You are on page 1of 19


Electrical power system harmonic problems are mainly due to the substantial increase of nonlinear loads due to the technological advances, such as the use of power electronic circuits and
devices, in ac/dc transmission links or loads in the control of power systems using power
electronics or microprocessor controllers. Such equipments creates load-generated harmonics
throughout the system.

Prior to the appearance of power semiconductors, the main sources of waveform distortion
were electric arc furnaces, the accumlated effect of fluorescent lamps and to a lesser extent
electrical machines and transformers.

In general, harmonic soruces are given below:


Devices which includes semi-conductor elements,




Lightening equipments working by gas discharge principle,

Fotovoltaic systems,


Electronic ballasts,

Uninterruptable power supplies,

Switching power supplies,

Welding machines,

Control circuits,

Frequency converters,

Static VAr compensators,

Arc furnaces,

HVDC transmission systems,

Electrical Communication systems.


Bobbins that have iron core, will cause harmonics in electrical power systems. Transformers
are the most commons between those. As being one of the most important elements in power
systems, transformers are the oldest nonlinear elements known. The magnetisation
characteristic of a transformers core is non-linear and will produce harmonics as it is

The equivalent circuit of a transformer is given below. Here R p and X p shows the primary
circuit resistance and the leakage reactance, RS' and X S' shows the secondary resistance and
leakage reactance that is transformed (reduced) to the primary respectively. RFE is the
resistance which symbolises the iron losses and I FE is the current related to this losses. In
paralel to the this resistance, X m shows the magnetisation reactance and I m is the related
current passes through.

2.1.Normal Excitation Characteristics

At no-load the primary of a transformer is practically balanced by the back e.m.f. because the
effect of the winding resistance and leakage reactance is negligible at low currents. At any
instant, therefore, the impressed voltage v1 for a sinusoidal supply is

v1 = e1 = E m sin t N1


From the equation above, the following expression is obtained for the main flux:

dt m cos t m cos t

In example, a sinusoidal primary voltage produces a sinusoidal flux at no-load. The primary
current, however, will not be purely sinusoidal, because the flux is not linearly proportional to
the magnetising current, as explained in the next section.

2.2.Determination of the Current Waveshape

In an ideal core without hysteresis loss the flux and the magnetising current needed to
produce it are related to each other by the magnetising curve of the steel used in laminations,
as shown in figure. In figure below, where represents the sinusoidal flux needed to balance
the primary voltage, the magnetising current is plotted against time for each value of and
the resulting waveform is far from sinusoidal. However, when operating at or close to the
nominal voltage, the transformer magnetising current is only 1-2% of the rated currents and
presents no special problem.

When the hysteresis effect is included, as in the case of figure below the non-sinusoidal
magnetising current corresponding to any point on the flux density wave is determined from
figure, the ascending portion of the hysteresis being used for the ascending portion of the flux
density wave.

The magnetising current harmonics often rise to their maximum levels in the early hours of
the morning, in example, when the system is lightly loaded and the voltage high.

2.3.Symmetrical Overexcitation

For economic reasons transformers are normally designed to make good use of the magnetic
properties of the core material. This means that a typical transformer using a good quality
grain-oriented steel might be expected to run with a peak magnetic flux density in the steady
state order of 1.6-1.7 T. If a transformer running with this peak operating magnetic flux
density is subjected to a magnetic flux density of, 1.9-2.0 T, which will produce considerable

The symmetrical magnetising current associated with a single transformer core saturation is
ignored, and if it is assumed that all triplen harmonics are absorbed, then the harmonics being
generated are of orders 5,7,11,13,17,19,i.e. those of orders 6k 1 , where k is an integer.
In conventional six-pulse rectifier schemes it is usual to filter these harmonics from the a.c.
busbars as they are exactly of the same order as the theoretical harmonics produced by a sixpulse converter. If, however, a twelve-pulse converter configuration is used, the theoretical
harmonics are of the orders 12k 1 , where k is an integer. In this case, the fifth and seventh
order harmonics produced by a saturated converter transformer are not filtered and have to be
absorbed by the ac system.

2.4.Inrush Current Harmonics

If a trransformer is switched off it can be left with a residual flux density in the core of
magnitude + Br or - Br (or under some circumstances zero). When the transformer is reenergised the flux density illustrated in figure can reach peak levels of 2 Bmax or Br +2 Bmax
(almost three times the working flux). For a normally designed transformer this can create
peak flux densities of about 3.4 or 4.7 T, respectively. When this is compared to the saturation
flux density levels of around 2.05 T to be expected from symmetrical overexcitation, it can be
seen that the transformer core will be driven to extreme saturation levels and will thus
produce excessive ampere-turns in the core. This effect gives rise to magnetising currents of
up to 5-10 per unit of the rating shown in the figure below.

The decrement of the inrush current with time is mainly a function of the primary winding
resistance. For the larger transformers this inrush can go on for many seconds because their
relatively low resistance.
The harmonic content of the inrush current shown in figure above is obtained in the figure
below. Components are given as the percentages of the rated transformer current and each
harmonics has peaks and nulls.

2.5.Triplen Harmonics in Transformers

I 1 : Effective value of the fundemental component of a nonlinear and balanced load current

1 : angular frequency for the fundemental frequency

The instantaneous value of the fundemental component of the load current for phases a,b and
c is equal to

ia (t ) 2 I 1 sin(1t )
ib (t ) 2 I 1 sin(1t 2 / 3)
ic (t ) 2 I 1 sin(1t 2 / 3)

For the nth harmonic component, instantaneous value of the currents for phases a,b and c is
equal to

ian (t ) 2 I n sin(n1t )
ibn (t ) 2 I n sin(n1t 2n / 3)
icn (t ) 2 I n sin(n1t 2n / 3)
Spesific results can be seen from here for triplen harmonics. Assume k=1,2,3, and the
instantaneous value for n=3k order harmonic components (3,6,9,) is equal to

ia3k (t ) ib3k (t ) ic3k (t ) 2I 3k sin(3k1t )

As seen from the equation above, under balanced load and network conditions, triplen
harmonic components all three phase currents are equal to each other.

2.6.Connection Groups of the Transformers and the Harmonics

Harmonic currents flowing through the generator, the transmission line and the transformer
reactance, causes harmonical voltage drops. The harmonics of the magnetisation currents can
be blocked by the precautions taken during the design phase.

a) Star-Conencted Transformers:

i) The Transformers Star Point is Connected to Earth:

The current flows through the neutral conductor will be zero because of the sum of the
balanced fundemental component currents belong to the three phases is zero. This situation is
not valid for triplen harmonics. The sum of the three phase currents flows through the neutral
conductor as shown in the figure below.

The triplen harmonics may cause extra heat on the neutral conductor so during the
consideration of the netural conductors cross section, triplen harmonics should taken into
Other than triplen harmonics, the components such as 5,7,11,13, has 120 of phase
difference so that their sum will be zero at the star point.
As easily seen, if the star point of the transformer is connected to Earth, triplen harmonics
passes to the secondary circuit (network).

ii) Transformers Primary Circuit Star Point is Disconnected to Earth:

Triplen harmonics can not pass to the secondary circuit as the star point of the primary circuit
is not connected to Earth.

b) Delta-Connected Transformers:

i) Primary Circuit is Delta-Connected:

Triplen harmonics occur in magnetisation currents but they can not get out of the delta
connected coils. Other harmonic components passes to the network side.

c) Secondary Circuit is Delta-Connected:

As the total current at the nodal points of the delta connection is equal to zero (figure below),
triplen harmonics do not flow through the network.

To summarise;

the connection group of the primary/secondary circuit is,

if the star point of the primary/secondary circuit is connected or disconnected to Earth,

the core type of the transformer is

1,5,7,11,13 th harmonic components occur in the network.

To mitigate the triplen harmonics from the network, primary should not be earthed or one
of the windings should be delta-connected.

If the nonlinear load is unbalanced, whatever the transformer design is, triplen harmonics
will also flow through the network.

3.Arcing Devices

The voltage-current characteristics of electric arcs are highly non-linear. Following

arcignition the voltage decreases due to the short-circuit current, the value of which is only
limited by the power system impedance.

The main harmonic sources in this category are the electric arc furnace and discharge type
lighting with magnetic ballasts.

3.1.Arc Furnaces

Arc furnaces may range from small units of a few ton capacity, power rating 23 MVA, to
larger units having 400-ton capacity and power requirement of 100 MVA. The harmonics
produced by electric arc furnaces are not definitely predicted due to variation of the arc feed
material. The arc current is highly nonlinear, and reveals a continuous spectrum of harmonic
frequencies of both integer and noninteger order. The arc furnace load gives the worst
distortion, and due to the physical phenomenon of the melting with a moving electrode and
molten material, the arc current wave may not be same from cycle to cycle.

There is a vast difference in the harmonics produced between the melting and refining stages.
As the pool of molten metal grows, the arc becomes more stable and the current becomes
steady with much less distortion. Figure below, shows erratic rms arc current in a supply
phase during the scrap melting cycle, and table below, shows typical harmonic content of two
stages of the melting cycle in a typical arc furnace. The values shown in this table cannot be


Both odd and even harmonics are produced. Arc furnace loads are harsh loads on the supply
system, with attendant problems of phase unbalance, flicker, harmonics, impact loading, and
possible resonance.

Figure below, shows that the arc furnace presents a load of low lagging power factor. Large
erratic reactive current swings cause voltage drops across the reactive impedance of the ac
system, resulting in irregular variation of the terminal voltage. These voltage variations cause
variation in the light output of the incandescent lamps and are referred to as flicker, based on
the sensitivity of the human eye to the perception of variation in the light output of the
incandescent lamps.

3.2.Discharge-Type Lighting

Discharge lighting is highly nonlinear and gives rise to considerable odd-ordered harmonic
currents. This effect is illustrated in figures below, which shows the current waveform and
harmonic spectrum of a high-efficiency lamp.

This effect is particularly important in the case of fluorescent lamps, given the large
concentration of this type of lighting. Additional magnetic ballasts are needed to limit the
current to within the capability of the fluorescent tube and stabilise the arc.

These type of lamps shows nonlinear voltage-current characteristics because of their negative
resistance property.


Also the lightning ballasts connected to the lamp may produce large harmonic distortions and
third harmonic currents in the neutral. The newer rapid start ballast has a much lower
harmonic distortion and can be filtered with a filter circuit implementation.

Table below shows the harmonic spectrum of a flourescent lamp with a magnetic balast.
Harmonic currents are shown as the percentage of the fundemental component.





Harmonic Order (n)






Lighting circuits often involve long distances and have very little load diversity. With
individual power factor correction capacitors, the complex LC circuit can approach a
condition of resonance.

4.Single-Phase Rectification

4.1.D.C. Power Supplies

Many commercial and domestic appliances require direct current for their operation. The
single phase diode rectifier (as seen below) has become a popular power source for these
appliances because of its reduced cost and relatively low sensitivity to supply voltage
variations under normal operating conditions.


Modern appliances use the switch-mode power supply concept, whereby the input rectifier is
directly connected to the a.c. source as in figure above; however, in this case the rectified
voltage is converted back to a.c. at a very high frequency and then rectified again. This
process provides a very compact design and efficient operation, tolerating large variations in
input voltage. Personal computers and most office appliances as well as electronic balast of
modern fluorescent lighting systems are now of this type.

Typical examples of single-phase distorting appliances are tv recievers, personal computers

and microwave ovens.

Figure below shows the current waveform and its harmonic spectrum (as a percentage of the
fundemental component) of a 23 TV set obtained from a harmonic analyser. The main
harmonics are in order of magnitude the third, fifth, seventh and ninth.


Figure below shows the harmonic spectrum generated by a combination of a personal

computer and a printer. Again, the main component is the third (72%), followed by the fifth
(60%), seventh (40%) and ninth (22.6%).

To illustrate the cumulative effect of this type of laod, imagine the case of a high office block,
which may have up to 1000 personal computers. If a 1000 kVA, 11 kV/440 V transformer
supplies the building at say 0.95 power factor, the rated fundemental current will be 1248
A.from the spectrum, and assuming a 1 A fundemental current per PC, the main harmonic
current components per phase will be approximately:

I 3 = (1000/3).0,72 = 240 A
I 5 = (1000/3).0,6 = 200 A
I 7 = (1000/3).0,4 = 133 A
I 9 = (1000/3).0,226 = 75 A


The corresponding total demand distortion is:

(240 2 200 2 1332 75 2

TDD(%) = 100
= 28%

5. Rotating Machine Harmonics

Rotating machines produce harmonic due to the field distribution of salient poles, the
magnetic permeance is related with slots and the saturation of the main circuit.

As a result of small asymmetries on the machine stator or rotor slots or slight irregularities in
the winding patterns of a three phase winding of a rotating machine, harmonic currents can
develop. These harmonics induce an electromotive force (emf) on the stator windings at a
frequency equal to the ratio of speed/wavelength. The resultant distribution of magneto
motive forces (mmfs) in the machine produces harmonics that are a function of speed.
Additional harmonic currents can be created upon magnetic core saturation.

The harmonics produced by a synchronous generator will not be taken into consideration if
the generators power rating is smaller than 1000 kVA.


5.1.Voltage Harmonics Produced by Synchronous Machines

If the magnetic flux of the field system is distributed perfectly sinusoidal around the air gap,
the e.m.f. generated in each full-pitched armature coil is 2f sin t volts per turn. Where
is the total flux per pole and f is frequency related to speed and pole pairs. However the flux is
never exactly distributed in this way, particularly in salient pole machines.

Figure below shows the mmf and the flux distribution in one phase of a fully-pitched polyphase winding with one slot per pole per phase on the assumption of a constant air gap and in
the absence of iron saturation.

The frequency-domain representation of the mmf space distribution of figure,


F ( x)

2 2 IN



2x 1
) sin(5
) .......]

Thus, the rectangular mmf dsitribution is reduced to a fundemental and harmonic

components. The amplitude of the n th harmonic is 1/n times the fundemental pole pitch.
In general, for an alternating current of angular frequency 2f , equation becomes

F ( x)

2 2 IN

sin(t ) sin(n
) , for n odd

n 1 n

So a nonsinusoidal field distribution can be expressed as a harmonic series:

The machine can be consider to have 2p fundamental poles together with 6p, 10p, 2np
harmonic poles, all individually sinusoidal and all generating electromotoric forces in an
associate winding. The winding e.m.f. can be expressed as a harmonic series:


J. Arrilaga, N. R. Watson, S. Chen, (2001), Power System Quality Assessment, WILEY

C. Sankaran, (2002), Power Quality, CRC Pres

Roger C. Dugan, Mark F. McGranaghan, H. Wayne Beaty, (1996), Electrical Power

System Quality, Mc Graw-Hill

C. Kocatepe, M. Uzunolu, R. Yumurtac, A. Karaka, O. Arkan, (Kasm 2003), Elektrik

Tesislerinde Harmonikler, Birsen Yaynevi

C. Kocatepe, N. Umurkan, F. Atar, R. Yumurtac, M. Uzunolu, A. Karaka, O. Arkan,

M. Baysal, (Ocak 2006), Enerji Kalitesi ve Harmonikler, EMO Yayn No. EG/2006/1


C. Collombet, J.M. Lupin, J. Schonek, Teknik Klavuz No. 152, ebekelerde Harmonik
Bozulmalar ve yiletirilmesi, Schneider Electric

D. Chapman, (Mart 2001), G Kalitesi Uygulama Klavuzu, Sarkuysan

IEC 61000-4-7 Harmonics and Interharmonics Measurements

IEEE Std. 1159-1995 Recommended Practice for Monitoring Electric Power Quality