Short Circuit Capacity: Basic Calculations and Transformer Sizing

Copyright © 2001 Francis J. Martino Short circuit capacity calculation is used for many applications: sizing of transformers, selecting the interrupting capacity ratings of circuit breakers and fuses, determining if a line reactor is required for use with a variable frequency drive, etc. The purpose of the presentation is to gain a basic understanding of short circuit capacity. The application example utilizes transformer sizing for motor loads. Conductor impedances and their associated voltage drop are ignored not only to present a simplified illustration, but also to provide a method of approximation by which a plant engineer, electrician or production manager will be able to either evaluate a new application or review an existing application problem and resolve the matter quickly. Literature containing a detailed discussion of short circuit capacity calculations are available within the electrical power transmission industry. [1] The following calculations will determine the extra kVA capacity required for a three phase transformer that is used to feed a single three phase motor that is started with full voltage applied to its terminals, or, "across-the-line." Two transformers will be discussed, the first having an unlimited short circuit kVA capacity available at its primary terminals, and the second having a much lower input short circuit capacity available.

kVA of a single phase transformer = V x A

kVA of a three phase transformer = V x A x 1.732, where 1.732 = the square root of 3. The square root of 3 is introduced for the reason that, in a three phase system, the phases are 120 degrees apart and, therefore, can not be added arithmetically. They will add algebraically.

Transformer Connected To Utility Power Line The first transformer is rated 1000 kVA, 480 secondary volts, 5.75% impedance. Rated full load amp output of the transformer is

1000 kVA / (480 x 1.732) = 1203 amps

The 5.75% impedance rating indicates that 1203 amps will flow in the secondary if the secondary is short circuited line to line and the primary voltage is raised from zero volts to a point at which 5.75% of 480 volts, or, 27.6 volts, appears at the secondary terminals. Therefore, the impedance (Z) of the transformer secondary may

the short circuit amperage capacity which the transformer can deliver from its secondary is 480 volts / .02294 ohms The transformer is connected directly to the utility power lines which we will assume are capable of supplying the transformer with an unlimited short circuit kVA capacity. Cutler. the voltage drop on inrush should not be allowed to drop below 460 volts less 10%.924 amps An alternative method of calculating short circuit capacity for the above transformer is: 1203 amps x 100 / 5. The rating system allows a twenty volt drop in the distribution system which may occur along the feeder cables which connect the power transformer to the load. or. 414 volts. We must determine the voltage drop which will be caused by the motor inrush on start. Now we are ready to apply a motor to the terminals of the transformer secondary.Hammer Consulting Application Catalog. Motors rated for 460 volts are for use with distribution systems that are rated at 480 volts.5 kVA. The transformer will be asked to supply power to a motor which has a full load amp rating of 1203 amps. 12th Edition. We will assume that our motor will have an inrush of 600% of its full load rating which will cause an inrush of . gives the specifications for the above mentioned transformer and the value of the short circuit capacity in Table A25 on page A-59. With unlimited short circuit kVA available from the utility. 958. The NEMA specification for a standard motor is that it requires the motor to be capable of operating at plus or minus 10% of nameplate voltage.75% = 1203 / .922 amps Another alternative is to consult a reference manual. Therefore. The short circuit capacity is given as 20. which will fully load the transformer. then no oversizing of the transformer is required.732.02294 = 20. Therefore.6 volts / 1203 amps = .900 amps. we will rate the motor at 460 V x 1203 A x 1. If the voltage remains within the rated voltage of the motor.0575 = 20. or.now be calculated: Z = V / I = 27. The utility company will always determine and advise of the short circuit capacity available at any facility upon request.

which is 480 V x 20. Thus the transformer rating is 391% larger. feeder cables between the two transformers are eliminated and the impedance of . 57.5% impedance and would have a short circuit output capability of 69. The voltage drop will be expressed as a percentage of the inrush motor load compared to the maximum capability of the transformer. or. the ratio of the selected standard size transformer kVA to motor kVA is 3750 kVA / 958. the rating of the motor.510 kVA in order to have a voltage drop of 10% or less.5 kVA = 3.75% impedance transformer will have a short circuit capacity of 52. The transformer must be sized so that its short circuit capabilty is equal to or greater than 5751 kVA times 10.732 = 17. nearly four times.924 A x 1.331. [2] The transformer has a maximum kVA capacity at its short circuit capability. the short circuit amperage capacity of the transformer to be used must be a minimum of 57. we can see that the transformer is much too small to use a motor that has a full load rating equal to the full load capacity of the transformer.510 kVA / (480 V x 1. In the particular application discussed.460 V x 1203 A x 600% x 1.395 kVA The voltage drop on motor inrush will be 5751 kVA / 17.732) = 69176 amps A typical 2500 kVA. 5. Therefore.669.91.300 amps.395 amps which will be sufficient. We will assume that a facility derives its power from the same 1000 kVA transformer mentioned above and that the second transformer is connected directly to the terminals of the 1000 kVA transformer.732 = 5751 kVA The voltage drop at the transformer terminals will be proportional to the motor load.1% The transformer output voltage will drop to 480 x . Transformer Connected To An Upstream Transformer The second transformer we will examine will have a finite short circuit capacity available at its primary rather than an unlimited capacity. or. or. or.395 kVA = . Thus. The next highest standard size transformer at 3750 kVA will have a 6. 321 volts. Thus. 33. Note the non-linear effect of the impedance rating of the transformers on their short circuit capacities.

which will have a 480 volt primary and a 480 volt secondary. The transformer will have a nominal impedance of 2. the less will be both the short circuit capacity and the voltage delivered to the motor terminals. The second transformer.6 kVA The transformer manufacturers will give a 20 HP motor a nominal full load amp rating of 27 amps. 3 phase.1 amps at 480 volts.7% and an ouptut of 36. the smaller the motor leads.6 kVA transformer by the upstream 1000 kVA transformer is 20.cables are not taken into account.3 kVA We will consider using a 30 kVA general purpose transformer to supply the 20 HP motor.732 = 21. The 21. The motor will present a load of 460 volts x 26 amps x 1. will be used to power a 20 HP. 17. Sales catalogs by various manufacturers will invariably recommend a "minimum transformer kVA" of 21. 460 VAC. 460 volt motor which will be started at full voltage.6 for use with a 20 HP motor.732 = 163.6 kVA is calculated as follows: 480 volts x 26 nominal amps x 1. A multiple motor configuration will be discussed in the next section of this article. thus allowing no extra capacity: 460 volts x 27 nominal amps x 1.732 = 21. 205 Locked Rotor Amps. The motor will be the only load on the transformer. However. or. 81% Power Factor.732 = 20.395 kVA.5 kVA One motor manufacturer has rated a 20 HP motor at 26 Full Load Amps. The short circuit current capacity that can be delivered to the 21.7 kVA The starting motor kVA load with inrush current will be 460 V x 205 A x 1.924 amps. The minimum transformer kVA ratings are for use with multiple motors on a single transformer. The short circuit amperage capacity of a transfomer with a limited system short circuit capacity available at its primary is: transformer full load amps / (transformer impedance + upstream system impedance as seen by the transformer) .

Where: upstream system impedance as seen by the transformer = transformer kVA / available primary short circuit capacity kVA Therefore. Multiple Motors On A Single Transformer The minimum transformer kVA is given by transformer manufacturers so that a transformer may be sized properly for multiple motors.6 % A 30 kVA transformer rating is too small as the motor voltage drop will exceed 10%.1 amps / [2.156 = 15. if any motor is started more than once per hour. Also. For a single motor and transformer combination. for our 26 amp motor the transformer rating should be a minimum of 40 amps. If there are five motors on one transformer. add 20% to that motor's minimum kVA rating to compensate for heat losses within the transformer.66%. 33. or.7% + (30 kVA / 17. The transformer thusly selected will be capable of running and starting all five motors provided that only one motor is started at any one time.3 kVA.732) = 163. The voltage drop upon motor inrush would be 9. [3] Thus.1 / (2.7% + .3 kVA / 1046 kVA = . one transformer manufacturer recommends that the motor full load running current not exceed 65% of the transformer full load amp rating. add the minimum kVA ratings and then add transformer capacity as necessary to accomodate the inrush current of the largest motor. A 45 kVA transformer with a 2. . 36.3 kVA / (480 V x 1258 A x 1.1 amps at 480 volts would have a short circuit capacity of 2034 amps.0017%) = 36.1 / .4% impedance and an output of 54.395 kVA)] = 36.0287 = 1258 short circuit amps The transformer output voltage drop upon motor inrush will be: motor inrush kVA / short circuit kVA = 163. Additional capacity will be required for motors starting simultaneously.

Acme Electric Corporation. Do not get it confused with IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications which is a different publication. You might find this magazine in universities which have Electrical Enginneering programs. The interrupting capacity ratings of those devices must equal or exceed the total short circuit capacity available at the point of application. Division of Eaton Corporation.com . the fault current contribution from the motors will not be a consideration for sizing. the stored energy within their fields will be discharged into the power line.736 short circuit amps. power system voltage will drop dramatically. The actual short circuit current will equal 20.powerqualityanddrives. See Variable Frequency Drives: Source Impedance and Line Reactors References: [1] "Cutler-Hammer Consulting Application Catalog. However. July/August 2000. Power Quality and Drives LLC http://www. page 125. [3] "Power Distribution Products" Catalog ATD-01. Pittsburgh." IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) Industry Application Society (IAS) Magazine. As those motors slow in speed. page 38. we will assume that all 1203 amps of load are from motors. PA. Motor contribution to short circuit capacity must be included when adding a variable frequency drive to the system. When sizing the transformer for motor loads. [2] "Short Circuit Capacity and Voltage Sag. The nominal discharge of a motor will contribute to the fault a current equal to up to four times its full load current.Motor Contribution to Short Circuit Capacity When a fault condition occurs.924 amps plus 400% of 1203 amps for a total of 25." published by Cutler-Hammer. 1203 amp transformer example given above. 1995. All motors that are running at that time will not be able to sustain their running speed. the motor contribution must be considered when sizing all branch circuit fuses and circuit breakers. With our 1000 kVA.