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Surge Arrester

1. General

1.1 Description of a surge arrester


A surge arrester is a protective device for limiting surge voltages on equipment by
discharging or bypassing surge current. Surge arresters allow only minimal flow of the 50-hertz-
power current to ground. After the high-frequency lightning surge current has been discharged,
a surge arrester, correctly applied, will be capable of repeating its protective function until
another surge voltage must be discharged.
The technology of surge arresters has undergone major changes in the last 100 years. In the
early 1900’s, spark gaps were used to suppress over voltages. In the 1930’s, the silicon carbide
replaced the spark gaps. In the mid 1970’s, zinc oxide gapless arresters, which possessed
superior protection characteristics, replaced the silicon carbide arrester.

1.2 Types of surge arresters


Surge arresters used for protection of exterior electrical distribution lines will be either of the
metal oxide or gapped silicon carbide type. Expulsion-type units are no longer used.

1.2.1 Metal oxide type


A metal oxide surge arrester (MOSA) utilizing zinc oxide blocks provides the best
performance, as surge voltage conduction starts and stops promptly at a precise voltage level,
thereby improving system protection. Failure is reduced, as there is no air gap contamination
possibility; but there is always a small value of leakage current present at power frequencies.
Therefore, the arrester’s maximum power-frequency continuous operating voltage (MCOV) can
not be exceeded.

1.2.2 Gapped silicon carbide type


Silicon carbide has more nonlinearity than zinc oxide. Without a gap the increase in leakage
current, because of this nonlinearity, would soon burn out the arrester. A gap prevents burnout,
but it does mean that the arrester will not operate until the gap sparks over.
Silicon carbide arresters are vulnerable to moisture ingress that leads to failure due to
reduction in spark over. Contamination can also upset voltage distribution resulting in spark
over reduction. Over a period of time, excessive energy inputs can destroy the ability of the
blocks and gaps to interrupt follow current leading to failure of the arrester.
The metal oxide arresters are without gaps, unlike the SIC arrester. This “gap-less” design
eliminates the high heat associated with the arcing discharges. The MOV arrester has two-
voltage rating: duty cycle and maximum continuous operating voltage, unlike the silicone

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carbide that just has the duty cycle rating. A metal oxide surge arrester utilizing zinc oxide
blocks provides the best performance, as surge voltage conduction starts and stops promptly at a
precise voltage level, thereby improving system protection. Failure is reduced, as there is no air
gap contamination possibility; but there is always a small value of leakage current present at
operating frequency.
Therefore, GECOL uses Metal oxide arrester as surge arrester in the field.

Figure 1 Comparison of silicon Carbide and Metal Oxide arrester

1.2.3 Polymer/Porcelain Arrester


Polymer arresters are gaining in popularity over the porcelain arresters. When a reclose
operation occurs and the fault has not cleared, the arrester is subjected to a second fault current.
This second operation often leads to arrester explosion since the porcelain had already been
weakened by the first fault. If the pressure relief rating of the arrester is exceeded, the arrester
may fail violently, since it cannot vent the excess gasses. This type of failure can lead to other
equipment being damaged or injury to personnel who may be in the vicinity of the failure. Due
to the ability of the polymer station arrester to vent out the side, the housing is not weakened
when exposed to the fault current. Therefore a polymer arrester can be reclosed on multiple
times without the fear of a violent failure.
The polymer arresters are less expensive than the porcelain arrester and appear to avoid some
of the in service problems, such as moisture ingress, that often occur in porcelain arrester. One
manufacturer reports that moisture ingress is the direct cause of failure in 86% of all failures.

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Figure 2 Polymer Arrester Figure 3 Porcelain Arrester

1.3 Classifications of surge arrester


There are three basic arrester classifications recognized by ANSI Standards: distribution,
intermediate, and station.
The differences in these classifications are in terms of voltage rating, protective
characteristics, and the durability in pressure-relief or fault-withstand characteristics.

1.3.1 Distribution class arresters


These arresters, the most widely used, are specified by standards as arresters with ratings of 1
through 30kV. In relationship to the other classes of arresters they have the highest discharge
voltage (that is, they will allow the highest voltage appear across equipment) for a given
incoming surge. There is no requirement for pressure relief.

1.3.2 Intermediate class arresters


These arresters are specified as having voltage ratings of 3 through 120kV. They have better
protective characteristics than distribution arresters, but generally not as good as station type
arresters. Pressure-relief capabilities are required, although some special type of intermediate
arresters developed for underground system protection do not have pressure relief.

1.3.3 Station class arresters


These arresters offer the lowest discharge voltages (allowing the lowest voltage to appear
across equipment) and therefore provide the highest degree of protection. By standards they
have ratings between 3 and 684kV and must have pressure-relief capability.

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Characteristics or feature Arrester Class

Distribution Intermediate Station

Ratings 1-30 kV 3 – 120kV 3-684kV

Approximate Protective 3.5 p.u 3.0 p.u 2.7 p.u


Characteristics (at 10kA)

Current Discharge Requirements


High Current, short duration 65kA N.D. 65kA 65kA

100kA H.D..

Duty Cycle 5kA N.D. 5kA 10kA(>550kV)


10kA H.D. 15kA (550kV)

20kA (800kV)

Low Current, Long Duration 75A N.D. Transmission-Line Discharge


250A H.D. Test Required

Pressure Relief
Hgh Current Not Required 16.1kA 40-65kA

Low Curent Not Required 400-600A 400-600A

Table 1. Comparison of Standard Requirements for Surge Arrester Classifications

1.4 Structure

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Figure 4 Gapless metal oxide surge arrester (※This figure will be re-drawn up by Autocad)

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2. Delivery and storage

(a) When delivered or moved, surge arresters must be loaded with less than 5 stacks.
(b) Falling of surge arresters would have a bad influence on the quality of surge arresters.
(c) Surge arresters should be stored in sufficiently dried condition and in a room where dusts
don’t occur. Storage in outdoor condition or in corrupted circumstance for long time could
have a bad influence on proper performance of them.
※ Handling Suspect Arresters:
1 • A damaged seal-gapped arrester should be handled with care. Due to increased
pressure caused by the destruction of internal elements, a defective arrester may become
an explosive hazard.
2 • If the decision is made to perform an internal inspection of the failed arrester, be
assured that the arrester has vented properly
3 • Do not “throw away” a defective arrester – the arrester should be properly vented
before disposing

3. Inspection

3.1 Relative departments and duties

3.1.1 Inspection for substation class surge arrester


(1) Medium voltage maintenance sub-department of regional distribution department
(a) Maintenance programming and follow-up division
• Scheduling and completion of the corrective repair work
• Checking the performing of the inspection on site
• Compiling the inspection results
(b) Predictive maintenance division
• Analysis of the inspection results
• Establishing of the countermeasure based on the inspection results
(2) Medium voltage regional maintenance centers of regional distribution department
(a) Electrical and mechanical maintenance bureau
• Conducting of the inspection on site and recording of the results
• Repairing or replacing of the inferior materials (equipment)
• Reporting of the inspection results and maintaining of the records

3.1.2 Inspection for distribution class surge arrester

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This inspection should be performed by relative departments involved in the department
manager assistance for distribution issues in the same way as the substation class surge arrester.

3.2 Inspection methods


Modern surge arresters require little operational maintenance and the degree to which such
maintenance can be done is normally limited by lack of adequate test equipment. This limits
surge arrester maintenance to visual inspection and simple electrical tests. It is recommended
that units found to be defective be replaced rather than repaired: Where an arrester is composed
of two or more individually complete units, each unit should be tested separately. Thus, a bad
unit may readily be replaced and the good units retained. Surge arresters are almost always
applied with one terminal connected to an electrically energized source and one terminal to
ground. No work should be done, or contact made with surge arresters, when connected to the
energized source.
Visual inspection will not always detect a damaged arrester. Interior damage may result from
a broken element, presence of moisture, a severe direct lightning stroke, or the use of an arrester
with an incorrect rating. Sometimes these conditions will cause radio interference. Special
inspection, to detect inferior arrester units, may be made either in the field or shop. Tests must
be made strictly in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations, and the results
interpreted in line with manufacturer’s criteria.

3.2.1 Substation class arrester

3.2.1.1 Field inspection before operation


Before and after installation, the surge arrester should be carefully inspected about following
items.
(a) Cracks, chips, contamination, damages on the arrester housing
(b) Measuring of ground resistance value
(c) Insulation condition of the primary and secondary side
(insulation resistance measurement)
(d) Terminal connections condition on the primary and secondary side
(e) Approved design specification

3.2.1.2 Initial inspection


(1) Inspection frequency
Surge arresters first installed in the field shall be inspected within 1 year since in
operation.

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(2) Tools and facility
Tools and facility for initial inspection should be applied as the same as those of routine
inspection.
(3) Inspection methods
Inspection items of initial inspection should be applied correspondingly to routine
inspection.

3.2.1.3 Routine inspection


(1) Inspection frequency
All surge arresters shall be inspected on 5-year cycle or whenever necessary.
(2) Tools and facility
Vernier calipers, Doble tester, Meggar, Leakage current instrument, Infrared thermal
vision.
(3) Inspection methods
Routine inspection should be made periodically using following tests.
(a) Design and visual check
(b) Doble power factor test
(c) Meggar test
(d) Leakage current test
(e) Infrared analysis

3.2.2 Distribution class arrestor

3.2.2.1 Field inspection before operation


Before and after installation, the surge arrester shall be carefully inspected in the same way as
the substation class arrester like 3.2.1.1

3.2.2.2 Routine inspection


(1) Inspection frequency
All surge arresters shall be inspected annually or whenever necessary.
(2) Inspection methods
1) Visual inspection should be made to ensure that:
(a) The line lead is securely fastened to the line conductor and the arrester.
(b) The ground lead is securely fastened to the arrester terminal and ground.
(c) The arrester housing is clean and free from cracks, chips, or evidence of external
flashover.

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(d) The arrester is not located in such a manner as to be subject to:
• Damaging fumes or vapors.
• Excessive dirt or other current-conducting deposits.
• Excessive humidity, moisture, dripping water, steam, or salt spray.
• Abnormal vibrations or shocks.
• Ambient temperatures in excess of 40 degrees C.
(e) Any external gaps are free from foreign objects and set at proper spacing.
2) Infrared analysis

3.3 Testing methods

3.3.1 Design and visual check


(a) Check cracks, chips, defects harmful in use in appearance of surge arrestor.
(b) Perform dimensions inspection using vernier calipers.
(c) Inspect surge arrestor according to specification and approved design specification.

Figure 5 Design and visual check

3.3.2 Doble power factor test


The power-factor test is the most effective known field test procedure for the early detection
of arrester’s contamination and deterioration. Each type and class of surge arrester has a specific
power factor when new. Periodic testing of a unit will show little deviation from the original
(when new) power factor, so long as it remains in good operating condition. A major deviation
from the original value indicates that the arrester has been mechanically damaged or contains
moisture.
Arresters may be tested by one or more of four methods depending upon the type of arrester
and the power factor test set available. For more complete detailed instructions on the method of

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test and test procedure, please see the appropriate power-factor test set instruction book. The
four test methods are as follows:
(1) The GST (grounded specimen test)
(2) The hot-guard test
(3) The UST (undergrounded-specimen test)
(4) The hot-collar test

3.3.2.1 Arrester test results analysis


1 • Refer to published tabulations
2 • Compare current and watt-losses obtained for identical units tested under same conditions
3 • Any deviation, either higher or lower, should be investigated
4 • Compare to previous tests, if available
5 • Ratings are based on watts-Loss values and not % power factor calculated
6 • No correction factor for arresters
7 • If necessary, contact your doble engineer

3.3.2.2 Analysis of abnormal losses (in case of metal oxide arresters)


(1) Higher than normal losses
1 • Contaminated by moisture, dirt or dust
2 • Corroded gaps in early design (newer designs are gapless)
(2) Lower than normal losses
1 • Discontinuities in Internal electrical configuration
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Acceptance testing should be performed on all new arresters in order to compare to other like
arresters and for future benchmarking. Incorrect assembly at the factory or shipping damage
may allow moisture ingress of the “just received” arresters. Higher than normal losses could be
moisture, with lower than normal losses may be due to physically damaged internal components
caused by incorrect handling during shipment or installation.

3.3.3 Megger test


A megger test is the most usually used for testing surge arrestors. It could simply measure the
insulation resistance of surge arrestors. Such a test may indicate shorted valve elements in
valve-type arresters. This test can be made to provide additional information on the condition of
arresters. But the insulation resistance value of deterioration judgment standard depends on
manufacturer and type of surge arrestor. Therefore it is necessary to perform the inspection on
the basis of the insulation resistance value the manufacturer recommends.

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Figure 6 Meggar Test for Surge Arrester

3.3.4 Leakage current test


Any deterioration of the insulating properties of a metal oxide arrester will cause an increase
in the resistive leakage current or power loss at given values of voltage and temperature. The
majority of diagnostic methods for determining the condition of gapless metal oxide arresters
are based on measurements of the leakage current.
The measuring procedures can be divided into two groups: on-line measurements, when the
arrester is connected to the system and energized with the service voltage during normal
operation, and off-line measurements, when the arrester is disconnected from the system and
energized with a separate voltage source on site or in a laboratory.
Measurements off-line can be made with voltage sources that are specially suited for the
purpose, e.g. mobile AC or DC test generators. Good accuracy may be obtained by using the
off-line methods, provided that a sufficiently high test voltage is used. The major disadvantages
are the cost of the equipment and the need for disconnecting the arrester from the system.
Measurements carried out on-line under normal service voltage are the most common
methods. For practical and safety reasons, the leakage current is normally accessed only at the
earthed end of the arrester. To allow measurements of the leakage current flowing in the earth
connection, the arrester must be equipped with an insulated earth terminal.

※ NOTE: The insulation of the earth terminal must, also after long-term degradation, be sufficient to prevent

circulating currents caused by electromagnetic induction, since these currents may interfere with the measurement of

the leakage current.

On-line leakage current measurements are usually made on a temporary basis using portable
or permanently installed instruments. Portable instruments are usually connected to the earth

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terminal of the arrester by means of a clip-on, or permanently installed, current transformer.
Long-term measurements of the leakage current may be necessary for closer investigations,
especially if significant changes in the condition of an arrester are revealed by temporary
measurements. Remote measurements may be implemented in computerized systems for
supervision of substation equipment.
Measurement of leakage current of metal oxide arresters may be carried out by two methods
largely. For more complete detailed instructions on the methods of measurement and procedure,
please see the appropriate leakage current measuring instrument manual.
The two measurement methods are as follows
(1) Measurement method of the total leakage current
(2) Measurement method of the resistive leakage current
The measured leakage current data may be compared with information supplied by the
arrester manufacturer. To utilize this information, it is important that the operating voltage and
the ambient temperature are known at the time of measurement. For efficient use of the
diagnostic methods described above, the arrester manufacturer may provide information
relevant to the various methods. The information may be comprised of the resistive current,
third harmonic current and power loss data for each arrester type as functions of voltage and
temperature.

※ NOTE: Due to the complexity of the measurement methods, it is recommended that the arrester manufacturer be

consulted in order to avoid misinterpretation of the measurement results.

3.2.5 Infrared analysis


Infrared analysis of the arrester is gaining in popularity and has been used by several
companies with good results in identifying higher than normal current flow through the metal
oxide components. Routine testing on a normal basis is recommended in hopes of identifying
and replacing defective arresters before equipment damage or personal injury.

Figure 7 Arrester 10° Centigrade above Ambient

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4. Work procedure
4.1 Periodic inspection for substation class surge arrester
Inspection management department Inspection execution department Remark
(Medium voltage maintenance (Medium voltage regional maintenance centers)

sub-department)

Reporting the status of facilities

• Compiling the facilities and reporting

the results
Establishing inspection plan

• Establishing the annual inspection

plan
Performing inspection
• Notifying the plan to each

Inspection execution department • Electrical and mechanical maintenance bureau

• Initial & Routine inspection

• Recording the inspection result


Supporting the inspection

• When requested

• Maintenance programming and


Corrective repair work
follow-up division •

Repairing and replacing of

the inferior material

Analyzing inspection results & Reporting the inspection results


Establishing the countermeasure

• Predictive maintenance division

Compiling inspection results


Checking the performance
of inspection & compiling
the inspection results

• Maintenance programming and

follow-up division

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4.2 Periodic inspection for distribution class surge arrester
Inspection management department Inspection execution department Remark
(Distribution networks maintenance (Maintenance division of regional distribution

sub-department) sub-department)

Reporting the status of facilities

• Compiling the facilities and reporting

the results
Establishing inspection plan

• Establishing the annual inspection

plan
Performing inspection
• Notifying the plan to each

inspection execution department • Electrical and mechanical maintenance bureau

• Routine inspection

• Recording the inspection result


Supporting the inspection

• When requested

• Maintenance programming and


Corrective repair work
follow-up division •

Repairing and replacing of

the inferior material

Analyzing inspection results & Reporting the inspection results


Establishing the countermeasure

• Predictive maintenance division

Compiling inspection results


Checking the performance
of inspection & compiling
the inspection results

• Maintenance programming and

follow-up division

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【Appendix 1】
Surge Arrester Inspection Report
Inspection Type: Inspection Date: 2007. . . Whether & Temperature: , ℃
Installation Site Arrester ID
Type Rating
Plant of Manufacture Serial Number Year of Manufacture

Item Inspection result Remark


A phase B phase C Phase
External Condition of arrester housing
Inspection Connection of line lead
Connection of ground lead
Connection with equipment
Condition of arrester location
Condition of Bracket, Basement
Testing Ground resistance value
Doble test
Insulation resistance value
(each phase – ground)
Leakage current (mA)
Infrared Analysis
Remark

Inspector Chief of inspection maintenance unit

Name : Name :

Signature : Signature :

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