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Advanced Diploma of Electrical Engineering

Module 4: Circuit Breakers and Switchgears Module 4.3

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7.1 Switchgear options Definition of Switchgear Assembly which houses the equipment used for isolation.1. any person who can gain access to the equipment) . Medium voltage (MV) is a subclass of HV and is generally used for representing Voltages above 1000V and up to and including 36000V.1.1.7 Medium Voltage Switchgear In this chapter.3 Varieties of MV switchgear Medium voltage switchgear is available in the following types of executions based on the location where the switchgear is installed: • Indoor type • Outdoor type Whichever method of installation is adopted. we will learn about medium voltage switchgear of indoor and outdoor types.2 Meaning of medium voltage in this text All voltages above 1000V AC are classified as High Voltage (HV).1 7. switching or control of electrical circuits 7. their major components and safety features Learning objectives • • • • • • • • Indoor and outdoor switchgear Comparison Metal enclosed switchgear basics Major components Safety features Protection Switchgear ratings Typical switchgear example 7. the design and construction of the switchgear must take into account the following: • Safety of personnel (those concerned with operation and maintenance and where the switchgear is placed in areas open to public.

104 Switchgear and Distribution Systems • • • • Ease of operation Adequate clearances for maintenance Access to internal components of the switchgear Protection against external influences 7.1 An outdoor circuit breaker with its mounting structure The circuit breaker interrupter is placed within a housing made of porcelain and the operating mechanism and auxiliary components are within the control unit in a sheet steel enclosure just below the circuit breaker. there are several drawbacks in this design. The clearances of live parts to ground must be ‘out of arms-reach’ of persons standing close to the equipment and adequate to prevent arcing or electrocution. these being: .2 Outdoor MV switchgear Outdoor switchgear is mostly of open type construction. power transformers. This construction is also adopted in switchyards where the entire distribution equipment such as busbars. This enclosure must be of weatherproof construction and protected against ingress of rain water and dust.1. A typical MV circuit breaker of outdoor construction is shown in Figure 7. circuit breakers.5 meters in the vertical plane). The advantages of this construction are: • • • • • • • • Easier to locate and repair faults Lower capital cost Equipment are exposed to weather More prone to ingress of water and dust and associated problems Exposure to lightning strike (can be prevented by proper shielding) Higher/more frequent need for maintenance Unauthorized access and danger of electrocution Must be designed to withstand seismic activity where applicable (because of elevated mounting) However. (This translates to the minimum phase-to-ground clearance for the voltage concerned + 2. Most utility distribution equipment placed along public roads is designed using this type of construction. are placed on structures and interconnected using bare conductors and connector hardware. Figure 7. current/voltage transformers etc. with the switchgear and associated equipment mounted on specially designed structures. isolators.

In certain specific industrial applications such as EHV switchyards. and cable chambers must have earthed metal . Otherwise. external earthed metal enclosure is a must. A typical switchgear cubicle designed for outdoor use is shown in Figure 7. The advantages are: • Well protected against weather action and dust • Better safety against accidental contact • Not exposed to direct lightning strike because of grounded metal enclosure • Easier access for maintenance There are however certain drawbacks in this construction too such as: • Higher capital cost • Will require additional protection against unauthorized access (fencing) • Higher degree of protection against dust and water ingress The advantages however far outweigh the drawbacks and situations where a greater degree of continuity of power is desired. Also. since industrial distribution schemes require absolute continuity of power supply. this option offers a good choice. control compartments. Metal clad type is a subset of metal enclosed type. Figure 7.3 Indoor MV switchgear The practice of using outdoor switchgear and in particular ‘open type’ design is generally limited to utility distribution circuits. This type of construction avoids the drawbacks of the open execution discussed earlier.2. there must be segregation of specified internal parts by earthed metal barriers (for example. the internal parts of the switchgear can be accessed only by the use of a special purpose key or handle thus preventing the chances of unsafe condition even if some unauthorized person were to enter the fenced area. In both types. indoor switchgear is the norm in most cases. In metal clad type. 7.2 An outdoor vacuum circuit breaker within a metal enclosure Note that even though the equipment is within an enclosure. in large yards such as raw material open storage facilities where most equipment is of outdoor type MV distribution equipment of outdoor metal enclosed design is preferred. open type HV switchgear design is adopted. the terminals are accessible so as to facilitate connection of overhead connections to other outdoor equipment. Indoor switchgear come in two types: the metal-enclosed and metal clad varieties.Medium Voltage Switchgear 105 An alternative to the above method is to place the entire equipment in a weatherproof enclosure and with some form of access protection such as fencing. busbar chamber. In addition.

. Barriers between circuit breaker and other chambers are made of metal. compartmentalized switchgear. The entire panel is provided with sheet steel enclosure which will be connected to the plant earthing system for protection from environmental influence. In the case of metal enclosed design.106 Switchgear and Distribution Systems barriers between them). power supply and wiring • Earthing arrangement Figure 7.3 shows an example of metal enclosed type switchgear. access prevention and safety against accidental contact.4 shows a vacuum circuit breaker panel of metal clad type. IEC standard provides for metal enclosed switchgear to have non-metallic barriers and such switchgear is referred to as metal enclosed. The arrangement is of 2-tier construction. thus fulfilling the need for compartmentalization. The different chambers have barriers of insulating sheet. A step-down control supply transformer and a potential transformer form a part of the switchgear. Figure 7.3 An indoor metal enclosed switchgear panel Figure 7. For example. the barriers may be of insulating material. The important components of metal clad/metal enclosed switchgear are: • Outer enclosure and internal barriers • Power circuit components • Bus bars • Switching element (CB or Isolator) or MV fuses • Cable chamber • CT and PT • Auxiliary devices. Busbars run in separate chambers and are supported with insulating barriers between each panel.

6) when work has to be carried out in the panel.6 show the internals of the panel illustrated earlier in Figure 7. The breaker can .Medium Voltage Switchgear 107 Figure 7.5 An indoor metal clad vacuum circuit breaker panel shown with side covers open A self-retracting metal shutter provides safety against accidental contact and can be locked in the closed position (refer to Figure 7. The breakers are of horizontal draw out type and can slide out of the panel on horizontal retractable support rails. Figure 7. The lower sliding contact of the top tier and the upper sliding contact of the bottom tier provide connection to the bus bars.4.5 and 7.5.6 from the front with the breaker removed. The 2-tier arrangement of circuit breakers is clearly visible in Figure 7. These sliding contacts are insulated by bushings fixed to the metal barrier between the breaker chamber and the bus/cable chambers.4 An indoor metal clad vacuum circuit breaker panel Figures 7. The outgoing cables get connected through the upper sliding contact of the top tier and the lower sliding contact of the bottom tier. The busbar chamber runs in the central portion of the cubicle and the circuit breakers slide into the module and connect to the busbars. Current transformers can be seen in Figure 7.

There may be other specific interlocks depending on the constructional features of the panel.108 Switchgear and Distribution Systems be racked-in and out of the panel without opening the panel door by a mechanism in the front of the panel. In most panels. Thus. it is possible to operate the breaker without the power circuit getting energized. Figure 7. • TEST position where only control sliding contacts make contact. This mechanism is linked to the shutter opening mechanism and thus provides safety while opening the panel for removal of the circuit breaker. A few of these are: • Panel door cannot be opened when the breaker is in SERVICE position • The breaker cannot be racked in/out when it is on • If racking out a breaker which is on. In many designs. An earth bus is provided in the panel and earth connection to the circuit breaker assembly is obtained by means of a scraping earth contact. then breaker cannot be racked in. . an earth switch is also provided and enables the outgoing cable terminals to be connected to the ground thus ensuring safety. it will trip before the power sliding contacts separate. in the TEST position.6 Internal view of vacuum circuit breaker module (with breaker drawn out) Control schemes on the breaker trolley connect to the panel control circuit by sliding control contacts. • If the earth switch is on. there are three distinct positions of the circuit breaker assembly: • SERVICE position where power sliding contacts and control sliding contacts make contact (between panel and breaker trolley) • Breaker DRAWN OUT position where both sets of contacts do NOT make contact. Several safety interlocks (mechanical in most cases) are also provided to ensure that O&M personnel are not exposed to unsafe conditions. The earth bus of all the panels are interconnected and earthed to the facility’s protective earth conductor system.

Facilities for padlocking are also provided for the purpose of safety during operation. A typical RMU is shown in Figure 7. Figure 7. Some of the RMUs may have more than one outgoing feeder and some may connect to radial take-off connections and to diagonal mesh arms and thus incorporate more than two isolators.7 A typical RMU Some of the RMU designs use SF6 gas as the insulation medium.8. Normally insulation between live components and to earth is by air (air-insulated switchgear).Medium Voltage Switchgear 109 7. vermin etc. Ring main units (RMU) are often adopted where ring/mesh type distribution is used. Double busbar configurations are also possible with a breaker circuit capable of being connected to either busbar through a set of isolators. Such a unit incorporating vacuum interrupters is shown in Figure 7.7. the circuit breaker may be substituted with a fused isolator with the fuse providing short circuit protection. In some cases. Use of SF6 as insulation medium provides many advantages. . A typical ring main circuit has two isolators which connect the RMU to the ring and a circuit breaker for feeding the load. Sectionalized panels have busbars arranged in more than one section and connected through a bus coupler circuit-breaker. These being: • Compactness (lower clearances due to better dielectric strength of SF6) • Switchgear sealed hermetically and not affected by external environment • Reliable performance with no possibility of faults due to external objects.4 MV switchgear panel configurations Switchgear panels may be of different configurations.

panel lamp. Clearly segregated control terminal blocks are provided in each panel for intra-panel and external wire connections. Such buses are provided for auxiliary dc and ac power supply. Some of them are: o Command switch/pushbuttons for operation of switchgear o Other operation selectors (Remote/Local etc.5 MV switchgear auxiliary devices Commonly used auxiliary devices in MV switchgear include the following: • Auxiliary AC and DC power supply and wiring • Control terminal blocks • Control and protection elements • Measuring elements (CT and PT) secondary circuits • Utility elements (panel lightning. • Any switchgear deploys several control elements for its operation. Auxiliary AC supply is normally required for spring charging motors of circuit breakers and for supply to the panel utilities such as socket outlet. etc. PT secondary wiring and other special purpose connections such as common trip signals. Internal wiring of the panel is done through control wiring ducts and in some of the designs.8 SF6 insulated RMU with door open 7. anti-condensation heater and utility socket and panel ventilation where applicable) • Protection elements Auxiliary DC supply is for the purpose of control of the switchgear.) o Auxiliary contacts of switching device o Protection relays/releases . space heater. a control bus arrangement is provided at the top of the panel to provide through connection. CT wiring terminals are usually provided with special shorting-type terminals which can be used to short CT terminals before devices such as meters and relays are disconnected from the CT secondary circuit. Trip coils are usually of dc so that failsafe tripping is possible even though the voltage in the associated power circuit may drop to a very low value during a short circuit fault.110 Switchgear and Distribution Systems Figure 7. The terminals for different purposes may be sized suitably based on the circuit current likely to be handled. The segregation is on the basis of the control functions for which the terminals are used. Protection circuits require DC battery source or some form of stored energy supply.

5kV (95 to 105%).6. Each main component.6. Switchgear manufacturers use this test to prove the insulation of their equipment after manufacture in routine testing. 12 kV for a 11 kV system. 7. recorders. The rated voltage will determine the insulation properties of the panel. it will mean that the whole panel is rated only 7. related equipment the applied test voltage is 28kV. switches for selective measurement (of a given phase). (“Main” components refer to those components that form part of the main voltage circuit of the panel.The actual voltage will typically fluctuate between 10.3 Power frequency withstand voltage This is the 50 or 60 Hz voltage that the switchgear can with stand for 1 minute. . etc. earth faults and other abnormal operating conditions.6 MV switchgear ratings Manufactured Medium Voltage (MV) switchgear panels are rated according to the following main specifications: 7. including individual circuit-breakers. e. Switchgear and the outgoing feeders fed by it require various protection devices for safe disconnection in the event of short circuits.6. must be rated to this voltage. 7.5 and 11.2 kV circuit-breaker is installed in a 12 kV panel. Other associated devices include: • All secondary wiring from PT/CT • Protection of PT output (breaker/fuse) • PT fuse failure detecting device • Indicating instruments.2 kV. if a 7. e. This test is also known as a pressure test.g. For 12kV. The normal practice is to rate switchgear panels 10 % higher than the required nominal voltage. audio) In some of the installations one or more of these devices can be placed external to the switchgear in a separate control panel. or higher.) For example. Commissioning engineers also use this test to prove the integrity of the equipment before switching on the power.g. cable terminations. Measuring elements in the form of current transformers and potential transformers are provided as a part of the switchgear panels. 12 kV for a system with a nominal voltage of 11kV.2 Rated voltage This is the voltage level at which the equipment will be expected to perform at continuously under normal operating conditions.g. These include: • Relays for sensing faults in individual circuits • Protection for other internal (busbar) faults • Inter-trip (sending and receiving ends) • Protection of equipment fed by a circuit (motor or transformer) We will deal with protection in detail in a later chapter. e. etc. 36 kV for a 33 kV system. as opposed to the control circuit.1 Nominal voltage This designed average voltage of a system. 11kV. transducers. busbars. 7.Medium Voltage Switchgear 111 o Status indicating lamps o Annunciation devices (visual.

multiplied by a load or diversity factor. The same principle as above applies.9 Impulse voltage 7. hence the load factor.5 Surge arrestor Surge arrestors are installed at the transition point between e. In limiting the peak voltage. e.g. This factor is smaller than one.6. e. The incoming circuit-breaker/disconnector and the main busbars will usually be rated the same. The impulse level that a panel will experience may be controlled by installing surge suppressers. as in the case of a voltage peak associated with lightning. Figure 7. and is determined by the types of loads connected to the panel. This is illustrated in Figure 7.9.g. Surge arrestors are also installed as motor terminals and on the ends of overhead lines. This calculation can be illustrated as shown in Table 7. the impulse voltage rating of the panel is equal to the rating of the lowest rated main component. 7. Individual loads will not run at full capacity simultaneously. i. an overhead line and a transformer.4 Impulse voltage This is the highest peak voltage the equipment will be able to withstand for a very short period of time. which will limit the peak voltage to a certain level. lighting density and the surge rating should be considered in determining the insulation coordination of the power system. BIL standards are set by IEC 60. Contrary to the voltage rating. 95 kV for 12Kv equipment.6.6 Full load current This is the maximum load current that may pass continuously through the switchgear panel. This value is obtained by adding all the individual feeder ratings. They are unusually connected between phases and earth. Three types of surge arrestors are used: • Rod spark gapped • Multiple gapped arrestors • Zinc (metal) oxide surge arrestors In applying surge arrestors the voltage rating. say 10 kA to earth. .e. and as close to the transformer terminals as possible. 45 kV.g.112 Switchgear and Distribution Systems 7. the surge arrestor will conduct a large current.. switching or other transients. not every main component needs to have the same current rating.1. Every individual circuit breaker or switch will be rated according to the maximum load current that will pass through it.6.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Total Load factor Required Incomer/Busbars Current Rating (A) 200 100 350 600 150 250 1650 60% 990A A good estimate of the load factor can be done by looking at the historical values recorded for the relevant feeders. or misuse of equipment. unbalanced faults will usually develop into symmetrical faults. deterioration of the insulating media due to an unfriendly environment or old age. Electrical faults usually occur due to breakdown of the insulating media between live conductors or between a live conductor and earth. This breakdown may be caused by any one or more of several factors. Symmetrical faults involve all three phases and cause severe fault currents and system disturbances. These different types of faults are illustrated in Figure 7. mechanical damage. e. ionisation of air. 7. The least severe fault condition is a single phase-to-ground fault with the transformer neutral earthed through a resistor or reactor.Medium Voltage Switchgear 113 Table 7.g. They are not as severe as symmetrical faults because not all three phases are involved.7 Fault current The magnitude of fault current that a switchgear panel must withstand is not determined by the load connected to it. overheating. a MV panel will be supplied via a HV/MV transformer(s). but by the properties of the supply to it. 1250 A. 2000 A and 2500 A according to IEC standards.6. and phase-to-phase-toground faults. if available. Faults are classified into two major groups: symmetrical and unbalanced (asymmetrical). . MV circuit-breakers/disconnectors are manufactured in a few standard sizes. In distribution systems with Δ / λ (HV/mV) connection and the star point solidly earthed the single phase fault current may be higher than the 3-phase symmetrical fault current due to the zero sequence reactance of the transformer being lower than the positive sequence reactance. voltage surges (caused by lightning or switching). However. 1600 A. if not cleared quickly. Due to economy of scale. for example 630 A.10.1 Evaluation of switchgear current rating Feeder No. Unbalanced faults include phase-to-phase. This transformer will then determine the magnitude of the fault currents that may flow through the panel. phase-to-ground. Usually. ingress of a conducting medium.

if the transformer is located in the vicinity of the substation. and values readily available form cable manufacturers’ tables may be used • Ignore complex algebra when calculating and using transformer internal impedance 7. These approximate values will be conservative. This means that the cable impedance between the switchgear and the fault may be ignored.8 DC offset The phenomenon called ‘DC Offset’ should be taken into account when rating circuit breakers. assume the phase angle between the cable impedance and transformer reactance are zero. Arc resistance will decrease the fault current flowing. at lower cost.6.10 Electrical fault types Switchgear needs to be rated to withstand and break the worst possible fault current.114 Switchgear and Distribution Systems Figure 7. approximate fault currents can be determined quite easily and quickly with pen and paper (plus calculator. If not. the cable impedance may reduce the possible fault current quite substantially. hence the values may be added without complex algebra. and can therefore be confidently used for the ratings of switchgear panels. preferably!). and are usually performed with the aid of computer simulation software (see Chapter 5). as it will depend on where exactly the fault occurs.11. However. may be installed) • When adding cable impedance. the properties of the insulating medium at that exact instance (which will be changing all the time due to the heating effect of the arc). . • Ignore any arc resistance • Ignore the cable impedance between the transformer secondary and the switchgear. but this value is unpredictable. when a few allowable assumptions are made. These assumptions are the following: • Assume the fault occurs very close to the switchgear. This phenomenon occurs due to the presence of inductive reactance in the system. Exact calculations of prospective fault currents can be quite complex. which is a solid three-phase short-circuit close to the switchgear. the actual arcing distance. Normally arc resistance will be present. This is illustrated in Figure 7. ‘Solid’ means that there is no arc resistance. etc. and should be included for economic considerations (a lower rated switchgear panel. giving the worst case.

as additional mechanical stresses are caused by the electromagnetic forces associated with these high peak currents.12. This maximum practical value of this peak current is 2. Figure 7.Medium Voltage Switchgear 115 Figure 7. as determined by the system impedance. . they must be taken into consideration when rating switchgear panels. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 7.12 Asymmetry factor chart Although the peak currents associated with the DC Offset is of relative short duration.11 Illustration of DC offset The peak current value will depend on the power factor of the system at the time of the fault.55 times the RMS fault current.

like generators and large induction motors. the DC Offset will decay to zero within the first 3 to 4 cycles.116 Switchgear and Distribution Systems The rate of decay of the DC Offset. and the DC Offset may cause an extended arcing period within the breaker. Normally.5 kA • 40 kA • 50 kA • 60 kA . A switch which will not make prospective fault current may be approved where satisfactory interlocking is provided. Therefore. Standard fault current ratings for switchgear include: • 16 kA • 20 kA • 25 kA • 31. for these applications. The higher the inductance. with the result that the breaker may blow up. However. as illustrated in Figure 7. also break prospective fault current A manually operated switch need not be capable of breaking the prospective fault current. the current waveform may still be substantially asymmetrical at the instant of the circuit breaker opening. these peaks have all but disappeared. is depended on the relationship L/R of the system. The switching device shall be capable of performing at least the following operating functions: • Make and break full-load current • Carry the prospective fault current • Make prospective fault current • If fitted with protection devices. and it will not be a cause for concern. a specialized generator circuit breaker should be installed. Therefore. when a circuit breaker is installed close to high inductive sources. The resultant thermal energy may be higher than the breaker can withstand. This may cause the breaker to interrupt a higher current value than it was rated for. which is designed to withstand these factors. at the instant that the circuit breaker opens. the slower the rate of decay.12.