Transformer Primary & Secondary Protection based on National Electrical Code

Part of our job as an engineer is to check the design of other designers, engineers and of electrical product manufacturers. We call this QA/QC or Quality Assurance and Quality Control. Most companies have this system in place. It is a process to make sure that deliverables are thoroughly checked before they go for construction.

A Case of an Actual Project

Below is a portion of a 12.5kV medium voltage switchgear single line diagram I reviewed few weeks ago. There are more information in the actual drawing but for the purpose of this discussion, we will just look at one item – the station service transformer as shown below.

Station service transformers, as the name suggests, are transformers that are used to provide local power to the substations. These transformers are normally small and can be three phase or single phase. They are usually connected to the switchgear bus on the primary side and on the secondary side connected to an AC distribution panelboard.

The AC distribution board are then used to supply power for relays and other instruments and to provide control circuit power, as well as charge the station batteries.

 

Transformer Primary & Secondary Protection

Figure-1: Protection & Control Single Line Diagram

Checking Process

In order to check whether the protection settings selected by the vendor complies with the standards, we need references such as – the National Electrical Code and the vendor supporting documents such as data sheets. However, in some cases, the data sheets are not available especially during the very early stages of the design, such is the case in this situation.

Referring to NEC Table 450.3 (A), we can determine the recommended rating or setting the Overcurrent Protective Device (OCPD) that should be selected for both primary and secondary of the transformer.

 

Figure-2: Table 450.3(A) Maximum Rating or Setting of Overcurrent Protection for Transformers Over 1000 Volts (as a Percentage of Transformer-Rated Current)

 

Primary Protection

Using the table we are able to know that the primary protection must be 300% of primary rated-current if a fuse is specified.

Calculating for primary rated-current, yields:

Ip = 37,500/12,470 =3Amps

 

Calculating for maximum fuse rating for the primary protection, yields:

Primary protection rating (fuse) = 300% x 3A = 9Amps

 

However, the 9 ampere calculated value is not a standard fuse rating. The next commercially available E-rated fuse is rated at 10A. Therefore, the vendor has specified the right rating in this case.

Secondary Protection

Using the table again, the secondary protection must be 125% of the secondary rated-current if a circuit breaker is specified.

Calculating for secondary rated-current, yields:

Is =37,500/240 = 156.25Amps

 

Calculating for maximum circuit breaker rating for the secondary protection, yields:

Secondary protection rating (circuit breaker) = 125% x 156.25A = 195.31Amps

 

Referring to NEC Table 240.6(A), we will be able to determine the next standard circuit breaker rating available. In this case, is a 200A breaker.

Figure-3: NEC Table 240.6 (A) Standard Ampere Ratings for Fuses and Inverse Time Circuit Breakers

 

Conclusion

I made a recommendation to the designer to change the setting that they specified as 150A and instead use 200A.

 

I hope this has been a good and short refresher for you. Please do me a favor and share with our electrical practitioner friends.

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