Missing Earth Loop Impedance On One Phase

Came across an interesting case recently, whereby the engineers taking care of a particular shopping mall had failed to obtain an earth loop impedance value on just one of the phases. Issue came to light as the electrical inspectors failed to obtain a complete earth loop results for the new tenants that are setting up shop in the mall.

Was called in to investigate if power quality is a factor here.

Background
– Similar “incomplete” earth loop values were obtained at the LV Main Switchboard. “OL” when measured between Phase L1 and Earth. Had used different sets of earth loop testers.
– Thorough checks were conducted on the distribution transformer, earth cables and the neutral-ground connection at the transformer.
–  Loads on this particular switchboard include the building’s chiller systems and some tenants’ loads.
– Was reported normal earth loop values could be obtained when the chiller system is not in operation.

Recall: Earth Loop Impedance Test
– One of the tests conducted for an Electrical Installation “Pass” Certificate.
– To ensure when a fault occurs in an electrical installation, sufficient current will flow to operate the fuse or circuit breaker protecting the faulty circuit within a pre-determined time.

Recall: Earth Loop Tester
– Operates by inducing a current from the Supply system, by introducing a calibrated load between the phase conductor and the protective earth.
– And then monitors the voltage difference.
– Comes in various forms (Multifunction tester vs. Dedicated tester); (3-wire types L+N+E vs 2-wire types L+E)

Earth Loop in a TNS

Findings
– Conducted separate earth loop tests at LV Main Switchboard and monitored the quality of supply.

earth loop tester and pq monitor

– Apart from one failed attempt via the multifunction tester, subsequent tests produced repeatable earth loop impedance values across all the 3 phases.
– “OL” when measured between Phase L1 and Earth, used “K-brand” earth loop tester(s).
– VTHD on “high side” but expected due to the a few nos of variable speed drives being used at the Chiller system.
– Phase L1 – noticed multiple zero crossings.

Conclusion
– The quality of the supply waveform on Phase L1 affected / influenced the operability of the other earth loop testers, resulting in giving “OL” readings. An interesting case!
– Newer earth loop testers do have a ‘harmonic component’ – to cater for (IEC 61557-3:2007).

Major Power Outage 18 September 2018

Much has been said about the blackout on Tuesday morning. Thus far, these are the official findings

  • Disruption lasted for about 38 minutes, between 1:18AM and 01:56AM on the 18 September 2018.
  • 19 areas in Singapore were affected: Boon Lay, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Jurong, Pandan Loop, Aljunied, Geylang, Tanjong Rhu, Mountbatten, Kembangan, Bedok, East Coast, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Thomson, Mandai, Admiralty, Sembawang and Woodlands (~146,000 customers).
  • Caused by the tripping of power generation units belonging to Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy.
  • Dubbed the worst major power outage since 2004.
  • Previous major blackout (albeit much smaller scale than this incident) was on 1 June this year confined to the CBD area.

We had one advanced energy logger on-site (an office in Cecil Street – CBD area), doing harmonics compliance measurement during the incident. Here, the trending graphs showed that frequency ‘dipped’ down to as low as 48.83 Hz. The journal logs showed that it returned to its normal operating range (49.5 Hz to 50.5Hz) in about 18 seconds. Unfortunately, we did not use our higher-end equipment here (Dranetz HDPQ for instance). Hence the limited information (eg. Waveforms, detailed rms trends, etc could not be shown).

This particular office was not affected by the blackout.

Voltage & Frequency Trend

Power Quality Development in Singapore

I was invited to a talk by my former Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Chang Swee Tong at SP Group HQ.
It was a like a walk down memory lane, as he went thru various PQ-related initiatives that he led while at the helm.
Got to meet some old friends and mentors too.

Thanks again to SP Alumni Secretariat for the invitation.

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A paper on the same topic by Mr. Chang and the seniors of my old section can be found here.

PQSynergy International Conference and Exhibition 2017

PQSynergy 2017 Day 3 – Final day

The third and final day of PQSynergy 2017 ends with a sharing session by PQT’s Terry Chandler and Mirus’ Tony Hoevenaars on the topic of harmonics.

It has been another fruitful conference, with a good mix of local and international speakers. Thomas Pua’s (PSL) presentation on synchrophasors was particularly interesting and Bill Howe’s (EPRI) insights on the proactive use of PQ data is a welcome change for the industry.

I always look forward to these sharing sessions with fellow practitioners, something not common back home for me, especially in power quality.

This year, I shared some common and simple day-to-day PQ related cases encountered back in Singapore. The presented slides will soon be available for download at www.pqsynergy.com

PQSynergy International Conference and Exhibition 2016

My 2nd year presenting a topic in PQSynergy. It has been an enjoyable 2-day conference.
Made new friends and learnt new things from fellow practitioners. Glad to have met the guys from Sonel too.
Will definitely take a closer look at some of your instruments.

And congratulations to Terry Chandler and his Power Quality Thailand on another successful conference.
Happy 30th anniversary, PQT. Many more good years ahead.

PQSynergy 2016
PQSynergy 2016
Friends from PEA
Friends from PEA

Back to Basics – What is Voltage Dip?

Definition: Temporary reduction of the r.m.s voltage at a point in the electrical system below 90% threshold of the declared nominal voltage, between 10ms and up to a minute.

Voltage Dip (RMS Trend)
Voltage Dip (RMS Trend)

Simply speaking, a sudden voltage drop of more than 10% of the declared nominal voltage. The utility in Singapore has in place a Power Quality Monitoring System (PQMS) from 22kV voltage level upwards (all the way to 400kV). These are three-wire three phase systems; and hence line to line voltages are used in defining a dip.

There is a significance of such definition being used in the 66kV and 22kV networks, whereby it is a resistively earthed grounded system (thru the neutral ground resistor). Here, a single phase fault will not be a registered as a voltage dip as the other two non-faulted phases will swell; ‘compensating’ the faulted phase. This will result in a drop of voltage (line to line) of usually less than 10% (hence not a dip). The utility here described such events as ‘Voltage variation’.

Two things matter when it comes to describing a voltage dip.
1) Magnitude of the dip
This typically reflects the fault severity and also the proximity of the monitoring point to the fault location.
2) Duration
The timer starts when the voltage falls below the 90% threshold and ends when all voltages are equal to or above the 90% threshold. This is very much dependent on the time taken to isolate the fault and the nature of loads connected.

Normally a voltage dip here in Singapore will lasts less than 200ms (10 cycles). This is about the average time the primary protection takes to isolate the fault from the network.
Usually a longer duration will suggest a somewhat sluggish protection relay operation.

Typical causes of a voltage dip in Singapore:
1) Equipment / cable faults in the utility network.
2) Equipment / transmission line faults in Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) network (Singapore is connected to Malaysia at 230kV).
3) Customer Installation faults.
4) Cable damage by earthworks.
5) And to a very small extent, load switching like motor starting.

Singapore’s electricity regulator, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) publishes cases of voltage dips on its website.

Dip due to a customer installation fault
Dip due to a customer installation fault

Back to Basics – True RMS

There used to be a time whereby the price between a non-True RMS (aka Average Responding) and a True RMS meter/clamp is pretty significant; so much so that if one is just to measure voltage or current for checking if the circuit is ‘Live’ or not, one will go for the cheaper Non-True RMS device.

Recently, price difference have narrowed down quite a bit and in my opinion, one should just get a True RMS meter/clamp straight away.

Loads today are pretty much almost non-linear these days anyway.

For a pure sinusoidal wave;

true rms vs average responding
true rms vs average responding

Hence for an average responding meter, it will scale the rectified average of the ac waveform by 1.11.
This holds true only for pure sinusoidal waveform; which do not exist in the practical world.

The difference in reading can vary from between 5 and 40%, depending on what type of waveform that is being measured.
An example below shows a difference of about 10%. The load being measured was a combination of a couple of CFL and LED bulbs.

It is funny to me to see some contractors out there who uses a non True RMS meter/clamp to verify the readings obtained from their expensive PQ meters.

 

True RMS vs Average Rectified Clamp
True RMS vs Average Responding Clamp

*Besides True-RMS capability, one should also check for its Safety CAT category. This is an important safety consideration that should not be disregard.