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White Paper WP131002EN

Effective March 2015 

Application of 60 Hz rated medium
voltage vacuum circuit breaker at 50 Hz
Introduction

Continuous current ratings

Although ANSI rated medium voltage vacuum
circuit breakers are typically applied to voltages
and currents with a frequency of 60 Hz, the
growing global market increasingly requires circuit
breakers to operate reliably in 50 Hz applications
as well. Figure 1 illustrates how the voltage and
current waves differ for the two frequencies over
time (milliseconds).

One of the most important factors that influence
the rated continuous current is the resistance
of the current carrying conductors. As effective
resistance increases, the heat produced by the
current also increases. Similarly, decreasing
the effective resistance of the current carrying
conductors reduces the heat produced.

For a given amount of time, circuit breakers in
a 60 Hz application will experience more frequent
zero crossings than will circuit breakers in a
50 Hz application.

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50 Hz

Figure 1. Frequency comparison

60 Hz

For a circuit breaker of a specific continuous
current rating, the rated value was primarily
established by measuring the temperature rise of
the current carrying components with the rated
current applied. The stabilized temperature must
have been less than or equal to the maximum
values stated in the relevant test standard.
The material properties of the current carrying
conductors determine the resistance in this
testing. Obviously, the composition of the material
is important, but additionally the surface area of
the current carrying components contributes to
a factor known as the Skin Effect. The electrons
of the continuous current, being of the same
electromagnetic charge, tend to repel each other.
This causes the distribution of the current passing
through the conductors to be concentrated more at
the outer edges (or “skin”) of the conductors than
at the middle of the conductors.
As the frequency of the current increases, the
resistance due to the Skin Effect increases. By
operating a circuit breaker rated for 60 Hz at
50 Hz, the reduced Skin Effect resistance allows
the circuit breaker to run slightly cooler. Therefore,
continuous current performance for a 60 Hz circuit
breaker will be better when operating the circuit
breaker at 50 Hz.

Short circuit ratings
As can be seen in Figure 1, the amount of time
between current zero events is longer for 50 Hz
than it is for 60 Hz. Additionally, the rate of change
of the current is higher for 60 Hz than it is for
50 Hz. These factors must be considered when
evaluating short circuit performances.
The maximum arcing time that is possible during
a short circuit fault at 50 Hz may exceed the 60
Hz tested values by up to 1.7 milliseconds. As a
result, before applying a circuit breaker that has
been rated for 60 Hz into a 50 Hz application,
consideration should be given to the equipment
being protected to ensure that the potential
additional 1.7 milliseconds of arcing time will
not result in unacceptable increased equipment
damage. In most practical applications, this
increase in time is inconsequential.

Eaton provides energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical. and has more than 20 years of experience in the design. NY 10016-5997. Therefore. which will have no effect at all on circuit breaker endurance. WP131002EN / Z16335 March 2015 Eaton is a registered trademark. NY 10016-5997.09-1999) allows testing at 60 Hz to be used to demonstrate the performance at 50 Hz for circuit breakers not significantly affected by the rate of change of the current. C37. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.4 seconds. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. the heat generated from 50 Hz current is slightly lower than the heat generated at 60 Hz.com © 2015 Eaton All Rights Reserved Printed in USA Publication No. and analysis of circuit breakers. Anthony has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries. 50 Hz) these may be considered to prove the characteristics at 60 Hz provided that the instantaneous recovery voltage across the current interrupting contacts of the circuit breaker. If the rated short circuit performance of the circuit breaker is very close to the maximum possible short circuit condition of the circuit. USA. New York.013-1997—IEEE Standard for AC High-Voltage Generator Circuit Breakers Rated on a Symmetrical Current Basis. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. and therefore are independent of the power frequency of the circuit breaker. For more information. Mechanical endurance ratings Mechanical endurance ratings are independent of the power frequency of the circuit breaker. and analysis of circuit breakers. charging motors could operate slightly slower at 50 Hz control voltage than they operate at 60 Hz. is not less than that which would occur for a 60 Hz test.e. About Eaton Eaton is a power management company with 2014 sales of $22. visit Eaton. 3 Park Avenue. New York. testing. Brad has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. PA.White Paper WP131002EN Application of 60 Hz rated medium voltage vacuum circuit breaker at 50 Hz  Effective March 2015 The vacuum interrupters used on Eaton medium voltage circuit breakers have extremely good performance characteristics that are not significantly affected by the rate of change of the current being interrupted. Eaton has approximately 100. Capacitive current switching ratings Tests demonstrating capacitance current switching capabilities of circuit breakers made at the rated power frequency of 60 Hz +5% may be considered to prove the breaking characteristics at 50 Hz. New York. testing at either 60 Hz or 50 Hz demonstrates the performance of the circuit breaker at both frequencies. References C37. If tests are made outside this frequency range (for example. OH 44122 United States Eaton. 62271-100—IEC International Standard for high-voltage switchgear and controlgear—alternating-current circuit breakers. Dielectric ratings Power frequency withstand voltage ratings are based on a 1-minute test. with an allowable variation in the power frequency of ±20%.com. USA. The IEEET standard for testing of medium voltage circuit breakers (C37.09-1999—IEEE Standard Test Procedure for AC High-Voltage Circuit Breakers Rated on a Symmetrical Current Basis. C37.013a-2007—IEEE Standard for AC High-Voltage Generator Circuit Breakers Rated on a Symmetrical Current Basis Amendment 1: Supplement for Use with Generators Rated 10–100 MVA. during the first 8. Summary For most applications. As previously discussed. which does not change for different frequencies. Operation at 50 Hz control voltage may result in a charging time increase of up to 1. because arcing time could potentially be slightly longer. then applicationspecific high-power laboratory testing is recommended. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Therefore. Eaton 1000 Eaton Boulevard Cleveland. The magnetic forces are proportional to the RMS current. . Authors Anthony T. safely and sustainably. i. New York.33 milliseconds. Ricciuti is a Specialist Engineer at Eaton in Pittsburgh. Brad Leccia is an Engineering Manager at Eaton in Pittsburgh. Charging time will remain well within the allotted time of the IEEE standard (15 seconds). 3 Park Avenue. using a 60 Hz rated Eaton medium voltage vacuum circuit breaker on a 50 Hz circuit is acceptable. USA. 3 Park Avenue. USA. However. Full wave lightning impulse withstand voltage ratings are based on a specific voltage waveform. C37. the short time withstand performance would be equal to or better at 50 Hz than at the rated 60 Hz. PA. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. and has more than 20 years of experience in the design. Eaton’s charging motors on medium voltage vacuum circuit breakers are designed to charge the circuit breaker in less than 7 seconds at 60 Hz nominal voltage. if there is very little margin between the circuit requirements and the circuit breaker ratings. 3 Park Avenue.6 billion..04-1999—IEEE Standard Rating Structure for AC High-Voltage Circuit Breakers. testing. NY 10016-5997. Short time withstand ratings The short time withstand rating of a circuit breaker verifies that the structure of the circuit breaker is capable of withstanding the magnetic forces associated with a high current over a 2-second time span when the components heat up. Some analysis of the short circuit requirements of the system are recommended. NY 10016-5997. hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently.