy Potential magnetic energy
Momentum Magnetic field
Friction of the road Resistance
Weight of the car Inductance

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Again we pick up the action where the voltage is at its maximum:
i. The current is still increasing in a positive direction, but it is approaching its peak
value due to the inductance, the resistance and the fact the voltage source has
reached its maximum potential difference.
ii. The voltage starts dropping, but still the current increases because the energy
supplied by the voltage source is enough to overcome the resistance with extra to
put into the magnetic field of the inductor.
iii. The voltage keeps dropping and finally becomes zero. At some point however the
resistance became strong enough to start decreasing the current. But even when
the voltage becomes zero the current keeps on flowing in the positive direction due
to the magnetic energy stored in the magnetic field of the inductor.
iv. While the current is still flowing in a positive direction and decreasing, the voltage
starts increasing in a negative direction.
v. Does the current start flowing in the negative direction the moment the voltage
becomes negative? No way!! The magnetic energy stored in the inductor’s
magnetic field keeps the current flowing in a positive direction even though the
resistance is consuming the magnetic energy and the voltage source is “pushing”
in the negative direction. The current does however keep on decreasing and at
some point becomes zero.
vi. Since the voltage is still increasing in the negative direction, the current now starts
increasing in the negative direction with the resistance now again consuming
energy from the voltage source.
vii. The voltage source keeps increasing until it reaches its maximum negative value.
And so the cycle will continue between positive and negative as long as the
voltage source is on.

The important thing in the analogy you need to remember is this:


You can’t change the direction of a moving car instantaneously by pushing in the
opposite direction due to the kinetic energy stored in the momentum of the car.
Just so the voltage source can’t change the direction of current flow instantaneously by
changing polarity due to the magnetic energy stored in the magnetic field of the
inductor.

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Figure 5.6 provides a graphical illustration of the relationship between the voltage and
the current described in the section above.

Figure 5.6: Graphical illustration of the relationship between the


voltage source and the current through the inductor in time.

Observe in figure 5.6 that the current waveform’s peak comes after the voltage
waveform’s peak in time, 2ms to be exact. The terminology used for this phenomenon
where the current waveform lags behind in time with respect to the voltage waveform
is as follows: The current lags the voltage by 36 degrees (2ms).

The full picture in real time…


Figure 5.7 looks at the entire circuit, including the voltage across the resistor and the
inductor. Taking the voltage source as our point of reference it has the phasor
equation of:
V S = 328∠0° V p = 231.93∠0° Vrms

where Vp stands for peak voltage and Vrms stands for the rms voltage.

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In electrical engineering AC distribution systems the convention is to give voltage and
current values in RMS values. Henceforth all values will be given in RMS values and
not peak/amplitude values.

The current equals I = 70.71∠ − 36° A since it is lagging the voltage by 36 degrees.
The voltage across the resistor is still governed by Ohm’s law and since the resistance
is a constant, the angle of the voltage across the resistor is the same as the
current’s flowing through it. The phasor equation is V R = I R = 187.63∠ − 36° V if
the resistance is 2.65Ω.

Figure 5.7: Instantaneous voltage and current in the AC RL circuit of figure 5.5

The voltage across the inductor deserves some special attention. To understand what
happens, we need to go back to the DC circuit and figure 5.4. There it became evident
that when the current through the inductor is increasing the voltage drop across the
inductor was positive, and when the current was decreasing the voltage drop became
negative. The same principle applies in AC circuits.

Looking at figure 5.7 and comparing vL(t) and i(t) you will notice that when i(t) is
increasing, it causes vL(t) to be positive and vice versa. It is important to note that it is
the current that induces the voltage across the inductor and not the other way around!!

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This effect causes vL(t) to be leading i(t) by 90˚, or conventionally stated: The
current flowing through an inductor lags the inductor voltage by 90˚. Putting the
inductor voltage into phasor format gives:
V L = V S − V R = 231.93∠0° − 187.63∠ − 36° = 136.33∠54° V

Inductors and Ohm’s law…


The question now arises: “Is there a way to calculate the voltage across an inductor
using Ohm’s law like we do for a Resistor?” The answer is yes! Assigning the
symbol XL to the “resistance” of the inductor we find XL using Ohm’s law:
VL 136.33∠54°
= = 1.93∠90° Ω = jX L Ω
I 70.71∠ − 36°
Looking at the answer we notice a 90˚ angle represented by j in terms of a complex
number. This is the same 90˚ angle we found when we discussed the waveforms in
figure 5.7. The next component to explain is the relationship between the magnitude
of 1.93 and the inductance L measured in Henry.
X L = kL
Before presenting what k is lets first use another analogy to understand the
relationship. The analogy I want to use is that of moving your hand to and fro through
water. If you do it slowly, it is easy to move your hand. But the faster you want to go,
i.e. the higher your frequency, the more difficult it becomes to move your hand
through the water.

The same principle applies to inductors. The higher the frequency of the voltage and
current, the more resistance it will have because you want to charge and discharge the
inductor a higher rate. So now we have established that one part of k is the frequency
f. Given that the inductance used is 6.14 mH we find k to be:
XL 1.928
k= = = 314.01
L 6.14 × 10 − 3
and since k = k ' f :
k
k' = = 6.28 ≈ 2π
50
meaning that XL equals:

X L = 2πfL = ωL

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 23


XL is called the reactance of the inductor instead of the resistance because inductors
consumes/stores energy for half a cycle and delivers that energy during the next half
cycle back to the circuit, hence reacting with the circuit. This is unlike resistors that
just dissipate energy in the form of heat.
Reactance is however only a scalar, a magnitude. We found using Ohm’s law that:
VL
= jX L Ω
I
So the true “resistance” of an inductor is not only the reactance but also includes the
90˚ angle. The term assigned to the vector combination of reactance and the angle is
called the impedance. Note that the impedance of a resistor is R∠0° = R .

Having an equation with which to calculate the reactance of the inductor, we are now
able to write Ohm’s law for an inductor:

V L = jωLI = jX L I = X L I∠90°

The road we followed to get to these VERY important equations is not exactly
acceptable in mathematical terms, but it does show and explain where it comes from in
a more practical way.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 24


6. Capacitor characteristics in DC and AC circuits

Fortunately Capacitors and Inductors have a lot in common. In principle the role that
current plays in inductors is the role voltage plays in capacitors. And the role that voltage
plays in inductors is the role current plays in capacitors. So current and voltage basically
swaps around. But of course there are a few subtle differences. Again the explanations
will be somewhat crude and practical, but hopefully insightful.

Figure 6.1 displays the RC circuit that will be used in the capacitor discussions to follow.
Again assume that there is no energy stored in the capacitor when the switch is closed.

+
C
v i vC

Figure 6.1: RC circuit with the switch still open.

Just to recap quickly, remember that a capacitor consists of two conductive plates
separated by an insulating material called a di-electricum. This literally means that the
two plates are isolated from each other, which implies that current cannot flow from one
plate to the other. Think for a moment. You should come up with more or less the
following question: “If the current can’t flow through the capacitor, then how can there
be a current flowing through the circuit?” The key lies in “opposites attract”: positive
charge will attract negative charge and negative charge attracts positive charge. I also
strongly advice you read through par 4.2 again before continuing.

6.1 DC circuit characteristics

The switch is closed…


When the switch is closed, the potential difference provided by the energy stored in
the DC voltage source is put across the series combination of the resistor and

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capacitor. Since there is no energy stored in the capacitor it means there is no
electrical field and no potential difference across the capacitor, vC = 0 V. So how does
the capacitor charge if the current can’t flow?? Well…

What (kind of) happens is this: The positive charge on the voltage source’s positive
terminal attracts electrons from the top capacitor plate leaving the top plate with more
protons (positively charged) than electrons (negatively charged). Hence the top plate
becomes positive. At the same time the negative charge on the voltage source’s
negative terminal attracts the protons on the bottom plate of the capacitor likewise
leaving the bottom plate negatively charged.

Since the definition of current is the flow of positive charge and opposite that of
negative charge, this movement of protons and electrons from the capacitor plates to
the voltage source actually results in the flow of current through the circuit. It also
creates the illusion of current flowing through the capacitor because of the separation
of charge on the capacitor plates leaving the one positive and the other negative.

The energy of the voltage source is therefore used to attract the charges from the
capacitor and to move this charge through the resistor. The energy used to move the
charge through the resistor is dissipated in the form of heat. However the energy used
to separate the charge from the capacitor plates is converted into an electric field,
which can again be extracted at a later stage.

The capacitor becomes fully charged…


Like the inductor, the capacitor has a limit to the amount of energy it can store in the
electrical field. Current always flow from a high potential difference to a lower
potential difference. Initially the capacitor voltage is 0 V, meaning a big potential
difference between the capacitor and source resulting in a big positive current flowing
towards the capacitor. As time passes the electric field becomes stronger increasing
the voltage across the capacitor plates. This causes the current to decrease as the
potential difference between the capacitor and voltage source decreases. Finally the
current becomes zero when the voltage across the capacitor equals the voltage across
the voltage source.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 26


Since the current through the circuit is now zero, the capacitor is said to act as an open
circuit similarly to the inductor that acted as a short circuit. This state of the RC
circuit is depicted in figure 6.2.

R R

C + C +
V vC =V V vC <V
i=0 i<0
_ _

Figure 6.2: RC circuit with capacitor Figure 6.3: RC circuit with voltage
fully charged, acting as an open circuit. source switched off, and short-circuited.

The voltage source is switched off and short circuited…


Again the voltage source is switched off and short-circuited, putting the voltage of the
capacitor across the resistor and providing a “closed” path for the current to flow
(negative charge attracts positive charge through the resistor). Because of the
potential difference across the capacitor there will be a current flowing through the
resistor where the energy stored in the electrical field is dissipated as heat.
HOWEVER!!! The polarity of the voltage across the capacitor won’t change because
the direction of the electrical field doesn’t change. Hence the current flowing through
the resistor is in a negative direction, opposite to when the capacitor was charging.

As time passes the resistor dissipates more and more of the energy stored in the
electrical field causing the potential difference across the capacitor plates to drop.
This drop in voltage again causes the current magnitude to drop until finally the
voltage and current both become zero.

What it looks like in real time…


Figure 6.4 illustrates what the capacitor voltage vC and the current i would look like if
measured with an oscilloscope.

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Figure 6.4: Real time illustration of the circuit current and capacitor voltage.

Again switch was closed at t = 0 and at t = 25 the voltage source was switched off and
short-circuited.

6.2 AC circuit characteristics


Figure 6.5 illustrates the same RC circuit, but this time with a sinusoidal AC voltage
source connected.
+ vR -

R=2.65Ω +
C = 1.65 mF
v(t) i(t) vC

Figure 6.5: RC circuit with a


sinusoidal AC voltage source.

I’m definitely not going to give an elaborate explanation of what happens in the RC
circuit like I did in the RL circuit. Instead I will highlight the differences in table 6.1.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 28


Table 6.1 comparison of Inductor and Capacitor AC characteristics
Inductor Capacitor
Current lags voltage Voltage lags current or, current lead
voltage
Current direction cannot change Voltage polarity cannot change
instantaneously instantaneously
Inductor current lags inductor voltage by Capacitor voltage lags capacitor current
90˚ by 90˚
Change in current induces the Inductor Voltage difference between source and
voltage capacitor creates the current

Very important to remember now is that it is the difference between the capacitor and
source voltages that causes the flow of current. With the inductor the change in
current induced the inductor voltage. Based on this we can again use the car example
we used with the inductor but with on VERY important difference:
The speed of the car is now the voltage across the capacitor instead of the current
through the circuit.
You can now work through the analogy yourself.

The full picture in real time…


Figure 6.6 is the equivalent of figure 5.7 showing the real time voltage and current
waveforms in the AC RC circuit diagram in figure 6.5.

Figure 6.6: Real time voltage and current waveforms in the AC RC circuit of figure 6.5

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 29


Again we take the voltage source as our reference.
VS = 231.93∠0° Vrms

The circuit component values ware again chosen to give a current that equals
I = 70.71∠36° A
This time however it is leading the voltage by 36 degrees instead of lagging as
indicated by the +36˚. This means that the angle of the voltage across the 2.65Ω
resistor also becomes positive remaining in phase with the current:
VR = I R = 187.63∠36° V .
Finally the voltage across the capacitor can be calculated from the above as:
VC = VS − VR = 231.93∠0° − 187.63∠36° = 136.33∠ − 54° V

Regarding the current in the circuit there are three observations I want to highlight:
a. The current is positive whenever the voltage across the capacitor is increasing and
vice versa. This underlines the fact that the current flows when the voltage across
the capacitor changes due the extraction of protons and electrons.
b. The current is positive whenever the supply voltage exceeds the capacitor voltage.
This underlines the fact that current flows from a high potential difference towards
a low potential difference.
c. The current through the capacitor lags the voltage across the capacitor by 90˚.

Capacitors and Ohm’s law…


Similarly to finding an equation for an inductor’s reactance in terms of ω, it is also
possible to find an equation for the impedance of a capacitor. Again we start of with
the following:
VC 136.33∠ − 54°
= = 1.93∠ − 90° Ω = − j1.93 Ω = jX C Ω
I 70.71∠36°

The only difference with respect to XL is the angle being -90˚ instead of +90˚. If we
try the same equation for calculating XC as we did XL we find that:
X C = −ωC = −2π 50 × 1.65mF = −0.51836

This result clearly does not equal the required -1.93. A hint to the solution lies in the
fact that current and voltage as swapped roles as mentioned earlier. So instead of
calculating V/I let us calculate I/V to get:

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I 70.71∠36°
= = 0.518∠90° Ω = j 0.518 mho
VC 136.33∠ − 54°

I V 1
Hence we found the way to ωC = = 0.518 meaning that C = = 1.93 . Finally,
VC I ωC
remember the minus, for the impedance is –j1.93. This brings us to the final
conclusion that the reactance of a capacitor XC equals:

1 1
XC = − =−
2πfC ωC
Having an equation with which to calculate the reactance of the capacitor, we are now
able to write Ohm’s law for a capacitor:

I I I
VC = − j = = jX C I = ∠ − 90°
ωC jωC ωC
Again, the road travelled to the solutions presented above is not mathematically sound
and cannot be used as proof!! You can however find the mathematical solutions in
most AC circuit literature.

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7. Resistance, Reactance and Impedance

The concept of Impedance has already been introduced where impedance is a vector
consisting of a magnitude and an angle, or a real and imaginary component. Impedance
is assigned the letter Z such that:

Z = R + jX = Z ∠θ °
This leads us to Ohm’s law (V=IR) written in vector format for AC circuits:

V = IZ
From this we find that the impedance of an inductor and capacitor equals:
Z L = X L ∠90° = jX L or Z C = X C ∠ − 90° = jX C

If we combine resistors with inductors or capacitors in a circuit, the impedance will


respectively be:
Z = R + jX L or Z = R + jX C

Plotting these impedances on Real and Imaginary axes we get the following triangles
known as impedance triangles:

R
θ
Im
Z
XL>0 XC<0
R Z
θ
R
Figure 7.1: Impedance triangles for inductive and capacitive loads combined with
Resistors.
From figure 7.1 the following is found:
i. The magnitude of the impedance is calculated using
Pythagoras: Z 2 = R 2 + X 2 .
X
ii. The impedance angle is calculated using trigonometry: θ = tan −1   .
R
iii. The sign of the impedance angle depends on whether it is primarily an
inductive load (positive angle) or capacitive load (negative angle)

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Example:
The objective is to calculate the total circuit impedance for each of the two circuits.

Inductive load:
R = 2.65 Ω and Z L = jωL = j1.93Ω

Z Tot = R + jX L = 2.65 + j1.93 Ω


2  X 
= R 2 + X L ∠ tan −1 L ° = 3.28∠36° Ω
 R 
Capacitive Load:
1
R = 2.65 Ω and Z L = = − j1.93Ω
jωC

Z Tot = R + jX C = 2.65 − j1.93 Ω


2  X 
= R 2 + X C ∠ tan −1 C ° = 3.28∠ − 36° Ω
 R 

Impedances in series and parallel


Exactly the same rules apply as for resistors in series or parallel. The mathematics is just
a bit more tedious because now you are working with complex numbers.

Exercise:
i. Calculate the impedances for the inductors and capacitors in the circuit at 50Hz
ii. Write down Z1, Z2 and Z3 in both polar ( Z = Z∠θ ° ) and rectangular
Z = R + jX format.
iii. Calculate the equivalent impedance of the circuit between nodes a and b without the
capacitor connected and draw the impedance triangle. Write all calculated
impedances in polar and rectangular format. [Ans: Z = 17.66∠73.99° Ω ]
iv. Recalculate the equivalent impedance with the capacitor connected. What do you
observe regarding the reactance and impedance angle of the new equivalent
impedance compared to (iii)?

a R1=3Ω L1 = 25 mH L2 = 30 mH

L3 = 900 mH R2=2 Ω
C = 173µF

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 33


8. Basic single phase AC circuit analysis
Analysing a circuit is all about finding the voltages across and currents through various
components or parts of circuit. All the methods used in DC circuit analysis can be used in
AC circuit analysis. The only difference is that now you are working with complex
numbers, continuously changing between polar and rectangular format.

Exercise
Let us use the same AC circuit used in the last exercise only this time we connect a
voltage source to terminals ab where VS = 230∠0° V .

L1 = 25 mH L2 = 30 mH
a R1=3Ω

IS
I1
I2
Vs IC L3 = 900 mH I3 R2=2 Ω
C = 173µF

b
i. Calculate all the currents (excluding IC) without the capacitor connected, giving the
results in Polar format. You might have to revisit your 2nd year circuits…
ii. Recalculate all the currents with the capacitor connected again giving the results in
polar format. What do you notice regarding IS?

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 34


9. Power in single phase AC circuits
Section 2 already discussed and illustrated the concept behind real time or instantaneous
power and average power (figure 2.2). This section will explore these concepts for
inductors and capacitors based on the RLC circuit diagram in figure 9.1.

R= 4 Ω ZL= j6 Ω

+ vR - + vL -
+
Z=5
VS = 25∠ 0° V i(t) vC X=3
_
ZC= -j3 Ω θ=36.87˚
R=4

Figure 9.1: RLC circuit

9.1 Solving the voltages and current


Solving that circuit will yield the following results in RMS values:
Z Tot = 5∠36.87° Ω I = 5∠ − 36.87° A VR = 20∠ − 36.87° V
VL = 30∠53.13° V VC = 15∠ − 126.87° V
Figure 9.2 provides a real time graphical illustration of the solution.

Figure 9.2: Real time voltage and currents found in the RLC circuit.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 35


Note the phase difference of the voltages relative to the current! (5ms = 90˚). Also note
that the inductor and capacitor voltages are 180˚s out of phase, when the one is positive
the other is negative.

Because of the real time sinusoidal illustrations’ tediousness, we rather use vector
diagrams to illustrate the relative magnitude and phase angles. A vector diagram for the
above solution is presented in figure 9.3.

90˚
VL

ω
53.13˚
VS 0˚
180˚
360˚
I -36.87˚

-126.87˚ VR
VC
270˚
Figure 9.3: Vector diagram of voltages and currents found in the RLC circuit.

Again note the magnitudes and angles of the voltages relative to each other and the
current. The vectors rotate anti-clockwise at an angular velocity of ω=2πf radians per
second. Mentally rotating the vectors anti-clockwise clearly reveals which is leading r
lagging which.

From figures 9.3 and 9.2 you would have noticed something strange (if you’re sharp…).
The voltage across the inductor is greater than the voltage source itself!! Is this possible?
Yes, but before we look into the why, let’s first have a look at the power.

9.2 Instantaneous and average power


The real time power is simply calculated as pR (t ) = vR (t )i (t ) , pL (t ) = vL (t )i (t ) and

pC (t ) = vC (t )i (t ) for the resistor, inductor and capacitor respectively and illustrated in


figure 9.4.

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Figure 9.4: Real time power for Resistor, Inductor and Capacitor.

Observe the following in figure 9.4:


i. Power in resistor is always positive, has a frequency of 100Hz and an average of
PR=100W.

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ii. Power in inductor also has a frequency of 100Hz but the average is 0.
iii. Power in capacitor also averages at 0 and is 180˚ out of phase with the inductors’
power.

VERY IMPORTANT TO SEE: When the inductor is consuming/storing the energy, the
capacitor is releasing its energy. And when the capacitor is consuming/storing energy the
inductor releases its energy. This can also be seen as a continuous exchange of energy
between the capacitor and inductor through the flow of current.

Because the resistor’s power is always positive and has a positive average it means that the
resistor is always consuming energy. Both the inductor and capacitor has an average power
of 0 meaning that half the time it is consuming (storing) energy and the other half it acts as a
source by releasing its energy to the other circuit elements. Because of this store/release
action found in inductors and capacitors resulting in a zero average power, it cannot be seen in
the same way as the power continuously consumed by the resistor. In order to distinguish
between the two types of power it is given specific names. It is stated that:

• RESISTORS consume ACTIVE or REAL energy at a rate of P measured in


WATT.
• INDUCTORS and CAPACITORS consume REACTIVE or IMAGINARY
energy at a rate of Q measured in VAR meaning Volt Ampere Reactive.

The name ACTIVE energy implies that that type of energy can be used for work, something
useful. It is this power that is converted into torque and heat inside a motor. The REACTIVE
energy does not physically contribute to the work. However the reactive energy is responsible
for creating and maintaining the magnetic fields in transformers and motors.

9.3 Complex power


The next step is finding the total instantaneous power of the RLC circuit. This can be
obtained by adding the three individual power components in figure 9.4. We can also first
add the two reactive powers before adding it to the active power. Figure 9.5 illustrates the
active and combined reactive powers (broken lines) alongside the total power, source voltage
and current of the RLC circuit. The total power is called:

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 38


APPARENT or COMPLEX power S measured in VA meaning Volt Ampere

Figure 9.5: Illustration of instantaneous source voltage, circuit current, active, reactive
and apparent power components within the RLC circuit

A couple of observations can be made from figure 9.5. First, because the inductor’s and
capacitor’s impedances are not equal, there is a non-zero resultant reactive power with an
amplitude of 75 VAR. This resultant reactive power causes the total power to go negative for
a short period of time. This means that for a short time during each cycle the circuit as a
whole is actually acting as a source instead of an energy-consuming load. The second
observation is that the average total power equals the average active/real power, 100 W. This
however makes sense seeing that the average reactive power is still zero. The third
observation I want to highlight is the amplitude of the total power being 125 VA

Clearly now the APPARENT power consists of an ACTIVE component and a REACTIVE
component. But what is the mathematical relation between the three?

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 39


Up to now we have written the voltage and current waveforms as sine functions.
Conventionally however they are written as cosine functions to make the power function more
“user friendly”. Writing the source voltage and circuit current as cosine functions we obtain:

v S (t ) = V p cos(ωt − θ v ) V
i (t ) = I p cos(ωt − θ i ) A

Calculating the total instantaneous power can be done as follows:


pT (t ) = v S (t )i (t ) = V p I p cos(ωt − θ v ) cos(ωt − θ i )

1
Since cos(u ) cos(v ) = [cos(u − v) + cos(u + v)] we can rewrite p(t) as:
2
Vp I p Vp I p
p (t ) = v S (t )i (t ) = cos(θ ) + cos(2ωt − θ ) = V rms I rms cos(θ ) + V rms I rms cos(2ωt − θ )
2 2
Substituting the values of our RLC circuit into this equation results in:
p (t ) = 125 cos(36.87°) + 125 cos(2ωt − 36.87°)
where:
125 cos(36.87°) = 125 × 0.8 = 100 W = P

9.4 ALL IS REVEALED!!!


If you are interested in the complete mathematical derivation of what I’m about to show,
you can find it in most textbooks discussing complex power. I will however now
continue by using the math we did up to now and figure 9.5 to reveal the essentials of
complex power calculations.

Note the following VERY important aspects:


• The amplitude of the apparent power S is 125 VA, which equals Vrms I rms .

• The average power P in the RLC circuit is 100 W, which equals Vrms I rms cos(θ )
where θ is the angle by which the current lags (or leads) the voltage.
• Constructing a triangle based on the above trigonometry we get:

S = 125 VA
S sin(θ)

θ = 36.87˚
P = 100 W

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 40


Where the remaining side of the triangle can be calculated as S sin θ = 75 , which
equals the amplitude of the reactive power in figure 9.5.
• The term cos(θ ) is known as the POWER FACTOR, and θ as the POWER
FACTOR ANGLE being the angular difference between the voltage and current.

So, similarly to constructing an impedance triangle as illustrated in figure 7.1, we can


also construct what is called a Power triangle as illustrated in figure 9.6 applied to the
RLC circuit.

P
S θpf
Q>0
Q<0
S
θpf
P
(a) (b)
Figure 9.6: Power triangles for (a) an inductive load and (b) a capacitive load.

If the total impedance of an RLC circuit has a positive angle and reactance, it is an inductive
load. If the total impedance has a negative angle and reactance, it is a capacitive load.

On the final page you will find a summary of all the formulas discussed and required.

Exercise:
Complete the analysis of the RLC circuit by doing the following:
i. Calculate the power of each element
ii. Calculate the total power of the circuit
iii. Show that the sum of the individual elements’ power equals the total power
iv. Draw a power triangle for the circuit

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 41


10. Balanced three phase AC circuit analysis and power

10.1 What does a balanced 3-phase AC circuit look like?


If you understand single phase, you can do three phase circuits. Three phase circuits is
just three single phase circuits connected together in on of two ways, either Wye (Y) or
Delta (∆) as shown in figure 10.1.
A iAa a

A iAa a
vAN

N n VCA vAB
vCN vBN
iBb iBb c
C B C B
b c VBC b
iCc iCc
Wye connection Delta connection

Figure 10.1: Wye and Delta three phase connections.

The three phases are named A, B and C. In a Wye connection there is a neutral point
and hence each phase can be seen and analysed as a single-phase circuit. In the Delta
connection there is no neutral point and hence needs a transformation to a Wye
equivalent before it can be analysed as using single-phase analysis. We will first
discuss all the aspects with regard to the Wye connected circuit before later discussing
the Delta connection.

10.2 Analysis
Looking at the voltages…
Figure 10.2 shows the instantaneous voltages of vAN, vBN and vCN. Notice that the
voltage waveforms are 120˚s out of phase. Writing the voltage as phasors we obtain:
V AN = 231∠0°V
V BN = 231∠ − 120°V
VCN = 231∠120°V
These voltage values are called line-to-neutral or phase voltages since they are
measured between neutral and the line connecting the source to the load.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 42


If we measure between two lines it is called the line-to-line or line voltage. Line
voltages are noted as follows and displayed in figure 10.3 alongside the phase voltages:
V AB = V AN − V BN = 400∠30°V
V BC = V BN − VCN = 400∠ − 90°V
VCA = VCN − V AN = 400∠150°V

Figure 10.2: Instantaneous phase voltages for phases A, B and C

Figure 10.3: Instantaneous line-to-line voltages

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Notice the 30˚ degree shift between the phase and line voltages as well as the increase
in amplitude from phase to line voltage.

From the above results we can find a VERY IMPORTANT relation between the phase
and line voltage values. If we calculate
VL 400
= ≈ 1.7316 ≈ 3
Vφ 231

So to convert between phase and line voltage value we use:

VL = 3Vφ
VL
Vφ =
3

DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH CALCULATING THE RMS VALUE OF A

SINUSOIDAL WAVEFORM, WHICH USES A FACTOR OF 2 . THE VALUES


USED IN AC CIRCUITS ARE ALREADY RMS VALUES

Adding a load and looking at the currents…


Since we are only looking at balanced three phase systems, the load connected to each
phase must be identical. Let us connect an inductive load with a power factor of 0.9
lagging such that:
Z = 119 . 8 + j 58 .45 Ω = 133 . 3& ∠ 26 ° Ω
To calculate any of the line currents, I Aa , I Bb or I Cc one simply takes the

corresponding phase voltage and the impedance using Ohm’s law. For example
finding I Aa :

V AN
I Aa = ≈ 1.73∠ − 26° A
Z
Similarly you will find the other two to be:
I Bb ≈ 1.73∠ − 146° A
I Cc ≈ 1.73∠ 94° A
Note that each of the currents is lagging their respective voltages by 26˚ because of the
0.9 lagging power factor. Also note that the line currents are flowing through the loads
of each phase. Hence in Y connected circuits, the Line currents are also the Phase
currents (IL = IΦ). This is not the case in Delta connected circuits.

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 44


10.3 Three phase power
Knowing the voltage and current of each phase, it is possible to calculate the complex
power in each phase. This is done preferably using the I2R relation, i.e. use the current
flowing through the load rather that the voltage across the load. You will make fewer
mistakes this way!

Sφ = I L Z = 1.7325 2 × 133.3& ∠26° = 400∠26° = 359.5 + j175.35 VA


2

To find the total 3-phase power we simply multiply the power of a single phase by
three to find:
S 3φ = 3Sφ = 1200∠26° VA = 1079 + j 526 VA

P3φ = 1079 W
Q3φ = 526 VAR

Other formulas that can be used to calculate the magnitude of the total power are:
2 2
Vφ V 2
S 3φ = 3Vφ I φ = 3VL I φ = = L = 3I φ Z
Z 3Z
S3φ = S 3φ ∠θ pf = 3Sφ ∠θ pf

In closing figure 10.4 shows the instantaneous single-phase power for each phase and
the sum of the three single-phase powers. Notice that the sum equals a constant value.
And just guess what that value is… The total average 3-phase power: P3φ = 1079 W

Figure 10.4: Instantaneous single phase powers and sum there of equalling P3Φ

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 45


Three-phase circuit analysis and calculation are usually done per-phase. This means
that if a circuit is connected Y-Y, you only need to analyse one of the phases since all
three phase are identical except for the 120˚ phase shift. When talking about per phase
values, such as the per phase impedance or phase current or phase voltage, it refers to a
Y-Y connected circuit.

If a circuit is not connected Y-Y, for instance Y-∆, or ∆-Y or ∆-∆, then that circuit is
first transformed to a Y-Y circuit so that per-phase analysis can be done.

10.4 Transforming from a Delta to Wye circuit


When given a delta source and/or delta load, one must first transform it to its
equivalent Wye before one can analyse it using the techniques discussed up to this
point.

Transforming a Delta source to a Wye source has already been discussed earlier and is
very easily done using:
VL
Vφ =
3
Regarding the phase angle, don’t worry, you simply select VAN as your reference
voltage giving it an angle of 0˚s. Transforming a Delta load to a Wye load is done
using:
Z∆
ZΥ =
3
(If you want to, you are welcome to prove it.)

It was mentioned earlier that the phase currents in Delta circuits are not equal to the
line currents. Figure 10.5 gives the relation using Kirchoff’s current law:
iAa a I Aa = I ab − I ca
A

iab
Where Iab and Ica are phase currents.
ica
Going through the math you will find that

iBb IL
B c Iφ =
b
3∠ − 30°
C ibc

iCc

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 46


AC CIRCUIT ANALYSIS AND POWER FORMULAS:

Vector = Z Scalar = Z
Reactance:
1 1
X L = ωL = 2πfL XC = − =−
ωC 2πfC

Voltage, Current and Impedance (Ohm’s Law):


 R  R
Z = Z∠ tan −1 ° = R + jX Z * = Z∠ − tan −1 ° = R − jX
 X  X

V V
V = V rms ∠θ V ° = I Z I = I rms ∠θ I ° = I * = I rms ∠ − θ I ° =
Z Z*
Power factor and angle:
Q X
θ pf = θ V − θ I = tan −1 = tan −1
P R
P R
pf = cos(θ pf ) = =
S Z
Apparent Power:
Vp I p P
S = V rms I rms = = = P2 + Q2
2 pf
2
V rms 2
S = S∠θ pf ° = P + jQ = V I * = = I rms Z
Z*
Active / Real Power:
2
P = Vrms I rms cos(θ pf ) = S × pf = S cos(θ pf ) = S 2 − Q 2 = I rms R

Reactive / Imaginary Power:


2
Q = Vrms I rms sin(θ pf ) = S sin(θ pf ) = S 2 − P 2 = I rms X

Balanced three phase circuits:


Z∆ VL
VL = 3Vφ ZΥ = Vφ =
3 3
2 2
Vφ VL 2
S 3φ = 3Vφ I φ = 3VL I φ = = = 3I φ Z
Z 3Z
S3φ = S 3φ ∠θ pf = 3Sφ ∠θ pf = P3φ + jQ3φ = 3Pφ + 3 jQφ

Copy Right: Dept EEC Engineering, University of Pretoria 47