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A typical power system consists of various equipments like transformers, circuit breakers,
bus supporters etc. have different breakdown voltages and hence the volt time characteristics.
In order to protect all these equipments, it is required to coordinate the insulation of various
protective devices. The problem of coordinating the insulation of the protective equipment
involves not only guarding the equipment insulation but also it is desired that the protecting
equipment should not be damaged.
Definition: The selection of suitable values for the insulation levels of the various
equipments in any electrical system and its correlation to the insulation of the protective
devices used for protection of these equipments against over voltages.
A proper coordination of insulation ensures that:
the insulation provided shall withstand all normal working stresses and majority of
abnormal ones
the breakdown shall occur only due to eternal flash over
the efficient discharge of over voltages due to internal and eternal causes
the position at which breakdown occurs shall cause comparatively less damage
The insulation problem in a power system involves:
determination of line insulation
selection of !asic Impulse Insulation "evel #!I"$ and insulation level of other
selection of "ightning Arresters
The basic concept of insulation coordination can be eplained using an volt%time curve
Volt- time Curve:
The breakdown voltage for a particular insulation or flash over voltage for a particular gap is
a function of both the magnitude of voltage and the time of application of the voltage. The
volt% time curve shows the relation between the crest flash over voltages and the time to flash
over for a series of impulse applications of a given wave shape. To obtain the volt% time
curve of a particular insulation, waves of same shape but of different peak values are applied
to the insulation. Then there are three possibilities for the occurrence of flash over.
&. flash over occurs on the front of the wave
'. flash over occurs just at the peak value of the wave
(. flash over occurs on the tail side of the wave. In this case to find the point on the )%T
curve, draw a hori*ontal line from the peak value of this curve and draw a vertical line
passing through the point where the flash over takes place.
The over voltages in the system are caused due to system faults, switching operations or
lightning surges. +or lower voltages, normally up to about (,-k), over voltages caused by
system faults or switching operations do not cause damage to equipment insulation. .ver
voltage due to lightning are of sufficient magnitude to affect the equipment insulation. +or
voltages above (,-k), the switching surges are more dangerous for the equipments than the
lightning surges.
+igure shows the desired positions of volt / time curves of the protecting device and the
equipment to be protected. Thus any insulation having a withstand voltage strength in ecess
of the insulation strength of curve ! is protected by the protective device of curve A. 0roper
insulation coordination would ensure that volt / time curve of the equipment will lie above
the volt / time curves of the protective device, such as lightning arrester.
Basic Impulse Insulation Level BIL!:
In co% relating insulation and protective devices, it is more usual to use withstand strength of
the insulation ie, the crest voltage of the standard wave that will not cause flash over of the
insulation. This is referred to as !asic Impulse Insulation "evel #!I"$.
!asic Impulse Insulation "evel #!I"$ are reference levels epressed in impulse crest voltage
with a standard wave not longer than &.'1-2 sec wave. The apparatus insulation as
demonstrated by suitable insulation shall be equal to or greater than the basic insulation level.
Basic Impulse Insulation Level of Su"station e#uipment:
+or each system voltage, basic impulse insulation has been fied by most of the national and
international standards. The !I" values for various system voltages as per Indian 3tandards
are given below.
4ormal 3ystem
5eference 6lass
3tandard !asic Impulse
Insulation "evel
Insulation "evel
'' '( &-2
(' (,.- '22
,, ,7 '-2
77 78 (-2
99 8' ,-2
&&2 &&- --2 ,-2
&(' &(9 7-2 --2
&-, &7& :-2 7-2
''2 '(2 &2-2 822
':( '9: &(22 &2-2
((2 (,- &--2 &(22
The problem of insulation coordination can be eplained in three steps:
&. 3election of suitable insulation which is a function of reference class voltage#ie, &.2-
operating voltage of the system$
'. The design of the various equipments such that the breakdown or flash over strength
of all insulation in the station equals or eceeds the selected level
(. 3election of protective devices that will give the apparatus as good protection which
can be justified economically
This procedure requires that the apparatus to be protected shall have a withstand test value
not less than the k) magnitude given in third column, irrespective of the polarity of the wave
and type of grounding of the system. The reduced insulation is used for selecting the
insulation levels of solidly grounded systems and for system operating above (,-k) where
switching surges are more important than lightning surges. In this case the ratio of switching
voltage to operating voltage is reduced by using the switching resistance between 6!
The relative position volt% time curves of various equipments in a substation for proper
coordination is shown below.
Selection of BIL of transformer:
Assume a large capacity transformer with solidly grounded neutral and is operating on &(9
k) systems. The grounding is such that during ground fault :,; of the "%" voltage appears
across healthy phases. Allowing -; over voltage, the voltage across arrester < &.2- 2.:,
&(9 < &2:.' k). The nearest standard rating is &28 k). The characteristics of such "A is
shown below
+rom the figure the breakdown value of the arrester is ,22 k). Assume a &-; margin and (-
k) between insulation levels of "A and transformer. The insulation level of transformer will
be at least equal to ,22 = 2.&- ,22 = (- < ,8- k). +rom the graph the reduced level of
transformer insulation is --2 k). Therefore the "A of &28 k) can be applied.
The conventional method of insulation coordination requires the evaluation of the highest
over voltage that may subjected during the operation of an equipment and selection of a
standard impulse voltage with suitable safety margin. >owever it is reali*ed that, it is
uneconomical to design a plant with high degree of insulation and maintain it for infrequent
occurrence of over voltages. ?oreover a &22; protection is practically impossible.
Therefore it is equally important to consider the economic viability of the design in terms of
equipment cost and service continuity.
In modern practice, probabilistic concepts and statistical procedures are used, especially for
>) installations.