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Waveform distortion is defined as a steady-state deviation from an ideal sine wave of power
frequency principally characterized by the spectral content of the deviation.
There are five primary types of waveform distortion:
■ DC offset
■ Harmonics
■ Interharmonics
■ Notching
■ Noise
DC offset. The presence of a dc voltage or current in an ac power system is termed dc offset.
This can occur as the result of a geomagnetic disturbance or asymmetry of electronic power
converters. Incandescent light bulb life extenders, for example, may consist of diodes that
reduce the rms voltage supplied to the light bulb by half-wave rectification. Direct current in
ac networks can have a detrimental effect by biasing transformer cores so they saturate in
normal operation. This causes additional heating and loss of transformer life. Direct current
may also cause the electrolytic erosion of grounding electrodes and other connectors.
Harmonics. Harmonics are sinusoidal voltages or currents having frequencies that are integer
multiples of the frequency at which the supply system is designed to operate (termed the
fundamental frequency; usually 50 or 60 Hz).6 periodically distorted waveforms can be
decomposed into a sum of the fundamental frequency and the harmonics. Harmonic distortion
originates in the nonlinear characteristics of devices and loads on the power system. Harmonic
distortion levels are described by the complete harmonic spectrum with magnitudes and phase
angles of each individual harmonic component. It is also common to use a single quantity, the
total harmonic distortion (THD), as a measure of the effective value of harmonic distortion.
Figure 2.10 illustrates the waveform and harmonic spectrum for a typical adjustable-speed-
drive (ASD) input current. Current distortion levels can be characterized by a THD value, as
previously described, but this can often be misleading. For example, many adjustable-speed
drives will exhibit high THD values for the input current when they are operating at very light
loads. This is not necessarily a significant concern because the magnitude of harmonic current
is low, even though its relative distortion is high. To handle this concern for characterizing
harmonic currents in a consistent fashion, IEEE Standard 519-1992 defines another term, the
total demand distortion (TDD). This term is the same as the total harmonic distortion except
that the distortion is expressed as a percent of some rated load current rather than as a percent
of the fundamental current magnitude at the instant of measurement. IEEE Standard 519-1992
provides guidelines for harmonic current and voltage distortion levels on distribution and
transmission circuits.
Interharmonics. Voltages or currents having frequency components that are not integer
multiples of the frequency at which the supply system is designed to operate (e.g., 50 or 60 Hz)
are called interharmonics. They can appear as discrete frequencies or as a wideband spectrum.
Interharmonics can be found in networks of all voltage classes. The main sources of
interharmonic waveform distortion are static frequency converters, cycloconverters, induction
furnaces, and arcing devices. Power line carrier signals can also be considered as
interharmonics. Since the first edition of this book, considerable work has been done on this
subject. There is now a better understanding of the origins and effects of interharmonic
distortion. It is generally the result of frequency conversion and is often not constant; it varies
with load. Such interharmonic currents can excite quite severe resonances on the power system
as the varying interharmonic frequency becomes coincident with natural frequencies of the
system. They have been shown to affect power-line-carrier signaling and induce visual flicker
in fluorescent and other arc lighting as well as in computer display devices.
Notching. Notching is a periodic voltage disturbance caused by the normal operation of power
electronic devices when current is commutated from one phase to another. Since notching
occurs continuously, it can be characterized through the harmonic spectrum of the affected
voltage. However, it is generally treated as a special case. The frequency components
associated with notching can be quite high and may not be readily characterized with
measurement equipment normally used for harmonic analysis. Figure 2.11 shows an example
of voltage notching from a three-phase converter that produces continuous dc current. The
notches occur when the current commutates from one phase to another. During this period,
there is a momentary short circuit between two phases, pulling
Noise. Noise is defined as unwanted electrical signals with broadband spectral content lower
than 200 kHz superimposed upon the power system voltage or current in phase conductors, or
found on neutral conductors or signal lines. Noise in power systems can be caused by power
electronic devices, control circuits, arcing equipment, loads with solid-state rectifiers, and
switching power supplies. Noise problems are often exacerbated by improper grounding that
fails to conduct noise away from the power system. Basically, noise consists of any unwanted
distortion of the power signal that cannot be classified as harmonic distortion or transients.
Noise disturbs electronic devices such as microcomputer and programmable controllers. The
problem can be mitigated by using filters, isolation transformers, and line conditioners.the
voltage as close to zero as permitted by system impedances.

Sag is reduction of rms voltage for short duration to an extent between 0.1 and 0.9 pu [4, 5].
Duration of sag is considered in between 0.5 cycles and 1 min. Sag is often called as voltage
There are varieties of causes for voltage sags, such as
• Energization of heavy loads: sudden energization of heavy load reduces voltage. If the supply
is capable of delivering this high load, then bus voltage level quickly gets back to its rated
value. Example of such high load is arc furnace. Connection of arc furnace may cause sag or
voltage dip in power system.
• Starting of large induction motors: polyphase induction motors draw high current at starting.
Thus connection of large poly phase induction motors to a bus often causes sag or voltage dips
in power system because of high starting current.
• Single line-to-ground faults: high fault current because of single line to ground (SLG) fault
reduces bus voltage suddenly causing sag or voltage dip in power system.
• Line-line and symmetrical fault: this fault also reduces voltage causing sag in power system.
• Load transferring from one power source to another: at the time of load transferring from one
source to another or from one phase to another, voltage dip or sag may occur in the power
Effects of sag mainly includes:
• Voltage stability because of reduction of bus voltage for short duration
• Malfunctions of electrical low-voltage devices
• Malfunctions of uninterruptible power supply
• Malfunction of measuring and control equipment
• Interfacing with communication signals

Swell is opposite of sag. It is a short duration phenomenon of increase in rms voltage. Voltage
magnitude lies between 1.1 and 1.8 pu and duration of the event ranges from 0.5 cycles to 1
min. Swells are rare events as compared to sags.
Main causes of swell are:
• Switching off of a large load: sudden reduction of large loads by switching off causes swell
in the power system.
• Energizing a capacitor bank: capacitor bank draws leading current. Voltage increases during
enegization of capacitor bank which may cause swell.
• Voltage increase of the unfaulted phases during a single line-to-ground fault: in single line to
ground fault in an ungrounded power system, voltages of healthy phases increase which may
cause swell in those phases.
• “Momentary overvoltage”: it is often used as a synonym for the term swell. In fact momentary
overvoltage due to power frequency surge or transients may cause swell.
Like sag, effects of swell mainly includes
• Voltage stability because of reduction of bus voltage for short duration
• Malfunctions of electrical low-voltage devices
• Malfunctions of uninterruptible power supply
• Malfunction of measuring and control equipment
• Interfacing with communication signals