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VOLTAGE SAG ITS EFFECTS AND MITIGATION

A voltage sag, or voltage dip, is a reduction of the voltage at a customer position with a duration of
between one cycle and a few seconds. Voltage sags are caused by motor starting, short circuits and fast
reclosing of circuit breakers.
Voltage sags occur in power systems all over the world. They are a nuisance for many industrial and
commercial customers; they are impossible to prevent; but it is often possible to mitigate the impact on
equipment. Like other power quality problems, this one needs co-operation between the utility, the
customer and the manufacturer of the equipment. Before a decision about mitigation can be made, an
assessment of the expected number of sags is needed. Such an assessment can be made through
measurements or by using stochastic prediction methods.
EFFECTS AND MITIGATION OF VOLTAGE SAG
The main reason for the increased interest in voltage sags is that modern equipment is often not able to
withstand such sags.
Computers, process control equipment and power electronics equipment are notorious for their
sensitivity. Trip frequencies of once a week and more have been reported. Also some more classical
pieces of equipment still cause problems due to voltage sags:
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: equipment like personal computers, compact disc players, electronic alarms,
video recorders and microwave ovens can reset due to a short reduction in voltage. The sensitivity
(maximum permissible sag) varies from 85% during half a cycle up to 50% during 1 s. (A sensitivity of
50%, 10ms, means that the equipment will trip if the voltage is below 50% of its nominal value for
10ms.) From Table 1 it is easy to conclude that the number of trips will vary from two per year up to almost 50 per
year. For household equipment tripping is a nuisance but seldom a very serious problem. The problems are more serious for
office equipment.
Control systems for industrial processes are equally sensitive. Spurious tripping of continuous processes can cause serious
loss of revenue and it can even lead to dangerous situations. In most industrial processes therefore the control system is
protected against sags as much as possible.
Both types of equipment are fed from an internal DC bus through a single-phase rectifier (e.g. a simple diode bridge). The
rectifier operates as a DC voltage source through a capacitor connected to the DC bus. If the voltage at the DC bus gets
too low the equipment (often some kind of digital electronics or microprocessor) will malfunction. The capacitor will keep the
voltage up for some time but often not longer than a few cycles. The acceptable sag duration depends, among other things,
on the capacitor size in relation to the DC load.
Another thing that both types of equipment have in common is that they are basically low power (the main power is often
taken by less-sensitive loads like fans and monitors). It is therefore not too difficult to feed them from an uninterruptable
power supply (UPS). A UPS consists of a rectifier, a DC bus with a battery block connected to it, and an invertor (see Fig.
3). If the AC input voltage drops, the DC voltage is kept up with power from the battery and the AC output is not affected. A
UPS can ride through sags and even interruptions up to several minutes in duration. The cost of a UPS is low enough to
justify its use for industrial control systems, and for important office equipment. They are, however, seldom justifiable for
home use.
Looking at the way a computer is fed through a UPS (AC to DC and DC to AC in the UPS and again AC to DC in the
computer), one easily concludes that there are too many conversions. It should not be too difficult to manufacture a
computer in which a battery block can be inserted. Every laptop computer has this provision already. A next step would be
tothink about the feasibility of a DC
distribution system for offices and
eventually even at home.
Many adjustable-speed drives are too
large to be fed from a UPS, and they are
often essential for the production
process. Their sensitivity varies from 85%,

10 ms, up to 50%, 500 ms. If this


equipment needs to ride through a sag,
some large energy storage is required, like
the recently proposed superconducting
magnetic energy storage (SMES) devices.
However, there has not been much
evidence as to their feasibility.