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5/19/2016 CT’s and PT’s – Learn Metering



CT’s and PT’s

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CT’s, or current transformers, and PT’s, or potential transformers are used in metering to step down
current and voltage to safer and more manageable levels.

When CT’s and PT’s are used in a metering installation, the installation is known as being transformer-rated.
Transformer-rated services run in parallel with the service. This means that unlike self-contained services
the customer’s power is not interrupted when the meter is removed. The reason that they are needed is
that either the current and/or voltage of the service to be metered is too high. This also depends on the
policies and procedures of the utility. For example, some utilities require anything over 480v to be
transformer-rated. While other utilities do not.

Also, some utilities do not use PT’s in 480v services at all. I recommend against this practice for the safety of
the meter tech or lineman who may need to install or remove these meters from service.

So, what do CT’s do? As stated before they serve to step down high current to a safe a manageable level.
Revenue grade CT’s are engineered to produce 5 amps when the amps on the service are at the rated
value. For example, a typical installation in a 120/208 service 400 amp service contains 200:5 CT’s. When
200 amps are flowing through the primary side of the CT, 5 amps are coming out of the secondary

CT’s have nameplates and ratings just like any other piece of electrical equipment. The most important
things to note on the nameplate are the ratio and the rating factor. The ratio will be printed in large letters
on the side of the CT. Typical ratios are 200:5, 400:5, 600:5, 800:5 and so on. Again, what this means is that
when the stated value of amps is flowing through the primary side of the CT, 5 amps is flowing through the
secondary side.
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The rating factor is used when determining what size CT to use in a particular installation. Some CT’s have a
rating factor of 4, 3, 2, or 1.5. What this means is that the manufacturer says the CT is accurate beyond its
nameplate value. For example, a 200:5 CT that has a rating factor of 4 will accurately measure a service up
to 800 amps. So, if that particular service were to have 800 amps on it, there would 20 amps coming out of­and­pts/ 1/3
5/19/2016 CT’s and PT’s – Learn Metering

the secondary side of the CT and in the meter base. This is important because we want to size our CT’s so
that they are fully saturated. Meaning that we want a 200:5 CT to be sized so that the amps flowing through
the primary side has as close to 200 amps as possible. When the core of the CT is fully saturated it is the
most accurate. CT’s tend to lose some of their accuracy at lower amp levels.

Most transformer-rated meters today are class 20 meters. This means that the current coils inside the
meter are rated to carry a continuous 20 amps. You do not want to overdrive the meter by placing more
than 20 amps in the meter base because you sized the CT’s incorrectly. For example, you would not want to
place 200:5 CT’s in service that you know will be pulling 1000 amps on the primary side. This would place 25
amps in the meter base going over the meter’s rated capacity. This leads to lost revenue.

To properly size CT’s it is important to know what the actual connected load will be. The best way to do this
is to consult with the engineer. If the CT’s are to be placed in a pad mount transformer or on the pole and
there is only one service coming off of those transformers, it is best to size the CT’s to handle the maximum
amps that the transformer is good for. This does two things, one, it makes sure that your CT’s are never
overloaded and two, it is a way to find overloaded transformers.

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Enough about CT’s, let’s talk about PT’s. PT’s are potential transformers. They are also called VT’s or voltage
transformers. They are used to step down the voltage to a safe level so that it can be metered. PT’s are
typically used in any installation where the voltage on the service is 480v or higher. Some typical PT’s are
2.4:1 and 4:1.

Now that we know what CT’s and PT’s are, we can talk about meter multipliers. Meter multipliers are used
when meters are installed in transformer-rated installations. If the CT ratio is 200:5, then the meter
multiplier is 40, which is simply 200/5. If a service has both CT’s and PT’s then the two values are multiplied
together to give the billing multiplier. For example if a service has 200:5 CT’s and 2.4:1 PT’s, the multiplier
will be 96. This is because 40 x 2.4 = 96.

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March 4, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Thanks for the helpful overview… I’m a utility guy (legal side) and wanted to know the difference… Great


April 6, 2016 at 4:30 am­and­pts/ 2/3
5/19/2016 CT’s and PT’s – Learn Metering

No problem Rich. I am always here to help. If there are any other questions that you may have please
let me know.


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