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Methodology for the Registration of Transient

Overvoltages in Low-Voltage Networks

Andrés Alfonso, Luis E. Perdomo, Francisco Santamaria
Electromagnetic Compatibility and Interference Group - Faculty of Engineering
Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas
Bogotá, Colombia,,

Abstract—This article proposes a methodology for the Accordingly, a methodology for registering transient
development of electronic devices for registering electrical overvoltages in low-voltage networks, intended to decrease the
variables, focused on the Internet of Things. It describes the main costs associated with registering devices, is proposed.
criteria and procedures for planning and design this type of
devices. Finally, the application of the methodology for the Section II presents the methodology developed. The
development of a prototype for registering transient overvoltages application of the methodology is described in section III. The
is presented. The variables of interest are analyzed and the results and validation are presented in section IV, and the
application of the methodology is presented step by step; the conclusions in section V.
resulting printed circuit boards are then shown.
Keywords—smart grids; electronic design; internet of things This section lists and describes the stages necessary for
(IoT); communication technologies; power quality developing a device that allows registration and transfer of data
associated with transient overvoltages in low-voltage networks.
Several registering elements are required to supervise, The three main stages are: Data selection, signal
control, and maintain optimal functioning of today's electrical conditioning, and Internet of Things, as shown in Fig. 1.
grid [1]–[11]. These registering elements must be distributed
Electrical variables recorder
along sections in the grid, in order to conduct a detailed
analysis, predict problems, and take corrective actions to
Identification of the main
increase their degree of reliability [12]. Data selection
characteristics of the signal
Due to the high cost of the elements performing these
functions, such as electrical power recorders or power quality Registration methodology
analyzers, their use in low-voltage distribution networks is very
limited. Therefore, a design methodology, applicable to
Simplification of analog-digital
electronic devices for registering electrical variables, is Signal conditioning
proposed; this methodology is applied to the registration of
transient overvoltages.
Reduction of data to be processed
The implementation of multiple devices for registering
transient overvoltages along the distribution network will allow
the identification of the overvoltage injection point from the Internet of Things Data backup
reported data.
The study of technology foresight of the electric and Availability for the user
electronic industry in Bogota, Cundinamarca [13], [14], made
in 2013, resulted in the creation of R+D+I portfolios based on
Fig. 1. Design methodology.
immediate use sectors and priority segments; this study is
expected to be implemented by 2025. Fields such as Embedded
Systems, New Short- and Long-Range Wireless Technologies, A. Selection of the data to be registered
and Power Electronics, as well as segments such as Energy, The main origin of transient phenomena along the
Manufacturing, Health, and Welfare are highlighted. transmission lines, distribution systems, and end-user facilities
are the lightning discharges (direct and indirect impact) and
Therefore, for proper development of the technology maneuvers in the system. The characteristic parameters of this
industry in the region, the methodological structuring for type of overvoltage are the peak voltage value, the rise-time
developing electronic systems, focused on Internet of Things (reaching 90% of the peak value of overvoltage), and the fall-
(IoT) with direct application to the electricity sector, is time (during this time, it reaches 50% of the magnitude of
important. overvoltage after reaching the peak). Typical rise/decay values
This research is funded by the National Fund for Funding of Science,
Technology and innovation "Fondo Francisco José de Caldas" of the
Administrative Department of Science, Technology and innovation -
COLCIENCIAS (Contract: FP44842 - 321 2015).
for overvoltages of atmospheric origin and maneuver algorithm into the identification of changes of state. This
operations are 1.2/50 µs and 250/2,500 µs respectively. The lowers costs, since it requires integrated of lower range, such as
peak values are in the range of 6-10 p. u. [15]-[20]. low-end microcontrollers, and simplifies the electronic design;
this does not affect the ultimate goal of this type of devices: to
The peak value of the transient overvoltage is an important determine the phenomena that affects the quality of the power
parameter for the design of electrical insulation systems and delivered to the end-user and possible sources of such
electrical protection, among others. The Basic Insulation Level interference.
against overvoltages of atmospheric origin (BIL) is the voltage
value for which non-regenerative insulation has a 90% Another variable to be considered is the magnitude of the
likelihood of disruption [21]. In the Colombian environment, signal, since electronic devices work on voltage signals lower
the BIL implemented for the design of insulation in power than 5 V, and in most cases, electrical systems operate with
distribution networks is 95 kV and 170 kV [22]-[26]. voltages from 24 V to hundreds of kilovolts. Therefore, voltage
dividers or active devices of signal coupling are required in
The registration of transient overvoltage must be oriented order to reduce the voltage level, without affecting the other
towards measurement in each wire of the facility, network or characteristics of the signal.
system of energy transfer. This is due to voltage transfers of
distribution network from MV to LV by means of capacitive In addition, in order to have a more detailed registration,
couplings between transformer windings as well as galvanic thanks to the decrease of the volume of data, information on
couplings through the neutral conductor. In the case of time and georeference can be also stored aimed at an analysis
Colombia, where TN-S (five-wire earthing system; the that could lead to predict, among other aspects, the origin of the
protective conductor and the neutral conductor are separate) disturbance.
arrangements are mostly used in link and interior facilities [23],
transient overvoltage are transferred to final use devices C. Internet of Things
through any of the threads in the system, affecting their The reliability and availability of information are two main
integrity [27]-[31]. characteristics of any device registering electrical variables.
These two characteristics are achieved through a redundant
The methodology of classification in voltage ranges is to design, reliable storage media, and stable channels of
establish levels of comparison and classify the peak voltage of transmission of information [32].
the transient phenomenon in one of these levels. Once the
magnitude of the signal exceeds one of the thresholds, the In the selection of communication channels, it is necessary
processing device detects and registers the level that the to establish online or offline means of access to information. In
magnitude of the signal reaches. Fig. 2 presents the the first case, either information transfers whenever the event
classification of transient signal and its binary equivalent. takes places or a sending period must be defined. In the case of
transient signals, sending information, once the event takes
place, reduces communication costs, since only relevant
information is sent.
Additionally, multiple wired, wireless, online or offline
channels of information transfer are essential, since the
necessary infrastructure might not be available in certain areas
of the world [33]. Likewise, this requires to provide the device
with an internal memory that allows an information record to
ensure that all the events are registered.
The registered information must be stored in the internal
Fig. 2. Ranges of comparison. memory and in the cloud to safeguard valuable records. This
makes it easier to develop multiple software tools that enable
It means that when an overvoltage, whose magnitude is the user to have a constant access to the flow of information.
located at level 1, arises, the binary value 100 will be
registered, whereas the value 110 will be registered for level 2,
and the value 111 will be registered for level 3. Depending on A. Selection of overvoltage levels
the system requirements, it is possible to employ as many As described in the previous section, the selection of certain
levels as required. overvoltage levels is required for the classification of registered
B. Signal conditioning transient overvoltages. Therefore, research and studies
conducted by different entities of the electro-electronic sector
For a full registration of the signal, high-speed digital
were taken into account [34]. The first study was developed by
analog converters are required. However, this poses a
Bell Telephone Laboratories; it consisted in counting
challenge, due to the high volume of samples, the number of
overvoltages in the line of 120 V in one of the circuits of its
sampled channels, and the sample rate. This increases the cost
facilities, over a period of 42 months. The results obtained are
of the device and makes it difficult to design. A strategy to be
used is to reduce the amount of data to be processed and
simplify the processing algorithm. This is achieved through the • 146 overvoltages for the voltage range 300 V-500 V.
methodology of ranges and by simplifying the processing
• 14 overvoltages for the voltage range 500 V-1000 V.
Overvoltage recorder
• 3 overvoltages for the voltage range 1000 V-1500 V. TCP/IP
• 3 overvoltages for values higher than 1500 V. USB
General Electric Company conducted a study [34] which
consisted in placing multiple devices to count the number of TCP/IP

transient overvoltages exceeding 1.2 kV in different cities for a

specified period. The results show that the city of Desktop or web Mobile application
Somersworth, NH, had the largest number of affected houses application
(50). Data base Socket server

The third case study, conducted by Joslyn Electronics

Systems [34], consisted in the development of prototype Technician on download
counters of transient overvoltages for voltage levels of 120 V Technician on
configuration and
except for partial
PC application
and 240 V within industrial and residential environments. The download except for
visualization Desktop or web
classification of overvoltages is within the ranges of 350 V, visualization

500 V, 1000 V, and 1500 V.

In [35], the authors employed the IEEE 13 node test feeder Multiple users with several
[36] as a reference for the characterization of transient privileges

overvoltages in low-voltage networks for industrial and Fig. 3. Technologies of communication and information storage.
residential complexes.
Based on this research, it was determined that the prototype The data frame includes the prototype identification (ID),
is able to register and classify transient overvoltages in the the overvoltage level recored, the georeference of the
range of 500 V, 1000 V and 1500 V peak. However, the prototype, and time and date of occurrence of the event. This
prototype can classify transient overvoltages in the voltage information frame is transmitted via GSM/GPRS
range of 35 V - 3000 V by performing settings from a desktop communication technologies, Bluetooth, and USB. The frame
software. has a start and end mark and identifiers that enable the
separation of data.
B. Overvoltage signal conditioning
In this way, as shown in Fig. 3, access to the information is
Since the frequency of signals of interest is higher than 20 guaranteed, records are safeguarded, and a redundant
kHz, a fourth order Chebyshev high-pass filter was designed; communication system is generated by providing the Bluetooth
this filter attenuates the 60 Hz signal and allows the signal of and USB communication prototype.
interest without alteration [37]. In addition, a capacitive divider
constructed with high frequency capacitors, operation voltages D. Printed circuit resulting from the application of the
of more than 5 kV, and a transformation ratio of 700 was used. methodology
High speed comparators were employed to generate Based on the methodological description mentioned above,
comparison windows and high speed multivibrators in order to a prototype was designed for registering slow and fast front
maintain the level to be registered by a microcontroller. transient overvoltages for less than 1 kV voltage networks.
The microcontroller performs the registration of change of Electromagnetic compatibility criteria have been included in
state, retrieves information on time and georeference, and the design in order to preserve the integrity of the signal.
stores the data frame in an internal memory. Additionally, it Fig. 4 shows the PCB responsible for the conditioning of
sends data to the server via GPRS channel. the transient signal registered and logical representation from
C. Internet of Things in the overvoltage register the levels of comparison.
The prototype recorder of transient overvoltages is able to
communicate bidirectionally with software that allow
information storage and configuration of the prototype, as
shown in Fig. 3.
The selection and construction of the information frame
sent to the server from the registration of a transient considers
the response times by modules of wireless transmission,
specifically in GSM/GPRS communication technology.
Therefore, the user can configure alerts through text messages
to the grid operator, for the maximum level of transient Fig. 4. PCB for the digitalization of the transient overvoltage signals.
overvoltage registered. If text messaging is enabled, the
registration, processing, transfer to the server, and text Fig. 5 shows the PCB responsible for the construction of
messaging will take 1.5 s. If disabled, the process will take 1 s. the frame corresponding to the registration of transient
overvoltages as well as multiple communication channels for The results obtained from the test on variation in magnitude
the data transfer to different computer platforms. for three different frequencies are presented in Fig. 8. These
results show a deviation smaller than 0.1 with respect to the
theoretical value; the test was therefore SATISFACTORY.


Relación de transformación
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Tensión Aplicada [V]

20 kHz 100 kHz 300 kHz

Fig. 5. PCB for data processing and transfer to a remote center.

IV. VALIDATION Fig. 7. Test on variation in magnitude, voltage divider.

The validation of the proposed methodology was performed To verify the operation of the capacitive divider on a fast-
using laboratory tests, in which the operation of each stage of front transient overvoltage, an overdamped wave with
the designed cards was verified. The results obtained are magnitude of 1.53 kV was applied; the transformation ratio
presented below. was observed through an oscilloscope, as shown in Fig. 9.
A. Capacitive voltage divider
Tests on the capacitive divider aim to verify the design
guidelines. A sinusoidal signal with a peak magnitude of 12 V
was applied to the voltage divider; the frequency was varied
from 10 Hz to 300 KHz. The 10 Hz-100 Hz interval had
verification points every 10 Hz. The 100 Hz-1 kHz interval had
verification points every 100 Hz. The 1 kHz-20 kHz interval
had verification points every 1 kHz. The 20 kHz-300 kHz
interval had verification points every 20 kHz. The observation
points were the high-voltage branch and the low-voltage
branch through the oscilloscope.
The results obtained from the test on variation in frequency
are shown in Fig. 7. They show a deviation smaller than 0.1 of
the experimental values with respect to the theoretical value
((theoretical value – real value) / theoretical value); the test was

Relación de transformación

Fig. 8. Test on overdamped wave, capacitive divider.
The result obtained in the low-voltage branch was 2.29 V
665 peak, corresponding to a ratio transformation of 668.12. The
difference between the calculated value and the measured value
is approximately 0.16%; the test was therefore
0.01 0.06 0.1 1 10 20 100 200 300
Frecuencia [kHz]
B. Voltage comparator
Relación Medida Relación Calculada Tests on the voltage comparator aimed to verify the design
guidelines. Furthermore, these tests allowed the verification of
the measurement threshold, which depends on the voltage
Fig. 6. Results of the test on variation in frequency, voltage divider. levels generated by the PWMs.
A test on variation in frequency of a squared signal with
amplitude of 20% from 10 Hz to 300 kHz was developed.
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