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Protection of goods and people

Technical article

Role and protection of Neutral in a LV installation

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Contents

1.

Introduction

2

Function of the Neutral in LV distribution

2

Purpose of the paper

2

2.

The IEC 60364 standard and the Neutral

conductor

3

2.1 Protecting the Neutral against overloads

and short-circuits

3

Overloads and short-circuits

3

Neutral conductor with a smaller cross-section than the phases

3

Multipole breaking

4

Conclusion

5

2.2

Neutral and protection against insulation faults

5

Effect of Earthing systems

5

TT System

6

TN-S System (separate N and PE)

7

TN-C System (PEN)

8

IT System (ungrounded Neutral)

9

3. Development of the IEC 60364 standard:

harmonics

10

Influence of harmonic currents

10

3.1

Harmonics and protection of Neutral

11

Switchgears to be installed

12

Harmonic currents created by lighting

13

3.2

Harmonics and Earthing System Arrangement

15

Avoid using the TN-C system if harmonics are present

15

Take care with source coupling in TN-S when harmonics are present

15

4. Conclusions

17

1. Introduction

Function of the Neutral in LV distribution

When distributed, the Neutral in LV is mainly used to ensure a 230 V single- phase voltage to supply circuits such as lighting or control and monitoring auxiliaries, in addition to the 400 V three-phase voltage.

In a well-designed three-phase installation, with the exception of single- phase terminal distribution circuits, the Neutral conductor does not convey current (or only very little: less than 15 % of phase current). Its potential with respect to the ground is consequently often zero.

In practice this conductor is very rarely “neutral” and can be a source of disturbance for the operator if no precautions are taken.

Purpose of the paper

This paper aims at treating the Neutral conductor mainly in an upstream

three-phase distribution, without going into the specific constraints of termi- nal single-phase distribution. The following points will be defined:

the protection needs inherent in this conductor, i.e.:

- overload and short-circuit protection of the Neutral conductor,

- breaking of the Neutral conductor, if required, and breaking methods.

the effect on these needs of the specific function of the Neutral in the Earthing Systems, i.e. the function of the Neutral conductor to ensure:

- proper operation of the installation (safety with power on)

- proper protection of persons in contact with de-energised parts of the

installation (safety with power off). The installation rules laid down in the IEC 60364 standard consequently provide a detailed definition of needs which result in the necessity (or not) to protect, break or disconnect this conductor. Finally the increasing development of loads towards a multiplication of non- linear loads generates an harmonic current flow. Harmonic currents have not yet been fully taken into acount in the IEC 60364 standard but are being studied in section 444. The effect of these phenomena on the TN-C and TN-S systems will thus be described. In the conclusion, evaluation of these various constraints will show that a four-pole circuit-breaker with sudden multipole breaking guarantees proper operation of installations.

2. The IEC 60364 standard and the Neutral conductor

2.1 Protecting the Neutral against overloads and short-circuits

Overloads and short-circuits

In the event of overloads on the Neutral or of a Phase to Neutral short-circuit, the same fault current, ld, flows through the conductors. Consequently 2 possibilities must be examined:

Neutral conductor and phases with the same cross-section

If Sn= Sph, the Neutral conductor is protected in the event of a phase to Neutral fault by the phase overcurrent protection. The IEC 60364 standard then stipulates in § 431.2.1:

"a) When the cross-section, Sn, of the Neutral conductor is at least equivalent to the cross-section, Sph, of the phase conductors, there is no need to provide an overcurrent detector or a breaking device on the Neutral conductor."

Sn = Sph

N 12 3
N
12
3

Fig.1: Sn = Sph

Ph Id Id N Fig 2: Phase protection on the Phase to Neutral fault
Ph
Id
Id
N
Fig 2: Phase protection on the Phase to Neutral fault

Neutral conductor with a smaller cross-section than the phases

The Neutral conductor only conveys currents when there is a high unbalance and even then these currents rarely exceed 10 % of phase current in well- designed installations. Consequently it is tempting and economically advantageous to reduce its cross-section. The cross-section Sn = Sph / 2 is the one normally chosen. Thus if Sn = Sph / 2, the Neutral conductor must be protected against Phase to Neutral faults by a specific overcurrent protection. If this protection acts directly on the phases, protection of the Neutral is guaranteed without need to break. The IEC 60364 standard then stipulates in § 431.2.1:

"b) When the cross-section, Sn, of the Neutral conductor, is smaller than the cross-section, Sph, of the phase conductors, it is necessary to provide an overcurrent detector on the Neutral conductor, adapted to the cross-section of this conductor. This detector must cause the Phase conductors, but not necessarily the Neutral conductor, to break."

Sn = Sph

N 12 3 Imax
N
12
3
Imax

Fig.3: Sn < Sph

In << Iph

= Sph N 12 3 Imax Fig.3 : Sn < Sph In << Iph Fig. 4

Fig. 4: Breaking of the Neutral is not compulsory

4P3D-N/2
4P3D-N/2

Fig. 5: However protec- tion by 4P 3D-N/2 circuit- breaker is an optimum solution

In point of fact, this type of protection is not always reliable or economic. The use of four-pole 4P 3D-N/2 circuit-breakers ("Half Neutral") is an optimum solution which also guarantees breaking (often recommended) of the Neutral conductor.

Nevertheless the IEC 60364 standard accepts that:

if the current normally flowing in the Neutral conductor is small (around

10 % of Phase current), which means that there is no overload risk for this conductor,

then the phase overcurrent protection also guarantees protection of the

Neutral conductor which does not need a specific protection. The existence of harmonic currents means that this condition may be difficult to satisfy with a TN type Earthing System.

Multipole breaking

The Neutral conductor is used to supply single-phase loads and, as such, its upstream breaking must coincide with that of the phases.

Need for Neutral continuity in the case of single-phase loads

If the Neutral is broken but the Phases are not, the Neutral can no longer perform its original function, i.e. allow current to return to the source and supply single-phase loads with 230 V. This accidental breaking may have serious consequences for these loads. For simplicitys sake we shall consider the diagram in figure 6 which contains 2 single-phase loads of different impedances on 2 phases.

breaking load 1 : load 2 : impedance Z1 impedance 9 Z1 Y
breaking
load 1 :
load 2 :
impedance Z1
impedance 9 Z1
Y

1

2

3

N

Fig. 6: Neutral breaking with single-phase loads

The current delivered by Phase 1 in load 1 and by Phase 3 in load 2 cannot return to supply via the Neutral, and thus moves from one phase to another through the two loads and the Neutral. This is equivalent to the voltage divider in figure 7.

U31 = 400 V U1 U3 load 1 impedance Z1 load 2 impedance 9 Z1
U31 = 400 V
U1
U3
load 1
impedance Z1
load 2
impedance 9 Z1

Take two loads connected in series. The voltage at their terminals is a Phase to Phase voltage of 400 V. We have a voltage divider, thus: U1 and U3 in proportion to the impedances Z1 and Z2.

Fig. 7 : equivalent diagram to figure 6

For example, if we take the values of the impedances in figure 7, this corresponds to moving the potential of the neutral point. The potential of Phase 1 compared with the Neutral moves from 230 to 40 V and the potential of Phase 3 from 230 to 360 V: consequently the potential of Phase 2 moves to 347 V. Thus the Phase with the greatest load is in undervoltage and the phase with the lowest load in overvoltage. It is thus necessary to break the Phases at the same time as the Neutral conductor.

2. The IEC 60364 standard and the Neutral conductor (cont.)

Prevention of problems relating to single-phase loads

To avoid such problems, the IEC 60364 standard stipulates in § 431.3 that:

"When breaking of the Neutral conductor is specified, breaking and closing (making) of the Neutral conductor must be such that the Neutral conductor is never broken before the phase conductors and that it is closed at the same time or before the phase conductors."

Thus for the Neutral conductor:

breaking must take place at the same time or after phase breaking

closing must take place at the same time or before phase breaking.

Conclusion

The Neutral conductor is protected by:

short-circuit protection devices (SCPD) protecting the phase conductors if

the Neutral and phases have the same cross-sections

a Half-Neutralprotection for smaller phase cross-sections. In practice:

Fuse protection Switchgear with fuses fitted with a compulsory striker must be used on the Neutral. These switchgear operate in such a manner that if the fuse on the Neutral conductor blows, the striker trips a multipole breaking system. However this solution is complex, space-consuming and costly and also calls

for a permanent standby supply of fuses with strikers of all ratings.

Circuit-breaker protection Article 530.3.1 of the IEC 60364 standard stipulates that:

"All the moving contacts of all the poles of the multi-pole devices must be mechanically coupled so that their opening and closing is virtually simultaneous." In this case a four-pole circuit-breaker must be used which ensures simultaneous opening and closing of phases and Neutral. We then have the multipole breaking and sudden closing required to guarantee proper operation of downstream single-phase loads.

2.2 Neutral and protection against insulation faults

Effect of Earthing systems

The IEC 60364 standard has laid down installation rules to protect persons against electrical shocks. These rules stipulate the use of standardised Earthing systems of the TT, TN or IT type.

The Earthing system defines the grounding mode:

of the Neutral of the secondary of the HV/LV transformer which may be

grounded (directly or via an impedance) or ungrounded

of the frames of the installation which are always connected to the building

ground where they are installed, either directly or via the Neutral conductor. The functions and treatment of the Neutral conductor depend on the installations Earthing system. When the Neutral is distributed we thus need to check:

with power on, the effect of the Earthing system on:

its protection

its breaking

if an insulation fault occurs.

with power off, that the installation or part of the installation which is de-

energised is, and will continue to be, safe. Particular care should be taken to check that a medium voltage fault will not generate risks on the de-energised

LV part. If the Neutral is a live conductor, it needs to be

disconnected.

TT System

Characteristics

the Neutral (N) is directly grounded at transformer level (Neutral ground

connection)

the installation frames are connected by a protective conductor (PE) to a

ground connection which may or may not be separate from the above connection

this system calls for the detection of insulation faults using a RCD

(Residual Current Device). This device causes the overcurrent protections to break as these faults are
(Residual Current Device). This device causes the overcurrent protections to
break as these faults are normally too small to be directly tripped but
nevertheless generate a dangerous contact voltage (Uc).
Rn = 10 Ω
RA = 20 Ω

Figure 8: example of a TT System

Advantage

Small fault current (limited by the ground resistances) and thus limited destructive effect

Effect on the Neutral conductor:

energised installation

protection: no effect as the insulation fault current (small) does not flow

through this conductor

Neutral breaking: no effect for the same reason

de-energised installation

disconnection compulsory as in the IEC 60364 § 536.2.

Indeed in the event of overvoltage on the MV (transformer breakdown or fault) the Neutral potential rises causing a very dangerous potential to appear (a few hundred volts) between the Neutral and the application ground (fig. 9).

between the Neutral and the application ground (fig. 9). Figure 9: : effect of a fault

Figure 9: : effect of a fault on MV: dangerous contact risk

Consequently a person performing maintenance on the machine may in this case be in direct contact with the Neutral conductor at this high voltage and the risk is at its greatest. Installation standards, in particular the IEC 60364 § 536.2 take account of this risk by stipulating disconnection of Neutral conductors. If disconnection is performed by a multi-pole breaking function ensuring both simultaneous breaking then disconnection of the phases and the neutral, the result is increased safety of maintenance with power off. Disconnection is thus a necessity. A four-pole circuit-breaker enabling multipole breaking and disconnection naturally meets all the requirements of the IEC 60364 standard.

2. The IEC 60364 standard and the Neutral conductor (cont.)

TN-S System (separate N and PE)

Characteristics

the Neutral (N) and the protective conductor (PE) are directly grounded at

transformer level (Neutral ground connection)

the Neutral (N) and the protective conductor (PE) are separate

in the event of an insulation fault, this system requires breaking of the

overcurrent protections, which in turn assumes control of fault loop impedances (ABCDE) to be certain of trip release effect

if an insulation fault occurs, the fault current is very high and thus

destructive.

occurs, the fault current is very high and thus destructive. Figure 10: TN-S System Advantage No

Figure 10: TN-S System

Advantage

No additional switchgear required. Protection is directly provided by the SCPD (provided that the condition governing maximum cable length to guarantee loop impedance allowing tripping is respected).

Effect on the Neutral conductor:

energised installation

protection: no effect as the fault current does not flow through this

conductor.

breaking: no effect for the same reason

de-energised installation

disconnection: the IEC 60364 standard recommends disconnection in § 536.2.

Some countries make disconnection a requirement on the basis that, just as in TT, the potential of this conductor cannot be guaranteed. The 2 examples below highlight these problems. Example 1 : If a lightning wave (frequency around MHz) reaches the MV it will not be stopped by grounding the transformer (as the inductive component - Lω - of the grounding Neutral connection is dominant at these frequencies since ω = 2π f) and the potential (dangerous) will be automatically transmitted to the Neutral conductor.

Uc Uc Figure 11: consequence of a MV lightning stroke
Uc
Uc
Figure 11: consequence of a MV lightning stroke

1

2

3

N

PE

In this case the maintenance operator will be in direct contact with the overvoltage. We strongly recommend disconnection and thus breaking of the Neutral in the TN-S system. Example 2 - High rise buildings It is harder to guarantee the quality of grounding connections in the various storeys of high rise buildings. The potential of the frames moves away from the potential of the ground at the bottom of the foundations due to the exceptionally long cables used. To avoid generating dangerous situations, we recommend breaking the Neutral.

due to the exceptionally long cables used. To avoid generating dangerous situations, we recommend breaking the

7

TN-C System (PEN)

Characteristics

the Neutral is directly grounded at transformer level (Neutral ground

connection)

the Neutral (N) and the protective conductor (PE) are combined in one

single conductor (PEN).

in the event of an insulation fault, this system requires (just like the TN-S)

breaking of the overcurrent protections, which in turn assumes control of fault

loop impedances (ABCDE) to be certain of trip release effect

if an insulation fault occurs, the fault current is very high and thus

destructive.

Neutral ground connection
Neutral
ground
connection

Figure 12: TN-C System

Advantage

No additional switchgear required, and 4-conductor instead of 5-conductor distribution. Protection is directly provided by the SCPDs (provided that the condition governing maximum cable length to guarantee loop impedance allowing tripping is respected).

Effect on the Neutral conductor:

energised installation

The Neutral and the PE are combined:

=> the fault currents flow through the Neutral

=> the normal Neutral currents flow through the PE. This will give rise to a certain number of problems (see following chapter).

protection: forbidden as the PEN, in its capacity as PE protective

conductor, has to withstand all normal and abnormal currents (IEC 60364 §

543.1.),

breaking (1) : forbidden as the PEN, in its capacity as protective conductor,

must never be broken.

de-energised installation

disconnection: forbidden just like breaking. This calls for a systematic,

multiple grounding of the PEN conductor in order to guarantee equipotentiality. (1) the PEN must have a "mechanical" resistance (to prevent its rupture) with a cross-section of at least 10 mm² in Cu and 16 mm² in alu (IEC 60364 § 543.1.).

2. The IEC 60364 standard and the Neutral conductor (cont.)

IT System (ungrounded Neutral)

Characteristics

the Neutral (N) is ungrounded (in fact it is connected by a capacitive

leakage impedance due to cables of around 3500 /km)

the installation frames are connected by a protective conductor (PE) to a

ground connection

unlike the last two systems, this system only stipulates breaking the power

supply if two insulation faults occur. This is because the first fault, limited by

the ground resistances, presents no risk for persons but must be detected and eliminated.

Rn RA Figure 13: IT system in a first fault situation Advantage Continuity of service
Rn
RA
Figure 13: IT system in a first fault situation
Advantage
Continuity of service on the first fault. However to preserve this advantage
Continuous Insulation Monitors (CIM) must be used (recommended by the
IEC 60364 and a requirement of certain national standards) together with
Fault Tracking Devices (FTD).
Effect on the Neutral conductor:
energised installation
It is recommended not to distribute the Neutral.
If a double fault occurs, one of which concerns the Neutral conductor, the
conductor may be subjected to overload independently from the current
flowing in the Phases (see fig. 14).

Figure 14: IT system in a double fault situation

The Neutral of B is designed for 100 A. The phase of A, designed for 1000 A, will not protect it, hence:

protection: compulsory

breaking: compulsory (multipole)

de-energised installation

disconnection.

As the Neutral is not grounded, the effects of MV overvoltages are greater than with a TN/TT grounding system, and disconnection is compulsory. (IEC 60364 § 431.2.2).

Conclusion

The effect of Earthing Systems on a Neutral conductor is two-fold:

generally disconnection is required as soon as the Neutral is broken

more specifically, in the IT system, the Neutral conductor must be

protected separately from the Phases.

3. Development of the IEC 60364 standard: harmonics

Influence of harmonic currents

Effects of order 3 and multiple of 3 harmonics

Harmonics are generated by the non-linear loads of the installation (computers, ballast lighting, rectifiers, power electronic choppers) and can produce high currents in the Neutral. In particular order 3 or multiple of 3 harmonics of the three Phases have a tendency to cumulate in the Neutral as:

fundamental currents are out-of-phase by 2π/3 so that their sum is zero

on the other hand, order 3 harmonics of the three Phases are always

positioned in the same manner with respect to their own fundamental, and

are in phase with each other (fig 15). I 1 H1 + I 1 H3
are in phase with each other (fig 15).
I 1 H1
+ I 1 H3
I 2 H1
+ I 2 H3
I 3 H1
+ I 3H3
3 3
I N =
+ ∑
I kH1
I kH3
1 1
0 +
3
IH3

Figure 15: order 3 harmonics are in phase and cumulate in the Neutral

These order 3 harmonic generators are increasingly numerous, and the IEC is looking into how this problem can be handled. In the absence of standards, the following recommendations are made:

Management of harmonic current in the Neutral conductor

The installation rules particularly IEC 60364 - take into account valorisation of harmonic current H3 in the Neutral conductor for correct sizing of live conductors; this depends on THDi H3 in the phases:

THDi H3 < 15 %: we can consider that there is no significant H3 current value. There is no specific protection or sizing of the Neutral conductor.

15 % < THDi H3 < 33 % the H3 current is significant, which implies 2

constraints:

constant currents in the 4 conductors: consideration in the thermal sizing of

cables (normally a derating of around 0.85),

sizing of the Neutral conductor at least equal to that of the Phase, and

setting of the Neutral conductor protection is equivalent to that of the Phase.

33 % > THDi H3 the H3 current is very high: the 2 above-mentioned

constraints become:

thermal sizing of Phase conductors remains the same (same derating of

around 0.85),

sizing of the conductor considering the maximum neutral current (1.7 times

that of phases), but without allowing for thermal derating and specific Neutral

conductor protection (greater than that of the Phase).

Positioning problems in electrical distribution

The influence of non-linear loads generating H3 currents in the neutral is particularly great at the single-phase load grouping point.

- Downstream, in final distribution, the conductors of these single-phase

loads require no specific oversizing arrangements

- Upstream, in power distribution, as a rule three-phase linear loads supplied

in parallel lead to a small to very small valorisation of the H3 current compared to phase current and thus require no specific precautions (current in neutral around 50 % of phase current). As a result, these problems are more particularly significant in the current

value range of 100 A and 630 A, i.e. Medium Power Distribution.

DB103816

3.1 Harmonics and protection of Neutral

Upstream

Main LV board and Power Distribution, the average THDI is normally less than 15 %

At intermediate level

Medium Power Distribution, on feeders grouping non-linear single- phase loads, the THDI can be very high (> 50 %)

Downstream

Final Distribution Sizing of single-phase feeders is not specifically affected by the THDi

GE GE 1000 kVA THDi THDi measurement measurement NT10 NT12 1000 A THDi = 15
GE
GE
1000 kVA
THDi
THDi
measurement
measurement
NT10
NT12
1000 A
THDi = 15 %
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NS160 OSN
NS250 OSN
NS160
Advantys
4P 3D
4P 3D
3P 3D
OTB Modbus
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.
100 A
THDi = 65 %
200 A
THDi = 85 %
OF or SDE
37 kW
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Harware
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Fluorescent lighting office

Fluorescent lighting Workshop Air conditionning
Fluorescent lighting
Workshop
Air conditionning

Modbus

Ethernet

Wiring

Typical diagram of LV installation with the sum up of single phase non-linear loads in the sub-distribution switchboard.

DB103796

DB103803

Compact NS250 4P N Ph 250 A 160 A D D push push 200/ 250
Compact NS250 4P
N Ph
250 A
160 A
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8
8
1 1
2 3 4
2 3 4
10
10
>Ir
4 4
x In
x In
x Io
x Io
x Ir
x Ir
Ir
Ir
Isd
Isd
< 525V
< 525V
U U
>Im
test
test
Oversized Neutral
Oversized Neutral
P
P
4 4
test test Oversized Neutral Oversized Neutral P P 4 4 Switchgears to be installed Protection in

Switchgears to be installed

Protection in case of a high H3 harmonic level (15 % to > 33 %) Switchgear to be implemented.

THDi > 33 % The current flowing in the Neutral conductor is greater than that of the phase conductors (1.7 maximum)

For protection of feeders with high H3 current, an offer of the Compact NS OSN (OverSized Neutral) type must be implemented This consists of installing a Compact NS circuit-breaker

sized in rating for the Neutral current (i.e. 1.6 times phase current)

whose Phase protection is set for the phase current,

and (if necessary), the Neutral protection is set specifically at 1.6 times

phase protection. The following table gives the various possibilities

Compact NS OSN

Feeder I phase

 

25

A

63 A

100

A

160

A

200

A

to

to

to

to

to

63

A

100 A

160

A

250

A

400

A

NS100 OSN

       

NS160 OSN

     

NS250 OSN

 

   

NS400 OSN

   

 

NS630 OSN

     

possible

recommended

THDi of around 33 % but unknown

Installation rules allow 2 solutions

sizing all the conductors for the maximum constraint: safe but costly and

totally improbable.

sizing the installation normally and guarding against Neutral conductor

overload risks, i.e.

providing Neutral protection Compact NS 4P, 4D

monitoring THDi (particularly for the third-order harmonic) of the network

For feeder protection, implement a Compact NS 4P 4D sized for the characteristics of the feeder to be considered equipped with a communication module. This module is used to directly retrieve THDi information on a PM measurement module or centrally on a data concentrator. A dedicated software for use of these data on a PC is available.

3. Development of the IEC 60364 standard: harmonics (cont.)

Harmonic currents created by lighting

The principle of an electronic ballast is to supply the fluorescent tube with a high frequency AC voltage. It consists of an AC-DC converter (rectifier) associated with a DC converter generating the high frequency voltage (20 to 60 kHz). For low power lamps (particularly fluo-compact lamps), the rectifier draws a very deformed network current, the standard form of which is shown below:

0 0.03 0.035 0.04 0.045 0.05 0.055 0.06 0.065 T(s)
0
0.03
0.035
0.04
0.045
0.05
0.055
0.06
0.065
T(s)

The third-order harmonic can reach 85 %.

For devices of higher power (> 25 W), the rectifier is equipped with a filtering or power factor correction device (Power Factor Correction, PFC), used to reduce the third-order harmonic to less than 30 %.

H3 harmonics created by lighting

Lamp type

Typical

Setting mode

Typical THDi H3

power

Incandescentlamp

100

W

Light dimmer

5

to 85 %

with dimmer

 

ELV halogen lamp

25 W

Electronic ELV

5

%

transformer

Fluorescent tube

100

W

Magnetic ballast

10

%

< 25 W

Electronic ballast

85

%

> 25 W

+ PFC

30

%

Discharge lamp

100

W

Magnetic ballast

10

%

 

Electrical ballast

30

%

Example of distribution of H3 currents and loads in office premises

Load type

Number

Unit current drawn

Total current

THDI H3

Total third-order

(A)

(A)

(%)

harmonic current

(A)

PC

10

0.5

5

85

4.25

PC + printer

5

1.45

7.3

35

2.55

Photocopier

2

0.32

0.64

65

0.42

Fluo tubes

20

0.2

4

25

1

Heating

 

10

10

0

0

Total

   

27

 

8.2

Calculation of THDi H3 gib=ves:

i h3 (%) = 100.

8.2

27

= 0.30

H3 level is thus considerably reduced: the over-sizing of Neutral conductor is very rare and it is often due to specific applications (computer room, greenhouse

3. Development of the IEC 60364 standard: harmonics (cont.)

3.2 Harmonics and Earthing System Arrangement

Avoid using the TN-C system if harmonics are present

The Neutral and PE are combined in a PEN which is connected to as many

points as possible on the buildings metal structure in order to guarantee equipotentiality. This gives rise to two types of problems:

electromagnetic radiation of stray currents.

The currents flowing in the PEN and in particular the 3rd order harmonics, may take uncontrolled paths (frames of communicating equipment cables - a

variety of conductive components). Consequently the vectorial sum of the currents ceases to be zero in the cableways (3Ph + PEN) and electromagnetic radiation occurs. The same phenomenon is observed in conductive structures. To give an example, a cathode tube (TV, microcomputer) is disturbed by a 0.7 A/m magnetic field which is the field generated by a 10 A current at a distance of 2 metres! This value can be easily reached. The TN-C system is thus unsuited to modern ElectroMagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements.

voltage drop in the PEN

The flow of currents in the frames and structures and the unbalance currents resulting from the single-phase loads cause potential drops in the PEN which affect its equipotentiality.

drops in the PEN which affect its equipotentiality. Figure 16 : insulation fault with Neutral not
drops in the PEN which affect its equipotentiality. Figure 16 : insulation fault with Neutral not

Figure 16: insulation fault with Neutral not broken

Take care with source coupling in TN-S when harmonics are present

Figures 17 and 18 show the diagram of an electrical distribution supplied by 2 normally separate sources (coupling normally upstream) where each source is grounded using a TN-S system. This distribution can supply 2 separate private networks. Fire protection is provided by GFP type switchgear (GFP: Ground Fault Protection).

general problem relating to source coupling in the event of an

insulation fault and Neutral not broken When two sources, S1 and S2, are coupled using the TN-S system without breaking of the Neutral (fig. 17), if an insulation fault occurs, part of the fault current (ld1) returns normally to the source via the PE, but another part (ld2) may return to the source via the metal structures. This ld2 current is detected by the GFP protection of source S2. According to current distribution, the protection of source S1 where the fault occurred may not trip as the sensitivity threshold is no longer reached. However the ld2 current may, on the contrary, disturb the GFP and cause untimely tripping if its threshold is lower than that of the coupling switch.

DB103811DB103805

S1 S2 GFP GFP Id1 Id2 Neutral Loads Id2 PE Ground bus Service Service ground
S1
S2
GFP
GFP
Id1
Id2
Neutral
Loads
Id2
PE
Ground bus
Service
Service
ground
ground

Figure 17: insulation fault with Neutral not broken

problem relating to source coupling when harmonics are present Let us now reconsider the two sources, S1 and S2, still coupled in TN-S without breaking of the Neutral but this time without an insulation fault and with the presence of 3rd order harmonics (fig. 18). These harmonics cumulate in the Neutral which conveys a non-negligible current. As a result of the Neutral connections with the metal frames, this current may return to the source S1 via the Neutral conductor and the PE of the installation, and a non-negligible current may thus flow in the structures even if the 2 networks are independent. This natural pollutionof S2 can be considerable and serious if the

equipment supplied is sensitive. For example, if in figure 18 a distribution of 3000 A is considered, 5 % of 3rd order harmonics cumulating in the Neutral generate a flow of 3 x 3000 x 5 %

=

450 A. With 10 % of current returned via the coupling, this gives a current

of

45 A in the PE and structures, a zero sequence current, which thus

generates electromagnetic radiation. Multipole breaking on the coupling switch will eliminate this harmonic pollution. Moreover if breaking is performed on both the source circuit- breakers, proper operation of the installation is guaranteed in all circumstances.

A transfer switch of 4-pole is recommended by IEC 60364 § 444.4.9. S1 S2 GFP
A transfer switch of 4-pole is recommended by IEC 60364 § 444.4.9.
S1
S2
GFP
GFP
Id2
Neutral
Loads
PE
Ground bus
Service
Service
ground
ground

Figure 18 : harmonic current without insulation fault with Neutral not broken

4. Conclusions

This concise study shows that in all three-phase distributions:

The TN-C system requires Neutral continuity, as the Neutral is also the PE protective conductor. This Earthing System is not recommended if the devices supplied are harmonic current generators as is more and more frequently the case. For the other Grounding Systems, specific protection, breaking and disconnection of the Neutral conductor may not be necessary. However for the sake of:

safety with power off, disconnection is recommended and in some cases is a requirement proper operation, multipole breaking is recommended. As a result, protection of circuits using a four-pole circuit-breaker/ disconnector guarantees the quality of the electrical power supply during operation, and safety with power off.

DBTP15207ART2/EN - © 2004 Schneider Electric SAS - Tous droits réservés

Schneider Electric Industries SAS

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DBTP152ART2/EN

As standards, specifications and designs develop from time to time, always ask for confirmation of the information given in this publication.

confirmation of the information given in this publication. This document has been printed on ecological paper

This document has been printed on ecological paper

Published by: Schneider Electric Industries SAS Printed by:

03/2004