ABSTRACT Applying metal oxide surge arresters is very different from the application of the silicon carbide surge arresters of the past. This paper describes the rating basis for metal oxide arresters and then how to choose the right arrester based on the demands of the system. INTRODUCTION The application of metal oxide surge arresters in high voltage AC substations is significantly different from that of silicon carbide arresters (also known as gapped or valve type arresters). Direct substitution of a metal oxide arrester with a certain rated voltage for a silicon carbide arrester with the same rated voltage value is NOT recommended without due regard to the application considerations described in this paper. In contrast to silicon carbide arresters, metal oxide arresters interact continuously with the system and must therefore be applied with this fact in mind. The purpose of this paper is to describe the basic characteristics of metal oxide arresters and to detail the system and substitution parameters to be considered in the arrester selection. The approach taken is that of the IEC standard [1] on metal oxide arresters rather than the IEEE standard [2] on the grounds that the former is technically the most valid for the purpose [3]. Where relevant the differences between the two standards will be noted or discussed. BASIC METAL OXIDE ARRESTER CHARACTERISTICS A metal oxide arrester is essentially a variable resistor or so-called varistor whose electrical resistance is a function of the applied voltage. The voltage-current (VI) characteristic of a 192 kV rated arrester is shown in Figure 1. The extreme non-linearity of the VI characteristic is evident and four points are usually defined. These points are:

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Rated arrester voltage is thus thermally limited being linked to energy absorption and subsequently to thermal stability at MCOV. The current waveshape is 30/60 µs or longer.1. Note that MCOV is a characteristic of the arrester. switching surge conditions due to (for example) high-speed autoreclosing of EHV or HV lines. the arrester is heated to 60°C. The applicable current amplitudes are dependent on the system voltage being 1 kA at 230 kV. 10 and 20 kA dependent again on system voltage. lightning surge conditions with single or multiple strikes. This voltage in kV peak is approximately two times rated voltage in kV rms. Rated voltage is not linked to energy absorption which is highly questionable given that metal oxide arresters are thermally limited. The current waveshape is the well-known 8/20 µs. Rated voltage: IEC defines rated voltage as the voltage to be withstood for 10 seconds after being heated to 60°C and subjected to a specific injection of energy. Rated voltage. The numbers are multipliers of kJ/kV rated to be applied to the arrester rated voltage. reference was made to a “specific injection of energy. For a Line Class 3 192 kV rated arrester.” IEC defines five levels of rated energy as Line Class 1 through 5. MCOV: MCOV is the maximum allowable rms voltage that may be applied continuously across the arrester. Maximum continuous operating voltage (MCOV).3 times rated voltage in kV rms. etc. The applicable current amplitudes are 5. load rejection. Vm.) Switching impulse protective level: this is the residual (or discharge) voltage for a specified switching impulse current. is subjected to two injections of rated energy 60 seconds apart and then must be thermally stable at rated voltage for 10 seconds followed by MCOV for 30 minutes. 4. In the above discussion of rated voltage.. the MCOV of an arrester applied on that system is determined from: MCOV S = and Vm 3 kV rms MCOVD ≥ MCOVS © 2003 Doble Engineering Company All Rights Reserved 2 . the conditions are: • • • • normal or continuous operating conditions. 2. 3. (The IEEE standard defines rated voltage as the “duty cycle rating” similar to that used for silicon carbide arresters. From left-toright. Switching impulse protective level. This voltage in kV peak is approximately 2. all followed by 30 minutes at MCOV. Lightning impulse protective level: this is the residual (or discharge) for a specified lightning impulse current. Lightning impulse protective level. METAL OXIDE ARRESTER SELECTION The selection of metal oxide arresters is a stepwise – and sometimes iterative – process as described in the following: Step 1: Selecting the MCOV Value For a system with a maximum line-to-line voltage. temporary overvoltage conditions due to faults. As part of type testing on a prorated basis. rated energy absorption is then 576 kJ. This voltage is equal to or greater than the maximum continuous operating voltage of the system. Superimposed on Figure 1 are the various system conditions with which the arrester has to interact.

2. Confirm that MCOVD ≥ MCOVS. or a combination thereof. Step 2: Selecting the Rated Voltage Value The arrester rated voltage is determined from the TOVs that occur on the system. The general procedure is: 1. The duration of these TOVs is dependent on the fault clearing time. For each TOV.where MCOVS is the arrester minimum MCOV demanded by the system under steady state conditions and MCOVD is the designated arrester MCOV (i. establish the arrester rated voltage based on the manufacturer’s published TOV capability curves. The TOVs that need to be considered are those due to ground faults. Ferranti effect. load rejection. which is generally less than 1 second for effectively grounded systems but can be several hours on ungrounded systems. etc. Arrester manufacturers publish curves of TOV capability such as shown in Figure 2 (this is an example only. refer to the manufacturer catalogues for actual TOV capabilities). TOVs are often (but not always) decisive ranging from 1.4 pu for effectively grounded systems to 1.e. Choose the highest rated arrester as determined under 1 above. The conservative and recommended approach is to assume that the arrester has previously absorbed maximum rated energy and thus the operating points should be to the left of curve C2 . resonance. 3.73 pu for ungrounded systems. © 2003 Doble Engineering Company All Rights Reserved 3 . FIGURE 2 The capability is expressed in pu of rated voltage and both curves assume an initial block temperature of 60°C and imply thermal stability at MCOVD after the occurrence of the TOV. designated by the manufacturer) of the applied arrester selected on the basis of the applicable temporary overvoltages (TOVs) on the system (see Step 2).

For 420 kV and below. Above 420 kV. The setting of the protective level is the prerogative of the user but a recommended approach would be to consider protection over the life of the protected equipment. 20 kA arresters may be required. post insulator. the same requirement as for other substation equipment (e. With respect to creepage distance. Systems.5 kV. The next high line class to the calculated requirement should be selected. Standards values are usually used [4]: • • Range 1: above 1 kV up to 230 kV: 5 kA or 10 kA. If the protective levels are higher than the required values. IEC 60099-4: Surge arresters – Part 4: Metal-Oxide Surge Arresters Without Gaps For A. For this reason the fault current withstand of the arrester should be equal to or greater than the maximum fault current level at the installation point of the arrester. instrument transformers. Above 72. However. 5 kA is common for distribution systems and in some cases 72. This capability is dependent on the transient overvoltages involved – lightning. DISCUSSION Metal oxide arresters are very application dependent. Step 5: Determine the Line Class The line class is determined by the required energy absorption capability. REFERENCES 1.) should be used. misapplication can be avoided and it should also be possible for users to standardize their arrester requirement to a large degree. the fault current through the arrester should not cause violent shattering of the housing. © 2003 Doble Engineering Company All Rights Reserved 4 . at 230 kV this current would be 10 kA. if proper consideration is given to the IEC approach. Range 2: above 245 kV: 10 kA or 20 kA. Various multipliers are applied to the respective protective levels to determine the housing external insulation withstand values. 10 kA is the recommended value. 2000-12.Step 3: Check the Protective Levels The protective level is the residual voltage at the nominal discharge current. Edition 1. Having selected the arrester rated voltage and MCOVD under Steps 1 and 2.g. Note also that the distance between the arrester and the protected equipment is also a consideration. 10 kA is generally sufficient.5 kV (low lightning density). Step 6: Determine the Pressure Relief Class In the event of internal failure. then it may be necessary to reconsider Step 2 or to consider adding arresters at the line entrance. 2. Step 4: Determine the Nominal Discharge Current The nominal discharge current is the lightning discharge current through the arrester for which protection of equipment is required. For example.11-1993: IEEE Standard for Metal-Oxide Surge Arresters for Alternating Current Power Circuits. IEEE Std C62. check the associated lightning and switching surge protective levels provided by such an arrester by reference to manufacturer published data. bushings. the housings do not require the same BIL or SIL as other equipment in the substation. closing or reclosing long lines or capacitor bank (or cable) switching – and is calculated accordingly.C. etc. Step 7: Determine the External Insulation Values Because surge arresters are self-protecting.2.

Toronto. 1989. F. Peelo.” Canadian Electrical Association Meeting.3. 4.. IEC 60099-5: Surge Arresters – Part 5: Selection and Application Recommendations. © 2003 Doble Engineering Company All Rights Reserved 5 . “Metal Oxide Surge Arrester Standards: A Utility Perspective. D.

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