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Motor Protection

The protection of motors varies considerably and is generally less standardized
than the protection of the other apparatus or parts of the power system. This results
from the very wide variety of sizes, types, and applications of motors. The
protection is principally based on the importance of the motor, which usually is
closely related to size. Motor characteristics must be carefully considered when
applying protection; while this may be regarded as stating the obvious, it is
emphasized because it applies more to motors than to other items of power system
plant. For example, the starting and stalling currents/times must be known when
applying overload protection, and furthermore the thermal withstand of the
machine under balanced and unbalanced loading must be clearly defined. The type
of protection used for a particular motor depends on the switchgear used for its
control (starting, stopping, speed variation, etc.).
The life of an electric motor is determined by the shorter of the following two
1. Mechanical life: This is the life of the mechanical parts such as bearings, shaft,
fan and the frame and depends on the environment (dust, moisture, chemicals,
etc.), vibration and lubrication. The mechanical life can be extended by means of
regular inspection and maintenance.
2. Electrical life: This is the life of the electrical parts such as the stator winding
and insulation, rotor winding and the cable terminations in the motor connection
box. Assuming that the cable terminations are properly done and regularly
checked, the electrical life may be extended by ensuring that the windings and
insulation are not subjected to excessive temperatures which are usually the
consequence of overloading or single phasing (loss of one-phase). The purpose of
good motor protection is to continuously monitor the current flowing into the
motor to detect overloading or fault conditions and to automatically disconnect the
motor when an abnormal situation arises. This protection, when correctly applied,
extends the useful life of the motor by preventing insulation damage through

Most people in the industry can easily understand the relatively simple
mechanical aspects of an electric motor but few fully appreciate the electrical
limitations and relationship of overloading to the useful life of the motor.
Essentially, mechanical overloading causes excessively high currents to flow in the
winding (since current in the motor is proportional to the load torque) and this
results in overheating of the stator and motor windings. These high temperatures
result in the deterioration of the insulation materials through hardening and
cracking, eventually leading to electrical breakdown or faults. In many cases, the
motor can be repaired by rewinding the stator but this is expensive with a longer
downtime. The larger the motor, the higher the cost.
There are several types of insulation materials commonly used on motors. In the
IEC specifications for motors, the insulation materials are classified by the
temperature rise above maximum ambient temperature that the materials can
continuously withstand without permanent damage. For example, specified
temperature rises for commonly used insulation classes are:
Class B: 80 C above maximum ambient of 40 C
(i.e. maximum continuous temperature of 120 C)
Class F: 100 C above maximum ambient of 40 C
(i.e. maximum continuous temperature of 140 C)
In a squirrel cage induction motor, the current flowing into the stator winding is
directly proportional to the mechanical load torque. The motor manufacturer
designs the motor to operate within specified limits. The motor is rated in terms of
kilowatts (kW) at a rated supply voltage (V) and current (I). This means that a
machine can drive a mechanical load continuously up to rated torque at rated
speed. Under these conditions, supply current is within the specified current and
the internal heating will be within the capabilities of the specified insulation class.
At full load with class B insulation, the winding temperature will stabilize at below
120 C.
The main cause of heating in the motor windings is a function of the square
of the current flowing in the stator and rotor windings. This is shown on the motor
equivalent circuit of Figure below where the losses are I (Rs + Rr). These are often

referred to as the copper losses. The stator windings have only a small mass and
heat up rapidly because of the current flowing. The heat insulation and the cooling
time constant is consequently quite long. Other losses also generate heat. These are
referred to as the iron losses but are relatively small and are quickly dissipated into
the body of the motor.

In general two basic protection are provided for every motor which are
1. Thermal overload protection.
2. Short circuit protection.
Some of the early designs of motor protection relays have a single function whose
purpose was to protect the motor against overloading by ensuring that it never
draws in excess of the rated current. This was done by continuously monitoring the
electrical current drawn by the motor and arranging for the motor to be

disconnected when the current exceeded the rated current and remains so for a
certain period of time. The higher the overload current, the shorter the permissible
time before disconnection. This time delay was achieved in various ways. An
example is the solder pot relay, which relied on the time taken for solder in the
measuring circuit to melt when the load current was passed through it. The bimetal type relays disconnect the motor when the load current passing through a
resistor heated in a bi-metallic strip sufficiently to bend it beyond a preset limit.
This released the trip mechanism. In recent years, electronic relays utilize an
analog replica circuit, comprising a combination of resistors and capacitors, to
simulate the electrical characteristics of the stator and rotor. The main principle
linking all these methods is the design of a replica system to simulate as closely as
possible the electrical characteristics of the motor.
In the past, it has been a common practice to detect over temperature from
temperature dependent elements built into the winding of the motor.
However, this form of temperature measurement is in most cases
unsatisfactory, as it is not taken directly from the current conductor. Instead, it is
taken through the insulation which gives rise to considerable sluggishness. Due to
insulation considerations, insertion of thermocouples in high-voltage motors can
cause problems. Furthermore, after a fault (e.g. a break in the measuring lead
inside the machine) high repair costs are encountered. Another problem is that no
one can accurately predict, during the design, how many and where the hot spots
will be.
Consequently, protection is preferably based on monitoring the phase
currents instead. Because the temperature is determined by the copper and iron
losses, it must be possible to derive it indirectly by evaluating the currents in the
motor supply leads.
The performance of a motor protection relay depends on how closely and
accurately the protection simulates the motor characteristics. The ideal simulation
occurs when the heating and cooling time constants of the motor windings are
matched by the relay under all operating conditions. In some of the early devices,
the protection could underestimate the heating time of the windings from cold and
could trip before a motor/load combination with a long run-up time had reached
running speed. On the other hand, during several sequential starts and stops, the
device could underestimate the cooling time of the windings, allowing the motor
windings to overheat. This situation can very easily arise with the bi-metallic
thermal overload relays commonly used on motor starters even today. Under
certain conditions, bi-metallic thermal overload relays do not provide full
protection because the device does not have exactly the same thermal heating and
cooling characteristics as the motor, which it is protecting. The heating and cooling

time constants of a bi-metallic relay are much the same but in actual installations, it
should be borne in mind that a stopped motor has a longer cooling time constant
than that for a running motor. When a motor has stopped, the fan no longer
provides a forced draft and cooling takes longer than when the motor is running on
no load. A simple bi-metallic device is a compromise and is calibrated for normal
running conditions. As soon as an abnormal situation arises, difficulties can be
expected to arise. To illustrate the point, take the case of a motor that has been
running at full load for a period of time when the rotor is suddenly stalled. Figure
17.4 shows typical temperature curves of the winding temperature (solid line)
compared to the heating and cooling curve of the protective device (dotted line).
Starting at a normal continuous running temperature of 120 C, the current
increases for the locked rotor condition and temperature rises to 140 C when the
thermal device trips the motor after some seconds. After about 10 min, the bi-metal
will have cooled to ambient, but the windings will only have reading 100 C.
With the bi-metal reset, it is then possible to attempt a restart of the motor. With
the rotor still locked, high starting currents cause the temperature to quickly rise to
165 C before the bi-metal again trips the motor.

Consider repeating similar sequence of events as described above, where the

different cooling times of the motor and bi-metal strip allow the bi-metal to reset
before the windings have cooled sufficiently, and if the motor is again restarted
after another 10 min, the winding temperature is likely to exceed 180 C, the
critical temperature for class B insulation materials. This illustrates the importance
of an accurate simulation by the protection device in both conditions where the
motor is running and when the motor is stopped.


The abnormal conditions can be classified as:
(1) Mechanical overloads
-sustained overloads
-prolonged starting or locked rotor
(2) Abnormal supply conditions
-loss of supply voltage
-unbalanced supply voltage
-phase sequence reversal of supply voltage
-overvoltage/ under voltage
-under frequency
(3) Faults in starting supply/circuit
-interruptions in phases
-blowing of fuse/single phasing
-short circuit in supply cable
(4) Internal Faults in Motor Itself
(Caused by 1, 2, 3 above)
-phase to phase faults
-Phase to earth faults
-failure of phase (open circuit)
-mechanical failure.

The abnormal conditions are summarized below.

-Prolonged overloading. It is caused by mechanical loading, short time cyclic
overloading. Overloading results in temperature rise of winding and deterioration
of insulation resulting in winding fault. Hence motor should be provided with
overload protection. .
-Single phasing. One of the supply lines gets disconnected due to rupturing of a
fuse or open circuit in one of the three supply connections, In such cases the motor
continues to run on a single phase supply. If the motor is loaded to its rated full
load, it will draw excessive currents on single phasing. The windings get
overheated and damage is caused. The single phasing causes unbalanced load
resulting in excessive heating of rotor due to negative sequence component or
unbalanced current.
-Stalling. If the motor does not start due to excessive load, it draws heavy current.
It should be immediately disconnected from supply.
-Stator earth faults. Faults in motor winding are mainly caused by failure of
insulation due to temperature rise.
Phase-to-phase faults. These are relatively rare due to enough insulation between
phases. Earth faults are relatively' more likely.
-Inter-turn faults. These grow into earth faults. No separate protection is generally
provided against inter-turn faults.
-Rotor faults. These are likely to occur in wound rotor motors, due to insulation
failure. .
-Failure of bearing. This causes locking up of rotor. The motor should be
disconnected. .
-Unbalanced supply voltage. This causes heating up of rotor due to negative
sequence currents in stator winding.
-Supply under voltage. The under voltage supply cause increase in motor current
for the same load.

-Fault in starter or associated circuit. The choice of protection for a motor is

depends upon the size of the motor, its importance in the plant, nature of load.

Motor protection should be simple and economical. Cost of protective system
should be within about 5% of motor cost. The motor protection should not operate
during starting and permissible overloads. The choice of motor-protection scheme
depends upon the following:
-Size of motor, rated voltage, h.p.
- Type
-Type of starter, switchgear and control gear.
-Cost of motor and driven equipment.
-Importance of process, whether essential service motor or not?
-Type of load, starting currents, possible abnormal condition etc.


The majority of winding failures are either indirectly or directly caused by
overloading (either prolonged or cyclic), operation on unbalanced supply voltage,
or single phasing, which all lead through excessive heating to the deterioration of
the winding insulation until an electrical fault occurs. The generally accepted rule
is that insulation life is halved for each 10 C rise in temperature above the rated
value, modified by the length of time spent at the higher temperature. As an
electrical machine has a relatively large heat storage capacity, it follows that
infrequent overloads of short duration may not adversely affect the machine.
However, sustained overloads of only a few percent may result in premature
ageing and insulation failure. Furthermore, the thermal withstand capability of the
motor is affected by heating in the winding prior to a fault. It is therefore important
that the relay characteristic takes account of the extremes of zero and full-load prefault current known respectively as the 'Cold' and 'Hot' conditions.
The overload protective devices can be grouped as:

-Those which respond to motor current, e.g. bimetal. Relays, Eutectic alloy relays,
electromagnetic relays, static relays. These relays open the control circuit of the
main contactor or close the trip of circuit-breaker.
-Those which respond to winding temperature, e.g., resistor devices embedded in
slots, thermostats, thermistors etc. Such devices are embedded in slots and serve to
supervise the winding temperature and trip the switching device.
The current sensing overload protecting devices can sense the following abnormal
1. Overloads, under voltage
2. Single phasing
3. Locked rotor, stal1ing
4. Heavy starting
5. Continuous overloads
6. Heavy breaking.
However, the following conditions can be sensed only by embedded thermal
I. Temperature rise due to higher ambient temperature.
2. Temperature rise due to failure of cooling.
3. Temperature rise due to other causes.
The details about Thermal Overload protection are described below.
The purpose of thermal overload protection is to protect the motor insulation from
excessive thermal stresses. During full load, the temperature of motor winding
reaches almost maximum permissible unit (dependent on insulation class). During
abnormal condition, the temperature exceeds the safe limit and the life of
insulation is reduced.
The temperature of the stator winding rises exponentially with time under
moderate overloads.
The rate of temperature rise is determined by losses and thermal time constant of
the stator. The heat loss from motor to surrounding air depends upon ambient
temperature, ventilation and design aspects. The time taken to reach limit of
temperature rise and the shape of current versus time curve depends on load on the
machine. For any machine, the thermal withstand curves can be drawn for 'cold'
condition and 'warm' condition. The 'replica type' thermal relay operates with a
thermal facsimile of the motor. i.e., the characteristic of such relay is an
approximate replica of motor heating curve. The relay is compensated for ambient
temperature variation so that it can protect the motor for both cold start and hot

start conditions. The characteristic of replica relay and motor heating curve is
plotted on the same current versus time curve. The relay trips at point where the
motor heating curve crosses the relay characteristic as shown in figure 1.

In practice, motor heating curves are not readily available. The thermal time
constant or the motor can vary widely (15 minutes to 1 hour). Hence the relay
characteristic should be selected and set to suit the protection requirement of
particular motor. The operating conditions resulting in temperature rise should also
be considered. If motor is required for frequent starting, its temperature rise is
more rapid. Referring to Fig. 1 curve A indicates characteristic of motor heating to
reach maximum permissible temperature in 15 minutes for moderate overload (I'3
times full load current.) The relay will trip according to characteristic B. e.g. for
overload of 200%, the relay will trip in less than 4 seconds. Motor can withstand
200% overload for 4 minutes.
Should a motor stall when running or be unable to start (run) because of excessive
load, it will draw a current from the supply equivalent to its locked rotor current. It
is obviously necessary to avoid damage by disconnecting the machine as quickly
as possible if this condition arises. It is not possible to distinguish this condition
from a healthy starting condition on current magnitude. The majority of loads are
such that the starting time of normal induction motors is about or less than 10 s,

while the allowable stall time to avoid damage to the motor insulation is in excess
of 15 s. Should a motor stall when running or be unable to start because of
excessive load, it will draw a current from the supply equivalent to the locked rotor
current. It is obviously desirable to avoid damage by disconnecting the machine as
quickly as possible if this condition arises.
Motor stalling can be recognized by the motor current exceeding the start
current threshold after a successful start i.e. a motor start has been detected and
the motor current has dropped below the start current threshold within the motor
safe start time. A subsequent rise in motor current above the motor starting current
threshold is then indicative of a stall condition, and tripping will occur if this
condition persists for greater than the setting of the stall timer. An instantaneous
overcurrent relay element provides protection.
The method of protection varies depending on whether the starting time is
less than or greater than the safe stall time. In both cases, initiation of the start may
be sensed by detection of the closure of the switch in the motor feeder (contactor or
CB) and optionally current rising above a starting current threshold value
typically 200% of motor rated current. For the case of both conditions being
sensed, they may have to occur within a narrow aperture of time for a start to be
Start time < safe stall time
Protection is achieved by use of a definite time overcurrent characteristic, the
current setting being greater than full load current but less than the starting current
of the machine. The time setting should be a little longer than the start time, but
less than the permitted safe starting time of the motor.

Start time => safe stall time

For this condition, a definite time overcurrent characteristic by itself is not
sufficient, since the time delay required is longer than the maximum time that the
motor can be allowed to carry starting current safely. An additional means of
detection of rotor movement, indicating a safe start, is required. A speed-sensing
switch usually provides this function. Detection of a successful start is used to
select relay timer used for the safe run up time. This time can be longer than the
safe stall time, as there is both a (small) decrease in current drawn by the motor
during the start and the rotor fans begin to improve cooling of the machine as it
accelerates. If a start is sensed by the relay through monitoring current and/or start
device closure, but the speed switch does not operate, the relay element uses the
safe stall time setting to trip the motor before damage can occur. Figure 19.3(a)
illustrates the principle of operation for a successful start, and Figure 19.3(b) for an
unsuccessful start.

Protection for locked rotors can be obtained by applying a distance Relay. The
relay is set looking into the motor (Fig. 11.6). The ratio of system voltage and
starting current is an impedance, which can be determined and plotted as a vector
on the R-X diagram. From a specific value at start, it increases in magnitude and
changes phase angle as the motor accelerates. The distance 21 relay is set so that
its MHO operating circle encloses the locked-rotor impedance vector. When the
motor is energized by closing breaker 52, the distance 21 relay operates and the
timer 62 is energized. By using an AC operated timer, variable time with voltage is
obtained to match the longer permissible locked-rotor times at lower voltage.

Fig: Locked-rotor protection with a distance (21) relay and timer

The heavy starting current can cause the voltage to drop momentarily during the
starting period. If the start is successful, the impedance phasor moves out of the 21
operating circle before the 62 timer contact closes. If the start is unsuccessful, the
impedance vector stays in the circle, and when timer 62 operates, the trip is
initiated. The timer is set as determined by the permissible locked-rotor time curve
from full voltage to about 75 or 80% voltage. This protection does not cover failure
to accelerate to full speed, nor to pull out with rotation continuing.
Should a motor stall when running or be unable to start because of excessive load,
it will draw a current from the supply equivalent to the locked rotor current. It is
obviously desirable to avoid damage by disconnecting the machine as quickly as
possible if this condition arises.

Motor stalling can be recognized by the motor current exceeding the start
current threshold after a successful start i.e. a motor start has been detected and
the motor current has dropped below the start current threshold within the motor
safe start time. A subsequent rise in motor current above the motor starting current
threshold is then indicative of a stall condition, and tripping will occur if this
condition persists for greater than the setting of the stall timer. An instantaneous
overcurrent relay element provides protection.
In many systems, transient supply voltage loss (typically up to 2 seconds)
does not result in tripping of designated motors. They are allowed to re-accelerate
upon restoration of the supply. During re-acceleration, they draw a current similar
to the starting current for a period that may be several seconds. It is thus above the
motor stall relay element current threshold. The stall protection would be expected
to operate and defeat the object of the re-acceleration scheme.
A motor protection relay will therefore recognize the presence of a voltage
dip and recovery, and inhibit stall protection for a defined period. The under
voltage protection element can be used to detect the presence of the voltage dip
and inhibit stall protection for a set period after voltage recovery. Protection
against stalled motors in case of an unsuccessful re-acceleration is therefore
The time delay setting is dependent on the reacceleration scheme adopted
and the characteristics of individual motors. It should be established after
performing a transient stability study for the reacceleration scheme proposed.
The voltage supplied to a three-phase motor can be unbalanced for a variety of
reasons; single-phase loads, blown fuses in pf capacitors, etc. In addition, the
accidental opening of one-phase lead in the supply to the motor can leave the
motor running, supplied by two phases only.
It might seem that the degree of voltage unbalance met within a normal
installation (except when one-phase is open circuited) would not affect the motor
to any great extent, but this is not so. It should be remembered that it is not the
unbalanced voltage which is important, but the relatively much larger negative
sequence component of the unbalance current, resulting from the unbalanced
In the general case of unbalanced three-phase voltages, there is no fixed
relationship between the positive and negative sequence currents; the actual value
of the negative sequence current depends on the degree of unbalanced supply
voltage, and on the ratio of the negative to the positive sequence impedance of the


The negative sequence component of the current does not contribute to providing
the driving torque of the motor; in fact, it produces a small negative torque. The
magnitude of the torque due to the negative sequence current is, however, usually
less than 0.5% of the full-load-rated torque for a voltage unbalance in the order of
10% and can therefore be neglected. Hence, presence of negative sequence
currents does not appreciably affect the starting characteristics.
The main effect of the negative sequence current is to increase the motor
losses, mainly copper loss, thus reducing the available output of the machine if
overheating of the machine windings is to be avoided. The reduction in output for
the machines having ratios of starting to running current of 4, 6 and 8 respectively
is shown in Figure 17.11 for various ratios of negative to positive sequence

Relation between voltage unbalance and copper losses in motor

% Voltage unbalance
% Stator loss
% Rotor loss







Modern motor protection relays have a negative sequence current measurement

capability, in order to provide such protection. The level of negative sequence
unbalance depends largely upon the type of fault. For loss of a single phase at start,
the negative sequence current will be 50% of the normal starting current. It is more
difficult to provide an estimate of the negative sequence current if loss of a phase
occurs while running. This is because the impact on the motor may vary widely,
from increased heating to stalling due to the reduced torque available.
A typical setting for negative sequence current protection must take into
account the fact that the motor circuit protected by the relay may not be the source
of the negative sequence current. Time should be allowed for the appropriate
protection to clear the source of the negative sequence current without introducing
risk of overheating to the motor being considered. This indicates a two stage
tripping characteristic, similar in principle to overcurrent protection. A low-set
definite time-delay element can be used to provide an alarm, with an IDMT
element used to trip the motor in the case of higher levels of negative sequence
current, such as loss-of-phase conditions at start, occurring. Typical settings might
be 20% of CT rated primary current for the definite time element and 50% for the
IDMT element. The IDMT time delay has to be chosen to protect the motor while,
if possible, grading with other negative sequence relays on the system. Some relays
may not incorporate two elements, in which case the single element should be set
to protect the motor, with grading being a secondary consideration.
There are several handles available for unbalance detection: (1) magnitude
differences between the three-phase currents, (2) the presence of negative-sequence
current, and (3) the presence of negative-sequence voltage. All three of these are
used for protection.
The current balance-type (46) compares the phase current magnitudes and
operates when one phase current is significantly different in magnitude from either
of the other two phase currents. This is very effective protection for individual

motor feeders to detect open phases or unbalances in that circuit. If other loads are
supplied by the circuit to which this protection is connected, care should be taken
to ensure that any open phase or unbalance will not be camouflaged by the
balanced current to the sound load. One relay should be applied for each load or
feeder. The typical minimum sensitivity of these relays is about 1 A in one phase
with zero current in the other, or 1.5 pu in one phase and 1 pu in the other.
Another type (46) responds to the negative-sequence current, either
instantaneously with a fixed time delay added. These types of relays are not widely
applied for motor protection.
The negative-sequence voltage type (47) is recommended to detect phase
unbalance and phase reversal in the supply or source circuits. One such relay
should be connected through VTs (either wye-wye or open-delta VTs) to each
secondary supply bus. When the phases are reversed the negative-sequence relay
positively responds to phase reversals. Phase reversal relays also are available
equivalent to a small motor. Normal phase rotation produces restraint or contactopening torque, while phase reversal causes operation or contact-closing torque.
Because of the relatively greater amount of insulation between phase windings,
faults between phases seldom occur. As the stator windings are completely
enclosed in grounded metal, the fault would very quickly involve earth, which
would then operate the instantaneous earth fault protection described above.
The phase to phase fault short-circuit in stator winding causes burn-out of
coils and stampings. Hence the motor should be disconnected from supply very
quickly. Fast overcurrent relays are provided for phase to phase short-circuit
protection. The relays giving short-circuit protection to the motor should not act
during starting currents. The setting of instantaneous, overcurrent relays for phase
faults should not be below the starting characteristic of the motor. Therefore, the
short circuit protection characteristic is set just above the maximum starting current
of the motor.
While switching on the motor, starting current has d.c. transient and a.c.
component (Ref. Sec. 3'4). The overcurrent relay set for short-circuit protection
should not operate due to d.c. component. To avoid to high setting, it is a usual
practice to provide a definite time lag pf 2 to 4 cycles for overcurrent protection
against phase faults. Thereby, the relay does not operate for initial high value' of
d.c. component. After three/four cycles, value of d.c. component in starting current
reduces and the relay does not pick-up due to the same. Instantaneous no

directional overcurrent relays (50, 51) can be used to protect induction motors.
Phase-instantaneous relays should be set well above the asymmetrical locked rotor
and well below the minimum fault current.
Differential protection (87) is preferred. However, for some motors the two
ends of the windings may not be available, and differential protection cannot be
applied. If both ends of the windings are available, the best differential, in terms of
sensitivity, speed, and security, is to pass the conductors of the windings through a
flux summation (ring) CT, as shown in Fig. 11.3a


Faults, which occur within the motor windings are mainly earth faults caused by
breakdown in the winding insulation. This type of fault can be very easily detected
by means of an instantaneous relay, usually with a setting of approximately 20% of
the motor full-load current, connected in the residual circuit of three current
transformers. Care must be taken to ensure that the relay does not operate from
spill current due to the saturation of one or more current transformers during the
initial peak of the starting current; this can be as high as 2.5 times the steady-state
rms value, and may cause operation, given the fast-operating speed of the normal
relay. To achieve stability under these conditions, it is usual to increase the
minimum operating voltage of the relay by inserting a stabilizing resistor in series
with it.
As for phase protection, instantaneous overcurrent relays are applied for
ground-fault protection (50G, 50N, 51N). Where applicable, the preferred method
is to use a flux summation-type current transformer, with the three motor
conductors passed through the CT opening. This provides a magnetic summation
of the three-phase currents so that the secondary output to the relay is zero-

sequence (3I0) current. This is shown in Fig. 11.4a. The CT ratio, commonly 50:5,
is independent of motor size, whereas the conventional CTs in the phases must be
sized to the motor load. The advantage is high sensitivity with good security, but is
limited by the conductor size that can be passed through the CT opening. As
indicated in the preceding section, typical sensitivity is 5-A primary current.

Fig: Ground overcurrent protection for motors: (a) with the three conductors
passed through a flux summation-type current transformer
For larger motors and conductors, ground relay in the neutral must be used as in
Fig. above. Although load influences the CT ratios, the ground relay can be set
sensitively and well below motor load. 50N must be set above any "false" residual
current that can result from the unequal performance of the three CTs on high,
unequal-offset, starting currents. This is difficult to predetermine, but the
probability of a problem is very low if the phase burdens are balanced and the CT
voltage developed by the maximum starting current is not more than 75% of the
CT accuracy class voltage. A lower 50N relay tap and consequent higher burden
may help by forcing all three CTs to saturate more evenly. Resistance in the neutral
circuit may also help. This increased burden, however, should not be great enough
to significantly inhibit the relay sensitivity. These latter "fixes" are used generally
after trouble is encountered during start-up. Time delay could be used until the
offset has decayed, but this delays tripping for actual faults.

Fig: Ground overcurrent protection for motors: (b) with conventional-type current
Low voltage on a motor results in high current and either failure to start, to reach
rated speed, or to lose speed and perhaps pull out. Very often, protection for undervoltage is included as part of the motor starter, but an inverse time under-voltage
relay (27) is recommended to trip when prolonged under-voltage exists and as
Starting motors repetitively with insufficient time between, or operating them with
extreme load variations (jogging), can result in high motor temperatures.
Thermistors on smaller motors and an integrating thermal over- load unit
responding to total heating for large motors provide a means of protection. Relays
(49) operating on both overcurrent and temperature have been used. They operate
with high current and high temperature.
On wound rotor machines, some degree of protection against faults in the rotor
winding can be given by an instantaneous stator current overcurrent relay element.
As the starting current is normally limited by resistance to a maximum of twice full
load, the instantaneous unit can safely be set to about three times full load if a
slight time delay of approximately 30 milliseconds is incorporated. It should be
noted that faults occurring in the rotor winding would not be detected by any
differential protection applied to the stator.

There are two types of bearings to be considered: the anti-friction bearing (ball or
roller), used mainly on small motors (up to around 350kW), and the sleeve bearing,
used mainly on large motors. The failure of ball or roller bearings usually occurs
very quickly, causing the motor to come to a standstill as pieces of the damaged
roller get entangled with the others. There is therefore very little chance that any
relay operating from the input current can detect bearing failures of this type before
the bearing is completely destroyed. Therefore, protection is limited to
disconnecting the stalled motor rapidly to avoid consequential damage.
Failure of a sleeve bearing can be detected by means of a rise in bearing
temperature. The normal thermal overload relays cannot give protection to the
bearing itself but will operate to protect the motor from excessive damage. Use of
RTD temperature detection, can provide suitable protection, allowing investigation
into the cause of the bearing running hot prior to complete failure.
When motors, either induction or synchronous, are reenergized before they have
stopped rotating, high transient torques can result, with possible damage or
destruction. This can occur when a rapid transfer of motors is made from a bus that
has lost voltage to a live auxiliary bus. Such transfers are necessary to maintain
vital services to the auxiliaries supplying large generating plants or to critical
industrial processes. As the utility is anxious to restore service promptly to its
customers, they frequently use high-speed reclosing (about 0.20-0.60 s), and thus
reenergize the motors, with possible damage.
For induction motors, re energization should not occur until the motor
voltage has dropped to 33% or less of normal. For synchronous motors, reclosing
or reenergizing must not be permitted until proper resynchronization can be
effected. This means opening the motor supply promptly on the loss of supply.
An effective means to open the supply breaker under these conditions is the
application of an under-frequency relay. Typical under-frequency relay (81)
settings would be 98-97% of rated, with time to override the momentary voltage
dip effects, but before re energization can take place.
The differences in construction and operational characteristics of synchronous
motors mean that additional protection is required for these types of motor.

This additional protection is discussed in the following sections.

A synchronous motor may decelerate and lose synchronism (fall out-of-step) if a
mechanical overload exceeding the peak motor torque occurs. Other conditions
that may cause this condition are a fall in the applied voltage to stator or field
windings. Out-of-step protection may or may not be required, depending on the
system and motor. Faults in the system that momentarily reduce the motor voltage
may cause the voltage angles between the system and motor to swing apart
sufficiently that, on fault clearing, the motor cannot recover and so will go out of
The current drawn during an out-of-step condition is at a very low power
factor. Hence a relay element that responds to low power factor can be used to
provide protection. The element must be inhibited during starting, when a similar
low power factor condition occurs. This can conveniently be achieved by use of a
definite time delay, set to a value slightly in excess of the motor start time. The
power factor relay (55) will provide both pullout and loss-of-field protection.
If the supply to a synchronous motor is interrupted, it is essential that the motor
breaker be tripped as quickly as possible if there is any possibility of the supply
being restored automatically or without the machine operators knowledge.
This is necessary in order to prevent the supply being restored out of phase
with the motor generated voltage.
Two methods are generally used to detect this condition, in order to cover
different operating modes of the motor.
The under frequency relay element will operate in the case of the supply failing
when the motor is on load, which causes the motor to decelerate quickly.
Typically, two elements are provided, for alarm and trip indications.
The under frequency setting value needs to consider the power system
characteristics. In some power systems, lengthy periods of operation at frequencies
substantially below normal occur, and should not result in a motor trip. The
minimum safe operating frequency of the motor under load conditions must
therefore be determined, along with minimum system frequency.
This can be applied in conjunction with a time delay to detect a loss-of-supply
condition when the motor may share a bus bar with other loads. The motor may

attempt to supply the other loads with power from the stored kinetic energy of
A low forward power relay can detect this condition a time delay will be
required to prevent operation during system transients leading to momentary
reverse power flow in the motor.
Typical protection recommended and commonly applied for the protection of
motors is summarized in Fig. below. The application of the various relays is
covered in the figure.

Fig: Typical recommendations for motor protection: (a) for motors without neutral
leads and RTDs available; (b) for motors with neutral leads and RTDs available.
52- Circuit breaker.

49- Thermal Relay- it may operate on either current or RTD or by combination of

both for overload protection of motor.
50- Instantaneous over current relay
51-Inverse time over current relay

For phase faults

46- Negative sequence relay

50G, 50N Instantaneous over current Ground fault relay
87- Differential protection relay for phase faults
27- Under voltage relay
47- Negative phase sequence relay
Short circuit protection by providing one of the following:
(a) HRC fuses in all the three phases or triple pole MCCB for contactor controlled
motors. The fuse shall be selected such that it carries continuously, the motor rated
current and protects the motor against short circuit currents, which are generally of
the order of 10 times the rated current. Further, it shall be ensured that the
fuse/thermal release operating time for starting current of the motor is greater than
the motor starting time to prevent operation of fuse/MCCB during starting of the
(b) Short circuit release in all the three phases opening the circuit breaker in case of
series trip operated circuit breakers controlling the motor.
(c) Instantaneous high set over current relays in all the three phases in case of shunt
trip operated circuit breakers controlling the motors.
Over load protection by providing one of the following:
(a) Bimetallic over load relays in all the three phases in case of contactor
controlled motors. These relays may be direct connected or CT operated depending
upon MCC Vendor's standard practice.
(b) Overload releases in any two phases (generally in R&B phases) opening the
circuit breaker in case of series trip operated circuit breakers controlling the motor.
(c) CT operated thermal overload relays in any two phases (generally in R&B
phases) opening the circuit breaker in case of shunt trip operated circuit breakers
controlling the motors.
Protection against single phasing for contactor controlled motors may be
provided either by over load relay with inbuilt single phase preventer or a separate
external single phase preventer.

Locked rotor protection for motors rated 100 KW and above shall be provided
through instantaneous over current relays with low transient over reach in any of
the two phases (generally in R&B phases) along with a timer. The timer shall be
set for a time which is greater than the motor starting time but less than hot locked
rotor withstand time of the motor.
1. Ascertain that the motor starting current is less than contactor breaking current
capacity by at least 20%.
2. The fuse characteristic shall be checked to ensure that for fault currents greater
than the contactor breaking capacity, the fuse acts earlier than the locked rotor
timer setting to protect the contactor from damage.
3. The application of thermal overload protection for motors with long accelerating
times e.g. motors for ventilation fans, igniter fans, blowers, coal conveyors, etc.
should be checked and in case long accelerating time poses problems, special
measures to overcome this e.g. use of saturable CTs/bypass timers in conjunction
with overload relays shall be employed.
4. In case of breaker controlled motors, as the series trip arrangement alone cannot
provide complete comprehensive protection including locked rotor protection
which require shunt trip, the shunt trip arrangement is generally recommended
However, the series trip arrangement can be selected against specific requirement
of client/project.
(a) Short circuit protection for circuit breaker controlled motors shall be
provided by instantaneous over current relays in all the three phases. The relays
shall have a low transient over reach so that they do not operate for the initial
inrush current during motor starting. The relays shall be set at about 15-25% more
than the starting current and shall be provided with hand-reset flag or LED
(b) Motors controlled by vacuum contactors shall be provided with HRC fuses in
all three phases for protection of motor against short circuits. The fuses are to be
coordinated with contactor, CT and relay.
Overload protection by thermal overload relays shall be provided on two phases.
The following aspects shall be checked.
(a) The thermal overload relay shall protect the stator winding fully during hot as
well as cold conditions and shall be ambient temperature compensated.
(b) The relay shall take care of the heating effect on the rotor due to the negative
sequence component of the current besides the heating effect due to positive
sequence current so that a true thermal image of the motor is obtained even under
unbalanced supply conditions and the motor is tripped only when the thermal

limits are likely to be violated. If the thermal relay does not have heating effect of
negative sequence current integrated in it, separate element for negative sequence
protection shall be provided which could be set below the continuous negative
sequence withstand of the motor. This element shall also have an adjustable timer
Locked rotor protection by two over current instantaneous relays (in R and B
phases) and one common timer with delay on pick-up shall be provided. The
following shall be considered:
(a) The overcurrent relay shall be set around 200% (to account for conditions
above pull out torque) of full load current. It shall have a high drop-off to pick-up
ratio (not less than 80%) so that the relay resets when the current falls to full load
(b) The time delay relay shall be set as follows:
(i) The time delay shall be more than the starting time at the minimum permissible
voltage for starting.
(ii) The time delay shall be less than the safe stall time for conditions at the
maximum permissible voltage (110%).
(c) Whenever the acceleration time at minimum permissible voltage is more than
the safe stall withstand time under hot conditions at a maximum permissible
voltage (110%), a centrifugal type speed switch or other approved type of speed
sensor and an additional timer shall be employed for complete protection. Brief
description of the same is as follows:
The first timer (TR-1) shall be set to trip the motor within the safe stall time as per
b(ii) above, whereas the second timer (TR-2) shall be set to trip the motor above
the starting time as per b(i) above. During starting, if the motor accelerates, the
speed sensor contact will open out at a set speed (nearly about 30% speed) and TR1 will reset. The setting of the speed switch shall be such that the time taken to
accelerate to that speed is less than the hot safe stall time at 110% rated voltage. If
the motor fails to start and speed up, it will get tripped out through TR-1 and the
speed switch contact within the safe stall time. The motor will get tripped out if it
fails to accelerate to full speed within the set time of TR-2.
Differential protection shall be provided for motors above 1000 kW and when
the motor is star wound by a high speed triple pole relay. CTs shall be provided on
each phase and on the neutral side of the motor also. The following shall be

Earth fault protection

Earth fault protection shall be by single pole over current relay where the system
is solidly grounded or grounded through a low resistance. The following shall be
(a) The relay shall be a single pole instantaneous operating type tuned to supply
(b) This shall be connected in the residual circuit of protection CT.
(c) The relay shall be set at about 10% of the full load current. The setting should
be checked for satisfactory operation for the system earth fault current.
(d) It shall be complete with suitable adjustable stabilizing resistor and metrosils if
(e) The relay on operation shall initiate tripping.
(f) This relay shall have a hand reset flag indicator or LED.
Earth fault protection shall be by a sensitive earth fault relay connected to core
balance CT where the system is grounded through a high resistance. The following
shall be considered.
(a) The expected earth fault current shall be calculated. The zero sequence CT ratio
and the current setting range of the earth fault relay shall be selected such that the
relay setting is not more than 50% of the design earth fault current.
(b) The relay shall trip the motor.
A broken delta winding on the bus-voltage transformer shall be provided
and a common ground fault voltage relay shall be connected across broken delta
winding to give a standby alarm.
Under voltage protection shall be provided for prolonged bus under voltage (less
than 80%) by two numbers bus under voltage relays connected between the phases
and a common timer. The following shall be considered.
(a) The relay shall be set at about 70%.
(b) The time delay relay shall be set so as to ensure tripping only under sustained
under voltage condition (The setting may be of the order of 3 to 4 sec.).
(c) The timer on operation shall trip all the motor feeders connected to the bus
through lock-out relay contacts.
(d) Lockout relay shall have a hand reset flag indicator.
(e) This will be common protection for all motors connected to one bus.
Overload alarm shall be by a single pole instantaneous over current relay in the Y
-phase along with a time delay relay. The following shall be considered.
(a) The current setting shall be between 100-120% of full load current.
(b) The over current relay shall have a high drop-off to pick-up ratio above 90%
such that the relay resets as soon as the current falls to normal full load current. No

flag indicator is to be provided on this relay since the relay will pick up every time
the motor starts.
(c) Time delay shall be set above the acceleration time at the minimum permissible
motor starting voltage.
(d) Timer shall be fitted with a hand reset flag indicator or LED.
Special Protective Devices Temperature Monitoring
(a) RTD elements embedded in the stator windings where the hot spot
temperatures are likely to appear should be connected to temperature indicator
preferably with automatic scanning with a contact for high temperature alarm. If
the motor manufacturer recommends, the motor may be arranged to trip through a
second contact through a voltage operated relay after a time delay. Both these
contacts shall be suitable for independent setting.
(b) Bearing temperature indicators provided on both the bearings shall have
contacts for alarm purpose. If the motor manufacturer recommends tripping of
motor on bearing temperature, a second contact/second thermometer should be
used through a voltage operated alarm relay with flag indicator.


Fig: HV Induction motor protection schematic