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Lawrence B. Farr Thomas A. Farr

Sr. Member, IEEE Member, IEEE
Principal R & D Engineer Applications Engineer
Eaton Electrical Eaton Electrical
221 Heywood Road 221 Heywood Road
Arden, NC 28704 Arden, NC 28704

Abstract- Reduced voltage motor starting has advantages and Because it is difficult to rebuild a motor once it is installed, It
issues that must be understood when applying these is important that this information be obtained during the
technologies. This paper addresses these considerations on negotiation cycle.
primary reactor, autotransformer, star delta and solid-state
reduced voltage starters. Motors draw much more current during starting than they do
at full load. They also have a low power factor at locked rotor
Index Terms Reduced voltage motor starting, primary (LR). When this is resolved into its kW and KVAR curves Fig.
reactor, autotransformer, star delta, and solid-state motor 2 results.
When installing large motors on a power system, voltage
drop on the incoming power system is usually a primary
concern to the power company. Often the best solution is to
apply a reduced voltage starter. This paper provides guidance
as to what type and discusses the issues that must be
considered with each type.
The medium voltage motor characteristics differ in many
ways from low voltage motors. In particular the locked rotor
torque (LRT) is typically 50-70 % of Full Load Torque (FLT). In
this case study we will use an 800 hp 900-rpm machine as a
model. This information is available from the motor
manufacturer as a graph or as a listing of torque, stator Fig. 2 kW, kVA and kVAR During Full Voltage Starting
current and power factor (PF). When the motor is used in a
reduced voltage starting application, the motor manufacturer III. EFFECTS ON SYSTEM VOLTAGE DROP WITH REDUCED VOLTAGE
can supply the motor damage curves, and reduced voltage,
current, and torques. If asked he will supply the acceleration There are computer programs that help with these studies;
times. To do this he will require the driven machines inertia, however the studies for this paper were done using a
acceleration torque requirement both loaded and unloaded as spreadsheet program.
well as the power system impedance.

Fig. 3 Phasor diagram of voltage relations for Voltage-drop

Fig. 1 shows the current and PF of the motor as it accelerates
at full voltage.
It is the vars that cause most of the power system voltage
drops. The voltage across an inductance, through which

reactive current flows, opposes the voltage source. Where as be started once an hour then the maximum voltage drop
the voltage across a resistance, through which reactive would be 6% and it would be good if it were less than 3%.
current flows, is at right angles to the voltage source and the
resultant voltage drop is small compared to the reactive
voltage drop. Fig. 3 shows this rather complex relationship in
graphical detail. The approximate formula for voltage drop is
given in IEEE Std 141-1993 3.11.1 Red Book.

V= IRcos + IXsin (1)

When calculating the voltage system voltage drop it is
customary to only consider the reactive component, because
the X over R ratio is normally between 15 to 20 times and the
reactive current is 4 to 6 times the real current. This makes
the reactive voltage drop some 75 to 100 times the power
voltage drop. So to the first order of approximation, the
assumption that all impedances are reactive and all loads are
inductive is valid. Fig. 4 shows a calculation in a simple power
system typical of a small plant operation.

Fig. 5. Range of observable and objectionable voltage flicker

vs time
The second effect is the torque of the motor is reduced. A
rule of thumb is that the starting torque varies by the square of
the reduced voltage reduction. With the 88% starting voltage
the torque is reduced to 77% of full voltage. The effect across
the starting range is shown in Fig. 6.

Fig. 4 Load study of a 800 hp motor starting with a 2 500-kVA

transformer system.
The power company must give the distribution systems
impedance. If they require you to meet their voltage drop
requirements then they must give you this information. It
comes in the form of Short Circuit amp, ohms at a voltage or Fig. 6 Motor torque starting with a 2 500 kVA Transformer
system MVA fault capability.
In this case the data is in Short Circuit amps (SC) at line
voltage. This is resolved into a MVA fault capability 430 MVA. Each type of load has a unique starting load torque curve.
A base must be selected in this case the 2,500 kVA We will not discuss all but will focus on the pump and fan
transformer us a good base. The motor locked rotor MVA is applications. The rule of thumb for these applications is that
calculated 5.2 MVA. By dividing the Fault capability into the the torque varies with the square of the speed. The hp
Per Unit base the line and motor PU impedance can be requirement varies with the cube of the speed.
determined. This is 0.0058 and 0.481 PUZ respectably. Then Almost all pumps and fans can be supplied with an
adding the impedances, system, transformer and motor, and unloading system; this typically will reduce the full speed
dividing into the PU Voltage i.e. 1 allows the calculation of the torque by 40-50%. The pump or fan manufacturer can supply
PU current. the recommended unloading method as well as the loaded
In this study the voltage drop after the transformer is 11.5%. and unloaded speed torque curves. If you need to have the
This has two effects. The lights blink and some electronics pump or fan unloaded ask for it during the planning stage for it
shut down. In a plant environment the secondary voltage is may very difficult and expensive to do later. However some
typically used to feed all plant requirements. applications cant be unloaded an example is deep well
This excessive voltage drop (flicker) is irritating and creates
a disturbance in the workforce. Fig. 5 [2] shows the generally
accepted flicker (Voltage Dip) curves. If this sized motor is to
torque requirement exceeds the motors acceleration torque
the motor -- pump will not accelerate beyond the point where
the load torque curve crosses the motor torque curve. In other
words, it will stall at this point. When the power system is
really weak the addition of capacitors to the starter can
provide a economical solution.

Fig. 7 Typical Fan/Blower, Motor Speed Torque Curve

In this case study Fig. 7 demonstrates that the motor will
start the load without a possibly of failure to accelerate. When
the two curves are placed on the same chart it can be seen
that the motor will start the load even if the pump/fan is
loaded. The deduction in torque capability of the motor is
demonstrated in Fig. 7. Fig. 9 Motor and Load torque at various reactor taps.
IV. MOTOR TORQUE DURING REDUCED VOLTAGE STARTING PRIMARY Examination of Fig. 9 reveals that the motor will not start the
REACTOR load on the 65% tap unless it is unloaded. And starting on the
50% tap unloaded would be questionable. We could add
To reduce the flicker below the 6% level we have to go to a
starting capacitance to the starter and reduce the reactive
reduced voltage starting system. The simplest is a primary
current flowing through the transformer.
reactor system Fig. 8 is a single line of this starter type with
associated per unit voltages, impedances and current. This V. MOTOR TORQUE DURING REDUCED VOLTAGE STARTING
starter type consists of an iron core reactor with taps that AUTOTRANSFORMER STARTER
inserts impedance between the line and the motor hereby
reducing the voltage at the motor terminals. If a motor terminal The autotransformer starter will reduce the voltage to the
voltage of 50% of line voltage is desired the 50% reactor tap motor by transforming the incoming line voltage down to the
would be chosen and the resultant reactance would be equal desired voltage to the motor. The good effect is that the
to the locked rotor impedance of the motor. The reactor and locked rotor current is reduced in the incoming line by the
autotransformer tap notation is that of the motor voltage at square of the voltage reduction. This is quantified in the load
locked rotor conditions on that tap. That is the 65% tap will study by the impedance of the motor being reflected through
result in a motor terminal voltage of 65%. the autotransformer by the square of the voltage reduction. In
the load flow study the effective motor impedance is increased
by one over the square of the voltage reduction. Fig. 10
shows the single line and the resulting voltage drops. In this
study the autotransformer impedance is not included. The
impedance at low power levels this does not effect the results
but when the motor is several thousand it can significant

Fig. 8. Voltage drop calculations for Primary Reactor Starter

on the 50% tap.
This starting method and the 50% tap almost solved the
plant voltage drop problem. The next question to be answered
is will the motor start the load? Fig. 9 shows the motor torque
at each reactor tap in this power system. The load torque is
shown in the loaded and unloaded condition. If the pump
Fig. 10. Voltage drop calculations for Autotransformer starter Autotransformer Failures Explaining the Unexplained. The
on the 50% tap. paper recommends that closed transition occur at no more
than 125% current and to trip if the motor fails to accelerate.
On the 50% tap the line drop is about 0.29% and the The paper discusses a solution by the use of surge arrestors
transformer voltage drop is 3.22%. When we look back at Fig. to clip the high voltage.
5 it indicates that the system can start 800 hp motors up to 10
times per hour with out exceeding the flicker limits.
This starter has reduced the transformer voltage drop from
~6% to ~3%. This increases the motor torque; Fig. 11 shows
the new speed torque curves. These curves reflect the
decreased distribution transformer voltage drop.
Fig. 11 shows that the 50% tap is inadequate even during
unloaded motor starting. The 65% tap would work provided
the motor was started unloaded, and the system remains the
same. The 80% tap would start the motor loaded if the
system impedance does not increase, and would have no
trouble starting the motor unloaded. While 50, 65 and 80%
taps are standard, custom taps are available. It is
recommended that a system study can be done prior to Fig. 12 Autotransformer layer-to-layer failure due to
ordering the transformer starter when changes in taps can be transformer resonance
made without large expense.
One method of avoiding transformer failures during forced
transition is to go to an open transition method of starting.
During the open portion of the transition the rotor flux is not at
synchronous speed the rotor has an increasing angle with
respect to where the stator flux will be when the power is
reapplied. This is analogous to a generator enclosing onto a
power system out of phase. The torque and current surges
are substantial. Refer to Fig. 15 for typical out of phase torque
pulses. These pulses have lead to broken shafts and burned
up motors.
Moving transformer taps is simple, but limited to the
available taps. The starter manufacturer can provide taps
other than the NEMA preferred taps of 50, 65 and 80%.
Common mistakes applications engineers make is not
allowing for changes in system impedance, changes motor
starting torque requirements, lower motor starting torque due
to manufacturing variation, changes in load torque
Fig. 11 Motor and Load torque at various Autotransformer requirements due to changes in temperature or leaking valves
taps etc. Most Autotransformers starters are shipped with the
65% tap connected. Moving from the 65 to the 80% tap may
If the motor fails to accelerate on a transformer tap
solve the starting torque issue, but the system voltage drop
unpleasant things often happen. The starter manufacturer
will increase and consequently the flicker. Will the additional
gets a call your starter will not start the motor what is wrong
voltage drop be acceptable?
with it?
A capacitor bank can be added to support the voltage
Alternatives are limited to unloading the motor, forcing
during start. The system voltage can rise to an over-voltage
transition or increasing the transformer tap setting.
condition, if the sequencing of the capacitor bank is not
Several methods of unloading the motor are available. A proper. Over-voltage can lead to equipment failures and
clutch- viscous coupling can be added to bring in the load control power transformer fuses opening etc.
after motor acceleration. Valves or dampers can be added to
Another issue is autotransformers are transformers with low
the pump or fan system to reduce the torque required.
impedance and have high inrush currents when they are first
Forced transition is not recommended and it can get ugly. energized. This can create coordination issues with upstream
The first problem when you force transition below 95% speed, protective devices.
the voltage dips on the power system are similar in magnitude
Capacitors on the line side of the autotransformer have led
to a full voltage start. The second problem is that
to some interesting problems. The report usually comes in as
autotransformers experience high voltage stress failures
it sounds like a 747 taking off as it coasts down! This is
during forced transition. Fig. 12 shows a layer-to-layer failure
caused by a resonance between the motor, transformer and
of an autotransformer resulting from a forced transition at
the capacitors. In the coast down mode the transformer is a
locked rotor. This mode of failure is discussed at length in
reactor and is in the circuit between the capacitor and motor.
reference 2 Medium-Voltage Reduced-Voltage
Moving the capacitors to the motor side solves this problem.
Reduced voltage reactors and autotransformers have a
duty cycle. The NEMA/IEC medium duty ( see Fig. 13)
standard is a 30 second start, rest for 180 seconds repeat for
a total of three starts, rest one hour and repeat the cycle.

Fig. 14 Wye Delta Single Line

The rotor flux decays in small motors in a few milliseconds
but in large machines such as this 800 hp motor it will take
about 1-3 seconds for the rotor flux to decay to 42% of its
original value. If transition is made in the normal open and
close of the contactors it will occur in about 12 cycles or .2
seconds. This will create a torque pulse. This is generally
shown in Fig. 15.

Fig. 13 Medium duty reactor temperature rise test record

The NEMA/IEC Heavy duty standard is one minute on, one
minute off repeat for a total of 5 starts, rest two hours and
repeat the cycle.
The temperature rise after the second sequence shall be no
more than 15 degrees Kelvin more than the transformers
insulation system. In this example the insulation system is 180
degrees rise over a 40 ambient and 15 degrees makes the
Fig. 15 Torque Pulse Value vs Power Angle
peak temperature some 235 degree C. If the autotransformer
is horsepower rated, the locked rotor is assumed to be six Open transition Issues: during the starting cycle, the rotor
time full load amps. The new CANENA standards will rate flux is 30 degrees out of phase with the rotor flux during the
Motor starting reactors and autotransformers in Locked Rotor run mode. If transition occurs before the rotor flux has
Amps. decayed (one to three seconds) torque surges will occur.
This can result in broken mechanical parts. If the load on the
If the starter application is more severe than these two
machine is significant, deceleration will occur while the flux
standards, the starter manufacturer should be made aware of
decays, and when transitioned to full voltage the current surge
the expected duty cycle so that adjustments can be made. A
can be similar to across the line start. Motor torque will be
good example of this is centrifuges with 90 to 120 sec starting
close to pull out, 150-200% FLT. This can cause significant
torque pulses to the mechanical system.
Closed transition issues: during the transition period the
Star delta, also called wye delta starter uses six lead star connection of the winding is applied across the line with a
motors. During the starting cycle three of the leads are reactance or a resistance to limit the torque surge while the
shorted in the star (starting) configuration with the other ends rotor flux reorients, and then is removed. Issues: The
connected to the line. Fig. 14 is a single line of this starter resistance/ reactance is at line voltage and therefore big while
type. This configuration effectively reduces the voltage to the additional contactor is required.
motor to 57%. The effective torque available for acceleration
is reduced to 32% of full voltage. Mechanical interlocking of
the contactors used in this type of starter is complicated and In the past ten years the reduced voltage solid-state starter
critical, if not correct can lead to line-to-line faults. The starter has gained in popularity. The cost of these starters has come
transitions to full voltage by removing the star connection and down, and the reliability has increased. Fig. 17 is a single line
putting each of the windings line to line this connection is of the solid-state starter showing the SCRs and a bypass
called Delta (run). There two methods open and closed contactor. These starters typically use power electronic
transition, each has its own issues. devices such as silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCR) to reduce
the effective voltage applied to the motor. Two main methods
of control are available, current limit, ramp mode. A kick-start
is often available to overcome the initial frictional torque of the The only major issue with reduced voltage solid-state
motor and load. Typically soft starters finish the start cycle starters is the presence of harmonics (non sinusoidal
with a bypass contactor closing around the power electronics. currents).
This type of starter will give the lowest voltage drop of any These are present only during the starting cycle until the
of the reduced voltage starting types while eliminating the bypass contactor closes. Non-sinusoidal waveforms,
other problem of failure to accelerate. Even if the starter Fig. 18 shows the voltage and current wave forms at the
causes a higher system voltage drop during starting, the drop motor during a start of a typical solid-state starter, can
is more like a brown out vs. a surge. become the exciting source for harmonic currents.
When the plant power system is tuned close to one of
One way of understanding the Solid-State Starters is to use rd th th
the harmonics (3 , 5 , 7 etc) of the RVSS,
the analogy of it is a reactor starter with a variable reactor.
overloading of components and tripping of protective
When more torque is required the effective impedance is
devices can occur. Therefore it is recommended that a
reduced allowing more torque and continuing the acceleration.
harmonic study be performed on the facility during the
Motor starting by electromechanical means is a bump and planning phase.
grind. Motor starting with a solid-state starter is smooth and
easy on the mechanical system. This starter type virtually
eliminates the charging currents for transformers and motors.
Another feature of Solid-State starters has over the electro-
mechanical starters is that is also affords control over motor
deceleration. This can eliminate issues like water hammer
and belt scraping on conveyor systems.

Fig. 18 Typical motor Voltage and Current Wave Forms with a

Solid State Reduced Voltage Starter at Start.
One site the Authors visited shows the issue of harmonics
clearly. This site was serviced by a 4 mVA 7% impedance
transformers feeding a 1 500 hp motor and two 700 hp 4 000
volt motors. The power factor correction was to be to 95%. Fig
19 shows the all three motors running and it is important to
note the capacitor current of 17 A 60 Hz and 2 A 11
harmonic current.
Fig. 16 Typical motor current curves with a Solid State
Reduced Voltage Starter.
Fig. 16 demonstrates a typical current vs speed curve on
the ramp mode of acceleration. In Ramp mode the control
system will continue to increase the voltage applied to the
motor until it has reached full speed. This affords the lowest
system voltage drop and eliminates the need for, more
expensive, high locked rotor torque motors required to prevent
the load torque from exceeding the motor available
acceleration torque and stalling out.

Fig. 19 Motor Voltage, Current and PFC Current with all

motors running and PFCs connected.
When two 700 hp motors were running with their PFC
connected the 1 500 hp motor was started. The 17 A PFC
Fig. 17 Typical Single Line for a Reduced Votlage Solid State
Current developed a 50 A rms 11th harmonic current. We
removed some of the capacitance and found that all that
changed was the harmonic number it increased to the 17th.
This began to blow fuses etc. This led us to setup a system XII. REFERENCES:
when a motor is started all PFCs on the bus are switched off
and returned one at a time after two minutes. [1] IEEE Std 141-1993 Red Book IEEE Recommended
Practice for Electric Power Distribution for Industrial Plants.

[2] Medium-Voltage Reduced-Voltage Autotransformer

Failures Explaining the Unexplained Lawrence B. Farr and
Arthur J. Smith III IEEE Transactions on Industrial
Applications. Vol. 41 No2 March/April 2005

XIII. Vita
Thomas A. Farr was born in Birmingham Alabama in
November 15,1968. He spent 6 years in the US Navy working
on the Aegis Weapon System followed by 2 years with
Lockheed Martin.
Received an AASEET from Asheville Buncombe Technical
Community College in 1995. Joined Eaton Electrical in 1997,
received a BSEET from Western Carolina in 2002.
Tom has worked as a tester and customer order engineer in
medium voltage motor starters. As an excitation control tester,
Fig. 20 Motor Voltage, Current and PFC Current on a 700 hp manufacturing engineer, customer order engineer and field
motor when the 1 500 hp motor is started on the same bus service engineer.
This is site specific and the harmonic resonance will change Tom is currently the Medium Voltage Motor Control
depending on what motors are on line with its power factor Application Engineer for Eaton Electrical at the Arden NC
capacitors on line. Plant.
One thing dont put the PF Capacitors between the starter and Lawrence B. Farr was born in Port Arthur TX, December 17,
the motor. The SCRs dont like it. The inrush to the capacitors 1941. He received a BSEE from Lamar State Collage of
damage the SCRs with high charging current . Technology, Beaumont, TX, and the MBA degree from the
University of Detroit, Detroit, MI in 1978.
Additional training will be required to service this type of
starter. He was with the Air Force in Control Center Design and
Installation, stationed in the Far East. He joined Westinghouse
X. Conclusion
in 1967 as a Field Service Engineer, He has had varied
When an engineer is faced with the problem of starting a assignments from steel and paper mill design and power
large motor on a weak power system, a reduced voltage system analysis to manufacturing and maintenance.
motor starter is a good option. The reactor starter is the Mr. Farr is Chair of the CANENA THC 17A WG1 for Medium
simplest and least expensive. However as we have seen it Voltage Motor Starters. Delegate for the US to the Working
has the least effect on reducing the line voltage drop Groups Revising IEC 60470, IEC 60289 and IEC 60694 High
associated with motor starting. The most expensive, complex Voltage, Motor Starters, Switchgear and Controlgear and
and requires the most expert maintenance is the Solid State Common Clauses.
starter. This paper provides the applications engineer a simple
method of calculation the effectiveness of each system and He is the Technical Advisor to the IEC USNC for High Voltage
outlines the strengths and pitfalls associated with starter type. Equipment and chief delegate to the IEC General Meetings.
XI. Nomenclature He was appointed Westinghouse Fellow Engineer in 1988 and
is Currently an Eaton Principal Engineer.
V is the voltage drop in circuit, line to neutral
I is the current flowing in the circuit
R is the resistance in one conductor, in ohms
X is the reactance in one conductor, in ohms
is the angle whose cosine is the load power factor
cos is the load power factor, in decimals
sin is the load reactive factor, in decimals
PU is per unit
PFC is power factor correction capacitor
Z Impedance in PU
SC Short Circuit in mVA
Vdtx Voltage drop after transformer
LRA Motor Locked Rotor Amps
RVSS Reduced Voltage Solid state Starter