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Circuit Breaker Testing & Maintenance
Ken Elkinson
Doble Engineering Co.

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Peter Chorovsk

Doctoral Degree Programme (1), FEEC BUT

E-mail: xchoro00@stud.feec.vutbr.cz

E-mail: aubrecht@feec.vutbr.cz

Abstract: This paper deals with short-circuit tests of low voltage electrical devices. In the first part

of this paper, there are described basic types of short- circuit tests and their principles. Direct and

indirect (synthetic) tests with more details are described in the second part. Each test and principles

are explained separately. Oscilogram is obtained from short-circuit tests of circuit breakers at la-

boratory. The aim of this research work is to propose a test circuit for performing indirect test.

Keywords: short- circuit test, electrical devices, Joule integral

1. INTRODUCTION

Each electrical device which performs any function must pass through certification. There are tests

of product to verify the technical parameters specified by the manufacturer. Circuit breakers are

switching devices, which can interrupt the electrical circuit automatically. They are used for protec-

tion of the circuits and the equipment against overcurrents and short-circuits. The conditions of cir-

cuit breakers tests are defined by EN 608908-1 standard. The type test of circuit breakers is defined

in this standard. It includes a large number of different tests. The most important of them are short-

circuit tests, tests of tripping characteristic, tests of electrical and mechanical life and tests of power

loss. Short-circuit tests are used for verification of circuit breaker ability to limit the size of current

which is set at testing circuit. Circuit breaker must pass the requirements. The breaking capacity is

verified by short- circuit test. According to the standard nominal current determines maximal

amount of energy (Joule integral I2t). The values of Joule integral for other ranges of nominal cur-

rents were recently expanded. This fact is a due to customers who require strict criteria for circuit

breakers. Values of the Joule integral are mentioned in EN 60898-1 standard.

2. TESTS CLASSIFICATION

There are several ways how we can test breaking capacity of circuit breakers. In general, we can

divide the tests as follows:

Direct tests

Indirect tests

Each test of circuit breaker has its own sequence of operations. The following symbols are used for

operation:

O operation of opening

CO operation of closing followed by automatic opening

t time interval between two consecutive operations which must take 3 minutes or long-

er in a given switching

The operating short-circuit capacity Ics and the nominal capacity of the ICN are the most

checked quantities. Low voltage electrical equipment in the standard value of the nominal

short-circuit resistance 10 kA is currently on the market. Circuit breakers of other values are al-

so available.

605

2.1. DIRECT TESTS

We can divide direct tests into tests in the testing laboratory and in the electric network. Tests are

implemented in the certified testing centres.

The certified testing centres for short-circuit tests are directly aimed for testing of these products. It

is possible to test electrical devices there such as circuit breakers, residual current circuit breakers,

cam switches etc. The value of short-circuit current which the testing centre can generate is of or-

der of tens of kA. Thanks to these centres we can simulate conditions of short-circuit occurred in

electrical networks. The testing centres can set up the values of voltage, currents, frequencies,

which are necessary for testing of electrical devices.

During the direct test in electrical network the products are tested under the conditions which occur

during real situation. The number of tests and timetable are limited. Testing is implemented at the

time, when electrical network is not fully loaded for example during a night time. At that time there

are not high demands for electrical network.

As testing the breaking capacity of circuit breakers in certified laboratories requires substantial

funding, companies are looking for other alternatives. One of the alternative is to have own testing

laboratory where electrical devices can be tested. The most often solution is the equivalent circuit

with used capacitor battery . We are trying to achieve same continuance through this equivalent

circuit as during direct test.

Synthetic circuit is a serial resonant RLC circuit, which is in Figure 1. In the Figure 1, there are a

simplified electrical scheme of synthetic circuit and scheme of circuit during transient activity. El-

ements R1 and L1 represent resistivity and inductance of coil, C represents capacity of battery, LS

and RS testing object (circuit breaker). Before connecting the contactor, the capacity is charged to

the initial voltage U0. After connecting the contactor transient phenomenon occurs. Capacity and

inductance are calculated to achieve testing half-wave close to resonant frequency 50 Hz.

RLC circuit can be characterized by the following equations

di 1

L Ri i.dt 0 (1)

dt C

where equation (1) represents systems of the second order

du C

iC (2)

dt

Equation (2) expresses current of the capacitor

606

d 2 u c R du c 1

LC 2 uc 0 (3)

dt L dt LC

Substituting equation (2) to (1) we can get equation (3)

d 2i di i

L 2 R 0 (4)

dt dt C

Current i is expressed by equation (4).

U 1

R

t 1 R 2

i(t ) . .e 2L

. sin .t (5)

L 1 R

2

LC 2 L

2.

LC 2 L

Equation (5) is expression of current after editing and Laplace transformation to the time range.

From the description of the synthetic circuit we have found out, that stored energy in capacity is

fully moved to inductance during transient phenomenon. The circuit breaker limits amount of ener-

gy by its function. Current flowing through the inductance considering the resistance is calculated:

U U

I SKR (6)

Z R jL

where ISKR is the inductance current, U is voltage of capacitor battery, Z is impedance. Neglecting

the resistance R, the current of inductance is calculated according to the equation (7):

U

I SKR (7)

L

Inductance is expressed from equation (7) and we get equation (8):

U

L (8)

I SKR

Because it is a resonant circuit, the equation (9) is applied for calculation of resonant frequency:

1

fr (9)

2 LC

where fr is the resonant frequency of the circuit, C is capacity of battery and L is the coil induct-

ance. From equation (9) we express capacity C and we calculate it as follow:

1

C L (10)

2 f r

2

Coil, Capacitor battery

Charging device for the capacitor battery (charging resistance)

Contactor

The coil is formed by winding the appropriate number of turns. The capacitor battery consists of

parallel connection of the capacitors. Charging device has a power and a control part. The power

607

part consists of rectifier, charging resistance and sources of stabilized voltages. The control part of

charging device consists of D/A convertor with comparator and differential amplifier. One phase

half controlled bridge was suggested as a rectifier which is connected to alternate network by

switch.

The charging resistance is created by a serial connection of the wire-wound power resistors. We get

a power in kW through serial connection. Sources of the stabilized voltages voltage 15V and +5V

are used for the work of integrated circuits. The electrical scheme of rectifier and charging re-

sistance are in the Fig. 2.

The contactor is an individual part of the synthetic circuit. To achieve similar conditions according

to the related standard we choose category AC-3 and AC-4 for realization indirect tests. The con-

tactor allows us to quickly switch synthetic circuit through its auxiliary contacts. Two buttons with

their own power supply are used for controlling the auxiliary contacts.

D/A convertor is used to set numerical information of the binary number through 8-bit input. Ref-

erence voltage for D/A convertor is obtained through the REF01 voltage reference. Binary number

consists of eight bits which are set through DIP switch. Output of the convertor is unipolar with

voltage between 0 to 10 V . Current output of converter is connected to operational amplifier.

The operational amplifier INA105 connected as a differential amplifier verifies voltage of the ca-

pacitor battery. Integrated circuit is used for finding the value of voltage in range 0-10 V. The con-

vertor offers output voltage between 0 to 10 V. To achieve required voltage between 0 to 10 V , the

resistors with value of electrical resistivity of 975 k are used. The voltage comparator LM 311N

is used for comparing reference voltage and voltage of the capacitor battery. Output of the compar-

ator is connected to input contacts of the relay coil. If there is a different voltage on the comparator,

relay is going to switch on and capacitor battery will be charged.

Integrated circuit ICL7107 is used for displaying value of the voltage . General scheme of voltme-

ter is changed to achieve required voltage of 400 V. Voltmeter consists of two parts.

We can see course of indirect test of the circuit breaker in Fig. 3. We divide the waveform of the

electrical arc to 3 time intervals on the oscillogram.

tr time interval from reaction of the magnetic trip to reaction of the circuit breaker kinematics

tko- time interval, where electrical arc is transferred from the space of contacts to the arc chamber

608

tvyp- time interval, where electrical arc burns and extinguishes in the arc chamber

Imax- maximal value of the short-circuit current, I2t- value of the Joule integral

Uob - value of the arc voltage, t0- time, when short-circuit test starts

An electric arc is formed during the opening contacts when the breaker passes from conducting to

non-conducting state. The condition for extinguishing of the arc is to prevail deionization processes

over ionization processes. Decreasing of the current by time can be achieved by increasing arc re-

sistance. The arc resistance increases in the arc chamber where it is extended on the plates of

chamber. The arc will be extinguished when the short-circuit current reaches zero.

5. CONCLUSION

It is an appropriate way to verify electrical devices in the testing laboratory thanks to easy possibil-

ity to set-up the parameters,. Direct tests in electrical network offer new solutions. The factories are

building own laboratories in order to quickly resolve issues of development ,. Technology solutions

with usage of equivalent circuit for indirect tests are cheaper. The comparison of the direct and in-

direct test for the same current and voltage is following. The testing circuit in the laboratory is set

up by reciprocal connection of the inductances and the resistances. Power factor is set according to

the short-circuit current. The testing circuit for indirect test is set by voltage value. It is possible to

test only in the one phase circuit and in angle 0. We achieve very similar continuances of the cur-

rent and the voltage but the indirect test is influenced by decreasing voltage of the capacitor battery

during the test. The benefit of my research is the proposal of the test circuit for performing indirect

test.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Author gratefully acknowledges financial support from Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of

the Czech Republic under project No. FEKT-S-14-2342.

REFERENCES

[1] CHOROVSK, Peter. Skratov skky istiov. Koice, 2010. 60 s. Diplomov prca.

TECHNICK UNIVERZITA KOICE

[2] HAVELKA, O. a kol.: Elektrick pstroje. Praha: SNTL, 1985. 436 s.

[3] HTTNER, .: Elektrick prstroje. Bratislava: Vydavatestvo STU , 2007. 160 s.

ISBN 978-80-227-2598-9

609

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