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Switchgears are provided in the power system
network for its switching and/or isolation under
normal and abnormal operating conditions.
In a low voltage distribution circuits, the simplest
device which can be uses for this purpose is FUSE.
But for the protection of heavier electrical
equipments and in majority of distribution and
transmission networks, switchgear are used.
A switchgear is a combination of a circuit breakers
and its control circuits.

Two function of Switch gear in a power system
1) To permit plant and distributors to be put into and
taken out of service at time of requirement and
2) To enable the same lines and plants , under faulty
operating conditions, to be isolated by automatic
means, rapidly and safely.
The first purpose could be served by relatively simple
The second required circuit breakers.
Circuit breakers are much more robust and capable of
breaking the large values of fault power that results
from different types faults on power system.

Since all power plant and lines (transmission and
distribution ) are liable to develop faults as a result
of mechanical damage, electrical breakdown errors
in operation etc.
Under such conditions, automatic circuit breakers
are preferred over simple switches (even for the
switching functions).
A circuit-breakers consist of current carrying
contacts called electrodes.
Normally closed but under pre-determined
conditions, separated to interrupt the circuit.
When the interruption of circuits take place, with
separation of contacts, an arc is formed between
the contacts.
Arc plays an important part in the interruption
Arc provides for gradual transition from the current
carrying state to voltage withstanding state of the
Arc is dangerous on the account of the energy
generated in it in form of heat , which may
sometime results in explosive forces.
Main problem in a circuit breakers is to extinguish
the arc shortly after it has started and before the
energy generated by it reaches a dangerous value.

Arc consists of a consists of a column of ionized air.
Column of air in which molecules have lost one or
more of their electrons resulting in positive ions and
Electrons are attracted towards the positive
contact, the anode and they move towards it very
Positive ions are attracted towards the negative
contact , cathode
Electrons movement constitute the current flow.
Types of Circuit beakers
All high voltage circuit breakers can be classified under two
main categories:
(1) Oil circuit breakers
(2) Oil-less circuit breakers

Oil Circuit-breakers (OCB) can be further divided as
(i) Bulk oil circuit breakers which uses large quantity of oil
(ii) Low-oil circuit breakers (also known as minimum oil circuit-
breakers) which operate with minimum amount of oil.

The Bulk oil breakers are filled with transformer oil, which is
used to extinguish the arc during the opening of the
contacts and to insulate the current-conducting parts from
one another and from earthed tank.

In the low oil circuit breakers, oil servers only for arc
Their current-conducting parts are insulated by air
and porcelain.
Main types of Oil-less circuit breaker are:
1) Water circuit-breakers in which water is used for
arc extinction.
2) Hard gas circuit-breakers in which arc is
extinguished by gases generated when wall surface
of the arc extinguishing camber, lined with
insulating materials capable of producing large
amounts of gases, are decomposed by arc (such
material are fiber, glass etc).

3) Air blast circuit breakers in which compressed air
extinguish the arc.
4) Sulphur Hexa Fluoride Circuit breakers in which SF6 gas
under pressure is used as an arc extinguisher.
5) Vacuum interrupters where due to vacuum, rate of arc
extinction is high.
Advantage of using oil as an arc quenching medium are:
(i) Absorption of arc energy in decomposing the oil.
(ii) Good cooling properties of the gas formed.
(iii) cooling surface presented by surrounding oil in close
proximity to the arc.
(iv) Ability to cool oil of high dielectric strength to flow
into the arc space after the current zero.
(v) Action of oil as an insulator.
Disadvantages of oil
i) It is easily inflammable.
ii) It may form an explosive mixture with air.
iii) It require a good maintenance.

A circuit breaker has three major duties to perform:
I) It must be capable of opening on the occurrence of a
fault and to clear the fault.
II) It must be capable of being closed on to a fault.
III) It must be capable of carrying the fault current for
short time while another circuit-breaker (in series) is
clearing the fault.
Rating of circuit breaker are described as:
1. Breaking Capacity
2. Making Capacity.
3. Short-time capacity.
4. Rated Voltage.
5. Normal current rating.
6. Operating duty.
7. Thermal parameters.
Breaking Capacity of a circuit breaker is term used to
express the highest current that the circuit-breaker is
capable of breaking at a stated recovery voltage (
mostly equal to the rated voltage) and at stated
reference re-striking voltage under prescribed
condition of use and behavior.

If the current is symmetrical, it is referred as
symmetrical breaking capacity whereas if the
current is unsymmetrical, then the breaking
capacity is referred as unsymmetrical breaking
Normal frequency rms voltage that appears across
the breaker poles after the final arc extinction has
occurred is termed as recovery voltage.
Instantaneous value of the recovery voltage at the
instant of arc extinction is called active recovery
The transient voltage that appears across the
contacts at the instant of arc extinction is called as
re-striking voltage.
Symmetrical breaking current is rms value of ac
component of the short circuit current at the
instant of contact separation.
Asymmetical breaking current is the rms value of
the total current, comprising AC and DC
components of the current, at the instant of contact
Breaking capacity rating is express in terms of MVA
as product of rated breaking current (expressed in
KA) , corresponding rated voltage (expresses in KV)
and a factor depending on the type of circuit.
Factor is 1 for single-phase, 2 for a two-phase circuit
and for a three-phase circuit.

Thus MVA breaking capacity rating of a three
phase breaker is equal to rated symmetrical current
(kA) X rated service voltage (kV) X .
Breaking capacities are quoted under specified
conditions of severity. Example: pf , recovery
Making Capacity
Possibility of the circuit breaker being closed on a
dead short must be taken into account.
Capacity of a circuit breaker to make circuit
depends upon the ability to withstand the effect of
electromagnetic forces.
Maximum force in any phase is a function of square
of peak making current.
Making current of a circuit beaker is the peak value
of the maximum current wave (including DC
component) in the first cycle of the current after
the circuit is closed by the circuit breakers.
Rated making capacities of a breaker are those
which corresponds to the rated voltage.
Absence of any indication to contrary on the name
plate implies that each rated making capacity is of
value given by following rule:
Rated making capacity = the corresponding
rated symmetrical breaking capacity.
It is approximately 2.55 times the rated symmetrical
breaking capacity.

2 8 . 1

Short time capacity
Fault occurrence often involves the flow of current
through the circuit breaker which is not required to
Circuit breaker should be able to carry the high currents
safely for short durations.
They should be have a proven short time rating.
Two short-time rating are given to circuit breakers:
(1) Rated momentary current
Specifying the current which can be withstood for a
period of 1 sec or less
(2) Rated 4-sec current
Specifying the greatest current which can be withstood
for a period longer than 1 sec but not exceeding 4 sec.
Short time current are based on mechanical and
thermal limitations.
Rated Voltage
A circuit breaker may be assign two voltage rating :
one corresponding to maximum nominal voltage.
other corresponding to maximum design voltage which
designates the maximum operating voltage which not
be exceeded.
Standard voltage rating are in terms three phase line to
line voltage.
Normal Current Rating
Rated normal current of a circuit breaker is the rms
value of the current which the circuit breaker shall be
able to carry at its rated frequency under specified
testing condition with the temperature rises of its
diferrent parts not exceeding specified values.

Operating duty
It consist of a prescribed number of unit operations at
stated intervals.
For the circuit breaker which are not intended for rabid
auto reclosing , there are two alternative rated
operating duties as follows:
(a) o-t-co-t-co
(b) o-t-co
the o represent an opening operation and co represent
closing operation followed immediately by an opening
the t, t, t represent time intervals between the
successive operations.
For the circuit breakers intended for rapid auto
reclosing, the rated operating duty is as follows:

where m represent the dead time of circuit breaker.
The time interval fixed are 3 minutes for t and t.
15 sec for t
Thermal parameters
It is the maximum temperature rise that is
permissible for the individual parts of the
It equal to the sum of the maximum temperature
rises and the fixed temperature of the ambient air.
Rated Interrupting time
It is mean time for interruption of any current not
exceeding the rated interrupting current of the
Figure explains the different components of clearing
and reclosing time of a circuit breakers

A circuit breaker is rated at 1200 amps, 1500 MVA ,
33kV, 3 second, three phase, oil circuit breaker.
What are its rated normal current , braking current,
making current, short time rating
Rated normal current = 1200 amps
Rated symmeterical breaking current
= 1500/(square root of 3)x35kV
= 26.25 kV (rms)
Rated making current = 26.25 X 2.55 = 67kA
Short time rating = 26.25 kA for 3 Sec.
Selection of circuit Breaker
Selection of a circuit breaker rating for a given
location on a power system needs the calculation
(i) maximum fault currents which breaker may
required to interrupt.
(ii) the maximum currents which it may have to carry.

The exact calculation of the fault current including
AC and DC component is much complicated
it may not be practical possible to compute the
exact value of the fault.
A simplified method has been evolved by the IEEE
Committee on Protective Device and recommended
by them for general use.
This method, applied to circuit breaker, is described
(i) To determine the require interrupting
(symmetrical) capacity of a circuit breaker, first
determine the highest value of initial rms
alternating current of any type and location of the
It may be sufficient to consider three phase fault.
since the maximum fault current flows in case of
3-phase fault.

Calculation are done using sub-transient reactance
for generator and transient reactance for
synchronous machine.
Then apply the following multiplying factors to take
into account of the DC components of current:
i) 8 cycle or slower breaker 1.0
ii) 5 cycle breaker 1.1
iii) 3 cyclr breaker 1.2
iv) 2 cycle breaker 1.4
However , for breaker on a generator bus where
the 3-phase short circuit kVA exceed 500,000, all
the above factors are increased by 0.1

ii)To determine the required rated momentary (1 sec
or less short time ) current of a circuit breaker
Calculate the highest value of initial rms ac as in (i)
Except that calculation involves use sub-transient
reactance of all machines, including induction
Then multiply the value of current so obtained by
the factor 1.6.
That is momentary rated current (rms) of a circuit
= 1.6 * E/Xd