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Power transformer is a very vital link in
power transmission system. The development of modern power system has been reflected in the advances in transformer designs. This has resulted in a wide range of transformers with sizes ranging from few KVA to Several hundred MVA being available for use in a wide variety of applications.

The consideration for a transformer protection vary with application & importance of transformer. To reduce the effect of thermal stress & electrodynamics forces, it is advisable to ensure that the protection package used minimizes the time for disconnection in .the event of a fault occurring within transformer. Small distribution transformer can be protected using fuses and over current relays. Time delayed fault clearance is not accepted on large power transformer due to system operation / stability and cost of repair or length of outages.


1 Transformer faults are generally classified into five categories.

i) Winding and terminal faults ii) Core faults iii) Tank and transformer accessory faults iv) ON load tap changer faults v) Abnormal operating condition vi Sustained or un cleared external faults

Out of these faults, faults from (i) to (iv) are faults

originating in transformer itself while faults ( v) & (vi) are attributed as the system faults.


. A FAULT IN TRANSFORMER WINDING IS CONTROLLED IN MAGNITUDE BY THE FOLLOWING FACTORS. (i) Source Impedance (ii) Neutral Earthing impedance (iii) Transformer leakage reactance (iv) Fault voltage (v) Winding connection. Several distinct cases are as below

a) Star connected winding with Neutral earthed through an impedance:

The winding earth fault current depends on earthing impedance and is proportional to the distance of the fault from neutral, since fault voltage is directly proportional to this distance

b )Star connected winding with Neutral solidly earthed:

The fault current is controlled mainly by leakage reactance of winding which varies in a complex manner with position of fault. For faults close to neutral end of winding, the reactance is very low and results in highest faults current.

c) Delta connected windings :

The range of fault current magnitude is less than for a star connected winding. The actual value of fault current will depend on the method of system earthing.

d) Phase to phase faults :

Faults between phases within a transformer are relatively rare. If such fault occurs it will give rise to substantially high current comparable to the earth fault currents discussed earlier.


Interturn Faults :

In a low voltage transformer interturn insulation breakdown is unlikely to occur, unless the mechanical force on the winding due to external short circuit has caused insulation degradation or insulating oil has become contaminated by moisture.

A high voltage transformer connected to

transmission system will be subjected to a impulse voltage, arising from lighting strikes, faults & switching operation. A line surge which is several times the rated voltage will concentrate on the end turns of winding. Partial winding flashover is therefore more likely. The subsequent progress of fault, if not detected in early stage, may destroy the evidence of the true cause.


. A conducing bridge across the laminated
structures of the core can permit sufficient eddy current to flow to cause serious overheating. The bolt that clamp the core together are always insulted to avoid this trouble. If any portion of the core insulation becomes defective, the resultant heating may reach a magnitude sufficient to damage the winding.

In an oil immersed transformer, core heating

sufficient to cause winding insulation damage will also cause breakdown of oil with evolution of gas. This gas will escape to the conservator, and is used to operate a mechanical relay.



Loss of oil through tank leaks will produce a

dangerous condition, either because of a reduction in winding insulation or because of overheating due to loss of cooling.


Sources of abnormal stress in a

transformer are
i) Overload ii) System faults iii) Over voltage iv) Reduced system frequency.

OVER LOAD:Overload causes increased "copper loss" and a consequent temperature rise.

SYSTEM FAULTS :System circuit produce a relatively intense rate of heating of feeding transformer. Copper loss in such cases increases in proportion to the per unit fault current. Maximum mechanical stress on winding occurs during the first cycle of the fault.

OVER VOLTAGE CONDITION ARE OF TWO KINDS a) Transient surge voltages. b) Power frequency over voltages. a) Transient over voltages arise from faults, switching; and lightning disturbances and are, liable to cause interturn faults. These over voltage are usually limited by providing surge diverters.

b) Power frequency over voltage cause both an increase in stress on the insulation and a proportionate increase in working flux. The latter effect causes an increase in iron loss and large increase in magnetizing current.


Reduction of system frequency has an
effect with regard to flux density, similar to that of over voltage. A transformer can operate with some degree of over voltage with a corresponding increase in frequency, but operation must not be continued with a high voltage input at a low frequency.

The rating of a transformer is based on
the temperature rise above an assumed maximum ambient temperature. Under this condition no sustained overload is usually permissible. Therefore winding must not overheat. A rise of 8 to 10 degrees in temp will halve the insulation life of the unit. Protection against this is based on winding temperature which is measured by thermal imaging technique.


Faults relating to transformers require
some means of protection. Electromechanical relays protects against single type of fault while modern numerical relay provide all of the required protection functions in a single package.

Fault type
Primary winding Ph - ph fault Primary winding ph to earthfault Secondary winding phph fault

Protection used
Differential, over current Differential, over current Differential

Secondary winding ph to earth fault

Differential, Restricted Earth fault

Inter turn
Core Fault Tank fault

Differential, Restricted Earth fault

Differential; Buchholz Differential; Buchholz

Over fluxing Over heating

Over fluxing relay. Thermal


Fuses may adequately protect small

. Fuse commonly protect small distribution

transformer, but larger one require over current protection using a relay & circuit breaker as fuses do not have the required fault breaking capacity.
transformer. For protection of large transformers over current relays are used. These relays are connected to current transformers. The contacts of these relays are used in circuit breaker control.

Typical examples of E. E. make relay is CDG 63.

This is a IDMT (Inverse Definite mean time) protection. The time delay should be chosen to discriminate with circuit protection on secondary side. High set instantaneous relays element is also provided which enables high speed clearance of primary terminal short circuits


For star connected winding with impedance earthed
neutral, earth fault protection using over current element is not adequate. The degree of protection is very much improved by REF protection. . The residual current of three line CT's is balanced against the output of a CT in neutral conductor. The system is operative for faults within the zone of CT's. The system will remain stable for all faults outside this zone. REF is also often applied even when the neutral is solidly grounded. Since fault current then remains at a high value even to the last turn of winding virtually complete cover for earth fault is obtained.

This protection is usually employed for
large power transformers and is very effective & clears the fault very speedily. Current transformers on the primary and secondary sides are connected to form a circulating current system.


P1 S1

P2 S2 R

P2 S2 S1



P1 S1

P2 S2 R

P2 S2 S1



The over fluxing arises principally from
following system conditions. a) High system voltage b) Low system frequency A time delayed tripping is provided since momentary system disturbances can cause transient over fluxing that is not dangerous. The relay is triggered if a defined V/ F threshold is exceeded.


All faults below oil in an oil immersed
transformer result in localized heating and breakdown of oil. This ultimately results in release of gases.

When fault is minor - Gas releases slowly When fault is severe - Rapid release of high
volume of Gases.

Buchholz Protection :
Buchholz protection is normally provided on all
transformer fitted with conservator. A typical buchholz relay will have two sets of contacts, Alarm and trip. When a major winding fault occurs, this causes a surge of oil which displaces the trip float & causes isolation of transformer by the tripping of circuit breaker. Buchholz will operate for a) All severe winding faults, either to earth or inter phase. b) Loss of oil if allowed to continue to a dangerous

Pressure Relief Devices:

. Simplest form of pressure relief device is the
widely used frangible disc located at the end of on oil relief pipe protruding from the top of tank. Surge of oil caused by serious faults burst the disc and allow the oil to discharge rapidly. This avoids the explosive rupture of the tank and consequent fire risk.

For large power transformers instead of disc, a

pressure relief valve is provided which opens to allow discharge of oil if the pressure exceeds a set level, but closes automatically as soon as internal pressure falls below this level. If the abnormal pressure is relatively high, PRV can operate within few milliseconds & trips the switchgear with the help of suitable contacts fitted on it.