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Air Circuit Breakers:

Air Circuit Breakers are used to interrupt circuits while current flows through them.

Compressed air is used to quench the arc when the connection is broken.

Batteries are used in the substation control house as a backup to power the control systems in case of a power blackout.


Bus Support Insulators:

Bus Support Insulators re porcelain or fiberglass insulators that serve to isolate the bus bar switches and other support structures and to prevent leakage current from flowing through the structure or to ground. These insulators are similar in function to other insulators used in substations and transmission poles and towers.


Capacitor Bank:
Capacitor Bank are used to control the level of the voltage supplied to the customer by reducing or eliminating the voltage drop in the system caused by inductive reactive loads.


Circuit Switchers:
Circuit Switchers provide equipment protection for transformers, lines, cables, and capacitor banks. They also are used to energize and deenergize capacitor banks and other circuits.


Concrete Foundations:
Concrete Foundations or pads are laid for all large equipment, support structures, and control buildings in a substation.


Conduits are hollow tubes running from manhole to manhole in an underground transmission or distribution system. They can contain one or more ducts. They can be made of plastic (PVC), fiberglass, fiber, tile, concrete, or steel. PVC and fiberglass are most commonly used.


Control House:
The substation control house contains switchboard panels, batteries, battery chargers, supervisory control, power-line carrier, meters, and relays. The control house provides all weather protection and security for the control equipment. It is also called a doghouse.


Control Panels:

Control Panels contain meters, control switches and recorders located in the control building, also called a doghouse. These are used to control the substation equipment, to send power from one circuit to another or to open or to to shut down circuits when needed.


Control Wires:
Control Wires are installed connecting the control house control panels to all the equipment in the substation. A typical substation control house contains several thousand feet of conduit and miles of control wire.


Converter Stations:

Converter Stations are located at the terminals of a DC transmission line. Converter stations can change alternating current into direct current or change direct current to alternating current. Sometimes converter stations are located at a generation power plant or at transmission substations. Two unsynchronized AC transmission systems can be connected together with converter-stations. Converter stations are also found in most substations for converting the emergency battery backup system to AC power for use in an emergency.


Coupling Capacitors:
Coupling Capacitors are used to transmit communication signals to transmission lines. Some are used to measure the voltage in transmission lines. In signal transmission the coupling capacitor is part of a power line carrier circuit as shown in the schematic below. A coupling capacitor is used in this circuit in conjunction with a line trap. Line traps can be installed at the substation or on a transmission line tower.


Current Transformers:

Current Transformers can be used to supply information for measuring power flows and the electrical inputs for the operation of protective relays associated with the transmission and distribution circuits or for power transformers. These current transformers have the primary winding connected in series with the conductor carrying the current to be measured or controlled. The secondary winding is thus insulated from the high voltage and can then be connected to lowvoltage metering circuit Current transformers are also used for street lighting circuits. Street lighting requires a constant current to prevent flickering lights and a current transformer is used to provide that constant current. In this case the current transformer utilizes a moving secondary coil to vary the output so that a constant current is obtained.


Disconnect Switches:
Disconnect Switches or circuit breakers are used to isolate equipment or to redirect current in a substation. Many different types of disconnect switches are shown below.


Distribution Bus:
A Distribution Bus is a steel structure array of switches used to route power out of a substation.

Figure 1. Distribution bus

Figure 2. Distribution bus

Duct Runs:
Duct Runs are hollow tubes running from manhole to manhole inside a conduit in an underground system. They are of various sizes usually from 2 to 6 inches in diameter. Electrical cables are run through ducts and the ducts are sized accordingly. The diameter of a duct should be at least 1/2 to 3/4 inch greater than the diameter of the cable(s) installed in the duct. They can be made of plastic (PVC), fiberglass, fiber, tile, concrete, or steel. PVC and fiberglass are most commonly used.

Figure 1. Duct run within conduit showing drainage in both directions

Frequency Changers:
Frequency Changers is a motor-generator set that changes power of an alternating current system from one frequency to one or more different frequencies, with or without a change in the number of phases, or in voltage. Sometimes a converter is used to accomplish this.

Figure 1. Frequency changers at a transportation substation

Grounding Resistors:

Grounding Resistors are designed to provide added safety to industrial distribution systems by limiting ground fault current to reasonable levels. They are usually connected between earth ground and the neutral of power transformers, power generators or artificial neutral transformers. Their main purpose is to limit the maximum fault current to a value which will not damage generating, distribution or other associated equipment in the power system, yet allow sufficient flow of fault current to operate protective relays to clear the fault.

Figure 1. Grounding resistor

Grounding Transformers
A Grounding Transformers is intended primarily to provide a neutral point for grounding purposes. It may be provided with a delta winding in which resistors or reactors are connected.

Figure 1. Grounding transformer - front view

Figure 2. Grounding transformer - back view

High voltage underground cables

High-Voltage Underground Cables are constructed in many different ways, but are usually shielded cables. They are made with a conductor, conductor-strand shielding, insulation, semi-conducting insulation shielding, metallic insulation shielding, and a sheath. The sheath can be metallic and May then serves as the metallic insulation shielding and be covered with a nonmetallic jacket to protect the sheath. This sheath helps to reduce or eliminate inductive reactance. Such cables are commonly used in circuits operating at 2400 volts or higher.

Figure 1. High-voltage underground cables

Figure 2. High-voltage underground cables

High Voltage Fuses

High Voltage Fuses are used to protect the electrical system in a substation from power transformer faults. They are switched for maintenance and safety.

Figure 1. High voltage fuses in a switch box fuses

Figure 2. External switch for high voltage

Lightning Arresters

Lightning Arresters are protective devices for limiting surge voltages due to lightning strikes or equipment faults or other events, to prevent damage to equipment and disruption of service. Also called surge arrester.Lightning arresters are installed on many different pieces of equipment such as power poles and towers, power transformers, circuit breakers, bus structures, and steel superstructures in substations.

Figure 3. Lightning arresters transformer

Figure 4. Lightning arrester on substation power

Manholes A Manhole is the opening in the underground duct system which houses cables splices and which cable men enter to pull in cable and to make splices and tests. Also called a splicing chamber or cable vault.

Figure 1. Manholes

Figure 2. Manhole cover

Metal-clad Switchgear

Switchgear can be either for outdoor use or indoor use. An outdoor metal clad switch gear is a weatherproof housing for circuit breakers, protective relays, meters, current transformers, potential transformers, bus conductors, and other equipment. Indoor switchgear must be protected from the environment and contains the same types of equipment as the outdoor type.

Figure 1. Outdoor metal-clad switchgear

Meters Various types of meters are found in substation control houses. They all are measuring devices and can be an indicating meter or a recording meter. An indicating meter shows on a dial the quantity being measured. A recording meter makes a permanent record of the quantity being measured, usually by tracing a line on a chart or graph. Newer recording meters store the information electronically. The photo below left is an indicating amperage meter. On the right is a recording meter.

Figure 1. An indicating AC amperes meter

Figure 2. Recording power meter

Microwave Substations commonly use microwave communication equipment for communication with local and regional electric power system control centers. This system allows for rapid communication and signaling for controlling the routing of power.

Electric power for microwave transmission comes from special transformers that reduce incoming transmission voltage to that required for the microwave system.

Figure 2. Microwave power transformers

Oil Circuit Breakers Oil Circuit Breakers are used to switch circuits and equipment in and out of a system in a substation. They are oil filled to provide cooling and to prevent arcing when the switch is activated.

Figure 1. Oil circuit breakers in a 41 kV circuit Potential Transformers

Potential Transformers are required to provide accurate voltages for meters used for billing industrial customers or utility companies.

Figure 2. Potential transformer

Potheads: Potheads A type of insulator with a bell or pot-like shape used to connect underground electrical cables to overhead lines. It serves to separate the bunched-up conductors from one another in the cable to the much wider separation in the overhead line. It also seals the cable end from the weather. Potheads are mounted on a distribution pole and the assembly is called a riser pole.

Figure 1. Three conductor potheads on pole

Figure 2. Three conductor pothead

Power-line Carrier A power line carrier is communication equipment that operates at radio-frequencies, generally below 600 kilohertz, to transmit information over electric power transmission lines. A high frequency signal is superimposed on the normal voltage on a power circuit. The power line carrier is usually coupled to the power line by means of a coupling capacitor in conjunction with a line trap. A device for producing radio-frequency power for transmission on power lines.

Figure 1. Power-line carrier schematic

Figure 2. Power-line carrier device in control house

Power Transformers Power Transformers raise or lower the voltage as needed to serve the transmission or distribution circuits.

Figure 3. Power Transformer, Rectifiers A Rectifiers is a device used to convert alternating current to direct current.

Figure 1. Full wave rectifier circuit diagram

Figure 2. Rectifier

Relays A Relays is a low-powered device used to activate a high-powered device. Relays are used to trigger circuit breakers and other switches in substations and transmission and distribution systems.

Figure 1. Substation control panel relays

Figure 2. Relay and control panel

SF6 Circuit Breakers SF6 Circuit Breakers operate to switch electric circuits and equipment in and out of the system. These circuit breakers are filled with compressed sulfur-hexafluoride gas which acts to open and close the switch contacts. The gas also interrupts the current flow when the contacts are open.

Figure 1. SF6 gas power circuit breaker

Figure 2. SF6 gas power circuit breaker

Steel Superstructures Steel Superstructures are used to support equipment, lines, and switches in substations as well as transmission and distribution line towers and poles.

Figure 1. Steel superstructure for circuit breakers

Figure 2. Substation with many steel superstructures for equipment and connection supports Supervisory Control Supervisory Control refers to equipment that allows for remote control of a substation's functions

from a system control center or other point of control. Supervisory control can be used to:

operate circuit breakers, operate tap changers on power transformers, supervise the position and condition of equipment, and telemeter the quantity of energy in a circuit or in substation equipment.

Figure 1. Supervisory control room

Figure 2. Supervisory control panel

Suspension Insulators An insulator type usually made of porcelain that can be stacked in a string and hangs from a cross arm on a tower or pole and supports the line conductor. Suspension insulators are used for very high voltage systems when it is not practical or safe to use other types of insulators. They have an advantage in that one or more of the insulators in a string can be changed out without replacing the entire string.

Figure 1. Suspension insulators

Figure 2. Suspension insulators

Synchronous Condensers A Synchronous Condensers is a synchronous machine running without mechanical load and supplying or absorbing reactive power to or from a power system. Also called a synchronous capacitor, synchronous compensator or rotating machinery. In November 1995, the first static synchronous compensator began operating at a TVA substation in Knoxville, Tennessee. This compensator can regulate voltage without expensive external capacitors or reactors.

Figure 1. Synchronous condenser Transmission Bus Transmission Buses are steel structure arrays of switches used to route power into a substation.

Figure 1. Transmission bus Vacuum Circuit Breakers

Figure 2. Transmission bus from inside

A circuit breaker is a device used to complete, maintain, and interrupt currents flowing in a circuit under normal or faulted conditions. A vacuum circuit breaker utilizes a vacuum to extinguish arcing when the circuit breaker is opened and to act as a dielectric to insulate the contacts after the arc is interrupted. One type of circuit breaker is called a recloser. A vacuum recloser is designed to interrupt and reclose an AC current circuit automatically, and can be designed to cycle a set number of times before it must be reset manually.

Shunt Reactors Shunt Reactors are used in an extra high-voltage substation to neutralize inductive reactance in long EHV transmission lines. The photo shows an installation of both an older version and a newer version of the reactor.

Figure 1. Shunt reactors in a substation