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Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC)

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As engineers, we are aware that electrical power core

systems have grown. How much have they • Insulating material

grown? When was the last time you specified a When current travels through a current

2400-volt system, a 4160-volt 250 MVA system, caring device, such as a cable or bus duct it

a 15 kV 500 MVA system or specified a 2000- develops a magnetic field at right angles to

amp 480-volt system? An industrial plant now the flow of current. The strength of the

requires a larger and more complex system than magnetic field varies as the current magitude

was required just a few years ago. The 2400-volt changes during all operating conditions. As

systems have all but disappeared; 4160-volt learned in transformer theory, when a

systems have expanded from 350 MVA to 63 kA magnetic field strikes a wire, it will cause a

(equivalent to 500 MVA). The 15 kV systems current to flow in the wire. By using the

also have expanded to 63 kA (equivalent to 1500 strength of the magnetic field and knowing

MVA). Has all of the electrical system the turns ratio, we can obtain a value of

expanded? current that is useable for meters, relays and

other current sensing device.

In order to monitor and to protect the power

system we must measure the energy flow. To In order to scale a value of high current

connect a meter, relay or other current sensing flowing in a conductor, the engineer needs

device in series with a large current source to introduce a specific number of

would be impractical. The industry has a device uniformally distributed turns of wire around

that has been around for a long time and will the core to scale down the system current.

allow the engineer to monitor the electrical This will ensure that the output current is

power system. The current transformer is an always proportional to the current flowing in

engineer’s main measuring device to determine the conductor. The current-caring conductor

current flow in a power system. Engineers tend is referred to as the primary or H1 and the

to think of a current transformer as an ideal ends of the wire surrounding the core are

device; however, it is ideal only up to a point. referred to as the secondary or X1 and X2

for single winding current transformer.

Ideal Current Transformer Remember, on multi-ratio current

An ideal current transformer would transformers there are several secondary

proportionally scale down the value of the power outputs.

system current to a useable known value.

Second, the scale-down output should faithfully The current transformer can provide a

reproduce the power system current waveform. constant current or voltage output. This

An ideal current transformer should perform paper will cover only current transformers

these two tasks over the range of a few amps up that provide a current output.

through tens of thousands amps. The ideal

current transformer should be able to meet these In the past, there were two main values of

requirements. In reality, a current transformer secondary current typically used in

has limitations. measuring current. In the United States,

engineers typically use a 5-amp output.

Today’s current transformer hasn’t changed Other countries have adopted a 1-amp

since it was developed more than 80 year ago. A output. With the advent of microprocessor

current transformer consists of the following meters and relays, the industry is seeing the

components: 5-amp or 1-amp secondary being replaced

• A laminated steel core with a mA secondary. Typically, devices

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

opposed to current transformers.

Current transformers are available in several

different styles. Engineers can choose from the

following:

• Bushing type, Window or Donut

• Wound type

• Bar type

By far, the most common one is the wound type

current transformer. The wound type provides

excellent performance under a wide operating

range. Typically, the wound type is insulated to Typical Bar Type Current Transformer

only 600 volts. The bushing type is typically

used around the bushing on circuit breakers and Bar type current transformers are insulated

transformers and may not have a hard protective for the operating voltage of the system.

outside cover. Bar types are available with

higher insulation levels and are usually bolted to Current transformers are applied in two very

the current caring device. different functions, metering and/or

protection.

Metering Accuracy

The accuracy class of a current transformer

is expressed as the percent error for a known

burden, current and power factor. ANSI

C57.13-1993 Table 11 defines the standard

burdens for current transformers with 5-amp

secondary. The standard percent error

expressed in Table 11 are 0.3, 0.6, and 1.2,

and the standard metering burdens are 0.1,

0.2, 0.5, 0.9 and 1.8 ohms at 60 Hz, 90%

power factor lagging. In order to study the

Typical Donut Type Current Transformer full range of normal operation, engineers

should determine the accuracy at 10% and

Donut type current transformers are typically 100% load conditions.

insulated for 600 volts. To ensure accuracy, the

conductor should be positioned in the center of As an example, a current transformer with a

the current transformer opening. meter accuracy of 0.6B0.5 would indicate a

standard burden of 0.5 ohms and a load

power factor between 0.6 and 1.0. First, at

100% primary current the error in the meter

reading due to the current transformer will

be less than +/- 0.6%. Second, at 10%

primary current the error in the meter

reading due to the current transformer will

Specification Engineer Series

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

be less than +/- 1.2%. The code allows the error be considered a standard accuracy current

at 10% primary current to be no more than twice transformer. Another selection might be a

the error at 100% primary current. GE ITI 785-301 300:5 current transformers

is rated as a C100. This current transformer

Relay Accuracy has a core thickness of about 6.5 inches. In a

For relay classification engineers rely on the switchgear application, one could install two

secondary terminal voltage, which the current 780-301 300:5 on each phase of the

transformer can maintain at 20 times rated switchgear; although, only one 785-301

secondary current without exceeding 10% ratio 300:5 current transformer could be installed

correction. For a 5-amp current transformer on each phase.

secondary, that would be 100-amps. ANSI

C57.13-1993 offers the following standard Many times when engineers read a

terminal voltage ratings as 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, specification that requires a 100:5 current

400, and 800 volts. ANSI C57.13 only indicated transformer and states, “all current

the current transformer is capable of supplying transformers shall have a minimum of C200

the value indicated. A current transformer with a rating,” they are puzzled as how to proceed.

50-volt rating will supply at least 50 volts but is When the specification requires a supplier to

not capable of supplying 100 volts. It may very furnish one set of current transformers for

well be able to supply 95 volts. Always calculate each of the functions shown below, it may

the actual voltage capability for the current not be possible to provide C200 rated

transformer in use. current transformers for each function:

• Transformers differential

In addition to voltage classification, ANSI • Bus differential

C57.13 assigns a letter to precede the voltage • Phase over current protection

classification. It uses a “C” or “T” to define the • Metering

manner in which the rating is established. When

the leakage reactance is low and does not have Burden

an appreciable effect on the ratio the standard The burden can be expressed in two ways.

assigns a “C” for calculated value. Bar-type and The burden can be expressed as the total

window-type current transformers, which impedance in ohms of the circuit or the total

typically have fully distributed windings, are a volt-amperes and power factor at a specified

good example of these types of current value of current or voltage and frequency.

transformers. The engineer can convert a volt-amperes

value to total impedance in ohms by

When the leakage reactance has an appreciable dividing the volt-amperes by the square of

effect on the ratio, the standard assigns a “T”. the secondary amperes. A typical calculation

The accuracy of these current transformers can would be to convert 50 volt-amperes to total

only be determined by testing. Typically, wound- impedance in ohms. Dividing 50 volt-

primary current transformers which have non- amperes by 52 (25) would be an impedance

distributed windings fit in this category. of 2 ohms.

The ability of a current transformer to produce To determine the total impedance, both

the necessary voltage classification is directly active and reactive, one must sum the

determined by the current transformer ratio. A burden of the individual devices connected

GE ITI 780-301 300:5 current transformer is to the current transformer. The individual

rated as a C20. This current transformer has a devices may only be the current transformer,

core thickness of just over three inches. It would a short run of wire and a meter. In contrast,

GE Consumer & Industrial May 2008

Specification Engineer Series

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

the circuit may have the current transformer, a algorithms the microprocessor relay have a

lone run of wiring, a relay, a meter, an auxiliary very small burden. In addition, the burden

current transformer and a transducer. While the does not vary with relay tap setting.

latter configuration would not be used today, one

may be required to make this calculation on an In order to determine the correct current

existing system. All manufacturers can supply transformer for the application, the engineer

the burden of their individual devices. must sum the impedances of all the devices

connected in series with the current

Although not used very often these days, transformer. Engineering studies have

induction disk over-current devices always gave shown that a sufficiently accurate value can

the burden for the minimum tap setting. To be obtained by adding the individual device

determine the impedance of the actual tap setting impedances arithmetically, which allows for

being used, first square the ratio of minimum the power factor to be ignored. If using

divide by the actual tap setting used and, second these procedures yields a borderline result, it

multiply this value by the minimum impedance. is recommended that application be avoided.

A GE IFC 51 time over-current relay (50/51

device) has an impedance of 1.47 + 5.34j at the The resistance of the terminal connection

1-amp tap. To apply the relay at the 4-amp tap may be neglected in calculating burden. In

the engineer would multiply the impedance at the applications where the wiring is confined to

1-amp tap setting by (1/4)2. The impedance at the inside of a switchgear cubical, the

the 4-amp tap would be 0.0919 + 0.3338j or engineer may neglect lead resistances.

0.3462 Z at 96.4 power factor. However, on long switchgear lineups

applying bus differential and application

Compare the GE IFC 51 over-current relay, involving outdoor switchgear lead length

which has only two functions with the GE SR- (lead resistance) should not be neglected.

750 Feeder Protection Relay with 16 current

related functions. The SR750 relay has a burden Unless a study involves the use of the

of only 0.20 VA at 5-amp input. The SR750 current transformer excitation curve, it is

burden of 0.008 ohms is 43.3 times lower than acceptable to delete the current transformer

the 0.3462 for the two function GE IFC51 relay. internal resistance. The use of ANSI

accuracy rating has already factored in the

Side Bar Note internal resistance of the current

The modern microprocessor relay takes the transformer.

analog waveform from the current transformer

and digitalizes the data before processing. To Auxiliary Current Transformers:

compensate for current transformer saturation the Because of the advent of microprocessor

microprocessor relays utilized many algorithms relays and meters, the use of auxiliary

to identify a saturation condition. Few power current transformers may not be needed. In

engineers are familiar with terms like Discrete the event an auxiliary current transformer is

Fourier transform, cosine filters, Digital Signal required, the lowest ampere-rated auxiliary

Processing, Finite Impulse Response, and current transformer that meets the circuit

MIMIC filters, just to name a few. These terms thermal requirement should be selected. By

are used to explain the operation of the selecting the lowest ampere rating, a smaller

microprocessor relay under saturated current wire can be applied, thereby allowing many

transformer conditions. Because the more turns to occupy the same space. This

microprocessor digitalizes the input current will result in a higher output voltage before

signal, and employees a host of filters and the current transformer becomes saturated.

Specification Engineer Series

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

To illustrate this point, when the main current from a manufactures would be GE ITI 780-

transformer is over sized and a 2-to-1 step-up of 302, 3000:5, C200, 1.105 ohms at 75 deg C.

current is required, the auxiliary current

transformer should be rated 2.5 to 5 amps. This Using the ANSI accuracy classification

is different than the 5:10 amps one would expect. assigned to a current transformer alone with

The use of auxiliary current transformers should the circuit burden impedance will offer an

be studied completely before applying in the approximate check on the selection of a

secondary of a current transformer. current transformer. This is due to the fact

that the ANSI accuracy classification is

Relay Accuracy Calculation based on a single current value. The

Engineers are required to demonstrate the standard has selected 20 times secondary

suitability of their system in order to provide current (100 amps for a 5 amp secondary)

personal and equipment safety. When it comes to with standard burdens. The following steps

relay accuracy calculation, three avenues are will outline a systematic approach to

offered. As an engineer involved only with validate the current transformer selection.

industrial power systems, I am not familiar with

“T” rated current transformer application; ANSI Accuracy Classification Step 1

therefore, my discussion will be limited to “C” Use the maximum short circuit current

rated current transformers. available from the short circuit study as a

starting point. Depending on the type of

One method, which utilizes over-current ratio- grounding, the ground fault current may be

correction curves, applies only to “T” rated different than the phase-to-phase short

current transformers. Should additional circuit current. In most cases, knowledge of

information on this subject be required, please the instantaneous and time over-current

contact the local GE sales office for a list of values is required.

names and telephone numbers.

ANSI Accuracy Classification Step 2

The remaining two methods are as follows. One Determine the impedance of all devices

method will involve the comparison of current connected in the current transformer circuit

transformer accuracy rating with the secondary at the ideal current transformer value. The

terminal voltages the current transformer can ideal secondary current is the primary

produce under all expected operating conditions. current divided by the current transformer

Another method available to the engineering ratio. In older induction disk relays, the

community requires the current transformer impedances of the instantaneous and time

secondary excitation curves to calculate the over-current function will be different.

actual ratio correction the current transformer Typically, on older induction disk relays the

will experience for a given condition. The first calculation should be preformed for

function that must be performed in any of the instantaneous, time over-current and ground

methods is to determine the total burden on the fault settings. As described earlier,

current transformer. The total ohmic burden must microprocessor relays have a single

include all relays, meters, transducers and wiring impedance value, which applies over the

resistance, when appropriate. complete range of operation. This greatly

simplifies the number of calculations

Using ANSI Accuracy Classification required to verify the suitability of the

The current transformer manufactures will current transformer in question.

supply the burden impedance, the ANSI

accuracy classification and ratio. Typically, data ANSI Accuracy Classification Step 3

Specification Engineer Series

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

Utilize the ANSI classification assigned to the Typical Secondary Excitation Curve

current transformer. These data are available The secondary-excitation curve shown is for

from the current transformer manufacturer. a 600:5, C200 current transformer.

Depending on the type of relay selected the from the current transformer manufacturer.

process will involve one or more calculations.

First, determine the total burden impedance (Zb) Using this method will require the engineer

for the current transformer secondary circuit. to obtain the actual burden impedance and

Second, calculate the current transformer actual primary current magnitude that the

secondary voltage (V’t). current transformer will measure. As a

V’t = (Ip/N) * Zb result, this method is more complex than

Ip = Primary current applying the ANSI classification for a single

N = Current transformer turn ratio fixed current magnitude. This method can

Zb = Total burden impedance indicate a current transformer is suitable for

Finally, compare V’t to the current transformer the application when the ANSI classification

rating. If the voltage rating is greater than or method demonstrated it was not suitable.

equal to the calculated secondary voltage, the Follow the four-step method to apply the

current transformer is acceptable for the secondary excitation curve calculations.

application. If V’t is greater than the ANSI

classification, additional calculations should be Step 1: Secondary-excitation

performed before rejecting the current Ascertain the maximum primary fault

transformer. current for the system under investigation.

In the absence of a completed short circuit

Using Excitation Curves study, a quick method to obtain a system’s

Engineers have another method to determine the short circuit is to sum the transformer full

suitability of a selected current transformer, load amps divided by the transformer

which method requires the use of the current impedance (transformer contribution), plus

transformer excitation curve. The method the transformer full load amps divided by

provides a more accurate assessment of the .017 (motor contribution). This will

performance by calculating the actual secondary represent the maximum expected short

current for given primary current and burden circuit value for that system. Using this

impedance. As stated earlier, this method method will provide a more realistic short

applies only to “C” classified current circuit value as opposed to using the

transformer. equipment bracing value.

Step 2: Secondary-excitation

After determining all the devices that will be

connected in series with the current

transformer, obtain the impedance for each

device and then total the impedance for this

circuit.

Step 3: Secondary-excitation

From the current transformer manufacturer,

secure the secondary excitation curve and

secondary winding resistance.

Specification Engineer Series

Selecting Current Transformers Part 1

Step 4: Secondary-excitation “Requirement For Instrument

Use the conditions identified in Step 1 to Transformers”, ANSI C57.13-1999

determine the current transformer ratio

correction using the steps below: Louis Powell, “Current Transformer Burden

and Saturation”, IEEE–IAS Publication Vol

4.a Calculate the total burden impedance Zt 1A-15, No. 3

seen by the current transformer.

Dave West, “Current Transformer

4.b Determine the primary current measured Application Guide”, I&CPS Conference

by current transformer, which is labeled as Is. Record, 1977

First, in order to proceed with the calculation a

value for Ie must be assumed. A good starting W.J. Smolinski, “Design Consideration In

point would be to assume Ie is equal to zero. The Application Of Current Transformers

Based on Ie equals zero, the equation Is = Ip/N For Protective Relaying Purposes”, IEEE

becomes valid. Power Engineering Society Paper T 73 036-

1

4.c Use the equation Es = Is * Zt to calculate

the current transformer secondary voltage DW Houghtaling, “Power/Vac Metalclad

Switchgear Current Transformer

4.d Use the value for Es and the secondary Application Guide”, General Electric

excitation curve to identify a value for Ie. Company

4.e Calculate the percent excitation current General Electric Company, “Instrument

using the equations %Ie = (Ie/Is) * 100. Transformer Accuracy Standards”,

Somersworth, NH, 1971 GEC-1526B

If the percentage of Ie is negligible the

assumption of Ie = 0 in step 4.b is acceptable. General Electric Company, “Instrument

Transformer Basic Technical Information

Should the calculated value prove not to be And Application”, Somersworth, NH, 1961

negligible, return to 4.b and select another value GET-6544

for Ie and follow the same procedure again.

General Electric Company, “Instrument

Summary Transformer Burden Data”, Somersworth,

This paper has offered a window into the NH, 1961, GET1725D

complexity of selecting the correct current

transformer for the application. It will provide a

basis to go deeper into the selection procedure.

The following references list many publications

that can be used to broaden one’s knowledge.

the art of selecting the correct current

transformers.

Reference:

Specification Engineer Series

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