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Mis-operation Cases on Transformer Differential Protection

Yiyan Xue, Zachary Campbell, Sudhakar Chidurala, Charles Jones

American Electric Power Company
the digital relay that caused the mis-operation under heavy
Abstract- Modern digital relays not only help to increase the through fault condition. The fourth case has power electronics
speed, sensitivity and dependability for transformer protection, involved and it reminds us of another possible source of error
but also help to simplify the differential (87T) protection in in differential current. The fifth mis-operation case appears to
circuit design and setting calculations. However, mis-operations
of digital 87T relays still happen from time to time. This paper be caused by inrush current during energization. But it turns
presents a few relay mis-operation cases that occurred in real life. out to be the issue of CT ratio and 87T pickup setting.
One of the common lessons learned is: even though digital relays
are superior and appears simpler for the user, the thinking II. 87T FUNCTION OF A DIGITAL RELAY
process on protection can never be waived. In order to ensure the
quality of relay settings, the relay engineer needs to know not Like other digital relays, the 87T relay will perform filtering
only the protection fundamentals, but also needs to gain some and phasor estimation as the first step of signal processing.
insight of how digital relay works. After the current phasors are derived, they will be
compensated before computing the two key quantities of the
I. INTRODUCTION 87T function the differential current (Id) and the restraint
current (Ir). Most 87T relays would use the percentage
The theory and practice of transformer protection has been characteristic to compare Id and Ir to determine if the fault is
mature and comprehensive for many years. But in reality, within the protection zone.
transformer protection mis-operations still happen from time Winding 1 Winding 2 Winding n
Ph-A Current Ph-A Current Ph-A Current
to time. The common reasons of mis-operations are:
Incorrect settings of 87T function
Incorrect settings of transformer overcurrent protection the Filtering and Filtering and Filtering and
Phasor Calc. Phasor Calc. Phasor Calc.
setting is either too sensitive or lack of coordination with
adjacent lines or feeders
Magnitude, Phase Magnitude, Phase Magnitude, Phase
Inrush current during energization or voltage recovery angle and zero angle and zero angle and zero
sequence sequence sequence
CT polarity error in design or construction compensation compensation compensation
False operation of non-electric protection, such as sudden
pressure relays, Buchholz relay, etc.
Relay failure Vector Sum of Phasors
Maximum magnitude, or
Sum of magnitude, etc.

This paper will focus on the first type of mis-operations. As

Differential Restraint
the primary protection for large or mid-size transformers, the
Current Iad Current Iar
87T function is considered to be reliable, sensitive, fast and
selective. Before modern microprocessor relays, the 87T
schemes built upon electromechanical (EM) relays were prone Id

to human error mainly because of the auxiliary CTs used for Ir

current compensation. Modern digital relays have greatly
simplified the 87T scheme with regards to secondary circuit Figure II.1. The 87T Implementation in a Digital Relay
design and settings, but setting-related mis-operations still
happen from time to time. This paper presents a few cases that Fig.II.1 uses phase-A currents as an example to show the main
were caused by incorrect settings of digital 87T relays. signal flow of the 87T relay. The key step is the current
compensation that includes magnitude compensation, phase
In the first case, the mis-operation was caused by a setting angle compensation and the optional zero sequence removal.
mistake on differential current compensation. The second case Different type of relays may have different implementations,
is about a refurbish project in which the old 87T relay was but the purpose is the same - to achieve zero differential
replaced but the old circuit was maintained. In that project, the current during normal operation. In the EM relay era, the
87T settings of the digital relay were following the relay auxiliary CTs were used for the compensation, which may
manual, but the mis-matching between the old circuit and the incur human error during design or construction. A digital 87T
digital relay have created a mistake that was not easy to relay would use settings to simplify the compensation and is
identify. The third mis-operation case may or may not be more secure by using the advanced 87T characteristic to
labeled as user error, since it was the automatic setting of override the spurious differential current caused by CT error,

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relay error, magnetizing current, tap changer, etc. Some digital caused by D/Y conversion. The relay manuals [2], [3] have
relay also incorporates an external fault detector that is based detailed descriptions on how to set the relay for phase angle
on the detection of current change pattern. However, all the compensation. In this example, the 12kV side currents need to
advantages of digital relays are subject to a premise: the relay be converted as follows,
settings have to be correct. In reality, setting errors related to IL ILB IL ILC
mis-operations happen from time to time. How to reduce ILconvert _ ph _ A = A , ILconvert _ ph _ B = B ,
3 3
human error on settings is a challenge that both relay users and
manufacturers need to think about. ILconvert _ ph _ C = C
For an 87T relay, the setting error is usually associated with Such conversion is equivalent to connecting the CT in delta,
current compensation. The following simple example explains like that in EM relay scheme. Combining the two
how current compensation works. In Fig. II.2, the transformer compensations (assuming TAP is used for magnitude
138kV windings are connected in delta, 12kV windings are compensation), the following currents can be used to calculate
wye-grounded. The CTs at both sides are wye-grounded. differential and restraint currents,

138kV Side 12kV Side

IH convert _ A = ILconvert _ A = A
IH convert _ B = ILconvert _ B =
IH convert _ C = ILconvert _ C =
Figure II.2. The 87T Implementation in a Digital Relay
In some cases, the zero-sequence current (I0) removal is
Most relays 87T function is on a per-phase basis. Using needed because the zero sequence current for an external
phase-A as example, the relay will see the following currents ground fault may flow at only one side of transformer and be
under nominal load condition, treated as differential current by 87T relay. In the above
50MVA 5 example, the 12kV side phase compensation would remove
IH no min al = = 2.615 A zero sequence current, so there is no extra step for zero
3 138kV 400
sequence current removal. The following mis-operation case 1
50MVA 5 will give an example on zero sequence current removal.
ILno min al = = 4.01A
3 12kV 3000
Where H and L represents high and low voltage side In this case, the substation has a 138/69/46kV
respectively. In order to get zero differential current under autotransformer, as shown in Fig. III.1. On 2012 March 15th,
normal condition, one method of magnitude compensation is an external B-G fault occurred on the 46kV line due to
to use the nominal current as the conversion base, which is lightning. The transformer 87T relay mis-operated for this
also called TAP. In this case, TAPH = 2.615, TAPL = 4.01. So, fault.
for any normal operation currents, the converted currents are
IHconvert_magnitude = IH/TAPH, ILconvert_magnitude=IL/TAPL.
138kV Bus
Another method for magnitude compensation is to use Service

multiplication. In this example, if the multiplier for low side

current IL is defined as 1.0, the multiplier for high side current
IH should be 4.01 /2.615=1.533. I.e., MH=1.533, ML=1.0.
So, for any normal operation currents, the converted currents
are IHconvert_magnitude=IH*MH, ILconvert_magnitude=IL*ML.
87T 46kV Bus

Regardless which method of magnitude compensation is used, 69kV Bus

under load condition or external fault condition, there should

be |IHconvert_magnitude| = |ILconvert_magnitude|, such that differential
current can be zero.

Because the transformer winding is DY1 in this case, the relay

Figure III.1. The Simplified Oneline Diagram For Case 1
also needs to account for the phase shift and the 3 factor

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The reason was found to be related to the 87T relay
transformer settings that are listed in the following table,

Winding/CT inputs W1 W2 W3
CT ratio 100 100 100
Rated MVA 62.5 62.5 35.7
Nominal voltage(kV) 138 69 46
Transformer Winding Connection Wye Wye Delta
Grounding Within Within Not Within
zone zone zone
Angle with regards to Wnd1 0 0 -30
Figure III.2. The 87T relay settings in Case 1

The Grounding setting of the transformer delta side was

Not Within Zone, which sounds fine for transformer delta
side. However, in this case there is a grounding transformer at
the 46kV side and it is within the 87T zone. Used also as Figure IV.1. The Simplified Oneline Diagram for Case 2
grounding and station service transformer, it has a zig-
zag/delta configuration. For an external ground fault at the A special thing in this refurbish project was that CTs used by
46kV side, the zig-zag winding will facilitate a zero sequence the 87T scheme for the generator branch are installed on each
current path such that the 87T scheme 46kV side will see zero winding and the generator windings are in Delta configuration.
sequence current that the other two sides of transformer cannot In the old circuit, 8.66:5 auxiliary CTs were added for this
see. This explains the erroneous differential current in the 87T branch. When the new relay was installed, the auxiliary
record and the mis-operation. The correct setting of CTs were not removed. All the other CTs were connected to
Grounding for the 46kV winding should be Within zone, the 87T relay directly with Wye connection.
even per literal meaning of this setting. However, what does
this setting do inside the relay? The relay manual has the
answer. The MathCAD sheet appended to this paper also
includes the calculations. Explicitly, the zero sequence
removal for the winding 3 current inputs in this case is
performed as follows,
2 I A I B IC
I convert _ ph _ A =
2 I B I A IC
I convert _ ph _ B =
2 IC I A I B
I convert _ ph _ C =
Such conversion is just like connection of the CTs in delta, but
without producing a phase shift.

This case is not hard to figure out. The human error reminds
Figure IV.2. CT Circuitry for 87T Scheme in Case 2
the relay engineers that each setting needs to be checked
On 04/30/2012, not long after the power plant was put back in
service after the overhaul, the 87T relay tripped. From the
event record shown in Fig. II.3, there was no fault. It was the
restraint 87T function that tripped under load condition.
The mis-operation in Case 2 happened in a power plant. The
87T relay provides generator-transformer unit protection. Per
the simplified Oneline Diagram in Fig. II.1, four groups of CT
inputs connected to the 87T relay make a protection zone that
covers the generator and the 765kV/26kV step-up transformer.
Before the refurbish project in 2012, the 87T scheme was built
upon an EM relay that had been in service for over 30 years.
In 2012, the old EM relay was replaced by a digital relay.

Figure IV.3. Case 2 Event Record

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From the event record, differential current did exist and was In this case, the primary currents for the relay are IAB, IBC, ICA.
above the 87T pickup setting. Since all the currents look Since an 87T relay will typically compare each phase
normal, the suspicion was on 87T settings that are listed as individually, the first step is to get the phase currents IA, IB, IC.
follows, To make the calculation intuitive, a number can be assumed
for the primary currents. E.g.,
Current Transformer Data
I AB = 100000o , I BC = 10000 120o , I CA = 10000120o
CTRS = 600 CTRY = 600 CTRU = 6980 CTRW = 7000
Transformer Data Per Fig. IV.4 and Kirchhoff Law
TSCTC = 12 TTCTC = 12 TUCTC = 1 TWCTC = 1
VTERMS = 765.0 VTERMT = 765.0 VTERMU = 26.0 VTERM = 26.0 I A = I CA I AB = 10000 3150o
MVA = 1500
87T Settings I B = I AB I BC = 10000 330o (1)
O87P = 0.30 pu SLP1 = 25.00 SLP2 = 60.00 U87P = 16.00 pu
I C = I BC I CA = 10000 3 90o
Other settings and calculations for this case can be found in
the Appendix II. For this relay, 4 groups of CT inputs are Step2. Calculate the secondary currents that flow into the relay
connected to the 87T relay separately. And they are identified
by letters S,T,U,W in setting names of this relay. These 87T
related settings (MVA, CT ratio CRTx, CT connection
CTCONx, transformer winding connection TxCTC, nominal
voltage VTERMx, x=S, T, U, W) provide information on the
transformer and CTs, which are critical for the 87T scheme
because correct compensation on currents are relying on these

In 87T scheme, the generator branch is labeled as U winding

by the relay. The auxiliary CTs were included for this branch
and the auxiliary CTs were connected in Delta before
connecting to the 87T relay. Does this mean that the CT
connection setting CTCONU should be set as D (Delta)? Figure IV.5. Simplified Secondary Circuit for 87T Scheme -
Generator Branch Current inputs
No matter how many steps of current conversion are involved,
the digital 87T relay just needs to know the relationship Per Fig. IV.4, the CT ratio is 20000/5, so the secondary
between the primary current and the secondary current that currents out of the CT are
goes directly into the relay for each phase. The easiest way for I ab = 2.50o , I bc = 2.5 120o , I ca = 2.5120o
the digital 87T relay is to connect all the CTs in Wye, such
The auxiliary CTs are connected in Delta, and the ratio is
that at least one step of Wye-Delta conversion can be waived.
8.66/5. Per Fig. IV.5 and Kirchhoff Current Law, the currents
If the relationship between primary and secondary is not
flowing into the 87T relay are,
straightforward, like the generator branch in this case, it is
recommended to go through some calculations to know the I aR = I cax I abx = (5 / 8.66) 2.5 3150o
correct relationship (ratio and phase shift). Two steps are I bR = I abx I bcx = (5 / 8.66) 2.5 330o (2)
given below to clarify such relationship in this case:
I cR = I bcx I cax = (5 / 8.66) 2.5 3 90o

From (1) and (2), the relationship between the primary phase
currents and the secondary phase currents that are flowing into
the relays are
I A / I aR = 69280o , I B / I bR = 69280o , I C / I cR = 69280o

After this exercise, it turns out that primary and secondary

currents are actually in phase, equivalent to that from Wye
connection of CTs, and the ratio is 6928. Therefore, for the
Figure IV.4. Generator Windings and CTs for 87T relay, the correct setting for CT inputs should be
Step1. Convert the primary currents from phase-to-phase
currents to phase currents. Inside the digital relay, the settings of CT ratio, CT connection
and nominal voltage are all used to calculate the compensation

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factor. The root cause of this mis-operation is that the
generator branch currents for 87T scheme are amplified by
3 times after compensation, due to the incorrect setting
CTCONU=D. The alternative solution could be using a
different CT ratio setting or a different nominal voltage setting
for generator branch, if the CTCONU is retained as D.
The lesson of this mis-operation case is that one cannot
assume the digital relays are smart enough to make the 87T
calculation by itself, and it is not rigorous just to apply relay
settings per literal meaning. In this example, the auxiliary CT W5 W2 W6 W3
87T Relay
was in Delta connection and this was why the setting W4 W1 WEST AUTO MIDDLE AUTO
CTCONU=D was made. But some questions should be asked: 345/138/13.8kV 345/138/34.5kV
why did the ancestor engineer used 8.66/5 auxiliary CTs
connected in Delta for the EM relay scheme? What was the
difference between the EM 87T relay and the digital 87T 345kV
relay? What would be the difference if the generator windings
were in Wye connection or the CTs were installed outside of
the generator terminal? If these questions were thought about
and calculations were performed, a correct setting could have
been made.
Figure V.1. Simplified Oneline Diagram for Case 3
Assuming the auxiliary CTs were removed in this case
(which is recommended because auxiliary CTs are not needed The event record of the 87T relay is shown in Fig. V.2. From
for the digital relay scheme), should CTCONU be set as Y or the record, it was the unrestraint 87T function that operated
D? Through similar exercise above, the correct answer is that and the recorded phasor of differential current Ibd magnitude
CTCONU should still be Y. However, there will be a 30 was 9.66pu or 48.3 secondary amps. Since the setting of the
degree phase shift between the primary and secondary unrestraint 87T function was 8.0 pu, the relay operated per
currents, so the TUCTC should be set as 12 instead of 1. setting. The question is: why did the relay see such high
differential current for an external fault?
As a side note, most digital relays have a differential current
metering function. So in this case, if the differential current
was monitored when the load current started to increase, the
mis-operation might be avoided. To automate the monitoring,
the relay may be programmed to give alarm when differential
current is over a threshold but less than the 87T pickup

In the appendix II, the MathCAD sheet is used to describe the

87T calculations of the digital relay in this project. It can also
be used as a tool for fault analysis.


On August 24th, 2011, an 87T relay mis-operated during an

external fault condition. The simplified oneline diagram is
shown in Fig. V.1. The fault was caused by a thunderstorm,
during which a tree had fallen on the 138kV line outside of the
station. The 138kV line protection tripped correctly. When the
line breaker reclosed after 5 seconds, not only did the 138kV
line tripped again due to the persistent fault, the transformer
87T protection also operated. Figure V.2. Case 3 Event Record

In Fig. V.1, the 87T relay has 6 groups of CT inputs. And the
relay had the following settings that were related to 87T

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W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 The differential currents are calculated by
CT ratio 400 400 800 800 600 800
Rated MVA 675 675 62 675 675 143.7 Idiff A = I Aconv [1] + I Aconv [2] + ... + I Aconv [6]
Nominal 345 138 34.5 345 138 13.8 Idiff B = I Bconv [1] + I Bconv [2] + ... + I Bconv [6]
Transformer Wye Wye Delta Wye Wye Delta Idiff C = I Cconv [1] + I Cconv [2] + ... + I Cconv [6]
Grounding Within Within Within Within Withi Not Within From the above equations, the magnitude compensation factor
zone zone zone zone n zone zone
Angle with 0 0 0 0 0 -30
M would amplify 138kV side current input 10 times before it
regards to was used for differential current calculation. In this case, the
through fault current (phase A, B) at 138kV side was about
Reference Winding Selection Automatic Selection
Unrestraint Differential Protection
20kA RMS in primary or 50A in secondary. So after
8.0 pu ( 40A secondary)
compensation, it would become 200kA in primary or 500A in
The CTs and connections were verified after the event. From secondary, which looks suspicious.
the event record, there was no sign of CT saturation even
though some current were relatively high. There was not The above M factor calculation is similar to that mentioned in
apparent mistake with the relay settings either. Section II. The initial suspicion by the AEP engineer was that
when compensated current was so high, the error could be
To analyze the event, the relay internal 87T calculations were magnified and consequently more differential current could be
reproduced on the MathCAD sheet. Then an issue emerged produced. However, it was still hard to imagine such a
during this exercise. This type of relay has a setting called differential current as high as 9.66 pu or 48.3A for an external
Reference Winding Selection. Any CT inputs can be fault. In the end, the relay vendor indicated that the relay has
selected as the setting. But by default, the setting is an internal threshold for secondary current and the threshold is
Automatic Selection. Since Automatic is such a magic 64pu or 320A in peak value, regardless the current is the direct
word, no one would ever want to change this default setting measurement or the converted value. If the secondary current
prior to this event. According to the relay manual, the is over the threshold, numerical error would occur inside the
reference winding is used to determine the compensation relay, which explains the false differential current and the mis-
factor. When Automatic Selection is used, the relay will operation.
select the reference winding that gives the minimum Imargin,
which is defined by To correct the setting error, the reference setting can be
CT _ Pr imary[ w] changed to either Winding 1 or 2. By using Winding 2 as
I m arg in [ w] = , where w=1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 reference, the M factors become,
I rated [ w]
Winding 1 2 3 4 5 6
In this case, the rated current and the margin current for each M 1.25 1.0 0.075 1.25 1.0 0.1
current input are listed in the following table,
Winding 1 2 3 4 5 6 As can be seen, the new M factors would not change the
Irated 1129.6 2824.0 1037.6 1129.6 2824.0 6012 original currents too much for the main windings. But they did
Imargin 1.771 1.416 1.157 1.771 1.416 0.665 change the tertiary winding currents significantly. And this
change means reduced sensitivity. However, since the tertiary
Since the Imargin[6] is the smallest, the winding 6 input for the winding is not as critical as the main winding, and there are
relay is used as reference per Automatic Selection setting. other transformer protection elements, these M factors are
Once the reference winding is defined, the magnitude acceptable. Another possibility is to add auxiliary CTs to the
compensation factor M for each winding is calculated per tertiary winding currents, but it is not desirable for a digital
following equation, relaying scheme.
I primary [ w] Vno min al [ w]
M [ w] = , where w=1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
I primary [ wref ] Vno min al [ wref ] In this case, the Automatic setting selected the 13.8kV
tertiary winding as the reference winding. This is questionable
Winding 1 2 3 4 5 6
if one is curious - the 13.8kV winding is auxiliary for a large
M 12.5 10.0 0.75 12.5 10.0 1.0
autotransformer and its actually the winding of the spare
transformer, why would it be used as the reference winding?
After magnitude and phase compensation, the converted By using the minimum Imargin as the criteria to select the
currents for 87T scheme are reference winding, it can end up with a higher compensation
I Aconv [ w] = I A [ w] M [ w] AngCompA [ w] factor M for a relatively smaller secondary current. In general,
I Bconv [ w] = I B [ w] M [ w] AngCompB [ w] this may improve the numerical accuracy of differential
calculation during normal operation. For example, a high CT
I Cconv [ w] = I C [ w] M [ w] AngCompC [ w] ratio is used for a 2-winding transformer high side so that the
where the AngComp X [ w] represents the phase compensation. secondary current of high side under normal operation is low.

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The Automatic Selection will then select the transformer W1 W2
low side as the reference and end up with a higher M factor for CT ratio 400 1200
Rated MVA 100 100
the high side. Reasonable though it sounds, a condition should
Nominal voltage 138.0 kV 19.5 kV
be added: the M factor shall not be too high! In this case, Transformer Winding Connection Wye Delta
because of the large difference in voltage level, using the Grounding Within zone Not Within zone
tertiary winding as reference resulted in overly high M factors Angle with regards to Wnd1 0 -330
for other windings. Percent Pickup Slope 1 Break 1 Slope 2 Break 2
Differential 0.099 pu 30% 1.25 pu 80% 3.0 pu
This case tells us, even if the relay setting has the magic word
From the event record, it was a percent differential Phase B
such as Automatic, the relay engineer needs to be cautious
operation. At the moment of tripping, the Idiff_B = 0.11 pu,
and try to understand what is behind this setting. Otherwise,
Irestraint_B = 0.36 pu. Since the point (0.36pu, 0.11pu) was just
the automatic setting may bring trouble. Another lesson
above the 87T characteristic shown in Fig. VI.3, the 87T
learned is: for a transmission autotransformer, the tertiary
operation was per setting.
winding should not be used as reference for this type of relay.


On May 7th 2015, an 87T relay for a SVC transformer mis-

operated for an external ground fault. The simplified oneline
diagram and event record are shown in Fig. VI.1 & 2. The
SVC-2 transformer high side breaker tripped for a ground fault
on a radial 138kV line. Since there was no high-speed scheme Figure VI.3. Operating Point on 87T Characteristic
on the 138kV radial line, the fault lasted about 27 cycles. The
SVC-2 transformer was tripped by the 87T relay in about 5 The CTs were checked and no problems were found. The
cycles after fault inception. settings about the transformer and CTs were also correct. The
87T settings look normal except the pickup setting 0.099pu
was relatively low, but still acceptable in a general sense.
138kV Bus#2
Neither the relay vendor nor the SVC vendor could provide a
solid explanation to the spurious differential current and the
mis-operation. The following analysis gives the possible
138kV Bus#1 reason, but it is still supposition.

138kV Bus#3 138kV Bus#4


YnD11, YnD11,
100MVA 87T
100MVA 100MVA


19.5kV 19.5kV


Figure VI.1. Simplified Oneline Diagram in Case 4

Figure VI.4. The Event Records from SVC Controller

The SVC controller recorded the external fault event as well.

From Figure VI.4., the waveforms of the SVCs TCR
(Thyristor Controlled Reactor) branch and the TSC (Thyristor
Switched Capacitor) branch can be seen with designations as
I_TCR and I_TSC, respectively. As the fault occurs, the TCR
branch halts conduction. As this occurs, the TSC branch
begins conduction. One cycle after this shift in output from
the SVC changes, the 87T relay operates.

There is significant distortion on current of each phase in all of

Figure VI.2. Case 4 Event Record the current waveforms. In another word, there was significant
The relevant 87T settings are: harmonic content in the current. Using Fourier analysis, each

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phase current of the transformer contains high percentage of many literatures discussing this topic. The security and
2nd harmonics. This alludes to CT saturation or transformer sensitivity of the traditional 2nd harmonic block method seems
saturation. Since the magnitude of the primary current was not a dilemma forever unless another blocking method is used to
high and CTs are of C800 class, it was very unlikely to be CT prevent 87T operation under energization. However, it turns
saturation issue. The transformer saturation was the most out the inrush current was not the key problem in this case.
possible reason because if the transformer core saturates, the After two attempts of energization, the event record and relay
magnetizing current would increase such that the spurious settings (shown below) were reviewed.
differential current would increase. Checking the record of
adjacent line relays, the voltage prior to the fault was about
1.03~1.04pu. Additionally, the event record from the SVC
controller illustrates that low side bus voltage during the fault
was approximately 1.5pu while high side voltage was about
1.15pu. Since the flux level is proportional to the voltage
level, the transformer core may be saturated already before the
fault or close to be saturated, and was exacerbated during the
fault. This can drive the transformer into the saturation mode
and cause more magnetizing current.

Another possible source of error might be the SVC switching

operation. During the fault, because of the voltage sag on the
faulty phase, the TSC switched in the capacitor bank. Such
switching could produce significant harmonics in the currents.
Even though the digital relays have filters and the 87T is
supposed to cancel the harmonics. The harmonics can still
have certain impact to the phasor estimation, especially the
phase angle error.

In this case, the 87T pickup was set at 0.099pu, which is W1 W2

biased towards sensitivity. Such setting is generally acceptable CT ratio 400 600
to account for CT error, relay error and magnetizing current. Rated MVA 70 70
However, this setting may not be able to override the Nominal voltage 345.0 19.5 kV
increased magnetizing current plus other errors. If the pickup
87T Pickup 0.05 pu
is set at 0.2pu, the mis-operation would not happen. So the Slope 1 30%
decision for the mis-operation mitigation was to increase the Break 1 1.53 pu
87T pickup setting to 0.2pu and increase the 87T Slope 1 from Break 2 7.66 pu
30% to 35%. Since the transformer is also protected by other Slope 2 75%
elements such as restricted earth fault protection, negative Inrush Inhibit Function Adaptive 2nd
Inrush Inhibit Mode 2-out-of-3
sequence differential protection, Buchholz relay, etc. the slight Inrush Inhibit Level 15%
setting changes would not compromise the protection for the
Figure VII.1. Case 5 Event Record and 87T settings
The lesson learned in this case is: The pickup setting of the
The 2nd harmonics is used by the 87T relay to prevent false
87T function should not be set too sensitive. If the transformer
operation due to magnetizing inrush current. Different from
is part of a FACTS device (Flexible AC Transmission System,
the traditional method, this type of 87T relay not only checks
such as SVC, HVDC, etc.), extra margin may be added to the
the percentage of 2nd harmonics within the differential current,
87T pickup setting.
but also the phase angles of the 2nd harmonics with regards to
the fundamental frequency phasors [4]. The setting also selects
the 2-out-of-3 inhibit mode, which means that 2nd harmonics
need to be significant in more than one phase before blocking
the 87T operation.
On Aug. 15th 2015, a transformer (70MVA, 345KV/13.8KV,
Delta/Wye) was tripped by 87T relay during the energization. The three phase current waveforms in the event record shows
The energization was attempted twice, and the 87T relay typical inrush currents during energization. Using Fourier
tripped twice. analysis, each phase current actually contains significant 2nd
harmonics, about 40-50%. So why did the relay still operate?
The mis-operation due to inrush current was not uncommon.
Similar events had occurred from time to time and there are

Page 8 of 9
Another two issues were noticed when checking the setting avoided. In addition, a relay engineer should always carefully
file. First, the 87T pickup setting of 0.05pu (0.25A secondary) balance the sensitivity and security. In the Case 4 and Case 5,
is very low. Second, the 345kV side CT ratio was 2000/5, the 87T pickups were set too sensitive and caused mis-
which might be the reason of the low 87T pickup setting. For operation. The only mis-operation case that seemed hard to
the 70MVA transformer in this case, the nominal current of avoid is the Case 3, but if one has a questioning attitude with
345kV side is only 117A. the default or automatic settings, the issue could emerge
before the setting was issued.
According to the relay vendor, there is a cut-off level of
0.04pu for differential current calculation. This is A methodology to help with the understanding of the digital
understandable: if the current input is too small, there could be relays is to mimic the relay internal calculations for a specific
more error in the phasor and differential current calculation. In application. Most relay vendors have 87T calculations and the
this case, Phase C differential current (Icd) was below 0.04pu compensation equations included in the manuals, so it is not
all the time. So in the event record the phasor Icd was shown too hard to go through the calculations step by step. Modern
0.0. The phasors of Iad and Ibd were above 0.05pu. At the CAD tool can also be utilized to automate the calculation and
beginning, the 87T operation was blocked due to significant to gain insight of the relay internal process at the same time.
2nd harmonics in both A and B phases. After a few cycles, At the end of this paper, the MathCAD calculation sheets for
when the current on Phase B (Ibd) dropped to be less than two types of 87T relays are provided as reference.
0.04pu, both the differential current and 2nd harmonics on B
phase became zero inside the relay. So the 2-out-of-3 logic on
harmonics blocking would not block 87T operation anymore.
The relay tripped because Iad was still above 0.05pu. [1] J.L. Blackburn and T.J. Domin, Protective Relaying Principles and
Applications, Third Edition, CRC Press, 2006

Therefore, the root cause of this case is actually not due to the [2] GE-T35 Instruction Manual, Available:
inrush blocking settings. The high CT ratio and low 87T
pickup setting are the culprits. The lessons learned are: [3] SEL- 487E Instruction Manual, Available : http://
Do not use an overly high CT ratio for 87T protection. An
87T relay with 5A nominal inputs should be able to see [4] What is an operating principle for magnetizing inrush inhibit on the
1~5A current under normal operation. T60 and SR745 relays? Available:
The rule of thumb of 87T pickup setting is: never set the
pickup lower than 0.1pu. If certain calculation indicates the Yiyan Xue received his B.Eng. from Zhejiang University in 1993 and M.Sc.
need of lower-than-0.1pu setting, change the CT ratio. from the University of Guelph in 2007. He is currently an Engineer Principal
in American Electric Power (AEP), working on protection and control
standards, relay settings, fault analysis, simulation studies, etc. Before joining
VIII. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS AEP in 2008, he had worked in GE for 3 years, in ABB for 10 years and in
GEC-ALSTHOM for 1 year. Yiyan Xue is a senior member of IEEE and a
In this computer era, intelligent electronic devices (IED) have Professional Engineer registered in the state of Ohio.
helped a lot to simplify relaying schemes. However, it is risky
to put blind faith on the intelligence of the digital relays. The Zachary P. Campbell received his B.S.E.E. degree from the University of
Akron, in Akron, Ohio, in 2008, and his M.Sc. degree from The Ohio State
knowledge and the judgement of a protection engineer are still University, in Columbus, Ohio, in 2012. He has been an engineer at
the most important tools to ensure the quality of setting work. American Electric Power (AEP) since 2008, working in various capacities
Ideally, a relay engineer not only needs to have knowledge of within protective relaying departments including field services and
the protection principle but also needs to know how the digital engineering. Zak is a member of IEEE, CIGRE and is a registered
professional engineer in the state of Ohio.
relay works internally to a certain degree. And calculation is
always necessary. Using the 87T relay as example, a set of Sudhakar Chidurala received his B.Eng. from Osmania University in 1989
standard settings may be just fine to provide good protection and Master of Technology from REC, Kakatiya University in 1999. He is
for most transformers. However, when there are slight currently a Protection and Control Engineer in AEP. Before joining AEP in
variations with the transformer, the CT or the system, if the 2007, he had worked 3 years in Hydro One Inc., Canada and 13 years in AP
Transmission Corp., India at various capacities in Protection and Control
settings are not adjusted accordingly, mis-operation may Engineering. Sudhakar is active Senior Member of IEEE, MIE of India and is
occur. registered professional engineer in the state of Oklahoma and Texas.

This paper presented five mis-operation cases. These mis- Charles Jones received his BSEE from West Virginia University in 1982 and
MEEE from the University of Idaho in 2011. He is currently a Staff Engineer
operations could have been avoided, if each of the 87T relay at American Electric Power, working on protection and control standards,
setting was contemplated carefully. For example, in the first relay setting templates, fault analysis, etc. He has been with American Electric
case, the Not Within Zone was set for Grounding of Delta Power for 30 years. Charles Jones is a member of IEEE and a Professional
winding because the setter did not think of the grounding Engineer registered in the state of West Virginia and Ohio.
transformer at Delta side. In the second case, the CT
connection setting of the relay was set as Delta because the
setter only looked at the auxiliary CTs connection, without
thinking of the main CTs and the generator configuration.
This type of over-simplified thinking process should be

Page 9 of 9
Appendix I: Relay Type-I 87T Function Calculator

This example is only for 3-winding transformer and 3 groups of CT inputs to 87T relay

Color Codes: Equation to be updated by user

MVA 1000000 V A pu 1 ( mag , ang) mag ( cos ( ang deg) + i sin ( ang deg) )

1. Relay Settings

Number of windings: nWnd := 3

Enter the MVA, nominal kV and CT primary for each winding

62.5MVA 138kV 500A

Snom := 62.5MVA Vnorm := 69kV CT prim := 500A CTsec := 5A
35.7MVA 46kV 500A

ReferenceWinding := 0 (0="Auto", otherwise, enter the winding# as reference)

"Y" "Within Zone"

Connection := "Y" Grounding := "Within Zone"
"D" "Not Within Zone"

Phase angle with regards
to Winding #1: AngWrtW1 := 0

87T Curve settings

Pickup := 0.2 Slope1 := 40% Break1 := 2.0 Slope2 := 100% Break2 := 15.0

2. CT Ratio Check

CT ratio 100
CT prim
CTR := = 100

Nominal primary and secondary current for each winding

Inorm_prim := = 523 A
Vnorm 3


Inorm_sec := = 5.23 A

Tthe selection of CT ratio should make the secondary nominal current 1~5A for each winding.

3. Magnitude Compensation Factors

Imargin := = 0.956
Inorm_prim 1.116

The automatic reference winding is

( ( ) )
RefW_Auto := match min Imargin , Imargin + 1 = ( 2 )

The reference winding is

RefW := RefW_Auto0 if ReferenceWinding = 0 = 2

ReferenceWinding otherwise

The magnitude compensation factors (M) are used to convert each winding current before the differential
and restraint current are calculated

CT prim Vnorm
M := = 1
CTprim Vnorm
RefW 1 RefW 1 0.667

If the setting of Reference Winding is "Automatic Selection", the winding cooresponding to the smallest Margin
Factor will be selected by the relay as the reference winding. If you see a overly high M factor, please set the
reference winding manually instead of using "Automatic Selection".

3. Phase Compensation Reference

i := n 0
while Connectionn = "Y"
n n + 1

RefAngle := AngWrtW1i = 30
AngWrtRef := RefAngle AngWrtW1 = 30

4. Fault Analysis

Enter fault current phasors in primary value. The angle is in Degree.

175.85 283.2 112.84 64.45 112.9 145.43

IAFprim := 83.6 103.37 A IBFprim := 102.95 204.83 A ICFprim := 119.15 341.61 A
80.52 84.01 592.83 286.92 236.57 318.7

IAFprim IBFprim ICFprim
IAF := IBF := ICF :=

Phase and zero sequence compensation


IAp0gnd := IBp0gnd := ICp0gnd :=
3 3 3


IAF ICF IBp30lag := ICp30lag :=
IAp30lag := 3 3


IAF IBF IBp30lead := ICp30lead :=
IAp30lead := 3 3

IAW ( n) := s IAFn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Not Within Zone"

IAp0gndn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Within Zone"

IAp30lead n if AngWrtRef n = 30

IAp30lagn if AngWrtRef n = 30

s Mn CTsec 1

IBW ( n) := s IBFn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Not Within Zone"

IBp0gndn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Within Zone"

IBp30leadn if AngWrtRef n = 30

IBp30lagn if AngWrtRef n = 30

s Mn CTsec 1

ICW ( n) := s ICFn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Not Within Zone"

ICp0gndn if AngWrtRef n = 0 Groundingn = "Within Zone"

ICp30leadn if AngWrtRef n = 30

ICp30lagn if AngWrtRef n = 30

s Mn CTsec 1

Calculate Differential and Restraint Currents

ii := 0 .. nWnd 1

IAXii := IAW ( ii) IBXii := IBW ( ii) ICXii := ICW ( ii)

nWnd 1
nWnd 1 nWnd 1
IdA :=
IAXk IdB :=
IdC :=
k=0 k=0

IrA := max IAX ( )
IrB := max IBX ( ) (

IrC := max ICX )

Differential current, magnitude in pu

IdA = 0.342 IdB = 0.316 IdC = 0.325

Restraint current, magnitude in pu

IrA = 0.62 IrB = 0.79 IrC = 0.34

0 Pickup

Pickup vy1 := Pickup
vx1 := Slope1 Break1 Slope1
Break2 Slope2
vx := vx1 if xlimit Break2 vy := vy1 if xlimit Break2
stack ( vx1 , xlimit) otherwise stack ( vy1 , xlimit Slope2) otherwise

87T Characteristic
Differential Current (Unit in pu)

IdB Change the limit of
IdC X-axis and Y-axis:
1 xlimit 3
ylimit 3

0 1 2 3
vx , IrA , IrB , IrC
Restraint Current (Unit in pu)

Appendix II: Relay-2 87T Function Calculator


Color Codes: Equation to be updated by user

Y 1 D 3 pu 1 ( mag , ang) mag ( cos ( ang deg) + i sin( ang deg) )

The TxCTC setting represents one of the following matrixes. The CTC(12) produces no phase shift, but it
removes the zero-sequence components.

2 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1
1 1 1
CTC12 := 1 2 1 CTC1 := 0 1 1 CTC11 := 1 1 0
1 1 2 3 3
1 0 1 0 1 1
D lags Y by 30 D leads Y by 30

1. Relay Settings

MVA_ := 1500 ICOM := "Y" Windings:S,T,U,W

CTRS := 600 CTCONS := Y TSCTC := CTC12 VTERMS := 765

CTRT := 600 CTCONT := Y TTCTC := CTC12 VTERMT := 765

CTRU := 6928 CTCONU := D TUCTC := CTC1 VTERMU := 26

CTRW := 7000 CTCONW := Y TWCTC := CTC1 VTERMW := 26


O87P := 0.3 U87P := 16

SLP1 := 25% SLP2 := 60% DIOPR := 1.2 DIRTR := 1.2

E87HB := "N" E87HR := "Y"

PCT2 := 20% PCT4 := 20% PCT5 := 35%

S87QP := 1.0 SLPQ1 := 100 S87QD := 100

2. Check the TAP

In order to compensate for the differential current due to CT ratios and transformer ratio, the relay will calculate the
scaling factor, namely TAPn, for each winding current. The calculation method is,

MVA_ 1000
TAPS := CTCONS = 1.89

MVA_ 1000
TAPT := CTCONT = 1.89

MVA_ 1000
TAPU := CTCONU = 8.33

MVA_ 1000
TAPW := CTCONW = 4.76

MVA_ 1000
TAPX := CTCONX = 866025.4

2. 87T Calculation and Plots

Fault Current Phasors

For each winding, enter the A, B, C phase current from top to bottom.

237 44 527.8 36.9

IFS := 274.8 280.7 IFT := 504.8 278.7
311.3 163.2 480.9 155

13641.4 186.6 951.5 328.9 0 0
IFU := 13590.2 68 IFW := 997.3 207 IFX := 0 0
13915.6 307.5 963 87.4 0 0

87T Calculation





0.234 + 0.177i
DiffSEL := ISC + ITC + IUC + IWC + IXC = 0.042 0.296i
0.276 + 0.118i

ResA := ISC0 + ITC0 + IUC0 + IWC0 + IXC0 = 1.11 pu
DiffA := DiffSEL0 = 0.29 pu

ResB := ISC1 + ITC1 + IUC1 + IWC1 + IXC1 = 1.14 pu

DiffB := DiffSEL1 = 0.3 pu

ResC := ISC2 + ITC2 + IUC2 + IWC2 + IXC2 = 1.14 pu

DiffC := DiffSEL2 = 0.3 pu

The following variables are just for plotting.

O87P O87P
O87P O87P
vx1 := vy1 := O87P vx2 := SLP2 vy2 :=
SLP1 xlimit SLP1 xlimit SLP2
xlimit xlimit

87T Characteristic
87T Settings:
O87P = 0.3 pu
SLP1 = 25 %
4 SLP2 = 60 %
Differential Current (pu)

Fault Quantity Calc:

DiffA = 0.29 pu
DiffB 3
DiffB = 0.3 pu
vy1 DiffC = 0.3 pu

vy2 2
ResA = 1.11 pu
ResB = 1.14 pu

1 ResC = 1.14 pu

Change the scale:

xlimit 5
0 1 2 3 4 5 ylimit 5
ResA , ResB , ResC , vx1 , vx2

Restraint Current (pu)