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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual

inspection
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 13:06:05

Site acceptance tests

After switchgear erection, installation, control wiring assembly on-site and before

connecting any cables from the plant, the switchgear must be admitted to the site

acceptance tests (SAT), which assures the correct operation of the switchgear

according to specification before energizing it. SATs are derived from the

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards 60694 and 62271-200.

The process for a SAT consists of seven important steps, (1) the visual inspection,

(2) the functional tests, (3) the mechanical tests, (4) the measuring devices tests, (5)

protective relays tests, (6) the dielectric tests and the (7) insulation resistance tests.

The SAT is basically the same for different switchgear configurations, but the

tested functions may vary from one switchgear configuration to another. For

example, some switchgear configurations include a synchronization check function

between the incoming cubicles to synchronize the coupling of two different power

sections, or other configurations include special protection functions for the

outcoming cubicles, so for each case the different functions should be tested.

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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
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Before working, the commissioning engineer from the contractor or

manufacturer’s side should look at the drawings and prepare the test equipment to

be delivered on-site and estimate the manpower needed to complete the job in

due time. From the customer’s side, the switchgear must be cleaned from any

dust, the area should be made clear of obstacles and the customer should provide

the 230 VAC and 380 VAC power supplies necessary for the testing equipment.

A meeting is usually held between the consultant, contractor (or supplier) and

customer before the tests to agree upon the details of the test procedure and the

documents to be signed and the certificate forms.

On-site and after the documents have been prepared, all safety measures must be

taken, barriers should be set around the switchgear, the switchgear must be

properly earthed and only authorized personnel from the three main parties

should be allowed on-site.

Visual inspection of the switchgear

The first step is to inspect the switchgear visually by comparing the drawing with

the actual installed items. Visual inspection is important because (1) it ensures that

the switchgear has been manufactured according to the drawings and

specifications and (2) it helps in identifying some problems that might have not

been realized during the factory acceptance test (FAT). In some cases, the labelling

might be wrong or some component might be missing or one might even discover

a loose connection. In the visual inspection process one should scan his eyes

through as much details as possible, because there might be a missing label, a

missing gasket or a spot that needs to be repainted or any other detail.

To prepare for this test one needs the single line diagram (SLD), the control wiring,

a pencil and highlighter.

Examples from the field

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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
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As mentioned above, the visual inspection can identify some serious problems,

which could save a lot of time and effort, in the following figure, the ammeters are

connected to the measuring core of a current transformer, imagine if one of the

connections is loose, what do you assume will happen when the 11 kV and the

1000 A are subject to the primary core? It simply is the textbook case of an open

current transformer circuit which can cause arcing or even explode. So, it is good

practice to give the current transformer circuits some extra attention and in this

case check that the wires are properly fixed into the ammeters.


Figure 1 A loose ammeter connection means that the current transformer has a core with an open circuit, one should look
carefully at current transformer connections to avoid serious accidents.

Sometimes the installed components are not the specified ones, so it is good

practice to take a close look at the labels of the main components at least. In the

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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
inspection
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 13:06:05

following figure, the installed current transformer has core ratios of 200/5 A, while

the specified ones are 300/5A.


Figure 2 Checking the labels visually before going through the test procedures is important to make sure the correct
components are installed; the tests can be a nightmare if they give unexpected results.

In some cases, the components are ordered correctly, but some functions

specified for the component are missing. This is quite common with protection

relays, because they usually have too much functions.

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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 13:06:05


Figure 3 Checking the product ID of protection relays assures that the correct relay has been ordered as specified with all the
requested functions.

In some cases, the mimic diagram on the cubicle might be incorrect, the indicating

leds might be misplaced or incorrectly labelled, or a pushbutton might be broken,

so it is good practice to check and compare with the drawings.


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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
inspection
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 13:06:05


Figure 4 Checking the mimic diagram, indicating lamps, push buttons flag relays and comparing with the drawings to make
sure they are placed according to specification.

The cubicle nameplates can sometimes be labelled with wrong names or

misspelled, so it’s worth checking and comparing with drawings.


Figure 5 Cubicle nameplate might be labelled with wrong name or misspelled.

In this article, we went through the process of testing medium voltage switchgear

on-site and we dedicated this first article in the series to the visual inspection test.

In the next article the functional tests shall be discussed.




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Principles of testing medium voltage switchgear: Part 1 Visual
inspection
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 13:06:05

Further reading

For further reading refer to,

[1] IEC 62271-200:2011 https://webstore.iec.ch/publication/6716

[2] IEC 60694:1996 Common specifications for high-voltage switchgear and

controlgear standards, https://webstore.iec.ch/publication/17249

[3] http://www.parstasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IEC-62271-200.pdf

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