You are on page 1of 11

Forget the controversy. These tests clearly are non-destructive in nature.

Understanding the advantages these methods have over others can make them mighty powerful tools in your PdM program. Before any company investigates electrical predictive maintenance (PdM) instrumentation, it should know the strengths of its equipment's insulation, the voltages its motors are exposed to daily, how a motor typically fails and where these faults typically exist. Only then can you really make a decision as to which electrical PdM equipment is the most appropriate for your operations. How a motor typically fails The motor stator has two main insulating systems that include the ground wall and turn-to-turn insulation. When this insulation is in a good condition it can withstand the normal day-to-day voltage spikes that exist during starting and stopping. Over time, this insulation will deteriorate as a result of mechanical movement of the windings, torque transients, heat, contamination, and other environmental contaminates. Once the dielectric strength of this insulation falls below the incoming voltage spikes, another failure mechanism is introduced: ozone. Ozone is a very corrosive gas that will quickly deteriorate insulation. Although the motor will continue to run when this failure mechanism is introduced, as it sees continual voltage spikes, the deterioration rate will accelerate. Eventually, the dielectric strength of the insulation will fall below operating voltage or deteriorate to the point that copper wire will touch turn-to-turn. At this point a turn-to-turn or hard welded short has developed. According to "Transient Model for Induction Machines with Stator Winding Turn Faults" written for IEEE by Rangarajan M. Tallam, Tom G. Habetler and Ronald G. Harley, when a hard welded turn-to-turn short develops, the shorted windings will develop high circulating currents. These currents, which can be in the order of 16–20 times full-load amps, create excessive heat that the insulation cannot withstand. This intense amount of heat will burn quickly through the insulationcausing motor failure within minutes. A study performed at Oregon State University, by Dr. Ernesto Wiedenbrug, looked at a motor specially designed with a turn-to-turn fault by installing two wires connected to turn one and turn two of the same phase. These wires were then brought out to a switch. The motor was placed on a dynamometer and run at about 80% load. When the turn-to-turn short was engaged through the switch, the motor began visibly smoking within 45 seconds. While most motors will not run for long with a turn-to-turn short, some exceptions do exist. A motor with a high resistance or floating ground will run with a shorted phase, but once a second phase shorts, the motor will fail catastrophically. Recommended tests The tests listed on the next page are recommended in off-line field testing:
 

Kelvin Method Winding Meg-Ohm

still . Polarization Index (PI) Test. opens. Meg-Ohm testing is typically utilized to find grounded motors.. This test finds issues with miss connections. Kelvin Method Winding. It also is a very valuable PdM tool for finding wet and dirty motors. Insulation testing Until now we have only discussed the low-voltage tests. The Meg-Ohm Test applies a DC potential (typically operating voltage) to the windings while holding the case to ground.. shorts.. troubleshooting and quality assurance.   Polarization Index (PI) Step-Voltage Surge Each of these test methods evaluates a different section of the motor. but it is performed for 10 minutes. Upon successfully completing these tests the following is known: the winding resistance is balanced. the insulation resistance values should increase over the10.. If tested in a PdM application. This test is very valuable and should be performed for predictive maintenance. If the resistance increases during this time. unbalanced turn count in one phase to another and different size diameter copper in one phase to another. opens or miss connections and the Meg-Ohm and PI indicate that the motor is both clean and dry. The nature of high-voltage testing and the necessity of the Step-Voltage and Surge methods. That means the motor has no shorts. The Kelvin Method Winding test measures the resistance of the copper wire of the motor circuit. it's an indication of good ground wall insulation with no moisture or contamination.. These tests. Brief descriptions of the first three tests are given in order to offer a complete array of testing information. This test is much like the Meg-Ohm Test. It's not typically used for quality assurance because of the low voltage level at which the test is performed.minute period. Table I shows the recommended test voltages for different voltage class motors.. however. Meg-Ohm Test. When the molecules polarize. the molecules in the slot liner paper polarize. Over this time period. remain the main focus of this article. the test is typically performed from the Motor Control Center (MCC). however.

As stated in "Turn Insulation Capability of Large AC Motors. It is then raised to the next voltage step and held for the appropriate time period.R Campbell (IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. The test voltages. Typical steps for a 4160V motor are 1000-volt increments. The other issue is that the turn-to-turn insulation has not been evaluated. EC-2.C. The main reason for performing predictive maintenance on a motor is to learn if it will continue to provide uninterrupted service. governed by IEEE. No. For motors less than 4160V. Step-Voltage Test This DC Test is performed to a voltage that a motor typically sees during starting and stopping. and S. these voltage spikes can be in the order of 5 PU (Per Unit): Calculating this formula for a 480V three phase motor. Lloyd. Logically.A. The most effective way to ensure the motor will start and continue to provide reliable service is to test it at the voltages the motor sees during normal operationwhich includes starting and stopping. G. the step voltages should be 500 volts (see Fig. This process continues until the target test voltage is reached." by B. Vol. December 1987). . B. holding at minute intervals. In addition. This is accomplished with two tests: StepVoltage and Surge. Many articles have discussed the voltage spikes motors see during starting and stopping. if the motor is tested to only operating voltage or below the operating voltage. the PU would be 391. Part I – Surge Monitoring. Stone.K. These methods evaluate the ground wall and turn-to-turn insulation respectively. the user can not be sure if the spikes have caused damage to the motor's insulation that will interrupt service. The DC voltage is applied to all three phases of the winding and raised slowly to a preprogrammed voltage step level and held for a predetermined time period. The winding resistance test is only evaluating the motor circuit and not the insulation. are reflected in Table II. Gupta. Because low-voltage testing is not performed at the voltage a motor typically sees. it can't provide this information.9 volts. or approximately 1960 volts on startup. 1). the Meg-Ohm and PI do not evaluate the ground wall insulation for strength or the ability to withstand the high voltages it sees during daily operation.have not confirmed that the motor is capable of starting or running for any length of time. 4.

These types of catastrophic failures are why NFPA 70 B recommends that Surge and HiPot testing be performed. . If the leakage current (IμA) rises consistently less than double. the leakage current (IμA) doubles. the motor insulation is in good standing. If. the operator cannot be assured that the motor will start and operate without failing in service. The Step-Voltage Test is necessary to ensure that the ground wall insulation and cable can withstand the normal day-to-day voltage spikes the motor typically sees during operation. thus providing a true indication of the ground wall insulation condition. If a DC Step-Voltage Test is not performed.Data is logged at the end of each step. Regardless of an individual's personal view of Surge testing. Surge Test The Surge Test is highly important. at this point. This is to ensure the capacitive charge and polarization current is removed and that only real leakage current remains. insulation weaknesses are indicated and the test should be stopped. That's because 80% of all electrical failures in the stator begin at weak insulation turn-to-turn. knowing that a motor's turn-to-turn insulation is sound is crucial for safety and motor reliability.

During a Surge Test. 2 is a graphical representation of the waveform at one-third. . the turn-toturn insulation integrity has been realized. the test unit will slowly increase the voltage from 0 volts to the target test voltage. the equipment will charge up a capacitor inside the unit and dissipate it into one phase while holding the other two phases to ground. Then. in a shape based upon the inductance of the coil that is displayed on the test equipment screen. two-thirds and full voltage of one phase. This is what a waveform will look like when the insulation is in a good condition. Fig. If the target test voltage is attained without any frequency change in the waveform. This generates a waveform. automatically.

This is in contrast to any other signal utilized to diagnose motor issues. This produces a nonlinear voltage drop across the turns. As the rise time slows. Surge testing theory When the capacitor is discharged into the winding. the operator will notice that the voltage potential difference between the turns is dramatically reduced. which states that two bare wires placed next to one another just a thickness of a hair away need a minimum of 325 volts to jump the air gap between the two conductors.1 micro second).If. The main reason is that if the test equipment doesn't produce a potential difference between the turns above Paschen's Law. . the current cannot flow through the fault. impedance. These two concepts are the core reason why Surge testing is the natural choice for testing turn-to-turn insulation. the test equipment sees weak insulation between the turns. it will continue through all the coils and not show a difference. 3. If current can't flow through the fault. it is performed at a very fast rise time (. The white line on the graph shows the failed waveform at about 1000 volts. at any time. No DC test (or AC tests such as an inductance. producing a potential difference between the turns in succession. the waveform will shift to the left as shown in Fig. phase angle or HiPot) will produce this potential difference between the turns. Physics provides us with Paschen's Law. capacitance.

to the point that some test units automatically recognize failures (see sidebar).       Shorts Opens Different size diameter copper between phases Unbalanced turn count between phases Reversed coils Shorted laminations Here again. As previously noted.When Surge Testing a coil with weak insulation turn-to-turn. . however. the following list reflects problems you're seeking to uncover and eliminate." Although some individuals believe the Surge Test still needs to be performed in this manner. Removing these bypassed turns from the circuit reduces the inductance of the circuit and causes the waveform frequency to ring faster. as referenced in the accompanying sidebar. instrumentation that automatically detects these problems is now available. Surge comparison In the past the Surge Test has been called a "Surge Comparison Test. it really depends on what is being analyzed. weak insulation is diagnosed by a frequency shift to the left and is compared to successive waveforms within one phase. advancements in technology have led to refinements in the analysis of waveforms. a comparison of each phase is recommended. This will produce the frequency shift to the left in the waveform. surge comparison is not necessary. the voltage applied can jump across the weak insulation. Fortunately. If. For finding weak insulation.

Moreover. high-speed electronic evaluation of changes to resistance. 4. the test is instantaneously stopped. voltage. corona inception voltage (C. wave shape. keep in mind that every manufacturer is slightly different. Today's equipment incorporates modern. Micro arc detection is crucial. The test unit should evaluate the Meg-Ohm readings at the end of each step. highvoltage power supplies replacing the heavy step-up transformer. 2. If the operator sees any abnormal condition.Older vs. Current leakage should be monitored continuously and the unit should automatically stop the test if an over current leakage condition exists. Acceptable Meg-Ohm readings should be obtained. PI Capacitance/dissipation factor and DC step-voltage testing to 20kV. should be able to perform the following safety checks to ensure that your motors aren't damaged during testing: 1. 5. he/she can stop the test. stepvoltage. Real-time display on the screen is a must.I. On a few occasions during 2002. preserving dielectric. Typical over current trip settings are 1. if the test sees a tiny arc the unit should automatically stop the test. dielectricabsorption. Every test is now digitized and compared to the previously applied pulse. though. If the motor does not meet the criteria the test set should automatically stop the test. 3. high-voltage test equipment has changed vastly over the past 20 years. 6. frequency response. This has resulted in big improvements to equipment portability. What to look for When evaluating electrical PdM equipment. 10. newer equipment Just like computers. 100 and 1000 micro amps of current leakage.controlled instantaneous trips allow winding conditions to be evaluated without compromising dielectric integrity. Case study: Step-Voltage testing Exelon Nuclear. Test units.) and more to detect faults at or under the levels of energy exposed to the motor during operation. The level of weakness is stored for future reference.V. insulation resistance. Acceptable PI Test should be performed. leakage current. leakage current versus time. The PdM group had . Limerick Station… The Station Predictive Maintenance program at Limerick routinely performs electrical testing of large motors at a two-year frequency. this allows the operator to see the voltage and current while the test is in operation. One of the greatest advances in high-voltage testing has come from via solid-state. The resulting data has been tracked and trended for almost 20 years. Operations personnel reported that an "acrid" odor was present at the 1C Circulating Water Pump Motor. the addition of field-developed PASS/FAIL test criteria now makes this testing extremely repeatable. Microprocessor. in the memory bank. If any weakness is detected. This testing consists of winding resistance.

been tracking this motor on a "watch" list that came about as a result of an increasing trend in leakage current detected by DC step-voltage testing from 1997 to 2002 (see Fig. As part of its increased troubleshooting activities. 4). as presented by the Baker AWA offline tester. Among the lessons learned from this event was the fact that tracking and trending leakage current versus applied voltage on a DC Step. it will allow for proactive replacement of a motor prior to an inservice failure.Voltage Test. an action request was made to replace the motor in the winter. In September 2002. can and does indicate potential problems in the winding. . increasing vibration at stator slot frequencies and higher acoustic/ultrasonic "noise. it showed high leakage current on the "A" phase motor winding compared to the other two windings. the Limerick Station PdM team monitored the motor through the summer of 2002. based upon the electrical testing results. After cleaning. utilizing acoustic monitoring and vibration and winding temperature/RTD monitoring on a monthly basis. Investigation revealed a lack of "proper" corona suppression tape at this critical junction point in the winding. Furthermore. when this data is combined with other predictive technologies." Once the motor was removed. a visual inspection of the winding identified partial discharge at the junction where the core slot winding tap transitions to the end winding/knuckle tape.

is that after finding a problem with insulation. The motor in question was immediately put back in service after testing. as noted in Fig. The controversy around surge testing. the Surge Test was the only method to identify the insulation weakness. could the tester have so degraded the motor that it would not run? This Pulp & Paper industry case study easily puts this myth to rest. the only one that found the turn-to-turn weakness was the Surge Test. though. It was started up and ran for the four months required until it could be shut down and removed for repair.Case study: Surge testing Pulp & Paper Operation… A 2300V form wound motor at a pulp and paper plant was found to have weak turn-to-turn insulation. Again. Of all the tests performed on this motor. 5. The .

As the case studies in this article have shown. Interestingly. 5 highlights the fault weaknesses found with the tester. 80% of all electrical motor failures begin with weak insulation turn-to-turn. The Surge Test is clearly the best method available to find this problem. If a motor cannot pass the Step-Voltage and Surge Tests. Joe Geiman holds a B. it could have cost about $42.) This particular Pulp & Paper site motor takes about 6-7 hours to change. Thus. Finally. you can bank on the fact that it is approaching the end of its service life. That's why it is so important to perform this type of non-destructive testing on all motors. e-mail: jgeiman@bakerinst. He travels extensively within the Western and Southeastern regions of the United States and has tested and analyzed hundreds of motors for a variety of . both of these tests are nondestructive in that the tested units were returned to service until the next available time could be scheduled to replace them. these tests are performed at voltage levels a motor is exposed to during normal operation. Summary The Step-Voltage and Surge Tests are necessary for an effective PdM program.000 in downtime had the Surge Test not found the problem. from Colorado State University in Industrial Technology Management. provisions should be made as soon as feasibly possible to have that motor removed before unscheduled downtime occurs. (The surge summary in Fig. so other lowvoltage tests would not have approached this threshold. Consequently. Telephone: (800) 752-8272 or (970) 282-1200.S. They identify problems that low-voltage tests can't find.problem was well above line voltage.