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Electric power transmission

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"Electric transmission" redirects here. For vehicle transmissions, see diesel-electric transmission.

400 kV high-voltage transmission line near Madrid, Spain

Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from generating power plants to electrical substations located near demand centers. This is distinct from the local wiring between high-voltage substations and customers, which is typically referred to as electric power distribution. Transmission lines, when interconnected with each other, become transmission networks. In the US, these are typically referred to as "power grids" or just "the grid." In the UK, the network is known as the "National Grid." North America has three major grids, the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, often referred to as the Western System, the Eastern System and the Texas System. Historically, transmission and distribution lines were owned by the same company, but starting in the 1990s, many countries have liberalized the regulation of the electricity market in ways that have led to the separation of the electricity transmission business from the distribution business. [1] Most transmission lines use high-voltage three-phase alternating current (AC), although single phase AC is sometimes used in railway electrification systems. High-voltage direct-current (HVDC) technology is used for greater efficiency in very long distances (typically hundreds of miles (kilometres), or in submarine power cables (typically longer than 30 miles (50 km). HVDC links are also used to stabilize against control problems in large power distribution networks where sudden new loads or blackouts in one part of a network can otherwise result in synchronization problems and cascading failures.

Diagram of an electric power system; transmission system is in blue

Electricity is transmitted at high voltages (110 kV or above) to reduce the energy lost in long-distance transmission. Power is usually transmitted through overhead power lines. Underground power transmission has a significantly higher cost and greater operational limitations but is sometimes used in urban areas or sensitive locations. A key limitation in the distribution of electric power is that, with minor exceptions, electrical energy cannot be stored, and therefore must be generated as needed. A sophisticated control system is required to ensure electric generation very closely matches the demand. If the demand for power exceeds the supply, generation plants and transmission equipment can shut down which, in the worst cases, can lead to a major regional blackout, such as occurred in the US Northeast blackouts of 1965, 1977, 2003, and in 1996 and 2011. To reduce the risk of such failures, electric transmission networks are interconnected into regional, national or continental wide networks thereby providing multiple redundantalternative routes for power to flow should (weather or equipment) failures occur. Much analysis is done by transmission companies to determine the maximum reliable capacity of each line (ordinarily less than its physical or thermal limit) to ensure spare capacity is available should there be any such failure in another part of the network.

3-phase high voltage lines in Washington State

Cable sample: mid 7 conductors steel & the bulk being aluminium

Main article: Overhead power line High-voltage overhead conductors are not covered by insulation. The conductor material is nearly always an aluminium alloy, made into several strands and possibly reinforced with steel strands. Copper was sometimes used for overhead transmission but aluminium is lighter, yields only marginally reduced performance, and costs much less. Overhead conductors are a commodity supplied by several companies worldwide. Improved conductor material and shapes are regularly used to allow increased capacity and modernize transmission circuits. Conductor sizes range from 12 mm2 (#6 American wire gauge) to 750 mm2 (1,590,000 circular mils area), with varying resistance and current-carrying capacity. Thicker wires would lead to a relatively small increase in capacity due to the skin effect, that causes most of the current to flow close to the surface of the wire. Because of this current limitation, multiple parallel cables (called bundle conductors) are used when higher capacity is needed. Bundle conductors are also used at high voltages to reduce energy loss caused by corona discharge. Today, transmission-level voltages are usually considered to be 110 kV and above. Lower voltages such as 66 kV and 33 kV are usually considered subtransmission voltages but are occasionally used on long lines with light loads. Voltages less than 33 kV are usually used for distribution. Voltages above 230 kV are considered extra high voltage and require different designs compared to equipment used at lower voltages. Since overhead transmission wires depend on air for insulation, design of these lines requires minimum clearances to be observed to maintain safety. Adverse weather conditions of high wind and low temperatures can lead to power outages. Wind speeds as low as 23 knots (43 km/h) can permit conductors to encroach operating clearances, resulting in a flashover and loss of supply.[2] Oscillatory motion of the physical line can be termed gallop orflutter depending on the frequency and amplitude of oscillation.

[edit]Underground

transmission

Main article: Undergrounding

Electric power can also be transmitted by underground power cables instead of overhead power lines. Underground cables take up less right-of-way than overhead lines, have lower visibility, and are less affected by bad weather. However, costs of insulated cable and excavation are much higher than overhead construction. Faults in buried transmission lines take longer to locate and repair. Underground lines are strictly limited by their thermal capacity, which permits less overload or re-rating than overhead lines. Long underground cables have significant capacitance, which may reduce their ability to provide useful power to loads.

[edit]History
Main article: History of electric power transmission

New York City streets in 1890. Besides telegraph lines, multiple electric lines were required for each class of device requiring different voltages

In the early days of commercial electric power, transmission of electric power at the same voltage as used by lighting and mechanical loads restricted the distance between generating plant and consumers. In 1882, generation was with direct current (DC), which could not easily be increased in voltage for long-distance transmission. Different classes of loads (for example, lighting, fixed motors, and traction/railway systems) required different voltages, and so used different generators and circuits.[3][page needed] Due to this specialization of lines and because transmission was inefficient for low-voltage high-current circuits, generators needed to be near their loads. It seemed at the time, that the industry would develop into what is now known as a distributed generation system with large numbers of small generators located near their loads.[4] In 1886, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a 1 kV alternating current (AC) distribution system was installed. That same year, AC power at 2 kV, transmitted 30 km, was installed at Cerchi, Italy. At an AIEE meeting on May 16, 1888, Nikola Tesla delivered a lecture entitled A New System of Alternating

Current Motors and Transformers, describing the equipment which allowed efficient generation and use of polyphase alternating currents. The transformer, and Tesla's polyphase and single-phase induction motors, were essential for a combined AC distribution system for both lighting and machinery. Ownership of the rights to the Tesla patents was a key advantage to the Westinghouse Company in offering a complete alternating current power system for both lighting and power. Regarded as one of the most influential electrical innovations, the universal system used transformers to step-up voltage from generators to high-voltage transmission lines, and then to step-down voltage to local distribution circuits or industrial customers.[3] By a suitable choice of utility frequency, both lighting and motor loads could be served. Rotary converters and later mercury-arc valves and other rectifier equipment allowed DC to be provided where needed. Generating stations and loads using different frequencies could be interconnected using rotary converters. By using common generating plants for every type of load, important economies of scale were achieved, lower overall capital investment was required, load factor on each plant was increased allowing for higher efficiency, a lower cost for the consumer and increased overall use of electric power.

Nikola Tesla's Alternating current polyphasegenerators on display at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Tesla's polyphase innovations revolutionized transmission

By allowing multiple generating plants to be interconnected over a wide area, electricity production cost was reduced. The most efficient available plants could be used to supply the varying loads during the day. Reliability was improved and capital investment cost was reduced, since stand-by generating capacity could be shared over many more customers and a wider geographic area. Remote and low-cost sources of energy, such as hydroelectric power or mine-mouth coal, could be exploited to lower energy production cost.[3] The first transmission of three-phase alternating current using high voltage took place in 1891 during the international electricity exhibition inFrankfurt. A 25 kV transmission line, approximately 175 km long, connected Lauffen on the Neckar and Frankfurt. Voltages used for electric power transmission increased throughout the 20th century. By 1914, fifty-five transmission systems each operating at more than 70 kV were in service. The highest voltage then used was 150 kV.[5]

The rapid industrialization in the 20th century made electrical transmission lines and grids a critical part of the infrastructure in most industrialized nations. Interconnection of local generation plants and small distribution networks was greatly spurred by the requirements ofWorld War I, with large electrical generating plants built by governments to provide power to munitions factories. Later these generating plants were connected to supply civil loads through long-distance transmission.[6]

[edit]Bulk

power transmission

A transmission substation decreases the voltage of incoming electricity, allowing it to connect from long distance high voltage transmission, to local lower voltage distribution. It also reroutes power to other transmission lines that serve local markets. This is the PacifiCorp Hale Substation, Orem, Utah, USA

Engineers design transmission networks to transport the energy as efficiently as feasible, while at the same time taking into account economic factors, network safety and redundancy. These networks use components such as power lines, cables, circuit breakers, switches andtransformers. The transmission network is usually administered on a regional basis by an entity such as a regional transmission organization ortransmission system operator. Transmission efficiency is hugely improved by devices that increase the voltage, and proportionately reduce the current in the conductors, thus keeping the power transmitted nearly equal to the power input. The reduced current flowing through the line reduces the losses in the conductors. According to Joule's Law, energy losses are directly proportional to the square of the current. Thus, reducing the current by a factor of 2 will lower the energy lost to conductor resistance by a factor of 4. This change in voltage is usually achieved in AC circuits using a step-up transformer. HVDC systems require relatively costly conversion equipment which may be economically justified for particular projects, but are less common currently. A transmission grid is a network of power stations, transmission lines, and substations. Energy is usually transmitted within a grid with three-phase AC. Single-phase AC is used only for distribution to end users since it is not usable for large polyphase induction motors. In the 19th century, two-phase transmission was used but required either four wires or three wires with unequal currents. Higher order phase systems require more than three wires, but deliver marginal benefits.

The synchronous grids of Europe.

The capital cost of electric power stations is so high, and electric demand is so variable, that it is often cheaper to import some portion of the needed power than to generate it locally. Because nearby loads are often correlated (hot weather in the Southwest portion of the US might cause many people to use air conditioners), electricity often comes from distant sources. Because of the economics of load balancing, wide area transmission grids now span across countries and even large portions of continents. The web of interconnections between power producers and consumers ensures that power can flow, even if a few links are inoperative. The unvarying (or slowly varying over many hours) portion of the electric demand is known as the base load and is generally served best by large facilities (which are therefore efficient due to economies of scale) with low variable costs for fuel and operations. Such facilities might be nuclear or coal-fired power stations, or hydroelectric, while other renewable energy sources such as concentrated solar thermal and geothermal power have the potential to provide base load power. Renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaics, wind, wave, and tidal are, due to their intermittency, not considered "base load" but can still add power to the grid. The remaining power demand, if any, is supplied by peaking power plants, which are typically smaller, faster-responding, and higher cost sources, such as combined cycle or combustion turbine plants fueled by natural gas. Long-distance transmission of electricity (thousands of kilometers) is cheap and efficient, with costs of US$0.0050.02/kWh (compared to annual averaged large producer costs of US$0.010.025/kWh, retail rates upwards of US$0.10/kWh, and multiples of retail for instantaneous suppliers at unpredicted highest demand moments).[7] Thus distant suppliers can be cheaper than local sources (e.g., New York City buys a lot[quantify] of electricity from Canada). Multiple local sources (even if more expensive and infrequently used) can make the transmission grid more fault tolerant to weather and other disasters that can disconnect distant suppliers.

A high-power electrical transmission tower

Long distance transmission allows remote renewable energy resources to be used to displace fossil fuel consumption. Hydro and wind sources cannot be moved closer to populous cities, and solar costs are lowest in remote areas where local power needs are minimal. Connection costs alone can determine whether any particular renewable alternative is economically sensible. Costs can be prohibitive for transmission lines, but various proposals for massive infrastructure investment in high capacity, very long distance super grid transmission networks could be recovered with modest usage fees.

[edit]Grid

input

At the power stations the energy is produced at a relatively low voltage between about 2.3 kV and 30 kV, depending on the size of the unit. The generator terminal voltage is then stepped up by the power station transformer to a higher voltage (115 kV to 765 kV AC, varying by the transmission system and by country) for transmission over long distances.

[edit]Losses
Transmitting electricity at high voltage reduces the fraction of energy lost to resistance, which averages around 7%.[8] For a given amount of power, a higher voltage reduces the current and thus the resistive losses in the conductor. For example, raising the voltage by a factor of 10 reduces the current by a corresponding factor of 10 and therefore the I2R losses by a factor of 100, provided the same sized conductors are used in both cases. Even if the conductor size (cross-sectional area) is reduced 10-fold to match the lower current the I2R losses are still reduced 10-fold. Long distance transmission is typically done with overhead lines at voltages of 115 to 1,200 kV. At extremely high voltages, more than 2,000 kV between conductor and ground, corona discharge losses are so large that they can offset the lower resistance loss in the line conductors. Measures to reduce corona losses include conductors having large diameter; often hollow to save weight,[9] or bundles of two or more conductors. Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 6.6% in 1997 [10] and 6.5% in 2007.[10] In general, losses are estimated from the discrepancy between energy produced (as reported by power plants) and energy sold to end customers; the difference between what is produced and what is consumed constitute transmission and distribution losses.

As of 1980, the longest cost-effective distance for DC electricity was determined to be 7,000 km (4,300 mi). For AC it was 4,000 km (2,500 mi), though all transmission lines in use today are substantially shorter.[7] In an alternating current circuit, the inductance and capacitance of the phase conductors can be significant. The currents that flow in these components of the circuit impedance constitute reactive power, which transmits no energy to the load. Reactive current causes extra losses in the transmission circuit. The ratio of real power (transmitted to the load) to apparent power is the power factor. As reactive current increases, the reactive power increases and the power factor decreases. For systems with low power factors, losses are higher than for systems with high power factors. Utilities add capacitor banks and other components (such as phase-shifting transformers; static VAR compensators; physical transposition of the phase conductors; and flexible AC transmission systems, FACTS) throughout the system to control reactive power flow for reduction of losses and stabilization of system voltage.

[edit]Subtransmission
Subtransmission is part of an electric power transmission system that runs at relatively lower voltages. It is uneconomical to connect all distribution substations to the high main transmission voltage, because the equipment is larger and more expensive. Typically, only larger substations connect with this high voltage. It is stepped down and sent to smaller substations in towns and neighborhoods. Subtransmission circuits are usually arranged in loops so that a single line failure does not cut off service to a large number of customers for more than a short time. While subtransmission circuits are usually carried on overhead lines, in urban areas buried cable may be used. There is no fixed cutoff between subtransmission and transmission, or subtransmission and distribution. The voltage ranges overlap somewhat. Voltages of 69 kV, 115 kV and 138 kV are often used for subtransmission in North America. As power systems evolved, voltages formerly used for transmission were used for subtransmission, and subtransmission voltages became distribution voltages. Like transmission, subtransmission moves relatively large amounts of power, and like distribution, subtransmission covers an area instead of just point to point.[11]

[edit]Transmission

grid exit

At the substations, transformers reduce the voltage to a lower level for distribution to commercial and residential users. This distribution is accomplished with a combination of sub-transmission (33 kV to 132 kV) and distribution (3.3 to 25 kV). Finally, at the point of use, the energy is transformed to low voltage (varying by country and customer requirementssee mains power systems).

[edit]High-voltage

direct current

Main article: High-voltage direct current High-voltage direct current (HVDC) is used to transmit large amounts of power over long distances or for interconnections between asynchronous grids. When electrical energy is required to be transmitted over very long distances, it is more economical to transmit using direct current instead of alternating current. For

a long transmission line, the lower losses and reduced construction cost of a DC line can offset the additional cost of converter stations at each end. Also, at high AC voltages, significant (although economically acceptable) amounts of energy are lost due tocorona discharge, the capacitance between phases or, in the case of buried cables, between phases and the soil or water in which the cable is buried. HVDC is also used for long submarine cables because over about 30 km length AC can no longer be applied. In that case special high voltage cables for DC are built. Many submarine cable connections up to 600 km length are in use nowadays. HVDC links are sometimes used to stabilize against control problems with the AC electricity flow. The power transmitted by an AC line increases as the phase angle between source end voltage and destination ends increases, but too great a phase angle will allow the generators at either end of the line to fall out of step. Since the power flow in a DC link is controlled independently of the phases of the AC networks at either end of the link, this stability limit does not apply to a DC line, and it can transfer its full thermal rating. A DC link stabilizes the AC grids at either end, since power flow and phase angle can be controlled independently. As an example, to adjust the flow of AC power on a hypothetical line between Seattle and Boston would require adjustment of the relative phase of the two electrical grids. This is an everyday occurrence in AC systems, but one that can occasionally fail when AC system components fail and place sudden loads on a remaining working grid system. With an HVDC line instead, such an interconnection would: (1) Convert AC in Seattle into HVDC. (2) Use HVDC for the three thousand miles of cross country transmission. Then (3) convert the HVDC to locally synchronized AC in Boston, and optionally in other cooperating cities along the transmission route. Such a system would be less prone to cascade failures if part of it were suddenly shut down. One prominent example of such a transmission line is the Pacific DC Intertie located in the Western United States.

[edit]Limitations
The amount of power that can be sent over a transmission line is limited. The origins of the limits vary depending on the length of the line. For a short line, the heating of conductors due to line losses sets a thermal limit. If too much current is drawn, conductors may sag too close to the ground, or conductors and equipment may be damaged by overheating. For intermediate-length lines on the order of 100 km (62 mi), the limit is set by the voltage drop in the line. For longer AC lines, system stability sets the limit to the power that can be transferred. Approximately, the power flowing over an AC line is proportional to the cosine of the phase angle of the voltage and current at the receiving and transmitting ends. Since this angle varies depending on system loading and generation, it is undesirable for the angle to approach 90 degrees. Very approximately, the allowable product of line length and maximum load is proportional to the square of the system voltage. Series capacitors or phase-shifting transformers are used on long lines to improve stability. High-voltage direct current lines are restricted only by thermal and voltage drop limits, since the phase angle is not material to their operation.

Up to now, it has been almost impossible to foresee the temperature distribution along the cable route, so that the maximum applicable current load was usually set as a compromise between understanding of operation conditions and risk minimization. The availability of industrial Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) systems that measure in real time temperatures all along the cable is a first step in monitoring the transmission system capacity. This monitoring solution is based on using passive optical fibers as temperature sensors, either integrated directly inside a high voltage cable or mounted externally on the cable insulation. A solution for overhead lines is also available. In this case the optical fiber is integrated into the core of a phase wire of overhead transmission lines (OPPC). The integrated Dynamic Cable Rating (DCR) or also called Real Time Thermal Rating (RTTR) solution enables not only to continuously monitor the temperature of a high voltage cable circuit in real time, but to safely utilize the existing network capacity to its maximum. Furthermore it provides the ability to the operator to predict the behavior of the transmission system upon major changes made to its initial operating conditions.

[edit]Control
To ensure safe and predictable operation the components of the transmission system are controlled with generators, switches, circuit breakers and loads. The voltage, power, frequency, load factor, and reliability capabilities of the transmission system are designed to provide cost effective performance for the customers.

[edit]Load

balancing

The transmission system provides for base load and peak load capability, with safety and fault tolerance margins. The peak load times vary by region largely due to the industry mix. In very hot and very cold climates home air conditioning and heating loads have an effect on the overall load. They are typically highest in the late afternoon in the hottest part of the year and in mid-mornings and mid-evenings in the coldest part of the year. This makes the power requirements vary by the season and the time of day. Distribution system designs always take the base load and the peak load into consideration. The transmission system usually does not have a large buffering capability to match the loads with the generation. Thus generation has to be kept matched to the load, to prevent overloading failures of the generation equipment. Multiple sources and loads can be connected to the transmission system and they must be controlled to provide orderly transfer of power. In centralized power generation, only local control of generation is necessary, and it involves synchronization of the generation units, to prevent large transients and overload conditions. In distributed power generation the generators are geographically distributed and the process to bring them online and offline must be carefully controlled. The load control signals can either be sent on separate lines or on the power lines themselves. To load balance the voltage and frequency can be used as a signaling mechanism.

In voltage signaling, the variation of voltage is used to increase generation. The power added by any system increases as the line voltage decreases. This arrangement is stable in principle. Voltage based regulation is complex to use in mesh networks, since the individual components and setpoints would need to be reconfigured every time a new generator is added to the mesh. In frequency signaling, the generating units match the frequency of the power transmission system. In droop speed control, if the frequency decreases, the power is increased. (The drop in line frequency is an indication that the increased load is causing the generators to slow down.) Wind turbines, v2g and other distributed storage and generation systems can be connected to the power grid, and interact with it to improve system operation.

[edit]Failure

protection

Under excess load conditions, the system can be designed to fail gracefully rather than all at once. Brownouts occur when the supply power drops below the demand. Blackouts occur when the supply fails completely. Rolling blackouts (also called load shedding) are intentionally engineered electrical power outages, used to distribute insufficient power when the demand for electricity exceeds the supply.

[edit]Communications
Operators of long transmission lines require reliable communications for control of the power grid and, often, associated generation and distribution facilities. Fault-sensing protective relays at each end of the line must communicate to monitor the flow of power into and out of the protected line section so that faulted conductors or equipment can be quickly de-energized and the balance of the system restored. Protection of the transmission line from short circuits and other faults is usually so critical that common carrier telecommunications are insufficiently reliable, and in remote areas a common carrier may not be available. Communication systems associated with a transmission project may use:

Microwaves Power line communication Optical fibers

Rarely, and for short distances, a utility will use pilot-wires strung along the transmission line path. Leased circuits from common carriers are not preferred since availability is not under control of the electric power transmission organization. Transmission lines can also be used to carry data: this is called power-line carrier, or PLC. PLC signals can be easily received with a radio for the long wave range. Optical fibers can be included in the stranded conductors of a transmission line, in the overhead shield wires. These cables are known as optical ground wire (OPGW). Sometimes a standalone cable is used, alldielectric self-supporting (ADSS) cable, attached to the transmission line cross arms.

Some jurisdictions, such as Minnesota, prohibit energy transmission companies from selling surplus communication bandwidth or acting as a telecommunications common carrier. Where the regulatory structure permits, the utility can sell capacity in extra dark fibers to a common carrier, providing another revenue stream.

[edit]Electricity

market reform

Main article: Electricity market Some regulators regard electric transmission to be a natural monopoly[12][13] and there are moves in many countries to separately regulate transmission (see electricity market). Spain was the first country to establish a regional transmission organization. In that country transmission operations and market operations are controlled by separate companies. The transmission system operator is Red Elctrica de Espaa (REE) and the wholesale electricity market operator is Operador del Mercado Ibrico de Energa Polo Espaol, S.A. (OMEL) [2]. Spain's transmission system is interconnected with those of France, Portugal, and Morocco. In the United States and parts of Canada, electrical transmission companies operate independently of generation and distribution companies.

[edit]Cost

of electric power transmission

The cost of high voltage electricity transmission (as opposed to the costs of electricity distribution) is comparatively low, compared to all other costs arising in a consumer's electricity bill. In the UK transmission costs are about 0.2p/kWh compared to a delivered domestic price of around 10 p/kWh.[14] Research evaluates the level of capital expenditure in the electric power T&D equipment market will be worth $128.9bn in 2011.[15]

[edit]Merchant

transmission

Merchant transmission is an arrangement where a third party constructs and operates electric transmission lines through the franchise area of an unrelated utility. Operating merchant transmission projects in the United States include the Cross Sound Cable from Long Island, New York to New Haven, Connecticut, Neptune RTS Transmission Line from Sayreville, N.J., to Newbridge, N.Y, ITC Holdings, Inc. transmission system in the midwest, and Path 15 in California. Additional projects are in development or have been proposed throughout the United States. There is only one unregulated or market interconnector in Australia: Basslink between Tasmania and Victoria. Two DC links originally implemented as market interconnectors Directlink andMurraylink have been converted to regulated interconnectors. NEMMCO

A major barrier to wider adoption of merchant transmission is the difficulty in identifying who benefits from the facility so that the beneficiaries will pay the toll. Also, it is difficult for a merchant transmission line to compete when the alternative transmission lines are subsidized by other utility businesses. [16]

[edit]Health

concerns

Main article: Electromagnetic radiation and health Some large studies, including a large United States study, have failed to find any link between living near power lines and developing any sickness or diseases such as cancer. One old study from 1997 found that it did not matter how close you were to a power line or a sub-station, there was no increased risk of cancer or illness.[17] The mainstream scientific evidence suggests that low-power, low-frequency, electromagnetic radiation associated with household currents and high transmission power lines does not constitute a short or long term health hazard. Some studies, however, have found statistical correlations between various diseases and living or working near power lines. No adverse health effects have been substantiated for people not living close to powerlines.[18] There are established biological effects for acute high level exposure to magnetic fields well above 100 T (1000 mG). In a residential setting, there is "limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in experimental animals", in particular, childhood leukaemia, associated with average exposure to residential power-frequency magnetic field above 0.3 T (3 mG) to 0.4 T (4 mG). These levels exceed average residential power-frequency magnetic fields in homes which are about 0.07 T (0.7 mG) in Europe and 0.11 T (1.1 mG) in North America. [19][20]

[edit]Government

policy

Historically, local governments have exercised authority over the grid and have significant disincentives to take action that would benefit states other than their own. Localities with cheap electricity have a disincentive to making interstate commerce in electricity trading easier, since other regions will be able to compete for local energy and drive up rates. Some regulators in Maine for example do not wish to address congestion problems because the congestion serves to keep Maine rates low.[21] Further, vocal local constituencies can block or slow permitting by pointing to visual impact, environmental, and perceived health concerns. In the US, generation is growing 4 times faster than transmission, but big transmission upgrades require the coordination of multiple states, a multitude of interlocking permits, and cooperation between a significant portion of the 500 companies that own the grid. From a policy perspective, the control of the grid is balkanized, and even former energy secretary Bill Richardson refers to it as a third world grid. There have been efforts in the EU and US to confront the problem. The US national security interest in significantly growing transmission capacity drove passage of the 2005 energy act giving the Department of Energy the authority to approve transmission if states refuse to act. However, soon after using its power to designate two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, 14 senators signed a letter stating the DOE was being too aggressive.[22]

[edit]Special [edit]Grids

transmission

for railways

Main article: Traction power network In some countries where electric trains[disambiguation needed] run on low frequency AC (e.g., 16.7 Hz and 25 Hz) power, there are separate single phase traction power networks operated by the railways. These grids are fed by separate generators in some traction powerstations or by traction current converter plants from the public three phase AC network.

[edit]Superconducting

cables

High-temperature superconductors (HTS) promise to revolutionize power distribution by providing lossless transmission of electrical power. The development of superconductors with transition temperatures higher than the boiling point of liquid nitrogen has made the concept of superconducting power lines commercially feasible, at least for high-load applications.[23] It has been estimated that the waste would be halved using this method, since the necessary refrigeration equipment would consume about half the power saved by the elimination of the majority of resistive losses. Some companies such as Consolidated Edison and American Superconductor have already begun commercial production of such systems.[24] In one hypothetical future system called aSuperGrid, the cost of cooling would be eliminated by coupling the transmission line with a liquid hydrogen pipeline. Superconducting cables are particularly suited to high load density areas such as the business district of large cities, where purchase of an easement for cables would be very costly.[25]

HTS transmission lines[26]

Location

Length (km)

Voltage (kV)

Capacity (GW)

Date

Carrollton, Georgia

2000

Albany, New York[27]

0.35

34.5

0.048

2006

Long Island[28]

0.6

130

0.574

2008

Tres Amigas

proposed 2013

Manhattan: Project Hydra

proposed 2014

HTS transmission lines[26]

Location

Length (km)

Voltage (kV)

Capacity (GW)

Date

Essen, Germany[29] [edit]Single

10

0.04

proposed

wire earth return

Main article: Single-wire earth return Single-wire earth return (SWER) or single wire ground return is a single-wire transmission line for supplying single-phase electrical power for an electrical grid to remote areas at low cost. It is principally used for rural electrification, but also finds use for larger isolated loads such as water pumps, and light rail. Single wire earth return is also used for HVDC over submarine power cables.

[edit]Wireless

power transmission

Main article: Wireless energy transfer Both Nikola Tesla and Hidetsugu Yagi attempted to devise systems for large scale wireless power transmission, with no commercial success. In November 2009, LaserMotive won the NASA 2009 Power Beaming Challenge by powering a cable climber 1 km vertically using a ground-based laser transmitter. The system produced up to 1 kW of power at the receiver end. In August 2010, NASA contracted with private companies to pursue the design of laser power beaming systems to power low earth orbit satellites and to launch rockets using laser power beams. Wireless power transmission has been studied for transmission of power from solar power satellites to the earth. A high power array of microwave or laser transmitters would beam power to arectenna. Major engineering and economic challenges face any solar power satellite project.

[edit]Security

of control systems

The Federal government of the United States admits that the power grid is susceptible to cyberwarfare.[30][31] The United States Department of Homeland Security works with industry to identify vulnerabilities and to help industry enhance the security of control system networks, the federal government is also working to ensure that security is built in as the U.S. develops the next generation of 'smart grid' networks.[32]

This article is about power lines for general transmission of electrical power. For overhead lines used to power road and rail vehicles, see Overhead lines.

transmission line

High and medium voltage power lines inoma, Poland

An overhead power line is an electric power transmission line suspended by towers or utility poles. Since most of the insulation is provided by air, overhead power lines are generally the lowest-cost method of transmission for large quantities of electric energy. Towers for support of the lines are made of wood (as-grown or laminated), steel (either lattice structures or tubular poles), concrete, aluminum, and occasionally reinforced plastics. The bare wire conductors on the line are generally made of aluminum (either plain or reinforced with steel, or sometimes composite materials), though some copper wires are used in medium-voltage distribution and low-voltage connections to customer premises. A major goal of overhead power line design is to maintain adequate clearance between energized conductors and the ground so as to prevent dangerous contact with the line.
[1]

Today

overhead lines are routinely operated at voltages exceeding 765,000 volts between conductors, with even higher voltages possible in some cases.

RELAY

Basic design and operation

Simple electromechanical relay.

Small "cradle" relay often used in electronics. The "cradle" term refers to the shape of the relay's armature.

A simple electromagnetic relay consists of a coil of wire wrapped around a soft

iron core, an iron yoke which provides a low reluctance path for magnetic flux, a movable iron armature, and one or

more sets of contacts (there are two in the relay pictured). The armature is hinged to the yoke and mechanically linked to one or more sets of moving contacts. It is held in place by a spring so that when the relay is de-energized there is an air gap in the magnetic circuit. In this condition, one of the two sets of contacts in the relay pictured is closed, and the other set is open. Other relays may have more or fewer sets of contacts depending on their function. The relay in the picture also has a wire connecting the armature to the yoke. This ensures continuity of the circuit between the moving contacts on the armature, and the circuit track on the printed which is soldered to the PCB. When an electric

circuit board (PCB) via the yoke,

current is passed through the coil it generates a magnetic field that activates

the armature, and the consequent movement of the movable contact(s) either makes or breaks (depending upon construction) a connection with a fixed contact. If the set of contacts was closed when the relay was de-energized, then the movement opens the contacts and breaks the connection, and vice versa if the contacts were open. When the current to the coil is switched off, the armature is returned by a force, approximately half as strong as the magnetic force, to its relaxed position. Usually this force is provided by a spring, but gravity is also used commonly in industrial motor starters. Most relays are manufactured to operate quickly. In a low-voltage application this reduces noise; in a high voltage or current application it reduces arcing. When the coil is energized with direct

current, a diode is often placed across the coil to dissipate

the energy from the collapsing magnetic field at deactivation, which would otherwise generate a voltage

spike dangerous to semiconductor circuit components. Some automotive relays

include a diode inside the relay case. Alternatively, a contact protection network consisting of a capacitor and resistor in series (snubber circuit) may absorb the surge. If the coil is designed to be energized with alternating

current (AC), a small copper "shading ring" can be crimped to the end
[1]

of the solenoid, creating a small out-of-phase current which increases the minimum pull on the armature during the AC cycle.

A solid-state relay uses a thyristor or other solid-state switching device, activated by the control signal, to switch the controlled load, instead of a solenoid. An

optocoupler (a light-emitting

diode (LED) coupled with a photo transistor) can be used to isolate control and controlled circuits.
[

edit]Types
relay

[edit]Latching

Latching relay with permanent magnet

A latching relay has two relaxed states (bistable). These are also called "impulse", "keep", or "stay" relays. When the current is switched off, the relay remains in its last state. This is achieved with a solenoid operating a ratchet and cam mechanism, or by having two opposing coils with an overcenter spring or permanent magnet to hold the armature and contacts in position while the coil is relaxed, or with a remanent core. In the ratchet and cam example, the first pulse to the coil turns the relay on and the second pulse turns it off. In the two coil example, a pulse to one coil turns the relay on and a pulse to the opposite coil turns the relay off. This type of relay has the advantage that one coil consumes power only for an instant, while it is being switched, and the relay contacts retain this setting across a power outage. A remanent core latching relay requires a current pulse of opposite polarity to make it change state. [edit]Reed A reed

relay
gas-filled glass tube which protects the contacts against

relay is a reed switch enclosed in a solenoid. The switch has a set of contacts inside

an evacuated or inert

atmospheric corrosion; the contacts are made of magnetic material that makes them move under the influence of the field of the enclosing solenoid. Reed relays can switch faster than larger relays, require very little power from the control circuit. However they have relatively low switching current and voltage ratings. Though rare, the reeds can become magnetized over time, which makes them stick 'on' even when no current is present; changing the orientation of the reeds with respect to the solenoid's magnetic field can resolve this problem.

Top, middle: reed switches, bottom: reed relay

[edit]Mercury-wetted

relay
mercury.

A mercury-wetted reed relay is a form of reed relay in which the contacts are wetted with

Such relays are used to switch low-voltage signals (one volt or less) where the mercury reduces the contact resistance and associated voltage drop, for low-current signals where surface contamination may make for a poor contact, or for high-speed applications where the mercury eliminates contact bounce. Mercury wetted relays are position-sensitive and must be mounted vertically to work properly.

Because of the toxicity and expense of liquid mercury, these relays are now rarely used. See alsomercury

switch.

[edit]Polarized

relay
exchanges to detect

A polarized relay placed the armature between the poles of a permanent magnet to increase sensitivity. Polarized relays were used in middle 20th Century telephone faint pulses and correct telegraphic

distortion. The poles were on screws, so a technician could

first adjust them for maximum sensitivity and then apply a bias spring to set the critical current that would operate the relay. External links

Schematic diagram of a polarized relay used in a teletype machine.

[edit]Machine

tool relay

A machine tool relay is a type standardized for industrial control of machine tools, transfer machines, and other sequential control. They are characterized by a large number of contacts (sometimes extendable in the field) which are easily converted from normally-open to normally-closed status, easily replaceable coils, and a form

factor that allows compactly installing many relays in a control

panel. Although such relays once were the backbone of automation in such industries as automobile assembly, the programmable

logic controller (PLC) mostly displaced the machine tool relay

from sequential control applications. A relay allows circuits to be switched by electrical equipment: for example, a timer circuit with a relay could switch power at a preset time. For many years relays were the standard method of controlling industrial electronic systems. A number of relays could be used together to carry out complex functions (relay

logic). The principle of relay logic is based on relays which energize and deenergize associated contacts. Relay logic is the predecessor of ladder logic, which is commonly used in programmable logic controllers.
[edit]Ratchet

relay

This is again a clapper type relay which does not need continuous current through its coil to retain its operation. [edit]Contactor

relay
motors and lighting loads,

A contactor is a very heavy-duty relay used for switching electric

although contactors are not generally called relays. Continuous current ratings for common contactors range from 10 amps to several hundred amps. High-current contacts are made with alloys containing silver. The unavoidable arcing causes the contacts to oxidize; however, still a good conductor.
[2]

silver oxide is

Such devices are often used for motor starters. A motor starter is a contactor

with overload protection devices attached. The overload sensing devices are a form of heat operated relay where a coil heats a bi-metal strip, or where a solder pot melts, releasing a spring to operate auxiliary contacts. These auxiliary contacts are in series with the coil. If the overload senses excess

current in the load, the coil is de-energized. Contactor relays can be extremely loud to operate, making them unfit for use where noise is a chief concern. [edit]Solid-state

relay

Solid state relay with no moving parts

25 A or 40 A solid state contactors

A solid

state relay (SSR) is a solid state electronic component that provides a similar function to an electromechanical relay but does not have any moving components, increasing long-term
reliability. Every solid-state device has a small voltage drop across it. This voltage drop limits the amount of current a given SSR can handle. The minimum voltage drop for such a relay is a function of the material used to make the device. Solid-state relays rated to handle as much as 1,200 Amperes have become commercially available. Compared to electromagnetic relays, they may be falsely triggered by transients. [edit]Solid

state contactor relay


motorsand lighting loads; where frequent on/off cycles are Programmable logic

A solid state contactor is a heavy-duty solid state relay, including the necessary heat sink, used for switching electric heaters, small electric

required. There are no moving parts to wear out and there is no contact bounce due to vibration. They are activated by AC control signals or DC control signals from

controller (PLCs), PCs, Transistor-transistor logic (TTL) sources, or other microprocessor and
microcontroller controls. [edit]Buchholz A Buchholz

relay

relay is a safety device sensing the accumulation of gas in large oil-

filled transformers, which will alarm on slow accumulation of gas or shut down the transformer if gas is produced rapidly in the transformer oil. [edit]Forced-guided

contacts relay

A forced-guided contacts relay has relay contacts that are mechanically linked together, so that when the relay coil is energized or de-energized, all of the linked contacts move together. If one set of contacts in the relay becomes immobilized, no other contact of the same relay will be able to move. The function of forced-guided contacts is to enable the safety circuit to check the status of the relay. Forced-guided contacts are also known as "positive-guided contacts", "captive contacts", "locked contacts", or "safety relays". [edit]Overload

protection relay
[3]

Electric motors need overcurrent protection to prevent damage from over-loading the motor, or to protect against short circuits in connecting cables or internal faults in the motor windings. of electric One type

motor overload protection relay is operated by a heating element in series with the electric motor. The heat generated by the motor current heats a bimetallic strip or melts solder, releasing a spring to operate contacts. Where the overload relay is exposed to the
same environment as the motor, a useful though crude compensation for motor ambient temperature is provided. [

edit]Pole and throw

Circuit symbols of relays. (C denotes the common terminal in SPDT and DPDT types.)

Since relays are switches, the terminology applied to switches is also applied to relays. A relay will switch one or more poles, each of whose contacts can be thrown by energizing the coil in one of three ways: Normally-open (NO) contacts connect the circuit when the relay is activated; the circuit is disconnected when the relay is inactive. It is also called aForm A contact or "make" contact. NO contacts can also be distinguished as "early-make" or NOEM, which means that the contacts will close before the button or switch is fully engaged. Normally-closed (NC) contacts disconnect the circuit when the relay is activated; the circuit is connected when the relay is inactive. It is also called aForm B contact or "break" contact. NC contacts can also be distinguished as "late-break" or NCLB, which means that the contacts will stay closed until the button or switch is fully disengaged. Change-over (CO), or double-throw (DT), contacts control two circuits: one normally-open contact and one normally-closed contact with a common terminal. It is also called a Form C contact or "transfer" contact ("break before make"). If this type of contact utilizes a "make before break" functionality, then it is called a Form D contact. The following designations are commonly encountered: SPST Single Pole Single Throw. These have two terminals which can be connected or disconnected. Including two for the coil, such a relay has four terminals in total. It is ambiguous whether the pole is normally open or normally closed. The terminology "SPNO" and "SPNC" is sometimes used to resolve the ambiguity. SPDT Single Pole Double Throw. A common terminal connects to either of two others. Including two for the coil, such a relay has five terminals in total. DPST Double Pole Single Throw. These have two pairs of terminals. Equivalent to two SPST switches or relays actuated by a single coil. Including two for the coil, such a relay has six terminals in total. The poles may be Form A or Form B (or one of each). DPDT Double Pole Double Throw. These have two rows of change-over terminals. Equivalent to two SPDT switches or relays actuated by a single coil. Such a relay has eight terminals, including the coil. The "S" or "D" may be replaced with a number, indicating multiple switches connected to a single actuator. For example 4PDT indicates a four pole double throw relay (with 14 terminals). EN 50005 are among applicable standards for relay terminal numbering; a typical EN 50005compliant SPDT relay's terminals would be numbered 11, 12, 14, A1 and A2 for the C, NC, NO, and coil connections, respectively.

edit]Applications

Relays are used to and for: Amplify a digital signal, switching a large amount of power with a small operating power. Some special cases are: A telegraph relay, repeating a weak signal received at the end of a long wire Controlling a high-voltage circuit with a low-voltage signal, as in some types of modems or audio amplifiers, Controlling a high-current circuit with a low-current signal, as in the starter solenoid of an automobile, Detect and isolate faults on transmission and distribution lines by opening and closing circuit

breakers (protection relays),

A DPDT AC coil relay with "ice cube" packaging

Isolate the controlling circuit from the controlled circuit when the two are at different potentials, for example when controlling a mains-powered device from a low-voltage switch. The latter is often applied to control office lighting as the low voltage wires are easily installed in partitions, which may be often moved as needs change. They may also be controlled by room occupancy detectors to conserve energy,

Logic functions. For example, the boolean AND function is realised by connecting normally open relay contacts in series, the OR function by connecting normally open contacts in parallel. The change-over or Form C contacts perform the XOR (exclusive or) function. Similar functions for NAND and NOR are accomplished using normally closed contacts. The Ladder programming

language is often used for designing relay logic networks.


The application of Boolean Algebra to relay circuit design was formalized by Claude

Shannon in A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits

Early computing. Before vacuum tubes and transistors, relays were used as logical elements in digital computers. See electro-mechanical computers such as ARRA

(computer), Harvard Mark II, Zuse Z2, and Zuse Z3.


Safety-critical logic. Because relays are much more resistant than semiconductors to nuclear radiation, they are widely used in safety-critical logic, such as the control panels of radioactive waste-handling machinery. Time delay functions. Relays can be modified to delay opening or delay closing a set of contacts. A very short (a fraction of a second) delay would use a copper disk between the armature and moving blade assembly. Current flowing in the disk maintains magnetic field for a short time, lengthening release time. For a slightly longer (up to a minute) delay, a dashpot is used. A dashpot is a piston filled with fluid that is allowed to escape slowly. The time period can be varied by increasing or decreasing the flow rate. For longer time periods, a mechanical clockwork timer is installed. Vehicle battery isolation. A 12v relay is often used to isolate any second battery in cars, 4WDs, RVs and boats. [ Switching to a standby power supply.

edit]Relay application considerations

A large relay with two coils and many sets of contacts, used in an old telephone switching system.

Several 30-contact relays in "Connector" circuits in mid 20th century 1XB switch and5XB switch telephone exchanges; cover removed on one

Selection of an appropriate relay for a particular application requires evaluation of many different factors: Number and type of contacts normally open, normally closed, (double-throw) Contact sequence "Make before Break" or "Break before Make". For example, the old style telephone exchanges required Make-before-break so that the connection didn't get dropped while dialing the number. Rating of contacts small relays switch a few amperes, large contactors are rated for up to 3000 amperes, alternating or direct current Voltage rating of contacts typical control relays rated 300 VAC or 600 VAC, automotive types to 50 VDC, special high-voltage relays to about 15 000 V Operating lifetime, useful life - the number of times the relay can be expected to operate reliably. There is both a mechanical life and a contact life; the contact life is naturally affected by the kind of load being switched. Coil voltage machine-tool relays usually 24 VDC, 120 or 250 VAC, relays for switchgear may have 125 V or 250 VDC coils, "sensitive" relays operate on a few milliamperes Coil current - including minimum current required to operate reliably and minimum current to hold. Also effects of power dissipation on coil temperature at various duty cycles. Package/enclosure open, touch-safe, double-voltage for isolation between circuits, explosion

proof, outdoor, oil and splash resistant, washable forprinted circuit board assembly
Operating environment - minimum and maximum operating temperatures and other environmental considerations such as effects of humidity and salt Assembly Some relays feature a sticker that keeps the enclosure sealed to allow PCB post soldering cleaning, which is removed once assembly is complete. Mounting sockets, plug board, rail mount, panel mount, through-panel mount, enclosure for mounting on walls or equipment Switching time where high speed is required "Dry" contacts when switching very low level signals, special contact materials may be needed such as gold-plated contacts Contact protection suppress arcing in very inductive circuits Coil protection suppress the surge voltage produced when switching the coil current Isolation between coil contacts Aerospace or radiation-resistant testing, special quality assurance Expected mechanical loads due to acceleration some relays used in aerospace applications are designed to function in shock loads of 50 g or more

Accessories such as timers, auxiliary contacts, pilot lamps, test buttons Regulatory approvals Stray magnetic linkage between coils of adjacent relays on a printed circuit board.

There are many considerations involved in the correct selection of a control relay for a particular application. These considerations include factors such as speed of operation, sensitivity, andhysteresis. Although typical control relays operate in the 5 ms to 20 ms range, relays with switching speeds as fast as 100 us are available. Reed and switch fast are suitable for controlling small currents. As for any switch, the current through the relay contacts (unrelated to the current through the coil) must not exceed a certain value to avoid damage. In the particular case of high-inductancecircuits such as motors other issues must be addressed. When a power source is connected to an inductance, an input

relays which are actuated by low currents

surge current which may be several times larger than the steady current

exists. When the circuit is broken, the current cannot change instantaneously, which creates a potentially damaging spark across the separating contacts. Consequently for relays which may be used to control inductive loads we must specify the maximum current that may flow through the relay contacts when it actuates, the make rating; the continuous rating; and the break rating. The make rating may be several times larger than the continuous rating, which is itself larger than the break rating. [edit]Derating

factors
Type of load % of rated value Resistive Inductive Motor Filament Capacitive 75 35 20 10 75

Control relays should not be operated above rated temperature because of resulting increased degradation and fatigue. Common practice is to derate 20 degrees Celsius from the maximum rated temperature limit. Relays operating at rated load are also affected by their environment. Oil vapors may greatly decrease the contact tip life, and dust or dirt may cause the tips to burn before their normal life expectancy. Control relay life cycle varies from 50,000 to over one million cycles depending on the electrical loads of the contacts,

duty

cycle, application, and the extent to which the relay is derated. When
a control relay is operating at its derated value, it is controlling a lower value of current than its maximum make and break ratings. This is

often done to extend the operating life of the control relay. The table lists the relay derating factors for typical industrial control applications. [edit]Undesired

arcing

Main article: Arc suppression Without adequate contact

protection, the occurrence of electric current arcing causes

significant degradation of the contacts in relays, which suffer significant and visible damage. Every

time a relay transitions either from a closed to an open state (break arc) or from an open to a closed state (make arc & bounce arc), under load, an electrical arc can occur between the two contact points (electrodes) of the relay. The break arc is typically more energetic and thus more destructive. The heat energy contained in the resulting electrical arc is very high (tens of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit), causing the metal on the contact surfaces to melt, pool and migrate with the current. The extremely high temperature of the arc cracks the surrounding gas molecules creating ozone, carbon

monoxide, and other compounds. The arc energy slowly destroys the

contact metal, causing some material to escape into the air as fine particulate matter. This very activity causes the material in the contacts to degrade quickly, resulting in device failure. This contact degradation drastically limits the overall life of a relay to a range of about 10,000 to 100,000 operations, a level far below the mechanical life of the same device, which can be in excess of 20 million operations. [
[4]

edit]Protective relays

Main article: protective relay For protection of electrical apparatus and transmission lines, electromechanical relays with accurate operating characteristics were used to detect overload, short-circuits, and other faults. While many such relays remain in use, digital devices now provide equivalent protective functions

Contactor

Contactor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

AC contactor for pump application.

In semiconductor testing, contactor can also refer to the specialised socket that connects the device under test. In process industries a contactor is a vessel where two streams interact, for example, air and liquid. A contactor is an electrically controlled switch used for switching a power circuit, similar to a relay except with higher current ratings.[1] A contactor is controlled by a circuit which has a much lower power level than the switched circuit. Contactors come in many forms with varying capacities and features. Unlike a circuit breaker, a contactor is not intended to interrupt a short circuitcurrent. Contactors range from those having a breaking current of several amperes to thousands of amperes and 24 V DC to many kilovolts. The physical size of contactors ranges from a device small enough to pick up with one hand, to large devices approximately a meter (yard) on a side. Contactors are used to control electric motors, lighting, heating, capacitor banks, and other electrical loads.
Contents
[hide]

1 Construction 2 Operating principle 3 Arc suppression 4 Ratings

o o

4.1 IEC 4.2 NEMA

5 Applications

o o

5.1 Lighting control 5.2 Magnetic starter

6 See Also 7 References

[edit]Construction

Albright SPST DC contactor, sometimes used in EV conversions

Powerful DC contactor with electro-pneumatic drive

A contactor has three components. The contacts are the current carrying part of the contactor. This includes power contacts, auxiliary contacts, and contact springs. The electromagnet (or "coil") provides the driving force to close the contacts. The enclosure is a frame housing the contact and the electromagnet. Enclosures are made of insulating materials like Bakelite, Nylon 6, and thermosetting plastics to protect and insulate the contacts and to provide some measure of protection against personnel touching the contacts. Open-frame contactors may have a further enclosure to protect against dust, oil, explosion hazards and weather. Magnetic blowouts use blowout coils to lengthen and move the electric arc. These are especially useful in DC power circuits. AC arcs have periods of low current, during which the arc can be extinguished with relative ease, but DC arcs have continuous high current, so blowing them out requires the arc to be stretched further than an AC arc of the same current. The magnetic blowouts in the pictured Albright contactor (which is designed for DC currents) more than double the current it can break, increasing it from 600 A to 1,500 A. Sometimes an economizer circuit is also installed to reduce the power required to keep a contactor closed; an auxiliary contact reduces coil current after the contactor closes. A somewhat

greater amount of power is required to initially close a contactor than is required to keep it closed. Such a circuit can save a substantial amount of power and allow the energized coil to stay cooler. Economizer circuits are nearly always applied on direct-current contactor coils and on large alternating current contactor coils. A basic contactor will have a coil input (which may be driven by either an AC or DC supply depending on the contactor design). The coil may be energized at the same voltage as the motor, or may be separately controlled with a lower coil voltage better suited to control by programmable controllers and lower-voltage pilot devices. Certain contactors have series coils connected in the motor circuit; these are used, for example, for automatic acceleration control, where the next stage of resistance is not cut out until the motor current has dropped.[2]

[edit]Operating

principle

Unlike general-purpose relays, contactors are designed to be directly connected to high-current load devices. Relays tend to be of lower capacity and are usually designed for both normally closed and normally open applications. Devices switching more than 15 amperes or in circuits rated more than a few kilowatts are usually called contactors. Apart from optional auxiliary low current contacts, contactors are almost exclusively fitted with normally open contacts. Unlike relays, contactors are designed with features to control and suppress the arc produced when interrupting heavy motor currents. When current passes through the electromagnet, a magnetic field is produced, which attracts the moving core of the contactor. The electromagnet coil draws more current initially, until itsinductance increases when the metal core enters the coil. The moving contact is propelled by the moving core; the force developed by the electromagnet holds the moving and fixed contacts together. When the contactor coil is de-energized, gravity or a spring returns the electromagnet core to its initial position and opens the contacts. For contactors energized with alternating current, a small part of the core is surrounded with a shading coil, which slightly delays the magnetic flux in the core. The effect is to average out the alternating pull of the magnetic field and so prevent the core from buzzing at twice line frequency