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Medium Voltage Earthing Systems Arrangements


and Comparison

Neutral point connection method


First, lets define the different medium voltage earthing systems and then compare the
advantages and disadvantages of each one. Earthing systems in medium voltage can be
differentiated according to the neutral point connection method.
The various earthing systems in medium voltage systems are different in the way they
operate and each has its advantagesand disadvantages, which we shall now consider.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Directly earthed neutral (Direct earthing)


Unearthed neutral
Resistance earthing
Reactance earthing
Petersen coil earthing

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1. Directly earthed neutral (Direct earthing)


Description: An electrical connection is made between the neutral point and earth.

Operating technique: Compulsory switching on occurrence of the first insulation fault.

Advantages:

Reduces the risk of overvoltages occurring.


Authorizes the use of equipment with a normal phase to earth insulating level.

Disadvantages:
Compulsory tripping upon occurrence of the first fault.
Very high fault currents leading to maximum damage and disturbance (creation of
induced currents in telecommunication networks and auxiliary circuits).
The risk for personnel is high while the fault lasts; the touch voltages which develop
being high.
Requires the use of differential protection devices so that the fault clearance time is
not long. These systems are costly.
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2. Unearthed neutral
Description:
There is no electrical connection between the neutral point and earth, except for
measuring or protective devices. A high impedance is inserted between the neutral point
and earth.

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Operating technique:
No switching on occurrence of the first insulation fault
it is thus compulsory:
To carry out permanent insulation monitoring;
To indicate the first insulation fault;
To locate and clear the first insulation fault;
To switch upon occurrence of the second insulation
fault (double fault).
Advantages:
Provides continuity of service by only tripping upon occurrence of the second fault,
subject to the network capacity not leading to a high earth fault current that would
be dangerous for personnel and loads on occurrence of the first fault.
Disadvantages:

The unearthed neutral involves:

The use of equipment whose phase-to-earth insulation level is at least equal to that
of the phase-to-phase level. Indeed, when a permanent phase-earth fault
occurs, the voltage of both unaffected phases in relation to earth takes on the value
of the phase-to-phase voltage if tripping is not triggered on occurrence of the first
fault. Cables, rotating machines, transformers and loads must therefore be chosen
with this in mind;
The risk of high internal overvoltages making it advisable to reinforce the equipment
insulation;
The compulsory insulation monitoring, with visual and audible indication of the first
fault if tripping is not triggered until the second fault occurs;
The presence of maintenance personnel to monitor and locate the first fault during
use;
Some difficulties implementing selective protection devices upon occurrence of the
first fault;
The risk of ferroresonance.

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3. Resistance earthing
Limiting resistance earthing
A resistor is inserted between the neutral point and earth.

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Operating technique: Switching upon occurrence of


the first fault.
Advantages:
Limits fault currents (reduced damage and
disturbance).
Dampens overvoltages of internal origin in that the
limiting current Il is twice as high as the capacitive
current IC giving Il > 2 IC.
Does not require the use of equipment, and in
particular cables, having a special phase/earth
insulation level.
Allows the use of simple selective protection devices.
Disadvantages: Tripping on the first fault.
Go
back to Index

4. Reactance earthing

Limiting reactance earthing

Description: A reactor is inserted between the neutral point and earth.

Operating technique: Switching upon occurrence of the first insulation fault.


Advantages:
Limits the fault currents (reduced damage and disturbance).
Allows the implementation of simple selective protection devices if IL >> IC.
The coil, being of low resistance, does not have to dissipate a high heat load.

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Disadvantages:
May cause high overvoltages during earth fault clearance.
Compulsory tripping upon occurrence of the first fault.
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5. Petersen coil earthing


Description:
A reactor L tuned to the network capacities is inserted between the neutral point and
earth so that if an earth fault occurs, the fault current is zero.

If = IL + IC
Where:
If fault current
IL current in the neutral earthing reactor
IC current in the phase-earth capacitances
Operating technique: No switching upon occurrence of the first fault.
Advantages:
If the reactance is such that 3 L0 C0 0 = 1 is respected, the phase-earth fault current is
zero:
Spontaneous clearance of non-permanent earth faults;
The installation continues to operate in spite of there being a permanent fault, with

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tripping necessarily occurring on the second fault;


The first fault is indicated by the detection of the current flowing through the coil.
The coil is dimensioned so that permanent operation is possible.
Disadvantages:
Difficulties establishing the condition 3 L0 C0 2 = 1 due to uncertain knowledge
of the networks capacity: the result is that throughout the duration of the fault, a
residual current circulates in the fault. Care must be taken to make sure this current
is not dangerousfor personnel and equipment.
The risk of overvoltages occurring is high.
Requires the presence of monitoring personnel.
Impossible to provide selective protection upon occurrence of the first fault if the coil
has been tuned to: 3 L0 C0 2 = 1

If it is systematically out of tune (3 L0 C0 2 1) selective protection upon


occurrence of the first fault is complex and costly.
Risk of ferro-resonance.

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Resource: Protection of Electrical Networks Christophe Prv (get this book from

Amazon
)

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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 Google+

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