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Thermal (Overload) Motor Relay Protection


Lovato motor protection relays

Winding failures in motor

The majority of winding failures in motor are either indirectly or directly caused by overloading (either prolonged or
cyclic), operation on unbalanced supply voltage, or single phasing, which all lead through excessive heating to the
deterioration of the winding insulation until an electrical fault occurs.
The generally accepted rule is that insulation life is halved for each 10 C rise in temperature above the rated value,
modified by the length of time spent at the higher temperature. As an electrical machine has a relatively large heat
storage capacity, it follows that infrequent overloads of short duration may not adversely affect the machine.
However, sustained overloads of only a few percent may result in premature ageing and insulation failure.
Furthermore, the thermal withstand capability of the motor is affected by heating in the winding prior to a fault.
It is therefore important that the relay characteristic takes account of the extremes of zero and full-load pre-fault
current known respectively as the Cold and Hot conditions.
The variety of motor designs, diverse applications, variety of possible abnormal operating conditions and resulting
modes of failure result in a complex thermal relationship.
A generic mathematical model that is accurate is therefore impossible to create. However, it is possible to develop an
approximate model if it is assumed that the motor is a homogeneous body, creating and dissipating heat at a rate

proportional to temperature rise.

This is the principle behind the thermal replica model of a motor used for overload protection.
The temperature T at any instant is given by:
Tmax = final steady state temperature
= heating time constant
Temperature rise is proportional to the current squared:
IR = current which, if flowing continuously, produces temperature Tmax in the motor
Therefore, it can be shown that, for any overload current I, the permissible time t for
this current to flow is:
In general, the supply to which a motor is connected may contain both positive
and negative sequence components, and both components of current give rise
to heating in the motor.
Therefore, the thermal replica should take into account both of these
components, a typical equation for the equivalent current being:
I1 = positive sequence current
I2 = negative sequence current
at rated speed. A typical value of K is 3.
Finally, the thermal replica model needs to take into account the fact
that the motor will tend to cool down during periods of light load, and
the initial state of the motor. The motor will have a cooling time constant r, that defines the rate of cooling.
Hence, the final thermal model can be expressed as followin Equation 1:
= heating time constant
k = Ieq / Ith
A2 = initial state of motor (cold or hot)
Ith =thermal setting current
Equation 1 takes into account the cold and hot characteristics defined in IEC 60255, part 8.
Some relays may use a dual slope characteristic for the heating time constant, and hence two values of the heating
time constant are required. Switching between the two values takes place at a pre-defined motor current. This may
be used to obtain better tripping performance during starting on motors that use a star-delta starter. During starting,
the motor windings carry full line current, while in the run condition, they carry only 57% of the current seen by the

Similarly, when the motor is disconnected from the supply, the heating time constant is set equal to the cooling
time constant r.
Since the relay should ideally be matched to the protected motor and be capable of close sustained overload
protection, a wide range of relay adjustment is desirable together with good accuracy and low thermal overshoot.
Typical relay setting curves are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Thermal overload characteristic curves; Cold curves. Initial thermal state 0%

Resource: Network, Protection & Automation Guide Areva

About Author //

Edvard Csanyi
Edvard - Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for
design of LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, buildings and
industry fascilities. Designing of LV/MV switchgears. Professional in AutoCAD
programming and web-design. Present on

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Basics of 3-phase Induction Motor (part 4) | EEP
Dec 22, 2013
[...] starting of the machine after the Motor cooled down to the safe temperature level. Locked Rotor
ProtectionThe ideal relay should provide protection against both starting and running locked rotor condition.
Sep 22, 2013
can you please tell me once the motor getting heat motor IR value what will happen?

Nov 29, 2012
Hai, can I ask a question here?
I found a single line diagram, overload setting @ current/voltage module is 63A630A.
Breaker is 250AF/250AT
Load is 15.75kW
My calculation: 15.75*1000/sqrt(3)/440V/0.8=25.8A
My question is
1) is the overload setting too high? should 25.8A within the overload setting? Can I say minimum value of
overload setting cannot lower than 25.8A?
2) is the MCCB rating too high?current only 25.8A, but the breaker is 250AF?normally, we refer to which
value, AF or AT (Because I have seen some stated 160AF/100AT)?why there is two AF and AT for MCCB?
Thank you

Nov 30, 2012
AT stands for Ampere Trip (circuit breaker size)
AF stands for Ampere Frame (frame size of the circuit breaker)
Normally AF should be greater or equal to AT.
Thermal overload protection Ir can be adjusted in amps from 0.4 to 1 times the rating of the trip unit.
This actually depends on the manufacturer.
Your example shows that circuit breaker is over dimensioned. CB should be at least 100A breaker with
Ir set to 0,4.
Kind regards
Stator Overheating Protection | EEP
Nov 19, 2012
[...] later, it is the practice for motors rated less than about 1500 hp to provide either replica-type thermaloverload relays or long-time inverse-time-overcurrent relays or direct-acting tripping devices to disconnect a

Introduction to Static Protection Relays | EEP
Sep 21, 2012
[...] is based on the use of analogue electronic devices instead of coils and magnets to create the relay
characteristic. Early versions used discrete devices such as transistors and diodes in conjunction with
resistors, [...]
Functions Performed by Electrical Switchgear | EEP
Sep 14, 2012
[...] are three main functions, namely:1. Circuit protection takes three main fault types into
account:Overloads,Short-circuits, (Both of which adversely affect the lifetime of cables and loads)Insulation
faults, [...]
Sizing and Protection of the Neutral Conductor (2) | EEP
Jul 31, 2012
[...] and Protection of the Neutral Conductor (1) Protection of the neutral conductorProtection against
overloadIf the neutral conductor is correctly sized (including harmonics), no specific protection of the [...]
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