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Definition of Basic Insulation Level (BIL)

Definition of Basic Insulation Level (BIL) - photo by bob1217 @ Flickr

Introduction to BIL
Insulation levels are designed to withstand surge voltages, rather than only normal operating voltages. Since the
insulation lines and equipment is protected by surge arresters draining the surges rapidly before the insulation is
damaged, the arrester must operate below the minimum insulation level that must withstand the surges.
An example is shown in Figure 1a below.
The minimum level is known as the Basic Insulation Level (BIL) that must be that of all of the components of a
system.

Figure 1a - Insulation coordination

Insulation values above this level for the lines and equipment in the system must be so coordinated that specific
protective devices operate satisfactorily below that minimum level.
In the design of lines and equipment considering the minimum level of insulation required, it is necessary to define
surge voltage in terms of its peak value and return to lower values in terms of time or duration. Although the peak
voltage may be considerably higher than normal voltage, the stress in the insulation may exist for only a very short
period of time.
For purposes of design, the voltage surge is defined as one that peaks in 1.5 microseconds and falls to one-half that
value in 40 microseconds (thousandths of a second).
It is referred to as a 1.5/40 wave, the steep rising portion is called the wave front and the receding portion the wave
tail, Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Surge Voltage 1.5 by 4.0 Wave

Insulation levels recommended for a number of voltage classes are listed in Table 1. As the operating voltages
become higher, the effect of a surge voltage becomes less; hence, the ratio of the BIL to the voltage class decreases
as the latter increases.
Table 1 Typical Basic Insulation Levels
Basic insulation level, kV
(standard 1.5- 40-s wave)
Voltage class, kV

Distribution class

Power class (station, transmission lines)

1.2

30

45

2.5

45

60

5.0

60

75

8.7

75

95

15

95

110

23

110

150

34.5

150

200

46

200

250

69

250

350

*For current industry recommended values, refer to the latest revision of the National Electric Safety Code.
Distribution class BIL is less than that for power class substation and transmission lines as well as
consumers equipment, so that should a surge result in failure, it will be on the utilitys distribution system where
interruptions to consumers are limited and the utility better equipped to handle such failures.
The line and equipment insulation characteristics must be at a higher voltage level than that at which the protecting
arrester begins to spark over to ground, and a sufficient voltage difference between the two must exist.
The characteristics of the several type arresters are shown in the curves of Figure 3.

Figure 3 - (a) Sparkover Characteristics of Distribution Value Arresters; (b) Sparkover Characteristics of Expulsion Arresters

The impulse level of lines and equipment must be high enough for the arresters to provide protection but low
enough to be economically practical.
Surges, on occasion, may damage the insulation of the protective device; hence, insulation coordination should
include that of the protective devices.
As there are a number of protective devices, mentioned earlier, each having characteristics of its own, the
characteristics of all of these must be coordinated for proper operation and protection.
Before leaving the subject of insulation coordination, such coordination also applies within a piece of equipment itself.
The insulation associated with the several parts of the equipment must not only withstand the normal operating
voltage, but also the higher surge voltage that may find its way into the equipment.
So, while the insulation of the several parts is kept nearly equal, that of certain parts is deliberately made lower than
others; usually this means the bushing. Since the bushing is usually protected by an air gap or arrester whose
insulation under surge is lower than its own, flashover will occur across the bushing and the grounded tank.
The weakest insulation should be weaker by a sufficient margin than that of the principal equipment it is protecting;
such coordinated arrangement restricts damage not only to the main parts of the equipment, but less so to parts more
easily accessible for repair or replacement.
The insulation of all parts of the equipment should exceed the basic insulation level (BIL). Figure 1b.

Figure 1b - Simplistic diagram illustrating Basic insulation level (BIL) and Insulation coordination

Resource: Power Transmission and Distribution Anthony J. Pansini ( Get this book from Amazon )

About Author //
Edvard Csanyi
Edvard - Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for
design of LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, buildings and
industry fascilities. Designing of LV/MV switchgears. Professional in AutoCAD programming
and web-design. Present on Google+

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7 Comments

1.
Rating Definitions Applied to Medium Voltage Fuses | EEP
Oct 03, 2014
[] by ANSI C37.42-1996 as having dielectric withstand (BIL) strengths at power levels, applied primarily in
stations and substations, with mechanical construction []
(reply)
2.
Effects of very fast transients (VFT) on HV equipment | EEP
Jun 11, 2014
[] switching or line-to-ground faults inside a gas insulated switchgear (GIS) are below the basic insulation
level (BIL) of substation and external []
(reply)
3.
Jan Ledochowski
Mar 27, 2014
There is a mistake below title Hot Swap Controllers PDF:
.one-half that value in 40 microseconds (thousandths of a second).
should be: millionth of a second.
(reply)
4.
UDAYKUMAR
Feb 09, 2014
Dear Sir/Madam,
can you tell me abt earth falut details
(reply)
5.
Glossary of Power Transformer Terms | EEP
Jun 05, 2013
[...] of the winding is common to both the primary and the secondary circuits.Back to Index | A BBILBasic
Impulse Level, the crest (peak) value that the insulation is required to withstand without failure.BushingAn [...]
(reply)

6.
Purpose of Disconnect Switches In HV Substation | EEP
Jan 14, 2013
[...] the insulation or insulators associated with them must coordinate with the rest of the system and a BIL
(Basic insulation level) capable of withstanding voltage surges.In general, they consist of a conducting blade,
hinged at [...]
(reply)
7.
Methods of Controlling Lightning Overvoltages in HV | EEP
Dec 08, 2012
[...] on the first three or four towers where line co-ordinating gaps are reduced in an attempt to reduce incoming
voltage surges will increase the risk of a close-in backflashover. Location of Surge ArrestersConsidering [...]
(reply)
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