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a transient response or natural response is the response of a system to a change from equilibrium.

The transient response is not necessarily tied to "on/off" events but to any event that affects the equilibrium of the system. The impulse response and step response are transient responses to a specific input (an impulse and a step, respectively).

Transients are power quality disturbances that involve destructive high magnitudes of current and voltage or even both. It may reach thousands of volts and amps even in low voltage systems. However, such phenomena only exist in a very short duration from less than 50 nanoseconds to as long as 50 milliseconds. This is the shortest among PQ problems, hence, its name. Transients usually include abnormal frequencies, which could reach to as high as 5 MHz.


In addition, transients are also known as surge. According to IEEE 100, surge is a transient wave of voltage, current or power in an electric circuit. Other IEEE definitions suggest that it is the part of the change in a variable that disappears during transition from one steady-state operating condition to another. Such description is too vague, which could be used to describe just about any unusual events occurring in the electrical system. Moreover, most electrical engineers would refer to the damped oscillatory transient phenomena in a RLC circuit when hearing such term.

Sources of Transients

Lightning Strikes Switching activities Opening and closing of disconnects on energized lines Capacitor bank switching Reclosing operations

Tap changing on transformers Loose connections in the distribution system that results to arcing Accidents, human error, animals and bad weather conditions Neighboring facilities Effects of Transients

Electronic Equipment Equipment will malfunction and produces corrupted results Improper specification and installation of TVSS can aggravate the failures Efficiency of electronic devices will be reduced

Motors Transients will make motors run at higher temperatures Result in micro-jogging leading to motor vibration, excessive heat and noise Degrades the insulation of the motor winding resulting to equipment failure. Increases the motors losses (hysteresis) and its operating temperature

Lights Fluorescent bulb and ballast failure Appearance of black rings at the fluorescent tube ends (indicator of transients) Premature filament damage leading to failure of the incandescent light.

Electrical Equipment Transients degrade the contacting surfaces of circuit breakers and switches Nuisance tripping of breakers due to false activation to a non-existent current demand Reduce transformer efficiency because of increased hysteresis losses

Damages due to such PQ problems are uncommon as compared to voltage sags and interruptions, but when it does occur it is more destructive. To protect against transients, endusers may use Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors (TVSS), while utilities install surge arresters.

Furthermore, transients are classified as:

1. Impulsive 2. Oscillatory

Impulsive Transient is one of the two types of transient disturbance that may enter the power system. It is defined by IEEE 1159 as a sudden, nonpower frequency change in the steadystate condition of voltage, current, or both that is unidirectional in polarity either primarily positive or negative. It is normally a single, very high impulse like lightning.

Impulsive transients are generally described by their rise and decay times. They can also be characterized by their spectral content. To explain, a 1.2 X 50-s 2000-V impulsive transient nominally increases from zero to its peak value of 2000 V in 1.2 s. Subsequently, it decays to half its maximum value in 50 s.

Typical current impulsive transient caused by lightning

Impulsive transients are not usually transmitted far from the source of where they enter the power system. However, in some cases, they may propagate for some distance along distribution utility lines. Also, it may considerably have different characteristics when viewed from different parts of the electrical system (i.e. from one building to another). In addition, the high frequencies involved allow damping of the impulsive transients through the resistive component of the system.
Impulsive transients are further subdivided into three categories:

Impulsive Transients Categories

Nanosecond transients generally exist near the source of the disturbance. It rises in 5 ns with a duration of less than 50 ns.
Microsecond impulsive transients are relatively unusual, but they have much higher amplitudes. They do not conduct as easily as the millisecond types but may cause arcing faults on the electrical system. It rises in 1s and has a duration of 50 ns to 1 ms.

Millisecond impulsive transient is the most common to occur in a power system. It rises in 0.1 ms and lasts more than 1 ms.

Causes As mentioned, lightning is an example of an impulsive transient. Currents produced from a lightning strike can go as high to several thousand amps in about 2-3 s. In addition, the sudden rise has frequency components in the high MHz range. This makes lightning similar to an intense radio frequency energy, which is an important consideration in the design of grounding and bonding systems.
Electrostatic Discharge is another form of an impulsive transient. Most of us are familiar with this, since we may have already experienced such when touching an object (door knob) or another person, after walking across a carpeted floor. The sudden release of charge can damage sensitive electronics. This is the main reason why technicians use wrist straps when servicing electronic equipment.

The effects of transients on a power system depend on the amplitude of the transient and its frequency. In the case of impulsive transients, its amplitude is the main cause of problems. The damage caused by a transient can be immediate (i.e. lightning strike). It can also be gradual as

in the case of low-amplitude transients, which slowly degrade equipment insulation making it prone to short circuit. This gradual destruction is sometimes referred to as a slow death by a thousand cuts.

Furthermore, impulsive transients can excite power system resonance circuits and produce the other type of transient disturbance - Oscillatory Transients. Oscillatory Transient is described as a sudden, nonpower frequency change in the steadystate condition of voltage, current, or both that has both positive and negative polarity values (bidirectional).

In other words, the instantaneous voltage or current value of an oscillatory transient varies its polarity quickly. It is described by its spectral content or predominant frequency, magnitude and duration.

Just like the impulsive type, the oscillatory transient is subdivided into three classes. These were based on selected frequency ranges, which correspond with common types of power system oscillatory transient phenomena. It should also be noted that the frequency of the oscillation gives a trace to the origin of the disturbance.

Oscillatory Transients Classification

Types and Examples

Low-frequency oscillatory transient

This type is normally encountered on subtransmission and distribution systems, which could originate primarily due to capacitor bank energization. Electric distribution utilities use capacitor banks to improve power factor, as well as lower system losses. For better results, capacitor banks have to be switched in and out of the system to match with changes in the load profile. However, capacitor bank energization yields an oscillatory voltage transient with frequencies

between 300 and 900 Hz. Theoretically, its magnitude can go as high as 2.0 pu, but system damping typically limits the values from 1.3 to 1.5 pu, with a duration of 1/2 to 3 cycles.

Also, oscillatory transients with fundamental frequencies less than 300 Hz can be observed on the distribution system due to transformer energization and ferroresonance. In addition, series capacitors may also produce this transient type when the system resonance causes the magnification of low-frequency components in the transformer inrush current or when unusual conditions lead to ferroresonance.

Medium-frequency oscillatory transient

An example of this transient type is the back-to-back capacitor switching. It occurs when a capacitor bank is switch in close electrical proximity to another capacitor bank that is already energized, which sees the deenergized bank as a low impedance path.

Oscillatory Transient Due to Back-to-Back Capacitor Switching

Other causes of medium-frequency oscillatory transient include cable switching and as a system response to an impulsive transient.

High-frequency oscillatory transient

These transients are linked with power electronics and switching events (e.g. line or cable energization). Power electronics, like the switching power supply in computers, generate oscillatory voltage transients that repeat several times per 60 Hz cycle. Usually, they are also the result of a local system response to an impulsive transient.

An electrical transient is a temporary excess of voltage and/or current in an electrical circuit which has been disturbed. Transients are short duration events, typically lasting from a few thousandths of a second (milliseconds) to billionths of a second (nanoseconds), and they are found on all types of electrical, data, and communications circuits. Your power distribution system and attached load equipment is under constant attack from various types of power line disturbances. The result is an estimated $26 billion-per-year cost to U.S. companies in lost time, equipment repair, and equipment replacement. Transient voltage surges comprise the most severe and immediate danger to sensitive electrical and electronic equipment, and are often a neglected aspect of facility design. Studies have shown that approximately 80% of transient activity at a given facility may be internally generated. From the normal on-and-off switching of copiers, heating and ventilation, capacitor banks, and air conditioning systems to robotic assembly and welding machines, practically every industrial machine or system causes or is adversely affected by transients. Surges and transient power anomalies are potentially destructive electrical disturbances, the most damaging being over-voltage occurrences and short duration over-voltage events, and the cumulative effect of these transients is a major source of semi-conductor degradation and failure. The installation of Surge Protection Devices (SPD) are crucial for all facilities where microprocessor based electronics and electrical machinery is in use. This protection is essential to reduce the risk of personal injury, physical equipment damage, and loss of operations. Although lightning can cause the most visible damage, it is not the primary cause of transient voltage surges.