# Short Circuit Current Calculations

Introduction
Several sections of the National Electrical Code® relate to proper overcurrent protection. Safe
and reliable application of overcurrent protective devices based on
these sections mandate that a short circuit study and a selective coordination study
be conducted. These sections include, among others:
!!".# Interrupting \$ating
!!".!" Component %rotection
&'".! Conductor %rotection
&(".!&& E)uipment *rounding Conductor %rotection
+ar,ed Short-Circuit Current \$ating.
- &/".0& 1/2 +eter 3isconnect
- '"#.!!" Industrial Control %anels
- ''".'142 5ir Conditioning 6 \$efrigeration E)uipment
- 78"./152 Industrial +achinery
Selective Coordination
- (!8.!8 9ealth Care :acilities - Selective Coordination
- (!8.&7 Essential Electrical Systems In 9ealthcare Systems
- 7&".7& Selective Coordination for Elevator Circuits
- 8"".&8 Emergency Systems
- 8"!.!0 ;egally \$e)uired Standby Systems
Compliance <ith these code sections can best be accomplished by conducting a
short circuit study as a start to the analysis. The protection for an electrical system
should not only be safe under all service conditions but, to insure continuity of
service, it should be selectively coordinated as <ell. 5 coordinated system is one
<here only the faulted circuit is isolated <ithout disturbing any other part of the
system. =nce the short circuit levels are determined, the engineer can specify
proper interrupting rating re)uirements, selectively coordinate the system and
provide component protection. See the various sections of this boo, for further
information on each topic.
;o< voltage fuses have their interrupting rating e>pressed in terms of the
symmetrical component of short-circuit current. They are given an \$+S
symmetrical interrupting rating at a specific po<er factor. This means that the fuse
can interrupt the asymmetrical current associated <ith this rating. Thus only the
symmetrical component of short-circuit current need be considered to determine
the necessary interrupting rating of a lo< voltage fuse. :or listed lo< voltage fuses,
interrupting rating e)uals its interrupting capacity.
;o< voltage molded case circuit brea,ers also have their interrupting rating
e>pressed in terms of \$+S symmetrical amps at a specific po<er factor. 9o<ever,
it is necessary to determine a molded case circuit brea,er?s interrupting capacity in
order to safely apply it. See the section Interrupting \$ating vs. Interrupting Capacity
in this boo,.
!!".!7 no< re)uires arc-flash ha@ard <arning labeling on certain e)uipment. 5
flash ha@ard analysis is re)uired before a <or,er approaches electrical parts that
have not been put into a safe <or, condition. To determine the incident energy and
flash protection boundary for a flash ha@ard analysis the short-circuit current is
typically the first step.
*eneral Comments on Short Circuit Calculations
Sources of short-circuit current that are normally ta,en under consideration include:
- Atility *eneration - ;ocal *eneration
- Synchronous +otors - Induction +otors
- 5lternate %o<er Sources
Short circuit calculations should be done at all critical points in the system. These <ould
include:
- Service Entrance - Transfer S<itches
- %anel 4oards - ;oad Centers
- +otor Control Centers - 3isconnects
- +otor Starters - +otor Starters
Normally, short circuit studies involve calculating a bolted /-phase fault condition. This
can be characteri@ed as all /-phases BboltedC together to create a @ero impedance
connection. This establishes a B<orst caseC 1highest current2 condition that results in
ma>imum three phase thermal and mechanical stress in the system. :rom this
calculation, other types of fault conditions can be appro>imated. This B<orst caseC condition
should be used for interrupting rating, component protection and selective coordination.
9o<ever, in doing an arc-flash ha@ard analysis it is recommended to do the arcflash ha@ard
analysis at the highest bolted / phase short circuit condition and at the
BminimumC bolted three-phase short circuit condition. There are several variables in a
distribution system that affect calculated bolted /-phase short-circuit currents. It is
important to select the variable values applicable for the specific application analysis. In
the %oint-to-%oint method presented in this section there are several adDustment factors
given in Notes and footnotes that can be applied that <ill affect the outcomes. The
variables are utility source short circuit capabilities, motor contribution, transformer percent
impedance tolerance, and voltage variance.
In most situations, the utility source1s2 or on-site energy sources, such as on-site
generation, are the maDor short-circuit current contributors. In the %oint-to-%oint method
presented in the ne>t fe< pages, the steps and e>ample assume an infinite available
short-circuit current from the utility source. *enerally this is a good assumption for
highest <orst case conditions and since the property o<ner has no control over the
utility system and future utility changes. 5nd in many cases a large increase in the utility
available does not increase the short-circuit currents a great deal for a building system
on the secondary of the service transformer. 9o<ever, there are cases <here the actual
utility medium voltage available provides a more accurate short circuit assessment
1minimum bolted short-circuit current conditions2 that may be desired to assess the arcflash
ha@ard.
Ehen there are motors in the system, motor short circuit contribution is also a very
important factor that must be included in any short-circuit current analysis. Ehen a short
circuit occurs, motor contribution adds to the magnitude of the short-circuit current.
running motors contribute ' to 7 times their normal full load current. In addition, series
rated combinations can not be used in specific situations due to motor short circuit
contributions 1see the section on Series \$atings in this boo,2.
:or capacitor discharge currents, <hich are of short time duration, certain IEEE 1Institute
of Electrical and Electronic Engineers2 publications detail ho< to calculate these
currents if they are substantial.
%rocedures and +ethods
To determine the fault current at any point in the system, first dra< a one-line
diagram sho<ing all of the sources of short-circuit current feeding into the fault, as
<ell as the impedances of the circuit components.
To begin the study, the system components, including those of the utility system,
are represented as impedances in the diagram.
The impedance tables include three-phase and single-phase transformers, cable,
and bus<ay. These tables can be used if information from the manufacturers is not
It must be understood that short circuit calculations are performed <ithout
current-limiting devices in the system. Calculations are done as though these
devices are replaced <ith copper bars, to determine the ma>imum BavailableC
short-circuit current. This is necessary to proDect ho< the system and the currentlimiting devices
<ill perform.
5lso, multiple current-limiting devices do not operate in series to produce a
BcompoundingC current-limiting effect. The do<nstream, or load side, fuse <ill
operate alone under a short circuit condition if properly coordinated.
The application of the point-to-point method permits the determination of available
short-circuit currents <ith a reasonable degree of accuracy at various points for
either /F or !F electrical distribution systems. This method can assume unlimited
primary short-circuit current 1infinite bus2 or it can be used <ith limited primary
available curren
4asic %oint-to-%oint Calculation %rocedure
Step !. 3etermine the transformer full load amps 1:.;.5.2 from
either the nameplate, the follo<ing formulas or Table !:
+ultiplier G !""
HI Jtransformer
/F :aults f G!.8/& >
; > I
/F
C > n > E;-;
!F ;ine-to-;ine 1;-;2 :aults & >
; > I
;-; See Note ( 6 Table / f GC > n > E;-;
!F ;ine-to-Neutral 1;-N2 :aults
& >
; > I
;-NK
See Note ( 6 Table / f G
C > n > E;-N
Ehere:
; G length 1feet2 of conductor to the fault.
C G constant from Table ' of BCC values for conductors and
Table ( of BCC values for bus<ay.
n G Number of conductors per phase 1adDusts C value for
parallel runs2
I G 5vailable short-circuit current in amperes at beginning
of circuit.
E G Loltage of circuit.
+5IN
T\$5NS:=\$+E\$
9.L. ATI;ITM
C=NNECTI=N
I
S.C. primary I
S.C. secondary
I
S.C. secondary I
S.C. primary
+ G !
! Nf
I
S.C. sym. \$+S G IS.C. > +
/F Transformer
1IS.C. primary and f G
I
S.C. primary > L
primary>
!.8/ 1IJ2
I
S.C. secondary are !"",""" >
L transformer
/F fault values2
!F Transformer
1IS.C. primaryand
I
S.C. secondaryare f G
I
S.C. primary > L
primary > 1IJ2
!F fault values: !"",""" > L transformer
I
S.C. secondary is ;-;2
+ G !
! Nf
I
S.C. secondary G
L
primary
> + > I
S.C. primary Lsecondary
Step &. :ind the transformer multiplier. See Notes ! and &
H Note !. *et IJ from nameplate or Table !. Transformer impedance 1J2 helps to
determine <hat the short circuit current <ill be at the transformer secondary.
Transformer impedance is determined as follo<s: The transformer secondary is short
circuited. Loltage is increased on the primary until full load current flo<s in the
secondary. This applied voltage divided by the rated primary voltage 1times !""2 is the
impedance of the transformer.
E>ample: :or a '0" Lolt rated primary, if #.7 volts causes secondary full load current to
flo< through the shorted secondary, the transformer impedance is #.7O'0" G ."& G &IJ.
H Note &. In addition, A; 1Std. !(7!2 listed transformers &(,L5 and larger have a P !"I
impedance tolerance. Short circuit amps can be affected by this tolerance. Therefore, for
high end <orst case, multiply IJ by .#. :or lo< end of <orst case, multiply IJ by !.!.
Transformers constructed to 5NSI standards have a P8.(I impedance tolerance 1t<o<inding
construction2.
Step /. 3etermine by formula or Table ! the transformer letthrough short-circuit current. See
Notes / and '.
Note /. Atility voltages may vary P!"I for po<er and P(.0I for !&" Lolt lighting services.
Therefore, for highest short circuit conditions, multiply values as calculated in step
/ by !.! or !."(0 respectively. To find the lo<er end <orst case, multiply results in step
/ by .# or .#'& respectively.
Note '.+otor short circuit contribution, if significant, may be added at all fault locations
throughout the system. 5 practical estimate of motor short circuit contribution is to multiply the
total motor current in amps by '. Lalues of ' to 7 are commonly accepted.
Step '. Calculate the QfQ factor.
Step 7. Calculate the available short circuit symmetrical \$+S
current at the point of fault. 5dd motor contribution, if
applicable.
%rocedure for Second Transformer in System
Step 5. Calculate the QfQ factor 1IS.C. primary ,no<n2
Step 4. Calculate Q+Q 1multiplier2.
Step C. Calculate the short-circuit current at the secondary of the
transformer. 1See Note under Step / of Q4asic %oint-to%oint Calculation %rocedureQ.2
K Note (. The ;-N fault current is higher than the ;-; fault current at the secondary terminals of
a single-phase center-tapped transformer. The short-circuit current available 1I2
for this case in Step ' should be adDusted at the transformer terminals as follo<s: 5t ;-N
center tapped transformer terminals, I;-N G !.( > I;-; at Transformer Terminals.
4asic %oint-to-%oint Calculation %rocedure
Step !. 3etermine the transformer full load amps 1:.;.5.2 from
either the nameplate, the follo<ing formulas or Table !:
+ultiplier G !""
HI Jtransformer
/F :aults f G!.8/& >
; > I
/F
C > n > E;-;
!F ;ine-to-;ine 1;-;2 :aults & >
; > I
;-; See Note ( 6 Table / f GC > n > E;-;
!F ;ine-to-Neutral 1;-N2 :aults
& >
; > I
;-NK
See Note ( 6 Table / f G
C > n > E;-N
Ehere:
; G length 1feet2 of conductor to the fault.
C G constant from Table ' of BCC values for conductors and
Table ( of BCC values for bus<ay.
n G Number of conductors per phase 1adDusts C value for
parallel runs2
I G 5vailable short-circuit current in amperes at beginning
of circuit.
E G Loltage of circuit.
+5IN
T\$5NS:=\$+E\$
9.L. ATI;ITM
C=NNECTI=N
I
S.C. primary I
S.C. secondary
I
S.C. secondary I
S.C. primary
+ G !
! Nf
I
S.C. sym. \$+S G IS.C. > +
/F Transformer
1IS.C. primary and f G
I
S.C. primary > L
primary>
!.8/ 1IJ2
I
S.C. secondary are !"",""" >
L transformer
/F fault values2
!F Transformer
1IS.C. primaryand
I
S.C. secondaryare f G
I
S.C. primary > L
primary > 1IJ2
!F fault values: !"",""" > L transformer
I
S.C. secondary is ;-;2
+ G !
! Nf
I
S.C. secondary G
L
primary
> + > I
S.C. primary Lsecondary
Step &. :ind the transformer multiplier. See Notes ! and &
H Note !. *et IJ from nameplate or Table !. Transformer impedance 1J2 helps to
determine <hat the short circuit current <ill be at the transformer secondary.
Transformer impedance is determined as follo<s: The transformer secondary is short
circuited. Loltage is increased on the primary until full load current flo<s in the
secondary. This applied voltage divided by the rated primary voltage 1times !""2 is the
impedance of the transformer.
E>ample: :or a '0" Lolt rated primary, if #.7 volts causes secondary full load current to
flo< through the shorted secondary, the transformer impedance is #.7O'0" G ."& G &IJ.
H Note &. In addition, A; 1Std. !(7!2 listed transformers &(,L5 and larger have a P !"I
impedance tolerance. Short circuit amps can be affected by this tolerance. Therefore, for
high end <orst case, multiply IJ by .#. :or lo< end of <orst case, multiply IJ by !.!.
Transformers constructed to 5NSI standards have a P8.(I impedance tolerance 1t<o<inding
construction2.
Step /. 3etermine by formula or Table ! the transformer letthrough short-circuit current. See
Notes / and '.
Note /. Atility voltages may vary P!"I for po<er and P(.0I for !&" Lolt lighting services.
Therefore, for highest short circuit conditions, multiply values as calculated in step
/ by !.! or !."(0 respectively. To find the lo<er end <orst case, multiply results in step
/ by .# or .#'& respectively.
Note '.+otor short circuit contribution, if significant, may be added at all fault locations
throughout the system. 5 practical estimate of motor short circuit contribution is to multiply the
total motor current in amps by '. Lalues of ' to 7 are commonly accepted.
Step '. Calculate the QfQ factor.
Step 7. Calculate the available short circuit symmetrical \$+S
current at the point of fault. 5dd motor contribution, if
applicable.
%rocedure for Second Transformer in System
Step 5. Calculate the QfQ factor 1IS.C. primary ,no<n2
Step 4. Calculate Q+Q 1multiplier2.
Step C. Calculate the short-circuit current at the secondary of the
transformer. 1See Note under Step / of Q4asic %oint-to%oint Calculation %rocedureQ.2
K Note (. The ;-N fault current is higher than the ;-; fault current at the secondary terminals of
a single-phase center-tapped transformer. The short-circuit current available 1I2
for this case in Step ' should be adDusted at the transformer terminals as follo<s: 5t ;-N
center tapped transformer terminals, I;-N G !.( > I;-; at Transformer Terminals.
5t some distance from the terminals, depending upon <ire si@e, the ;-N fault
current is lo<er than the ;-; fault current. The !.( multiplier is an appro>imation
and <ill theoretically vary from !.// to !.78. These figures are based on change in
turns ratio bet<een primary and secondary, infinite source available, @ero feet from
terminals of transformer, and !.& > IR and !.( > I\$ for ;-N vs. ;-; resistance and
reactance values. 4egin ;-N calculations at transformer secondary terminals, then
proceed point-to-point.
Step (. Calculate Q+Q 1multiplier2 or ta,e from Table &.
Step 75. +otor short circuit contribution, if significant, may be
added at all fault locations throughout the system. 5
practical estimate of motor short circuit contribution is to
multiply the total motor current in amps by '. Lalues of '
to 7 are commonly accepted.
Calculation of Short-Circuit Currents at
Second Transformer in System
Ase the follo<ing procedure to calculate the level of fault current at the secondary
Short Circuit Current Calculations
Three-%hase Short Circuits
:ault R&
Step '. f G !.8/& >
&" >
//,&!(
G .!"'# & >
!!,'&' >
'0"
Step (. + G ! G .#"(
! N .!"'#
Step 7. IS.C.sym \$+S G //,&!( > .#"( G /","(#5
:ault R/
Step 5. f G
/","(# >
'0" >
!.8/& > !.&
G !./// !"",""" >
&&(
Step 4. + G
!
G .'&07 ! N !.///
Step C. I
S.C. sym \$+S G
'0" > .'&07 >
/","(#
G &#,8/!5 &"0
System 4 :ault R!
Step !. If.l. G
!""" >
!""" G !&"/5
'0" >
!.8/&
Step &. +ultiplier G
!""
G &0.(8 /.(
Step /. IS.C.G !&"/ >
&0.(8 G /',/8"5
Step '. f G
!.8/& >
/" >
/',/8"
G ."/'0 &7,8"7 >
' >
'0"
Step (. + G
!
G .#77' ! N ."/'0
Step 7. IS.C.sym \$+S G /',/8" > .#77' G
//,&!(5
5vailable Atility
Infinite 5ssumption
!""" SL5 Transformer,
'0"L, /F,
/.(IJ
If.l.G !&"/5
/"? - ("" ,cmil
' %er %hase
Copper in %LC Conduit
!7""5 S<itch
S\$%-C-!(""S% :use
:ault R!
'""5 S<itch
;%S-\$S-/("S% :use
&"? - &O"
& %er %hase
Copper in %LC Conduit
:ault R&
&&( SL5 transformer,
&"0L, /F
!.&IJ
:ault R/
=ne-;ine 3iagram
!
/
&
5vailable Atility
Infinite 5ssumption
!("" SL5 Transformer,
'0"L, /F, /.(IJ,
/.'(IR, .(7I\$
If.l. G!0"'5
&(T - ("",cmil
7 %er %hase
Service Entrance
Conductors in Steel Conduit
&"""5 S<itch
S\$%-C-&"""S% :use
:ault R!
'""5 S<itch
;%S-\$S-'""S% :use
("T - ("" ,cmil
:eeder Cable
in Steel Conduit
:ault R&
+otor Contribution
:ault R!
Step !. If.l. G
!("" >
!"""
G !0"'5 '0" >
!.8/&
Step &. +ultiplier G !"" G &0.(8
/.(
Step /. IS.C.G!0"' >
&0.(8 G (!,('"5
I
S.C. motor contrib G ' >
!,0"'H G 8,&!75
Itotal S.C. sym \$+S G (!,("' N 8,&!7 G (0,8&"5
Step '. f G
!.8/& >
&( >
(!,('"
G "."/'# &&,!0( >
7 >
'0"
Step (. + G
!
G .#77/ ! N ."/'#
Step 7. IS.C.sym \$+S G (!,('" > .#77/ G '#,0"/5
I
S.C.motor contrib G ' >
!,0"'H G 8,&!75
ItotalS.C. sym \$+S G '#,0"/ N 8,&!7 G (8,"!#5
1fault R!2
System 5 =ne-;ine 3iagram
!
&
:ault R&
Step '. Ase IS.C.sym \$+S U :ault R! to calculate BfC
f G
!.8/& >
(" >
'#,0"/
G .'"(" &&,!0( >
'0"
Step (. + G
!
G .8!!8 ! N .'"("
Step 7. IS.C.sym \$+S G '#,0"/ > .8!!8 G /(,''(5
I
sym motor contrib G ' >
!,0"'H G 8,&!75
Itotal S.C. sym \$+S
1fault R&
2
G /(,''( N 8,&!7 G '&,77!5