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Oct 22, 2019

@ Lectures Chapter 4 Measurement of High Voltage

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High Voltage Engineering By Dr Suhail Khokahr

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@ Lectures Chapter 4 Measurement of High Voltage

High Voltage Engineering By Dr Suhail Khokahr

© All Rights Reserved

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Engineering

Dr Suhail Khokhar

Associate Professor

Electrical Engineering Department

QUEST Nawabshah

Chapter 4

Measurement of High Voltage

Methods of Measurement of High Voltages

In industrial testing and research laboratories, it is essential to measure the

voltages and currents accurately, ensuring perfect safety to the personnel

and equipment.

A person handling the equipment as well as the metering devices must be

protected against over voltages.

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is a serious problem in impulse voltage

and current measurements, and it has to be avoided or minimized.

Sphere gap can be considered as an approved calibration device, with a

limited accuracy, but with high reliability and simplicity.

The breakdown field distribution can be controlled by the geometry of the

electrode and by the air density. In some cases, the spark gap needs to be

irradiated with ultraviolet light or X-rays sources in order to obtain consistent

values for smaller sphere gaps, with the gap spacing less than 1 cm.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 3

Methods of Measurement of High Voltages

The most suitable method for measuring high voltage depends on the

measured voltage value, the available measuring devices, and whether the

need is to measure the peak or the effective value.

It is known that spark gap spheres measure the peak AC voltage with a

precision of ±3%. The breakdown voltage depends on the distance

between the spheres, on the spheres diameter, and on the type of voltage:

DC, AC, or impulse.

The breakdown voltage is a nonlinear function of the gap distance which is

due to the increasing field inhomogeneity. Sphere gaps can be arranged

vertically, with the lower sphere grounded, or horizontally.

Methods of Measurement of High Voltages

Measurement of DC High Voltages

1. Series resistance micrometer

2. Resistance potential divider

3. Generating voltmeter

4. Sphere and other sphere gaps

Measurement of AC High Voltages

1. Series impedance voltmeter

2. Potential dividers (resistance or capacitance type)

3. Potential transformers (Electromagnetic or Capacitor Voltage Transformer)

4. Electrostatic voltmeter

5. Sphere gaps

Measurement of Impulse High Voltages

1. Potential Dividers with a Cathode Ray Oscillograph (resistive or capacitive

dividers)

2. Peak Voltmeter

3. Sphere Gaps

Spark gaps

Simple spark gaps insulated by atmospheric air can be used to measure the

voltage amplitude around 10 𝑘𝑉. Although spark gaps for measurement

purposes might be applied following given rules and recommendations only.

Since, the fast transition from completely insulating or highly insulating state of

a gap to the high conducting arc state is used to determine a voltage level, the

disruptive discharge does not offer a direct reading of the voltage across the

gap.

A complete short-circuit is the result of a spark, and therefore the voltage

source must be capable to allow such a short-circuit, although the currents may

and sometimes must be limited by resistors in series with the gap.

Spark gaps can be considered as approved calibration devices with a limited

accuracy, i.e., known measuring uncertainty, but with a high reliability.

Because of their high reliability and simplicity, spark gaps will probably never

completely disappear from HV laboratories.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 9

Spark Gaps

More accurate and easier-to-use devices incorporating electronic circuits

are generally applied for routine measurements. But these circuits are often

sensitive to the electromagnetic effects and may sometimes fail to work.

A regular calibration of such devices against approved spark gaps thus

eliminates the possibility of large measuring errors and awkward

consequences. The geometry of a spark gap is a decisive factor for its

application.

For some decades the international and also national standards recommend

the sphere gap and now also the rod gap for approved voltage

measurements, as their reliability are best confirmed.

The uniform field gaps are merely included here to demonstrate their

disadvantages and to save the beginner troublesome experiments.

Sphere Gaps

Sphere Gaps

Two adjacent metal spheres of equal diameters whose separation distance is

limited form a sphere gap for the measurement of the peak value of either DC, AC

or impulse voltages.

The ability to respond to peak values of voltages, if the duration of the peak region

is not too short in time (≈ 1– 3 µsec), is governed by a short statistical time lag,

i.e. the waiting time for an electron to appear to initiate an electron avalanche and

breakdown streamer, and an equally short formative time lag required for the

voltage breakdown or fast current increase within the breakdown channel.

The limitation in gap distance provides a fairly homogeneous field distribution so

that no pre-discharge or corona appears before breakdown; the formative time lags

are, therefore, also short.

The permanent presence of primary or initiatory electrons within the regions of

maximum field gradients to start critical avalanches within a short time lag is of

great importance.

Sphere Gaps

The electrical field distribution within the high field regions must sufficiently

be controlled by the geometry of the electrode and the air density as well as

its composition must be known.

Air is composed of various types of molecules which will influence the

breakdown voltage. All these influences can be accounted for by the well-

known breakdown criteria of gases besides the primary electron impact,

whose presence is a prerequisite.

The standardized arrangement for the construction of the sphere gaps is

shown in Figs 3.1(a).

The figure contains the most of the instructions necessary to define the

geometry, except for values A and B which require some explanation. These

two parameters define clearances such as to maintain the field distribution

between the points on the two spheres that are closest to each other

(sparking points) within narrow limits.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 13

Vertical Sphere Gaps

1. Insulating support.

2. Sphere shank.

3. Operating gear, showing maximum

dimensions.

4. High-voltage connection with series

resistor.

5. Stress distributor, showing maximum

dimensions.

P. Sparking point of h.v. sphere.

A. Height of P above ground plane.

B. Radius of space free from external

structures.

X. Item 4 not to pass through this plane

within a distance B from P.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 14

Sphere Gaps

The height of the sparking point P above the horizontal ground plane, which

can be a conducting network in or on the floor of the laboratory, or a

conducting surface on the support in which the sphere gap is placed, must

be within given limits related to the sphere diameter D.

To be accepted as a standard measuring device, a minimum clearance B

around the sphere must also be available, within which no extraneous

objects (such as walls, ceilings, transformer tanks, impulse generators) or

supporting framework for the spheres are allowed.

Related to the accuracy of the field distribution are also requirements for the

construction of the spheres and their shanks. The most important rules are

reproduced partly.

Rod Gaps

Rod gaps have previously been used for the measurement of impulse voltages,

but because of the large scatter of the disruptive discharge voltage and the

uncertainties of the strong influence of the humidity, they are no longer allowed

to be used as measuring devices.

The investigations have demonstrated how the simple electrode configuration

rod / rod gap may be used for the measurement of DC voltages, if the air

density and the humidity is taken into account, and if some rules relating to the

electrode arrangement are followed.

This arrangement must comprise two hemi-spherically capped rods of about

20 𝑚𝑚 diameter as sketched in Fig. 3.3.

The earthed rod must be long enough to initiate positive breakdown streamers

if the HV rod is the cathode. Then for both polarities the breakdown will always

be initiated by positive streamers giving a very small scatter and being humidity

dependent.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 16

Rod Gaps

Electrostatic voltmeters

According to Coulomb’s law the electrical field is defined as a field of forces. The

electrical fields may be produced by voltages, hence voltage measurement can be

related to a force measurement.

Lord Kelvin (1884) suggested a design for an electrostatic voltmeter based upon this

measuring principle.

If the field is produced by the voltage 𝑉 between a pair of parallel plane disc

electrodes, the force 𝐹 on an area 𝐴 of the electrode, for which the field gradient 𝐸

is the same across the area and perpendicular to the surface, can be calculated

from the derivative of the stored electrical energy 𝑊𝑒𝑙 taken in the field direction (x).

Since each volume element 𝐴𝑑𝑥 contains the same stored energy

𝑑𝑊𝑒𝑙 = 𝜀𝐸 2 𝐴𝑑𝑥 /2, the attracting force 𝐹 = −𝑑𝑊𝑒𝑙 /𝑑𝑥 becomes

𝜀𝐴𝐸 2 𝜀𝐴 2

𝐹 = = 2𝑉

2 2𝑆

where 𝜀 is permittivity of the insulating medium and 𝑆 is gap length between the

parallel plane electrodes.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 18

Electrostatic voltmeters

The attracting force is always positive independent of the polarity of the voltage. If the

voltage is not constant, the force is also time dependent. Then the mean value of the force is

used to measure the voltage, thus

𝑇 𝑇

1 𝜀𝐴 1 𝜀𝐴

𝐹(𝑡) 𝑑𝑡 = 2 𝑣2 𝑡 𝑑𝑡 = 2 (𝑉𝑟𝑚𝑠 )2

𝑇 2𝑆 𝑇 2𝑆

0 0

where 𝑇 is a proper integration time. Thus, electrostatic voltmeters are r.m.s.- indicating

instruments!

The design of most of the realized instruments is arranged such that one of the electrodes or

a part of it is allowed to move. By this movement, the electrical field will slightly change

which in general can be neglected.

Besides differences in the construction of the electrode arrangements, the various

voltmeters differ in the use of different methods of restoring forces required to balance the

electrostatic attraction; these can be a suspension of the moving electrode on one arm of a

balance or its suspension on a spring or the use of a pendulous or torsional suspension.

Electrostatic voltmeters

The small movement is generally transmitted and amplified by a spotlight and mirror system,

but many other systems have also been used. If the movement of the electrode is prevented

or minimized and the field distribution can exactly be calculated, the electrostatic measuring

device can be used for absolute voltage measurements, since the calibration can be made in

terms of the fundamental quantities of length and forces.

The paramount advantage is the extremely low loading effect, as only electrical fields have

to be built up. The atmospheric air, high-pressure gas or even high vacuum between the

electrodes provide very high resistivity, and thus the active power losses are mainly due to

the resistance of insulating materials used elsewhere. The measurement of voltages lower

than about 50 V is, however, not possible, as the forces become too small.

The measuring principle displays no upper frequency limit. The load inductance and the

electrode system capacitance, however, form a series resonant circuit, thus limiting the

frequency range. For small voltmeters the upper frequency is generally in the order of some

MHz.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 20

Electrostatic voltmeters

In spite of the inherent advantages of this kind of instrument, their

application for h.v. testing purposes is very limited nowadays.

For DC voltage measurements, the electrostatic voltmeters compete with

resistor voltage dividers or measuring resistors, as the very high input

impedance is in general not necessary.

For AC voltage measurements, the r.m.s. value is either of minor

importance for dielectric testing or capacitor voltage dividers can be used

together with low-voltage electronic r.m.s. instruments, which provide

acceptable low uncertainties.

Thus the actual use of these instruments is restricted and the number of

manufacturers is therefore extremely limited.

Electrostatic voltmeters

Fig. shows a schematic diagram of an

absolute electrostatic voltmeter. The

hemispherical metal dome D encloses

a sensitive balance B which measures

the force of attraction between the

movable disc which hangs from one of

its arms and the lower plate P. The

movable electrode M hangs with a

clearance of above 0.01 cm, in a

central opening in the upper plate

which serves as a guard ring.

Chubb–Fortescue Method

Chubb and Fortescue (1913) proposed the simple and accurate method for

the measurement of peak values of AC voltages ,using a sphere gap as a

measuring device.

The basic diagram shown in Fig. 3.12(a) comprises a standard capacitor,

two diodes and a current integrating ammeter (i.e. moving coil or equivalent

instrument) only.

The displacement current 𝑖𝑐 (𝑡) is subdivided into positive and negative

components by the back-to-back connected diodes.

The voltage drop across these diodes (less than 1 V for Si diodes) may

completely be neglected when high voltages are to be measured.

The measuring instrument may be included in one of the two branches.

Chubb–Fortescue Method

Chubb–Fortescue Method

In either case it reads a magnitude of charge per cycle, or the mean value of

the current 𝑖𝑐 𝑡 = 𝐶 𝑑𝑉/𝑑𝑡, and thus

1 𝑡2 𝐶 𝑡2 𝐶

𝐼= 𝑖𝑐 𝑡 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑑𝑉 = 𝑉+𝑚𝑎𝑥 + 𝑉−𝑚𝑎𝑥 −− −(1)

𝑇 𝑡1 𝑇 𝑡1 𝑇

according to fig. 3.13 which illustrates the integral boundaries and the

magnitudes related to Fig. 3.12(a).

The difference between the positive and negative peak values may be

designated as 𝑉𝑝−𝑝 , and if both peak values are equal, a condition which

usually applies, may be written as

𝐼 = 𝐶𝑓𝑉𝑝−𝑝 = 2𝐶𝑓𝑉𝑚𝑎𝑥 −− −(2)

An increased current would be measured if the current reaches zero more

than once during one half-cycle.

Chubb–Fortescue Method

This means the waveshape of the voltage would contain more than one

maximum per half-cycle. AC testing voltages with such high harmonics

contents are, however, not within the limits of standards and therefore only

very short and rapid voltage drops caused by heavy pre-discharges within

the test circuit could introduce errors.

Chubb–Fortescue Method

A filtering of the AC voltage by a damping resistor placed between the

capacitor C and the object tested will eliminate this problem.

The relationship in Eq (2) shows the principal sources of errors. First, the

frequency 𝑓 must be accurately known. In many countries the power

frequency often used for testing voltages is very stable and accurately

known. The independent measurement of the frequency with extremely high

precision (i.e. counters) is possible.

The current measurement causes no problem, as these currents are in the

𝑚𝐴 range.

The effective value of the capacitance C should also be accurately known,

and because of the different constructions available, a very high precision is

possible.

The main source of error is often introduced by imperfect diodes.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 27

Chubb–Fortescue Method

These have to subdivide the AC current 𝑖𝑐 𝑡 with high precision, this means

the charge transferred in the forward direction, which is limited by the

capacitance 𝐶, must be much higher (104 −105 times) than the charge in the

reversed voltage direction.

But due to the back-to-back connection of the diodes, the reverse voltages are

low. However, the diodes as well as the instrument become highly stressed by

short impulse currents during voltage breakdowns.

A suitable protection of the rectifying circuit is thus recommended as shown in

Fig. 3.12(b). The resistor R introduces a required voltage drop during

breakdown to ignite the overvoltage protector OP (e.g. a gas discharge tube).

The influence of the frequency on the reading can be eliminated by

electronically controlled gates and by sensing the rectified current by analogue

to-digital converters. By this means and using pressurized standard capacitors,

the measurement uncertainty may reach values as low as 0.05 per cent.

High Voltage Engineering (16EL) By Dr Suhail khokhar 28

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