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MEASUREMENT OF HIGH VOLTAGES AND

CURRENTS
By
Anish John paul. M
Head of School
School of Electrical & Electronics Engineering

Series resistance micrometer


Resistance potential divider
Generating voltmeter
Sphere and other sphere gaps

A very high resistance in series with a micrometer.


V = IR
The resistance is constructed from a large no. of wire
wound resistors in series.
Limitations:
Power dissipation
Temperature effects and long time stability,
Voltage dependence of resistive elements,
sensitivity to mechanical stresses.

Series resistance meters are built for 500 kV


d.c. with an accuracy better than 0.2%.

It uses electrostatic voltmeter or high


impedance voltmeter.
Let, V2-Voltage across R2
V2 V1

R2
(R1 R2 )

Highvoltagemagnitude,
V1 V2

(R1 R2 )
R2

The influence of temperature and voltage on the


elements is eliminated in the voltage divider
arrangement.
Sudden voltage changes during transients due to:
Switching operation
Flashover of test objects
To avoid sudden changes in voltages, voltage
controlling capacitors are connected across the
elements

A generating voltmeter is a variable capacitor


electrostatic voltage generator.
It generates current proportional to the applied external
voltage.
This arrangement provides loss free measurement of
DC and AC voltages
The device is driven by an external synchronous or
constant speed motor and does not absorb power or
energy from the voltage measuring source.

The capacitance is a function of time as the area A varies with time and, therefore,
the charge q(t) is given as,

and,
For d.c. Voltages,
Hence
If the capacitance C varies sinusoidally between the limits C 0 and (C0 + Cm) then
C = C0 + Cm sin t
and the current i' is then given as, i(t) = im cos t , where im = VCm
Here is the angular frequency of variation of the capacitance.

Generally the current is rectified and measured by a moving coil meter

Generating voltmeters employ rotating sectors or vanes for variation of


capacitance.
The high voltage source is connected to a disc electrode S3 which is kept at a
fixed distance on the axis of the other low voltage electrodes S0, S1 and S2.
The rotor S0 is driven at a constant speed by a synchronous motor at a
suitable speed (1500,1800,3000, or 3600 rpm).
The rotor vanes of S0 cause periodic change in capacitance between the
insulated disc S2 and the h.v. electrode S3.
The shape and number of the vanes of S0 and S1 are so designed that they
produce sinusoidal variation in the capacitance.
The generated a.c. current through the resistance R is rectified and read by a
moving coil instrument.

If the current is small an amplifier may be used before the current is measured.

The instrument is calibrated using a potential divider or sphere gap.

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Advantages of Generating Voltmeters


No direct connection to high voltage electrode,
Scale is linear and extension of range is easy,
A very convenient instrument for electrostatic devices such as Van de Graaff

Limitations of Generating Voltmeters


They require calibration,
Careful construction is needed
Disturbance in position and mounting of the electrodes make the calibration
invalid.

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Series impedance voltmeter


Potential dividers (resistance or capacitance type)
Potential transformers (Electromagnetic or CVT)
Electrostatic voltmeter
Sphere gaps

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Electrostatic Voltmeter

One of the direct methods of measuring high voltages is


by means of electro-static voltmeters.
For voltages above 10 kV, generally the attracted disc
type of electrostatic voltmeter is used.
When two parallel conducting plates (cross section area
A and spacing s) are charged q and have a potential
difference V, then the energy stored in the is given by

1
1
CV 2 dW V 2 dC F ds
2
2
1
dC
Force, F V 2
Newton
2
ds
W

For uniform field capacitance, C

A
dC
A

2
s
ds
s

1 V2
F A 2 Newton
2 s

It is thus seen that the force of attraction is proportional to the square of the potential difference
applied, so that the meter reads the square value (or can be marked to read the rms value).
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Electrostatic voltmeters of the attracted disc type may be connected across the high
voltage circuit directly to measure up to about 200 kV, without the use of any
potential divider or other reduction method. [The force in these electrostatic
instruments can be used to measure both a.c. and d.c. voltages].

The right hand electrode forms the high voltage plate.

The centre portion of the left hand disc is cut away and encloses a small disc which
is movable and is geared to the pointer of the instrument.

This can be achieved by suspension of the moving electrode on one arm of a


balance or its suspension on a spring

The small movement is generally transmitted and amplified by a spot light and
mirror system, but many other systems have also been used.

An incident light beam will therefore be reflected toward a scale calibrated to read
the applied voltage magnitude.

The electrostatic measuring device can be used for absolute voltage measurements
since the calibration can be made in terms of the fundamental quantities of the gap
length and forces.

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Electrostatic Voltmeter

Advantages:
i.

Active power losses are negligibly small

ii.

Voltages upto 600kV can be measured.

Disadvantage:
i.

For constant distance s, F V2, the sensitivity is small. This can


be overcome by varying the gap distance d in appropriate steps.

Absolute Electrostatic Voltmeter


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Series Impedance Voltmeter

For power frequency a.c. measurements the series impedance may be a pure
resistance or a reactance.
But use of resistances yields the followings,
Power losses
Temperature problem
Residual inductance of the resistance gives rise to an impedance different from its ohmic
resistance.

High resistance units for high voltages have stray capacitances and hence a unit
resistance will have an equivalent circuit as shown in Fig.
At any frequency of the a.c. voltage, R+jXL is connected in parallel with jXC.
1
R jL
jC
Z

2
1
1

LC jCR
R jL
jC

R jL

Since, 2 LC jCR,
Z

R jL
1 jCR

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R jL 1 jCR
1 jCR 1 jCR

R jL jCR 2 2 LCR
Z
1 2C 2 R 2

L

Z R jL jCR 2 R 1 j
CR
R

where, Phase angle, tan 1


CR
R

Extended Series Resistance neglecting inductance is shown in figures.


Resistor unit then has to be taken as a transmission line equivalent, for calculating
the effective resistance.
Ground or stray capacitance of each element influences the current flowing in the
unit, and the indication of the meter results in an error.
Stray ground capacitance effects can be removed by shielding the resistor R by a
second surrounding spiral RS which shunts the actual resistor but does not
contribute to the current through the instrument.
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Series Capacitance Voltmeter

To avoid the drawbacks pointed out Series impedance voltmeter, a series


capacitor is used instead of a resistor for a.c. high voltage measurements.
Current through the instrument, Ic=V/Xc=jCV
The rms value of the voltage V with harmonics is given by,

Vrms V12 V22 Vn2


where V1,V2 ,... ,Vn represent the rms value of the fundamental, second... and
nth harmonics.
The currents due to these harmonics are
I1=CV1 , I2=2CV2 , In=nCVn

I rms C V12 2V2 nVn


2

Not recommended when a.c. voltages are not pure sinusoidal waves but
contain considerable harmonics.
Used for measuring rms values up to 1000 kV.
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C capacitor
D1,D2 Diodes
OP Protective devices
I indicating meter
Ic(t) capacitor current
waveform

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Capacitance Potential Dividers

Harmonic Effects can be eliminated by use of


CPD with ESV.
Long Cable needs calibration
Gas filled condensers C1 and C2 are used as
shown in figure.
C1 is a three terminal capacitor, connected to
C2 by shielded cable.

C2 is shielded to avoid stray capacitance

Applied voltage V1 is given by,

C1 C2 Cm

C1

V1 V2

where,

Cm - Capacitance of the meter and cable leads

C1 - Standard Compressed Gas H.V. Condenser


C2 - Standard Low Voltage Condenser
ESV- Electrostatic Voltmeter
P -Protective Gap
C.C - Connecting Cable

V2 - Reading of Voltmeter

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Capacitance Voltage Transformer

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Capacitance Voltage Transformer

Capacitive Voltage Transformer: Capacitance divider with a suitable matching or


isolating potential transformer tuned for resonance condition is often used in power
systems for voltage measurements.
CPD can be connected only to high impedance meter or ESV. But, CVT can be
connected to low impedance device like pressure coil of wattmeter or relay coil.
C1 is few units of HV capacitance, and the total capacitance will be around a few
thousand picofarads
C2 is a non-inductive capacitance

A matching transformer is connected between the load or meter M and C 2

Transformer ratings: HV side - 10 to 30 kV; LV side - 100 to 500 V


Value of the tuning choke L is chosen to bring resonance condition. This condition
is satisfied when,

L LT

1
C1 C 2

where,
L - Inductance of the choke
LT - Equivalent inductance of the transformer referred to
h.v. side

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Capacitance Voltage Transformer

Advantages:
simple design and easy installation,
can be used both as a voltage measuring device for meter
provides isolation between the high voltage terminal and low voltage metering.

Disadvantages:
the voltage ratio is susceptible to temperature variations, and
the problem of inducing ferro-resonance in power systems.

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Peak Reading Voltmeters

For Sine wave,


Peak Value=RMS Value X 2
If the waveform is not sinusoidal. In that case,
Peak Value RMS Value X 2

Therefore, peak measurement is important.


Types:
Series Capacitance Peak Voltmeter (Chubb-Frotscue Method)
Digital Peak Voltmeter
Peak Voltmeter with potential divider

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Peak Reading Voltmeters


Chubb Frotscue Method:
Chubb and Fortescue suggested a simple and accurate

method of measuring peak value of a.c. voltages.


The basic circuit consists of a standard capacitor, two
diodes and a current integrating ammeter (MC ammeter) as
shown in Fig. 4.11 (a).
The displacement current ic(t), is given by the rate of change
of the charge and hence the voltage V(t) to be measured
flows through the high voltage capacitor C and is
subdivided into positive and negative components by the
back to back connected diodes
The voltage drop across these diodes can be neglected (1 V for Si diodes) as compared with
the voltage to be measured
The measuring instrument (M.C. ammeter) is included in one of the branches. The ammeter
reads the mean value of the current,

An increased current would be obtained if the current reaches zero more than once during
one half cycle
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Peak Reading Voltmeters


(Chubb Frotscue Method Continued)

This means the wave shapes of the voltage would contain more than one maxima per half cycle.
The standard a.c. voltages for testing should not contain any harmonics and, therefore, there
could be very short and rapid voltages caused by the heavy predischarges, within the test circuit
which could introduce errors in measurements.
To eliminate this problem filtering of a.c. voltage is carried out by introducing a damping resistor
in between the capacitor and the diode circuit, Fig. 4.11 (b).
The measurement of symmetrical a.c. voltages using Chubb and Fortescue method is quite
accurate and it can be used for calibration of other peak voltage measuring devices.

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Peak Reading Voltmeters


Digital Peak Voltmeter:
In contrast to the method discussed just now, the rectified current is not
measured directly, instead a proportional analog voltage signal is derived
which is then converted into a proportional medium frequency for using a
voltage to frequency convertor (Block A in Fig. 4.13).
The frequency ratio fm/f is measured with a gate circuit controlled by the a.c.
power frequency (supply frequency f) and a counter that opens for an
adjustable number of period t = p/f. The number of cycles n counted during
this interval is

where p is a constant of the instrument.

Accuracy is less than 0.35%

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Peak Reading Voltmeters


Peak voltmeter with Potential divider:
Diode D is used for rectification
Voltage across C is used to charge C
2
3

Resistance Rd permits the variation of Vm when


V2 is reduced

Electrostatic Voltmeter as indicating instrument


Voltage across Cs Peak value to be measured
Discharge time constant=CsRd1 to 10 sec
This arrangement gives discharge error.
Discharge error depends on frequency of the supply

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Sphere Gaps

A spark gap can be used for measurement of the peak value of the voltage, if the
gap distance is known.
Applications:
Voltage Measurement (Peak) - Peak values of voltages may be measured from 2 kV up to
about 2500 kV by means of spheres.

Arrangements:
1. Vertically with lower sphere grounded (For Higher Voltages)
2. Horizontally with both spheres connected to the source voltage or one sphere grounded
(For Lower Voltages).

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Sphere Gaps

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Sphere Gaps

The arrangement is selected based on the relation between the peak voltage,
determined by sparkover between the spheres, and the reading of a voltmeter on the
primary or input side of the high-voltage source. This relation should be within 3%
(IEC, 1973).
Standard values of sphere diameter are 6.25, 12.5, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200
cm.
The Clearance around the sphere gaps:

Fig C :Breakdown voltage characteristic of


sphere gaps

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Sphere Gaps

The effect of humidity is to increase the breakdown voltage of sphere gaps by up to


3%.
Temperature and pressure, however, have a significant influence on breakdown
voltage.
Breakdown Voltage under normal atmospheric conditions is, Vs=kVn where k is a
factor related to the relative air density (RAD) .

Under impulse voltages, the voltage at which there is a 50% breakdown probability
is recognized as the breakdown level.

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Sphere Gaps
Factors Influencing the Sparkover Voltage of Sphere Gaps

i.
ii.
iii.
iv.

The limits of accuracy are dependant on the ratio of the spacing d to the sphere
diameter D, as follows:

Nearby earthed objects,


Atmospheric conditions and humidity,
Irradiation, and
Polarity and rise time of voltage waveforms.

d < 0.5 D
0.75 D > d > 0.5 D

Accuracy = 3 %
Accuracy = 5 %

For accurate measurement purposes, gap distances in excess of 0.75D are not used

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Measurement of High Currents


Type of Current

Method used

D.C Current

1. Resistant shunt
2. Hall Generator

High Power frequency A.C

Current Transformer with electro-optical


technique

High frequency and impulse currents

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Impulse Voltages and Currents

Cathode Ray Oscilloscope

Resistive shunts
Magnetic potentiometers or probes
Magnetic links
Hall generators
Faraday Generators

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Hall Generators

Hall effect is used to measure very


high direct current.
Whenever electric current flows
through a metal plate placed in a
magnetic field perpendicular to it,
Lorenz force will deflect the
electrons in the metal structure in a
direction perpendicular to the
direction of both the magnetic field
and the flow of current.
The
change
in
displacement
generates an e.m.f called Hall
Voltage
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Hall Generators

Hall Voltage, VH

BI
d

BI
d
where, B-Magnetic Flux density
I-Current
d-Thickness of the metal plate
R-Hall Coefficient (depends on Material of
the plate & temperature)
R is small for metals and High for
semiconductors
VH R

When large d.c. currents are to be measured the current

carrying conductor is passed through an iron cored magnetic


circuit
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Hall Generators

The magnetic field intensity produced by the conductor in the


air gap at a depth d is given by,
1
H
2d

The Hall element is placed in the air gap and a small constant
d.c. current is passed through the element.
The voltage developed across the Hall element is measured
and by using the expression for Hall voltage the flux density B
is calculated and hence the value of current I is obtained.

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39

Faraday Generator or Magneto Optic


Method

These methods of current measurement use the rotation of the plane


of polarisation in materials by the magnetic field which is
proportional to the current (Faraday effect).
When a linearly polarised light beam passes through a transparent
crystal in the presence of a magnetic field, the plane of polarisation
of the light beam undergoes rotation. The angle of rotation is given
by,
= Bl
where,
= A constant of the cyrstal which is a function of the wave length of the
light.
B = Magnetic flux density due to the current to be measured in this case.
l = Length of the crystal.
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Faraday Generator or Magneto Optic


Method

Fig. shows a schematic diagram of Magneto-optic method.


Crystal C is placed parallel to the magnetic field produced by the
current to be measured.
A beam of light from a stabilised light source is made incident on the
crystal C after it is passed through the polariser P1.
The light beam undergoes rotation of its plane of polarisation.
After the beam passes through the analyser P2, the beam is focussed on
a photomultiplier, the output of which is fed to a CRO.
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Faraday Generator or Magneto Optic


Method

The filter F allows only the monochromatic light to pass through it.
Photoluminescent diodes too, the momentary light emission of which is
proportional to the current flowing through them, can be used for
current measurement.
Advantages:

1.
2.
3.

It provides isolation of the measuring set up from the main current circuit.
It is insensitive to overloading.
As the signal transmission is through an optical system no insulation problem
is faced. However, this device does not operate for D.C current.

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Magnetic Potentiometer(Rogowski Coil)

If the current to be measured is flowing through a conductor which is


surrounded by a coil as shown in Fig.

and M is the mutual inductance between the coil and the conductor, the
voltage across the coil terminals will be:

di
v(t) M
dt
Usually the coil is wound on a non-magnetic former in the form of a
toroid and has a large number of turns, to have sufficient voltage
induced which could be recorded.
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Magnetic Potentiometer(Rogowski Coil)

The coil is wound cross-cross to reduce the leakage inductance.


If N is the number of turns of the coil, A the coil area and lm its mean
length, the mutual inductance is given by
NA
M 0
lm
Usually an integrating circuit RC is employed as shown in Fig to
obtain the output voltage proportional to the current to be measured.
The output voltage is given by
t

1
1
di
M
M
v0 (t)
v(t)dt

dt

di

i(t)

RC 0
RC
dt
RC
RC

The frequency response of the Rogowski coil is flat upto 100 MHz but
beyond that it is affected by the stray electric and magnetic fields and
also by the skin effect.

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Resistive Shunt
(a) Ohmic shunt

(b) Equivalent circuit of the shunt

Used for high impulse current measurements is a low ohmic pure resistive
shunt.
Current through the resistive element R produces a voltage drop v(t)=i(t)R.
v(t) is transmitted to a CRO through a coaxial cable of surge impedance Z 0.
Cable at oscilloscope end is terminated by a resistance Ri = Z0 to avoid
reflections.
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Resistive Shunt

Large dimension resistance will have a residual inductance L and a


terminal capacitance C.
L may be neglected for low frequencies (), but becomes appreciable at
higher frequencies when L is of the order of R.
C has to be considered when the reactance 1/ C is of comparable value
L and C are important above 1MHz Frequency.
Resistance: 10 to few milliohms makes few volts drop.
Resistance value is determined by the thermal capacity and heat dissipation
of the shunt.
Voltage drop is given by,
V (s)

R sL

I ( s)
V ( s ) R sL I ( s )
LC
where, V(s) and I(s) are the transformed quantities of the signals v(t) and i(t)
s- Laplace Operator or Complex Frequency

1 sRC s

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Resistive Shunt

Types:
1. Bifilar flat strip design,
2. Coaxial tube or Park's shunt design, and
3. Coaxial squirrel cage design

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It consists of resistor elements wound in


opposite directions and folded back,
with both ends insulated by a teflon or
other high quality insulation.
The voltage signal is picked up through
a ultra high frequency (UHF) coaxial
connector.
The shunt suffers from stray inductance
associated with the resistance element
Its potential leads are linked to a small
part of the magnetic flux generated by
the current that is measured.
To overcome these problems, coaxial
shunts are chosen.

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In the coaxial design the current is made


to enter through an inner cylinder or
resistive element and is made to return
through an outer conducting cylinder of
copper or brass.
The voltage drop across the resistive
element is measured between the
potential pick-up point and the outer case.
The space between the inner and the outer
cylinder is air and hence acts like a pure
insulator.
The maximum frequency limit is about
1000 MHz and the response time is a few
nanoseconds.

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In post arc current measurements, high


ohmic value shunts which can dissipate
larger energy are required.
In such cases tubular shunts are not suitable
due to their limitations of heat dissipation,
larger wall thickness, and the skin effect.
To overcome these problems, the resistive
cylinder is replaced by thick rods or strips,
and the structure resembles the rotor
construction of double squirrel cage
induction motor.
The equivalent circuit for squirrel cage
construction is different, and complex.
The shunts show peaky response for step
input, and a compensating network has to be
designed to get optimum response.

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Potential Dividers for Impulse Voltage


Measurements
Resistive or capacative or mixed

element type potential dividers are


used for high voltage impulse
measurements, high frequency a.c
measurements, or for fast rising
transient voltage measurements.
The low voltage arm of the divider is
usually connected to a fast recording
oscillograph or a peak reading
instrument through a delay cable.
In high voltage dividers, Each element
has a self resistance or capacitance. In
addition, the resistive elements have
residual inductances, a terminal stray
capacitance to ground, and terminal to
terminal capacitances.

Fig. a. Schematic diagram of a potential divider with


a delay cable and oscilloscope
Z1-Resistor or Series of resistors in Resistor Dividers
(or) Capacitor or No. of Capacitors in Capacitance
divider
Z2-A resistor or a capacitor or an R-C impedance
depending upon the type of the divider

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Potential Dividers for Impulse Voltage


Measurements
Eq. Circuit of resistive element

The equivalent circuit of the Resistance divider with inductance neglected


have been discussed already.
A capacitance potential divider also has the same equivalent where C S will
be the capacitance of each elemental capacitor, C g will be the terminal
capacitance to ground, and R will be the equivalent leakage resistance and
resistance due to dielectric loss in the element.
When a step or fast rising voltage is applied at the high voltage terminal,
the voltage developed across the element Z 2 will not have the true
waveform as that of the applied voltage.
The cable can also introduce distortion in the waveshape.

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Potential Dividers for Impulse Voltage


Measurements
The following elements mainly constitute the different errors in the
measurement:
Residual inductance in the elements;
Stray capacitance occurring

i.
ii.

a.
b.
c.
iii.

The impedance errors due to

a.
b.
iv.

between the elements,


from sections and terminals of the elements to ground, and
from the high voltage lead to the elements or sections;
connecting leads between the divider and the test objects, and
ground return leads and current in ground leads; and

Parasitic oscillations due to lead and cable inductances and capacitance of


high voltage terminal to ground.

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Potential Dividers for Impulse Voltage


Measurements

The effect to residual and lead inductances becomes pronounced when fast
rising impulses of less than one microsecond are to be measured.
The residual inductances damp and slow down the fast rising pulses.
Secondly, the layout of the test objects, the impulse generator, and the
ground leads also require special attention to minimize recording errors.

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55

HALL GENERATORS FOR D.C CURRENT MEASUREMENTS


Hall effect principle is used.If an electric current flows
through a metal plate located in a magnetic field
perpendicular to it,Lorenz forces will deflect the electrons in
the metal structure in a direction normal to the direction of
both the current and magnetic field.
The charge displacement generates an emf in the normal
direction (Hall voltage).
VH=RBi/d
H=I/

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Current transformer is used.it uses electro optical


technique.
A voltage signal proportional to the measuring current is
generated and it is transmitted to the ground side through
electro optical device.
Light pulses proportional to the voltage signal are
transmitted by a glass optical fibre bundle to a photo
detector and converted back into an analog voltage signal.

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