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Resistive Reach Guidelines for Impedance

Relay Applications
R. M. Naidoo and E. Stokes-Waller, Member, SAIEE

characteristics may pick up unnecessarily depending on the

Abstract— Impedance relays must accommodate all types of power system fault resistance, position and impedance relay
faults. In order to enable this, it is necessary that the correct characteristic reach. Unnecessary pickup may result in
voltage and current quantities be applied to the measuring incorrect tripping of a healthy transmission thereby reducing
elements. The impedance characteristics are obtained from these
three-phase voltage and current measurements. The main aim is
the reliability of the total power system [1].
to detect the faulted phases and react appropriately based on the
applied relay settings, scheme design and philosophies. The This paper presents a set of guidelines that can be practically
difficulty arises in the distinction between the faulted and healthy applied by a protection engineer to determine the reach
phase impedance measurements. Continuous research and capability of an impedance relay. This paper also introduces
development of impedance relays are in progress to improve its
concepts that may form the basis for further research to follow.
operating performance. Unfortunately, the impact and limitations
of such improvements on the power system applications are not Results of this research can be used for a wide variety of
studied with the same vigour. As such, it is necessary to impedance relay applications and assist in identifying
investigate the influence of network topology, power system applications that it may not be suited for.
loading, fault resistance etc. on the reach capability of impedance
relays when applied to power systems. In this paper, the reach II. DEFINITIONS
capability of impedance relays is investigated. A set of resistive
and reactive reach guidelines for impedance relay applications Before the guidelines can be applied, it is necessary to
are presented. The results from the research also show that the understand two new definitions that have been created.
network topology and faulted phase selection algorithms play a
major role in power system healthy phase impedance
measurements. New impedance ratios namely SWIR and SNIR A. SWIR
are introduced, and the well-known system impedance ratio (SIR) Consider the following system single line diagram.
is enhanced for ease of illustrating network topology and
associated impedance measurement.
Zs1 ZA ZB Zs2
Index Terms— Impedance Relay, protection, fault.

I mpedance relay characteristics and reach greatly

influence relay behavior. Relay characteristics can be set to
have different reaches in active and reactive impedance limits. Reverse (R) Forward (F)

The impedance relay measures the system current and Figure 1: Basic network illustrating ratios
voltage, applies basic assumptions and attempts to accurately
detect and react on a power system fault condition. The At any particular location in a balanced power system network
assumptions include: (no fault connected), with the network cut in half at this
location, the Thevenin equivalents can be obtained in both
directions. This is referred to as forward and reverse Thevenin
• zero fault resistance,
equivalent directions (thereby also introducing directionality to
• perfect earth fault compensation the SWIR ratio).
• perfect replica measurements of voltages and currents
• perfect applied impedance relay characteristic, all of If we obtain the Thevenin equivalent impedance values in each
which do not necessarily hold in a practical power system. direction (forward and reverse at the location specified), using
symmetrical component impedance values (positive-, negative-
It is necessary that the faulted and healthy characteristics and zero-sequence impedance circuits respectively), and
accurate. If incorrect, the healthy phase impedance dividing the forward over reverse Thevenin equivalent values,
we obtain the Impedance Ratio SWIR.

This is represented in matrix format as:

 Z SI + / Z A+ 
 Z F + / Z R +   SWIR+   Zs   
    Enhanced SIR =   =  Z SI − / Z A−  …(4)
SWIR = Z F − / Z R − = SWIR−
    …(1)  Z L  Z + / Z 
 SI 0 A0 
 Z Fo / Z Ro   SWIRo 
As for SWIR, the System Impedance Ratio (SIR) also has
where directionality associated with it. In this paper, the ratios SWIR,
SNIR and SIR are used to summarize network impedance
F = Forward Thevenin equivalent impedance relationships but the same principle could be used to illustrate
R = Reverse Thevenin equivalent impedance other kind of relationships as well (e.g. SNIR(I+)).
+ = Positive sequence impedance circuit
- = Negative sequence impedance circuit
o = Zero sequence impedance circuit D. Healthy phase impedance measurement
In the context of this research, healthy phase measurements are
For the circuit in Figure 1, the SWIR Ratio at the fault position considered to be from measuring elements (phase-ground and
is equal to: phase-phase) that are not representative of the fault
( Z B+ + Z S 2+ ) /( Z A+ + Z S1+ )

SWIR = ( Z B − + Z S 2− ) /( Z A− + Z S 1− )
 …(2)
 
 ( Z Bo + Z S 2o ) /( Z Ao + Z S 1o )  Two methods commonly used for displaying impedance
measurements in protective relaying applications include

• Positive sequence
SWIR comprises of three different ratios namely, positive-,
negative- and zero sequence impedance ratios. • Loop impedance plane

The loop impedance plane is useful for illustrating protection

B. SNIR behaviour of radial networks whereas the positive sequence
At any particular location, the following definitions apply: plane is used for meshed networks as well [2]. All protection
relays operate on the fundamental principle of positive
sequence characteristics (or some slight variation) and utilise
Z F + / Z Fo if Z F + ≥ Z Fo  the well-known earth fault compensation factor for ground
 
 SNIRF +   Z Fo / Z F + if Z F + < Z Fo  faults.
 SNIR  =  Z / Z if Z R + ≥ Z Ro  
 R+ 
  R + Ro  A. Positive sequence impedance measurements:
 Z Ro / Z R + if Z R + < Z Ro  
The measurement quantities indicated below are sometimes
referred to as the “generic” formula and are widely used in
 SNIRF if SNIRF ≥ SNIRR  power system protection. It is also accepted widely as the
SNIR+ =   standard on which protection relays base their behavior.
 SNIRR if SNIRF < SNIRR 
• Phase-Phase measurement quantities
SNIR- is defined as a similar relationship to SNIR+ but utilises  V A − VB 
negative- and zero-sequence quantities instead. In the context  
of this paper SNIR- is chosen to be equal to SNIR+.  Z AB   I A − I B 
 Z  = VB − VC  …(5)
 BC   I − I 
C. Enhanced System Impedance Ratio (SIR)  Z CA   B C 
VC − V A 
Using the system representation defined earlier the system  I C − I A 
impedance ratios is for the relay at A, in the context of this
research defined (and enhanced) as: • Phase-ground measurement quantities

 VA  For a purely reactive network, this gives the following

  distribution of impedance values measured:
 Z Ag   A I + KI N 
   VB 
 Z Bg  =  I + KI 
 Z Cg   B N

 
 VC 
 I C + KI N 

where I N = I A + I B + IC

The earth fault compensation factor is:

1 Z − Z1 …(7) Figure2: Impedance values measured for equal symmetrical component

K= ( o )
3 Z1 currents

In a balanced system, no neutral current will flow and the Note that the magnitudes of the impedance measurements are
measured impedance becomes a simple ratio of V/I [3]. Slight comparable and relatively “close” to each other.
variations exist in different relays for the earth fault
compensation factor and its implementation. The aim is to b) Symmetrical component currents not equal
improve the positive sequence impedance measurement under
different conditions. Typically variations in impedance If we make the assumption I1=I2 and vary I0 while measuring
measurements from the generic formula tend to improve the impedance
faulted phase measurement but may degrade the healthy phase
measurement performance (refer to case study). For this condition, we find that IW is equal to IB, which in
effect means that the measurement ZWB will always be infinite.
Network topology is understood as the complete network in
geographical terms (including symmetrical impedance values,
phase shift components, generation sources, shunt paths, etc.). Zw (Io< I1) Zrw
Zb (Io< I1)
To study the effect of network topology in impedance
measurements of a protection relay, a reverse approach was
Z(im )

followed. First, the effect of unbalanced symmetrical currents

Zw (Io>I1)
or voltages on relay impedance measurement was studied and Zb (Io>I1)

m ovem ent as Io movem ent as Io

then networks that may cause this were identified. This dec reas es dec reases

approach greatly assisted in identifying limitations and general

criteria on which impedance reach limitations was based. Z(re )

Figure 3: Example of generic impedance measured values

Effect Of Symmetrical Component Currents
If we assume a balanced source (all three phases voltage equal Figure 3 implies that network topology plays a major role in
and shifted 120 degrees) and currents I1, I2 and I0 being the healthy phase impedance values measured by impedance
supplied by the source, the impedance values measured protection relays.
(phase-ground and phase-phase) are:
 Z rw  (Vr − Vw ) /( I r − I w )  These guidelines were established to assist the Engineer in
 Z  = (V − V ) /( I − I ) …(8)
 wb   w b w b  determining the reach limits of an impedance relay. These
 Z br   (Vb − Vr ) /( I b − I r )  guidelines are used in conjunction with the graphs developed
in Appendix A.
a) Symmetrical component currents equal
A. Methodology for Application
With the symmetrical component currents equal the impedance • Read the y-axis value “Rx” from the guidelines based on a
values are: number of other values that needs to be pre-determined
from the network and relay settings.
 Z rw  (Vr − Vw ) /( I r ) • Model the network in terms of the +ve, -ve and zero
Z  =  ∞  …(9) sequence networks.
 wb    • Determine the direction of the impedance relay (normally
 Z br   (Vb − Vr ) /( I r ) 
towards the feeder) and label this as forward.

• At the relay location, determine the forward Thevenin Venus-Georgedale line z+={0.00933,0.05820
impedance (both the }
positive sequence equivalent impedance, Z(F+).
same) zo={0.06236,0.20447}
• Determine SWIR and SIR at the relay location and in the
forward direction. z+={0.00138,0.01151
A. Georgedale- }
• Determine SNIR+ at the relay location. Klaarwater line zo={0.01178,0.0408}
• From the impedance protection relay settings, determine impedance
the value of Kn (earth fault compensation factor, normally Klaarwater Source z+={0.00783,0.01634
in the range between 0.6 and 1.3). impedance }
• From the graph, start on the x-axis utilising the determined zo={0.00299,0.02038}
SWIR or SIR and read from the appropriate Kn curve the 100 MVA base and 275kV system voltage used as reference (base on per unit values)
associated y-axis value or “Rx”.
• Use this y-axis value “Rx” and determine the maximum
resistive reach recommended. • For our particular network, SWIR+ is equal to 0.41.
• Earth fault compensation factor set on the relay was
For this case study, the developed guidelines are applied. • The system ratios SNIRF and SNIRR are 2.5 and 3.5
During a single phase to earth reverse fault on the Venus- respectively (select the average between SNIRF and
Georgedale feeder, approximately 10% from Georgedale, the SNIRR, thus select SNIR+=3 as it is more appropriate).
Georgedale, Klaarwater protection relay operated in zone 1 for • Comparison with the meshed network guideline (with
the reverse fault. The positive sequence impedance plane plot SNIR+=3) we can see that Rx = 0.55.
as shown in Figure 4, indicates that the healthy phase • The recommended resistive reach can be derived as
measurement Zbg (as seen by the impedance relay) caused the follow:
incorrect operation.
R(reach)< Rx * Z(F+)
< 0.55*(0.018+0.011) per unit
Venus Georgedale Klaarwater
< 0.55*0.029 per unit
< 0.016 per unit
<0.016*756.3 Ω (pos. seq.)
< 12 Ω (pos. seq.)
R-g Fault Relay
If a safety margin of 20% is added, the positive sequence
Figure 4: Georgedale, Klaarwater 275kV network impedance reach recommended is 9.6 ohm (positive


This paper presents a practical approach to determining the

reach limitations of impedance relays. It was found that
network topology has the most significant influence on healthy
phase impedance measurements. Heavy loading may cause the
0.0 phase-phase impedance elements to pick up for a phase-ground
-15.0 -10.0 -5.0 0.0 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0
fault. On heavily loaded systems, the healthy phase-phase
impedance measured may become “visible” which could result
in tripping of both faulted and healthy phase measuring
Z(measured) elements. When purely taking network topology into account,
-15.0 worst-case scenario (minimum impedance) for healthy phase
Figure 5: Blue-ground positive sequence impedance measurement (primary) impedance measurement occurs when SWIR+ is large and
SWIR0 is small. To avoid incorrect operation of healthy phase
impedance measurements, correct phase selection is critical to
ensure detection and measurement of only the faulted phase
Application of Guidelines measurement.

• Model the network in terms of sequence networks

Venus Source z+={0.00362,0.01249

impedance }

[1] E. Stokes-Waller, “Automated Protection Performance Analysis from
Digital Fault Recordings on the Eskom Transmission System”, Cigre
Fourth International Southern African Conference, 2001
[2] E. Stokes-Waller and P. Keller, “Power Network And Protection
Performance Analysis On The Eskom Transmission System Based On
Digital Fault Records”, Southern African Power System Protection
Conference, 1998
[3] Directional Element Design and Evaluation, Jeff Roberts and Armando
Guzman, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc., SEL Webpage,

Raj Naidoo received the Bachelor’s degree from the University of Natal,
Durban, South Africa, in 1995, the Master’s degree from the University of
Witwatersrand, Gauteng, South Africa, in 2000, and is currently pursuing a
Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, South
Africa. From June 1997 to May 2002 he was with ESKOM. His interests
include Power System Stability and Power Quality. He is currently a Senior
Lecturer at the University of Pretoria.

Edmund-Stokes Waller has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the

University of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. His interests include Power
system protection and power quality. He is registered as a professional
engineer in South Africa.







resistive reach as multiples of Z(F+)
Maximum positive sequence




Kn=1.3 Kn=0.5



0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5
Abs (SWIR+)


Note: Maximum positive sequence resistance reach (at angle 30 degrees) is presented using generic





Maximum positive sequence resistive reach

as multiple of Z(F+)






0.5 Kn=1.3

0 1 2 3 4 5 6


Note: Maximum positive sequence resistance reach (at angle 30 degrees) is presented using generic