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Chapter: Power Quality : Power Quality Monitoring

Monitoring Consideration - Power Quality Monitoring

1. Monitoring as part of a facility site 2. Determining what to monitor 3. Choosing monitoring locations 4. Options for permanent power quality monitoring equipment 5. Finding the source of a disturbance



The monitoring objectives often determine the choice of monitoring equipment, triggering thresholds, methods for data acquisition and storage, and analysis and interpretation requirements. Several common objectives of power quality monitoring are summarized here.


Monitoring to characterize system performance:


This is the most general requirement. A power producer may find this objective important if it has the need to understand its system performance and then match that system performance with the needs of customers. System characterization is a proactive approach to power quality monitoring. By understanding the normal power quality performance of a system, a provider can quickly identify problems and can offer information to its customers to help them match their sensitive equipment’s characteristics with realistic power quality characteristics.


Monitoring to characterize specific problems:


Many power quality service departments or plant managers solve problems by performing short-term monitoring at specific customer sites or at difficult loads. This is a reactive mode of power quality monitoring, but it frequently identifies the cause of equipment incompatibility, which is the first step to a solution.


Monitoring as part of an enhanced power quality service:


Many power producers are currently considering additional services to offer customers. One of these services would be to offer differentiated levels of power quality to match the needs of specific customers. A provider and customer can together achieve this goal by modifying the power system or by installing equipment within the customer’s premises. In either case, monitoring becomes essential to establish the benchmarks for the differentiated service and to verify that the utility achieves contracted levels of power quality.


Monitoring as part of predictive or just-in-time maintenance:


Power quality data gathered over time can be analyzed to provide information relating to specific equipment performance. For example, a repetitive arcing fault from an underground cable may signify impending cable failure, or repetitive capacitor-switching restrikes may signify impending failure on the capacitor-switching device. Equipment maintenance can be quickly ordered to avoid catastrophic failure, thus preventing major power quality disturbances which ultimately will impact overall power quality performance.


The monitoring program must be designed based on the appropriate objectives, and it must make the information available in a convenient form and in a timely manner (i.e., immediately). The most comprehensive monitoring approach will be a permanently installed monitoring system with automatic collection of information about steady-state power quality conditions and energy use as well as disturbances.


1. Monitoring as part of a facility site survey


Site surveys are performed to evaluate concerns for power quality and equipment performance throughout a facility. The survey will include inspection of wiring and grounding concerns, equipment connections, and the voltage and current characteristics throughout the facility. Power quality monitoring, along with infrared scans and visual inspections, is an important part of the overall survey. The initial site survey should be designed to obtain as much information as possible about the customer facility. This information is especially important when the monitoring objective is intended to address specific power quality problems. This information is summarized here.


1.   Nature of the problems (data loss, nuisance trips, component failures, control system malfunctions, etc.)


2.   Characteristics of the sensitive equipment experiencing problems (equipment design information or at least application guide information)


3. The times at which problems occur


4. Coincident problems or known operations (e.g., capacitor switching) that occur at the same time


5. Possible sources of power quality variations within the facility (motor starting, capacitor switching, power electronic equipment operation, arcing equipment, etc.)


6. Existing power conditioning equipment being used


7.    Electrical system data (one-line diagrams, transformer sizes and impedances, load information, capacitor information, cable data, etc.)




2. Determining what to monitor


Power quality encompasses a wide variety of conditions on the power system. Important disturbances can range from very high frequency impulses caused by lightning strokes or current chopping during circuit interruptions to long-term overvoltages caused by a regulator tap switching problem. The range of conditions that must be characterized creates challenges both in terms of the monitoring equipment performance specifications and in the data-collection requirements. The methods for characterizing the quality of ac power are important for the monitoring requirements. For instance, characterizing most transients requires high-frequency sampling of the actual waveform. Voltage sags can be characterized with a plot of the rms voltage versus time. Outages can be defined simply by a time duration. Monitoring to characterize harmonic distortion levels and normal voltage variations requires steady-state sampling with results analysis of trends over time. Extensive monitoring of all the different types of power quality variations at many locations may be rather costly in terms of hardware, communications charges, data management, and report preparation. Hence, the priorities for monitoring should be determined based on the objectives of the effort. Projects to benchmark system performance should involve a reasonably complete monitoring effort. Projects designed to evaluate compliance with IEEE Standard 519-1992 for harmonic distortion levels may only require steady-state monitoring of harmonic levels. Other projects focused on specific industrial problems may only require monitoring of rms variations, such as voltage sags.


3. Choosing monitoring locations


Obviously, we would like to monitor conditions at virtually all locations throughout the system to completely understand the overall power quality. However, such monitoring may be prohibitively expensive and there are challenges in data management, analysis, and interpretation. Fortunately, taking measurements from all possible locations is usually not necessary since measurements taken from several strategic locations can be used to determine characteristics of the overall system. Thus, it is very important that the monitoring locations be selected carefully based on the monitoring objectives.


4. Options for permanent power quality monitoring equipment


Permanent power quality monitoring systems, such as the system illustrated in Fig. 5.1, should take advantage of the wide variety of equipment that may have the capability to record power quality information. Some of the categories of equipment that can be incorporated into an overall monitoring system include the following:


ü   Digital fault recorders (DFRs). These may already be in place at many substations. DFR manufacturers do not design the devices specifically for power quality monitoring. However, a DFR will typically trigger on fault events and record the voltage and current waveforms that characterize the event. This makes them valuable for characterizing rms disturbances, such as voltage sags, during power system faults. DFRs also offer periodic waveform capture for calculating harmonic distortion levels.


ü   Smart relays and other IEDs. Many types of substation equipment may have the capability to be an intelligent electronic device (IED) with monitoring capability. Manufacturers of devices like relays and re closers that monitor the current anyway are adding on the capability to record disturbances and make the information available to an overall monitoring system controller. These devices can be located on the feeder circuits as well as at the substation.


ü   Voltage recorders. Power providers use a variety of voltage recorders to monitor steady-state voltage variations on distribution systems. We are encountering more and more sophisticated models fully capable of characterizing momentary voltage sags and even harmonic distortion levels. Typically, the voltage recorder provides a trend that gives the maximum, minimum, and average voltage within a specified sampling window. With this type of sampling, the recorder can characterize a voltage sag magnitude adequately. However, it will not provide the duration with a resolution less than 2 s.


ü   In-plant power monitors. It is now common for monitoring systems in industrial facilities to have some power quality capabilities. These monitors, particularly those located at the service entrance, can be used as part of a utility monitoring program. Capabilities usually include wave shape capture for evaluation of harmonic distortion levels, voltage profiles for steady-state rms variations, and triggered waveshape captures for voltage sag conditions. It is not common for these instruments to have transient monitoring capabilities.



5. Finding the source of a disturbance


The first step in identifying the source of a disturbance is to correlate the disturbance waveform with possible causes. Once a category for the cause has been determined (e.g., load switching, capacitor switching, remote fault condition, recloser operation), the identification becomes more straightforward. The following general guidelines can help:


■ High-frequency voltage variations will be limited to locations close to the source of the disturbance. Low-voltage (600 V and below) wiring often damps out high-frequency components very quickly due to circuit resistance, so these frequency components will only appear when the monitor is located close to the source of the disturbance.




■ Power interruptions close to the monitoring location will cause a very abrupt change in the voltage. Power interruptions remote from the monitoring location will result in a decaying voltage due to stored energy in rotating equipment and capacitors.


■ The highest harmonic voltage distortion levels will occur close to capacitors that are causing resonance problems. In these cases, a single frequency will usually dominate the voltage harmonic spectrum.


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