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You are on page 1of 4

Figure 1

Harmonics are defined as voltages or currents at frequencies that are a multiple of the fundamental

frequency. In most systems, the frequency is 50 Hz. Therefore, harmonic order is 100 Hz, 150 Hz,

and 200 Hz and so on. (For other countries such as America use 60 Hz systems, the harmonic order

is 120 Hz, 180 Hz, 240 Hz, etc.)

You can specify these orders by their harmonic number or multiple of the fundamental frequency. A

harmonic with a frequency of 150 Hz is known as a 3rd harmonic (50x3 = 150). For every cycle of the

waveform, there are three complete cycles of the harmonic waveforms. The even multiples of the

frequency are known as even-order harmonics while the odd multiples are known as the odd-order

harmonics.

Harmonic currents are generated whenever a non-linear load is connected to the mains supply. There

is many problems caused by harmonic currents they are overheating of cables, especially the neutral

cconductor, overheating and vibration in induction motors and increased losses in transformers.

Where power factor capacitors are fitted, harmonic currents can damage them and care must be

taken to avoid resonance with the supply inductance.

It is important to be aware that the vast majority of harmonic currents found in a distribution

system are odd-order harmonics (3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.). More often than not, the sources of the

harmonic currents in a distribution system are the loads in operation within that facility or building.

Interestingly, these are frequently the types of loads that are the most sensitive to distortion in

the current and/or voltage.

Of a possible continuous component (DC component) y (t) = h1 (t) + h3 (t) Graphical illustration to show the addition of harmonics Graphical illustration of a complex harmonic waveform The spectrum of a harmonic signal.The distortion of a voltage or current can be traced to the harmonics it contains. Of sinusoidal terms of which frequencies are integer multiples of fundamental H1: the HARMONICS (Hn). . Of a sinusoidal term at frequency “f": the FUNDAMENTAL (H1). Illustrating amplitudes of the harmonics as a function of their frequency. This distortion can be produced by magnetic saturation in the core of transformers or by the switching of thyristors or IGBTs in electronics drive. All periodic signals of frequency “f" can be represented in the form of a composite sum.

if the fundamental amplitude is 240 volts. This value is then multiplied by 100% to produce a percentage. is generated indirectly as a result of harmonic currents flowing through a distribution system.. For instance. A measure of harmonic content has been defined as Total Harmonic Distortion. An illustration to show the “none” superimposed wave forms Voltage distortion (i. or that the magnitude of the non-sinusoidal current waveform is the sum of its harmonic components. either sinusoidal or non-sinusoidal. the 3rd harmonic . or THD.A graphic to show Resolution of Non-Sinusoidal Current Waveform into Harmonic Components. At any point in time in the graph. can be resolved into its harmonic components (also known as “orders”) with varying magnitude and phase. deviation from the pure sinusoidal wave-shape). It can be shown that any voltage or current waveform. Excessive harmonic current can produce distorted voltage drops in the power source impedance. THD is calculated by taking the square root of the sum of the squares of all harmonics above the fundamental and dividing by the fundamental amplitude. it can easily be shown that Isum = I1 + I3 + I5.e. This is graphically demonstrated in the diagram above.

Nuisance tripping of molded-case electronic circuit breakers that sense peak current. Another observed effect is that single-phase non-linear loads. Overloading of conductors and transformers. especially the 3rd. the voltage THD can be calculated as follows: THD voltage (%) = √ (20²+15²) X 100% = 10.e. A flow diagram to show Harmonic effects . 7th.). These triple-N harmonics. Typical problems caused by high current and voltage harmonics include. and the 5th harmonic amplitude is 15 volts. Resonant interaction with capacitor banks that can lead to overheating and premature failure. such as power electronic devices. Overheating of distribution system equipment (bus bars.42% 240 PROBLEMS DUE TO HARMONICS An observed characteristic of harmonic currents in a typical building distribution system is that odd-ordered harmonics (i. 6th. etc. Zero-crossing synchronization problems with devices such as digital clocks. etc. 9th.e. 3rd. Harmonic fluxes in motors that lead to decreased efficiency. heating. the 3rd... and conductor insulation). tend to produce harmonic currents that are predominantly triple-N or multiples of 3 (i.) are usually larger in amplitude than evenordered harmonics. tend to amplify in the shared neutral conductor of 3-phase 4-wire systems. lugs. and excessive vibration.amplitude is 20 volts. 5th.

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