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Presented By:
Pallavi Agarwal Trainee


All electrical equipments undergo abnormalities in their life time due to various reasons. For example: A tree falling or touching an overhead line may cause a fault. A lightning strike can cause insulation failure.

It is necessary to avoid these abnormal operating regions for safety of the equipment. Even more important is safety of the human personnel which may be endangered due to exposure to live parts under fault or abnormal operating conditions.

A small current of the order of 50 mA is sufficient to be fatal!


The IEEE defines protective relays as: relays whose function is to detect defective lines or apparatus or other conditions of an abnormal or dangerous nature and to initiate appropriate control circuit action . The most important role of protective relays is to first protect individuals, and second to protect equipment. Theoretically speaking, a relay system should be capable of responding to an infinite number of abnormalities that may happen within the network. However, in practice, some compromises must be made by comparing risks. To limit the extent of the power system that is disconnected when a fault occurs, protection is arranged in zones. The zones of protection should overlap, so that no part of the power system is left unprotected.


A fault in an electrical system is defined as a defect in the electrical circuit due to which current is diverted from the intended path. The most common and dangerous type of fault that occurs in a power system is the ShortCircuit or Shunt fault. Fortunately, most of the faults are transitory in nature and may vanish within a few cycles as would be the case when a twig falls across a line and burns out itself. The balanced three-phase fault occurs very rarely, accounting for about 5% in total, but is the severest of all types of faults, and is used in the determination of circuit breaker rating.


S.No. 1. 2. 3. Type of S-C fault Single phase to Ground (L-G) Two Phases to Ground (L-L-G) Three phases to Ground (L-L-LG) Phase to Phase (L-L) Phase to Phase and 3rd Phase to Ground All three phases short-circuited (L-L-L) Percentage Occurrence 70 15 10

4. 5.

2 or 3 2 or 3


2 or 3


At the time of a fault, such as an open-phase, system will be unbalanced. Hence positive, negative and possibly zero sequence currents and voltages exist. Using phase voltages and currents along with Fortescues formulas, all positive, negative and zero sequence currents can be calculated.

a) Sequence CURRENTS for different types of faults b) Sequence VOLTAGES for different types of faults


The main components of protection systems are discussed briefly below:

Instrument Transformer: The CTs and VTs. Their purpose is to step down the current or voltage of a device to measurable values, within the instrumentation measurement range 5A or 1A in the case of a current transformers (CTs), and 110V in the case of a voltage (or potential) transformers (VTs/ PTs). Hence, protective equipment inputs are standardized within the ranges above. Protective Equipment: a collection of protection devices (relays, fuses, etc.) Relays include intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) which receive measured signals from the secondary side of CTs and VTs and detect whether the protected unit is in a stressed condition (based on their type and configuration) or not. Fuses limit the amount of energy which flows to a fault, and form a major backup protection in medium-voltage and high-voltage distribution to 11 kV. Circuit Breakers: Circuit Breakers act upon open commands sent by protective relays when faults are detected and close commands when faults are cleared. They can also be manually opened, for example, to isolate a component for maintenance.


A relay is a logical element which processes the inputs (i.e. voltages and currents) from the system/apparatus and issues a trip decision if a fault within the relay's jurisdiction is detected.

If we zoom into a relay, we see three different types of realizations:

Electromechanical Relays Solid State Relays Numerical Relays



Electromechanical Principle of electromechanical energy conversion is used for Relays decision making Known for their ruggedness and immunity to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). Solid State Relays Design is based on the use of electronic devices instead of coils and magnets to create the relay characteristic Advances in electronics enabled the use of linear and digital integrated circuits. Provide more flexibility and have less power consumption than their electromechanical counterpart Also have self checking facility i.e. the relays can monitor their own health and raise an alarm if their own component fails Numerical Relays Involves analog to digital (A/D) conversion of analog voltage and currents obtained from CTs and VTs. Provide maximum flexibility in defining relaying logic. various relay functions can be multiplexed in a single relay. When enabled with communication facility, acts as an Intelligent Electronic Device (IED), performs both control and protection functionality


Faults, typically short circuits, lead to currents much above the load current, also known as inrush or overcurrent. From this, the graded overcurrent system, a discriminative fault protection, has been developed. This should not be confused with Overload protection, which normally makes use of relays that operate in some degree to the thermal capability of the plant to be protected.

Overcurrent protection, on the other hand, is directed entirely to the clearance of faults, since overcurrent protection is primarily intended to operate only under fault conditions. Although with the settings usually adopted some measure of overload protection may be obtained.

The relay settings are first determined to give the shortest operating times at maximum fault levels and then checked to see if operation will also be satisfactory at the minimum fault current expected.

Overcurrent Protection characteristic


There can be situations where for the purpose of selectivity; phase angle information (always relative to a reference phasor) may be required as in case of a radial system with source at both ends. Consequently, fault is fed from both the ends of the feeder. To interrupt the fault current, systems which have multiple paths to source require relays at both ends. However, installing relays at both ends does not provide a complete relaying solution.

From the magnitude of the current seen by the relay R2, it is not possible to distinguish whether the fault is in the section AB or BC. Since faults in section AB are not in its jurisdiction, it should not trip. To obtain selectivity, a directional overcurrent relay is required.


The 'discrimination principle' based on phase angle comparison between a set of phasors, one of which is used as reference is called 'directional discrimination principle'.

The relay R2 should operate if fault is at F1 because it is on primary feeder but not behind i.e. at F2. It is apparent that for fault F1 current I1 seen by the relay lags Vp by 90 degrees. This is under the assumption of bolted fault and reactive nature of circuit impedance. However, when the fault is in the position F2, then relay current leads the voltage Vp '. If the relay 'detects fault' and current lags Vp , then permit relay tripping. If the relay 'detects fault and current leads Vp , then inhibit the relay tripping.


Distance Protection relay is designed to operate only for faults occurring between the relay location and the selected reach point. Principle involves the division of the voltage at the relaying point by the measured current. The apparent impedance so calculated is compared with the reach point impedance. The underlying factor in distance relay is that the apparent impedance between the relay and the reach point, seen by the relay, which is defined as the ratio of phase voltage to line current of a transmission line (Zapp ), reduces drastically in the presence of a line fault.

The ratio of Zapp / Zactual also indicates the distance of the fault from the relay.


For very short lines, the Reactance type is preferred for the reason that more of the line can be protected at high speed. This is because the reactance relay is practically unaffected by resistance which may be large compared with the line impedance.

The Mho type is best suited for phase-fault relaying for longer lines, and particularly where severe synchronizing-power surges may occur. It combines both the directional and the distance measuring functions in one unit, making it more reliable.
The Impedance Relay is better suited for phase-fault relaying for lines of moderate length. Arcs affect an impedance relay more than a reactance relay but less than a mho relay. Synchronizing-power surges affect an impedance relay less than a reactance relay but more than a mho relay. Actually, there is an overlapping between areas of application of one or another type of distance relays. Also, changes in systems, such as the addition of terminals to a line, can change the type of relay best suited to a particular location. Hence, to realize the fullest capabilities of distance relaying, one should use the type best suited for each application.


Principle: Differential protection is based on the fact that any fault within an electrical equipment would cause the current entering it, to be different, from the current leaving it. Thus by comparing the two currents either in magnitude or in phase or both we can determine a fault and issue a trip decision if the difference exceeds a predetermined set value.

Although the currents I1 and I2 maybe different, both sets of CTs have appropriate ratios and connections. Under normal load conditions or when there is a fault outside the protection zone of the element, the secondary currents will circulate between the two CTs and will not flow through the overcurrent relay. But if a fault occurs in the section between the two CTs the fault current would flow towards the short-circuit from both sides and the sum of the secondary currents would flow through the differential relay.


Distribution systems are usually radial in nature. If there is a fault on the utility's distribution system, it may trip a breaker thereby isolating plant from the grid. This plant may still remain connected with downstream loads. Consequently, power will flow from the plant generator to these loads.

If in the pre-fault state, power was being fed to the plant, then this reversal of power flow can be used to island the plant generation and load from the remaining system. This approach is useful to detect loss of grid supply whenever the difference between load and available generation is not sufficient to obtain an appreciable rate of change of frequency but the active power continues to flow into the grid to feed the external loads.


Protection systems in successive zones operate in times that are graded through the sequence of equipments, so that upon the occurrence of a fault, although a number of protection equipments can respond, only those relevant to the faulty zone complete the tripping function. The others make incomplete operations and then reset. Among the various possible methods used to achieve correct relay co-ordination are those using either time or overcurrent, or a combination of both. The common aim of all three methods is to give correct discrimination.


In this method, an appropriate time setting is given to each of the relays controlling the circuit breakers in a power system to ensure that the breaker nearest to the fault opens first. The time delay element provides the means of discrimination. Each protection unit comprises a definite-time delay overcurrent relay in which the operation of the current sensitive element simply initiates the time delay element. Provided the setting of this element is below the fault current value, this element plays no part in the achievement of discrimination.

For this reason, the relay is sometimes described as an independent definitetime delay relay, since its operating time is for practical purposes independent of the level of overcurrent.
The main disadvantage of this method of discrimination is that the longest fault clearance time occurs for faults in the section closest to the power source, where the fault level (MVA) is highest. These schemes are applied to low voltage systems as an integral part of the circuit-breaker where it would be uneconomical to provide protection relays.


Discrimination by current relies on the fact that the fault current varies with the Position of the Fault because of the difference in impedance values between the source and the fault. Hence, typically, the relays controlling the various circuit breakers are set to operate at suitably tapered values of current such that only the relay nearest to the fault trips its breaker.

It is not practical to distinguish between a fault between two fault points placed at almost equidistance from the breaker, since their impedance would be nearly equal. Also, for fault points only a few meters apart compared to their actual distance from the breaker, discrimination by current is not a suitable proposition.


It is because of the limitations imposed by the independent use of either time or current co-ordination that the inverse time overcurrent relay characteristic has evolved. With this characteristic, the time of operation is inversely proportional to the fault current level and the actual characteristic is a function of both time and 'current' settings. For a large variation in fault current between the two ends of the feeder, faster operating times can be achieved by the relays nearest to the source, where the fault level is the highest.


Protective relays are categorized depending on the component which they protect: Generators, Transformers, Transmission Lines, and Motors




Overcurrent Relay Earth-fault Relay

Overcurrent Relay Overvoltage Relay

Fuse Protection Relay

More than 1000kVA: Overcurrent Relay Earth-fault Relay Buchholz Relay OTI, WTI (Alarm & Trip) Fuse Protection Relay

Differential Relay
Restricted Earth Fault Relay Buchholz Relay (Alarm & Trip) Min. Oil Gauge Relay Pressure Relay Value (Trip) OTI & WTI (Alarm & Trip)

LT (UP TO 11 kV) & HV LINES (33 kV TO 132 kV)


Overcurrent Relay Earth-fault Relay DPR (Distance Protection Relay)

Overcurrent Relay Earth-fault Relay DPR : O/C, E/F Main Bus-1 Main Bus-2 (backup) Directional O/C, E/F

VT Fuse failure
Under-voltage/ Over voltage (UV/ OV) Under-frequency/ Over frequency (UF/OF) Frequency change Relay (df/dt)


Overcurrent Relay Earth-fault Relay Motor Protection Phase Sequence Over Speed Protection Under-voltage/ Over voltage (UV/ OV) Under-frequency/ Over frequency (UF/OF)

DPR (Distance Protection): O/C, E/F, Power Swing


COMPONEN T RELAY TYPE ANSI CODE OPERATING PRINCIPLE Relay tracks the impedance by detecting the variations of the voltage/current. The variation is small during normal conditions however it changes nearly stepwise in the case of fault conditions. This means that the impedance is changed abruptly. Protects the transformer from internal faults by taking the current inputs from both primary and secondary side of the transformer. The sum of these currents (taking into consideration transformer turns ratio) is zero under normal conditions or external faults but not equal to zero in case of fault conditions. A fault in a transmission line will result in the decrease of line impedance which is compared with a pre-defined threshold value. The trip signal will be sent to the breaker if the measured impedance is smaller than the threshold. A fault in a transmission line will result in the increase of current passing through the line which is compared with a pre-defined threshold value. The trip signal will be sent to the breaker if the measured current exceeds the threshold. A fault at the load bus will vary the terminal voltage. The measured voltage is compared with pre-defined threshold value. The trip signal will be sent to the breaker if it is lower/greater compare to the threshold. INPUT PARAMETERS OUTPUT PARAMETERS


Out-of-Step Relay


Current and Voltage (V, I)

Impedance (Z = VI)


Differential Relay


Currents from primary and secondary side (Iprimary , Isecondary)

Current (I)

Distance Protection


Current and Voltage (V, I)

Impedance (Z = VI)

Overcurrent Protection


Current (I)

Current (I)


Under/Over Voltage Protection


Voltage (V )

Voltage (V )


A properly coordinated protection system is vital to ensure that an electricity distribution network can operate safely for individual items of equipment, staff and public, and the network overall. In order to avoid damage, suitable and reliable protection should be installed on all circuits and electrical equipment. Protective relays initiate the isolation of faulted sections of the network in order to maintain supplies elsewhere on the system. This then leads to an improved electricity service with better continuity and quality of supply. Automatic operation is necessary to isolate faults on the networks as quickly as possible in order to minimize damage. The development of powerful numerical algorithms and improvement in digital technology has greatly extended the scope of protection systems. Most of the latest types of relays are now multifunctional devices with control, metering, reporting and alarm functions and added capabilities that included within the same device. The economic costs and the benefits of a protection system must be considered in order to arrive at a suitable balance between the requirements of the scheme and the available financial resources.