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Background information

The IEEE Standard Dictionary defines a circuit breaker as follows:
A device designed to open and close a circuit by nonautomatic means, and to open the
circuit automatically on a predetermined overload of current without injury to itself when
properly applied within its rating.

By this definition, MV breakers are not true circuit breakers, since they do not open
automatically on overcurrent. They are electrically operated power-switching devices, not
operating until directed by some external device to open or close. This is true whether the
unit is an air, oil, vacuum, or [SF.sub.6] circuit breaker. Sensors and relays are used to
detect the overcurrent or other abnormal or unacceptable condition and to signal the
switching mechanism to operate. The MV circuit breakers are the brute-force switches while
the sensors and relays are the brains that direct their functioning.
The sensors can be current transformers (CTs), potential
transformers (PTs), temperature or pressure instruments, float
switches, tachometers, or any device or combination of devices that will respond to the
condition or event being monitored. In switchgear application, the most common sensors
are CTs to measure current and PTs to measure voltage. The relays measure sensor output
and cause the breaker to operate to protect the system when preset limits are exceeded,
hence the name “protective relays.” The availability of a variety of sensors, relays, and
circuit breakers permits the design of