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To some extent, a similarity can be drawn between flow of water and flow of electric
current. Water requires a difference in height to cause a flow. Electricity, like – wise,
requires a difference in potential between to points for the current to flow. We call this
difference in potential as voltage of one point with respect to earth or just a voltage
between to points. Electric current flows in three difference ways.

1. Ohmic Current.

These are thousand of loosely attached electrons in conducting metals like copper,
aluminium, silver, etc. even a small voltage between to points – say of wire- will drive
these electrons from a higher level to lower level and cause a current flow. We can
measure this current in Amperes (Amps.). In its flow, some metals will have too many
obstacles – which take a higher voltage to drive and which dissipates heat in the
metal – like that in an electric bulb. This heat is termed as Ohmic Heat.

2. Dielectric Current.

These are a class of materials called "Insulators" which have very few loose electrons. They
present a near perfect wall, blocking flow of loose electrons, if a voltage is applied across
these. Some of these insulators have free dipoles at the end of their obstacle wall.

These dipoles get charged positively and negatively during each half cycle of and A. C.
supply. A whole array of such dipoles between two conducting plates under an A. C. voltage
carry, positive and negative charges from one plate to another during each half cycles. This
transformer of charge – also a current – measured in amps, forms dielectric or capacitive
current. It is entirely different from the Ohmic Current.

3. Inductive Current.

Just as dipoles transfer reactive power under an applied field, magnetic fields produced by
a current flowing through a wire, grow and collapse twice in each A.C. cycle and transfer
energy. They transfer energy from a high level to lower level. Not only they transfer
electrical energy in to mechanical energy as in an electric motor. These currents can be
termed as Inductive Currents. Without Inductive Currents, we would not have used
electricity to the extent that we use it today. They have a side effect, they lower the
power factor and cause wastage of power during transmission and distribution.

The very purpose of employing capacitors to produce dielectric currents is to improve the
power factor and reduce losses, while the inductive currents are doing their useful work.

4. Power Factor Correction.

By the nature of generation, in a A.C. circuit, the capacitor gets charged as the current
flows. When the flow stops, the current is zero and the capacitor is charged to full voltage.
in other terms, the current leads the voltage.

On other hand, a choke coil which has built up full magnetic field, starts sending out the
current as the field collapses gradually. Here the voltage leads the current or the current
lags behind the voltage.

Both the currents produce static or magnetic fields - but do not do useful work like heating
a bulb. However when they flow through the wire or a transmission line, they cause power
loss. As such, their magnitudes should be minimum possible. Since both flow of positive
times with respect to voltage, they nullify one another. Then we produce leading current by
using capacitors to cancel out the lagging currents. This is termed as Power Factor
Correction - which finds large capacitor application.

5. Some Technical Terms.

An ideal dielectric material will be one with an absolute resistance to passage of free
electrons and a large number of dipoles at its molecular end. There is n such material. Solid,
liquid and gas type of dielectric materials have been used for making capacitors. Some free
electrons are to be found in small quantities in these materials. But the biggest source of
free electrons and ions comes from impurities, moisture, free air etc. a dielectric material
can block effective passage to free electrons upto its strength limit. Beyond this, some
electrons penetrate the resistance wall and wander through. The ohmic passage cerates
heat and under the continuos attack at higher and higher voltage levels and heat, more and
more ohmic current flows - till a continuous path is established from one conductive plate to
the other - through the dielectric. In other words, there is a puncture and a short circuit.
Following technical terms are associated with this phenomenon.

1. The measure of free dipoles or the capacity to carry charged is termed as

the dielectric constant. Paper has a dielectric constant of 4 to 5 and carries
more dipoles than polypropylene with a dielectric constant of 2.2.
2. The measure of free electrons available for an ohmic flow of current is
called tangent of loss angle or tan delta. Free electrons can come from a bad
dielectric material itself or from the contaminants accumulated during
manufacturing process or due to imperfect removal or air and moisture
during the process or re-entry of these in service, due to hermetic seal
braking down. The broken down wall of a dielectric with broken molecules
also supplies large number of free electrons.
3. The voltage level upto which a given thickness of insulating material holds
back effectively passage of free electrons is called the dielectric strength
of the material. This 480 - 600 volts D.C. per micron of polypropylene film as
against 180 - 200 volts/micron for paper with oil in it. It becomes lower as
we go from solid to liquid and to gas dielectric. For the presently used PXE
oil it is 70 - 80 volts/micron. For epoxy potting used, it is 10 - 12
volts/micron and for SF-6 gas at atmospheric pressure, it is 8 -10
4. The voltage level at which the wall is breached and electrons start flowing
in, is called the partial discharge beginning or inception level. If this level is
reduced gradually, there is a point below which no more dangerous electrons
wander through. It is called as the partial discharge extinction (or put - out)

A capacitor or dielectric system may be likened to a medieval fort under siege. Assume that
under steady service conditions, the outside enemy is maintaining a blockade and a steady
pressure. A well chalked out fort will hold out for ages. The enemy now changes his tactics
and sends wave after wave of soldiers to ram down the gates - just as voltage surges and
harmonic will do to a capacitor. It might break open the door and a few bands of enemy will
rush in - creating hot spots. Come the night, and surge levels drop down. A good general
within, will brick - up the breach overnight and throw the inside enemy soldiers in the moat
to the mercy of the scavengers there.

He is ready for the next onslaught. Repeated onslaught will eventually destroy all the
defence potential and the fort will vanish in to history. The on - slaught could be tackled on
the outside in difference ways. Just like the fort, capacitor can have an inner layer of
second and even third layer of defence. For the given cost to build up the fort, and defend
it, one has to select the best of all buildings blocks, use them wisely, train and discipline the
soldiers during formation and above all, look for the contaminating, inside enemy. It takes a
capable general to organise this.

Some Of The Main Reasons For Failure Of Capacitors?

1. Short falls in Design and Manufacturing :

2. Inadequate - Dielectric Thickness.
1. - Margins at ends.
2. - Insulation to body.
3. Ionic impurities in liquid portion, moisture and air incompletely removed.
4. Defects in welding, in soldering of bushing to material. Other mechanical
5. Short falls in transit :
6. Short falls in service conditions :
7. Heavy inrush current during - starting or paralleling.
8. Resonance conditions during starting or during operations.
9. Server voltage fluctuations, high surges, arcing back across faulty switches
and fuses on capacitors, resulting in high surge voltages, arcing and bus bar
shorts in vicinity of the capacitor.
10. High harmonic magnitudes in supply.
11. Inadequate ventilation, oil leakage, loose connection, burn out, discharge
12. Over - correction leading to `leading' power factors arising mostly due to
non - switching of capacitors when not required
APP and MD Capacitors (Low Tension Type)

APP and MD Capacitors:-

This group of capacitors has a distinct feature of having separate aluminium foil as an
electrode. The solid dielectric can be two or more layers of polypropylene as in APP
Capacitors or a combination of condenser tissue paper and polypropylene as in MD or Mixed
Dielectric Capacitors.

Another distinguishing aspect is the introduction of a suitable oil as a liquid electric.

The Building Blocks :-

1) The polypropylene Film is specified as BOPP with hazy surface on one or both the sides.
The inherent strength is very high (480 - 600 Volts/micron DC.). The molecules are brittle
though. The film is stretched in both directions during manufacture, thus orienting the
crystals along the line of stretch i.e. biaxially. This improves impregnation by oil and
increases it's strength.

The haziness, about 0.2-0.3 microns average, is actually roughening of a smooth surface by
creating multiple, cross-connecting, microscopic channels. This helps the impregnating oil to
rise through wick action and gravity and fill up all possible empty cavities.

Very thin films are costly and comparatively failure prone, since the haziness comes at the
cost of overall thickness.

2) Condenser Tissue Paper is actually a mass of thin pulp, rolled to desired thickness and
dried. The fibres or micelle, mesh into one another. This gives large cavities inside - from
which trapped air and moisture must be meticulously removed and substituted with oil.

The paper molecules are flexible compared to PP molecules. They can withstand sudden
electrical pulses much better and are ideal as dielectrics on networks which produce all
types of surges continuously. Thus Mixed Dielectric capacitors are suitable for a very
rugged and exacting service. However, losses in paper are high. The voltage stresses are
low. The size and cost of MD capacitors are high.

3) Aluminium foil plays the part of a conducting electrode. It does not play any part as a
dielectric material. Hence its thickness can be conveniently reduced - the common thickness
available today being 5 microns.

The foil edges are cut mechanically. If examined under a microscope they have irregular and
sharp points jutting out as shown. The voltage stresses on these sharp points rise very high
and cause partial discharges into the edge gap.

This is taken care of by - Folding the edge on itself by a few Mms or

- by laser cutting-which is ideal-but very costly.

4) Oil replaces air and moisture in the voids within the dielectric portion. It gives strength
and increases the life of a capacitors and as such is a very critical component of the entire
system. It itself must be filtered to very fine degree and degassed. It is reinforced with
anti-oxidants and scavengers. The scavengers lock out acids and broken chain lengths of oil
molecules arising out of partial discharges.

5) Discharge Resistors : Normally externally fitted on L.T. Capacitors, they discharge the
residual voltage from the peak level to 50 volts or less, within one minute. Burnt out
resistors will not perform and present a risk to human life as well as to capacitors.

These resistors form a sizeable - portion of the total heat loss defined for a capacitor -
although this portion of the loss does not reflect the dielectric quality.

6) Internal fuses helps to isolate a faulty element and keep the capacitor going. In L.T.
capacitors, the elements in a phase are all in parallel. Thus isolation of an element may cause
phase unbalance - but no harmful increase in voltage on remaining elements. Quite often, in a
well constructed unit, these fuses become redundant.

Advantages of APP/MD L.T. Capacitors :-

1) Unlike MPP Capacitors (in some cases), there is no deterioration of output current with
passage of time.

2) Losses in APP Capacitors gather around 1.0 to 1.5 Watts/KVAR.

in MD Capacitors gather around 1.5 to 2.0 Watts/KVAR.

in MPP Capacitors gather around 2.0 to 2.5 Watts/KVAR.

3) They are more rugged and can withstand severe voltage surges. They can also withstand
upto certain amount of harmonic loading.

Disadvantages of APP Capacitors :-

1) They are more bulky and heavier than MPP Capacitors.

2) Their costs are in multiples of two and more, than the costs of equivalent MPP

3) They are prone to developing oil leakage’s - particularly under higher temperatures. This
reduces their actual life.

4) Replacement of a faulty unit in a bank is clumsy.

"Madhav" Capacitors are manufactured with full quality control at each stage. The
basic blocks are individually tested with full understanding of the weakness of each
constituent. The subassemblies and final products are tested for compliance with in-
house, as well as BIS Standards. Their field performance over a period of 45 years is
outstanding. (Earlier these were all paper capacitors).

Where it is advantages to go for APP Capacitors :-

1) They are preferable on networks where the voltage fluctuations are wide and night time
voltages rise considerably.

2) They are preferable in installations where current and voltage surges are present due
mostly to the nature of machinery used.

3) They are preferable where moderate harmonics are suspected.

4) They are preferable near generators, bus ducts, hazardous areas etc.

5) They are ideal - when they are not expected to be obsolete in a short time, where longer
trouble - free, least maintenance operation, is expected and where of-course, the budgeting
is liberal and open-minded.

Self Healing MPP Capacitors (Low Tension Type)

Self - Healing Process :-

In the traditional capacitors, two or more layers of insulating, solid dielectric were wound
between individual layers of thin aluminium foil- to form a capacitor. Now, no layer can have
an absolutely uniform thickness at every spot, nor can have zero pinholes & conducting
particles - over several Sq. meters of a surface that goes into forming today’s power
capacitors. If a single layer of a solid dielectric were to be used, it will fail at several
points. A second layer can cover the defects in the first layer - since defects on both of
them are likely to overlap at very few locations. This possibility further increases by a
quantum jump if three layers are used between conducting layers of aluminium foil.

However one can vacuum deposit a conducting metal of low evaporation temperature like
zinc or aluminium & do away with a separate thick aluminium foil altogether. When a short
occurs across a defects, the short circuit current can instantly evaporate this deposit &
form aluminium or zinc oxide - both of which are non-conducting. Thus the area around the
defect is isolated & the capacitor can rework. This process is called Self-Healing. The
thickness of the aluminium deposit has to be accurately controlled so that the film
definitely evaporates & does not require too high a temperature. If it fails to evaporate &
isolate the defective spot, a permanent short circuit will form & the capacitor will go out of
service. This thickness is measured in resistance per unit area. It is 3-4 Ohms for aluminium
& Ohms for zinc.
Advantages of Self Healing Capacitors :

Since all the defects in a single layer of Metallised Polypropylene (MPP) can be healed at the
manufacturing stage only, a single layer capacitor can be formed quite comfortably at higher
dielectric operating voltage stresses. This gives a capacitor that replaces a thick aluminium
foil(5-6 micron) with a thin deposit (0.2 to 0.3 micron) & allows single layer of thinner
polypropylene in place of two or three layers of thicker polypropylene, the size & the costs
go down drastically. It has replaced the traditional capacitors at a very fast rate.

The Dry Capacitors :

A Metallised film has an edge clearance at one end - usually 2.5 mm for 440 Volts
capacitors. Metallising reaches the edge at other end. Alternate layers are so formed that
the Metallising on one set comes at one end A & Metallising on following set comes at end B.
Round coils are wound & the ends are sprayed with zinc. A conducting lead is soldered on to
these surfaces. There is a microscopic layer of air between these layers. The coils are
wound tight. They are further shrunk under heat treatment. This reduces the air thickness
between layers very significantly.

The Short Falls of S-H Capacitors :

a) Moisture getting in between layers oxidises the thin deposits in it thickness fully.The
oxidising boundary detaches a healthy section of a deposit. This results in rapid or
continuous fall of capacitor current. This happens mainly in badly & loosely wound capacitors.
The coil ends are normally sealed with an epoxy or the coils are immersed in an insulating
liquid to prevent this.

b) The zinc-spray & the aluminium deposit form a bi- metallic physical joint- which corrodes
aluminium preferentially in the presence of moisture. This cuts off the entire healthy
metallisation below from the conducting edge, resulting in rapid fall of capacitor current. To
prevent this, the metallisation thickness just at the edge conducting edge is increased by
what is called a heavy edge deposit. Another method that helps is - to deposit zinc on the
lower deposit of aluminium - in what is called an aluminium -alloy deposit.

c) Consider a large air gap between layers & an irregularity in the form of a sharp point. As
the voltage increases across the dielectric, at same point there will be electron streamers
originating from this sharp point & cutting through the air path. This is the beginning of a
partial discharge. It will create hot spots & eventually fail the coil. Air has a breakdown
voltage of 4 KV/mm & can easily produce & sustain partial discharges.

However if the air path is microscopic, air will breakdown and establish a short circuit path,
rather than sustain a partial discharge. This will increase the leakage current. Leakage
current is Ohmic. It makes the coil hot.

d) The most critical portion of the S - H Capacitor is the edge gap. The full coil voltage
applies across this gap. It is spread on a very thin base 0.2 / 0.3 micron thick as against 5-6
micron thick in traditional capacitors. The voltage stress is very high- leading to instant or
even sustained partial discharges, should the voltages cross the air gap strength.

Normally a 2.5 mm gap across a 0.3 micron base can sutain A.C. voltages upto 440 volts +
10%. This makes these capacitors unsuitable where there are steady high voltages or
sudden & continuous voltage fluctuations.

Please note that European networks with distribution at 380 volts are quite
comfortable with S-H Capacitors.

A way to over come these defects would be to fill up these gaps with a suitable oil under
vacuum. The oil with breakdown values of 60-80 V/micron increases the gap strength
considerably. Japan is carrying out field trails with S-H Capacitors, filled with SF-6 gas,
under pressure, on networks rated at 3300 & 6600 volts AC.

e) In S-H Capacitor, current flows from one end of the coil to the other end axially along
the cross-section determined by the full length of the wound foil. By contrast, in a
traditional capacitor, it flows circularly along the length of the winding with a cross-section
determined by the width of the wound foil. This gives a very low self inductance to S-H
coils as compared to traditional coils. These self inductance’s are inadequate to inherently
limit starting or paralleling currents between two capacitors as compared to traditional
capacitors. These unrestricted current flows, create instant high voltages, puncture a
dielectric & blow up capacitors. Capacitor bursting is more common with S-H Capacitors than
with traditional capacitors.

A choke coil in S-H capacitor takes care of this problem & is a must.

In conclusion one can say that S-H Capacitors are highly economical & could be used
successfully if we understand what their limitations are & under which circumstances - not
to use them.

Madhav S-H Capacitors are not tightly wound. They are dried and impregnated under high
vacuums with capacitor oils. Further each unit has internal or external choke coil. Besides,
we study strictly where they are being applied.

Where it is advantages to go for MPP Type Capacitors ?

1) Distribution lines where voltage and load variations over a 24 hour period are moderate.
Typical example -Mofusil areas with a large spread of various loads served by substations
with automatic on load tap changes. One can down scale this to suit.

2) Automatically controlled capacitor banks with built - in over voltage, under voltage, over
current & p.f. correction controls & with current limiting chokes on each step.

3) Rural distribution lines - heavily overloaded and supplying power at perennially low
voltages. To some extent, overloaded zones of other distribution lines also.
4) And of - course where one's budget for capacitors is rather tight, but with attention to
(1) & (3) above.

Where MPP Capacitors are not to be recommended :

1) On load with widely fluctuating currents such as strip mills, arc furnaces, workshops with
heavy presses and similar impulse type energy drawing machines, welding machines, etc.

2) Locations where higher incidence of harmonics are expected.

3) Hazardous areas [ oil installation, new power generators or generator bus ducts] where
explosions are not allowed. Generally MPP Capacitors are more explosion - prone than other
types of capacitors.

4) Areas with high short circuit level for distribution networks. (This is likely to affect self

5) Supply systems with wide daily voltage fluctuations - where the night time voltages shoot
up beyond the guaranteed limits.


A load & therefore its KVAR are in a dynamic state - generally. A matching KVAR output of
a capacitor bank must also be dynamic i.e. must adjust itself-instantly to its requirement, if
one is to obtain a uniform &'set' p.f. all along. This is best achieved by an automatic control
that switches in & out, segments of a designed capacitor bank. A control panel serving this
purpose is called on APFC panel or Automatic Power Factor Controlling panel. It controls the
load power factor by sensing various available parameters.

A) Sensing Parameters :-

1. Current - Sensing based APFC :- The current magnitude through a feeder or bus is sensed
and fed to a relay. As this magnitude crosses a set band-width, the relay operates a power
controlling a section of a capacitor bank. This is the simplest and possibly the cheapest
relay. It has a disadvantage of functioning with no reference to the actual load power
factor - but assuming it.

2. Power Factor Sensing based APFC :- This relay senses the start of the voltage current
wave forms on a given feeder & measures the time difference between them. It then
converts this into a p.f. & compares this with a set value. Upon finding a difference, it
operates the power contactor. This type of relay is most widely used. It has an advantage of
being able to show the laod p.f. on an indicating meter. It's disadvantage :- It has no
relation to the load magnitude & it's KVAR requirement. It can lead to severe hunting.

3. KVAR Sensing based APFC :- This relay senses the magnitudes of both the voltage &
current wave forms & also the time or phase difference between them. It then calculates
the load KVAR & compares these with a possible combination of sections within a capacitor
bank and operates their controlling contractors to add the required capacitor KVAR to the
electrical system. This is the most sensitive relay - capable of obtaining maximum benefit
out of a given capacitor bank.

It's disadvantages :- It is rather hard on the contractors and its related surge
suppression attachments.

B) Sizing of Capacitor Switching Blocks :-

1) Power Factors for the purposes of levying penalties are based on the monthly
consumption’s of KVA-Hrs, KW-Hrs & KVAR-Hrs as recorded on a tri-vector meter. If the
basic purpose of installing capacitors is to stay safely above the penalty limit, then average
power factor correction based on a 24 hour basis is sufficient and not an elaborate "instant
to instant" p.f. correction. This helps one in setting as wide a band-width as possible before
changing a step. It prevents switching - too often.

It must be noted that KVA-Hrs and KVAR-Hrs do not subtract if excessive capacitor KVAR
are dumped into the system by over corrections into a leading zone - say part of the time.
It records this also as a low p.f. & subject to penalty. Besides, leading p.f.'s are unhealthy
for capacitors & the system itself.

a) A simple straight forward method of sizing the capacitor blocks would be to divide them
equally into targeted number of steps. Besides simplicity it has an advantage of standard
sizes for replacement of work out contractors, blown fuses etc. Many a designer favour

b) In ambitious method of sizing the blocks, they are designed in a binary sequence so that
a large number of combinations is available for a given set of contactors etc. If the
accessories are chosen properly, this can be an ideal method though slightly costlier than
method (a) above.

c) Each controls in an APFC Panel adds considerably to overall costs.

It is advisable to keep as much capacitor KVAR out of the APFC control as possible, for
example, the first step i.e. load portion which is constant on a 24 hour basis, Continuous
working industries offer this.

In the second step - divide the remainder in a number of steps. Keep this number of step as
small as possible, by studing the load pattern. The portion that is likely to be operated
often, should be at the fag end. Large size contactors should at the starting end so that
they operate as few times as possible.

C) Methods of Switching In & Switching Out :-

1) When the bank is controlled in equal steps, as in B(a) above, some designers prefer a first
- in, first - out or FIFO method so that all contactors and steps have uniform period of
operation & can together last longer.

2) If method B(c) above is followed, then the switching control should be on the basis of
'First-in, Last-out' or FILO.

3) Method B.(b) above, calls for random switching which requires careful selection of power
contactors or better still, opting out for thyristor switching - which has yet to prove it's
mettle in India.

D) Structural Design of an APFC Panel :-

1) Capacitor bank step (section)

2) Discharge resistance on individual capacitor unit - external.

3) Incoming switch fuse for the bank.

4) Capacitor bank bus bar.

5) Capacitor bank CT's.

6) Ammeter selector switch.

7) Ammeter for bank current.

8) Thermal overload relay or sectional fuses.

9) Automatic control relay & p.f. meter. Time delay relays.

10) Power contactor.

11) Push Button sets.

12) Indicating lamps.

13) Cabinet (capacitor bus bars)

14) Earthing bus bars.

15) Isolating transformer for contactor coils.

16) Heater.

17) Lamp, extra piano type switches & sockets.

18) Cooling fan.

19) Auto-manual change over switch.

E) Rating of Components :-

1) Should an APFC panel develop a 'short' from the main bus to body or between phases, a
heavy current will flow till the back-up protection - like an HRC fuse, isolates this short.

The system voltage divided by the system impedance up to the point of a short, gives the
short circuit current. This impedance consists main by of the step down transformer
impedance - generally 4% to 6%. Increasing this value by 10% takes care of impedances of
intervening items like a switch, a bus bar, a C.T. etc. The short circuit current divided by
165 Amps gives an acceptable conductor cross section, which can safely hold for a s.c.
duration of one second. Generally, these sections are not unduly large and fall within a
current density of 2.5 to 3 Amps/mm2 of the full capacitor bank current rating.

Should the length of this panel be large - then the bus bars must be laterally & rigidly
supported to prevent flexuring under s.c. forces.

2) A capacitor shorted to it's body restricts the s.c. current severely. Depending on the
inside construction and the wall thickness of the capacitor tank, this unit can withstand the
bursting forces till it's protective system takes over. Thus the double earthing of a panel
can be safely standardised on G.I. strip of 50 x 6 mm2 size.

3) A capacitor at the instance of being switched on, is a dead short circuit. The inrush
current is limited in its peak value by system inductance’s upto that point, except that the
circuit now goes into a natural resonance. A power contactor, by nature of its construction
and contact material, can withstand a peak current of a given magnitude - beyond which, the
contactor points will weld on to themselves - leading to capacitor failure.

If a capacitor is being switched on against other steps which are already on, then the other
steps will discharge into this new - comer. The intervening bus bars have very low
inductance’s & these peak currents are very high - reaching 160 times the rated capacitor
current or more. The capacitor should be able to handle this- without welding.

There are three methods to deal with this :-

a) Use a liberal & proven rating for a known contactor.

b) Use surge suppression choke coils on each capacitor, to introduce extra

inductance & thus limit the peak current. For panels with 4 steps or more &
also for panels using MPP capacitors, this is essential.

c) Use a special contactor with auxilliary contacts which introduce a starting

resistance at the begining, then short it.
4) A discharge resistor on a capacitor reduces the residual voltage on it - after being
switched off to a safe value of 50 volts within less than a minute and readies it for re-
switching should this be required. If this resistance were to burn out, the re-switching will
take place against a charged unit. This will burn it out. It is highly essential to periodically
check the condition of these externally mounted discharge resistance’s.

5) Other Items : Main switch fuse is substituted by air-breakers for large banks. Draw -
out type, electrically operated breakers increase cost of a panel tremoundously.

6) Time Delay Relays : Time Delay Relays with an adjustable one minute delay should be
incorporated - both in APFC or Manual mode to prevent re-switching of a contactor within
less than one minute of switching it off.

What can go wrong in an APFC Panel ?

1) Wrong connections to the Automatic Relay :

The C.T. feeding this relay is the mains CT & not the CT within the panel itself. The voltage
connection to the relay should be from the same phase from which the current is measured.
These relays are single phase relays.

2) Too narrow a band-width, per step :

The band-width can be set manually. A narrow band width leads to hunting between steps.

3) Contactor points welding together.

4) Discharge Resistor &/or choke coils burning out.

5) Time Delay Relays being bipassed or not working.

6) Failure of electronic components under the combined on slought of higher ambient

temperature and voltage surges - particularly for outdoor pole- mounted type of panels.

7) Improper ventilation, Loose cable joints & similar causes commonly found.

8) Unattended leaks on capacitors.

How Will You Design Your Capacitor Bank ?


1) Carry out a 24 hour load survey. Note down hourly KWs, P.F. and voltages.

2) Divide this into three sections :

a) No load or light load - but fixed KWs & its P.F.

b) Average load and its P.F.

c) Peak load and its P.F.

3) Design the bank for its, peak load conditions. Hold your desired p.f. at 0.95. Work out
the capacitor bank KVAR by referring to the tables.

4) If the load is small (less than 50 KWs), then split the bank in two sections corresponding
to conditions (2a) and (2b).

5) If the load is of medium size and (say up to 200 KWs), then split the bank in three
sections corresponding to conditions (2a), (2b) and (2c).

6) If the laod is large sized and complex, then split the bank into a simple sections
corresponding to (2a) and combine sections (2b) and (2c) and rearrange them in a multi -
step, automatically controlled bank.


1) Capacitor under A- 2a must be specified at higher range of voltages. Thus an energised

transformer, with practically no load - except for 4-6 hours in a day, eg. (transformers
under Garrison Engineers, MES) will require a capacitor rated at 500 Volts.

2) Capacitors under A-2b and A-2c fall in two categories :-

a. Category where electrical service is poor and the best voltages seldom cross 400-
405. Specify 415 voltage.
b. Category where loads fluctuate and voltages vary and also where you suspect
harmonics, specify 440 volts.




1. Capacitors under A-2a should be left on permanently, on a 24 hour basis. An

adequately rated switch-fuse is good-enough for this.
2. Capacitors under A-2b, may be switched on and off, once in twenty four hour basis -
covering the duration of the average load. These need not be switched off during
recess-intervals since generally the load conditions on supply mains are fairy stable.
3. Capacitors under A-2c serve mainly to reduce the maximum demand in KVA and may
be switched on and off more than once during the day - probably twice, if the peak
load appears twice - during the day.
4. Capacitors under A-2c might not lead to satisfactory, reliable, manual
operation.Automatic capacitor control - combining both 2b and 2c is more
desirable.While the control panel will be on for twenty hour in a day, individual
sections might come on or go off many times in 24 hours as per load conditions.