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Task Force 33.04.01

June 2000



Task Force 33.13.01 (formerly 33.04.01)

of Working Group 33.13



D.A. SWIFT (Convenor, United Kingdom), J.P. REYNDERS (Secretary, South Africa),
C.S. ENGELBRECHT (Compiler of documents, South Africa), J.L. FIERRO-CHAVEZ
(Mexico), R. HOULGATE (United Kingdom), C. LUMB (France), R. MATSUOKA (Japan),
G. MELIK (Australia), M. MORENO (Mexico), K. NAITO (Japan), W. PETRUSCH (Germany),
A. PIGINI (Italy), G. RIQUEL (France), F.A.M. RIZK (Canada)

1. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................................................. 1
1.1 THE POLLUTION PROBLEM ............................................................................................................................................ 1
1.2 PREVIOUS REVIEW DOCUMENTS .................................................................................................................................... 1
1.3 RELEVANCE OF IEC 815 (1986) ................................................................................................................................... 2
1.5 APPROACH FOR INSULATOR SELECTION AND DIMENSIONING ......................................................................................... 3
2. POLLUTION FLASHOVER PROCESS......................................................................................................................... 5
2.1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................................. 5
2.2 MODELLING .................................................................................................................................................................. 6
2.2.1 Hydrophilic surface ............................................................................................................................................. 6
2.2.2 Hydrophobic surface.......................................................................................................................................... 10
2.3 ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS......................................................................................................................................... 10
2.3.1 Climates or atmospheric variables and typical environments ........................................................................... 10
2.3.2 Type of pollution ................................................................................................................................................ 13
2.3.3 Mechanisms of contamination accumulation on insulators............................................................................... 21
2.3.4 Mechanisms of wetting....................................................................................................................................... 24
2.3.5 The natural cleaning processes.......................................................................................................................... 29
2.3.6 Critical wetting conditions................................................................................................................................. 29
2.3.7 Effect of various aspects of the insulator on its pollution accumulation ........................................................... 29
2.3.8 Physical and mathematical models of pollution deposit.................................................................................... 33
2.4 ICE AND SNOW ............................................................................................................................................................ 33
2.4.1 Flashover on insulators covered with ice. ......................................................................................................... 34
2.4.2 Flashover on insulators covered with snow....................................................................................................... 35
3. INSULATOR CHARACTERISTICS ............................................................................................................................ 37
3.1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................................... 37
3.2 MATERIALS USED FOR OUTDOOR INSULATORS ............................................................................................................ 38
3.2.1 Porcelain and glass............................................................................................................................................ 38
3.2.2 Polymers ............................................................................................................................................................ 38
3.3 INSULATOR PERFORMANCE ......................................................................................................................................... 39
3.3.1 Ceramic insulators............................................................................................................................................. 40
3.3.2 Polymeric Insulators .......................................................................................................................................... 50
3.3.3 Effect of insulator orientation. ........................................................................................................................... 52
3.3.4 Influence of a non-uniform pollution deposit..................................................................................................... 56
3.3.5 Electric field at the surface of insulators ........................................................................................................... 57
3.3.6 Cold switch-on and thermal lag......................................................................................................................... 59
3.3.7 Contaminated insulators under transient overvoltages ..................................................................................... 59
3.3.8 Air density correction factors for polluted insulators ........................................................................................ 68
3.3.9 General trends for ice covered insulators.......................................................................................................... 69
3.3.10 General trends for snow covered insulators ...................................................................................................... 71
3.4 SPECIAL INSULATORS .................................................................................................................................................. 73
3.4.1 Hollow insulators............................................................................................................................................... 73
3.4.2 HVDC wall bushings.......................................................................................................................................... 75
3.4.3 Circuit breaker and isolator insulation.............................................................................................................. 75
3.4.4 Insulators in desert conditions........................................................................................................................... 76
3.4.5 Semiconducting Glaze insulators....................................................................................................................... 76
3.5 CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................................................................. 77
4. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ...................................................................................................................................... 80
4.1 VISIBLE DISCHARGES .................................................................................................................................................. 80
4.2 AUDIBLE NOISE ........................................................................................................................................................... 80
4.3 RADIO INTERFERENCE ................................................................................................................................................. 81
4.4 TELEVISION INTERFERENCE ........................................................................................................................................ 82

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4.5 CORROSION OF METAL HARDWARE - TELEVISION INTERFERENCE................................................................................ 82
4.6 CRITERIA FOR RADIO NOISE LIMITS OF INSULATORS..................................................................................................... 83
4.7 CORROSION OF METAL HARDWARE - MECHANICAL STRENGTH REDUCTION ................................................................. 84
4.8 FIRES .......................................................................................................................................................................... 85
5. POLLUTION MONITORING ....................................................................................................................................... 87
5.1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................................... 87
5.2 AIR POLLUTION MEASUREMENT .................................................................................................................................. 88
5.2.1 Directional dust deposit gauge .......................................................................................................................... 88
5.3 EQUIVALENT SALT DEPOSIT DENSITY (ESDD)............................................................................................................. 89
5.3.1 Advantages......................................................................................................................................................... 89
5.3.2 Disadvantages.................................................................................................................................................... 89
5.3.3 Further developments ........................................................................................................................................ 89
5.4 NON-SOLUBLE DEPOSIT DENSITY (NSDD) .................................................................................................................. 90
5.4.1 Optical measurement ......................................................................................................................................... 90
5.5 SURFACE CONDUCTANCE ............................................................................................................................................ 90
5.5.1 Advantages......................................................................................................................................................... 90
5.5.2 Disadvantages.................................................................................................................................................... 90
5.5.3 Further developments ........................................................................................................................................ 90
5.6 INSULATOR FLASHOVER STRESS .................................................................................................................................. 91
5.6.1 Advantages......................................................................................................................................................... 91
5.6.2 Disadvantages.................................................................................................................................................... 91
5.7 LEAKAGE CURRENT .................................................................................................................................................... 91
5.7.1 Surge counting ................................................................................................................................................... 92
5.7.2 I highest.................................................................................................................................................................. 92
5.8 CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................................................................. 92
6. TESTING PROCEDURES FOR INSULATORS ......................................................................................................... 93
6.1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................................... 93
6.2 CATEGORIES OF TEST METHODS .................................................................................................................................. 93
6.2.1 Testing under natural pollution conditions........................................................................................................ 93
6.2.2 Artificial pollution laboratory tests.................................................................................................................... 95
6.3.1 Standardised test procedures ............................................................................................................................. 95
6.3.2 Non-standardised test procedures...................................................................................................................... 96
6.3.3 Non-standardised test procedures for laboratory tests on naturally polluted insulators .................................. 98
6.5 TEST PROCEDURES FOR INSULATORS COVERED WITH ICE OR SNOW............................................................................. 98
6.5.1 Laboratory test methods with ice ....................................................................................................................... 98
6.5.2 Laboratory test methods with snow.................................................................................................................. 100
6.6 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON PARTICULAR POINTS OF POLLUTION TESTING ............................................................ 100
6.6.1 Ambient conditions during testing ................................................................................................................... 100
6.6.2 Leakage current measurement ......................................................................................................................... 103
6.6.3 Testing of insulators for the UHV range up to 1100 kV................................................................................... 104
6.6.4 Comparison of test results obtained with different pollution test methods ...................................................... 104
6.6.5 Comparison of test results obtained from test stations .................................................................................... 104
7. INSULATOR SELECTION AND DIMENSIONING ................................................................................................ 106
7.1 INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................................................... 106
7.2 SELECTION OF INSULATOR CHARACTERISTICS .......................................................................................................... 106
7.2.1 Selection of profile ........................................................................................................................................... 107
7.2.2 Selection of insulator dimensions..................................................................................................................... 107
7.2.3 Deterministic method ....................................................................................................................................... 108
7.2.4 Probabilistic method. ....................................................................................................................................... 108
7.2.5 Static and dynamic methods in the probabilistic approach. ............................................................................ 109
7.2.6 Present status of the probabilistic approach.................................................................................................... 110
7.2.7 Dynamic method .............................................................................................................................................. 113
7.2.8 Truncation of the distribution .......................................................................................................................... 114
7.2.9 Conclusions...................................................................................................................................................... 115

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7.3 SELECTION OF INSULATORS FOR APPLICATION UNDER ICE AND SNOW ....................................................................... 115
7.4 SELECTION OF INSULATORS FOR D.C. ENERGISATION................................................................................................. 116
7.4.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 116
7.4.2 Selection of a site severity correction factor.................................................................................................... 116
7.5 INSULATOR POLLUTION DESIGN OF PHASE-TO-PHASE SPACERS ................................................................................ 117
7.5.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 117
7.5.2 Design Practice................................................................................................................................................ 117
8. PALLIATIVES AND OTHER MITIGATION MEASURES .................................................................................... 118
8.1 INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................................................... 118
8.2 MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES .................................................................................................................................... 118
8.2.1 Live-insulator washing of ceramic insulators.................................................................................................. 118
8.2.2 Live-insulator washing of polymeric insulators............................................................................................... 128
8.3 USE OF GREASES AND RTV COATINGS ...................................................................................................................... 129
8.3.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 129
8.3.2 Hydrocarbon and silicone greases .................................................................................................................. 129
8.3.3 RTV rubber coatings ........................................................................................................................................ 130
8.3.4 Summary .......................................................................................................................................................... 130
8.4 BOOSTER SHEDS ....................................................................................................................................................... 131
8.5.1 Some measures to prevent flashovers during ice conditions............................................................................ 132
8.5.2 Some measures to prevent flashovers during snow conditions ........................................................................ 133
9.1 INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................................................... 134
9.2 OPERATIONAL EXPERIENCE AND FIELD TESTS .......................................................................................................... 134
9.3 ARTIFICIAL POLLUTION TESTS OF LIGHTNING ARRESTERS ........................................................................................ 135
9.3.1 Test Techniques................................................................................................................................................ 135
9.3.2 Laboratory Test Results ................................................................................................................................... 135
9.4 STANDARDISATION OF A LABORATORY TEST ............................................................................................................ 139
10. ADITIONAL INFORMATION AND RESULTS ................................................................................................... 142
10.1 INSULATOR PROFILES AND DIMENSIONS .................................................................................................................... 142
10.2 RANKING OF INSULATORS ......................................................................................................................................... 158
10.2.1 Ceramic Insulators........................................................................................................................................... 158
10.2.2 Polymeric insulators ........................................................................................................................................ 162
10.3 INSULATOR PERFORMANCE AS A FUNCTION OF POLLUTION SEVERITY ....................................................................... 164
10.4 AGEING OF INSULATORS ........................................................................................................................................... 165
11. REFERENCES........................................................................................................................................................... 1 67

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1.1 The Pollution problem

The performance of insulators used on overhead transmission lines and overhead distribution lines, and in outdoor substations
is a key factor in determining the reliability of power delivery systems. The insulators not only must withstand normal
operating voltage, but also must withstand overvoltages that may cause disturbances, flashovers and line outages. The
reduction in the performance of outdoor insulators occurs mainly by the pollution of the insulating surfaces from air-borne
deposits that may form a conducting or partially conducting surface layer when wet.
The presence of a conducting or partially conducting layer of pollution on the insulator surface will dictate flashover
performance. It is impractical in many situations to prevent the formation of such a layer and consequently insulators must be
designed so that the flashover performance remains high enough to withstand all types of anticipated voltage stresses despite
the presence of the pollution layer. In certain situations where pollution is extremely severe, further preventative or curative
measures - such as periodic washing or greasing - may be necessary.
It is clear that the environment, in which the insulator must operate, together with the insulator itself, will determine the
severity of the pollution layer on the insulator. Translating the environment into parameters that can be used to design the
insulation, therefore, presents one of the fundamental problems in designing external insulation with respect to polluted
conditions. This is due to the vast range of possible conditions such as those found in coastal, industrial, agricultural and
desert areas; also in areas with ice and snow or at high altitude. Combinations of these conditions may also occur. A further
complicating factor is that environments have an inherent statistical behaviour that is to a large extent unpredictable.
Furthermore, the increase of available electrical energy in an area, through the construction of a new substation, may trigger
industrial growth that can contribute to the pollution and affect thus the behaviour of the insulation. It is, therefore, difficult to
quantify the effect of the environment on insulator performance.
This document attempts to address these problems by serving as a review of current knowledge on insulator pollution with the
intention of providing information for the selection and maintenance of insulators in polluted environments. A very extensive
list of references is provided.
It is recognised that ageing may influence the performance of insulators, particularly in the case of polymer insulators.
However, this report is restricted to discussing the pollution performance of insulators, since Cigr Study Committees 15 and
22 are mandated to deal with material and insulator ageing.

1.2 Previous review documents

The first large-scale review of pollution effects on insulators was published in 19711. That document describes theories of the
flashover process as well as artificial and natural test methods for assessing insulator performance in pollution conditions.
Various parameters that influence insulator performance, such as surface conductance and insulator dimensions, are also
discussed. Furthermore, several methods for measuring pollution severity are described and preventative procedures such as
greasing are reviewed.
In 1979, a major review on insulator pollution was published as two separate reports: one on the measurement of pollution
severity2 and the other as a critical comparison of artificial pollution test methods3.
The report on pollution severity measurement analysed the main methods in use in terms of the pollution flashover process.
The conclusion was that there is no single best method but rather that the best results are obtained when several methods are
used in parallel. Factors pertaining to the equipment - i.e. cost, availability, etc. - and the power delivery system - i.e. extent,
voltage level and type, etc. - were identified as being important for selecting a pollution site severity measurement method. It
was noted that the cost of optimisation also should be weighed against the cost of a detailed site severity assessment before
such measurements are undertaken.
The report on artificial pollution test methods gave an analysis of available test methods with the intent of indicating which
methods are best suited for international standardisation. This report also recommended the natural conditions best
represented by each test method.
Another report4 combined the experience of electric utilities, manufacturers, and research laboratories in a comprehensive
summary on the design and maintenance of outdoor insulators in polluted environments. In addition to providing a
description of the flashover process, this report also contains discussions on pollution severity measurement, test procedures,
design practice, and maintenance procedures.

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1.3 Relevance of IEC 815 (1986)
The present edition of IEC Publication 815 (1986)5 is based on knowledge obtained mainly from experience with
conventional porcelain and glass insulators on a.c. systems. It applies only to these insulators, and only when they are used in
a.c. applications.
Minimum specific creepage distances are specified in this document for different pollution severity levels. These pollution
severity levels do not consider all aspects of the environment that can affect the performance of various insulator profiles.
Apart from some restrictions on insulator profile and corrections for diameter, IEC 815 thereby implies that no other factors
need to be considered when designing insulators for use in polluted conditions.
It is now recognised that a broader approach for insulator design and selection is required to address the optimised design of
porcelain and glass insulators as well as polymeric insulators for a.c. and d.c. systems world-wide. Other areas where IEC
815 lacks information have been identified.
This review document is based on the following list of areas where IEC 815 is perceived to be weak, and where input is
needed for its revision:
Performance of polymeric insulators
Insulator orientation
Extension of applicability to voltages above 525 kV a.c.
Design for d.c. application
Insulators with semiconducting glaze
Surge arrester housing performance, particularly with reference to polymeric materials
Longitudinal breaks in interrupter equipment
Radio interference, television interference, and audible noise of polluted insulators
Effect of altitude
Effect of heavy wetting
The revision of IEC 815 was started in 1998 and it is expected that the work will be completed by the end of the year 2005.
The revision will appear as five parts under the number IEC 60815.

1.4 Insulator types and definitions of Specific Creepage Length & Specific Axial
For the purpose of this document, insulators are divided into the following four broad categories:
1. Ceramic insulators for a.c. systems
2. Polymeric insulators for a.c. systems
3. Ceramic insulators for d.c. systems
4. Polymeric insulators for d.c. systems.
Ceramic insulators have an insulating part manufactured either of glass or porcelain, whereas polymeric insulators have a
composite insulating part consisting of a polymer housing such as Silicone Rubber (SR), Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer
(EPDM) and others, fitted onto a glass fibre core.
In Section 10, details are given of some of the available types of insulators. The tables presented therein are used throughout
this document to identify insulators and provide data for analysis.
For the purpose of this review, the electrical stress over an insulator is considered in two ways; one is related to the leakage
path length and the other to the axial length of the insulator.
In IEC 815, the leakage path of an insulator is specified by the Specific Creepage Distance defined as the leakage distance
of the insulator in mm divided by the maximum system phase-to-phase voltage in kV. The Leakage Distance is defined as the
shortest distance, from on end of the insulator to the other, along the surface of the insulating parts. In this document, the
Specific Creepage Length (SCL) defined as the Leakage Distance of the insulator divided by the actual voltage across the
insulator - i.e. the phase-to-ground voltage in most instances.
The corresponding Specific Axial Length (SAL) of an insulator is defined as the axial length of the insulator divided by the
actual voltage across the insulator. The axial length refers to the shortest distance between fixing points of the live and

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earthed metalware, ignoring the presence of any stress control rings, but including intermediate metal parts along the length of
the insulator - as is shown in Figure 1-1.

Axial Length

Figure 1-1: Definition of axial length of an insulator as is used in this review.

1.5 Approach for insulator selection and dimensioning

The process of insulator selection and axial dimensioning together with its influencing parameters is shown in Figure 1-2.
The flow chart in this figure forms the basis of this review document for which an overview is given below.
The process of insulator selection starts with the collection of the basic data consisting of information on:
1. Insulator application
2. Insulator characteristics
3. Power system parameters
4. The environment
5. Constraints.
6. Field performance

1. The application of the insulator is an important aspect from the pollution performance viewpoint as it determines both
the radial dimension and the orientation of the insulator. Section 3 addresses the application of insulators under a variety of
2. An integral part of the basic data is the characteristics of the available insulators. These are discussed throughout this
report, but especially in Section 3. Information may also be obtained from manufacturers.
3. Power system parameters that form part of the basic data consist of:
The electrical environment in which the insulator is applied, i.e. a.c. or d.c. voltage; maximum system voltage; and
lightning, switching and temporary overvoltages and their effects on insulator performance. These aspects are
comprehensively addressed in Section 2.2 and Section 3.
The performance required from the insulator. This is determined mainly by power quality criteria such as the power
systems sensitivity to outages.
4. Each environment where the insulators are to be installed has a different set of conditions under which the insulator must
operate reliably. An insulator that has a good performance under one set of conditions might have a bad performance in a
different set of conditions. It is therefore necessary to characterise the environment in terms specific to insulator performance.
In Section 2.3, the environmental aspects and how they affect the pollution flashover process are discussed. Methods to
monitor the environment are described in Section 5.
5. Constraints may also influence the selection of insulators. For example, limitations on the width of the right of way may
dictate the use of structures for which special insulator designs are required. In such cases, the range of available insulators
may be restricted. Cost and the need to minimise the visual impact may also be important factors that have to be built into the
selection process.
6. Field performance of insulators in service is an invaluable source of data for future applications. Unfortunately, these
data are not always available, and, as noted earlier, their applicability to different environments must always be questioned.
Nevertheless, service experience is usually a very important component of the basic data since it forms the basis for
determining whether the selection of a particular insulator leads to acceptable performance. Service experience also may
indicate whether certain artificial pollution tests are appropriate for a specific environment, and it may also contribute
information on insulator characteristics.

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Methods to assess insulator field performance are given in Section 5. References to service experience are given throughout
the document, but especially in Sections 2 and 3.

2) Insulator 3) Power System 4) Environment 5) Constraints 6) Insulator

Characteristics parameters field performance

Basic data

Alternative solutions
1) Insulator

No Field tests Yes


Field test station

Test program
Yes Lab tests No
? Test results
Test technique

Lab testing

Test results

Design Procedure monitoring

Yes Deterministic No
Yes Acceptable No
Cost optimisation Failure rate

Yes Preventative No
Identify ?

Insulator selection

Figure 1-2: An overview of the process of insulator selection, as based on a published 6 diagram.

Once these basic data are collected, the various options for insulator selection can be identified for further study. Depending
on whether or not information is available on service experience, insulator characteristics and the environment, the need for
further field tests should be determined. However, it should be noted that these tests normally take 2-4 years. An overview of
the available methods for site severity measurement and field tests is given in Section 5.
Since the time required for field tests is very long, such tests are usually augmented with laboratory tests. A brief overview of
laboratory test methods and some examples of field test stations are given in Section 6.
When the basic data and field and laboratory test results have been compiled, the actual design procedure - as described in
Section 7 - can begin. The choice between a deterministic or statistical approach will depend on the criticality of the design.
Economic and time constraints may dictate a shortened selection procedure with the possible concomitant reduction in
confidence in the design.
In the event that a reliable insulator design is not achieved, mitigation methods may be necessary. Examples of such methods
are given in Section 8.
Improvement in the design procedure requires verification of performance that also will provide further service experience for
future designs.

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2.1 Introduction
The pollution flashover process of insulators is greatly affected by the insulators surface properties. Two surface conditions
are recognised: either hydrophilic or hydrophobic. A hydrophilic surface is generally associated with ceramic insulators
whereas a hydrophobic surface is generally associated with polymeric insulators, especially silicone rubber. Under wetting
conditions - such as rain, mist etc. - hydrophilic surfaces will wet out completely so that an electrolyte film covers the
insulator. In contrast, water beads into distinct droplets on a hydrophobic surface under such wetting conditions.
In the Electra No. 64 publication2, the pollution flashover process for ceramic insulators - that is, insulators with a hydrophilic
surface - is described essentially as follows:
a) The insulator becomes coated with a layer of pollution containing soluble salts or dilute acids or alkalis. If the pollution
is deposited as a layer of liquid electrolyte - e.g. salt spray, stages (c) to (f) may proceed immediately. If the pollution is
non-conducting when dry, some wetting process (stage (b)) is necessary.
b) The surface of the polluted insulator is wetted either completely or partially by fog, mist, light rain, sleet or melting snow
or ice and the pollution layer becomes conductive. Heavy rain is a complicating factor: it may wash away the electrolytic
components off part or all of the pollution layer without initiating the other stages in the breakdown process, or it may -
by bridging the gaps between sheds - promote flashover.
c) Once an energised insulator is covered with a conducting pollution layer, a surface leakage current flows and its heating
effect starts to dry out parts of the pollution layer.
d) The drying of the pollution layer is always non-uniform and, in places, the conducting pollution layer becomes broken by
dry bands that interrupt the flow of leakage current.
e) The line-to-earth voltage is then applied across these dry bands, which may only be a few centimetres wide. It causes air
breakdown to occur and the dry bands are bridged by arcs, which are electrically in series with the resistance of the
undried portion of the pollution layer. A surge of leakage current occurs each time the dry bands on an insulator
f) If the resistance of the undried part of the pollution layer is low enough, the arcs bridging the dry bands are able to burn
continuously and so may extend along the insulator; thereby spanning more and more of its surface. This in turn
decreases the resistance in series with the arcs, increases the current and permits the arcs to bridge even more of the
insulator surface. Ultimately the insulator is completely spanned and a line-to-earth fault is established.

Figure 2-1: Schematic representation of the pollution flashover process across a hydrophilic surface.

The key processes involved in the flashover process are shown in Figure 2-1. The environment, in which the insulator must
operate in, influences the first two processes - pollution deposit and wetting - whereas electrical aspects govern the last two
processes. This Section, therefore, discusses the flashover process from these two viewpoints.

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To date, no clear description exists of the complete insulator flashover process for insulators with a hydrophobic surface - but
the key aspects, as defined, will still be present to a greater or lesser extent.
The aforementioned points do not include the effects of ice and snow on the electrical strength of insulators. Such additional
points are discussed in provided in Section 2.4.

2.2 Modelling

2.2.1 Hydrophilic surface

It is assumed that, in general, the flashover process across ceramic insulators applies to hydrophilic surfaces - i.e. where this
surface is covered with a film of electrolyte. The models are, therefore, based on the study of an arc in series with a resistance
- representing a dry band arc and a wet polluted surface respectively. d.c. Model

Mathematical modelling of the pollution flashover of ceramic insulators has already been the subject of an extensive review
published in Electra 7. Therefore, only a brief summary of the results will be given here.
For modelling of pollution flashover under d.c. energisation, the basic approach8 involves the determination of the minimum
voltage needed to sustain a dry band arc of a given length in series with the corresponding pollution surface resistance. The
arc length is then varied in order to obtain the critical position that corresponds to the highest value of the supply voltage. The
latter is taken as the insulator withstand voltage for the pollution severity concerned9. An alternative approach10, still for the
d.c. case, is to consider that the dry band arc will continue to elongate as long as:
Ea < E p (2-1)

where E a is the arc voltage gradient and E p is the mean voltage gradient of the pollution layer.
The static arc characteristic for a current i is of the form:

Eai n = N 0 (2-2)

where N o and n are constants.

Assuming a constant surface resistance rp per unit leakage path, the critical arcing distance x c was found to be:

xc = (2-3)
n +1
were L is the leakage path length. The corresponding critical voltage Uc was determined as:
1 n
Uc = N0 n +1 rp n +1 L (2-4)

The critical d.c. current ic - i.e. the maximum leakage current not leading to flashover - can be obtained from :
N n +1

ic = o (2-5)
Several refinements have been introduced to the d.c. model. In another paper11, an insulator model was introduced with two
different surface resistances per unit length rp1 and rp2 - corresponding to the stem and the shed of a longrod insulator. A
circular insulator disc model was also investigated 12. The contribution of arc current concentration at the roots to the
pollution layer surface resistance was included 13 14. Other refinements include the consideration of the arc electrode voltage
drops 13, effect of temperature on the pollution layer resistance14 and the influence of multiple parallel arcing that takes place
on many insulators - especially on those of large diameter15.
The d.c. model has been used to study the polluted insulator : test source interaction 16. This contributed to the interpretation
of the experimental results and to the determination of the minimum requirements for d.c. sources in polluted insulator tests17.

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Unfortunately, the d.c. model has been frequently used to account for polluted insulator performance under a.c. energisation11
13 14
, despite there being important basic differences - as is shown below. a.c. Model

At the instant of voltage and current peak, the circuit equation of an a.c. arc burning in series with the insulator pollution
surface resistance is identical to that of the d.c. circuit equation. However, it has been amply demonstrated experimentally
that, for the same pollution severity, the peak a.c. withstand voltage far exceeds the corresponding value under d.c. conditions.
It has also been observed experimentally that arc-propagation across the insulator surface can take several cycles and,
therefore, the arc is subject to an extinction and re-ignition process at around current zero 18 19. This means that the d.c.
criterion for arc propagation, i.e. E a < E p , referred to previously will not be sufficient to predict insulator flashover under
a.c. energisation. An arc can start propagation when this criterion becomes fulfilled, but if the voltage is not sufficient to
cause re-ignition after current zero, the arc will extinguish without leading to flashover.
It has been demonstrated, both theoretically18 and experimentally20, that for the current i in a resistive circuit the re-ignition
voltage U can be expressed as:

A x
U= (2-6)
where x is the residual arc length and A and m are constants
Inserting this relationship in the circuit equation results in:

A x No x
= + Rpx i (2-7)
im in
Where R px is the pollution surface resistance corresponding to an arc length x.

Since the voltage drop of a burning arc is much smaller than the re-ignition voltage, an acceptable - although not accurate -
approximation would be to put n m. This simplifies the analysis and yields a critical arc length x c :

xc = (2-8)
For constant r p , the corresponding critical voltage Uc is:

U c = B rpm+1 L (2-9)

where B is a constant.
Expression 2-9 is similar to that of equation 2-4 for the d.c. case, although instead of n 0.8 - valid for the d.c. static
characteristic of a free-burning arc - m 0.5 in the a.c. arc re-ignition expression 2-6. Also, the constants in equations 2-9
and 2-4 are quite different. In fact, numerical evaluation of these expressions shows that for a high pollution severity - i.e.
relatively low values of rp - the critical a.c. voltage (rms) is much higher than the critical d.c. voltage. This difference
diminishes, however, at lower pollution severity and ultimately - with no pollution at all - the a.c. sparkover voltage peak
value is nearly equal to the corresponding d.c. voltage.
The a.c. model 21 has been used to investigate the source: polluted insulator interaction and has revealed the effect of the
parallel capacitance on insulator performance. It proved, therefore, to be quite useful in determining the minimum source
requirement 22. Recently, the model has been further used to investigate the effect of altitude on the performance of a.c.
insulators under pollution conditions23; see also the discussion in Section 3.3.8. Evaluation of the pollution flashover mechanism under transient overvoltages

Consider an impulse voltage with a time to crest (tcr ) much smaller than the time to half value (th ). The main influence on the
leakage current flashover stress is given by th 24 25 (see Figure 2-2). At very short times to half value (th less than 200 s), no
pre-arc will occur and mainly streamer discharges develop. Then the flashover voltage is determined by the requirement for a
streamer discharge to occur and may attain a value close to that for dry conditions.

1999-09-01 7
For very long times to the half value - i.e. longer than 3000 s, a long pre-arc could be formed. In this case, the leakage
current flashover stress will be determined by the pre-arc only and reaches a value of approximately 0.7 kV/cm.
With a virtual impulse duration longer than 100 ms, a further decrease of the flashover voltage will be observed. This is not
caused by a new flashover mechanism. It is due to the fact that the pollution layer will be heated for a longer time duration by
the current flowing and so the surface conductivity will be increased.
In the range between 200 and 3000 s of th - i.e. SI range, the performance is more complicated; as is analysed below.

Figure 2-2: Flashover strength vs. the voltage-time duration for a cylindrical model insulator under pollution conditions 25. Evaluation of the discharge process under switching overvoltages

Discharge without dry bands (application of SI only).
Based on the analysis of experimental data as well as on simplifying assumptions for the very complex flashover mechanism
for a leader discharge 26 27, a flashover model has been developed 28. Whereas the a.c./d.c. flashover is governed by the pre-
arc 29 10 7, this is not the case with the SI stress - now the leader discharge becomes more important. Because of its
comparatively short lifetime and low energy dissipation, the leader can not produce any dry bands - which is contrary to the
case of an existing pre-arc. Furthermore, the leader gradient is much higher than the gradient in the pre-arc; i.e. the current
flowing in the bridged layer can not be neglected, as in the case of a.c./d.c. stresses. From this consideration it follows that,
instead of the usual voltage (U) - current (I) characteristic for a.c. and d.c. cases, only the strength (E) - current (I)
characteristic is applicable for SI28, for the instantaneous discharge parameters (Figure 2-3).
Analogous to the a.c./d.c. flashover criterion, a critical condition for the SI flashover arises. For this condition, the dotted
straight line in Figure 2-3b - which represents the negative slope of the layer resistivity per unit length - becomes a tangent of
the E-I leader characteristic - as given by the full curve in Figure 2-3b.

1999-09-01 8
Figure 2-3: Flashover models for a.c./d.c. (a) and SI (b) 28.

Discharge with dry bands (application of SI with pre-stress).

As reported by Garbagnati et al 152, the SI strength can be reduced due to the presence of dry bands. If the flashover strength
is drawn versus the dry band length, typical U-curves are obtained.

Figure 2-4: Approach for the evaluation of the minimum flashover strength in the presence of dry bands 28.

In the presence of a short dry band, having a length ar (Figure 2-4), the flashover under positive SI first occurs from this dry
band in a very short time (air breakdown in the s range). This is followed by the flashover along the contaminated layer of
the length ag during a much longer time period (leakage - current flashover in the ms range).

1999-09-01 9
For dry band lengths smaller than 1 m, the strength of the air gap corresponds to the positive steamer gradient, i.e. 450 kV/m.
For longer dry band lengths, the mean breakdown strength corresponds to the minimum possible breakdown voltage per unit
length of a long air gap under positive SI.
To check if the proposed approach works, even for insulators of practical interest, the results of calculation are compared with
available experimental data. Because non-uniform contamination is to be regarded as the worst case, only the presence of dry
bands of critical lengths shall be considered in the following case.
As an example, Figure 3-28 shows the results obtained for a post insulator, where the experimental data of Garbagnati et al 152
are used. As is evident from the broken-line curve, the calculated values meet the measured ones quite well up to the longest
investigated insulator length of 12 m.
Another example is reported in Figure 3-33. Here, the calculated minimum curve agrees satisfactorily with the experimental
one presented by Garbagnati et al 152 for practical insulators up to 12 m length.

2.2.2 Hydrophobic surface

The superior performance of new polymeric insulators under pollution conditions is generally attributed to its water repellent -
i.e. hydrophobic - properties. Because the surface does not wet, water forms as isolated drops rather than as a continuous
surface film. Hydrophobicity can be lost due to different ageing mechanisms - heavy wetting, blown sand, corona and spark
discharges and possibly solar radiation. For the same pollution surface density, the surface resistance of a polymeric insulator
is generally some orders of a magnitude higher than that of a similar porcelain or glass insulator. It also follows that the
leakage currents associated with polymeric insulator discharges are generally some orders of magnitude lower than the
corresponding levels for ceramic insulators.
Due to the dynamic nature of a polymeric surface and the resulting complex interaction with pollutants and wetting agents,
there exists today no quantitative model of pollution flashover for polymeric insulators that is similar to the one expounded in
Section 2.2.1. for ceramic insulators. However, a qualitative picture for the pollution flashover mechanism is emerging 30. It
involves such elements as the migration of salt into water drops, water drop instability, formation of surface liquid filaments
and discharge development between filaments or drops when the electric field is sufficiently high.

2.3 Environmental Aspects

From the discussion of the previous sections, it is clear that there exists a direct relationship between the likelihood of
flashover and the conductivity of the polluted surface layer. In this section, attention will now turn to the formation of this
conducting layer on the insulator surface and the important aspects that determine its conductivity. These aspects are:
The quantity of pollutants on the insulator surface; this is determined by the contamination deposit-process.
The types of pollutants present, plus the wetting conditions.
The natural cleaning properties of insulators.
Whether the polluted surface layer is in the form of distinct droplets or as a continuous film.
An influence common to all of the above is the climate in which the insulator is installed.

2.3.1 Climates or atmospheric variables and typical environments

The conditions surrounding a H.V. insulator leading to the pollution deposit, and the wetting or cleaning of the insulator, are
caused by a set of atmospheric variables which interact among themselves and with the insulator surface. The most important
atmospheric variables are: wind, rain, humidity, temperature and pressure. Atmospheric conditions can vary in both time and
space. Similar identifiable patterns of occurring atmospheric conditions may be grouped into climates.
Climate is, therefore, the result of the interaction of atmospheric conditions with the surface of the earth and may be classified
as local, regional or global. A pertinent feature of meteorological information is that it is expressed in average values,
obtained from statistics taken over a long period of time (e.g. 30 years).
A general classification of climates is given in Table 2-1.

1999-09-01 10
Table 2-1 A general classification of climates 31.



Tropical Often called Equatorial climates. Here the Hot tropical climates with a distinct wet
weather is hot and wet around the year. and dry season. They occur roughly
These climates are found within about 5 between 5 and 15 North and South of the
of latitude North and South of the Equator. In parts of South and South-East
Equator Asia the division between the wet and dry
seasons is so clear that they are called
Tropical Monsoon Climates

Dry Hot deserts with little rain at any season Tropical steppe or semi-desert with a short Deserts with a distinctly cold season.
and no real cold weather although rainy season during which the rains are These occur in Higher Latitudes in
temperature drops sharply at night. The unreliable and vary much from place to the interior of large continents. The
Sahara desert and much of the Arabian place. Good examples are found in parts of best examples are parts of central
peninsula are the best examples of this India and the Sahel region of Africa. Asia and Western China.

Warm Rain occurs at all seasons but summer is Winters are generally mild and wet,
Temperate the warmest time of the year and summers are warm or hot with little or no
temperatures range then from warm to rain. This type of climate is often called
hot. Winters are mild with occasional Mediterranean because of its wide extent
cold spells. Much of Eastern China and around that sea. It occurs in smaller areas
the South Eastern States of the USA fall elsewhere, for example central Chile,
in this category. California and Western Australia.

Cold The cool temperate oceanic types of Cold continental climates with a warm
climate: Rain occurs in all months and summer and cold winter. Much of Eastern
there are rarely great extremes of heat or and Central Europe and Central and Eastern
cold. This climate is found in much of Canada and the USA have this type of
Northwest Europe, New Zealand and Climate
coastal British Columbia.

Sub-Arctic The winters are long and very cold.

or Tundra Summers are short but during the long
days temperatures sometimes rise
surprisingly high. This type of climate
occurs in Central and Northern Canada
and much of the Northern and Central

Arctic or Ice In all months temperatures are near or

cap below freezing point. Greenland and the
Arctic continent are the best examples of
this type but it also occurs on some
islands within the Arctic and Antarctic

High Where land rises above or near the

mountain permanent snow line in any latitude the
and Plateau climate resembles that of the Sub-Arctic
or Arctic. The largest extent of such
climate is found in Tibet and the great
mountain ranges of the Himalayas Local climate

For its general characteristics, the local climate depends on the regional climate and - ultimately - upon the global climate-
system. It is, therefore, useful to remember that the local climate of a particular place is a variation on the regional climate.
Indeed, the mechanisms acting to create a local climate are essentially the same as those creating the global climate32. This
means, that it is possible to apply this knowledge to create models to:
a) Understand the physical process of the interaction between climate and insulator.
b) Predict the pollution phenomena.
Work has been done to correlate the general climatic specification and meteorological data with the pollution flashover
performance of insulators, as is reported in Section 7, where the impact of climate on selection and dimensioning is discussed.

1999-09-01 11
The aim of such a study is to find the basic relationship between the atmospheric variables and the pollution phenomena.
Information on the time-variation of atmospheric variables is necessary. The information sources will, of course, vary as
needs differ. The Meteorological Service usually only provides general information, i.e. average values; However, when an
application is submitted to its research department, specific information can be obtained.
Depending on the study being made, either regional or local climate data will be used. For example, to study the insulation
design or maintenance of a transmission line 100 km long (place) and for an expected life of 50 years (time), regional climate
information will be used. Typical environments

To assist in the selection and design of external insulation, typical environments have been defined. Some examples are:
Marine: Areas where the insulator pollution is dominated by the presence of the sea. The pollutants present on the
insulators are, therefore, mostly NaCl and other marine salts that are easily soluble. On insulators close to the coast it is
generally found that the inert component of the pollution is low.
Industrial: Areas in close proximity of polluting industries - such as steel mills, coke plants, cement factories, chemical
plants, generating stations or quarries - are classified as industrially polluted. In these areas, the pollution types can be
very diverse. The pollutants present may vary from dissolved acids - such as found close to power stations or chemical
plants - to slow dissolving salts - such as gypsum or cement - found close to quarries or cement factories. Generally, the
pollution has a high inert component in areas close to industries.
Desert: In desert environments, the pollution tends to be sand based. The desert sands may contain high amounts of
salt, e.g. 18 % in Tunisia 62, resulting in a very conductive layer when wetted. The pollution on the insulator tends to be
hygroscopic with a very high inert component. Inland desert areas are typically very dry, dusty, windy and hot. The
large fluctuations between day and night raises the relative humidity to levels as high as 93% during early morning up to
sunrise thereby leading to very heavy dew that causes frequent flashovers in some cases. If desert areas are close to the
coast, the pollution problems are compounded61.
Mixed: If industrial areas are situated close to the coast or desert, then the pollution can be described as mixed.
Agricultural: Localised insulator pollution may also be caused by agricultural activities such as crop spraying,
ploughing etc. When lines cross land ready for harvesting the structures may serve as perches for large birds - thereby
leading to flashovers due to bird streamers.
The environment may also be classified according to the nature of the contamination-source, as was done in a survey33 on
insulator in-service performance. The classification was as follows:
Areas with no signs of pollution-related problems. These areas are defined as clean areas.
Areas with isolated pollution problems of limited extent that can usually be traced to a particular pollution-source.
These areas are defined as experiencing local pollution. Local pollution is often found in areas where the general
atmospheric condition is pollution free but local industrial or agricultural activities cause the problem.
Areas with widespread pollution problems that can not usually be traced to a localised pollution-source. These areas are
defined as experiencing regional pollution. Regional pollution can often be found in extended industrially developed
areas - typically with numerous chemical plants, steel mills, and cement or fertiliser factories. Regional pollution may
also be found along coastal areas, especially if the weather pattern includes a dry season that allows the accumulation of
pollution on the insulators.
These types of classification can only be used to describe the environment in general terms. Therefore, a detailed study of the
actual pollutants present is required to achieve an optimal insulator selection. Service experience has demonstrated that the
performance of ceramic insulators - in all but the severest environments - is adequate if the insulators have been properly
dimensioned. However, several factors may adversely influence performance even though insulator selection was appropriate
at the time of design.
Firstly, the environment may change during the lifetime of the insulators. This can be particularly troublesome in
industrialising areas, where the region may have been classified originally as clean and then - at some point - additional
sources of pollution become located near an installation. This could be the case if new factories are constructed, or if an area
becomes developed for agriculture after the insulators have been selected.
Secondly, it has been observed that - in some areas thought to be clean - pollution effects become apparent several years after
the insulators have been installed, even if no new industrial or agricultural activity takes place. This is simply a matter of the
insulators gradually accumulating pollution with time, often on a time-scale of several years. Other changes in the
environment could be related to changes in the nesting habits of birds, which have been known to cause pollution flashovers.

1999-09-01 12
Third, extreme changes in weather have been known to cause major outages because of unusual meteorological patterns.
Major storms that may occur with relatively low probability can suddenly cause severe coastal pollution. In inland areas, long
dry periods with little rain may also cause an unusual build-up of pollution.

2.3.2 Type of pollution

To degrade the service strength of an insulator, the pollution must either form or adversely influence a conductive layer on its
surface. Pollution can, therefore, be classified either as being an active type - i.e. pollution that forms a conductive layer - or
as being an inert type - i.e. pollution that adversely influences the conductive layer4.
The amount, or severity, of the pollution layer on an insulator is normally expressed in terms of the Equivalent Salt Deposit
Density (ESDD). This quantity is obtained by measuring the conductivity of the solution containing pollutants removed from
the insulator surface and then calculating the equivalent amount of NaCl having the same conductivity 322. ESDD is expressed
in mg salt per cm2 of the insulators surface area. Active type of pollution

Active pollutants are classified according to the ease by which the conductive layer is formed. Two types are apparent:
1. Conductive pollution
2. Pollution that must dissolve in water to become conductive
Typical examples of each of these pollutant types are given in Table 2-2.

Table 2-2: Examples of the different active pollution types 4 36 37 39 69.


Metallic deposits such as Ionic Salts:
Magnitite, Pyrite NaCl, Na2CO3,
Gasses in solution: MgCl2, gypsum CaSO4
SO2, H2S, NH3 Others,
Salt Spray Fly ash, cement
Bird Streamer Conductive pollution

Metallic deposits
Metallic deposits are normally found close to mining activity and related industries. The electrical strength of the insulator is
severely affected if the density of the pollutants on the insulator surface is such that the individual particles are in contact or if
the gaps between the particles are bridged by an electrolyte.
Bird Droppings
It has been reasoned that bird droppings can explain a large number of unidentified outages of transmission lines with system
voltages up to 500 kV 34 35 36. When large birds release their excrement, a long continuous length of highly conductive fluid
droppings (volume conductivity 10 - 30 mS/cm) can shorten the air gap between the tower structure and the conductor. Then
the remaining air gap is too small to withstand the phase-to-earth voltage. Most of these flashovers occur during the time
period prior to birds commencement of daily activity.
A secondary effect is that the insulators are covered with the bird excrement, which is a pollution layer with a very high salt
content. If the birds utilise the tower frequently, this may become a very thick layer.
Pollutants in dissolved state
A more common conductive pollution type is where the pollutants are already dissolved in the wetting agent, as in acid rain
and salt-fog conditions. Some of these pollutants - such as gasses dissolved in water, e.g. SO2 - are difficult to detect by
taking measurements from the surface of the insulators, because this contaminant returns to the gaseous state as soon as the
insulator surface dries4.

1999-09-01 13 Pollution that needs to dissolve
Various studies have been made to find a relationship between the dissolving characteristics of salt contaminants and the
insulator flashover voltage 52 39 37 69. From these studies, the following parameters have been identified as being important:
The solubility of the salt.
The rate at which the salt goes into solution.
Figure 2-5 39 shows the effect of salt-solubility on the limiting flashover voltage of an insulator for three different equivalent
salt deposit densities (0.01 mg/cm2, 0.03 and 0.10 mg/cm2). The limiting flashover voltage is the minimum value achieved
under a cold fog test for a polluted insulator. Eight salts were investigated. From this figure, it is clear that there is very little
dependence of pollution flashover voltage on the solubility of the contaminating salt.


12 ESDD= 0.01 mg/cm
Limiting Flashover Value (kV, rms)

0.03 mg/cm
0.10 mg/cm
4 MgCl2
Mg(NO3)2 CaCl2
2 NaCl NaNO3
0 20 40 60 80 100
Solubility (g/100 g H2O)

Figure 2-5: Relationship between Salt solubility and limiting flashover values (LFOV) 39.

Different salts also have different rates at which they go into solution; generally the higher the solubility of the salt the quicker
it will go into solution - but this is not always the case. This is shown in Table 2-3 where the salt is classified according to its
solubility and speed by which it goes into solution.

Table 2-3: General classification of salts according to their solution properties.



Highly soluble salts that dissolve quickly need a short time in contact with water to go into solution. Therefore, a highly
conductive layer can form quickly on the insulator during all wetting processes. However, with higher wetting rates - e.g. rain
etc. - the pollution will also be purged more easily from the insulator due to its high solubility.
Low solubility salts that also dissolve slowly need a large quantity of water to speed up the solution process. This is illustrated
in Figure 2-638. The relationship between ESDD and the quantity of distilled water used to make the measurement is shown
for insulators that came from two environments; one in an agricultural area, Huang Du, and another is from an environment
close to a steel plant. In both of these areas, the main pollutant is gypsum.

1999-09-01 14
Figure 2-6: Relation between ESDD and Quantity of distilled water 38.

This figure shows that for the naturally polluted insulators, an increase in ESDD occurs for an increase in the quantity of
distilled water used for making the measurement. This is in contrast to an insulator polluted artificially with NaCl - i.e. a fast
and highly soluble salt - that does not show the same tendency.
Various studies have shown that insulators contaminated with highly soluble and fast dissolving salts - such as NaCl - have
lower clean-fog withstand voltages than insulators contaminated with low solubility salts which are slow dissolving39 40 41 -
such as gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) - in spite of them having the same contamination severity (see Figure 2-7).

Figure 2-7: Influence of various salts in the contamination layer on the insulator fog withstand voltage41.

It was also shown that the relationship between the flashover voltage in a steam fog test and the steam input-rate was
dependent on the type of salt on the insulator. A comparison was made between insulators naturally polluted - mainly gypsum
- and insulators artificially polluted with NaCl and kaolin 42. The results are presented in Figure 2-8, which show that the
flashover strength of insulators polluted with mainly gypsum have a greater dependency on steam input-rate than do insulators
polluted with NaCl.
The decrease in flashover voltage with increasing steam input-rate is ascribed to the greater amount of pollution that is
dissolved at the higher wetting-rate. To achieve the same flashover voltage during the test as that applied in-service
conditions when flashovers occurred, the steam input-rate had to be an order of magnitude higher than that recommended by
IEC 507 22.

1999-09-01 15
Figure 2-8: Flashover voltage of naturally and artificially polluted insulators as a function of steam input rate42.

Flashovers have been reported on insulators polluted by slow dissolving salts - such as gypsum (CaSO4) - but they generally
occurred during extended periods of wetting; i.e. dense fog, heavy rain storms lasting longer than three hours or live spray
washing 42 43.
Other factors that complicate the relationship between the type(s) of salt and the flashover voltage are when:
The solubility of a salt is affected by the existence of other salts; e.g. the solubility of CaSO4 is inhibited by the presence
of NaCl 37.
The process by which a salt goes into solution can be either exothermic (temperature rises) or endothermic (temperature
lowers). Any temperature change will greatly influence the conductivity of the solution that forms 69.
The wetting process of the insulator is influenced by the hygroscopic properties of the salt. Therefore, different wetting-
rates will occur for different salts - even though the ESDD values may be the same 69. Inert pollution

Inert material deposited on an insulator surface has, until now, been considered to give an indirect and relatively small
influence on the withstand voltage. The greater the inert material deposit, the thicker will be the water film retained on the
insulator surface - and so the amount of soluble material dissolved in the water film will be higher.
Recently, significant differences have been found in the d.c. withstand voltage between insulators contaminated artificially
with Tonoko and kaolin under the same ESDD conditions 44 45. In addition, it has also been reported that there is an influence
of the amount of the inert material on the hydrophobicity and the withstand voltage of polymeric insulators 46 47.
The amount of inert material found in the pollution deposit on an insulator is expressed as the Non-Soluble Deposit Density
(NSDD) given in weight of the non-soluble deposit per unit surface area of the insulator 322. NSDD is expressed in mg/cm2.
In this section, the influence of both the type and the amount of inert material on the contamination performance of insulators
will be discussed. The influence of inert material type

In the conventional clean-fog procedure for insulator artificial contamination tests, a constant amount of inert material and a
variable amount of salt are included in the solution for contaminating a specimen insulator. Kaolin and Tonoko are typical
inert materials for artificial contamination tests and so they will form the basis of this discussion. Although the shape of a
specimen insulator and the contamination method may influence NSDD, 40 g of inert material per 1 litre of water has been
specified in IEC 507. This amount is regarded as giving approximately 0.1 mg/cm2 of NSDD on the insulator surface 22.

1999-09-01 16
However, the experimental results given in Figure 2-9 show that the deposit density on a specimen disc varies with the type of
inert material - in this case, Tonoko and Rogers kaolin - when the specimen is contaminated with a solution having the same
concentration of inert material. The results presented in Table 2-4 are, therefore, given for the same inert material deposit

Figure 2-9: Relationship between NSDD and the quantity of inert materials in the contamination suspension 45.

Comparative test results of d.c. and a.c. contamination withstand voltage with Tonoko and Rogers kaolin are also shown in
Table 2-4 45. Significant differences - 20 to 25% - can be seen in the d.c. withstand voltage between Tonoko and Rogers
kaolin although the salt deposit density (SDD) is the same.

Table 2-4: Results form flashover voltage tests45.

Test Specimen Quantity of Salt / Non- SDD NSDD 50% FOV Corrected Max. Leakage
Voltage Insulator soluble Contaminant mg/cm2 mg/cm2 kV/unit 50% FOV current
g/l kV/unit mA
13/40 0.068 16.7 15.8 250
Tonoko [100] [100]
13/60 0.03 0.079 14.8 14.4 430
kaolin [89] [92]
250S 133/40 0.079 11.0 10.6 850
Tonoko [100] [100]
a.c. 96/60 0.025 0.135 10.0 10.5 1200
kaolin [91] [99]
15/40 0.076 26.6 25.5 200
Tonoko [100] [100]
320DC 16/60 0.03 0.113 22.2 22.6 550
kaolin [83] [89]
13/40 0.068 16.3 15.4 230
Tonoko [100] [100]
250S 13/60 0.03 0.085 12.8 12.5 350
kaolin [79] [81]
d.c. 13/40 0.16 25.0 26.8 80
Tonoko [100] [100]
320DC 13/40 0.03 0.082 20.9 20.3 160
kaolin [84] [76]
Note 1: SDD and NSDD values show average values measured on more than 10 insulator units for individual cases.
Note 2: Maximum leakage current shows the average maximum value for individual cases.
Note 3: Corrected 50% FOV value was the one corrected to NSDD = 0.1 mg/cm2.
Note 4: [ ] shows the percentage ratio of 50% FOV for the case of kaolin relative to that of Tonoko.
Note 5: Insulator types are specified in the paper .

1999-09-01 17
Table 2-4 shows that a 5-10% difference in the a.c.-contamination withstand voltages was found between Tonoko and Rogers
kaolin when the NSDD was adjusted to the same level. The variation of the surface resistance of the contaminated insulator
during the tests is shown in Figure 2-10, which illustrates that the surface resistance of an insulator contaminated with Rogers
kaolin reduces faster and is much lower than that of an insulator contaminated with Tonoko.


Surface Resistance, Mohm/unit


Brazilian kaolin
Mexican kaolin
1.0 Georgia kaolin

Italian kaolin

Rogers kaolin

0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Time lapse, min

Figure 2-10: Time variation of surface resistance during the course of clean fog tests of contaminated insulator units
polluted with a combination of salt and various types of kaolin and Tonoko 48 .

The very wide variations in the physical and chemical properties of the various kinds of kaolin used internationally in
insulator contamination tests are shown in Table 2-548.

Table 2-5 : Physical and chemical properties of common inert materials used in insulator contamination tests 48.

Item Measuring method Tonoko Rogers Georgia Italy Mexico Brazil
Particle Size, m Laser Light Scattering 6.2 5.8 6.3 4.5 13.5 25.9
(50% value)
Main Constituents X-ray Diffraction Quartz Quartz Quartz Quartz Quartz Quartz
of material Muscovite Kaolinite Kaolinite Kaolinite Kaolinite Kaolinite
Chemical Loss on Ignition 4.8 14 14 12 6 13
Composition, X-ray SiO2 67 46 46 48 77 48
Percentage by Fluorescence Al2O3 16 37 38 37 16 36
Mass Fe2O3 5.8 0.9 0.7 0.7 0.2 1.0

The surface resistance and the withstand voltage characteristics of an insulator artificially contaminated with these types of
kaolin, together with the Tonoko, are shown in Figure 2-10 and Figure 2-11 respectively 48. A large variation is apparent,
even among the various types of kaolin 10 49.
The main minerals of Tonoko and kaolin - as determined by the X-ray diffraction method - are Muscovite (Al2Si2O5(OH)4)
and Kaolinite (KAl2Si3Al10(OH)2) respectively, together with Quartz (SiO2) that is common to both.
The different surface resistivities of Tonoko and the various types of kaolin that apply under artificial fog conditions can be
explained by the different crystal structures of these materials. Hydroxyl groups [OH]- are located inside the crystal structure
in the case of Muscovite, whereas they are located outside the crystal structure in the case of Kaolinite. Kaolin consisting of
Kaolinite is, therefore, much more hydrophilic than Tonoko consisting of Muscovite.
Recently it was confirmed that the type of inert material had a similar influence on the contamination withstand voltage of
silicone rubber polymeric insulators 50.

1999-09-01 18
100 2
Specimen Insulator: 320 DC SDD : 0.03 mg/cm
Comparitive Flashover voltage, %

NSDD : 0.10 mg/cm




Tonoko Brazilian kaolin Roger's kaolin Mexican kaolin Georgia kaolin Italian kaolin
Type of inert material

Figure 2-11: d.c. Withstand voltage test results of artificially contaminated insulators with various kinds of inert material 48.

The type of inert pollution, therefore, influences the formation of a conductive layer. It can be classified as being either:
hydrophilic or hydrophobic. A hydrophilic substance will aid the formation of a conductive film on the insulator surface 51
whereas a hydrophobic material will inhibit the formation of such a film. It has been shown that a truly inert material is
neither hydrophobic nor hydrophilic - such as is quartz - and so does not significantly influence the flashover voltage of an
insulator52. The influence of the amount of inert material present

a) Ceramic Insulators
The influence of the amount of inert material on the contamination withstand voltage of the longrod type and the disc type
insulator is shown in Figure 2-12.

Figure 2-12: The influence of the amount of inert material on the contamination withstand voltage of porcelain longrod and
disc type insulators (Tests performed at NGK).

A substantial reduction is apparent in the withstand voltage with an increase in the amount of Tonoko present, expressed in
NSDD. This reduction is in spite of the smaller influence of NSDD compared with that of ESDD. This is due to the thicker
layer of inert material because it retains more water - thereby increasing the amount of soluble contaminant that is dissolved.
The result is a lower surface resistance and, therefore, a lower withstand voltage.

1999-09-01 19
b) Polymeric Insulators
A similar tendency in the relationship between the NSDD and the contamination withstand voltage exists for polymeric
insulators, as shown in Figure 2-1350. A delayed recovery of hydrophobicity with the increase in NSDD on the insulator
surface was also reported, as is illustrated in Figure 2-14.

Figure 2-13: The relationship between NSDD and contamination withstand voltage for polymeric insulators 50.

The withstand voltage of hydrophobic polymeric insulators that are contaminated heavily with inert materials may be reduced
by the thicker water film and the delayed recovery of hydrophobicity. The latter is due to the inhibited migration of low
molecular weight silicone from the bulk to the surface of the contaminant layer.

Figure 2-14: The effect of NSDD on hydrophobicity recovery time 53.

(Artificial pollution consisted of kaolin and salt; flashover voltage was determined by the Clean-Fog test).

1999-09-01 20
2.3.3 Mechanisms of contamination accumulation on insulators
The accumulation of contaminants on an insulators surface is the net effect of the processes which bring them to that surface
and those which lead to its self-cleaning54. Contaminating process

The contaminating process is decided by the force that brings the contaminant particles towards the insulator surface and by
the condition of that surface.
The force Fp which determines the movement of a contaminant particle close to the insulator is the combination of three
forces: wind (Fw), gravitational force (Fg) and the electric field (FE) 54 55 56 57:
v v v v
Fp = Fw + Fg + FE (2-10)

The force of the electric field, E, on a neutral particle is the dielectrophoretic force - sometimes called the grad E force - and
that on a charged particle is the electrostatic force. The latter can only have an effect under d.c. voltage.
The results of calculations by Annestrand and Shei55 indicate that wind is the dominant force governing the movement of
contaminant particles for wind speeds of about two to three metres per second and above. When the wind speed is low, the
electrostatic force (in case of d.c. voltage) and the gravitational force will dominate. The effect of the dielectrophoretic force
is weaker than that of the other forces. Therefore, for a.c. voltages, wind is the dominant factor. In contrast, under d.c.
conditions, the electrostatic force also plays an appreciable part.
The heating effect of leakage current is another mechanism that may contribute to the accumulation of pollution on the
insulator. That is, when salt is deposited on the insulator in the dissolved state - see Section - it can be left behind
when the water evaporates due to the Joule heating of the leakage current. As a consequence:
In high stress parts of the insulator, the heating effect will hinder its natural cleaning 4.
Under salt-fog conditions, the repeated drying out of the deposited wet contaminant layer leaves a residue of salt that
It has been shown that under a.c. voltage, the heating effect of leakage current has a larger influence than the dielectrophoretic
force on the pollution accumulation on the insulator surface 4. Pollution deposition by Wind

Wind is due to changes in atmospheric pressure or by differences of temperature between two sites. Speed and direction are
the main characteristics of wind.58 There is a good correlation between the amount of contamination (soluble and insoluble
materials) on the insulator surface and the prevailing wind speed, if the wind does not contain large particles. Figure 2-1559
shows an example of the relationship between the Salt Deposit Density (SDD) and the speed of the sea wind for an insulator
installed close to the coast and for which the contaminants on its surface are not removed due to wind.
The empirical relationship is:

S = Ci Vi 3 t i ] (2-11) 59

where: S = Salt deposit density on the insulator surface (mg/cm2)

Vi = average wind speed, for each time interval i (m/s)
ti = length of time interval i (hour)
C = a constant that depends on the location of the testing
station and type of insulators; typical values are
between 5.2 x 10-6 and 8.0 x 10-6

1999-09-01 21
Figure 2-15: Accumulation of contaminants by a strong sea-wind on the under surface of a typical insulator59.

Wind can transport pollutants over long distances 60. These pollutants can be solids or gasses. Figure 2-16 shows that
although the effect of the sea reduces rapidly with distance from the coastline, wind may carry pollutants inland so that the
effect of the coast can still be significant at some distance depending on the topography. A higher than normal pollution-layer
can result from the use of fertilisers by spraying or the burning of crop residues, due to the transport of the pollutants by the

Figure 2-16: The relationship between the distance from the coast and measured ESDD on a standard disc insulator under
ordinary salt-pollution conditions 76.

In contrast, the action of wind may mitigate against the pollution flashover process because it could 74 93:
Remove non-attaching particles.
Extinguish the arc on a polluted surface.
The processes under which wind brings the contaminants onto the insulator surface is called the aerodynamic catch52.
Although this process is very complex and can not be fully described, the discussion of this section will highlight the
important parameters and mechanisms.
When the airflow approaches an insulator, it divides; thereby leaving a stagnation point where the air is at rest. The
suspended particles, having a density greater than that of air, are unable to follow the airflow and so may be deposited on the
insulator surface. Similarly, when the airflow passes the under-rib on an insulator, it generates vortices inside the ribs. As a
consequence, some quite small and low-density particles will be deposited there. Therefore, vertically mounted insulators

1999-09-01 22
with a simple shape - the so called aerodynamic profile - will collect less contaminants in wind than do the insulators with
an under-rib profile for the same location. A laboratory measurement in a wind tunnel shows the effect of different shed
profiles for vertically mounted insulators 54. The insulators of aerodynamic shed profile are less contaminated when the wind
is the only dominant force, as indicated in Figure 2-17.

Figure 2-17: Variation of pollution catch with shape 54 H: Heavy; M: Medium; L: Light; Z: Zero deposit 54.

For horizontally mounted insulators, the area presented to the wind by the insulator is important. In cases where the pollution
source has a well-defined direction, horizontal insulators pointing to the source, or away from it, will collect more pollution
than do corresponding insulators pointing 90o from it125.
A rougher surface and the presence of moisture can also contribute to a higher accumulation of contamination 55.

3 10
ESDD (Lee side)
ESDD (Wind side) N
NSDD (Lee side)
2,5 NSDD (Wind side) B
M J F A 8
Lee Side 7
ESDD (mg NaCl/cm )

NSDD (mg/cm )

1,5 5

Wind Side


0 0
Position on Insulator

Figure 2-18: Pollution distribution on an insulator in a desert area62.

Investigations conducted in desert areas have shown77 61 that the greatest amount of dust on an insulator surface is collected on
its lee side, i.e. opposite to the prevailing wind direction, due to the cleaning effect of the wind. This is contrary to the general
case, as stated above. Consequently, this produces a non-uniform pollution distribution - as is shown in Figure 2-18.

1999-09-01 23
The pollution deposit on an insulator is also influenced by the cleaning action of wind. This is especially true in desert areas
where the wind may carry quite large sand particles (>200 m). These particles sand blast the insulator surface, thereby
enhancing the natural cleaning of insulators. Also, they erode the metallic parts of the insulator. It is the smaller particles
carried by wind, <100 m, that adhere to the insulator surface. These particles also polish the metallic parts 62 63. Pollution deposition by rain

Gases like SO2 in the atmosphere increase continuously due to the influence of industrial waste. These gases dissolve in water
and form acids - which lead to acid rain, acid fog and acid ice. Under such acid rain or fog conditions, the surface electrical
conductivity of an insulator will increase. Test results presented by Leguan 64 and other workers 32 have suggested that many
locations in the USA and north-west Europe now have rainfall with pH values as low as 3. Gases that are the cause of acid
precipitation can travel (by wind) distances approaching 2000 km. Other mechanisms

Besides the well-known contamination deposition process in coastal areas or regions with solid deposits, there are several
other events that may cause unexpected pollution flashovers. These events occur even if the insulator design seems to be
correct for the pollution conditions at phase-to-earth voltage at that specific site.
Deposition of bird droppings,
This aspect is dealt with in Section
Non-uniform axial deposition of contaminants or non-uniform wetting of uniformly polluted insulators
Both of these cases can occur if buildings, roofs or other structures protect a part of an insulator - so that either the build-up of
the contamination or the wetting of the deposits will be non-uniform. It has been shown by laboratory tests65 66, that in these
cases, the lowest flashover voltage may be reduced to 70 % of the value obtained with uniform contaminant distribution or
with uniform wetting.

2.3.4 Mechanisms of wetting

The mechanisms of wetting are:
Condensation67 68.
Precipitation 32.
Hygroscopic absorption 67 69 70.
Molecular diffusion.
Precipitation of fog, mist and rain are regarded as the most severe - because they can wet the insulator's underside as well as
its top. This effect depends on wind conditions.
Leclerc et al 70 have examined the wetting process of the surface deposit on an insulator. A physical model was built to allow
three processes: collision of water drops (fog) condensation, hygroscopic behaviour (absorptive) and molecular diffusion
(vapour pressure). The main conclusion is that the effect of the difference in temperature between the surface deposit and the
fog is very important, as this parameter affects all three wetting processes. If the surface temperature is higher (positive) than
that of the ambient-air temperature, wetting will only be due to hygroscopic and molecular diffusion. On the other hand, with
a surface temperature lower than that of the ambient (negative), all three processes (condensation, hygroscopic behaviour and
molecular diffusion) combine to cause wetting.
The size of the temperature difference, whether positive - for the hygroscopic behaviour and diffusion - or negative - for the
three processes combined - affects the wetting-rate. The more this temperature difference is positive, the lower is the wetting-
rate. The greater the negative temperature difference, the higher is the wetting-rate. Also, it was concluded that the absolute
humidity value has a considerable influence on wetting due to hygroscopic behaviour and molecular diffusion but not to any
great extent on the process due to condensation. It should be noted that the vapour pressure of a solution is always lower than
that of the liquid in the pure state.
Orbin and Swift71 have examined the physical processes, provided the basic equations and give the results of some sample
calculations for the surface resistivity of a cool polluted insulator. They have also developed a mathematical model for wetting
by condensation.

1999-09-01 24 Precipitation type and duration
The precipitation characteristics that have the greatest effect on the insulation behaviour are the rain rate and the resistivity of
Largely the type of cloud system involved determines the precipitation type (intensity) and duration. This, in turn, is directly
connected with the cloud-formation processes. In general, cumulus type clouds involve vigorous motions - giving large drops
and intense precipitation for a short period. Their influence is restricted to fairly small geographical areas.
Stratus and Alto Stratus - in contrast - involve more persistent, less vigorous vertical motions over a much wider area. Hence
prolonged, steadier, and usually less intense precipitation results. This can be seen from Figure 2-1932, which shows the
intensity versus duration rain curves for various return periods (1-100 years). For example, Miami in Florida (USA) is in an
area dominated by cumulus type clouds. Here, short duration rainfalls are likely to be much more intense than in Seattle,
Washington, (USA) where precipitation from depressions is predominant. The difference in intensity decreases as the
duration increases. The curves indicate that only once in 10 years is Seattle expected to have a rainfall-rate - averaged over
12 h - which will reach or exceed 5.5 mm/h.

200 100

100 1

50 (Cumulus)
Rainrate (mm/h)



(Stratus-Alto Stratus)

0.5 1 2 3 6 12 24
Rain duration (hours)

Figure 2-19: Intensity versus duration rain curves for various return period (1-100 years) for Miami, Florida (solid lines)
and Seattle, Washington (dashed lines) 32.

Table 2-6: Major types of precipitation 32.


Rain Drops with diameter >0.5 mm, but smaller drops are still called rain if
they are widely scattered.
Drizzle Fine drops with diameter <0.5 mm and very close to one another.
Freezing rain or Drizzle Rain or drizzle, the drops of which freeze on impact with the ground.
Snowflakes Loose aggregates of ice crystals, most of which are branched.
Sleet Partly melted snowflakes or rain and snow falling together.
Snow pellets also known as White opaque grains of ice spherical or sometimes conical with diameter
soft hail about 2-5 mm.
Snow grains Very small, white, opaque grains of ice - flat or elongated with diameter
generally <1 mm.
Ice pellets Transparent or translucent pellets of ice, spherical or irregular, with
diameter < 5 mm.
There are two types:
a) frozen rain or drizzle drops, or largely melted and then re-frozen
b) snow pellets encased in a thin layer of ice (also known as small hail).
Hail Small balls or pieces of ice with diameters 5-50 mm or sometimes more.
Ice prisms Un-branched ice crystals in the form of needles, columns or plates.

1999-09-01 25
The major types of precipitation are given in Table 2-6. Resistivity measurements of rainwater taken in Japan72 are shown in
Figure 2-20 as a frequency distribution. The average, of the distribution of resistivity, ranges from 10 to 30 kcm.

Figure 2-20: Distribution of rainwater resistivity 72.

For rain resistivities below 14 kcm, the insulation strength of insulators decreases rapidly - as mainly a function of rain
resistivity but also of precipitation-rate as is shown in Figure 2-21 72. This figure also shows a marked influence of rain-rate
on the insulation strength.

Figure 2-21: The relationship between the resistivity of rainfall and reduction-rate of the flashover voltage 72.

1999-09-01 26 Tropical precipitation
Precipitation in much of the tropics is associated with convective activity. Strong vertical motions occur in a fluctuating band
near the equator. These release a large amount of water vapour to create a regime of intense, short-lived storms from cumulus
clouds. Heavy wetting conditions with rain-rates in excess of 100 mm/h are not uncommon.
More widespread uplift is associated with a monsoon circulation regime. The effects of convective uplift, dynamic uplift and
topographic forcing combine to produce high annual rainfall totals. Locally, rainfall-rates may be very high but - generally -
the monsoon condition is characterised by longer lasting, less intense precipitation. Mid-latitude precipitation

In mid-latitudes, much of the precipitation production is associated with depressions and fronts. The result is widespread
uplift giving extended periods of gentle rain over a broad area. Rainfall-rates can vary greatly, although 1-2 mm/h can be
regarded as a typical value.
The intensity is partly controlled by the amount of vapour available, which - in turn - depends on the source of the air that is
being uplifted. Air derived directly from the subtropical oceans, where evaporation rates are high, is likely to lead to higher
precipitation-rates. If the source is the tropical deserts, the air is likely to be much drier and it is not uncommon in these
conditions for dust and sand particles to form the condensation nuclei - and hence be deposited in large quantities with the
rain. Convective activity in the mid-latitudes is primarily a summer phenomenon. In extreme conditions, rainfall of 31 mm in
1 minute has been recorded in Maryland, USA. Low precipitation regions

The regions of low precipitation in the subtropics result mainly from a lack of mechanism to create uplift for bringing the air
to saturation. Certainly over the oceans and - to a large extent - over deserts as well, there is no lack of moisture in the
In these regions, the available moisture may precipitate on insulators as the result of the formation of fog or dew. Fog
Fog may form when a volume of air is cooled to below its dew point. "Radiation" fog forms when the earth cools through
radiative heat loss. Particularly on calm, clear nights - when the radiation effect is large - the air may be cooled below its dew
point and a fog will result. This will begin to form very close to the ground - around midnight - and will gradually thicken and
deepen as the night progresses 32.
Another mechanism producing fog is associated with the horizontal movement of the air. If a warm air stream starts to blow
over a cooler surface, the air rapidly adjusts to the temperature of that surface. Again, given sufficient cooling or sufficiently
moist air, fog will result. This type of fog is known as "advection" fog.
Winter fog conditions can also prove to be severe for pollution-related flashovers180. The presence of fog at 0oC (i.e. called
ice-fog in Table 2-7) ensures a high level of relative humidity that promotes effective and complete wetting of the insulator by
ensuring a conversion of the ice - on the surface of the insulator - to surface wetting, rather than sublimation to water vapour.
If sufficient pollution has been captured in the ice layer on the insulator's surface, the effective wetting produced by the ice-
fog conditions will lead to a low surface resistance and an increased likelihood of flashover.

Table 2-7: Fog Characteristics - Typical values.


Average droplet size (m) 10 20 8
Typical range of droplet size (m) 5 - 35 7 - 65 2 - 30
Fog Density or water content (g/m ) 0.10 7 - 65 0.10
Fog speed (m/s) 0.5 - 4
Horizontal visibility (m) 100 300 200

1999-09-01 27
Natural fog density ranges from 0.01 g/m3 (very light) to 1.0 g/m3 (very heavy sea fog) and about 90 % of all fogs have
densities <0.5 g/m3. Other typical characteristics are given in Table 2-7. Artificial fog for insulator testing has a density of 10
to 100 times greater than that of natural fog. One reason for this difference is that most test facilities are not thermally
insulated well enough to maintain a uniform fog density less than about 2.0 g/m3. Another reason is that artificial tests are
intended to encompass the entire spectrum of fog, mist and drizzle4. In Table 2-8 the characteristics of the artificial fog of
some laboratories are given.

Table 2-8: Artificial Fog Characteristics - Typical values.


Fog type Ultra Sonic Steam Steam Steam Steam
Average droplet size (m) 17 10
Typical range of droplet size (m) 4 - 28 17 - 19 5 - 20
Fog Density or water content (g/m ) 11 4 3-7 6 4.5

Fog and rain can, depending on the wind conditions, wet the under surface of the insulator more effectively than the
condensation mechanism. Condensation
Condensation occurs when the surface temperature of the insulator falls below the dew-point temperature.
On clear still nights, the insulator surface - particularly the top one - loses heat through radiation to the night sky faster that
heat can be supplied to it by air currents. If the temperature drops below the dew point, moisture forms on the surface of the
insulator. These conditions are commonly produced in desert environments at night or early mornings 73 74.
Dew-condensation wetting is a major cause of flashover on service insulators. Studies have shown that this often occurs in the
early morning hours when the insulator is at a lower temperature than that of the ambient air - due to thermal lag. Moisture absorption

Wetting of a pollution layer on an insulator can occur through moisture absorption by insoluble and soluble components of
that layer. This results in an increase in the surface conductivity and, therefore, the relative humidity of the environment has a
great influence on the flashover voltage 75. Figure 2-22 illustrates this condition.
The absorptive quality of a pollution layer depends on its vapour pressure. If the vapour pressure in the atmosphere is higher
than that of the solution vapour pressure, this solution absorbs moisture. The vapour pressure of water is always higher than
that of aqueous solutions.

Figure 2-22: Influence of ambient humidity on insulator flashover voltage 75.

1999-09-01 28
The main conclusion from the studies of Chizan and Pohl 69 is that the intensity of moisture absorption on an insulator surface
depends upon the chemical constitution of the pollution. The effect of intense and continuous moisture absorption can cause
long-lasting surface discharges at operating voltage or can be a reason for flashover shortly after the voltage has been applied.
High air-humidity and the hygroscopic properties of pollution layers are also very important in determining the switching-
impulse performance of insulators.

2.3.5 The natural cleaning processes

The natural processes that clean the insulator surface are wind and rain.
While wind can bring contaminants onto the insulator surface, it can also blow them away80. A sandstorm in a desert area can
have a sandblasting effect that cleans the windward side of the insulator, as is illustrated in Figure 2-18.
High-intensity rain is the most effective cleaning process for the insulator. The contaminants are washed away by the high-
speed impact of the raindrops. This effect is reduced, however, on the areas of those insulators, that are protected by deep
sheds having deep under-ribs. A similar reduction also occurs for sheds having a narrow spacing. Insulators with an open
profile enjoy more effective washing by rain than do those with under-rib profiles. The orientation of an insulator and the size
of area that it presents for cleaning by rain also play a large part in the effectiveness of natural washing. Horizontally
mounted insulators are, generally, more effectively cleaned than are vertically installed ones. Further information on the
effect of insulator diameter is provided in Section
Table 2-9 shows the approximate values of natural rain washing performance of insulators under ordinary pollution

Table 2-9: Natural rain washing performance76.


mm Under surface of disc Upper surface of disc and
(%) cylindrical post (%)
2 15 50
5 25 80
10 40 90
15 45 90
20 50 90
30 60 90
Note: Natural rain washing-effect values are obtained by the following formula:
Salt deposit before precipitation Salt deposit after precipitation
Washing Effect =
Salt deposit before precipitation

2.3.6 Critical wetting conditions

There is a critical amount of water required on the insulator surface to produce the minimum flashover voltage. The most
severe conditions require sufficient quantity and time-duration of wetting to dissolve the majority of the conductive
contaminants without removing them from the insulator surface4.
Depending on the types of pollutant present and the insulator characteristics, the critical wetting conditions most commonly
occur during fog, dew or light misty rain.

2.3.7 Effect of various aspects of the insulator on its pollution accumulation Profile
The contamination-collection processes on insulators in-service are very complex. Observations of pollution distribution on
insulators installed in a desert area are illustrated in Figure 2-23 77. In such areas, it has been found that the insulators having
an aerodynamic profile are less contaminated than are those with a more convoluted profile. However, this is not always the
case - as Figure 2-24 shows. Some field observations have shown the opposite situation80 78 40. Further, such differences are
not unique to desert environments 79.

1999-09-01 29
A mechanism whereby antifog insulators collect less pollution than do aerodynamically shaped insulators in certain desert
areas may be as follows. Near the coast, where the humidity during the night is generally high, the insulators may be wetted
so that the bond between its surface and pollution is increased. Due to the relatively larger exposed surface of the
aerodynamic insulator - which allows it to cool more effectively than that of other insulator types, this insulator will be wetted
more than the antifog insulator with a more convoluted surface. Hence, the aerodynamic insulators may then collect more
pollution. Another factor that may play a role is the area of the exposed top surface. This is especially so in regions where
pollution fallout may be considerable. Also, there is the difference in the cleaning by the wind of the pollution particles for
the different profiles80.

Figure 2-23: Distribution of salt on the surfaces of insulators of two greatly different profiles after field exposure in a desert
area .

In areas with regular monthly precipitation, insulators with an aerodynamic profile are less contaminated in both the short-
term (monthly) and the long-term (a year or more) exposure 38. Some areas receive rain only for a few months while the rest
of the year is very dry. In such areas, aerodynamic sheds may collect less contamination during the dry months than do those
with more complex profiles. After the rainy months, aerodynamic sheds are certainly less contaminated than are those of the
convoluted-shed design81. If maintenance is performed, an open profile is much easier to handle than a profile with a
convoluted underside. The top/bottom ratio of the pollution on the insulator sheds can be different in different areas and for
different times of the year. Sometimes, the bottom surface of a shed is more polluted than the top surface and sometimes the
opposite occurs81.

1999-09-01 30
ESDD measured (as a % of that collected on a standard profile)








Figure 2-24: A comparison of the amount of pollution collected on different shapes of insulator at eight desert-pollution
stations 80. Orientation
Results obtained in Mexico - in 23 insulator testing stations installed under various climatic and pollution conditions - have
provided correction factors for chemical composition and uneven distribution of salts for different regions. Also, long-term
patterns of pollution-accumulation show that cap-and-pin insulator strings with an inclined orientation tend to collect less
contaminants than do vertically mounted ones - the ratio being 0.9. Horizontally installed insulators collect even less - the
ratio being 0.15. However, orientation effects vary depending on the region (rural, marine, industrial or a combination of
Tension insulators may also be subject to a direction effect if the major source of contamination is from a well-defined source
. In this case, there can be an influence of orientation and direction in determining the insulator performance under natural
pollution for a particular location or type of location. For other locations where contamination can accumulate rapidly, or the
frequency of natural cleaning by rainfall is very low, the influence of orientation may be significantly altered - from that stated
above - for the same insulator type. Diameter
Field experience indicates that - for cylindrical insulators - the larger the diameter of an insulator, the smaller the ESDD level
it accumulates over a given time as compared to that on the bottom surface of a 250 mm suspension insulator83. The results of
the measurement of ESDD on a series of cylindrical insulators with different diameters, which were exposed - under de-
energised conditions - to typical coastal contamination, are shown in Figure 2-25 85.
The relationship between the level of relative ESDD and the average diameter, D, of the insulator was found to be:

ESDDr = 13.9 D 0.55 (2-12)

where ESDDr = 1 for the cylindrical insulator with an average diameter of 115 mm. However, it has been recommended by
Ozaki et al84 that, for design purposes, it would be more appropriate to use a more conservative relationship - such as:

ESDDr = 2.6 D 0.21 (2-13)

Note: this latter function takes into account the rather large scatter of the measured values.


ESDD = 0.5+ 6.9D-0.55 = 2.6D-0.21

Ratio of ESDD (1.0 at D = 115mm)



0.5 1

0.3 ESDD = 13.9D-0.55


115 200 400 700 1000

Average Diameter, D, mm

Figure 2-25: Relationship between the diameter of a porcelain insulator and the contaminant-deposit density under de-
energised and natural service conditions85. Material
Another factor that influences the pollution deposit on insulators is the housing material. Figure 2-26, which is based on that
reported by Imagawa et al 86, shows comparative ESDD measurements taken on silicone rubber and porcelain insulators at
both inland and coastal sites. These results indicate that silicone rubber insulators tend to accumulate more pollution than do
the porcelain ones. Measurements performed in Tunisia61 have indicated that this trend is also true for desert-type

ESDD (Polymer) mg/cm


Site "A" - After Typhoon

0,001 Site "B" - 3 month
Site "B" - 1 year
Site "C" - 3 month
Site "C" - 6 month
Site "D" - 3 month
0,0001 0,001 0,01 0,1
ESDD (Porcelain), mg/cm

Figure 2-26: Comparison of ESDD for porcelain and polymer insulators at 4 different sites86. d.c. Energisation

There are differences in the contamination accumulation between energised insulators (under d.c. voltage) and un-energised
insulators because of the effect of the electric field. The amount of pollution collected is a function of the magnitude of the
applied d.c. voltage, as well as that of the electric stress at the point of measurement87 88. More information about pollution
accumulation under d.c. voltage is included in Section 7.4.2

1999-09-01 32 Conclusion
All of the aforementioned effects culminate in the build-up of contaminants on the insulator surface. In particular, it is
dependent on the product of pollution deposit-rate and the time interval between the washing events. An equilibrium
condition may take some years to occur between the deposit-rate and insulator cleaning-rate. This is illustrated in Figure 2-27.

Figure 2-27: Schematic history of polluted ceramic insulator 54.

2.3.8 Physical and mathematical models of pollution deposit

Cimador and Vitet 89 have recommended that the interaction between the different precipitation-types and the pollution
deposit be observed, to derive a classification of a particular site. Then such classifications can be generalised to match the
electrical network. Fierro 90 has investigated a dynamic model to predict the surface resistance of insulators by using the
meteorological variables - such as wind direction and speed, ambient temperature, atmospheric pressure, the formation of dew
and the occurrence of rain. Arabani and Shirani 91 have developed an artificial neural network for the determination of ESDD
for the Iranian environment. Up to now, this approach is applicable only for natural pollution and not the industrial-pollution
Other models are discussed in Section 7.2.7.
Additional measurements 59 have involved a laser interferometer system for the precise measurement of the surface
temperature of a polluted insulator. The method is ideal for the recording of transients as well as for stationary phenomena.
Sugawara et al 58 have calculated the temperature and the resistivity of the pollution layer during the different phases of
A simple measuring procedure to determine fog conductivity is presented by Pilling and Bernd 92. It allows for the direct
measurement of fog conductivity but not for a continuous recording. The effective layer thickness in the measurement varies
over a wide range (20-100 m) and must, therefore, be further investigated under service conditions.
Also, examples exist of extensively recorded meteorological data in combination with insulator pollution measurements 93 58.

2.4 Ice and snow

Ice- and snow-accretion on transmission lines and within substations not only impacts on the mechanical requirements of the
supports - e.g. towers and gantries, insulators and conductors but also greatly influences the electrical strength of the external
insulation. It also has secondary effects on equipment such as surge arresters, where its presence can sufficiently disturb the
graded electric field to overstress the internal components.
It is, therefore, necessary to take account of both the electrical and the mechanical requirements when considering ice and
snow - especially in areas where it occurs regularly.

1999-09-01 33
2.4.1 Flashover on insulators covered with ice. Definitions
The following definitions are taken from published work 94 95 96 97 98.
Icing processes
Atmospheric icing is a result of three main processes in the atmosphere and are named accordingly:
1. Hoar frost.
2. In-cloud icing.
3. Precipitation icing.
Hoar frost is caused by water vapour condensation on cold surfaces and usually has no adverse influence on the electrical
performance of insulators.
In-cloud icing is a process whereby suspended, supercooled droplets freeze immediately upon impact with an object exposed
to this airflow; for instance, a power line situated above the cloud base.
Precipitation icing can occur in several ways, including freezing rain and drizzle, as well as by wet and dry snow. Freezing
rain and drizzle consist of super-cooled drops or droplets, which freeze partly - or completely - on impact with exposed
The ice-growth is said to be dry when the ice-deposit temperature, i.e. the equilibrium temperature between the ice surface
and water, remains below 0OC. The density of the ice accretion is mainly a function of the impact speed, volume of the
droplet and the ice-deposit temperature. The resulting accreted ice is called soft or hard rime, according to its density and
physical appearance.
The ice-growth is said to be wet when the ice-deposit temperature is 0OC. The growth then takes place at the melting point,
resulting in a water film on the surface. The accreted ice is called glaze.
When a glaze is grown at a slow rate (i.e. near the transition to the dry-growth regime), no icicles are formed. However, when
the flux of water impingement is high - mostly in connection with freezing rain - icicles are formed, usually on the windward
side. Icicles may also form due to the heating of thick rime or wet-snow accretion - such as from Joule heating by leakage
current or from a rise in air temperature. The general characteristics of atmospheric ice are shown in Table 2-10 and Table 2-

Table 2-10: Characteristics of ice formed on structures.


glaze 0.8 - 0.9 transparent and clear cylindrical icicles
hard rime 0.6 - 0.9 opaque eccentric pennants into the wind
soft rime <0.6 white and opaque feathery and granular

Table 2-11 : Meteorological parameters controlling icing on structures.


freezing rain -10<T<0 0<V<15 0. 5-5 mm hours
in-cloud icing -20<T<-1 Unlimited 1-50 m days
wet snow -1<T<2 Unlimited snowflakes hours Characteristics of ice accretion on insulators

The amount and type of ice accretion on insulators is determined by a combination of the following factors:
Liquid-water content of air containing super-cooled water drops.
Air temperature.

1999-09-01 34
Impact velocity.
Position, shape and type of insulator.
Presence or absence of voltage, voltage distribution.
Heat exchange between equipment (power transformers, etc.) and the environment
Supercooled drops and/or droplets can have a meteorological origin (fog, drizzle and rain, or salt spray from the sea) or
anthropogenic (man made) origin (spray from cooling towers, etc.).
Ice accretion on an insulator occurs usually on only one of its sides - i.e. the windward side. In practical cases, some sections
of insulators may be free of ice. In the case of wet grown-ice, icicles may bridge two or more adjacent insulator sheds or - in
the case of cap and pin insulators - the icicles may bridge two or more adjacent units in the string. Conductivity of melted ice

The flashover of iced insulators is mainly influenced by the conductivity of the water film on the ice-surface.
The conductivity of water dripping from iced insulators is much higher than that of freezing water. The high conductivity of
such water is due to the following factors:
1. Freezing-water conductivity.
2. Transfer of the impurities from the liquid to the solid part of water droplets during the freezing process.
3. Corona products.
4. Pre-contamination of the insulator surface.
5. Superimposed pollution on the iced surface.
In the case of wet snow and dry grown ice, the pollution may be trapped inside the accretion.
Laboratory tests have shown that the conductivity of water dripping from the surface of ice accumulated on insulators could
have a value as high as 10 times that of freezing water. This can explain why some flashovers may occur even when the
freezing water has a low conductivity. Ice flashover mechanism

The mechanisms of flashover of iced insulators are not yet fully understood. However, some explanations have been
advanced 95 99.
Flashover caused by ice accretions on insulators under operating voltage occurs usually when a water film is present on the
surface of the ice. One frequent situation is when ice has accreted at low temperature (e.g. during the night) and then its
surface starts to melt when the ambient temperature rises above freezing (e.g. due to sunshine or a general rise in
The water film has a very high conductivity and so causes a large voltage to be impressed across the air gaps (i.e. parts of the
insulator without ice). These air gaps are caused by the melting, or the falling off, of the ice from parts of the insulator. The
development of arcs over these parts of the insulator sometimes leads to flashover.
The probability of flashover may be significantly enhanced by the presence of rain, drizzle or fog at the critical moment. The
largest decrease in insulator strength is caused by wet-grown ice with icicles bridging the insulator.
From the insulator-orientation viewpoint, vertical mounting is the worst - due to the ease by which the insulator can be
bridged by icicles.
Pre-deposited pollution on insulator surfaces further decreases the insulation strength under icing conditions.

2.4.2 Flashover on insulators covered with snow Definitions
The general characteristics of atmospheric snow are shown in Table 2-12.
The density of wet snow accretions will vary according to the liquid water content of the snow and the wind speed; and, in
exceptional cases, may reach 0.5 - 0.7 g/cm3. The most severe cases in mountains are often a combination of hard rime and
wet snow.

1999-09-01 35
Table 2-12: Characteristics of snow formed on structures.


dry snow 0.1 white caps on horizontal surfaces.
wet snow 0.3 - 0.7 white to opaque eccentric pennants towards the wind. Accumulation of snow on insulator strings

When the ambient temperature is below zero, the quantity of snow accumulated on horizontal insulators depends upon the
amount of snowfall. On the other hand, when the ambient temperature is above zero, the snow on such insulators is apt to
melt and slip down. When the ambient temperature increases from being below to above zero, the thickness of the snow on
the insulators decreases and the snow falls away rapidly. However, in the case of multiple-string arrangements (double or
triple strings), the snow may bridge the space between the strings - thereby inhibiting the snow from slipping off the
insulators. This is especially so when the increase in temperature is caused by sunshine. The accumulation of snow by this
phenomenon can be significant 100. Characteristics of snow-accretion on insulators

Many measurements from various sites have been analysed with respect to the relationship of the conductivity of the water
melted from the snow versus distance from the coast. It was found that the greater this distance, the lower was the
conductivity of the melted snow. In heavy snow areas, the conductivity of such water was found to be 100 and 50 S/cm for a
distance from the coast of 15 and 50 km respectively.
According to the observations made when some electric faults occurred during 1981 and 1985, the snow conditions were
described essentially as follows 194:
In most cases, the thickness of snow was between 30 and 70 cm and its coverage along the insulator strings was
between 20 to 60%. In a few cases, the snow covering was 100 cm thick and it covered between 80 to 100% of
the insulator sting. For the electrical faults that occurred during 1985, the snow on the insulator assembly had a
volume density of between 0.31 to 0.39 g/cm3 and the conductivity of the melted snow ranged between 10 to 40
S/cm at 25oC.
It has also been found that industrial pollution can be transported over very long distances 181. Snow-flashover mechanism

The amount of snow accumulated on tension insulator assemblies, its density and the conductivity of the melted water are the
major parameters that affect the a.c. withstand voltage characteristics of an insulator assembly covered by dry snow. The
leakage current that flows on the insulator surface and through the snow influences these parameters. This current increases
with increasing density, conductivity and water content of the snow. Some parts of the snow containing a high current density
may melt more quickly due to Joule heating and this snow may then drop away from the insulator. This produces a non-
uniform voltage distribution along the insulator string. Depending on the resistance of the remaining snow and the length of
the string not covered with snow, arcs may bridge these parts and - in the worst case - cause flashover 100.

1999-09-01 36


performance is described - have had widespread application in all types of environment. For overhead line applications, many
factors other than axial length or creepage path length are known to influence this performance. Shape - such as the number

affect service performance. Differences in the behaviour of insulators in various orientations may be due to the accumulation
of pollution, the effect of natural washing by rain and the physical characteristics of discharges on the surfaces.

insulators have had, they have seen increasing application since their first introduction at transmission-class voltages in the
1970s. Many developments and improvements in this technology have taken place to the point that utilities now are

have become available for applications in substations such as support insulators and equipment insulators. The main reasons
for using polymeric insulators are 101

As a general statement, service experience has demonstrated that the performance of polymeric insulators is good if the
insulators have been properly dimensioned and if the housing material and design are appropriate for the intended application.

indicate that service-induced changes in the housing material of these insulators may play a greater role in their long-term
performance than is the case for glass and porcelain insulators.

3- : Summary of properties of insulator dielectric materials54


Density 2.3-3.9 2.5 2.1-2.2
Tensile strength 30-100 100-120 1 300-1 600
Compressive strength 240-820 210-300 700-750
Tensile modulus 50-100 72 43-60
Thermal conductivity 1-4 1.0 0.2-1.2
Thermal Expansion Coefficient x10-6 3.5-9.1 8.0-9.5 7.5-20

Rel. Permittivity (50-60Hz) 7.3 2.0-5.5

Loss tangent (50-60Hz) x10-3 20-40 15-50 0.1-5.0 5-20
Puncture strength *** kV/mm 10-45 >25 >12 3-20
Volume resistivity at 20C for m 1013-1015 1013-1015 1015-1019 1013-1016
a.c. application
Volume resistivity at 20C for m 1015-1017 1015-1017 1014-1019 1013-1016
d.c. application
Notes: * Silicone and carbon based.
Resin-Bonded Glass Fibre used for the core with a polymeric outer housing.
Varies with sample geometry, standard values used are given.
This report covers only the pollution performance of polymeric insulators, since Cigr Study Committees 15 and 22 are
mandated to deal with material and insulator ageing.

1999-09-01 37
3.2 Materials used for outdoor insulators
The classical materials used for outdoor insulation are glazed porcelain and glass. In the 1970s the use of polymers - either
for a complete insulator or as an outer housing in combination with a glass fibre core - became a serious alternative to glass
and porcelain. Looms has provided an excellent overview of the properties and manufacturing processes for glass and
porcelain as used in insulators and an overview of the technology of polymeric insulators 54. Table 3-1 is an updated version
of that given in Loom's book and provides a useful comparison of the properties of the different materials used for outdoor

3.2.1 Porcelain and glass

Provided good quality raw materials and well-established manufacturing practices are used, reliable insulators can be made
for use in HVAC systems. However, insulators for use in HVDC systems need to have particular attention given to
composition, purity, homogeneity and resistivity if spontaneous failure in service is to be avoided 102.

3.2.2 Polymers
The choice of materials for polymeric insulators will largely determine their pollution flashover performance. The selection
of creepage distance of the insulator may not, therefore, be as an important a factor as it is in the case of glass or porcelain
The most common construction for polymeric insulators is the composite longrod. Here a resin-bonded glass fibre core
provides the mechanical strength and a polymer outer housing resists degradation from weathering and other environmental
There is some evidence to show that the glass fibre core can fail as a result of the ingress - or the internal formation - of
acid103 104. Certain manufacturers use special glass formulations that are resistant to this form of attack.
There is a wide variety of materials that can be used for the outer housing. The properties that have been shown to be the
most important in service are water repellency (hydrophobicity) and resistance to tracking. In most formulations, a filler -
such as alumina trihydrate - is used to impart tracking resistance. Silicone rubber has become very widely used on account of
its very low surface energy, which inhibits the formation of a water film on the surface. A further, and considerable,
advantage with silicone rubber is that low molecular weight components in the rubber diffuse into contaminant layers on the
surface and impart hydrophobic properties to them105.
Earlier authors (e.g. Looms 54) have given detailed descriptions of the different insulating materials used for polymeric
insulators. Values have been quoted for dielectric strength, permittivity, conductivity and other parameters of the materials
along with value judgements on their advantages and disadvantages for high-voltage insulation applications. However, the
ever-increasing number of materials and production processes used for such insulators make a simple classification difficult.
Often, polymeric housing materials are divided into simple classes; the most common being, silicone and ethylene propylene
diene monomer (EPDM). Such a generalisation is dangerous for there are many different silicone rubber and EPDM
formulations used for electrical insulation, each with specific characteristics for the chosen application and manufacturing
process. For example, silicones can first be subdivided into Room Temperature Vulcanised (RTV) and High Temperature
Vulcanised (HTV); these are entirely different products whose raw form ranges from a pourable liquid to a dense solid paste
or granules. The production process can be by gravity pouring, extrusion or high pressure/temperature injection to name but a
Each manufacturer chooses a formulation adapted to the process and to the characteristics required of the finished product.
Hence, the amount of filler, the type of catalyst, the types and proportions of silicone molecules and other elements of the
polymer vary notably from one product to another. Defining specific values for the various mechanical or electrical
properties of polymers becomes impossible in such circumstances. Equally the behaviour of the polymer in service is
dependent on many parameters, which include not only the material and process but also the form of the housing and the
The material formulation and production process have an influence on the polymer housing characteristics; the following list
gives those which are considered to be among the most important:
tracking resistance,
erosion resistance,
puncture resistance,

1999-09-01 38

The appropriate design of polymeric insulators for specific polluted environments must, therefore, take these properties of the
insulator into account and the changes in them that may take place over time. It should also be noted that, as in the case of

pollution level is excessive or has increased appreciably since the initial selection was made.
Current standards provided in IEC publications - such as IEC 1109 - include general tests to evaluate overall performance
of a polymeric insulator (in this case covering materials, manufacturing process and form) taking into account many of the

performance can be determined not from the basic characteristics of the insulating components, but - rather - from the overall
behaviour of the finished product.

Insulator performance

Fog, Clean-Fog) determines only the ability of the insulator to cope electrically with a controlled severity of wetted pollution.
In contrast, the natural pollution test fully replicates the service condition in that it shows both the extent to which an insulator

when naturally wetted (e.g. fog, mist, drizzle etc).

Major research programmes - most employing artificial pollution but a substantial number using natural pollution - have

work are found in Section 10

the housing materials of the polymeric insulator types were of the ethylene propylene formulations, silicone rubber and epoxy-
resin. These various insulator types embrace wide ranges of size - both length and diameter - and shape (i.e. profile); the
10.1. Some tests have been performed

The results have been analysed in terms of both the critical axial stress (i.e. critical voltage divided by the axial distance
between metal fittings) and the critical surface stress (i.e. critical voltage divided by the leakage path length along the surface

Table 3 2: Ratio of best to worst insulator performance, for ceramic insulators.

a.c. d.c.
N(E) A N(J) A(C) A(K) A(K) A(F)
1.2 2.1 1.4 1.7 1.7 1.4 2.3
(Axial stress)
1.5 2.0 1.5 1.5 1.7 1.4 1.9
(Surface stress)
5** 27 5 17 25 4 6
Table Table Table Table Table Table Table
10-25 10-26 10-31 Table 10-33 10-30 10-29 10-29
* N(E) marine pollution in England equivalent to about 60 kg/m
N(S) is natural marine pollution in Sweden.
is artificial salt-fog of 80 kg/m (test at CERL) or ESDD of 0.6 mg/cm (at either FGH or NGK).
A(T) is artificial pollution, Tonoko/NaCl of ESDD = 0.05 .
is artificial pollution, of cement slurry.
A(K) mg/ cm2
A(K) is artificial pollution, Kaolin/NaCl of ESDD = 0.05 .
) is artificial pollution, Kaolin/NaCl of ESDD = 0.05 .
is artificial salt-fog of 28 kg/m .
For the same test method and the same severe severity of pollution, Table 3-2 Table 3-3 show - for the ceramic insulators

This variation is expressed as the ratio of the average electrical stress-value for the best insulator to that of the worst one
(Section 10.2 provides a comprehensive summary of the corresponding stress-data). In addition, these tables give the number
of insulator types in each category and the relevant table number in Section 10.2.
These findings clearly demonstrate that the pollution flashover performance of an insulator can not be related solely to either
axial stress or surface stress; i.e. if it were, this ratio would obviously be unity. It is seen that this ratio for axial stress is in
the range of 1.2 to 2.3 and 1.1 to >1.7 for ceramic and polymeric types respectively. For the same two sets of insulator-types
the corresponding ratio for surface stress is in the range 1.4 to 2.3 and 1.2 to >4.7 respectively. Such a large variation occurs
even for insulators of the same generic shape when subjected to both the same test method and pollution severity. For
example for cap and pin insulators under a.c. energisation in the Salt-Fog test, this ratio is 1.9 and 1.8 for axial stress and
surface stress respectively.

Table 3-3: Ratio of best to worst insulator performance, for polymeric insulators.


Pollution * N(E) A(S) A(C) A(K) A(K) A(F)
Performance ratio >1.7 1.3 1.2 1.6 1.2 1.1
(Axial stress)
Performance ratio >4.7 1.4 1.2 1.8 1.5 1.3
(Surface stress)
Number of insulator types 5 4 2 5 6 6
Table giving data Table Table Table Table Table Table
10-34 10-35 10-37 10-36 10-38 10-38
Notes: * N(E) is natural marine pollution in England, 60 kg/m3 salt-fog.
A(S) is artificial salt-fog of 80 kg/m3.
A(C) is artificial pollution, of cement slurry.
A(K) is artificial pollution, Kaolin/NaCl of ESDD = 0.05 mg/ cm2.
A(K) is artificial pollution, Kaolin/NaCl of ESDD = 0.07 mg/ cm2.
A(F) is artificial salt-fog of 28 kg/m3.
Other findings that throw further doubt on the use of solely axial stress or surface stress for insulator dimensioning purposes
are covered in the sections that follow.
Although the correlation of pollution flashover performance with the various characteristics of the insulator (e.g. leakage
path, axial length, form factor, pin cavity / core diameter and overall diameter) are generally poor, there are some discernible
trends when examined from the viewpoint of generic shape - e.g. (a) disc design (i.e. cap and pin) (b) cylindrical design (i.e.
longrod, post barrel) - waveform of energisation (i.e. a.c. or d.c.); material (i.e. ceramic - meaning glass or porcelain - or

3.3.1 Ceramic insulators Effect of pollution severity

Generally, the critical stress E(kV/m) at flashover and the pollution severity S (e.g. kg/m3 for Salt-Fog) can be expressed as:

E S p (3-1)
The value of p provided by Lambeth 1, for various types of insulator and numerous types of pollution test, falls within the
range 0.08 to 0.6; to which he comments that insulators with plain open shedding tend to have the higher values of p. Further,
his analysis indicates that the Salt-Fog test gives higher values of p than does the Solid-Layer-type test.
From the mathematical viewpoint, the value of p can be considered as a weighted average of the one for the electrolyte surface
(e.g. p=0.33 for brine) and that for the air breakdown (p=0) between parts of the insulator surface.
The corresponding relationship in terms of specific length SL is:

SL S s (3-2)
where the value of s is obviously related to that of p for each type of insulator and test method.
From the data presented in Section 10.2 and elsewhere, SL can be considered in two ways:

1999-09-01 40
SAL, Specific Axial Length; defined as the axial distance between the metal fittings divided by the voltage across the

insulator (i.e. the inverse of surface stress).
Some typical relationships of specific length versus pollution severity are shown in and Figure 3-2
insulator types and pollution test methods, the general trend is for s = 0.2 in equation 3-2.

Figure 3-1: Performance of standard types of a.c. cap and pin insulators in the Salt-Fog test and in the Clean-Fog test 107.

Figure 3-1 attempts to correlate the severity scale for the Salt-Fog test with that for the Clean-Fog test when applied to
standard designs of cap and pin insulators. However, this figure clearly shows that there is a substantial spread in the specific
creepage length at any value of pollution severity - thereby reinforcing the point made earlier that specific creepage is not the
only factor that needs to be used when dimensioning such insulators. The data from which this figure has been compiled are
provided in Section 10.3.

Figure 3-2: Dielectric strength of different a.c. insulators in the Salt-Fog test 197.

In contrast, the results for the porcelain longrod - presented in Figure 3-2 as solid dots - are reasonably well ordered and so
suggest that the sole use of specific creepage is probably valid for this design. The likely reason being that the shape of this
insulator is relatively simple and that the ratio of shed diameter to core diameter is not large. Nonetheless, the general trend
of specific creepage distance with withstand salinity is similar to that for the discs.

1999-09-01 41
Figure 3-2 also provides a comparison of some results for the cap and pin design of insulator with those for some post-type
insulators. Again these results show a considerable spread of values for these cylindrical types of insulator - thereby
supporting the analysis reported earlier.
A complicating feature of comparing the results of different test methods is that the ranking of insulator performance is not
always the same - as amply demonstrated in Figure 3-3 for some d.c. cap and pin insulators, when subjected to: (a) the Salt-
Fog test (b) the Clean-Fog test and (c) a dust-spray method. These results indicate the important effect that insulator profile
has on the electrical strength of such insulators.

Uw U50/L (kV/m) Uw


Electrical stress (kV/m)





(a) Salt-fog method, 28 kg/m3 (b) Solid-layer method, 0.07 mg/cm2 (c) Dust-spray method

Figure 3-3: d.c. Pollution performance of different ceramic insulators under different laboratory pollution test methods, Uw :
withstand voltage, U50: 50% flashover voltage, L: the axial spacing between insulator fittings, v-: glass insulator, p-
:porcelain insulator. (Data are from the paper of Pargamin et al 315; the bottom line of each insulator is positioned in respect
to the voltage values). Influence of insulator profile a.c. Energisation

With the standard-type of profiles, it has been found that there is no great variation in performance between the different
shapes tested 54 111. It has been, therefore, concluded that unless a large increase in creepage distance per spacing is made no
big improvement in contamination performance will be achieved 111.
With the fog-type insulators - that is, insulators with a large creepage distance per spacing ratio - discharges may bridge the
under-ribs causing some profiles to perform worse than others where this bridging does not occur 111.
In general, it is regarded beneficial to have a larger spacing between sheds and that the alternating profiles (i.e. one in which
the ribs have different lengths) perform better than the box type (i.e. one in which all the ribs have the same length). d.c. Energisation

In a study of d.c. station post insulators 108, 12 different shed profiles have been tested using the Solid-Layer method. These
different profiles were variations on 3 basic ones, where the shed spacing and overhang varies - as is shown in the lower part
of Figure 3-4. In the upper part of this figure, the ratio between the creepage distance and the axial length of the tested
insulators is plotted against the ratio between the 50% flashover voltage and the axial length. It is clear from this figure that a
significant improvement in performance cannot be achieved by increasing only the amount of creepage distance in a given
axial length.

1999-09-01 42
Station post insulators having a deep under-rib profile - very similar to that of type II shown in Figure 3-4, but with different
dimensions - have been tested and compared 109 with one having the alternate long-and-short shed profile and another of the
plain-shed type. The results are provided in Table 3-4. The tests were performed under d.c. voltage with the Fog Withstand
method. The importance of keeping a large shed spacing while increasing the creepage distance can be seen when
comparison is made with the results for the various deep under-rib profiles.

Figure 3-4: d.c. Laboratory pollution test results with Solid-Layer method for station post insulators108.

Table 3-5 110 provides results that demonstrate that an insulator of an alternate long-and-short profile with a large shed spacing
can perform as good as an insulator with a deep under-rib profile. The final choice from among the various insulator-shed
profiles should be based on the site conditions, taking account of the different aerodynamic properties that influence the
pollution-catch and the natural cleaning ability of the insulator.

Table 3-4: d.c. Laboratory pollution test with Fog Withstand method - SDD: 0.03mg/cm2 - for station post insulators with a
core diameter of 125 mm 109.


mm mm mm mm
deep under-rib 70 1006 4070
85 85 3480 99.2
95 1006 109.3
95 1008 3505
95 105 3605 118.0
105 1008 119.0
alternate long short 65 1008 104.2
normal 70 1008 90.2

1999-09-01 43
Table 3-5: d.c. Laboratory pollution test with Solid-Layer method - SDD, 0.02 mg/cm2 - of an insulator having an effective
height of 1.95 m and a core diameter of 0.22 m 110. Linearity of insulator performance in relation to string length Under a.c. voltage

The question of whether the pollution performance of long strings of ceramic insulators is a linear function of string length has
been addressed by making Clean-Fog artificial pollution tests. It is generally agreed that up to EHV levels - i.e. 275 kV to
500 kV, the performance is linear111. In some of the early investigations, there was an indication that a pronounced non-
linearity would seriously affect the design of insulation for transmission lines operating at ultra high voltage (UHV), namely
for a.c. system voltages above 800 kV 111 112. However, an extensive subsequent study exploring these phenomena showed
that, although there was some degree of non-linearity, the required additional string length above a linear extrapolation for
such higher voltages was considerably less than originally estimated 113. The concept of long-string efficiency was introduced
to take these effects into account.
Long-string efficiency is defined as:
LUHV = (3-3)
Where :
LUHV = string length required at a UHV voltage level
LEHV = string length determined at a lower voltage level
VUHV = UHV voltage level
VEHV = lower voltage level
= long-string efficiency
Note: the specification is based on EHV data - rather than that from lower voltage levels - to avoid large errors in string
efficiency that could arise from even small errors in the flashover voltage of short strings.
The dependence of long-string efficiency on the line-to-earth voltage is shown in Figure 3-5, which applies to standard
vertical insulator strings up to 11.5 m connection length. The equivalent salt deposit density (ESDD) is in the range of 0.01-
0.04 mg/cm2.

1999-09-01 44


Long string efficiency, , (%)




300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

Figure 3-5: Long-string efficiency for a.c. energisation as a function of line to earth voltage.
Range of ESDD 0.01-0.04 mg/cm2. IEEE insulators (146 mm spacing, 254 mm diameter, and ratio leakage to spacing 2.1).

For antifog insulators, the results for long-string efficiency are shown in Figure 3-6 for string connection lengths up to 8 m. In
this case, the range of ESDD is 0.02-0.04 mg/cm2.


Long string efficiency , , (%)




300 400 500 600 700 800 900

Figure 3-6: Long-string efficiency for a.c. energisation as a function of line to earth voltage.
Range of ESDD 0.02-0.04 mg/cm2. Antifog insulators (220 mm spacing, 420 mm diameter, and ratio leakage to spacing 3.3).

From a limited number of artificial pollution tests conducted under project UHV, it has been concluded that a proper
assessment of the non-linearity aspect can only be determined once all the factors in the wetting process of the insulators are
known 111.
A comparison of the test results for indoor- and outdoor-conditions indicates that the indoor values are probably more
comparable to worst-case conditions111.
In another study 125, carried out at the Brighton Insulator Test station (BITS) in UK, insulators for both EHV (up to 420 kV)
and UHV (up to 1560 kV) systems were tested side by side under natural coastal conditions. For overhead line insulators, it
has been concluded that the flashover stress (in kV/m) was unaffected by the voltage level up to at least 1200 kV system; the
test results are given in Figure 7-13 of Section 7.2.8. For the multiple-cone type post insulator tested, on the other hand, a
significant reduction (13 %) was found in the performance at the higher voltage level.

1999-09-01 45
Figure 3-7: Relationship between axial distance and a.c. contamination flashover voltage 114.
For a given type of standard insulator and of an antifog cap and pin design, the withstand voltage (obtained by the Clean-Fog
test method) has been found to be proportional to the creepage distance of the insulator - as is shown in Figure 3-7. Such a
linear relationship is also applicable to station post insulators 114. Under d.c. voltage

Many laboratory tests have been performed to examine whether or not a linear relationship holds between the pollution
performance and the insulator length 115 118 116 117 108 110. For line insulators, such results point to a linear relation between the
flashover voltage and the insulator length when the pollution level is high; i.e. SDD 0.05 mg/cm2. When the pollution level
is low - i.e. SDD< 0.05 mg/cm2, a non-linear relationship has been obtained by some laboratories 118 116 117 110 whilst linearity
has been reported by others 115. An example of some results 117 is provided in Figure 3-8.

Figure 3-8: d.c. Pollution test (Solid-Layer method). Cap and pin insulators. U50 vs. string length117.

1999-09-01 46
Test results for station post insulators also have the same trend. At a low pollution level, because of the non-linearity reported
by several laboratories, the total insulator length for a given type of insulator needs to be increased by 10-15 % for 600 kV
systems and 15-20 % for 800 kV systems with respect to the design made assuming linearity; see Figure 3-9 and Figure 3-10.
However, it should be noted that these discussions are based on laboratory results. When performing an artificial pollution
test the whole insulator string is, in most cases, polluted uniformly. In natural conditions, however, non-uniform pollution
distribution along the insulator string is often encountered. Furthermore, at a higher voltage level, more pollution may be
attracted to the insulator - as already mentioned in Section All these factors add to the uncertainty for making linear
extrapolation of the required insulator lengths from a lower-voltage level to a higher-voltage level.

Figure 3-9: U50 as function of the length of the suspension string under d.c. (Negative polarity) pollution tests 118 116.

Figure 3-10: The U50 (d.c. negative polarity) as a function of the total height of the station post insulators110.

1999-09-01 47 Influence of average diameter
Some of the data indicate that at flashover, or withstand, the relationship between specific length, SL (mm/kV) and average
diameter D (mm) is of the form:

SL D q (3-4)
where q is a constant having a value that is particular for the set of conditions of the insulators generic shape, the material, the
energisation waveform and type of pollution. In Figure 3-11 test data are shown for a.c. energisation that reveal this
relationship. Similar test data exist for the case of d.c. energisation85.

Figure 3-11: Relationship between average diameter and required leakage distance in per unit of a.c. withstand voltage
(for shed shapes please refer to Table 10-22).

The best support for equation 3-4 occurs when the insulators are of the same profile and only the diameter is varied; Figure 3-
12 shows the results for d.c. housings that have been subjected to a Clean-Fog test with an ESDD of 0.12 mg/cm2

Figure 3-12: Specific Axial Length vs. insulator diameter for d.c. ceramic housings under Clean-Fog test199; Table 10-33

1999-09-01 48
When the insulator profiles vary, the spread in the results is greater - even to the extent that they fall within a band rather than
approximate to a straight line. Figure 3-13 and Figure 3-14 show results for a.c. disc insulators and a.c. cylindrical insulators
respectively that are subjected to a Salt-Fog test of 80 kg/m3.

General range level

Upper values

Lower values

Figure 3-13: Specific creepage length vs. insulator diameter for a.c. ceramic disc insulators under salt-fog pollution; Table
10-24 refers (number next to point is ranking in Table 10-24).

Figure 3-14: Specific creepage length vs. insulator diameter for a.c. ceramic cylindrical insulators under artificial pollution;
Table 10-24 refers.

The values of q in equation 3-4 for those test findings that provide a moderate to good support for this relationship are given
in Table 3-6. This table also gives the corresponding table number in Section 10 from which the information was obtained.
All the other findings using the tables given in Section 10.2 give either only weak support for this equation or, in the case of
some d.c. results, a negative slope. It is tempting to ascribe this negative-slope finding to the weakness of the d.c. supply; i.e.

1999-09-01 49
for the same pollution conditions, the leakage current increases as the average diameter increases --- thereby, possibly,
resulting in voltage-regulation problems. However, at least one such case is known in which the source was strong 118.
Therefore, this negative-slope characteristic warrants further investigation. It should be noted that the results presented in
Table 3-6 are for ceramic insulators. The findings for the limited number of tests performed on polymeric insulators have
only a weak agreement with this relationship.
In a similar exercise conducted by CESI for some a.c. insulators, it was shown that the average value of q was 0.35 - i.e. it lies
within the range (0.14 to 0.65) of the findings shown in Table 3-6.

Table 3-6: Value of q in equation 3-4 for ceramic insulators



Figure 3-11 Cylindrical a.c. Clean-fog SCL 0.43

Table 10-24 Disc a.c. Salt-fog SAL 0.41
Table 10-24 Disc a.c. Salt-fog SCL 0.74
Table 10-24 Cylindrical a.c. Salt-fog SAL 0.24
Table 10-24 Cylindrical a.c. Salt-fog SCL 0.14
Table 10-25 Disc a.c. Marine SCL 0.50
Table 10-27 Cylindrical d.c. Clean-fog SCL 0.37
Table 10-32 Disc d.c. Clean-fog SCL 0.49
Table 10-33 Cylindrical d.c. Clean-fog SAL 0.50
Table 10-33 Cylindrical d.c. Clean-fog SCL 0.51

As to the general fit of the results to equation 3-4 for positive values of q, the trend seems to be that the SCL parameter is a
better one to use for disc insulators than the SAL parameter. However, for cylindrical insulators there is no clear advantage of
one parameter over the other.

3.3.2 Polymeric Insulators Natural pollution

The a.c. flashover performance of a few types of polymeric transmission-line insulators has been determined at the Brighton
Insulator Testing Station 126 127 by using the technique developed for ceramic insulators 125. From a summary of the results
provided in Table 10-34, it is seen that both the silicone rubber type and the ethylene propylene rubber ones (i.e. EPR and
EPDM) performed better than the corresponding string of porcelain reference insulators of the anti-fog design. As no
flashover occurred on the silicone rubber insulators, their ultimate performance could not - unfortunately - be determined
during this test programme and so this aspect warrants further investigation.
This excellent performance of the silicone rubber type of insulator is now being confirmed in service. For example, South
Africa - which probably is currently the largest user of such insulators at transmission-line voltage levels - has had no
pollution flashover on previously troublesome lines after they had been re-insulated with silicone rubber insulators 119 120.
In Tunisian desert conditions, polymeric insulators have performed well over a number of years at various outdoor test-
stations in polluted regions comprising: (a) marine/ agricultural, (b) marine/ industrial, (c) marine/ industrial/ chemical, (d)
marine/ chemical/ industrial/ desert and (e) desert 61.
In contrast, the pollution flashover performance of epoxy-resin type insulators is - regrettably - inferior to the corresponding
porcelain insulators; as quantified in Table 10-34. Artificial pollution

The standard Salt-Fog test performed on the same a.c. insulators that were investigated at BITS has also shown the superior
performance of the silicone rubber type and the ethylene propylene types of insulators over that of the porcelain reference
insulator. However, this artificial pollution test failed to produce the same ranking as that found under the corresponding
natural conditions 378; cf. Table 10-34 and Table 10-35. Although the same ranking was achieved in a modified version of

1999-09-01 50
this standard test, the relative performance of EPDM to porcelain was far greater than that occurring under natural pollution
A difference of ranking has also been observed with d.c. insulators when the Salt-Fog test and the Clean-Fog test were used81,
as amply shown in Table 10-38.
Further, the rankings from the viewpoint of axial stress and surface stress along d.c. insulators have been found to be
substantially different 319 320, as seen in Table 10-36 and Table 10-37.
Therefore, these differences of ranking and the need to obtain more valid data on the absolute flashover voltage values for
polymeric insulators when subjected to the various types of artificial pollution indicate an area of research were a substantial
amount of work still needs to be done. Effect of insulator profile

The effect of profile on the tracking and erosion performance of various polymer insulators has been studied 122. Six profiles,
all of the aerodynamic type, were investigated by exposing insulator sections to long-duration Salt-Fog tests. Insulators with a
positive shed-underside inclination (see IEC 815 5) performed better than did insulators with zero or negative shed-inclination.
In another study123, the flashover performance was determined - under a Clean-Fog test with an artificially applied pollution
layer - of both the alternate long-and-short shed designs and the aerodynamic shapes of regular design. The shed parameters
investigated were the ratio of leakage path length to shed spacing and the type of shed profile. The results indicated that
alternate long-and-short shed profiles performed better than did the regular types. The results also indicated that the efficacy
of the leakage path decreases rapidly for a shed spacing of 300 mm or less. Further, it showed that for each shed
configuration there exists an optimal leakage path to spacing ratio; typical values range between 4 to 4.6.
As with ceramic insulators, a further complicating feature in the study of the effect of profile is that the ranking of insulator
performance is not always the same for all test methods. This is amply demonstrated in Figure 3-15 for some polymeric
insulators when subjected to (a) the Salt-Fog test (b) the Clean-Fog test and (c) a dust-spray method. This makes it difficult
to give specific guidelines on good proportions for polymeric insulator profiles.

Uw/L (kV/m) U50/L (kV/m) Uw/L (kV/m)


Electrical stress (kV/m)




(a) Salt-fog method, 28 kg/m3 2
(b) Solid-layer method, 0.07 mg/cm (c) Dust-spray method

Figure 3-15: d.c. Pollution performance of various polymeric insulators under different laboratory pollution test methods.
Uw is the withstand voltage; U50 is the 50% flashover voltage; L is the axial spacing between insulator fittings. (Data are
obtained from Pargamin et al 315; the bottom line of each insulator is positioned in respect to the voltage values).

1999-09-01 51
3.3.3 Effect of insulator orientation. Introduction
Wetted pollution on the surface of any high-voltage insulation can produce a substantial reduction in its electric strength 1 54.
However, the effect of the orientation and the size of such insulation on its flashover performance is not generally subject to
simple rules. The insulator-type directly affects the performance of the polluted insulation in different orientations. In
addition, the pollution severity at a site, and the time taken for maximum contamination levels to build up, may determine the
effect of orientation. The nature of the subsequent wetting process and the flashover mechanism (e.g. surface flashover or
inter-shed breakdown) are also important factors affecting the influence of orientation and size.
Hence, the flashover strength of different insulator types and orientation is a balance between the various processes that
directly influence such performance. The following mechanisms may contribute, or be dominant, for each design and
1. Improved natural cleaning as the orientation changes from being vertical to being horizontal.
2. Directional effects of pollution deposit for angled/horizontal orientation from a localised (direction-defined) pollution
3. Inter-shed breakdown due to heavy rain and pollution.
4. Inter-shed breakdown due to pollution and poor profile.
5. Reduced flashover strength due to pollution concentration on the lower surface of horizontal, or near-horizontal,
insulation during heavy fog or rain.
In reality, there is no real substitute for testing insulators under the appropriate pollution and wetting conditions to determine
how actual insulator designs will perform in different orientations. Although there is a dearth of published data to quantify
these effects, this section - nevertheless - presents and discusses a few results of investigations into the influence of orientation
and size on the flashover strength of polluted insulation of various designs. Experimental results from artificial pollution tests
and from outdoor marine testing stations for various insulators and orientations are analysed to investigate if some simplified
conclusions can be drawn from the data. Insulators
The influence of orientation and size are analysed and discussed for the following types of insulation:
1. Cap-and-pin insulators.
2. Polymeric insulators.
3. Substation post insulators with alternate long-and-short sheds (ALS) and multiple cone type profiles.
4. Tapered bushing porcelains with ALS profiles.
5. d.c. Wall bushings.
6. Interrupter head porcelains with open profiles.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no corresponding data for porcelain longrod insulators.
The results reported herein on the hollow porcelains have been obtained for insulators that were sealed with end-flanges and
pressurised with either dry nitrogen or SF6, to avoid having internal surface discharges. In general, hollow insulators have
been tested without their internal grading components because such items complicate the test assembly, but do not affect the
pollution flashover process - because it is not an electrostatic-field problem. Salt-Fog test results on a complete SF6 / Air
bushing confirm the validity of testing only the porcelains. Cap-and-pin insulators

Salt-Fog tests on several types of cap-&-pin insulator strings mounted in the vertical and for inclined orientations have
established that an improved performance for a.c. energisation, corresponding to 10-20% increase in effective length, resulted
from inclination124. However, inclination in excess of 200 to the vertical gave no further improvement.
A.c. energised insulators subjected to natural marine pollution at the Brighton Insulator Testing station125 have shown the
same trend of good performance of the angled and horizontal orientations for various insulator types relative to that for a
vertical string of the CERL reference insulator - i.e. type A in Table 10-1.

1999-09-01 52
The findings are summarised in Table 3-7. They are given both as a figure of merit (FOM) - i.e. a measure of relative axial
stress - and as a leakage path ratio - i.e. a measure of relative surface stress; the definition of these terms is provided beneath
this table. Note: the corresponding value of FOM=1 was obtained for type I insulators when vertically mounted.

Table 3-7: Cap and pin ceramic insulators, angled or near-horizontally mounted - a.c. flashover performance under marine
pollution at BITS *.


1 II antifog H 1.35 1.37
2 I, antifog H 1.31 1.32
3 I, antifog A 1.27 1.27
4 VII L.C. antifog H 1.12 1.20
5 II antifog A 1.11 1.14
6 VIII Standard disc H 0.79 1.16
* Data obtained from reference 125.
** L.C. is long creepage; i.e. term used in reference 125.
*** H= approximately horizontal (i.e. 75o to the vertical), A= Angled (45o to the vertical).
**** Measure of flashover performance, from the viewpoint of axial length, when compared to
that of a vertical string of reference insulators (i.e. CERL Reference A, Table 10-1); it is
an average of all values for the same insulator type.
***** LPR is leakage path ratio; determined as the leakage path of the CERL Reference A insulator
divided by that of the Test insulator, for the same pollution flashover performance.
The results from Noto Testing Station, at a coastal location in Japan 59, also showed that tension strings have almost the same
- or a little higher - pollution flashover strength compared with that of suspension strings. These tests were similar to those
conducted at Brighton in that insulator strings were systematically increased in length until approximately equal flashover
frequencies were established for all of the tested insulators.
Tests conducted on contaminated (SDD = 0.02 mg/cm2) insulators of the IEEE type have shown that - based on the 50%
flashover strength - the long-string efficiency values are 95%, 92% and 90% for quasi-horizontal, V-string and vertical string
respectively111. Polymeric insulators

The results for some polymeric insulators tested at Brighton, which correspond to those obtained for the cap and pin
insulators, are provided in Table 3-8. To facilitate comparison with corresponding data for such insulators when vertically
mounted, the relevant values from Table 10-34 are also included in Table 3-8.

Table 3-8: Polymeric insulators: (a) near-horizontally mounted *, (b) vertically mounted - a.c. flashover performance under
marine pollution at BITS **.


1 VII Silicone rubber >1.53 >1.53 >2.5 >2.5
2 VI EPDM 1.28 1.12 >2.63 2.27
3 VIII EPR 1.19 1.17 1.62 1.16
4 V EPDM 1.14 1.21 1.18 1.25

* Near-horizontal is about 75o to the vertical.
** Data determined from references 126 and 127.
*** Descriptions used in References 126 and 127.
**** FOM is the Figure of Merit and is the axial length of the Test insulator divided by that
of a vertical string of reference insulators (i.e. CERL Reference A in Table 10-1) for the
same pollution flashover performance.

1999-09-01 53
***** LPR is leakage path ratio, determined as the leakage path of Test insulator divided by that of
the Reference insulator, for the same pollution flashover performance. Substation post insulators

Some results for post insulators are presented in Table 3-9 for an ALS design (insulator type P1) and a multiple cone one.
These findings again confirm the orientation effect in the Salt-Fog test. For P1, the corresponding value of s in equation 3-2 is
0.11 for both the horizontal and the vertical cases - which indicates that a significant amount of air breakdown is occurring for
both orientations. The Withstand Pollution Severity (WPS) values from the heavy wetting test were 160 kg/m3 for both the
vertical and the horizontal orientations - probably indicating that the air breakdowns were not directly from shed to shed.

Table 3-9: Specific Creepage length *, (SCL), at a.c. flashover for two types of post insulator when mounted (a) vertical, V,
and (b) horizontal, H.


Post P1 V 28 31 40 160
Post P1 H 45 50 55 66
Multiple cone V 29 33 38 43
Multiple cone H 29 35 42 54
* SCL is length of insulating surface divided by the voltage across the insulator.

The multiple cone post had the smallest orientation effect of the post-type insulators tested, but the gradient of the flashover
voltage versus salinity relationship was greater for the horizontal case (cf. s=0.17 to s=0.1). WPS values of 160 kg/m3 were
recorded in both the vertical and the horizontal orientations.
From the above limited data, there is some evidence to indicate that ALS profiles may not represent the most efficient
insulator-shape for horizontal posts. Tapered bushing porcelains

The withstand salinity and the heavy wetting pre-applied salinity - both salinities provided by an artificial salt-fog - are shown
in Table 3-10 as a function of orientation for an insulator having alternate long and short sheds (a 65/45 70 profile) with a
total creepage path of 7600 mm and with an applied voltage of 173 kV rms.

Table 3-10: Salt-fog withstand salinity and heavy wetting pre-applied salinity, for an insulator having a 65/45 70 profile and
a total creepage of 7600 mm, when the a.c. test voltage was 173 kV rms and the orientation was varied.


VERTICAL (kg/m3) (kg/m3)
0 28 160
20 28 56 (front) 80 (rear)
45 14 160
90 5 160
Front means bushing angled towards wetting sprays.
Rear means bushing angled away from wetting sprays (usual case)
The corresponding values of SAL at different salinities - as determined using the Quick Flashover test - are shown in Figure 3-
16 for both the vertical and the horizontal case.

1999-09-01 54
Figure 3-16: A.c. flashover voltage as a function of salinity of salt-fog for the insulator having a 65/45 70 profile and a total
creepage of 7600 mm for both vertical and horizontal cases 128.

Again it is seen that the flashover performance, in salt-fog, of a large diameter insulator is much inferior when in the
horizontal position as compared with that for the vertical one. The Quick Flashover tests for vertical mounting show a very
flat slope in the SAL versus fog salinity relationship (s=0.06) - thereby indicating significant air-breakdown. In contrast, the
corresponding data for the horizontal case demonstrate a significant increase in gradient (s=0.19) - with increased surface
discharge activity along the bottom insulator surface.
These heavy wetting test results confirm that this process does not significantly affect horizontal bushings but can reduce the
inter-shed breakdown capability of some bushings that have angles close to the vertical. The heavy wetting withstand of
160 kg/m3 when the insulator is vertical suggests that the large component of air breakdowns, indicated by the Quick
Flashover tests, were not from shed to shed. d.c. Wall bushings

D.c. wall bushings are discussed under Section 3.4.2. Interrupter head porcelains

The axial electric stress necessary to cause external flashover of the interrupter porcelain of various designs - profile and
dimensions are provided in Table 10-23 - is shown in Figure 3-17 as a function of the severity of an artificial salt-fog 129. The
much inferior performance of the horizontal head is reasoned to be associated with the way that the wetted pollution drains
from the insulator surface.
Limited data from an interrupter head porcelain, H1, tested at Brighton, showed a Figure of Merit of between 0.7 and 1.0,
during a short test period. These results indicate that the concentration of wetted pollution on the lower surface may be as
important a process under natural conditions as that witnessed in the artificial Salt Fog tests. However, more data are required
to establish if better washing by rain - on average - negates the pollution concentration effect under natural conditions.

1999-09-01 55
Figure 3-17: A..c. axial stress to cause flashover against fog salinity for various interrupter porcelains 129. V1 was vertically
mounted; H1, H2, H3, and H4 were horizontally mounted. Insulator details are provided in Table 10-23.

3.3.4 Influence of a non-uniform pollution deposit

It was shown in Section 2.3.3 that in-service insulators are rarely, if ever, uniformly polluted. In this section a broad overview
is given of the influence of a non-uniform pollution deposit on the electrical strength of insulators.
There is usually a difference in ESDD measured on the top and bottom surfaces of insulators. Often the pollution severity on
the top surface is much lower than that on the bottom surface, usually because of the cleaning action of rain. It was shown
that this non-uniform pollution distribution affects insulator flashover strength under both d.c.118 130 and a.c.111 energisation.
Figure 3-18 shows a summary of the reported results for insulators with different top to bottom pollution density ratios, but
with the same average ESDD on the total insulator 280.

Figure 3-18: Withstand voltage characteristics of non-uniformly polluted insulators 280.

1999-09-01 56
For the insulator-string configuration, different pollution deposit densities will also be experienced on the discs making up the
string 131 318 38. Under d.c. energisation, those insulators situated towards the ends of the string will generally collect more
pollution than the ones in the middle131. This non-uniform pollution distribution also seems to affect the d.c. flashover
voltage, as is shown in Figure 3-19. This figure provides the d.c. fog-withstand voltage of a non-uniformly polluted string -
having the heavier polluted - i.e. 0.08 mg/cm2 - insulators situated towards the ends - as a function of the percentage of such
heavily polluted insulators in the string. It can be seen that for strings containing up to 30% of heavily polluted insulators, the
d.c. withstand voltage remains about the same as that of the insulator string uniformly polluted to the ESDD of its middle part
- i.e. 0.03 mg/cm2.

Fog withstand voltage, kV/unit

Percentage of heavily polluted insulators in the string

Figure 3-19: Withstand voltage characteristics of d.c. insulators polluted non-uniformly along a string 131. The insulator
details are provided in the reference.

In the case of gas-insulated bushings of the UHV a.c. class, it was observed at the NGK Laboratory that less pollution
collected on the earth -side of the bushings than did that on the live-side. This lighter polluted area covered 20-40% of the
overall bushing length. Tests indicated that the withstand voltage was reduced by about 6% for these non-uniformly polluted
bushings as compared with that for the uniformly polluted ones 132.
A study of the effect of non-uniform pollution on longrod insulators 65 has shown that the a.c. electrical strength of the longrod
may be adversely affected by the presence of insulator sections that are polluted to a lesser degree than the rest. For an
insulator with 30% of its length covered by a lighter degree of pollution, a 25% reduction in electrical strength was observed
as compared with that for the uniformly polluted insulator. Similar results may, possibly, be expected for d.c. energised

3.3.5 Electric field at the surface of insulators Introduction
Discharge activity at the surface of a high-voltage insulator is caused by the local electric field having a value higher than the
ionisation level of the ambient air. This high electric field is the result of the applied voltage and the environmental
conditions such as rain, pollution and ice. Recent work indicates that surface discharges - such as sparks and corona - caused
by local field enhancement around water drops on the surface of polymeric insulators may lead to severe material degradation.
If the surface electric field under the different conditions can be calculated - or measured - it will provide knowledge for
applications to discharge models and help to improve the insulator design through proper E-field grading designs. Although
the ultimate goal of such research has not yet been achieved, the progress in field calculation techniques and the introduction
of new measuring methods have provided a greater possibility.

1999-09-01 57 Electric field measurement
Many measuring instruments have been developed for determining either the voltage distribution or the electric field.
Most of the voltage-measurement methods and instruments have a direct electrical connection between the instrument and the
insulator. Therefore, care should be taken not to draw too great a conductive current from the insulator so as to ensure that
the true voltage distribution is not disturbed. A review has been made133 of several instruments used for measuring the d.c.
voltage distribution.
The electric field can be measured with a probe that has no galvanic contact with any grounded object. The measuring signal
is transmitted by an optical link. To minimise the distortion of the field due to the presence of the instrument, a spherical
probe is preferred. The diameter of this probe should be as small as possible. To measure a d.c. electric field, other
techniques are needed to prevent charging of the probe. The various principles of d.c. field probes have been reviewed 134.
The field probe should be located no closer than a few probe-diameters from the insulator surface to avoid distorting the field
Three instruments, one for potential measurement and two for electric field measurement, have been reviewed for the a.c. case
. Using such instruments, measurements were performed under a.c. voltage along a dry insulator model with no discharges
present. The measured values were in good agreement with the calculated ones.
Field probes for both a.c. and d.c. electric field measurement have been developed, including a computer-controlled
positioning system 134 136. These measurements have provided the total, axial and radial fields. Such probes have been used
in various environmental conditions to study hydrophobic and hydrophilic post insulators and wall bushings 134 136 137 138 139
. With the probe at a fixed position, the change of the electric field over time under different test conditions can be
monitored. By scanning the probe along a track close to the insulator, the average field distribution along the insulator under
different conditions can also be measured.
Field measuring techniques can be used for both laboratory investigations and site-diagnostics of insulators. An example can
be found in the literature 141. Electric field calculation

A large number of electric field calculation programmes exist that are based on different calculation methods - such as FDM
(Finite Difference Method), FEM (Finite Elements Method), BEM (Boundary Element Method), BIM (Boundary Integration
Method) and CSM (Charge simulation Method)135. To be able to calculate the electric field at the surface of an insulator, it is
necessary to select a suitable calculation method and technique capable of handling the complicated geometric structures of
practical insulators. However, the major obstacle to the obtaining of reliable results is the uncertainty involved in the
parameters describing the surface situation (boundary conditions) of an insulator.
The applicability of field calculation programmes for the different conditions of the insulator are reviewed below. No Discharge activity

When an insulator is energised with a relatively low voltage - such that there is no discharge activity - an electric field
calculation can be made with good confidence for clean and dry insulators. Then there is good agreement between the results
of the different calculation methods 135. A calculation has also been carried out for a real insulator under clean and dry
conditions. Good correlation has been obtained between the calculated electric field and the field measurements 139.
For an insulator with a wetted and/or polluted surface, it becomes difficult to calculate the electric field reliably. This is
because of the uncertainty in the values pertaining to the surface conditions - such as the non-uniformity of the wetting along
the surface caused by cascading water or the drying effect of leakage current. However, for a totally hydrophobic insulator
under uniform rain energised by a.c., the electric field distribution will not differ significantly from that of the dry condition
. With Discharge activity

When discharge activity is present, in the form of corona at the metal accessories of the insulator or sparks, glows and arcs at
the dry bands, the situation at the insulator surface is further complicated. Reliable boundary values are not available for
either the dry or the wetted conditions.
To perform approximate calculations, attempts have been made to evaluate the boundary conditions by analysing the field
measurements and UV photographs of the discharge activity 136 137 138 139 140.

1999-09-01 58
3.3.6 Cold switch-on and thermal lag
When polluted insulators become well wetted their flashover strength is at a minimum. Such wetting can occur when an
insulator has been de-energised for some time - e.g. during maintenance / repair period or when a line is switched-out for
voltage-control purposes - and when its temperature is more than a few degrees lower than that of the surrounding air -
thereby resulting in enhanced condensation 71. For energised conditions and thermal equilibrium, the leakage current causes
sufficient evaporation - by Joule heating - to ensure that this high degree of wetting does not happen unless mist, fog or rain is
Although service experience shows that flashover can take place when insulators are suddenly energised following an outage
or during early morning when the air temperature rises quickly (e.g. in deserts), there is not enough information available to
accurately quantify this problem. Nonetheless, guidance can be provided from the results obtained for semiconducting glazed
insulators. In some cold switch-on tests 142, the flashover voltage of a polluted insulator when soaking wet (0.15 M per
suspension insulator) was 40% lower than that of the same insulator when only damp (1000 M per suspension insulator) and
fourfold lower than the value for the same insulator when dry (15 000 M per suspension insulator); see Figure 3-20. Such
results are supported by those from other tests made under normal energisation in clean-fog 210. From this research it can be
seen - Figure 3-42 - that the flashover strength of a semiconducting glazed insulator is 2 to 3 times greater than that of a
standard glazed insulator when similarly polluted.

Figure 3-20: A.c. flashover voltage versus number of semi-conducting glazed disc insulators in a suspension string, for
various wetting conditions142.

Using these findings for semiconducting glazed insulators, it is reasonable to conclude that the flashover strength of standard
glazed insulators when polluted and highly wetted - as can happen for cold switch-on or due to thermal lag - is at least 40%
less than that of the same polluted insulator under normal service conditions when its temperature is similar to -or greater than
that - of the surrounding air.
Also during cold switch-on, there may be transient over-stressing - as is discussed in Section 3.3.7.

3.3.7 Contaminated insulators under transient overvoltages Introduction
External insulation may be subjected, in service, to various transient stresses - of both internal and external origin when
considered from the viewpoint of the power system. These can be represented in the laboratory by lightning impulses, LI,
switching impulses, SI, and by short duration a.c. application and transient overvoltages (TO). Depending on the line
condition, the transient overvoltages may be superimposed on the permanent a.c. or d.c. voltage. This condition can be
represented in the laboratory by having composite voltages (e.g. LI, SI, TO, superimposed on a.c. or d.c. stresses).

1999-09-01 59
These transients may occur in various environmental conditions and may affect insulators characterised by various degrees of
contamination. In particular, a critical condition may arise when there is the simultaneous presence of pollution and wetting
on the insulator surface. The simulation of the above condition may require various pollution test procedures, according to
the peculiarity of the environment considered.
Many tests have been performed to investigate the pollution influence on the withstand characteristics of insulator
configurations under transient overvoltages 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157.
The available experimental information indicates that the presence of a wetted pollution layer may appreciably reduce the
strength, not only at operating voltage but also under transient voltages.
In the following discussion, the performance of external insulation under transient overvoltage will be reviewed with the aim
of obtaining indications about this reduction in strength. General trends on the performance of contaminated insulators under transient voltages
A summary of published data relevant to the performance of contaminated insulators (suspension- and post-type) under
transient overvoltages is presented in the following sections.

Figure 3-21: LI flashover voltage of strings of cap and pin standard and antifog insulators as a function of insulator length.
Solid-Layer method, wet contaminant. Comparison with data for the dry condition 147. LI performance
(a) LI alone
The available data generally refer to the standard LI wave shape (1.2/50 s).
In Figure 3-21, the 50% flashover voltage of cap and pin insulator strings is given as a function of the string length. The
results were obtained by using the Solid-Layer method (wet contaminant) with a salt deposit density, SDD, ranging from 0.06
to 0.25 mg/cm2. For comparison purposes, the strength under the dry condition with positive LI is also provided. These
results indicate a substantial strength reduction due to the presence of pollution when compared to that for the dry condition.
This reduction tends to increase as the insulator length increases, thereby leading to non-linear characteristics. Therefore, it is
difficult to keep the LI withstand voltage of insulator strings higher than 3000 kV, particularly for standard units. The
strength of standard-type insulators is reduced for both polarities, resulting in values that are nearly equal. For antifog
insulators, the decrease is larger for negative polarity; which, therefore, represents the critical case.

1999-09-01 60
The influence of the pollution severity SDD on the reduction in strength is shown in Figure 3-22, which provides the specific
flashover voltage as a function of SDD of the contaminated layer. The performance of standard and of antifog cap and pin
insulators and of a smooth cylinder insulator have been considered. The data indicate that the reduction is practically constant
for SDD greater than 0.1 mg/cm2 for both positive and negative polarities. Further, the results show once again the
importance of the insulator profile. A strength as low as 200 kV/m was found for an insulator shape without sheds (i.e.
smooth glass cylinder).

Figure 3-22: LI flashover stress of cap and pin insulator strings and of a post insulator model as a function of pollution
severity. Solid-Layer method (wet contaminant) 146.

(b) LI superimposed on a.c.

Results from Lushnikoff146 indicate that dry bands on the surface of polluted insulators cause a further appreciable lowering of
the impulse strength of heavily polluted insulators. This reduction is about 30-40% with reference to the strength obtained
with LI only. Without such dry bands, the strength reduction is only 10-20%. SI performance
(a) SI alone
As for air gaps, an influence of the impulse wave shape is to be expected for contaminated insulators. Unfortunately, few data
are available for this case 148 149 - and they refer to rather short insulator lengths (1 to 2 m), thus not allowing accurate
indications to be obtained. However, as a general guide, the strength tends to be lower as the impulse-duration increases.
Most of the investigations were carried out with impulse wave shapes close to the standard one (250/2500 s) and of positive
polarity, which is also the critical one under contaminated conditions. Consequently, in the following account, the main
attention will be paid to standard impulse wave shapes of positive polarity.
The presence of wetted pollution can cause a large reduction in the flashover voltage with respect to that for the dry condition,
as provided by the set of data given in Figure 3-23. This shows the strength of cap and pin insulator strings as a function of the
string length (data derived from Okada et al145, and Hiroshe et al149, obtained with the Solid-Layer method and a SDD within
the range from 0.05 to 0.23 mg/cm2). Again it is seen that the insulator profile plays a major role; the reduction with standard
type insulators is much larger than that with the antifog one.

1999-09-01 61
Figure 3-23: SI flashover voltage of cap and pin insulators as a function of string length (d). Solid-Layer method, wet
contaminant 145 149.

The strength reduction depends largely on the pollution severity, as evident from Figure 3-24 (data derived from Carrara and
Sforzini143 and Hiroshe et al149, obtained with Salt-Fog and Solid-Layer methods, respectively).

Figure 3-24: SI flashover voltage of cap and pin insulators strings, presented in per unit of the flashover voltage in the dry
condition, as a function of pollution severity. Solid-Layer and Salt-Fog methods 143 149.

The data in Figure 3-24 show that the strength tends to decrease when the pollution severity is increased, even for a high
pollution severity.
(b) SI preceded by a.c. energisation
Results obtained with standard and antifog cap and pin insulators, standard and antifog longrod insulators and post-type
insulators are summarised in Figure 3-25. The pollution tests have been performed using the Salt-Fog method with a test
severity ranging from 2.5 to 25 g/1. This figure shows the 50% flashover voltage (U50), normalised to the 50% flashover
voltage for a dry insulator with positive polarity (U50 dry+ ) as a function of severity for both positive and negative polarity.
For comparison purposes, corresponding data obtained with SI alone are also given.

1999-09-01 62
Figure 3-25: Pollution tests (Salt-Fog method) with SI preceded by a.c. energisation on cap and pin and longrod insulators.
Comparison with data relevant to SI alone 143 144.

It is evident that the a.c. pre-stress produces a reduction in the SI strength, which is more pronounced with negative polarity.
(c) SI superimposed on a.c. voltage
Results, relevant to standard and antifog cap and pin insulators and standard longrod insulators, are summarised in Figure 3-
26. The data, obtained with the Salt-Fog method, indicate a strength reduction similar to that found for the case of SI
preceded by a.c. energisation.

Figure 3-26: Pollution tests (Salt-Fog method) with SI superimposed on a.c. energisation for cap and pin and longrod
insulators. Comparison with data relevant to SI alone 143 153.

(d) SI superimposed on d.c. voltage

Figure 3-27 shows the SI flashover voltage as a function of the d.c. pre-stress, in which both the amplitude and the polarity are
varied. The results were obtained by using the Solid-Layer method (wet contaminant) with a fixed test severity (SDD = 0.04

1999-09-01 63
Figure 3-27: Pollution tests (Solid-Layer method) on insulator columns with SI superimposed on d.c. energisation153.

Again, the data indicate that the pre-stress may have an appreciable adverse influence on the strength. It is evident that this
strength reduction is strongly influenced by increasing the amplitude of the pre-stress voltage.
(e) Influence of dry bands on the SI strength
As suggested by Cortina et al 153, the additional strength reduction found with composite voltages may be attributed to the dry
bands formed by the applied pre-stress. Tests made without pre-stress but with a non-uniform distribution of pollution (dry
bands simulation) gave results similar to those obtained with pre-stress applied to uniformly contaminated insulators, as
shown in the example of Figure 3-28. Performance under transient overvoltage

As the duration of the overvoltage increases, the flashover voltage becomes closer to that obtained for permanent a.c.
Figure 3-29 shows examples of results obtained with various pollution procedures 157 on a porcelain housing (longitudinal
insulation of a circuit breaker). In this figure, the flashover voltage obtained with TO is given in p.u. of the strength measured
with permanent voltage - with the same pollution method. It is shown as a function of the TO application-time. From this
figure it seem that the flashover voltage tends to approach the value of the permanent voltage after a relatively short duration
of the overvoltage. However, the curves show different trends - which may be related to the test procedure and the
characteristics of the test object.

1999-09-01 64
Figure 3-28: Tests on an insulator column 152. Comparison of the results:
- in dry condition under positive SI
- contaminated uniformly and applying a positive SI preceded by a.c. stressing
- contaminated non uniformly and applying a positive SI alone (Solid-Layer method, wet contaminant, SDD = 0.04

Figure 3-29: Pollution tests on longitudinal circuit breaker insulation with TO. Flashover voltage vs. overvoltage-
application duration157.

Pre-stressing also affects the strength with TO154 157. Examples of results obtained with such a pre-stress are shown in Figure
3-30 154. With pre-stressing, the strength becomes very close to that for a permanent voltage when the voltage application-
duration is of a few seconds.

1999-09-01 65
Figure 3-30: Pollution test on suspension type insulators with TO preceded by a.c. energisation. Flashover voltage vs.
overvoltage application-duration 154.

Related information when no pre-stressing is present is shown in Figure 3-31 158 for two types of insulator that were both
subjected to a salt-fog of 2.5 kg/m3 salinity for 5 minutes and then suddenly energised.
A useful comparison is the ratio of the impulse flashover voltage to that for normal stressing. Such information for the a.c.
reference case, i.e. disc insulators and no pre-stressing, is illustrated in Figure 3-32 159 as a function of the duration of the
impulse waveform (stated as the time for which the voltage is greater than 50% of the peak value). Also included in this
diagram are a few results that apply to the corresponding temporary a.c. overvoltage condition (in this case, the duration is the
time for which the 50Hz voltage is applied before flashover occurs).

Figure 3-31: Short duration a.c. flashover tests in salt-fog (Insulators suddenly energised after 5 minutes of fog)158.

1999-09-01 66

Ratio of peak: short duration F/O voltage

(1) Length of horizontal lines represents the duration
that the voltage is greater than 50% of the peak value.

to peak normal a.c. F/O voltage

(2) Length of vertical lines represents the spread of the
Lightning wave results

Switching surge
a.c. overvoltage

1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000
Duration of energisation (s)

Figure 3-32: Comparison of the short duration stressing strength for positive polarity impulses with the normal a.c. stressing
strength for a 9-unit string of disc insulators without pre-established dry bands on a very heavily polluted surface.
Note: Peak of normal a.c. F/O voltage = 100 kV159. Importance of transient overvoltages for insulator design purposes

The analysis of the available information has shown that the strength of insulators under transient overvoltages and
contaminated conditions may be much lower than that in the dry condition. This reduction becomes even greater in the
presence of dry bands - i.e. when an overvoltage occurs on a polluted insulator that is already energised.
A preliminary indication of the effect of transient overvoltages under pollution conditions on the design may be obtained by
comparing the strength with the stress expected under the overvoltages considered. In this respect, it is convenient to compare
the transient overvoltage strength of contaminated insulators with that required by the same insulator under permanent a.c.
voltage, when subjected to the same contamination condition.
It is readily seen from Figure 3-32 that the LI strength under contaminated conditions is 4-5 times that under a.c. energisation.

Figure 3-33: Tests on an insulator column: Ratio between the positive SI strength and the a.c. strength as a function of the
insulator length. Solid-Layer method, wet contaminant, SDD = 0.04 mg/cm2 152.

1999-09-01 67
In contrast, the SI strength is closer to that under a.c. energisation. For example, Figure 3-33 shows the ratio between SI and
a.c. strength as a function of the insulator length (data from Garbagnati et al 152, obtained with Solid-Layer method).
This latter figure indicates that, at least for the configuration considered, the ratio decreases with insulator length - reaching
values as low as 1.3 - 1.5 p.u. for very long insulators. When compared to the strength with possible switching overvoltage
stresses (usually higher than 1.5 p.u.), the importance of the SI condition for design purpose appears evident.
The strength under TO can be very close to that under a.c. energisation (see Figure 3-29, Figure 3-30 and Figure 3-32).

3.3.8 Air density correction factors for polluted insulators

The flashover path of a polluted insulator has two series components:
1. An air gap path.
2. A path across the surface of an electrolyte.
The influence of air density on the air gap is well understood. The gap is very short and breakdown will be dominated by the
streamer mechanism. Thus, the breakdown voltage varies in direct proportion to the change in air density.
An arc is produced along the surface of the electrolyte and the air density dependence can be described by7:
= (3-5)
E0 0
where: E = Arc voltage at gas density
E0 = Arc voltage at gas density 0
b = Arc index
It is appropriate to note that the above mentioned finding of the decrease in the value of the flashover voltage with reduction
in air density has been observed when the temperature was kept constant. Ocampo 160 has found that the effect of a lower
temperature can neutralise or even reverse the effect of air density, thereby improving the insulator performance instead of
reducing it.
Since the electrolyte path is much longer than the air-gap path on a typical insulator under service conditions, it is usually
assumed that the electrolyte path dominates the flashover process and that the above equation can be used to describe the
whole process with an acceptable degree of accuracy. However, with sheds having deep ribs this approximation may not
always be valid.
Rizk and Rezazada 23 have updated the mathematical model previously established 7 161 19, to include for the effect of reduced
air density on the flashover voltage. This was done by introducing the effect of ambient pressure on the physical parameter of
the dielectric recovery equation. These authors also referred to the case of sheds with deep ribs.
The performance has been investigated using real insulators in both the laboratory 162 163 164 and under various altitude
conditions 165 166 167 168 169 170 and in simulation experiments involving a thin layer of electrolyte 166 171 172 173. A consistent
value of the index b - 0.5 and 0.35 for the a.c. and d.c. case respectively - has been found, bearing in mind the accuracy with
which the 50% flashover value can be determined for polluted insulators.
Relatively little work has been done on actual strings to assess the performance under impulse (both lightning and switching)
for polluted insulators 174. The most consistent work has been done in simulated situations with an electrolyte layer 175 176. In
this work, an attempt has been made to separate the role played by the air gap and that played by the electrolyte. For
Lightning Impulses, the total effect is a direct dependency on air density - giving b = 1.
Under Switching impulse conditions, a more complex situation arises with significant polarity differences resulting in a much
greater reduction for the positive case. The index for positive polarity is approximately the same as that for a.c. - that is, b
approaches 0.5. Summary of correction factors

Using the binomial expansion, the equations below approximate the reduction in flashover voltage as a result of a decrease in
air density, caused by an increase in altitude above sea level, while assuming a constant temperature:
1. d.c. Conditions
E = E0 (1 0.035h) (3-6)

1999-09-01 68
2. a.c. Conditions
E = E0 (1 0.05h ) (3-7)

3. Lightning Impulse conditions

E = E0 (1 01
. h) (3-8)

4. Switching Impulse conditions

E = E0 (1 0.050h ) (3-9)

where: E0 = flashover voltage at sea level

h = height above sea level in km
E = flashover voltage at an altitude of h km

3.3.9 General trends for ice covered insulators

a) a.c. Voltage
Ice-flashover is caused by the combination of several elements. These include the decrease in effective leakage distance -
due to ice-bridging, the increase is surface conductivity - caused by the formation of a high conductivity water film on the
surface of accreted ice, the presence of a pollution layer on the surface of the insulator and the formation of air gaps caused by
the heating effect of surface arcs during ice-accretion. All of the above mentioned processes are influenced by the
environmental conditions before, during and after ice-accretion - as well as by the type and configuration of the insulators.
The type and density of the ice are two major factors that influence the flashover voltage of insulators 94 96 177 178. Wet-grown
ice (glaze) with a density of about 0.87 g/cm3 has been found to be more dangerous than other types of atmospheric ice-
accretion 94 96 179. For example, the results of a maximum withstand stress for several insulator types covered with glaze and
rime - formed from water with a conductivity of about 80 S/cm - are presented in Table 3-11 96.

Table 3-11: A.c. Withstand stress Ews of several insulator types when covered with ice grown in wet and dry regimes 96.


(g/cm3) IEEE Antifog EPDM Post type
Glaze with icicles 0.87 70 84 96 90
Rime < 0.3 > 148 > 146 > 168 > 197
Ews : Maximum withstand voltage for an insulator of 1 m length.
The amount of ice, including its length and the number of icicles, as well as the thickness of the ice-layer on the insulator
surface considerably influence the flashover voltage. Some writers 191 have reported that the withstand voltage of insulators
that had their shed-spacing completely bridged by artificial icicles was about 60% of the value for the case without ice. Figure
3-34 179 shows the variation in the maximum withstand stress of a 6-unit string of IEEE standard insulators that were covered
with artificial wet-grown ice. These results are presented as a function of ice thickness on the monitoring cylinder and the
corresponding weight of ice per metre of insulator string. The value of ice-thickness at which the withstand voltage levels off
was about 2.5 cm for these insulators. It was also found 177 that this value (between 2.0 and 3.0 cm for the tested insulators)
depends on the shed- or unit-diameter, shed spacing and type of insulator.
When the ice-thickness is much lower than 1 mm and the insulators are pre-contaminated, conductive ions from the pollution
tend to dominate the total electrical conductivity of the ice 180. Consequently, a flashover stress level as low as 20 kV per
metre of leakage distance has been obtained.
The presence of the voltage during ice-accretion affects the ice distribution along the insulators. In many cases, some sections
of the insulator may be free of ice 111. This is due to ice melting and/or falling away - caused by the heating effect of the
surface arcs and/or an increase in air temperature. This situation is especially the case for long insulator strings and it has also
been observed during laboratory tests 359. Accordingly, a non-linear relationship between the withstand voltage and the string-
length can be expected.

1999-09-01 69
Figure 3-34: Maximum a.c. withstand stress as a function of the amount of ice 179.

The influence of freezing water conductivity on the flashover of ice-covered insulators has been studied and reported by
several authors 94 177 179 181 182. In general, the higher the conductivity, the lower is the flashover voltage. Figure 3-35 shows
an example of the decrease in the maximum withstand stress Ews as a function of freezing-water conductivity - as measured at
20oC. These results were obtained using a string of 6 IEEE insulator units, tested at an air temperature of -12oC and an ice
thickness of 2.0 cm on the rotating monitoring cylinder 179. The decrease in maximum withstand stress in this paper was
expressed by using the following equation:
Ews = 165.3 -0.18 (3-10)
for 150 S/cm
being the conductivity of the freezing water in S/cm and Ews, the maximum withstand stress in kV/m.

Figure 3-35: Variation of the maximum a.c. withstand stress of the insulators as a function of the freezing-water conductivity

However, in some cases, the conductivity can lead to a reverse effect - i.e. an increase in the conductivity leading to higher
flashover values. This phenomenon is associated with the falling away of the ice caused by melting due to surface arcs. The
effect of freezing rain conductivity on the flashover voltage may also depend on the insulator-type as well as on the
experimental conditions. In some studies 183 358 359 177 182, the flashover voltage reduced even for much higher conductivity
b) d.c. Voltage
Unfortunately the research work to date193 184 185 186 has provided little information on the effect of ice on the flashover voltage
of insulators energised under d.c. voltage. It has been reported that this flashover voltage is, in general, lower under negative
d.c. energisation than it is under positive d.c. energisation. In a series of tests carried out on a short string of IEEE standard
insulators that were covered with glaze 187, it was found that the maximum withstand stress was about 17% lower under
negative d.c. than positive d.c. stressing of the insulator.

1999-09-01 70
c) Switching impulse voltage
The value of the Switching impulse flashover voltage depends upon the condition of the ice. The glaze, during the ice-growth
stage, has an extremely low flashover voltage. Figure 3-36 shows that the flashover voltage of a post insulator can decrease by
as much as 50% of that for dry and clean conditions 188.

Hollow marks show results for wet conditions
Marks , and ---- show flashover of stacks covered with
ice for positive switching surge.
Five flashover data
Five withstand data

Figure 3-36: Positive and negative flashover voltage characteristics of solid core cylindrical post insulator for switching
impulse voltage with a front time of 120 to 140 s 188.

3.3.10 General trends for snow covered insulators

a) a.c. Voltage
The a.c. withstand (flashover) voltage decreases with increasing water conductivity from the melted snow, and with increasing
snow-density up to 0.5 g/cm3. Thereafter, it remains constant. The minimum withstand (flashover) voltage has been measured
when the entire insulator string was covered with snow. Figure 3-37 shows the relation between withstand voltage and the
snow-density 189.
Withstand Voltage, kV/m (insulator string length)


: Naturally Snow -Covered

: Artificially Snow -Covered



0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

Volume Density, g/cm3

Figure 3-37: Relation between a.c. withstand voltage and snow-density 189.

1999-09-01 71
b) Temporary Overvoltage
The time to flashover becomes shorter as the temporary a.c. overvoltage becomes higher - as is shown in Figure 3-38. If the
temporary overvoltage continues for 0.1 second, the withstand voltage per metre of insulator assembly covered with snow is
about 95 kV/m. That is, about 20% higher than the a.c. withstand voltage at the volume density of the snow of 0.3 to 0.4
g/cm3 314 190.

Figure 3-38: Temporary a.c. overvoltage and time to flashover 314 190.

(c) d.c. Voltage

The d.c. withstand voltage of an insulator covered with snow is approximately equal to the effective value of its a.c. withstand
voltage when the quantity of snow covering the insulator is the same. Regardless of the contamination severity on the
insulator, the d.c. withstand voltage depends on the snow-density and the conductivity of the water melted from this snow
covering 191 192.
The negative-polarity application usually results in a lower withstand level of snow-covered insulators than does the
corresponding positive-polarity case.

Figure 3-39: Relationship between snow-density and d.c. withstand voltage of insulators artificially covered with snow 192.

Figure 3-39 shows the relationship between snow-density and d.c. maximum withstand voltage of insulators with an artificial
snow covering 192.

1999-09-01 72
d) Switching impulse voltage
Figure 3-40 shows the relationship between the ratio of snow-covered length and the 50% switching impulse flashover stress.
The 50% flashover voltage has a so-called U-shape characteristic, where the minimum value occurs at a snow-covered length
of 60 to 80 % (see Figure 3-40). Arcing horns have no discernible influence on the 50% flashover voltage per unit insulator
length 193. There is also no significant difference in the 50% flashover voltage for the positive and negative polarities of the
applied voltage

Symbol Conductivity of water

Pos. Neg. Melted from Snow, uS/cm
Less than 40 FOV Without
AC Voltage
Less than 50
Less than 60
50% FOV, kV/m



40 60 80 100
Percentage length of insulator covered with snow

Figure 3-40: Relation between switching impulse 50 % flashover voltage and the percentage of snow-covered length of

Linearity has been found between the switching-impulse flashover voltage and the length of an insulator covered with snow
(up to 6m of string-length).
e) Lightning impulse voltage.
The positive-polarity lightning-impulse flashover voltage of an insulator assembly - with a 2 m horn gap-length - that is
covered with snow with a volume density of 0.3 g/cm3, is about 35% lower than that of the assembly without snow. The
negative-polarity flashover voltage is at its lowest when the whole insulator assembly is covered with snow 194.

3.4 Special insulators

3.4.1 Hollow insulators Introduction
Hollow insulators, or shells, can behave differently under pollution conditions compared with other types of insulators. Such
a different behaviour is largely attributed to the following reasons:
Different axial-voltage distribution.
Higher surface temperature, due to heat dissipation from internal components.
Different shape or shed profile.
Although part of this statement seems - upon cursory consideration - to be at variance with that made in Section, it is
not so when examined in more detail from the viewpoint of the internal components. The essential difference is the
magnitude of the capacitance and the heat produced by the components.

1999-09-01 73 Shed profile
The selection process for the most suitable shed profiles for bushing shells can largely be similar to that for the profiles of cap
and pin insulators operating in the same environment.
Where the required leakage distance, in application to the conventional shed profiles, would result in an excessive insulator-
length, more complex profiles can be adopted83. It should be stated, however, that deep - closely spaced - ribs on bushing
shells have been proven unsuitable in some environments 195 and on some installations 196. Such designs, under certain
wetting conditions, may cause a highly concentrated electrolyte in the recesses between the sheds, which then flows off onto
the top surface of the shed below. These designs can also lead to severe inter-shed arcing as a result of uneven wetting of the
leakage path between adjacent sheds. Effect of axial voltage distribution

Capacitor-type internal insulation of bushings and current transformers is designed to provide a uniform radial and axial
electrical stress distribution. It is designed such that a combination of the stray capacitance to earth and the capacitance
between the layers of grading foil provide, as close as possible, a linear axial-voltage distribution on the porcelain surface.
Laboratory tests on empty and complete bushing shells have highlighted the effect of the internal components on the level of
the flashover voltage of the outside surface. The more uniformly distributed the voltage is along the surface of the shell,
between its energised and earthed ends, the higher is its pollution withstand voltage. This is especially evident for lightly
polluted (0.01-0.03 mg/cm2 of ESDD) shells 83. At these levels of pollution, the surface conductivity does not significantly
influence a capacitively controlled axial-voltage distribution. For higher levels of pollution, the effect of conductive surface
leakage current on the axial-voltage distribution becomes more dominant. For these levels of pollution, laboratory tests for
pollution withstand voltages on empty shell and complete bushings produce similar results.
For naturally polluted shells that are subjected to natural wetting in service, the pollution is usually not evenly distributed on
the surface and may not be evenly wetted under some conditions - such as light misty rain. Moreover, the operating
temperature of the bushing may also significantly contribute to its uneven wetting. This is because the difference in
temperatures between the barrel of the shell and the outer sections of sheds leads to a difference in the rate of wetting between
these two surfaces - at least during its initial stages. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that the axial-voltage distribution would
influence the pollution withstand voltage of porcelain claded plant such as bushings and instrument transformers in service -
even at much higher levels of ESDD than 0.03 mg/cm2 as suggested above.
It is, therefore, imperative - when designing bushings and instrument transformers for operation in polluted environments - to
aim at achieving a uniform axial-voltage distribution on the surface of the shell.
One simple and effective method of measuring the axial voltage gradient is described in the literature196. The effect of diameter on pollution accumulation

The discussion in Section concluded that insulators with large diameters collect less pollution than do the small
diameter insulators in the same situation. The effect of diameter on withstand voltage

The effect of diameter on insulator performance is discussed in Section and shows that in many cases, for both a.c. and
d.c. test voltages, the pollution performance of insulators decreases with increasing average diameter. This change has been
found for both the Salt-Fog method and Solid-Layer method 197 198 199. The effect of a non-uniform pollution distribution

In the state of Victoria, Australia, long-term service experience with several types of 500 kV current transformers and 500 kV
transformer bushings - that operate in an environment of up to 0.25 mg.cm2 ESDD - shows satisfactory performance.
Porcelain shells of some of these current transformers have an average diameter greater than 600 mm with a leakage distance
of only 12700 mm.
However, three incidents of external pollution-related flashovers have occurred on one type of a 500 kV current transformer
. The average level of pollution measured on the surface immediately after the flashovers, in all three cases, was less than
0.03 mg/cm2. Their porcelain shells have a total leakage distance of 13050 mm and an average diameter of less than 550 mm.

1999-09-01 74
The investigation of these flashovers revealed a strongly non-uniform axial electric field with a high concentration of voltage
towards the bottom part of the porcelain shell - due to a non-uniform pollution deposit. The bushing had a complex shed
profile with a double-rib geometry and a deep inter-shed cavity. Also there was a small inter-shed clearance. It was
concluded that the light pollution level did contribute to the flashovers due to its non-uniform distribution on the bushing.
The discussion on the effect of a non-uniform pollution deposit can be found in Section 3.3.4.

3.4.2 HVDC wall bushings

Service experience shows that the majority of the flashovers in HVDC stations have taken place on wall bushings of untreated
porcelain shells 200. Further investigations have revealed that the non-uniform wetting along the bushing surface is one of the
reasons leading to the frequent flashover of these bushings 201. This non-uniform wetting may be caused by wind and the
shielding provided by the converter hall during rain. Laboratory tests results have confirmed that, under such non-uniform
wetting conditions, a HVDC wall bushing with an untreated shell can flashover under the operating voltage 201 66 202 203 204 205.
Models of the non-uniform wetting flashover mechanism have also been proposed 203 206.
To avoid such a flashover by increasing the creepage distance may result in a very long wall bushing - as a specific leakage
distance of 60 mm/kV may be needed for moderately polluted site 207. Booster sheds can be installed to improve the bushing
performance. However, damage to the booster sheds or the bushing sheds have been observed in laboratory tests 202.
An efficient counter measure to suppress flashovers across wall bushings is to make their surface hydrophobic 66 203 137. This
is achieved by coating the porcelain surface with RTV silicone rubber or silicone grease or by having bushings with silicone
rubber sheds.
HVDC wall bushings of large diameter can also be avoided by adopting the outdoor-valve configuration 208.

3.4.3 Circuit breaker and isolator insulation

When the circuit breaker is closed, the insulator of the interrupter head is unstressed and so when this breaker is opened this
insulator is subjected to a cold switch-on event - thereby experiencing the problem as discussed in Section 3.3.6. However, in
its open position, this insulator is rarely required to withstand steady electrical stress for an appreciable time because a series
isolator will be open. On the other hand, during a synchronising operation, this insulator may be subjected for several minutes
to voltages that may vary by up to twice the normal value. If this interrupter head is horizontally mounted, its flashover
strength will be much lower than that of similarly sized insulators that are vertically mounted - as discussed in Section

Up -U p
UL 1 2

UP U L=2U p

Up 1 2

2 terminal test without prestressing

2 terminal test with prestressing
1 terminal test without prestressing
1 terminal test with prestressing
0.10 1.00 t (s) 10.00 100.00

Figure 3-41: 50 % flashover voltage as a function of the a.c. overvoltage duration (single cycle)290.

Using a solid pollution layer of kaolin plus NaCl and steam fog, the 50% flashover voltage of the interrupter heads inclined at
45o to the vertical is shown in Figure 3-41 as a function of time for which the stressing is applied. Two conditions have been
investigated. In the first case, one terminal was energised and the other terminal was earthed; in the second case, the terminals
were energised with opposite polarity voltages. These results show the important finding that the flashover voltage is not

1999-09-01 75
much greater than the permanent a.c. values for an energised duration greater than one second. An intriguing fact is that the
two-terminal voltage application values were 15% higher than those for the corresponding one-terminal case.
The results on the pollution performance of circuit breakers have quite a spread in values. This can be caused by the different
profile and diameter of the hollow insulator, the arrangement of the interrupter units, the influence of the active parts and the
presence of various insulators in parallel (e.g. those of grading capacitors). It is, therefore, clear that extrapolation and
generalisation of the results are rather difficult to make.
As an example, comparative tests 157 aimed at analysing the influence of the active parts have shown that, for a specific
breaker, the required creepage distance for the longitudinal insulation of the breaker was about 10% higher than that for the
corresponding hollow insulators without active parts. It is reasoned that larger differences can be expected for certain
constructions that have a highly variable electric field.
As general remarks:
The influence of various breaker components on the surface withstand is not easy to identify. Tests to obtain information
about the breaker performance in service should be made - as far as possible - on a complete breaker. That is, one
equipped with active parts and accessories (capacitors, resistors, etc.) and assembled as per in service.
Additional investigations are needed to obtain a better understanding of the influence of the various breaker parameters
on the surface withstand voltage. This is very important, because the spread of the results indicates that there is scope to
achieve improvements in the pollution flashover performance - by properly modifying the breaker design (e.g. varying the
insulator profile, increasing the distance between hollow insulator and active parts, etc).

3.4.4 Insulators in desert conditions

In Tunisia, flashover problems with ceramic insulators still occur in some areas in spite of them having a specific creepage
path of 52 mm/kV system 61.
Soil analysis has shown that the local desert sand in Tunisia contains calcium and sodium salts. These contaminants are
blown onto the insulators surface to produce a pollution severity of ESDD as great as 0.65 mg/cm2.
Some researchers in Egypt209 have concluded - from conducting laboratory simulation experiments - that the pollution
flashover performance of silicone rubber insulators is greatly degraded by their exposure to sand storms as well as UV
radiation and high temperature. The problem lies with the production of micro-cracks, which collect more pollution than does
the smooth surface. Further, the hydrophobicity of such artificially aged silicone rubber insulators is drastically reduced.

3.4.5 Semiconducting Glaze insulators

Insulators with a semiconducting glaze 111 have been available for some time. The use of resistive coatings has been found to
be effective both for suspension- and post-type insulators for EHV applications as a solution for insulation design in heavily
contaminated areas. The basic principle involves the continuous flow of current - of about 1 mA - which provides enough
heat on the insulator surface to keep it dry in dew or fog. This prevents the formation of dry band arcing that may initiate
The semiconducting glaze contains - as a basis - a metallic oxide, such as tin oxide doped to give its semiconducting
properties210. As these insulators continuously conduct current when energised, problems have been experienced in the past
due to corrosion of both the glaze itself and the glaze to metal joint. However, significant technological improvements have
been made and substantial service experience exists. Consequently, their use should be considered in the contamination
design of transmission line and substation insulators. A further problem, that of thermal runaway, may also be experienced
due to the negative temperature coefficient of the glaze. However, this problem can be avoided by having a proper design.
For example, the voltage across each disc of such insulators in a string should be kept below the limit recommended by the
Due to electrolytic glaze-corrosion 210, semiconducting glaze insulators may not be suitable for use on d.c. systems.
Consequently all of the following information applies only to a.c. systems.
Through making pre-deposited pollution tests, the performance of semiconducting glaze insulators under fog conditions have
been shown to withstand a SDD of 0.25 mg/cm2 (i.e. Heavy-pollution class) with a 13 mm/kV specific creepage. It has also
been shown that the voltage distribution along a string consisting of semiconducting insulators is very linear and that long
strings will be thermally stable because of the linear-voltage distribution.
Semiconducting glazed insulators also show a withstand voltage of about 3 times that of ordinary glazed insulators and about
double that of glazed fog-type insulators - as is illustrated in Figure 3-42.

1999-09-01 76
Figure 3-42: Contamination a.c. withstand voltage of semiconducting glazed insulators211.

The minimum string length of semiconducting glaze insulators is determined by its ability to withstand sudden energisation
when polluted and wet - that is, the condition known as cold switch-on. This situation occurs on lines that have been
unenergised for a period of time long enough to render the heating - which results form the semiconducting glaze while the
units are energised - ineffective in preventing the accumulation of moisture on the insulator surface.
Tests have been carried out to make a direct comparison between the cold switch-on strength of conventional insulators and
that of semiconducting glaze insulators of a similar shape. The results showing 50% flashover strength as a function of string
length are shown in Figure 3-43.

Figure 3-43: Cold switch-on a.c. flashover voltage as a function of string length 111.

Due to the voltage grading achieved by the semiconducting glaze, the radio interference performance of these insulators is
superior to that of ceramic and polymeric insulators 211.
The issue of constant heat-energy dissipation - and thereby its economic penalty - should be considered in any widespread
application of semiconducting glaze insulators.

3.5 Conclusions
The pollution flashover performance of porcelain and glass insulators is generally good, but problems have occurred in
service in a few places.
The pollution flashover strength of some polymeric materials - especially silicone rubber - is superior to that of glass and

1999-09-01 77
porcelain. In contrast, epoxy resin rapidly degrades from its new - hydrophobic - condition such that its flashover
strength can be somewhat inferior to that of the ceramic materials.
Service experience has demonstrated that the performance of polymeric insulators is adequate if the insulators have been
properly dimensioned. Such insulators have, therefore, seen increasing application in recent times.
The classic materials used for outdoor insulators, i.e. glass and glazed porcelain, are well described in the literature.
Polymeric materials are, however, much more diverse and manufacturers choose a particular formulation adapted to the
process and the characteristics required of the finished product.
Many factors other than axial length or creepage path length are known to influence insulator performance. Differences
in the behaviour of insulators in various orientations may be due to the accumulation of pollution, the effect of natural
washing and the physical characteristics of surface discharges.
The ratio of best to worst insulator performance - as assessed by different research groups and for different types of
pollution in terms of average surface stress, at withstand or flashover, for the same pollution conditions and vertical
mounting - has been found to vary. For the surface stress, this ratio is as follows:
1. Ceramic insulators, between 1.5 to 2 and 1.4 to 2.3 for a.c. and d.c. energisation respectively,
2. Polymeric insulators, between 1.4 to > 4.7 and 1.2 to 1.8 for a.c. and d.c. energisation respectively.
The corresponding ratios are somewhat lower for average axial stress. The ranking of more than 120 types of ceramic
insulators and nearly 30 types of polymeric ones provides additional information that could be usefully employed for
assessing the likely pollution flashover performance of an insulator of a given material, profile and size.
For all insulators, the specific length needs to be increased as the pollution severity increases. Although there can be a
large spread in the experimental results, there are some clear trends (e.g. for the porcelain longrod) that support the use
of a power-law relationship between specific length (SL) - i.e. specific axial length and specific creepage length - and
pollution severity (S); i.e. SL = KS s where K and s are constants. Typically for a.c. energisation, s = 0.2 for the longrod
porcelain insulator and - generally - about the same magnitude for some other shapes of cylindrical-type porcelain
insulators and for standard disc-type insulators. A further complicating feature is that the ranking of insulators can
change from test method to test method, as evidenced by some d.c. tests using (a) the Salt-Fog test, (b) the Clean-Fog
test and (c) a Dust-spray method.
Using a comprehensive set of data for standard disc insulators, it is possible to find a correlation - for a.c. energisation -
between the pollution-scale of the Salt-Fog test with that of the Clean-Fog test.
From a detailed study of insulator profile for d.c. applications, it has been clearly shown that a significant improvement
in performance cannot be achieved by increasing only the creepage distance in a given axial length.
For a.c. energisation, the pollution flashover performance of disc insulators is essentially linear with string length for a
voltage up to 300 kV in a Clean-Fog test and up to 700 kV when subjected to natural pollution. Further, it is only
moderately non-linear for higher voltages; being about 10% greater than that for the linear extrapolation for a voltage of
800 kV in a Clean-Fog test. Post insulators seem to be more non-linear than is the corresponding case for disc
insulators. Although the situation for d.c. insulators is less clear than that of the a.c. ones, there are some indications that
- at voltages around 800 kV - the non-linearity effect is more pronounced than the corresponding case for a.c.
Generally for vertically mounted insulators, there is some experimental support for expressing specific length (SL) -
related to either axial stress or surface stress - as a power-law dependence on average diameter (D) for given pollution
and voltage conditions; i.e. SL = Dq where and q are constants. The best support for this relationship occurs with
porcelain housings in which the profile remains essentially constant and only the diameter is varied. Typical values are
q= 0.4 and q=0.5 for the a.c. and d.c. cases respectively. For more varied changes in profile, the spread in the data
increases; none-the-less, the data for a.c. disc insulators provide moderately good support for such a power-law with
q=0.7. An intriguing and puzzling finding is that q can be negative for porcelain d.c. insulators in which there is a
substantial variation in profile over the range of D studied. For polymeric housing insulators, there is some evidence to
show that the flashover strength decreases as the diameter increases, but the variation is much less than that for the
porcelain case.
The improved performance of cap-and-pin insulators when inclined compared to that for the vertical orientation has been
confirmed in both natural and artificial pollution tests.
The artificial pollution performance of horizontal post-type insulators is much inferior to that of the same insulators
when vertically mounted.
There is some evidence to show that the alternate long-and-short shed (ALS) profiles may not represent the most
efficient insulator shape for horizontal post and bushing-type designs.
Correction factors for orientation have been identified for some insulator types.

1999-09-01 78
More natural pollution test data are required for inclined post-type insulators to establish relative flashover performance
compared to that of the same insulators when vertically installed.
The pollution flashover performance of large diameter insulators - e.g. an interrupter head - when horizontally mounted,
is substantially inferior to the corresponding vertical one. A similar finding is known for tapered bushing porcelains
when subjected to artificial salt-fog.
A non-uniform spread of pollution on insulators may have a significant effect on its flashover performance. A higher top
to bottom ratio of pollution spread on vertically mounted strings of disc insulators leads to a lower flashover strength.
The electrical strength of bushings and longrod insulators may also be adversely affected if some sections of the
insulator are less polluted than the rest.
Some types of discharge activity (e.g. corona from raindrops) at or near the surface of polymeric insulators may cause
severe degradation of the material thereby reducing the flashover performance. Such discharges can be prevented, or
minimised, by having the correct design of stress ring.
A large number of electric field calculation programmes are available, based on different calculation methods. For
insulators without any discharge activity, good agreement can be achieved between measurements and predictions based
on the different calculation methods. However, when discharges are present the situation is much more complicated and
so - unfortunately - an accurate calculation of the electric-field around the insulator is not possible at this stage.
The flashover strength of insulators that are suddenly energised (i.e. cold switch-on) can be at least 40% less than that of
the same insulators when continuously energised in the same pollution environment.
Contamination can significantly reduce the flashover strength of insulators under transient overvoltages (i.e. Lightning
impulse, Switching surge, system voltage disturbances) when compared with the corresponding situation for dry (clean)
The flashover strength of polluted insulators reduces as the altitude of the location increases. The extent of this
reduction depends upon the wave shape of the voltage, but for practical situations (i.e. altitude up to about 3000m) this
decrease will be less than 20% of the appropriate sea-level value.
The flashover voltage of an ice- or snow-covered insulator depends on the type of precipitation, the conductivity of the
water when melting occurs, the extent of bridging of the air gaps (e.g. by icicles), the accretion thickness (e.g. snow up to
30 mm) and the density of snow and ice. When icicles span most of the insulator, the probability of flashover at
operating voltage during the melting stage is relatively high. There is linearity between the flashover voltage and the
insulator length for axial lengths of up to 1.0 m. For longer insulators, this relationship can be highly non-linear. The
switching surge strength of insulators can decrease by 50% when the insulator becomes covered with ice. Linearity
between the SI voltage and the insulator length is maintained for strings up to 6 m long when covered with snow.
A minimum in a U-shaped SI voltage: snow-covering relationship occurs when 60% to 80% of the insulators length is
covered with snow.
Hollow insulators or shells may have a lower flashover performance than that of comparable solid insulators due to the
influence of both the electric field and heat from internal components. It is thought essential to design the structure to
achieve a uniform axial-voltage distribution on the surface of the shell.
HVDC wall bushings having untreated porcelain shells have suffered a number of flashovers, which is usually due to
non-uniform wetting along the surface. An effective countermeasure is to use a silicone grease or coating to achieve a
hydrophobic surface. A bushing with silicone rubber sheds is another promising solution to this problem.
Tests to obtain information about circuit breaker performance in service should be made, as far as possible, on a
complete breaker that is equipped with its active parts and accessories and assembled as it would be in service.
Additional investigations are needed to obtain a deeper understanding of the influence of the various breaker-parameters
on the surface withstand voltage.
In some desert regions, the flashover of ceramic insulators is a problem - even with a specific creepage length of 52
mm/kV system voltage. However, it is encouraging to note that polymeric insulators seem to have a reasonably good
pollution flashover performance in these difficult locations.
By using a semiconducting glaze to achieve a continuous leakage current of about 1 mA, sufficient heating of the
insulator surface is achieved to keep it dry in dew or fog - thereby greatly increasing the pollution flashover performance
compared with that of a normally glazed insulator. Cold switch-on, however, remains a problem with insulators treated
in this way. Although such a glaze has been found to have a long and effective life on post insulators, rapid deterioration
has taken place around the pin of disc insulators in severe marine pollution. Semiconducting glaze is not recommended
for d.c. insulators.

1999-09-01 79
Even without flashover, the presence of pollutants together with wetting on insulators may cause serious side effects on the
power system and on the environment. Leakage current flow across the insulator surface can be a source of annoyance to
people, or interfere with communication systems, etc. These side effects can be classified as follows:
Direct nuisances
Visible discharges
Audible noise (AN)
Radio interference (RI)
Television interference (TVI)
Indirect nuisances
Corrosion of metal hardware, leading to interference or risk to persons
Fires arising from leakage-current discharges
In this section a review of each of the above is given.

4.1 Visible discharges

Visible discharges can be a source of severe annoyance to people, especially where a line is passing through a populated area.
As shown in Figure 4-1, a pollution severity of only one-tenth of that which is necessary for flashover to happen is sufficient
for audible and/or visual corona discharges 212 to occur.

20 Audible corona discharge

18 No audible corona discharge
VOLTAGE, kV per insulator unit


Withstand voltage characteristics of
12 320mm suspension insulator


0.01 0.02 0.03 0.1 0.2 0.25 1.0 1.7

SDD, mg/cm2

Figure 4-1: Audible noise/ Visible Corona characteristic of suspension insulators under a.c. energisation 212.

Frequent hot-line washing is an effective measure to minimise the occurrence of visible discharges213. The use of robot
technology may be advantageous, as very frequent washing is required and the quantity of water used should be kept to a
minimum in populated areas214.
The application of hydrocarbon or silicone grease or RTV coatings may also be effective but regular renewing will be
required (see 8.3.3). In the case of porcelain insulators, their manufacture with a semiconducting glaze (see 3.4.5) can also
reduce discharges.

4.2 Audible noise

It seems that audible noise does not pose a serious interference problem under normal surface discharge conditions for
insulators energised by either d.c. or a.c.215 216. However, under d.c. energisation - when a single-unit flashover occurs - the
associated noise can be problematic 217 218. This is especially so in highly populated areas, because the periodic loud bangs -
when the insulators flash over - can continue for several hours. In a few isolated cases, the audible noise produced by a.c.

1999-09-01 80
corona or arcing can give rise to complaints when lines cross densely populated areas. The noise level attenuation
characteristics for the various types of interference are illustrated in Figure 4-2.

80 TVI


60 RI*



20 TVI*

* Under Partial Discharge

0 20 30 50 100 300 500


Figure 4-2: Lateral profile of RI, TVI and AN caused by partial flashover 217.

To avoid single-unit flashovers, the installation of insulator units with high individual flashover voltages has proved to be
effective. Hot line washing is also an effective counter measure, as is the application of silicone grease and RTV coatings219.
Once again, regular renewal of grease or coatings will be necessary (see 8.2.2).
Another form of audible noise from insulators is wind-howl, induced aerodynamically54, on certain profiles. This can be
avoided or suppressed by using different profiled-insulators or by modifying the profile with the addition of a polymeric part.
This measure changes the airflow around the insulator string, thereby preventing the resonance condition.

4.3 Radio interference

Again for insulators energised by either d.c. or a.c. and with ordinary surface discharges, the radio interference will not be
severe 215 216 220 221. It is shown in Figure 4-3 that the resultant noise level does not increase much with an increase in
pollution severity 215 216. In the case of porcelain insulators, semiconducting glaze (see 3.4.5) can also reduce discharges. As
the noise interference is lower at the higher frequencies, as shown in Figure 4-4, radio reception will largely be unaffected 215
. The signal to noise ratio threshold for such interference is 20 dB 215. More details on the critical conditions and limits
above which RI can become problematic are given in Section 4.6 hereafter.

RIV, dB above 1 V

No.9 No.1

80 No.2&3

0.01 0.02 0.04 0.1 0.2 0.4

Figure 4-3: Influence of salt deposit density on RIV at a measurement frequency of 1 MHz 215 216.

Some small-scale investigations222 conducted in a laboratory found that the RIV level - for a.c. energisation - of a wet and
polluted silicone rubber insulator, when aged, was substantially lower that that of two corresponding ceramic ones - a
porcelain longrod and a short-string of standard glass discs. The silicone rubber insulator also had a lower RIV level than
polymeric insulators made of EPDM and epoxy resin. Related large-scale tests, conducted using an outdoor facility, have

1999-09-01 81
established the beneficial effect of employing stress grading rings for both silicone rubber insulators and EPDM ones. These
test findings are in general agreement with service experience in Eskom's transmission lines in South Africa.
Radio interference may be severe around d.c. lines when the so-called single-unit flashovers occur 216 217 218. The noise level
and attenuation characteristics are shown in Figure 4-2. Measures to prevent the occurrence of such single-unit flashovers are
discussed in the foregoing section.

4.4 Television interference

Television interference does not generally occur with normal leakage current discharges on insulators energised by either d.c.
or a.c. This finding is supported by the frequency spectrum characteristics shown in Figure 4-4 215 216 220 221. For clear
television reception, however, the signal to noise ratio should be at least 35 dB. That is, considerably higher than that for radio
reception - 20 dB 215 217 - because the eye is more sensitive to interference than is the ear. More details on the critical
conditions and limits above which RI can become problematic are given in Section 4.6 hereafter.


RIV, dB above 1 V

and fog
Clean and fog

Clean and dry

0.5 1.0 2.0 5.0 10.0
Frequency, MHz

Figure 4-4: Frequency spectrum of noise of 500 kV insulator string.

Salt deposit density: 0.06 mg/cm2. Applied voltage: 303 kV 215 216 220 221.

Single-unit flashovers on d.c. insulators, however, can cause serious television interference 216 217 218. The noise level and
attenuation characteristics are shown in Figure 4-2. Some counter measures are explained in Section 4.2.

4.5 Corrosion of metal hardware - television interference

When the surface of metal hardware of insulators becomes oxidised or corroded, the layer so formed will exhibit insulating
properties. This light corrosion is not enough to reduce the mechanical strength of the insulator, but in the case of lightly
loaded suspension-type insulator strings, the surface layer will puncture electrically causing a continuous sparking. This
sparking will then produce noise that does not attenuate at the higher frequencies - even up into the television range. The
principle of this discharge and an example of the frequency spectrum are given in Figure 4-5 72.

Hardware 70
Noise voltage, dB above 1 V




Rust Layer 30



50 70 90 110 130 150 170 190 210 230 250

Frequency, MHz

Figure 4-5: Equivalent circuit for an insulator string with corroded hardware and an example of the noise profile caused 72.

1999-09-01 82
Since the insulating properties of the corrosion layer are the cause of the problem, two effective counter measures are the
application of: (a) added weights that mechanically break the corrosion layer and (b) bridging the corrosion layer by
connecting a bonding wire between the line and the insulator hardware. 223

4.6 Criteria for radio noise limits of insulators

General procedures for setting the limits on radio interference produced by overhead lines and substations are given in CISPR
publication 18-2 (1986)224. Further guidance with reference to the effect of polluted insulators is given in CISPR publication
18.2 Amendment 1 (1993)225.
The general principle put forward is that the insulator sets be designed such that their noise contribution to the overall noise of
the substation, or line, is negligible for any surface condition of the insulator. This design principle is only justified for
conductors that produce noise close to the maximum admissible level. This generally arises from conductors that have surface
field gradients greater than 12 - 14 kVrms/cm.
For the purpose of the CISPR publications, three area types are defined with the following conditions 224 225:
Type A areas: Areas where the insulators remain clean. They are generally characterised by the absence of contaminating
phenomena and frequent natural insulator washing due to rain or high and frequent dew condensation.
Type B areas: Areas where the insulators become slightly polluted. They are generally characterised by low-intensity
contaminating phenomena and by cleaning agents such as rain or heavy dew condensation that limit the
contaminant accumulation on the insulator surface so that the formation of discharges across dry bands
appears seldom.
Type C areas: Areas in which the insulators become polluted so that the formation of discharges across dry bands is
In type A areas, the radio noise level on insulators decreases with an increase in the relative humidity of the air. In the
presence of condensation without water drops, the radio noise behaviour is similar to that of the same insulator under 90-95%
relative humidity. With the presence of water drops, the level of radio noise increases. However, it is less than that for
conductors under the same conditions.
Insulators installed in type B areas behave similarly to those situated in type A areas. That is, there is a lower radio noise
level for a higher humidity. However, certain types of insulator - designed for low radio noise in clean areas - may exhibit
higher noise levels at high levels of relative humidity. In the presence of condensation without water drops, the radio noise
behaviour is similar to that of the same insulator under 90-95% relative humidity. As for clean insulators, the radio noise
spectrum of slightly polluted insulators is similar to that of the conductor.

Table 4-1: Recommended radio noise limits and appropriate test methods224 225.


A Ec+23 According to CISPR 18-2 and IEC 437 (on
clean and dry insulators)
B Ec+15
C Indication of limits and test procedures applicable to insulators to be installed in
type C areas cannot be given at present. Possible remedies, in case of non-
acceptable radio noise levels, are: the reduction of the voltage stress by means of
longer insulator strings, or leakage paths; the use of polymeric insulators; the
greasing or periodic washing of the insulator sets
Ec = 50 % fair weather radio noise voltage level produced by the conductor at 20 m from the outer phase of the line
(dB/1 V/m)

1. The limits reported in the table are applicable to lines characterised by a conductor-noise level close to the maximum admissible
one (voltage gradients higher than 12 - 14 kV/cm).
For lines of special design (having very low conductor noise), the direct application of the limits indicated in the table could lead to
uneconomical requirements for the insulators. To avoid this, the formula given in the table could be utilised provided Ec is
intended for the conductors of a line of the same category (voltage level, tower geometry, region etc.) but with a normal conductor
2. The values in the table apply to line insulators. Similar approaches can be applied to substation insulators in respect to the noise
in the substation itself and the noise conducted into the outgoing lines.

1999-09-01 83
For a relative humidity lower than 60-75%, the radio noise behaviour of insulators installed in type C areas is similar to that
of those located in type A or B areas. For higher humidity and for droplet condensation, however, the dry-band activity
produces very high noise levels. These nuisances can be controlled by reducing the electric stress or by using special
insulators. Alternatively, greasing or regular washing can be the solution.
The frequency spectrum of wet polluted insulators (Type C areas) with dry-band activity extends up to the higher frequencies.
The medium frequency reception and that for television viewing can then be disturbed.
Table 4-1 shows the recommendation of CISPR 18-2224 225
for radio noise limits and appropriate test methods for insulator
sets installed in the above defined areas.

4.7 Corrosion of metal hardware - mechanical strength reduction

Suspension-type insulators for d.c. transmission lines sometimes suffer from corrosion of the metal hardware due to
electrolysis226. The principle of this electrolytic corrosion and the corrosion of the pin are illustrated in Figure 4-6 and in
Figure 4-7. This corrosion can be so severe that it affects the insulators mechanical strength. Insulator pins equipped with a
sacrificial zinc sleeve have been found to be very effective in preserving the long-term mechanical strength of the insulator 226.
It has been reported that substation insulators (post type) very rarely suffer from such electrolytic corrosion227.

i Metal
Anode Cathode

Fe Fe


Wetted contaminant Electrolyte

= Metal

Figure 4-6: Equivalent circuit of a contaminated insulator 228.

The thinning of the pins of suspension insulator has also been experienced on a.c. transmission lines228, notably in areas where
the relative humidity remains high for long periods. In this case, the d.c. component in the leakage current229 is considered to
cause the electrolytic effect.
Corrosion of the pin beneath the mortar surface has lead to the production of radial cracks in the shell of porcelain a.c. cap
and pin insulators230 231.

Figure 4-7: Damaged insulator subjected to a.c. energisation and outdoor exposure on a 230 kV line (11 years' exposure)232.

1999-09-01 84
4.8 Fires
Leakage current activity on polluted insulators mounted on wooden tower structures may, in some particular circumstances,
cause or exacerbate the following environmental impacts (event a usually precedes event b):
a) Top-pole or whole-pole fires of wooden pole structures.
b) Fires in the nearby environment, vegetation etc.
It has been identified 233 234 235 that the mechanism responsible for the ignition of wooden tower structures may begin at any
point of attachment of metal-to-wood and, in some cases, even in the joints of wood-to-wood. The following conditions are
necessary for the start of this fire:
1. Sufficient leakage current magnitude on the wooden surface.
2. Concentration of a voltage drop at a discrete point in the wood, causing local arcing and - therefore - possible ignition.
Condition 1 particularly applies for severe pollution - caused by wet, soluble ion contaminants. A typical contaminant that
causes the burning of wood poles is a thick layer of sea salt which may build up, not only on the insulators but also on the
whole of one side of the pole, in a very short time during a strong sea-storm236. Then the leakage current may easily exceed
tens, and even hundreds, of milliampere. Laboratory tests have shown234, however, that much smaller leakage currents - i.e. in
the range of 10 mA - can cause ignition and fires on wood-pole structures.
Condition 2 is illustrated in Figure 4-8235 234, which shows the cross-section through a wood crossarm and the resistances
representing typical leakage currents paths. The wood in the "rain-shadow" zone near the metal bolt can often remain dry
during the moistening of the polluted insulator and the exposed wood surface. Due to the lowering of the resistance of the
wood that is exposed to the rain, that part of the wood has a small resistance (R2 ), whilst the dry wood maintains a high
resistance in the narrow localised zones (R1 and R3 ). The increased leakage current (I1 ) can cause arcing and so possibly, the
start of a fire if the ignition temperature is reached and a sufficient air supply is available.

Darker coloured areas indicate a higher moisture content
Lighter coloured areas indicate a lower moisture content
I Power frequency leakage current
I1 Leakage current close to the surface of crossarm
I2 Leakage current through central crossarm area
R1, R3 High resistance current paths
R2, R4, Low and medium resistance current paths
A, B Eyebolt and washer
C, Brace bolt
D, Guard electrode

Figure 4-8: Typical leakage paths through the wood crossarm; (a) is without and (b) is with the protective guard electrode

In practice, fires on the wood poles of distribution and sub-transmission lines usually occur at the metal-wood interfaces.
These include the insulator pins in the wood, the suspension insulator eyebolts, the cross-arm king-bolts and the arm brace-
bolts. In areas of very severe pollution, the build-up of soluble salts on the insulator and on the wood-pole surface can lead to
large leakage currents - which produce deep tracks at the metal-wood connections. Tracking may also be associated with the
pollution flashover of an insulator.
On HV and EHV wood-pole lines, crossarm fires may also occur due to large leakage currents across the primary insulation
when it is polluted. Fires have also been attributed237 to a high electric field that can be normal to the pole surface - as is
illustrated in Figure 4-9. If the surface layer of the pole is moist and contains pollution, the conducting wood acts as a
collector-electrode for the capacitive current ic. If this capacitive current is both sufficiently large and concentrated so as to
flow into a metal fastener of the earthed downlead, it may cause ignition and a pole fire. Even if there is no downlead, the

1999-09-01 85
capacitive current (ic) collected by the wet polluted surface layer may still cause a pole fire if it is collected by a metal nail,
coach screw or pole-step - because such current concentration may lead to arcing.

Figure 4-9: Model for EHV Fires showing capacitive coupling current into a metal fastener 237.

The main measure taken to prevent a wood-pole fire is the installation of a conducting bridge across the high-resistance zone
in the wood. Local bonding is usually employed to short-circuit dry zones formed by rain-shadows or poor metal-wood
contacts. An example is the guard electrode that is shown as D in Figure 4-8. This guard electrode is made in different forms,
such as:
a) Coachscrew fitted tightly into the crossarm or pole body.
b) Multi-spiked plate ("gang-nails") pressed or nailed into the wood over a critical zone.
c) Galvanised iron, aluminium or copper strips nailed to the wood.
d) Metal bands wrapped tightly around the wood.
e) A 10 cm-wide band of conducting paint applied near the metal-wood connection.
All kinds of such a guard electrode have to be connected to metal.
The original guard-electrode (Figure 4-8 b) is usually replaced by measures b) or c). These surface-type electrodes also
reduce the possibility of damage due to lightning currents.
With regard to the pollution on the insulators, it is useful to wash them or to apply other maintenance measures - particularly
greasing. But this measure is not effective when pollutant layers are formed quickly - as can occur by strong sea-storms.
Generally, the only solution against pole fires is to fit one of the various types of guard electrode so as to provide a low
resistance path over a dry-wood zone.
Finally, the fires in the surroundings of HV overhead lines usually arise when the vegetation is in contact with the live parts of
line. A pollution flashover rarely leads to the ignition of vegetation fires, but a fire on a wood pole caused by pollution often
causes the development of a fire in the nearby vegetation and forest. The main remedy is the regular maintenance of the right
of way of HV lines, the use of one of the above described remedies to prevent burning of wood poles and - possibly - the
employment of special chemicals238 to inhibit the ignition process.

1999-09-01 86

5.1 Introduction
Cigr has previously reviewed the subject of insulator pollution monitoring in two separate publications; the first one in 1979
and the other in 1994240. These reviews are summarised briefly herein. Some additional informatio, which has been
published recently, is also included.
Insulator-pollution monitoring serves the following main purposes 239 240:
1. Pollution site severity measurement
The results of the pollution monitoring techniques are used to establish the pollution site severity of an area and, if
applied extensively, the results can also be used to produce a pollution map. Based on the gathered information, insulator
designs and dimensions can be selected to achieve a good pollution performance.
The aim of pollution site severity measurements is to provide a severity parameter which can be correlated with the
performance of an insulator, as determined from artificial and/or natural pollution tests.
2. Insulator characterisation
The aim is to establish a comparative study of the performance of various types of insulator installed at the same testing
site. Through such a study, the most appropriate insulator design and dimensions - for the given conditions - can be
3. Initiator for insulator maintenance
Some of the monitoring techniques allow for automation that provides continuous monitoring of the condition of an
insulator surface, thereby providing a trigger for insulator maintenance before critical conditions arise.
A wide range of such monitoring devices and techniques has been developed over the years. The most widely used ones are:
Directional dust deposit gauge239.
Equivalent Salt (NaCl) Deposit Density (ESDD)4 2.
Environmental monitoring (Air sampling, Climate measurements)4 240.
Non-Soluble Deposit Density (NSDD)240.
Surface Conductance3.
Insulator Flashover stress3.
Surge counting3.
Leakage current measurement3.
Each of the aforementioned can be classified into two main groups of pollution monitoring methods; i.e. pollution
performance measurement and environmental severity measurement, as is shown in Figure 5-1. Those methods shown
beneath another one indicate a refinement of that method; e.g. Surge Counting is a refinement of the method of Insulator
Flashover Stress.
The insulator performance measurements assess the insulator, as installed in service, on the basis that the leakage current
across the insulator gives a measure of its pollution performance. This measurement includes the effects of both the pollution
deposit and natural wetting.
On the other hand, the environmental severity measurement relates only to the pollution accumulated on the insulator; in the
best case, it includes the effect of natural washing. From this measurement, the pollution performance of insulators is derived
from either artificial or natural pollution test results. The results from the environmental severity measurements may also
provide an input to the creation of a dynamic model of the environment to predict instances of high-flashover probability.
Short descriptions of these models are given in Section 7.2.7.
In the previous sections, it was demonstrated that the insulator shape affects the amount of pollution collected by the insulator.
For this reason, most of the environmental severity measurements employ either real insulators or insulator models as
pollution-accumulation devices. There are, however, purely environmental measurements - as is shown in Figure 5-1 - such as
directional dust deposit gauges and air pollution sampling.

1999-09-01 87
Pollution Monitoring

Insulator Performance Environmental

Measurement Severity Measurement

Insulator Flashover Stress Measurements on Environmental

Insulators Measurement

Surge Counting Equivalent Salt Non-Soluble Directional Dust

Deposit Density Deposit Density Deposit Gauge

Leakage Current Measurement Surface Conductance Optical Measurement Air Pollution Sampling

Figure 5-1: Organisation of insulator pollution monitoring methods for site severity estimation, insulator characterisation
and insulator maintenance.

In the following descriptions, each of these methods will be dealt with only briefly because the detailed information is
adequately covered in the publications.

5.2 Air pollution measurement

Air pollution measurements are carried out during a given period of time, to determine the amount and characteristics of the
pollution of the air at a site. For these methods, the basic assumption is that correlation can be established between the
flashover performance of the insulators and the physical, or chemical, analysis of the air at a site.

5.2.1 Directional dust deposit gauge

This technique is probably the simplest of the ones currently available. Four dust gauges, each set to one of the four basic
points of the compass, are used to collect air-borne contamination particles. These samples are collected at monthly intervals.
A normalised conductivity (pollution index) is then determined by making a solution of the samples collected and using a
To translate the pollution index into an actual site severity, line performance data need to be available. A correlation between
the pollution index and the required insulator dimensions can be established through a systematic investigation of both the
pollution index and the performance of insulators installed on actual lines in the vicinity of each test site241. This correlation
can then be used to estimate the required insulator dimensions at new sites without previous knowledge of these sites242. Advantages
1. The equipment is inexpensive.
2. The operator requires no special skills.
3. The equipment can be used at a site without an electrical supply.
4. The technique gives an indication of all types of pollution present at site.
5. The results are not dependent on subjective judgement. Disadvantages
1. The response of the insulation to the environment is not assessed; i.e. the effects of washing and insulator wetting.
2. Long periods are necessary to obtain results.
3. The method does not distinguish between slow- and fast-dissolving salts. Critical wetting conditions are, therefore, not
4. The amount of rainfall during the measuring cycle influences the obtained severity. A high rainfall during the measuring
period will cause the measured pollution level to be higher than the actual level - and vice versa - because the natural
cleaning ability of insulators is not taken into account.

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5.3 Equivalent salt deposit density (ESDD)
ESDD is given by the equivalent deposit - in mg NaCl/cm2 - on the surface area of an insulator, that has the same conductivity
as that of the actual deposit dissolved in the same volume of water.
The ESDD is determined by removing a pollution sample from the surface of a chosen insulator and dissolving it in a known
quantity of water (the IEC 507 Standard22 recommends the use of 2 to 4 litres of demineralised water per square metre of
insulator surface). The conductivity of the resulting solution, its volume and temperature - together with the insulator surface
area - are utilised to calculate an equivalent salt deposit density.
Sodium chloride is the reference salt in the ESDD method. It has a linear part in its electrical conductivity-concentration
curve. Therefore, the ESDD measurements have to be carried out within this linear range. However, insulators in the field
can be polluted with a combination of salts of lower solubility. This makes it necessary to add enough water to allow most of
the ions to go into solution and to keep the electrical conductivity in the linear part of the curve. Campillo et al 42 have found
great variations in the ESDD measurements with the addition of water for different types of natural pollution deposits (e.g.
It is often necessary to augment the ESDD measurements with the measurement of NSDD - see Section 5.3.3. This is
especially so when the natural contamination for inland areas are reproduced in artificial tests. In these cases, the best way of
selecting the contaminant composition for artificial pollution tests is by taking account of the soluble/ non-soluble ratio and
the chemical composition of the pollution deposit.

5.3.1 Advantages
1. The shed profile of insulators can be assessed in terms of contamination collection.
2. ESDD is the severity parameter of a number of different artificial test methods. This common practice facilitates the
comparison between the different environments and the artificial tests.
3. Many researchers favour this method - and so a free flow of information is, therefore, possible.
4. Unenergised sites can be assessed.
5. The apparatus for this method is relatively inexpensive compared to that of other methods.

5.3.2 Disadvantages
1. It is very time consuming to find the maximum pollution level between the incidences of natural washing. The timing of
monitoring is essential.
2. ESDD is insensitive to volatile chemicals dissolved in rain or mist that do not leave deposits on the insulator surface.
Chemicals such as SO2 and H2S would not be detected.
3. To perform the ESDD measurement, a certain amount of skill is necessary
4. The test removes the pollution layer from the insulator surface. Several insulator strings should, therefore, be monitored
to determine the build-up of the pollution.
5. The method does not discriminate between slow- and fast-dissolving deposits.
6. Critical wetting conditions for insulators are not determined by ESDD.
7. There is uncertainty in the applicability of this method to polymeric insulators, due to the transfer of hydrophobic
properties to the pollution layer.

5.3.3 Further developments

The 1994 Cigr review240 reported on some automated devices for measuring ESDD. In addition to those devices, another one
has recently been developed in Japan243. This device comprises an insulator-model - which looks very much like a normal cap
& pin insulator - that is exposed to the site conditions. The amount of pollution that is collected on the bottom surface is then
determined from making a special leakage current measurement on sampling plates. To initiate a leakage current, these
sampling plates are cooled by a Peltier module to promote condensation from the natural humidity in the air. After the leakage
current measurement has been completed, the Peltier module is also used to dry the sampling plate to prevent the removal of
pollution through a leaching-effect. Calibrations between the measured current and the ESDD level have been established.
One limitation of this device is that the condensation does not take place before freezing occurs for the combined conditions
of low temperature and low relative humidity. For example the temperature needs to be above 10oC if the relative humidity is
below 50%. Although field experiments have been performed, little is reported on the comparisons of field measurements and

1999-09-01 89
the corresponding readings by the instrument. Other aspects of employing Peltier coolers for making such measurements have
also been reported 244 245.

5.4 Non-soluble deposit density (NSDD)

The non-soluble deposit density (NSDD) is sometimes measured in conjunction with the ESDD and it characterises the
content of the non-soluble contaminants in a pollution layer. It is normally expressed as mg deposit per cm2 of insulator
surface area. NSDD measurements can also be coupled with a chemical / physical analysis of the deposit layer that allows for
the identification of the pollution source.
The non-soluble deposit density is an important measurement to take in combination with the ESDD measurement - as the
electrical strength of an insulator is affected by the amount of inert material present. This effect of non-soluble, or inert,
pollution on insulators is discussed in Section

5.4.1 Optical measurement

Optical measurements are used to determine the thickness of the pollution layer on the surface of an insulator. Some such
devices also enable the material characteristics to be determined240.

5.5 Surface conductance

The surface conductance is the ratio of the power frequency current flowing over a sample insulator to the applied voltage.
The voltage must be of sufficient magnitude for a suitable current reading to be obtained but low enough - and of short
enough duration - to avoid heating and discharge effects.
The conductance indicates the overall state of an insulator surface. It includes the quantity of pollution - i.e. the effect of both
the conductive and inert part of the pollution deposit - and the degree of wetting. By wetting the sample insulator artificially,
so that the conductance can be measured, the insulator surface condition can be continuously monitored. If the wetting
condition is such that the pollutants are not leached away, this technique can monitor the build-up of the pollution.
The layer conductivity can be obtained by utilising the insulator form factor to make a conversion for a uniformly polluted
Some devices measure the surface layer conductivity directly. A description of such a device can be found in IEC 507 22.

5.5.1 Advantages
1. The shed profile of an insulator can be assessed in terms of contamination collection.
2. The deterioration of the insulator surface, due to the environment, can be monitored.
3. Unenergised sites can be assessed.
4. The test insulator is not continuously energised, thereby reducing the risk of flashover.
5. The results can be used to set up an artificial test.
6. The method lends itself to automation, such that it can monitor the build-up of the pollution on the insulator.

5.5.2 Disadvantages
1. The surface conductance can only be measured under wetting conditions. Application of this method may, therefore, be
impractical in low rainfall or non-fog/mist areas. If artificial wetting is introduced, usually as steam or fog, the results
will only be applicable for areas with fast dissolving salts.
2. Due to the complexity of the equipment, this method is fairly costly.
3. The method does not discriminate between slow- and fast-dissolving deposits.
4. Critical wetting conditions for insulators are not determined.

5.5.3 Further developments

Various devices that offer an automated conductance measurement have been developed 240. One of these devices, produced
by ENEL246, was also listed in the previous review and has now been developed further. It is named AMICO (Artificial
Moistened Insulator for Cleaning Organisation). The monitored insulator is a hollow post-type insulator, filled with a

1999-09-01 90
circulating cooling liquid that lowers the surface temperature to promote wetting. The surface conductance of the entire
insulator is then measured to establish a pollution severity. An interesting detail, is the inclusion of a shield that is raised
during the cooling and measuring process to reduce turbulence around the insulator. This precaution is taken because such air
turbulence may influence the humidification process and so give an erratic result. The available measurements from in-
service use are, unfortunately, limited and so a thorough evaluation of this method's performance is not yet possible.
Another example of a recently developed device - that is based on the measurement of surface conductivity - is the LWS,
Liquid Water Sensor247. This device can be used to determine the contamination level when the relative humidity is above
65%. It measures the amount of liquid water and the level of contamination on a surrogate insulator. According to the
authors, the LWS is a better indicator of the contamination level than the peak leakage current, which depends on the amount
of wetting. However, very little information of the working principles of the LWS has so far been given.

5.6 Insulator flashover stress

The insulator flashover stress is the flashover voltage divided by the overall insulator length. Over a given period, either the
minimum flashover stress or the relationship between flashover stress and frequency of flashover is determined. This is
usually achieved by bridging out some insulators in a string with explosive fuses so that after a flashover the string is
automatically lengthened. Such an arrangement is shown in Figure 5-2.

Explosive fuses

Figure 5-2: An example of the use of explosive fuses to monitor insulator performance.

5.6.1 Advantages
1. Actual insulators are tested under service conditions, thereby directly giving the required insulation level.
2. Depending on the implementation of this method, the cost involved can be reasonable.

5.6.2 Disadvantages
1. The results are only valid for the type of insulator string under test.
2. As flashover occurs on the insulator under test, it is generally not acceptable on a service transmission system.
3. The source impedance must be low - testing may, therefore, become expensive.
4. No data regarding the mechanism of flashover are obtained.

5.7 Leakage current

The leakage current across an insulator surface depends upon the service voltage and the conductance of the surface layer.
Often, the insulator flashover performance is estimated from the leakage current measurement or the surface conductivity
measurement. One investigation concluded that, when the leakage current peaks are greater than 250 mA, preventative
maintenance - i.e. cleaning or replacement of insulators - is then recommended248. There are two methods of measuring the
current collected at the grounded end of the insulator. These methods are discussed separately as:
Surge counting.
Ihighest measurement.

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5.7.1 Surge counting
In this method, the number of leakage current pulses above a fixed amplitude conducted on a test insulator - energised at its
service voltage - are counted over a given period of time. Advantages
1. Actual insulators are tested under service conditions, thereby directly giving the required insulation level.
2. Depending on the implementation of this method, the cost involved can be reasonable.
3. This technique provides information on all the stages of the pollution flashover mechanism.
4. This method enables information to be determined if an existing line or substation needs to be upgraded. Disadvantages
1. This method only provides comparative data that must be assessed against similar information collected elsewhere.
2. A degree of sophistication is required for the instrumentation.
3. No information regarding the mechanism of flashover is obtained.
4. The results are only valid for the type of insulator under test.

5.7.2 I highest
Ihighest is the highest peak of leakage current that is recorded during a given time period on an insulator continuously energised
at its service voltage. It has been considered as a suitable parameter to indicate how close a glass or porcelain insulator is to
flashover. Advantages
1. Actual insulators are tested under service conditions, thereby directly giving the required insulation level.
2. This technique provides information on all the stages of the pollution flashover mechanism.
3. The information, provided by this measurement, can be easily compared to that obtained from making laboratory tests.
4. It provides a continuous record of the insulator performance under various weather conditions.
5. This method enables information to be determined if an existing line or substation needs to be upgraded. Disadvantages
1. A high degree of sophistication is required for the instrumentation.
2. The cost of equipment is high.
3. No data regarding the mechanism of flashover are obtained.
4. The results are valid only for the type of insulator string under test.
5. Due to the complexity of the measuring equipment, this method is not suitable for large-scale surveys.
6. This method may not be applicable for some types of polymeric insulator.

5.8 Conclusions
A wide range of monitoring methods has been developed. It is shown that not all of the monitoring techniques are equally
applicable for all the environments. It is hoped that Cigr will give some guidance to the selection of applicable methods in
the forthcoming application guidelines that are currently under consideration. For more information, the reader is also
referred to the already mentioned reviews 2 240.
The situation concerning the relevance of existing pollution monitoring methods for the dimensioning of the highly
hydrophobic types of polymeric insulators (e.g. silicone rubber ones) warrants a major research investigation to be carried out.

1999-09-01 92

6.1 Introduction
The engineer is faced with the problem of insulation strength under natural pollution conditions at service voltage for each
line and substation in a.c. or d.c. systems. To minimise local failures and system outages due to pollution flashovers, the
following steps are deemed necessary:
Determination of the type and the severity of the site pollution (classification).
Correct choice of the insulator profile and the creepage distance (insulator dimensioning to reach the required pollution
performance at service voltage for a given site).
Planning of additional maintenance measures (washing, cleaning, greasing, coating) if necessary.
To prove the pollution performance of the selected insulator, artificial pollution tests can be performed in the laboratory.
These tests are usually short-time ones and are less expensive than testing in outdoor stations. The usual aim of a laboratory
test is the confirmation of a specified withstand degree of pollution or the determination of its maximum value at the phase-to-
earth voltage. It may also be used to determine directly the influence of changes in insulator dimensioning on the pollution
performance of an insulator.
The choice of a suitable test procedure is usually made from those that are internationally standardised. Also, other pollution
test procedures may be used because of their relevance to special climatic or contamination conditions.
No test procedure can simulate all of the important natural conditions and their variations that may lead to a pollution
flashover. Therefore, compromises have to be made to reduce the number of procedures and the cost for testing. The main
requirements for the acceptance of a test procedure are:
Validity of the test procedure. The procedure should be representative for those natural pollution conditions that are
essential for an insulator flashover. This practise leads to the same ranking of different insulators in laboratory tests and
in service.
Repeatability and reproducibility. The scatter in test results in the same laboratory or between different laboratories
should be within the limits of the natural dispersion of pollution test results.
Cost-effectiveness. The cost for a test shall be reasonable in comparison with the usefulness of the result.
Validity, repeatability and reproducibility are specific to each test procedure, and the acceptance or rejection of a procedure
has to be based on engineering judgement.
Standardised artificial pollution tests use only constant test voltages (usually the phase-to-earth voltage).

6.2 Categories of test methods

6.2.1 Testing under natural pollution conditions

Results closest to the service performance of insulators under natural pollution conditions can be obtained at outdoor testing
stations. Information on several facilities have been reported 126 249 250 88 59 251 37 252.
Usually, such stations are located in heavily polluted areas (near the coast, regions with a high degree of industrial pollution).
The test specimen, as may be used in HV systems, can be stressed with a fixed or a variable voltage - and in some cases, a
mechanical load is added.
Current fields of research are:
Insulation dimensioning of conventional insulators.
Electrical performance of polymeric insulators and insulators coated with hydrophobic materials - with respect to ageing.
Long-term performance of Metal-Oxide-Arresters (MOA).
Depending on the research programme the following points may be the terms of actions:
Determination of the flashover stress by using different lengths of insulators.
Monitoring of surge counts, leakage current and total charge.
Determination of the pollution site severity, using methods like Salt Deposit Density (SDD) or Surface Conductivity.
Visual inspections to detect physical changes of the insulator under test.

1999-09-01 93
The results of testing under natural pollution conditions may be interpreted as a relative ranking within a group of insulators.
Also, a comparison with the corresponding results for a well-known reference insulator is possible.
Tests conducted under natural pollution conditions usually require long test periods due to both the natural dynamics of the
deposition of the contaminants and the necessity to collect sufficient data for providing a statistically reliable set of results. Examples of field test stations

It is not within the scope of this section to provide an account of all of the worlds outdoor testing facilities and all of the
possible testing philosophies. The following information, therefore, are only examples out of this large amount of information.
Martigues and St. Remy les Landes, France
Since 1975, ceramic and polymeric insulators have been tested under natural pollution conditions at Martigues (industrial and
marine pollution) and at St. Remy les Landes (solely marine pollution) 253 249 254. The test voltages are given in Table 6-1 249
. These voltages were kept constant and no mechanical load was applied to the insulators. All of the polymeric specimens
were regularly inspected visually. These results formed the basis for the comparison of the insulators damage produced at the
site with that from making corresponding accelerated ageing tests in the laboratory. The site at St. Remy les Landes is
regarded as representing most of the pollution situations encountered in France.

Table 6-1: Test voltages at Martigues, St. Remy les Landes, France 121 254 and Brighton, United Kingdom 121.

Martigues 225/3

St. Remy les Landes 20/3 (fixed)

Brighton 34,5/3 (fixed)

132/3 (fixed)
275/3 (fixed)
550/3 - 825/3

Brighton (closed 1987) and Dungeness, United Kingdom

The Brighton Insulator Testing Station (BITS) was situated on the south coast of England, adjacent to a power station and a
harbour. The main pollutants were salt and coal dust 121. For polymeric insulators, it was found that design weaknesses could
be detected in a relatively short testing period. Also insulator designs could be identified that may provide a suitable
performance in a severely contaminated area. Therefore, those tests form a natural precursor to service trials. The test voltages
for different groups of polymeric insulators are given in Table 6-1 249. The groups with fixed test voltage were used to
determine the natural ageing and surface degradation at service conditions, whereas the group with variable test voltage was
used for the determination of flashover statistics. This procedure, as described in reference 126, results in a "normalised Figure
Of Merit" (FOM). This normalised FOM allows the performance of the test insulator, be it ceramic or polymeric, to be
quantified relative to that of a reference cap-and-pin insulator. A value of FOM > 1 indicates a better flashover performance
than that of the reference insulator.
The Dungeness Insulator Testing Station, opened in the early nineties, is also situated on the south coast of England close to a
nuclear power plant. Based on the older results, tests are performed in a way similar to those conducted at Brighton.
Koeberg and Sasolburg Insulator test stations, South Africa
In 1993, two complementary test stations were set up in South Africa. Koeberg is situated in a coastal environment and
Sasolburg in an industrial one. At Koeberg255, it was found that design weaknesses in polymeric insulators showed up within
a year. In Sasolburg, the ageing processes are slower. The test voltages at Koeberg are 66/3 kV and 22/3 kV whereas
Sasolburg tests are at 88/3 kV and 22/3 kV.
Various parameters of the leakage current flowing across the insulator are monitored. They are:
Maximum positive and negative peak values per time interval.
Sum of the charge flowing across insulator per time interval.

1999-09-01 94
Sum of the square of the leakage current per time interval.
Statistical spread of peak values.
Time to flashover.
Tests at these stations are continuing.

6.2.2 Artificial pollution laboratory tests

A pollution flashover requires the presence of some kind of salt and water on the insulator surface. The test procedures mainly
used in laboratories can be classified into two groups, which differ in the insulator-surface conditions before the test.
The clean insulator, energised at constant test voltage, is subjected to a defined ambient condition (e.g. Salt-Fog
The insulator with its surface uniformly coated with a layer of inert material and salt is subjected to a constant test
voltage and specified wetting conditions (e.g. Solid-Layer method).
These two groups cover most situations for pollution flashovers and were taken as the basis for standardising different test
The choice of one of these test methods should be based on the particular natural conditions found in service to reach relevant
results for the insulator-design under test.

6.3 Test procedures for porcelain and glass insulators to be used in high-voltage a.c.
or d.c. systems
The procedures described in the following subsections have been established for ceramic insulators and are not directly
applicable to polymeric insulators, to greased insulators or to special types of insulator (i.e. insulators with conductive glaze
or covered with a polymeric insulating material).
For bushings or other apparatus incorporating hollow insulators with internal equipment, special precautions may be necessary
to avoid over-stressing of the internal insulation since the test voltage may be greater than the nominal design one.

6.3.1 Standardised test procedures Salt-Fog test

This procedure simulates coastal pollution where a thin conductive layer formed by the salt covers the insulator surface. In
practise, this layer contains little - if any- insoluble material.
The degree of pollution in a test is defined by the salinity of the salt-fog, expressed in kg of salt (NaCl) per m of water. The
test conditions (salinity, salt-water flow-rate, and pressure of compressed air) can be controlled easily. Salt-Fog tests are less
expensive and less time consuming than Solid-Layer tests.
Detailed descriptions of the Salt-Fog procedure can be found in IEC 507, 1991 22 (for a.c. systems) and in IEC 1245, 1993 256
(for d.c. systems). Solid-Layer test Procedure A - Wetting before and after energisation

This procedure is standardised for a.c. application only.
It simulates pollution conditions with thicker layers of deposits containing binding materials and some kind of salt. Also, the
situation of cold switch-on (energising of a line or a station with contaminated insulators that have their surfaces completely
wetted) is covered.
The degree of pollution is usually expressed as layer conductivity in S. The control of the test conditions (surface cleanness
before application of the artificial layer, uniformity of the layer, wetting conditions) is difficult and may require additional
testing work. To determine the required layer conductivity is time consuming, leading to a higher cost for testing.

1999-09-01 95
The wetting process in this test procedure runs under two different conditions: wetting of the dry layer up to the maximum
layer conductivity (severity value for the individual test) in 20 to 40 minutes without applying the test voltage, and continuing
the wetting after immediate application of the constant test voltage for 15 minutes at maximum.
A detailed description of the Solid-Layer test Procedure A is given in IEC 507,1991 22.
Note: This procedure is only rarely used today and is not considered to be optimal. For most of the cases, Procedure B
"Wetting after energisation" (see clause is to be preferred. Procedure B - Wetting after energisation

This procedure simulates pollution conditions at service voltage where a layer of binding material and some kind of salt is
wetted by condensation. This seems to be the most frequent situation for sites with solid-layer contamination as may occur in
rural, industrial and desert regions.
The degree of pollution is usually measured in Salt Deposit Density (SDD), which is expressed in mg salt (NaCl) per cm of a
specified surface of the test specimen. The control of the test conditions (surface cleanness before application of the artificial
layer, uniformity of the layer, wetting conditions) is difficult and may require additional testing work. To reach the required
Salt Deposit Density is time consuming, leading to a higher cost for testing.
For this procedure, the wetting process is started after the application of the constant test voltage to the insulator with the layer
dry and it lasts with a constant steam input-rate until the end of an individual test.
A detailed description of the Solid-Layer test Procedure B is given in IEC 507,1991 22(for a.c. systems) and in IEC 1245,
1993 256 (for d.c. systems).
As described in IEC 507, the steam input-rate shall be within the range 0.05 kg/h 0.01 kg/h per m3 of the test-chamber
volume. This steam input-rate is adequate when the pollution layer is formed only with salt (NaCl) and an amount of kaolin,
Tonoko or Kieselguhr as the inert material. However, when laboratory tests are performed on naturally polluted insulators, in
which a considerable amount of non-soluble material (kaolin or gypsum for example) is deposited on the insulator surface, the
steam input-rate shall be increased to wet adequately the pollution layer and to reproduce field conditions.
Unfortunately, as the steam input-rate increases, the temperature inside the test chamber also increases - thereby reducing the
fog density. For this reason, other sources of fog generation shall be considered (cold or ultrasonic fog) to avoid this rise in
temperature. Although various papers dealing with this problem have been published 42 257, more research is still necessary.

6.3.2 Non-standardised test procedures Quick flashover method

The quick flashover method is based on the Salt-Fog test and uses a variable-voltage application . The cost and test-time
are lower than those for the standard test procedure.
Starting with a stabilisation period of 20 minutes at about 90 % of the estimated flashover voltage at the specified salinity, the
test voltage is then raised in 5 % steps, 1 minute at each level, until flashover. The insulator is immediately re-energised at its
initial voltage and the process repeated until 5 flashovers are obtained. This part of the procedure is a kind of conditioning of
the insulator.
For the second part, 90 % of the average of the 5 FOV values is applied to the insulator as a reference voltage. The test
voltage is then raised in steps of 2,5 % - 3,5 % every 5 minutes until flashover. The test is continued with 90 % of the
previous value of the flashover voltage until the required number of flashovers has been obtained. The performance criterion
for the insulator is the mean FOV after the stability of the FOV values has been reached. Lambeth258 has suggested that, for
porcelain insulators, there is an acceptable relation between the withstand salinity determined according to IEC 507 and the
mean FOV obtained from the quick flashover method. Dust chamber method

This method is intended to simulate solid-layer contamination deposition on the insulator surface by wind 259 260. It can be
used without any pre-treatment of the insulators surface. The amount of pollution accumulated on the insulator will be
determined by its surface properties, the shed shape, the applied voltage and the number of test cycles. The wetting is
achieved by fog and/or rain. Figure 6-1 shows an example of the cycle 260.

1999-09-01 96

Figure 6-1: Schematic view of one cycle of the Dust chamber method260.

The performance criterion of the insulator is the SDD-value of the artificial pollution layer, the test voltage and the number of
cycles required to achieve flashover. To avoid too many cycles, a fixed number can be run to simulate a specific
environment. The duration of pollution application and the amount of wetting have been calibrated using a standard type of
insulator so that the pollution level after the fixed number of cycles corresponds to the specified degree of pollution. If no
flashover occurs during these cycles, the test object is deemed to have withstood the specified degree of pollution for which it
has been tested. A more detailed ranking using the leakage current and the SDD and NSDD-values is possible. Additional
research is needed to establish the relation between these results and those determined from tests made according to IEC 507. Dry Salt Layer Method (DSL)

The DSL is intended to simulate dry salt accumulation close to the coast followed by wetting, rain after the storm, to achieve
critical flashover conditions. No special pre-treatment of the insulator surface is required. The profile and adhesion
properties of the insulator surface are allowed to influence the amount of pollution collected. The test is designed to represent
the essential features of the pollution accumulation process away from immediate salt spray. Fine humid salt particles from a
salt-injection system are blown towards the energised test object by high-speed fans for a predetermined time to give the
required pollution level. Subsequently, it is exposed to a cold fog for wetting and to determine the flashover/withstand
The equipment needed to apply the salt to the test object are standard Salt-Fog nozzles, as is described in the IEC 507, and
large high-speed fans. A good control over the relative humidity in the test chamber is necessary. Further tests are needed to
establish the correlation with results of tests conducted according to IEC 507. Heavy wetting conditions

Heavy wetting conditions may occur in service during severe weather situations - like heavy rain, typhoons and strong sea-
storms; it can also happen during live-line washing. Large amounts of water descend onto the polluted surface, which may
lead to high conductivity values and possibly to an over bridging between the sheds, thereby initiating the final pollution
flashover at phase-to-earth voltage.
To check the ability of a polluted insulator to withstand heavy rain or washing without flashover at service voltage, the
following test procedure was developed in the UK with respect to recorded rainfall data for England and Wales 261 262 and the
CEGB practise for live washing. This test was an adaptation of a procedure developed to determine the performance of
polymeric sheds fitted as supplements to porcelain barrel insulators. The test investigates whether inter-shed breakdown due
to pollution and heavy rain bridging the sheds is responsible for reducing the flashover strength of insulators. A good
correlation was found between types of insulators experiencing failures during this test and those that have a poor service
history during heavy rain or live-line washing (e.g. tapered CTs, inclined transformer bushings, inverted-V substation
The insulator, prepared and preconditioned as for the usual Salt-Fog test 22, is energised at the specified test voltage and
subjected to the specified salinity for 15 minutes. After this pre-pollution phase, the fog is switched off and the insulator is left
to drain for a further 15 minutes. After that time, the heavy wetting is applied at an angle of approximately 45o to the insulator.
The wetting is in the form of an artificial rain of 2 mm/min with a water conductivity of 100 S/cm. The test is considered a
withstand if no flashover occurs during washing off the deposits or if the leakage current activity decreases. The heavy wetting
test is deemed to have been passed if three withstand tests out of four applications could be obtained.

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The withstand salinities obtained from the heavy wetting tests are not equivalent to the withstand values from tests made
according to IEC 507. This is due to the decrease of salt-fog deposits during both the drain period and the test period and the
large difference in the quantity of water impinging on the insulator.

6.3.3 Non-standardised test procedures for laboratory tests on naturally polluted

To determine the actual strength of insulators from a specific site, laboratory tests on naturally polluted insulators could be
performed. Examples for some of the procedures used are given in various publications 263 264 265 266.
The "Hybrid Test" (artificial wetting of the naturally polluted insulator) basically contains the following parts:
Wetting of the pollution layer by steam fog or cold fog.
Application of the constant test voltage before or after the wetting process.
Increase of the test voltage in steps, or continuously, until flashover occurs.
The test results, in terms of withstand voltage or flashover voltage, can be compared with the phase-to-earth voltage to
determine the safety margin of the insulation to pollution flashover at service voltage. Also, the leakage current measurement
during the test is a helpful indicator for the judgement on the insulation strength 267.
This check of the actual insulation strength can also be used for implementation of remedial measures on line- and station-
It is also possible to check the pollution performance of an artificially polluted insulator at a specific site 113. In that case
(natural wetting of an artificially polluted insulator), the result shows whether or not an insulator could withstand - at the
phase-to-earth voltage - a specified degree of pollution under the wetting conditions at that site.

6.4 Test procedures for polymeric insulators to be used in high-voltage a.c. or d.c.
Operational and laboratory experiences show that the pollution performance of new polymeric insulators is superior to that of
glass or porcelain insulators. This excellent pollution performance may deteriorate during service time due to the influence of
UV radiation, temperature, humidity and leakage current discharges. Different accelerated ageing test procedures have been
developed 268, but as yet no agreed method is available for predicting the pollution performance of a polymeric insulator under
given site conditions with time in service. The Cigr Task Force 33.04.07, Testing of polymeric insulators, is dealing with
this problem. IEC TC 36 also deals with this in its work-programme.

6.5 Test procedures for insulators covered with ice or snow

It is very difficult to do flashover tests on insulator assemblies covered naturally with ice or snow. Such tests would only be
possible in field test stations located in areas with regular natural ice accretion or with heavy snowfalls.
To make a statistical evaluation of the test results, it is necessary to perform multiple tests and, so, the use of laboratory test
methods with artificial ice accretion or snow accumulation become necessary.
Separate laboratory test methods have been developed for simulating ice and snow conditions. These tests have been made
applicable to ceramic, polymeric, line-post and station-post insulators. The aim of the laboratory tests is to simulate, as close
as possible, the service conditions the insulators experience under ice or snow.

6.5.1 Laboratory test methods with ice

The development of testing methods for evaluating the flashover voltage of HV insulators under icing conditions is still at an
early stage 94 359 356 357 269. The number of tests carried out in the past 30 years is rather limited when compared to other types
of testing (e.g. Salt-Fog or Clean-Fog tests) and, above all, these tests have only been carried out in a few places. A very
limited amount of information about the different icing-test techniques are currently available, as most researchers have
developed test methods of their own - according to their extent of knowledge and to the financial means available. Some of
the techniques could be considered closer to an art rather than a science, especially the very first techniques employed.
Nonetheless, some interesting results have been produced. However, due to the differences in testing methodology, it is often
difficult to compare the results of the reported tests.
Test methods to determine the flashover voltage of iced insulators involves the following aspects:

1999-09-01 98
Mounting arrangement
Ice accretion
Voltage application
Withstand voltage evaluation Mounting arrangement

It is recommended that the test object be mounted in a position similar to that of its service conditions. This is necessary
because the distribution of ice on the insulator is influenced by the electrical field distribution around the insulator, as have
been observed both in service and during laboratory tests 359 357. Ice accretion methods

Most of the techniques that have been reported use some kind of nozzle for ice accretion on energised or non-energised
insulators 356 269 270 187 271 177 272. Some of the more sophisticated ice-coating methods also make use of wind generation
systems in combination with the nozzles 94 269 270 271. The voltage (e.g. maximum operating value) should already be applied
during the ice accretion phase by whatever method.
The reference parameters used up to now, for describing the severity of the icing condition, are:
The time duration of the icing period 269 271.
The length of the icicles formed 191 194 184 313 273.
The weight of the ice deposit on the insulator 272.
The thickness of the accumulated ice on a monitoring pipe or conductor exposed to the same icing conditions as those of
the test object 94 187 357. Voltage application methods

In the case of an ice-covered insulator, the surface condition on the test object is particularly sensitive to the presence of
voltage. Leakage currents that flow across the insulator surface causes a significant heating effect leading to the melting of
some of the accreted ice. This affects the ice deposit characteristics and can even destroy the initial ice deposit. In the case
where the flashover testing is related to a specific determined icing severity, it becomes obvious that only a single flashover
test can be realised for each instance of ice accretion. This is the reason that, in most cases, a constant-voltage method is used
in icing tests. Withstand voltage evaluation

The evaluation of the withstand voltage of the insulator under test usually varies according to the aim of the test and the
chosen method of defining the electrical performance of the insulator under icing conditions.
If the purpose of the test is to evaluate and compare the performance of the different types of insulator under a specific voltage
level, it is suggested that the applied voltage is kept constant and that the time of ice accretion is varied. The test ends if a
flashover occurs or if the probability of a flashover is judged to be low. In the latter case, the test-outcome is considered to be
a withstand 359 187 357 182 274.
However, in most cases, the aim is to determine the withstand voltage of the insulator under certain icing conditions. In this
case, the ice accretion is stopped after reaching the specified value and the test voltage is applied in accordance with the
procedures described in the chosen standard (e.g. IEC 60-1, IEC 507) for tests under constant voltage 94 183 194 358 313 271 272 275. Cold fog method

The cold fog test 180, reproduces natural conditions in which there is repeated re-icing of the insulator with a thin ice layer as
the ambient temperature rises from -2oC to +1oC. For the cold fog test, the flashover strength of the insulator is determined
repeatedly while the ambient temperature is raised slowly. During each cycle, the applied voltage is raised in increments of 3-
5% - starting from the service-voltage value - until flashover occurs. At each step, the voltage is held constant for 60 seconds.
It is found that roughly half of the flashovers are observed on the voltage-rise and the other half within the 60-second hold
period. The flashover strength of the insulator reduces as the dew-point temperature increases to 0oC. This relation can be
found through statistical analysis, to obtain the withstand levels for the insulator at 0oC.

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The cold fog test without icicles does not determine the minimum flashover level of an insulator. However, it does reproduce
field conditions that are observed frequently and the test is severe enough to give realistic performance rankings. Outdoor tests

Outdoor tests of ice-covered insulators are mainly performed at test stations located in areas with suitable meteorological
conditions 181.
Also, some laboratory tests on ice-covered insulators have been performed in an outdoor/indoor testing station combination
183 358
, where the ice was formed under natural frost conditions by spraying water onto the de-energised insulator by means of
a hand-held nozzle. The voltage test was then performed after the insulator had been moved inside. It is also possible to
allow the insulator to collect ice during the night in an outdoor test facility and then to determine the flashover voltage during
ice melting conditions - due to sunshine - in the morning 111.

6.5.2 Laboratory test methods with snow

Various researchers have reported on tests methods with snow covered insulators 189 193 194 190. Snow covering methods

It is necessary to cover the test insulator assembly with snow in a short time to avoid a change in the properties of the snow.
Some methods are as follows:
1. A snow-pile jig may be used to cover the test-insulator assembly with snow 190. If the test is conducted inside a
laboratory, the jig and insulator assembly should first be cooled sufficiently by dry ice. The snow can then be piled into
the jig and so onto the insulator. After the whole insulator assembly is covered with snow, the snow-pile jig is removed.
2. Blocks are cut from naturally accumulated snow on the ground. These blocks are then arranged on top of the insulator
assembly under test. The conductivity of the snow may be adjusted by uniformly spraying a salt solution over the snow.
Just before the test the volume density, liquid water content, conductivity, and volume resistivity of the snow on the
insulator are measured 189. Voltage application method and test result evaluation

A constant-voltage application method is utilised to determine the a.c. or d.c. withstand voltage during testing. This means
that a constant voltage is applied to the insulator assembly covered with snow to check the withstand voltage until the snow
falls off the assembly. After each test, the snow covering is renewed. If flashover occurs, the applied voltage is decreased by
5 to 10% and - correspondingly if withstand occurs - the voltage is increased by the same extent. This procedure is repeated
about ten times to obtain the minimum flashover voltage and the maximum withstand voltage. The maximum voltage which
gives 4 withstands and no flashover may be defined as the withstand voltage.
For tests under temporary overvoltages, a continuous a.c. voltage is applied to the insulator assembly for 5 to 20 minutes.
Then the voltage is raised steadily for 2 seconds to obtain the temporary a.c. overvoltage characteristics by measuring the time
to flashover. This procedure is repeated every 5 minutes until the snow falls off the insulator assembly.
For switching and lightning flashover tests, the up-and-down method is used to determine the 50% flashover voltage.

6.6 Additional information on particular points of pollution testing

6.6.1 Ambient conditions during testing Introduction
The ambient conditions during testing in a pollution chamber are defined as temperature, pressure and fog. These parameters
are influenced by atmospheric conditions around the test chamber, which change during the day and throughout the year. This
is especially so at pollution laboratories located at high altitude or in a warm climate - or in the situation where the fog
chamber is not well insulated. Differences in ambient conditions during testing contribute to the variation in the results
obtained at the various laboratories around the world. It is, therefore, necessary either to control the test conditions or to
apply correction factors to the test results.

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From a standardisation point of view, the testing methods must meet the requirement of reproducibility 3. Therefore, it has
been necessary to investigate the effect of the ambient conditions during testing on the flashover/withstand voltage of
contaminated insulators subjected to a.c. and d.c. voltages. Taskforce 07 of Cigr Working Group 33-04 is dealing with the
aspects of testing polymeric insulators. The findings of that taskforce will soon be published.
The aim of this section is to review the current knowledge published in the technical literature on the effect of ambient
conditions during testing and reproducibility in artificial tests. Effect of Temperature

a) Atmospheric temperature
Arai 276 has shown that the temperature-rise in the chamber is greatly affected by the atmospheric temperature. This effect
should be taken into account during testing, especially if the chamber is poorly insulated and/or tests are conducted in very
warm climates - otherwise, the test results will be different from those obtained at other laboratories. Lambeth et al 277 have
suggested recommendations to overcome this situation.
b) Ambient temperature-difference
Several researchers have investigated the effect of the ambient temperature on the wetting process. For example, Rizk 67,
Kawai 112 and Naito 278 have observed that the temperature difference between the insulators surface and the ambient is
approximately 2C in artificial tests, which are similar to that which may occur naturally. Karady 68 has shown that the fog-
temperature is not constant but increases with a definite time constant. The influence of the temperature on fog generation is
discussed in a little more detail in the section dealing with fog.
c) Effect of the temperature on the flashover/withstand voltage
A significant influence of temperature on the contamination flashover voltage has been reported for both the Equivalent-Fog
and the Salt-Fog methods under d.c. voltages.

Figure 6-2: Influence of room temperature on 50% FOV 281.

Ishii et al 279 have observed - when using the Equivalent-Fog method - that the d.c. flashover voltage of contaminated
insulators reduces by about 0.7 - 1.0% /C rise in temperature and that the d.c. arc-characteristics are temperature
independent. This effect is attributed exclusively to the change of the resistance of the pollution layer.
Naito 280, using a Salt-Fog procedure for d.c. insulators, has found that the value of the flashover voltage decreased with the
increase in the temperature for the range 5 to about 35 degrees Centigrade. The findings were variable and in, some cases,
this decrease in voltage was more than 20% of the lowest-temperature value. An example of the results is shown in Figure 6-2
. It is reasoned that this general trend is caused by the increase in conductivity of the polluted layer as the temperature
increases 37.
A similar phenomenon has been observed for a.c. voltages by Moreno et al when using the Salt-Fog procedure and by
Mizuno et al when employing the Clean-Fog procedure 281.
In the standard contamination tests, the influence of temperature has so far been disregarded.

1999-09-01 101 Effect of ambient pressure
The effect of ambient pressure on the flashover voltage is important for pollution laboratories situated at high altitude and has
been investigated in both variable-pressure chambers and at special outdoor facilities at high altitude.
This topic is discussed in Section 3.3.8, where a general overview of the air density correction factors is given. Effect of Ambient Fog

It is well-accepted that the flashover voltage and the minimum surface resistance depend on the wetting method and the
parameters of the fog.
The artificial fog used to wet polluted insulators in laboratory tests can be produced by different means (i.e. cold fog, steam
fog, evaporated fog, etc.). Not every type of fog is, however, suitable for use in Clean-Fog artificial pollution tests. On the
realisation that good wetting is achieved on insulators by condensation, only fog produced by boiling water has been accepted
for conventional tests. The wetting is uniform, the wetting-rate is slow and the washing-effect is small. The fog density can
be controlled by regulating the capacity of the boiler element. However, an increase in chamber-temperature is unavoidable
after some time of fog generation - due to the use of steam. The result is that the flashover voltage tends to be lower as the
temperature increases.283
The comparison of results between different laboratories is difficult to make, because the flashover values differ markedly for
the same insulator and pollution level. This may be ascribed to a significant difference in wetting achieved in the various
arrangements. However, to simulate more accurately the natural low-temperature wetting process on polluted insulators - e.g.
due to high altitude - an alternative humidifying technique using an ultrasonic clean-fog system, has been proposed for a.c.
Karady 68 has analysed the wetting process during the testing of artificially contaminated insulators. It was found that the
flashover voltage depends on the fog condition. Different fog-generation methods (cold, warm, and steam) were also
analysed. It was concluded that the pollution test results for an artificially contaminated insulator depend on the fog
parameters and the fog-generation method. The operation of the fog chamber can be optimised by adjusting the fog
parameters to achieve the minimum flashover voltage.
Arai 276 has established the correlation between the steam flow-rate and fog density and has suggested that, for the fog
withstand test using steam fog, the ideal fog condition would be about 3 to 7 g/m3 for the maximum liquid water-content of the
fog. Parameters like the temperature-change after fog generation, the liquid-water content of the fog and the water deposit-
density on the insulator surface were measured. The results show that the initial temperature and the steam flow-rate greatly
influenced the characteristics of the fog chamber. The results also show that the faster the steam flow-rate, the higher the
temperature rise for a given wetting time. According to the results obtained, a higher initial temperature resulted in a slightly
smaller temperature rise at the same steam flow-rate.
With regard to the effect of the steam flow-rate on the a.c. fog withstand voltage, Arai 276 has shown that the withstand voltage
tended to be higher at a lower steam flow-rate of each initial temperature. He concluded that the value of the steam flow-rate
could not be defined as merely the steam-fog conditions.
Arai 276 also reported on the effect of maximum liquid water content of the fog on the fog withstand voltage; the main points
When the maximum water content of the fog was smaller than a certain value, of some 3g/m3, the withstand voltage
tended to become higher regardless of the initial temperature.
The withstand voltage was almost unchanged, within 5 to 7% of the dispersion for a certain range of the maximum
liquid-water content of the fog.
When the liquid-water content of the fog was extremely high, the results tended to show a large degree of dispersion
because of the washing effect of the fog.
The influence of the fog parameters on withstand voltage of contaminated insulators has been investigated by Naito et al 278.
The optimum fog conditions of the fog withstand method were mainly investigated on the basis of the comparison between
natural and artificial fog conditions and the influence of fog conditions on the withstand voltage. Their conclusions are as
a) The fog density of 3 to 7g/m3, under which withstand voltages with a small scatter of values was obtained, was several
orders of a magnitude higher than the density of natural fog. This is because the artificial fog is used to wet the
contaminated insulator in a reasonably short period of time.

1999-09-01 102
b) The droplet size distribution, which influences the wetting process by collision under the artificial fog, was almost the
same as that of natural fog.
c) By using steam or hot water, the temperature-difference between the insulator and the fog-chamber was 6 to 7C. This
value was higher than that of natural fog. Therefore, the artificial wetting process is accelerated from the viewpoint of the
NGK has reported 44 measurements of fog-density in the range of 2 to 5 g/m3 for steam injection and 0.5 to 1.8 g/m3 for
evaporation-fog. Similar measurements with evaporation-fog at HVTRC gave 0.3 to 1.5 g/m3. In their conclusions they have
reported that, for fog densities higher than 0.3 - 0.4 g/m3, both the evaporation-fog and the fog produced by steam injection
gave the same level of flashover voltage. The wetting rates were also quite similar. The authors have suggested the need to
investigate the performance of insulators under very light fog condition, characterised by fog densities of less than a 0.3 g/m3.
This is because the uneven wetting along the string may cause a non-uniform voltage distribution - which, in turn, may affect
the flashover voltage. Reproducibility of artificial tests

Reproducibility 277 is defined as the extent to which a specified test gives the same result when performed in different
laboratories. In other words, reproducibility describes the degree to which a test can be made in different laboratories and still
achieve the same result.
This requirement for artificial pollution methods is important for all the testing laboratories located in different parts of the
The Salt-Fog and Clean-Fog methods for HVAC have been shown to meet the requirement of reproducibility 277. However,
for HVDC, the Salt-Fog method has been unsatisfactory 285 and the variants of the Clean-Fog test-procedure have given
different results when performed in different laboratories. To investigate this problem, a comparative programme for the
HVDC contamination test was performed by NGK (HV Lab) and EPRI (HVTRC). It was concluded that the flashover
voltage obtained in these two different laboratories agree very well when some important test parameters are controlled
carefully 44.
Recently, a worldwide round-robin test of HVDC insulators was carried out in six laboratories 285. It was aimed at the
standardisation of the method for artificial contamination tests on HVDC insulators. The results are summarised as follows:
1. The test results of the Clean-Fog procedure seem to be reproducible because the scatter among different participants is
about that obtained in artificial contamination tests on HVAC insulators, for which the test-procedure has already been
2. The reproducibility of the results obtained by the Salt-Fog procedure is not very satisfactory. Further investigation seems
necessary, in terms of reproducibility and repeatability, to standardise the procedure of artificial contamination testing on
HVDC insulators.
3. It seems that sufficient information is available to allow the preparation of provisional international specifications for
artificial contamination testing of HVDC insulators.

6.6.2 Leakage current measurement

The leakage current that flows during a pollution test gives information on the development of an arc bridging over a certain
part of the insulator length 198 286 267 287 153. The highest leakage current that occurs during a laboratory withstand test is,
therefore, a characteristic value for a particular insulator at the given severity and the given specific creepage distance. Figure
6-3 shows an example of the leakage current characteristic of the longrod insulator L 75/22/150 at the a.c. test voltage of 72
kV rms.
If leakage current measurements are performed on an insulator in service at a particular site, these measurements may be used
to judge the insulators electrical strength of that site. This is achieved by comparing these site-measurements with the
leakage current characteristic determined in the laboratory - provided of course, that the specific leakage path length of the
insulator in service is the same as that used in the laboratory test.
Maintenance measures like cleaning, washing or greasing may also be initiated by measuring the leakage current on site 288.
This measurement of current is used only for glass and porcelain insulators and does not apply to hydrophobic polymeric
insulators. This is because for the latter, flashover occurs without a clearly pronounced development of the leakage current
with time.
Another advantage of the leakage current measurement made during laboratory tests has been identified 267. In the case of
small clearances between insulator sheds, the bridging over of these air gaps can be indicated by the current measurement.

1999-09-01 103
Such an insulator has a characteristic like that of an insulator with a shorter creepage distance, provided the applied stress on
the latter does not lead to bridging over between the sheds.


Leakage current 1


2,5 5 10 20 kg/m 40
Highest leakage current from 1 hour withstand test;

Current in the halfcycle before flashover;

Figure 6-3: Leakage current characteristic of the longrod insulator L 75/22/150 (test voltage 72 kV rms, creepage distance
2480 mm).

6.6.3 Testing of insulators for the UHV range up to 1100 kV

Pollution tests on insulators for the UHV range require a large test-chamber and the corresponding polluting and wetting
equipment. To fulfil the requirement of minimum short-circuit current in artificial pollution tests, a test-transformer and
regulator with low short-circuit impedance are needed.
The question of full-scale testing depends on whether or not the dielectric strength of polluted insulators is proportional to the
insulator length at the same degree of pollution. If so, the results at lower voltages could be extrapolated to the UHV level.
Verma 289 has conducted a critical analysis of several research projects 290 113 291 251 292 293, taking into account the practical
range of UHV insulation dimensioning and the influence of the voltage-drop on the test results. Essentially he concluded that:
Considering reasonable high dispersion of pollution test results in general and the relevance of the pollution performance of
long insulator chains to practical insulation levels, linearity can be assumed for all practical purposes. Even if a non-linearity
of 10% is claimed, it should not be forgotten that inaccuracy in insulation design due to a lack in knowledge of the actual site
severity is greater than that resulting from assuming linearity for insulation design showing satisfactory performance. The
insulation design data for 1100 kV can, therefore, be obtained by extrapolating the results already obtained and used for 400
kV systems.

6.6.4 Comparison of test results obtained with different pollution test methods
Each of the two test methods, the Salt-Fog method and the Solid-Layer method, simulates different pollution conditions that
lead to a pollution flashover. This difference may lead to different rankings for several insulators, using these two test
methods. For different insulators, there is no direct relationship between the severity parameters of the test methods. For one
insulator type and the same electrical stress, a correlation between the test methods is possible - using either the flashover
voltage or the leakage-current characteristic.

6.6.5 Comparison of test results obtained from test stations

In Figure 6-4, the a.c. flashover-voltage data obtained at 3 different natural test stations are compared with those of artificially
polluted insulators under a Clean-Fog test. The smaller dispersion of the artificial contamination test results is due mainly to
the more uniform spread of the pollution on the insulator surface. The lower flashover values obtained with the artificial tests,
as compared to the insulators polluted naturally, can be ascribed to the use of pure NaCl in the test. Naturally polluted
insulators may contain low solubility salts that will lead to higher fog withstand values.

1999-09-01 104
Figure 6-4: Results of a.c. natural contamination tests compared with Clean-Fog tests294.

A similar tendency as reported above for a.c. energisation has been obtained for a comparison of d.c. results - as is shown in
Figure 6-5.

Figure 6-5: Results of d.c. natural contamination tests compared with Clean-Fog tests 252.

1999-09-01 105

7.1 Introduction
External insulation should be properly selected and dimensioned so that the resultant risk of flashover is reasonable. It may
be worthwhile to do a probabilistic, or risk-of failure, assessment. This section starts off with a discussion on how insulator
characteristics can best be selected, followed by a comparison of the traditional deterministic design philosophy and the more
recent probabilistic approach. The difficulties in obtaining enough data for the statistical approach will also be highlighted.
Finally, a summary of available literature related to the probabilistic approach to insulator design is given.

7.2 Selection of Insulator Characteristics

When insulator characteristics are selected, the complete flashover process should be borne in mind. Both the environmental
and electrical aspects thereof should be incorporated. In Figure 7-1 an approach is given that can be utilised in selecting the
insulator characteristics.

Frequency and Type of Mechanism of Precipitation

Wind borne
type of wetting pollution pollution deposit

Active type Amount

Conductive Density
Dissolving Particle size
Inert (effect of )

Prediction of Estimation of
critical wetting pollution distribution
conditions on the insulator

Identify possibility of self cleaning

and required insulator properties
or need for maintenance

Identify optimal Profile criteria from

profile & material experience and
Test and for insulator suppliers data
experience Creepage
Insulator selection
and length

Figure 7-1: A structured approach to the selection of insulator characteristics.

Figure 7-1 complements Figure 1-2 in that it shows how the information collected, through the process of insulator selection
as outlined in Figure 1-2, is applied to select the insulator profile, axial length and creepage path length.
Referring to Figure 7-1, the selection process is outlined as follows:

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7.2.1 Selection of profile
From a study of the environment in which the insulators must operate, the pollution is characterised together with the
identification of both the most likely mechanism of pollution deposit and the type of wetting conditions.
From the pollution type - e.g. conductive, dissolving etc. - and the different types of wetting that occur, a prediction is made of
the critical wetting conditions. That is, the wetting conditions under which flashovers are deemed to be the most likely.
In parallel with this procedure, the likely spread, uniformity and density of the pollution layer on the insulator is determined
from the following:
The identified mechanism of the pollution deposit; whether it is by precipitation, wind or electrical forces.
The physical characteristics of the pollution; i.e. density, particle size etc.
The location of pollution sources and prevailing wind-direction.
The amount of pollution present.
In areas where the mechanism of the pollution-deposit is mostly by precipitation, insulators with large horizontal surfaces may
collect more pollution than do those with small horizontal surfaces - but perhaps with more shed under-ribs. On the other
hand, if the deposit mechanism is by wind aerodynamically shaped insulators may again collect less pollution than do the ones
with a more convoluted shape. More information and measurement results are contained in Sections 2.3.3 and 2.3.7.
The severity of the pollution can be estimated by using one of the methods listed in Section 5. The results of such
measurements should be compared with the corresponding service experience to obtain an indication of the site severity.
From the type of wetting - as obtained from weather data - and the identified critical wetting conditions (Section 2.3.6), the
possibility of self-cleaning is then determined. For instance, if the critical wetting condition is identified as being mist or fog
plus the presence of marine salt, self-cleaning can then only occur if the cleaning action of the wetting outweighs its pollution-
wetting action. Therefore, significant self-cleaning will only occur under a heavier wetting condition; in this case, rain.
Similarly if heavy rain is identified as the critical wetting condition, it can be concluded that self-cleaning by wetting can not
be relied upon. Another self-cleaning mechanism that is worth investigating is that of wind blasting. More details are
provided in Sections 2.3.3 through 2.3.7.
If the possibility of self-cleaning without the risk of flashover can be ruled out, the need for insulator maintenance should be
investigated. By taking into account the pollution type, the critical wetting and the distribution of pollution, the appropriate
maintenance procedures can be identified together with the insulator profiles that facilitate such maintenance.
Once all the above factors have been investigated, the optimal profile and material can be selected. If self-cleaning is
necessary, insulators with an aerodynamic shape can prove beneficial. If no self-cleaning possibility exists, insulator shapes
with less accessible profiles might be more beneficial.
In selecting profiles, it is necessary to rely on the results of artificial tests and/or service experience. The limitation of profile
designs for station post insulators are also set out in IEC publication 815. Polymeric insulators may be considered, for
reasons given in the introduction to Section 3.

7.2.2 Selection of insulator dimensions

The findings provided in Section 3 can then be applied to estimate the insulator dimensions; i.e. axial length and creepage
path length. Correction factors for large diameter insulators, both with regards to pollution deposit (Section and
flashover strength (Section can be considered. Insulator diameter and shed spacing may be significant factors in
determining pollution performance in outdoor stations - particularly for equipment such as bushings, circuit breakers, and
measuring devices.
The application of glass and ceramic insulators for a.c. voltages above 525 kV, as well as for high d.c. voltages, raises the
question of linearity of insulator flashover voltage with insulator length. Although such data are quite limited at this time,
because of the large test objects and laboratory equipment involved, it appears that the flashover voltage is nearly a linear
function of insulator length. However, at system voltages reaching levels of 1200 kV a.c., or 800 kV d.c., even a slight non-
linearity of such will require longer insulator assemblies in polluted areas (see also Section
The possible adverse effect of a non-uniform pollution deposit should also be considered; this has been discussed in Section
3.3.4. If constraints on insulator length prohibit sufficient creepage distance with the chosen profile, it becomes necessary to
choose an alternative profile or to consider utilising a different type of insulator material. Again service experience and
artificial test results are of the utmost importance.

1999-09-01 107
In the case of d.c. energisation, the accumulation of pollution is generally higher than that on an insulator for a.c. in the same
environment. Consequently, the required creepage distance to withstand pollution for d.c. must be suitably increased over that
recommended for a.c. to obtain the equivalent performance. For d.c. substation insulators, such as wall bushings, insulator
selection must take into account the behaviour of these insulators in relatively clean areas with non-uniform wetting. Section
3.4.2 discusses this topic in more detail.

7.2.3 Deterministic method

The deterministic method has generally been used for the design and maintenance of electrical and mechanical components,
apparatus, systems etc. The component is then designed according to material selection, dimensioning etc. to achieve a
withstand value W of the component with a certain acceptable margin of safety between W and S - where the latter is
the probability relationship associated with the environment.

Insulation (W)

Environment (S)


Site severity
Figure 7-2: An example of the deterministic method.

In Figure 7-2, the deterministic approach is illustrated by using an example for obtaining the design withstand pollution
severity of an insulator with respect to the maximum pollution severity of the environment in which the insulator must operate.
In this example, the operating voltage of the insulator, Vs, is known. The maximum withstand pollution severity (ESDD) that
the insulator must withstand is then calculated by assuming complete wetting of the pollution layer. The design withstand
pollution severity, or the corresponding withstand voltage, Vw, is determined with an acceptable margin; e.g. 10%, between
Vw and Vs.
The following problems exist with this approach:
1. The pollution severity, insulator withstand voltage and the degree of wetting are all probabilistic values.
2. The selected margin depends on the judgement of the design engineer and has, therefore, no statistical significance.
3. Only a single insulator string, or stack, is considered in this approach; but, in the actual design, many such insulators are
connected in parallel.

7.2.4 Probabilistic method.

In the probabilistic method, the principal parameters are considered as variables; this is markedly different from the
deterministic method, where the variables are assumed to be constant.
Figure 7-3 shows the principle of the electrical design of insulators against switching overvoltages, which is described in IEC
Publication 71295 296. The probability density function of the expected switching overvoltage is considered a variable and is
denoted as f in the figure. Generally, it follows a normal distribution. The flashover probability of the insulator is shown by
curve P in the accompanying figure. The probability of flashover, logically, increases for higher voltages U. The risk-of-
failure is calculated by integrating the probability density function, f*P; it is shown in the figure as the shaded area.

1999-09-01 108
If the insulation strength is increased, the P curve moves to the right of the f curve and the risk-of-failure decreases as
shown in Figure 7-3b; but such a change can be costly. The optimum design is, therefore, obtained by optimising the cost
against the risk-of-failure.



(a) U (b) U

Figure 7-3: An example of the probabilistic method; the effect of increasing insulation strength.

The probabilistic approached is considered in a similar fashion for the mechanical design of an overhead line support in IEC
Publication 826297, where the strength of the support and the load applied to it are considered as variables.

7.2.5 Static and dynamic methods in the probabilistic approach.

Two methods can be used in the probabilistic approach. One is the static method that is described in the previous section, and
the other is a dynamic approach. The former is relatively easy to follow, but the risk-of-failure can only be calculated over a
long period; i.e. annually, over 50 years, etc. In contrast to this approach, instantaneous risk-of failure can be calculated using
the dynamic approach; however, the calculation is quite complex and data relevant to that moment must be available. The
dynamic method is, therefore, currently not in general use.
Table 7-2 summarises the two methods of the probabilistic approach in selecting insulators in a polluted environment298 299.
In the static method 298 299 300 301 302 151 303 304 305 306 307, the probabilities of flashover voltage and other factors are combined in
a reliability-calculation. In the dynamic method 67 306 308 309, the instantaneous changes in various factors, such as the weather,
are taken into account for making a reliability calculation.

Table 7-2: Summary of probabilistic approaches for selecting insulators in a polluted environment.


Description Obtain risk of failure, R, by integrating the product Obtain risk of failure R(w) in a certain
of F(w), distribution function of ESDD, and P(w), period, by summing up the product of w(ti),
Flashover probability. ESDD at a time and P(w), flashover
Advantage Easier calculation and survey because the required Possible to obtain risk-of-failure at any time
input data are only distributions of ESDD and and, thus, may be utilised as 'an alarm' of
flashover probability. However, data for this pollution for a system.
calculation are not readily available due to cost and
time constraints.
Disadvantage Only an overall risk-of-failure in a certain period is Necessary to input instantaneous weather data,
available. and the calculation is more complicated.
Possible A method for calculating of risk-of-failure that
improvement is not influenced by the sampling time.

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7.2.6 Present status of the probabilistic approach
One of the first practical applications of the probabilistic approach was carried out by Karady et al 302. They showed that the
distribution of Equivalent Salt Deposit Density (ESDD) on insulators at the coast over a period of a year follows a Gamma
distribution, as is shown in Figure 7-4. The flashover probability of the insulators was assumed to be a normal distribution
and the fifty percent flashover voltage and standard deviation were obtained as a function of ESDD by performing artificial
laboratory tests. The risk-of -failure was then calculated by using the two distribution functions. In Figure 7-5 the resultant
risk-of-failure for 45 parallel insulator strings for a 340 kV transmission line is shown as a function of the voltage per


Cumulative probability [%]


very light light pollution


0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0

ESDD [mg/cm2 x 10-2]
Figure 7-4: An Example of cumulative probability of ESDD 302.


Risk of failure (%)




0 4 8 12 16 20
Voltage per unit, kV

Figure 7-5: Risk-of-failure as a function of voltage per unit 302.

Lambeth 306 307 deals with statistical factors theoretically to determine the suitable insulator length for polluted conditions. In
his documents, pollution severity and flashover stress are considered as variables.
Sforzini et al 303 apply the statistical approach for the selection of the type of insulator. The statistical distribution of pollution
severity is approximated by using a Gaussian distribution, as is shown in Figure 7-6 - this distribution is based on
measurement of surface conductance made on insulators at three sites. An acceptable value of the risk-of-failure is then

1999-09-01 110
assumed by considering the tolerable number of events per year. For this risk of failure value, the required flashover value at
the equivalent severity of the pollution on the insulator is determined. A suitable insulator is selected from the standpoint of
leakage path length. The standardisation of insulators for polluted areas is also discussed.

99.8 Surface conductivity
Cumulative probability (%) 99.5
( Aug: 77 - Oct: 81 )
No of critical events: 125

Salinity - ( Jan: 79 - Oct: 81 )
No of critical events: 105
ESDD -( Aug: 77 - Oct: 81 ) Insulator Y
10.0 No of critical events: 102
1 2 4 6 8 10 20 40 60 80 100 200
Surface conductivity (S)

Figure 7-6: Examples of cumulative frequency distributions of the maximum values of pollution severity recorded in the
various events at three typical sites (values are expressed in terms of the equivalent severity relevant to the laboratory
method deemed more valid for each site) 303.

Figure 7-7 shows an example design-standard for 132 - to 150 kV lines.

132 kV lines
150 kV lines
Withstand Salinities (kg/m 3)





9 (10)(11)(12) 9 10 11 12
Standard units Antifog units

Figure 7-7: ENEL standardisation; dimensioning of insulator strings for 132 kV and 150 kV lines 303.

Naito et al 299 have extended the approach into three dimensions. They calculated the static risk-of-failure on 800 kV
transmission lines by treating the flashover voltage, pollution severity and degree of wetting as probabilistic values. A
regression curve for relative humidity (RH) was proposed, as shown in Figure 7-8, which is based on hourly observations.
The corresponding probability of simultaneous occurrence of ESDD and RH is shown in Figure 7-9.

1999-09-01 111

Probability exceeding abscissa value [%]

99. 100 points
8760 points total



10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
RH [%]
Figure 7-8: Cumulative probability of Relative Humidity 299.

The flashover probability, as a function of RH and ESDD, is shown in Figure 7-10, for 200 parallel insulator strings.
Probability of occurrence (%)

0 0.1 2]
0 m
m g/c
60 0.05 [
RH [% 80 100 DD
] ES

Figure 7-9: Probability of simultaneous occurrence of ESDD and RH 299.

The risk-of-failure is calculated as the volume indicated in Figure 7-11 and a value of about 0.03 per year was obtained,
thereby implying that there are 11 days of flashover per year.

1999-09-01 112

Flashover probability (%)




20 1.5
1. 2]
0 0.1 m
0 g/c
20 40 0.01 [m
60 0.05 SDD
RH [% 80 100 E

Figure 7-10: Flashover probability, Pn, as a function of RH and ESDD (N=200) 299.

Risk of failure (%)



20 1.5
0 0.1 2]
0 m
40 60
0.01 g/c
0.05 [m
RH [% 80 D D
] ES

Figure 7-11: Risk-of-failure obtained (N=200) 299.

7.2.7 Dynamic method

Rizk et al 67 have described a dynamic statistical method to evaluate transmission line performance. The line was divided into
several sections, each of which was assumed to be exposed to uniform conditions of pollution build-up and wetting events.
The total number of flashovers expected over a certain period of time were determined from the sum of the flashovers of the
different sections.
In any given line-section and exposure-period, the statistical variation of the string flashover voltage for a given pollution
severity - as well as the statistical variation of the pollution severity itself - were considered. It was shown that the most
important parameters to determine line performance are: the ratio of the operating voltage to the 50% flashover voltage of the
string, the resultant coefficient of variation and the number of wetting events 67.
Lambeth 306 has also suggested the need to consider the change with time of the pollutant deposit, the wetting etc. Yamada et
al 308 have extended the static model of flashover risk - by Naito et al 299 - into a dynamic model. According to this model, the
instantaneous change in climatic data produces a change in the ESDD value and the wetting-rate. These, in turn, affect the
flashover probability and risk-of-failure. Figure 7-12 shows an example of the results.
A similar approach of dynamic-risk prediction under snow/ice conditions is used in Canada 180 310.

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10 Wind velocity (m/s)


Rainfall (mm/10min)

ESDD (mg/cm2)


50 RH (%)


Degree of wetting (%)


0.6 Absorption density of moisture (mg/cm2)

60 Flashover probability (%)
Actual flashover
0 6 12 18 0 6 12 18 0 6
Time of day
Figure 7-12: A sample simulation of flashover probability311.

7.2.8 Truncation of the distribution

In almost all cases, the studies that have been made assume that the flashover voltage, pollution severity etc. follows a normal
distribution. In reality, however, the distribution of relative humidity is truncated - as shown in Figure 7-8. Houlgate et al126
have reported that, in a natural pollution test station, the distribution of flashover voltage is truncated - as shown in Figure 7-
13. The values of V50 and sigma derived from this curve are considered different from those obtained from the results
obtained by artificial pollution tests. A statistical flashover study312, comprising 2800 tests on artificially polluted insulators,
also indicates that a truncation of the distribution exists.

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170 100

kV actual, m-1, overall length

kV,system m-1, overall length

Normalised Flashover Stress

E Eo
n 90
150 N = k
Eo = 99
140 80
k = 161.
130 n = 2.1

120 70


90 50
0.01 0.1 1.0 10
Cumulative Frequency, Flashover/insulator/year
Figure 7-13: Cumulative frequency distribution of EHV and UHV normalised flashover stresses for the total test period at
Brighton insulator testing station 126.

7.2.9 Conclusions
Many probabilistic approaches have been reported for designing insulators under polluted conditions.
From a methodological point of view, a considerable amount of work is still necessary before this type of approach can be
internationally accepted. In addition, for such an approach to be successful, reliable statistical data of both the pollution
severity and the insulation strength are required. The statistical approach is, therefore, not yet sufficiently advanced to be
applied in the design or maintenance of insulators in a polluted environment. However, such a method can give a clear
indication of the critical conditions that will lead to insulator flashover.

7.3 Selection of insulators for application under ice and snow

On the basis of laboratory results, it is possible to employ either a deterministic or a probabilistic approach in selecting
insulators for use under ice or snow conditions.
The following points need to be considered:
a) The maximum electrical stress on insulators for transmission lines and substations should be kept below the
corresponding withstand value determined for ice and snow conditions in the laboratory. Some authors 313 314 indicate a
stress limit of 75 kV/m for both a.c. (rms value) and d.c. A value of 200 kV/m (peak) is suggested for the switching-
surge stress limit where the axial length of the insulator is used to calculate the stress. However, it is still necessary to
take account of other effects and conditions on the insulator - such as non-linearity effects on long strings, diameter of
the insulator, shed profile and insulator surface condition - to achieve a successful design.
In environments having a moderate pollution level - i.e. 0.1 to 0.2 mg/cm2 - and where cold fog conditions are expected,
the design withstand-level should be reduced to about 60 kV/m. This value is based on the results obtained for 1.85 m,
230 kV insulators; thereby indicating a 75 kV/m CFO, with a 5% standard deviation.
Under ice and snow conditions, the lightning impulse level of insulators may be reduced by up to 50%. Therefore, the
designer must consider whether it is necessary to take ice and snow effects into account when considering the lightning
performance. The factors to consider are the probability of simultaneous occurrence of snow or ice and lightning and the
amount of snow and ice that is expected to accumulate.
b) The probabilistic method is based on the calculation of the insulator length, or the number of discs in the string to
withstand flashovers - as considered from the U50. The latter being obtained from ice and snow test results, assuming an
expected flashover probability of less than 0.2. The calculation should also take into account the presence of other
strings - i.e. parallel gaps - on the line subjected to the same icing conditions.

1999-09-01 115
7.4 Selection of insulators for d.c. energisation

7.4.1 Introduction
Several specific characteristics are necessary for effective d.c. insulation:
1. A correct insulator profile is required to enhance the withstand characteristics and to reduce pollution build-up.
2. High resistance / high purity dielectrics are necessary to reduce the risk of ion migration / accumulation.
3. Sacrificial electrodes on metal fittings are necessary to avoid the effects of unidirectional current flow, especially in
humid environments.
Points 2 and 3 are covered in detail in IEC 61245 that gives minimum values and test methods to check these parameters.
Point 1 is more difficult to specify.
For glass and ceramic cap and pin designs and post and bushing insulators, the optimal profiles are well known315. However
for polymeric insulators, the lack of service experience - especially for d.c. - means that the profiles which are currently used
are based on laboratory artificial pollution tests only and do not take into account pollution deposition mechanisms found in
service. Hopefully the growing use of polymeric insulators for d.c. applications can remedy this lack of knowledge and

7.4.2 Selection of a site severity correction factor

When dimensioning outdoor insulators for d.c. lines or stations, the pollution level measured from the nearby a.c. lines or
stations provides important indications for the possible pollution levels of the d.c. lines or stations. Since insulators energised
at d.c. voltage may attract more contaminants than occurs at a.c. voltage, a correction factor is sometimes needed 316. This
correction factor, referred to in the following as Kp, is the ratio of the pollution level at d.c. voltage, Pdc to the corresponding
value Pac at a.c. voltage; i.e. Kp = Pdc/Pac. Various researchers have reported measurements, from which could be determined
the values of Kp 317 59 318 319 320 81 321 322 323 324.
As has been discussed in Section, the main cause of the difference between the contamination accumulation at d.c.
voltage and that at a.c. voltage is the electrostatic force. However, the force that can outweigh 323 the effect of this
electrostatic force is wind. Therefore, in areas where wind is the dominant force that brings contaminants onto the insulator,
the difference between the d.c. and a.c. conditions is small. In areas where wind is not the only major force that brings
contaminants onto the insulator, differences are seen between the contamination accumulation for d.c. and a.c. conditions.
The extent of this difference depends on the wind speed, the type of pollution source and the distance to the pollution source.
Contaminants from natural sources - such as sea salt, desert sand or earth particles from open dry land - are mainly generated
and transported by the wind. The amount of contaminants and the transportation distance are the function of the wind-speed
and duration. In areas where these types of pollution are the major sources, a lower Kp value will be appropriate.
Some other types of pollution sources are: highways, industrial release, residential areas (especially when coal and wood are
used for cooking and heating), mining and construction work. These are the man-made pollution sources. Contaminants from
these sources are self generated rather than wind generated. The amount of contaminants produced bears little relation to
the wind-speed. The contaminants can spread from the pollution sources over a distance that ranges from a few hundred
metres to one or two kilometres at low wind-speed. If a d.c. station is located near such pollution sources or a d.c. line is
passing through such areas, there is a larger difference between the pollution levels of d.c. and a.c. insulators, i.e. a higher Kp
value may be expected. During high wind, the contaminants from some of the industrial sources may be transported over a
few kilometres. However, the reduction in the amount of contaminants with distance from the source is greater for the self-
generated pollution than it is for the wind-borne types. In some exceptional weather conditions, industrial pollution - released
as gases - can be carried over hundreds to thousands of kilometres181.
In areas that are considered as clean from the viewpoint of a.c. voltage, few measurements have been made. However, a
significant difference between d.c. and a.c. pollution levels has been observed in some areas 324 317, whilst no difference has
been found for some other areas. Pollution sources may exist, but their effects may not be discernible because the pollution
level is low. In this case, a high Kp value is to be adopted. Further investigations are necessary to characterise the clean
As a rough approximation, the value of this correction factor Kp is given Table 7-3325

1999-09-01 116
Table 7-3: Correction factor, Kp, that provides the ratio between pollution levels at d.c. and a.c. voltage 325.

1 - 1.2 areas influenced only by natural pollution sources, such as sea and desert
areas influenced both by natural pollution sources and by industrial pollution sources
1.3 - 1.9 but at a few kilometres distance from the industrial pollution sources
2-3 areas close to (within a few kilometres) industrial pollution sources and are
considered as clean from the viewpoint of a.c. voltage

A further parameter that may intensify the accumulation of contamination at d.c. voltage is the electrical charging of the
contaminants by industrial processes or by corona discharges from high-voltage equipment.

7.5 Insulator pollution design of Phase-to-Phase Spacers

7.5.1 Introduction
Phase-to-phase spacers are mainly used to prevent mid-span flashovers occurring during conditions of galloping, conductor
jumping following ice release etc. on transmission lines. These spacers may be either porcelain or polymeric ones. In
addition, phase spacers may be required for compact line designs, reduced phase spacing to decrease magnetic field levels, or
to improve the aesthetics of the line.
The design of phase-to-phase spacers may be different from that of phase-to-ground insulators.

7.5.2 Design Practice

The fundamental procedure for the design, from the pollution viewpoint, of phase-to-phase spacers is the same as that for
phase-to-ground insulators except that the withstand voltage is 3 times that for the phase-to-ground voltage 326 327. Not only
are the design procedures the same for phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground insulators but so are the design parameters such as
ESDD, specific leakage distance, effect of average diameter etc.
However, considering the consequence of a phase-to-phase flashover on the operation of a transmission line, an additional
safety margin may need to be included. This is especially so in the case of polymeric phase spacers because of uncertainties -
such as ageing deterioration, unknown performance under various conditions etc. In these cases, longer leakage distances are
normally adopted than would be in the case for the corresponding porcelain insulators.

1999-09-01 117

8.1 Introduction
In the event that the performance of the insulators selected for a specific application does not meet the design criteria,
remedies may be required to improve theis performance to an acceptable level.
Although not usually possible, the most obvious remedy is to change the insulators either by adding additional units or by
changing the type. For example, insulators with higher specific creepage distance may be chosen to replace the original
design within the same physical spacing.
Insulators with semiconducting glaze may form a reasonable alternative if replacement is allowed. Such insulators have had
considerable application in substations for bus support insulators, but recently new designs of suspension insulators have also
become available.
More than likely, some type of maintenance will be needed if pollution flashovers become unacceptable and the replacement
of insulators is not possible. Maintenance procedures can be classified into periodic and semi-permanent.
The most common type of periodic maintenance consists of insulator washing. Care must be taken to use appropriate
procedures, including direction of washing and low conductivity water, to prevent flashovers during this maintenance
procedure. The most difficult question to address is: "What is the necessary frequency of washing?" That is, some type of
pollution monitoring will be required.
A second type of periodic maintenance is greasing. Although the petroleum version was used in the first introduction of
greases - and continues to be chosen in some cases, silicone grease has better characteristics for the higher ambient
temperatures. Greasing must be repeated, with appropriate cleaning, and the intervals are determined by the service
environment. Intervals from one to five years have been found to be acceptable.
If re-greasing is not needed for five years, the maintenance procedure could be considered as semi-permanent. Obviously,
this is a qualitative judgement and will vary with utility perspectives.
Finally, the use of insulator coatings other than grease may be a semi-permanent or permanent remedy. Such coatings consist,
for example, of room temperature vulcanised silicone rubber and have had success in many substation applications.
The options for correcting the performance of polymeric insulators are more restricted than for those made of glass or
ceramic. Obviously, if pollution flashovers become unacceptably frequent, replacement should be considered.
Maintenance procedures must take into account the design of the insulator and the recommendations of the manufacturer.

8.2 Maintenance procedures

8.2.1 Live-insulator washing of ceramic insulators Introduction
The growing attention to system reliability implies the necessity of adopting cost-effective measures to reduce outages of
service. Among the various options, live-insulator washing - sometimes referred to as hot-line washing- is often employed.
Herein are reviewed the methods and techniques presently used in live-insulator washing, with special reference to the related
insulation aspects. In particular, after a short description of the main washing techniques and equipment, electrical aspects
related to washing safety and performance are considered - thereby deriving indications useful for the standardisation of this
practise. Cleaning procedures Methods used

The main solutions available for the live-line cleaning of insulators are:
Use of brushes.
Projection of solid vegetable particles.

1999-09-01 118
Application of water jets.
Cleaning by water projection is nowadays the most widespread solution adopted and the analysis in the following will
concentrate on this solution; it is referred to as live-insulator washing.
Four methods of live-insulator washing are most often used 328. They differ mainly in the type of nozzle arrangement adopted,
and namely are:
Portable Hand-Held Jet Nozzles.
Helicopter Mounted Nozzles.
Remote-controlled Jet Nozzles, often automated by using robots.
Fixed-Spray Nozzles.
Portable Hand-Held Jet Nozzles are operated by qualified workers on the ground or at ground potential at relatively large
distances from the insulator, as required by safety conditions 328 329 330 331. The method is the one most adopted to date.
Fixed Spray Nozzles can be used for special applications and are installed at ground potential in fixed locations at relatively
large distances from the insulators, as in the previous method 328 332. This technique is, however, not economic for widespread
application and requires an excessive amount of water.
Helicopter-Mounted Nozzles are particularly useful when access to insulators is difficult, e.g. in rugged or remote terrain or
when high mobility is required for rapid washing operations over long distances. The system is controlled by a wash-operator
or by the pilot. With this self-contained, isolated and ungrounded system, the nozzle can be safely positioned closer to the
insulators than is the situation for the hand-held jet nozzle method.
Remote-Controlled Jet Nozzles. This method, often automated, has been recently proposed 333 334. The equipment generally
consists of a nozzle fixed to an extendible truck-mounted boom or of nozzles carried by robots that are self-moving systems
after being placed on the insulator to be washed. Today, many reasons justify the introduction of automated live maintenance;
such as, the technological advancement in this field, the increasing requirement for a better quality of work and higher safety.
Robotic-devices can allow mobile washing nozzles to be brought relatively close to the surface of the insulator; thereby
achieving uniform washing with a small amount of water. Water pressure

In relation to the water pressure 328, the methods for hot-line washing can be subdivided into:
High-pressure water. A high-pressure system is mainly used in connection with hand-held, remote controlled and
helicopter-mounted nozzles. High-pressure washing utilises a narrow stream of water, with a typical pressure ranging
from about 3000 kPa to 7000 kPa at the nozzle.
Medium-pressure water. Medium-pressure systems are mainly used in the portable hand-held and remote-controlled jet-
nozzle methods. The pressure range is from 2000 kPa to 3000 kPa.
Low-pressure water. A low-pressure system is mainly used for fixed-spray nozzle methods. The pressures are in the
range from 300 kPa to 2000 kPa at the nozzle. Water resistivity

Water having a resistivity greater than 1500 cm (e.g. from hydrants) is widely used. Demineralised water of 50000 cm, or
even greater, resistivity is also used. It is obtainable from steam power plants or from mobile demineralised equipment. Requirements for live-washing operation Safety requirements

When using the Portable Hand-Held Jet Nozzle, where the water jet is directly controlled by the operator, a high degree of
safety must be secured by having a relatively large distance between the operator and the insulator; as dictated by the specific
standards 328 and by the general safety requirements related to live maintenance 329 330 331.
In particular, the following requirements need to be met:
The current that flows in the water stream (leakage current) must be less than a certain value (e.g. 2 mA 328) when an
operator at earth potential uses the equipment.

1999-09-01 119
The water stream should withstand the electrical stress under the a.c. system voltage and the corresponding overvoltages;
as per the general requirements for live-line maintenance 329 330 331.
The requirements to satisfy these two conditions are analysed in the following section, by making reference to the most critical
condition of the water stream impinging on the energised part.
The second requirement discussed also applies to the Fixed-Spray Nozzles method.
In the case of Helicopter-Mounted Nozzles and of the Remote-Controlled Jet Nozzles methods, no harm to the personnel must
occur following capacitive charging of, or arcing along, the water stream. The other aspects that should be considered in this
case are related to the dielectric strength of the overall configuration with the helicopter, or tool, at floating potential. Also,
when they are possibly at line potential, discharges from the line-electrodes to the object at floating potential may occur.
These aspects are similar to those analysed in the literature 329 330 331 and so will not be considered further herein. Performance requirements

From the performance point of view, the following requirements must be met:
The insulator should withstand the applied stress under service voltage and overvoltages. This aspect may be of concern
from the safety point of view, especially when an operator is relatively close to the insulator during the washing
The procedure should be highly effective with respect to washing of the insulator.

Figure 8-1: Leakage current I on the water stream in relation to the voltage and the length of the water stream 330.

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Figure 8-2: Leakage current I on the water stream in relation to various parameters 330.
a) Influence of water resistivity.
b) Influence of water pressure.
c) Iinfluence of nozzle orifice diameter.

1999-09-01 121 Influencing parameters
Safety and performance have been investigated taking into account the influencing parameters, such as voltage applied,
nozzle-conductor distance, water resistivity, water pressure and diameter and shape of the nozzle orifice 328 330 335 336 213 337 338
339 340 341
. Electrical requirements from the safety point of view Leakage current in the wash water stream

The dependence of leakage current, I, along the water stream on the stream-length is given, as an example, in Figure 8-1 - for
different phase-to-ground voltages for a pressure at the nozzle of 3000 kPa, a nozzle diameter of 6.4 mm and a water
resistivity of 2.5 .cm 330. For a given applied voltage, I decreases when the stream-length is increased. For a fixed stream-
length, the current increases more than linearly when the applied voltage is increased.
The influence of water resistivity, water pressure and diameter of the nozzle orifice, are shown in Figure 8-2 a, b and c
respectively - which refer to a stream-length of 4 m and to an applied voltage U of 245 kV 330.
The leakage current decreases when the resistivity is increased. This dependence is, however, rather limited. I reduces by
about 40 % for a variation of the resistivity from 2.5 to 50 k.cm. The leakage current increases greatly when the water
pressure is increased. It also rises appreciably when the diameter of the nozzle orifice is increased beyond a certain value.
The above trends conform to the other ones reported in the literature and particularly to those derived from the experimental
data 328 336 213. Flashover voltage along the water stream

For the power frequency case, Figure 8-3 shows the flashover voltage as a function of the clearance between the nozzle and
the energised part - for different water-stream parameters 328 330 213.

Figure 8-3: 50% flashover voltage under a.c. energisation as a function of the stream-length for different water-stream
parameters 328 330 213.

As far as impulse voltages are concerned, the dependence of the 50% flashover voltage on the polarity and shape of the
impulse is given in Figure 8-4 330. It shows the flashover voltage in relation to the time-to-crest of the applied voltage for a
water-stream length of 4m. In these tests, negative polarity was the more critical. For switching impulse (SI) waveforms, a

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front time of about 1200 s gave the lowest level of flashover voltage. This value was about 25% smaller than the
corresponding one obtained with a standard SI of positive polarity - which is usually considered the more onerous in other
experiments 336 213.

Figure 8-4: 50% flashover voltage along the water stream under impulse voltages in relation to the time-to-crest of the
applied impulse 330.

The 50% flashover voltage under switching impulse and standard lightning impulse wave (LI) is compared to the a.c.
energised one in Figure 8-5 330. In this example, all of the stresses are given in peak value to facilitate the comparison. From
comparing the results with the corresponding ones for pure air gaps331, it appears that the reduction in the flashover voltage
due to the water jet is marked with a.c. and SI, while it is minor with LI. Furthermore, the flashover value under SI is close to
that of the peak value under a.c. voltage.

Figure 8-5: 50% flashover voltage along the water stream: comparison of the dielectric strength under different stresses330.

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Figure 8-6: Average flashover gradient along the water stream in relation to various parameters 328 330 213.
a) Influence of water resistivity.
b) Influence of water pressure.
c) Influence of nozzle orifice diameter.

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The flashover voltage of the water jet is almost a linear function of the stream length.
The dependence of the average flashover gradient along the water stream on water resistivity, water pressure and nozzle
orifice diameter is shown in Figure 8-6 a), b) and c) respectively 328 330 213.
The flashover gradient increases when the water resistivity is increased. It decreases when the diameter of the nozzle is
increased and has a U-curve relationship to pressure; thereby indicating a critical pressure that causes a minimum in the
flashover strength - which depends on nozzle characteristics. Minimum working distances

A case study was considered by Perin et al 330 to obtain indications about the relative severity of the criteria based on leakage
current 328 and on dielectric withstand. In this case study, the conditions considered were: a pressure at the nozzle of 3000
kPa, an orifice diameter of 6.4 mm and water resistivity of 2.5 k.cm.
The comparison is shown in Figure 8-7, where the safe distances satisfying the limiting current criterion of 2 mA are given in
relation to the system voltage U by taking into consideration the continuous operating voltage and the temporary overvoltages
of 1.3 and 1.5 p.u. These distances are compared to the distances chosen so as to limit the risk of flashover under switching
overvoltages, which are the most critical stresses among the conditions examined from the flashover point of view. The
evaluation was made with reference to the Statistical Overvoltage U2 - which is the overvoltage having a 2% probability of
being exceeded - when the p.u. values are 2, 2.5 and 3, with reference to a defined risk of flashover 330.
This comparison indicates that, in some cases, the SI requirement can be the more critical.

Figure 8-7: Minimum washing distance in relation to the system voltage;

portable hand-held jet nozzle; comparison with distances recommended according to common practice 328 330.

It has to be stressed that the data in Figure 8-7 refer to a particular set of parameters in terms of resistivity, water pressure and
nozzle diameter. Larger distances need to be employed when the resistivity is reduced. As an example, with reference to a 420
kV system, a decrease of the resistivity from 2.5 to 1.3 k.cm (which corresponds to the minimum value considered in the
ANSI standard 328) would lead to an increase of 10% to 15% in the minimum required distance. The influences of the nozzle
orifice diameter and water pressure also need to be considered.
The distances shown in Figure 8-7 are the values derived from solely the electrical requirement. The minimum approach
distances under SI is evaluated, in a way similar to that employed in the IEEE standard 329 and by Perin et al 330. This is
achieved by adding the so-called ergonomic distance - i.e. a sort of safety feature - to the above values, to take into account
the uncertainties in the operation. A typical value for this ergonomic distance is 0.5 m.
The distances evaluated are generally lower than those adopted in common practice , as shown in Figure 8-7 (black
triangle) - thereby supporting the safety procedures adopted up to now.

1999-09-01 125 Aspects related to washing performance Withstand voltage of insulator under washing

The dependence of U50 on the water resistivity is shown in Figure 8-8 339. The data indicate that the flashover voltage
increases when the resistivity of the water increases. The influence is greater for low levels of contamination on the insulators.
In general, provided water of sufficiently high resistivity is used, the flashover voltage under washing is higher than that under
standard pollution tests of the same pollution severity.

Figure 8-8: Flashover voltage in relation to water resistivity 339.

The above conclusions apply when washing is done correctly. When washing is too fast, or when the wash-cycle is not started
from the bottom of the insulator, flashover at lower voltages may occur.

Figure 8-9: Flashover voltage along the insulator string in relation to water pressure for various nozzle diameters 330.

As far as SI flashover voltage is concerned, rather low withstand values are obtained during washing - as is shown in Figure 8-
9 330. This information refers to standard switching impulses of negative polarity, giving - in this case - results close to the

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critical one (i.e. the minimum on the U-curve). However, the performance under SI is not very critical from the risk
viewpoint; because of the low probability of having a high overvoltage during a washing operation. Thus, the corresponding
risk of flashover can essentially be neglected. The dielectric performance during washing is also influenced by water pressure
and nozzle-orifice diameter, as may be seen from Figure 8-9. In general, the flashover voltage increases when the pressure is
increased and the orifice diameter is decreased.
Finally, it is worthy of note that the flashover voltages measured in tests simulating washing from a helicopter, were slightly
higher than those obtained by using the portable hand-held jet nozzle - for these parameters considered by Perin et al 330. This
finding can be easily explained if one considers that the orifice diameter, and thus the quantity of water employed, was much
lower in the former case. Washing effectiveness

Indications concerning the efficiency of two of the most common washing methods can be obtained from the tests results
reported by Perin et al 330. These results are summarised in Figure 8-10.

Figure 8-10: Residual salt deposit density in relation to the washing time;
portable hand-held jet nozzle and helicopter nozzle 330.

These tests were carried out on a vertical insulator string for a 420 kV system, with a total length of 3 m. The following
washing parameters applied:
Portable hand-held jet nozzle; orifice diameter of 6.4 mm, pressure of 3000 kPa and a minimum distance to the
conductor of 5 m.
Helicopter simulation; nozzle with an orifice diameter of 1.7 mm, pressures of 4000 to 8000 kPa and minimum distance
to the conductor of 1 m.
The tests were made by contaminating the insulator string with an almost standard suspension and a non-standard one.
The almost standard suspension differed from the standard one by the quantity of kaolin used (100 g per litre). In the non-
standard suspension, glue was added (10 g of metylan per litre) to increase the adhesion and the thickness of the layer, with
the aim of simulating conditions typical of industrial areas.
The test results provided in Figure 8-10 show that the washing efficiency improves when the washing time is increased.
Furthermore, the value of the effective washing time depends on the type of contamination. The time needed for an efficient

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wash using portable hand-held jet nozzles was shorter than that with helicopter-mounted jet nozzles, for a similar water
pressure. Better agreement could be obtained by increasing the water pressure in the helicopter case. Conclusions Safety aspects

The safe working distances for live-line insulator washing made by an operator at earth potential, with a portable hand-
held jet nozzle, must be determined with reference to a limiting value of the leakage current along the water jet. It should
also be verified from the point of view of the withstand voltage under SI, as is the situation for any other live-line
working operation. To this end, the most critical SI is that of negative polarity with a long front time.
The same requirements may be used conservatively when fixed spray nozzles at ground potential are used.
Safe working from a helicopter, implying the use of isolated metallic tools, must be determined by considering the
dielectric strength of the arrangement with the object at floating potential (or possibly momentarily at live potential, if a
discharge from the live electrode to the object at floating potential occurs). For this aspect, reference to the general
requirements for live-line maintenance can be usefully made.
When automated procedures are used, without the presence of people in the vicinity, electrical safety requirements are of
concern only to the equipment. Performance aspects

The washing operation does not reduce the systems reliability, since no flashover is to be expected, provided the
washing operation is performed correctly. The flashover voltage in the helicopter-simulation test was found to be higher
than that applying in the hand-held jet nozzle case, for the water-parameters considered.
To obtain efficient washing, very different washing times may be required that depend on the type of contaminant. The
time needed for an efficient wash using portable hand-held jet nozzles was shorter than that found with helicopter-
mounted jet nozzles, for the same pressure. Better agreement between these two cases can be obtained by increasing the
washing pressure at the helicopter nozzles.
Washing is influenced by many parameters.
High resistivity water is beneficial with regards to safety and reliability, since - by increasing this resistivity - both the
dielectric withstand of the water jet and that of the washed insulator are significantly increased. Washing is obviously
very much affected by water pressure and nozzle diameter.

8.2.2 Live-insulator washing of polymeric insulators

Polymeric insulators, generally, have high pollution withstand voltage characteristics when compared with their ceramic
counterparts. This is due to their high surface hydrophobicity, especially when they are new. Nonetheless, the polymeric
insulators in the field occasionally flash over due to heavy pollution and wetting 342. It has been reported that the accumulated
pollutant on the polymeric insulators could be more than that on their ceramic counterparts - see Figure 2-26 86 - for the same
atmospheric conditions. Thus, live-line washing using pressurised water is sometimes considered necessary. Live-line
washing of polymeric insulators should only be done after considering the following points:
1. Wash withstand voltage. An effective insulation length shorter than that for ceramic insulators is sometimes used because
of the higher pollution withstand voltage. Since the withstand voltage under washing is mainly affected by water
cascading down the sheds, hydrophobicity is then not the dominant factor. Therefore, the effective insulation length is
the same as that of the corresponding ceramic one. In the case of insulators having a large diameter, such as bushing
shells, the amount of cascading water is larger than that of line insulators. In such a case, the fitting of some special sheds
- such as booster sheds - is recommended to break up the cascading stream of water.
2. Mechanical damage to material. It is reported that the shed material can suffer damage, such as tearing, or puncture in
the case of high water pressure 343 344. Therefore, the water pressure must be carefully specified; mainly taking the
following aspects into consideration,
Shed material (e.g. silicone rubber, EPDM etc).
Manufacturing method (e.g. moulded, bonded, un-bonded, etc).
However, it is not wise to clean some types of polymeric insulators by using pressurised water, and so recommendations from
the manufacturer are to be followed. It is important to note that washing by pressurised water does not always achieve the

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best cleaning. This is especially so when the pollution layer adheres strongly to the insulator surface; e.g. cement or gypsum,
and when the water stream can not reach the entire insulator surface 345.

8.3 Use of greases and RTV coatings

8.3.1 Introduction
The performance of glazed porcelain insulators can be considerably improved by the application of hydrocarbon (petroleum
jelly) or silicone grease or a RTV silicone rubber coating to its surface346 347. Silicone greases and RTV coatings of different
types are widely used today. Both the greases and silicone rubber coatings reduce the surface energy of the insulator and
inhibit the formation of a water film. In addition, the greases encapsulate contaminant particles in a thin grease film, thereby
isolating them from each other and ensuring that the surface remains hydrophobic. In the case of the silicone rubber coating,
low-molecular weight silicone components within the body of the material diffuse to the surface and impart hydrophobic
properties to the contaminant layer 105. The inclusion of arc resistant components, such as alumina trihydrate, in the silicone
grease and RTV coatings stabilise their performance under heavy wetting and contribute to their longer useful life.
The use of these measures with porcelain insulators is well proven. Their use with polymeric insulators is not generally
recommended and should be discussed in detail with the insulator manufacturer if it is being contemplated. Based on some
experience in North America, a review has been prepared under the auspices of the IEEE 347 348. A further document contains
practical information on the preparation of insulators prior to greasing or coating and the techniques for grease or coating
application 328.

8.3.2 Hydrocarbon and silicone greases

Hydrocarbon (petroleum jelly) and silicone greases have been used as protective coatings on insulators for about 40 years and
experience has shown that, as long as they maintain their hydrophobicity, they provide substantially improved protection
against flashover when compared with the corresponding bare insulators. Comparisons of the hydrocarbon and silicone
greases have been made by both Lambeth et al 346 and an IEEE committee 347. Some of the practical characteristics are set out
in Table 8-1 347.

Table 8-1 Comparison of Hydrocarbon (petroleum Jelly) and silicone greases 347.


Basic constituents Hydrocarbon oils, petroleum and Dimethyl or phenyl-methyl siloxane fluid, coupling
synthetic waxes agents, fillers and solvents
Useful temperature 0 to 60C -50 to 200C
Melting point 60 to 90C Does not occur inside useful temperature range
Recommended spraying temperature 90 to 115C Ambient (-30 to 30C)
Encapsulation rate, ambient temp. Slow Rapid
Ease of Application Difficult, esp. in cold weather Good
Ease of Removal Labour intensive Labour intensive
Arc resistance (ASTM D 495) Not available 80 to 150s, depending on formulation, fluid & filler
Material cost Low Moderate
Application cost Moderate Moderate
Cleaning cost High High

Water erosion, excessive exposure to corona, UV light and significant contaminant encapsulation reduce water repellency.
Once hydrophobicity is lost, leakage currents will commence flowing and, in time, dry band discharges will also commence.
These discharges cause the grease to decompose and the filler in the grease adds to the contaminant. Channels begin to
develop resulting in local hot spots and further degradation of the grease and possible damage to the insulator. Once channels
have begun to form, flashover of the insulator is imminent 347. Regreasing should be implemented as soon as dry band arcing
is observed.

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The frequency of regreasing depends on the type of grease and the severity of the degrading influences mentioned above.
Service experience with both a.c. and d.c. systems, has shown that the useful life of a grease coating can vary from less than
one year to 10 years.
Greases are normally applied by hand, brush or spray. Although application on de-energised systems is simpler, application
on live systems is also possible. The application of fresh grease over contaminated grease is not recommended.
There are several tests that can be made to assess the suitability of grease as an insulator coating. The most significant are an
arc endurance test under wetting and the water repellency tests in a Salt-Fog chamber or using a tracking wheel.
Unfortunately, the laboratory tests suffer from a lack of correlation with field experience. Field-testing has proved to be the
only reliable method for evaluating the performance of different greases 347.
The pollution flashover performance of a 132kV epoxy-resin crossarm, which has been used in the UK to achieve an
inconspicuous overhead line in areas of outstanding natural beauty, has been assessed using both the artificial salt-fog test and
by exposure to natural marine pollution at the Brighton Insulator Testing Station249. The findings from the salt-fog test are
shown in Table 10-39. Although there was a large reduction - up to 50% of the new value - in the flashover voltage of the
service-aged insulator, the performance of such insulators was substantially restored by the application of a hydrophobic
coating; e.g. silicone oil, restored the withstand voltage to 70% of the original value. An even larger improvement was
obtained by using hydrocarbon grease but, because it tends to promote tracking on the insulator surface, it is not
recommended for practical use. The follow-up tests at Brighton showed the benefit of using a silicone oil of as high a
viscosity as possible. In a practical application, a flashover problem was alleviated to a large extent by coating the surface
with a viscous silicone oil - applied yearly by linesmen with paintbrushes. In this case, the severity of the marine pollution -
estimated ESDD of 0.6 mg/cm2 - is even greater than that at Brighton and where flashovers had occurred on such insulators
having a specific creepage of 25 mm/kV system.

8.3.3 RTV rubber coatings

The excellent experience with silicone rubber as an outdoor insulating material has prompted the development of these
coatings. Service experience with RTV coatings has, in general, been very good. They were first applied in the early 1970s
and some utilities have had over 30 years experience with their use in a.c. systems and over 13 years with d.c. systems.
All known commercially available coatings consist of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymer, alumina trihydrate or alternate
filler for increased tracing and erosion resistance, a catalyst and a cross-linking agent. Several systems also contain a
condensation catalyst, an adhesion promoter, a reinforcing filler or a pigment. These systems are dispersed in either a naphtha
or trichlorethylene solvent. The solvent acts as a carrier to transfer the RTV rubber to the insulator surface. It should be
noted that the solvent is slightly poisonous. As the solvent evaporates, moisture in the coating triggers a vulcanising action
and the formation of a solid rubber layer. The speed of vulcanisation depends on the type of solvent, the cure-system
chemistry and the relative humidity 349.
Insulators need to be thoroughly cleaned prior to the application of a RTV coating. In some cases, the use of a high-pressure
water jet is sufficient. If cement like material is present, a dry abrasive cleaner - such as crushed corncobs or walnut shells
mixed with limestone - must be used. If the insulators have been previously greased, hand cleaning is necessary to remove the
bulk of the grease and a solvent must be used to remove any residual film347. The silicone coating is applied by brush or by
spray. Live application is possible provided a combustible carrier, such as naphtha, is not present.
When a RTV coating looses some of its water repellency it may be washed and the hydrophobicity may be restored. To
recoat, cleaning using a dry abrasive is recommended. A new coat can be applied over an existing coat after some cleaning347
- provided the existing coat is well adhered to the ceramic insulator.
Similarly to that described in Section 8.3.2, surface discharges and corona will cause the coating to degrade 347 350 351 and may
then lead to flashover.
The frequency of re-coating, or washing, depends on the type of RTV and the severity of the degradation. Service experience
with both a.c. and d.c. systems has shown that the useful life of a RTV coating can vary from less than one year up to ten years
347 348 352 353
. Experience has also shown that if a coating is applied in situations where the leakage distance is reduced and/or
corona occurs, the coating looses its hydrophobic properties and flashover follows 347.
There is no established laboratory test that can predict the performance of a coating in service. Important initiatives are
underway 354, but to date, field-testing is the most reliable assessment procedure 347.

8.3.4 Summary
As a summary, a comparison of silicone greases and RTV coatings is given in Table 8-2.

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Table 8-2: Comparison of silicone greases and RTV Coatings.
Effectiveness excellent in lifetime
Market price Low High
Lifetime Environment and quality dependent, a few months to several years
Unsuitable environmental conditions very high concentration of dust in air very high concentration of dust in air resulting
resulting in fast saturation in the loss of hydrophobicity in a short time,
Continuous raining or humid weather
Preparation before application Low demands High demands
Application equipment and technique Simple if applied by hand
Sophisticated if applied by spray
Handling character Dirty and messy, if applied by hand
Solvent is slightly poisonous but needed if applied by spray
Monitoring needed
maintenance before replacement no washing and cleaning
removal difficult if not done in time, simplified if very difficult if adhesion of old layer is still
done timely and with right tools good
disposal varies form country to country
Reapplication direct after a rough cleaning directly, after cleaning, over the old layer if it
is still in good adhesion.

8.4 Booster sheds

Booster sheds were invented in the UK for the prevention of the flashover of polluted insulators caused by heavy wetting 262.
They are made from a radiation-crosslinked copolymer of silicone rubber and polyethylene; their form and installed position
on the insulator are shown in Figure 8-11. Such sheds have been successfully and widely applied on a.c. systems since 1975.

Figure 8-11: Form and installed position of booster sheds 355.

A variant of the Salt-Fog test was developed to quantify their efficacy, which was measured as a withstood pre-applied salinity
(WPS) if flashover did not occur in three out of four identical tests. Some results for 400 kV substation insulators when fitted
with booster sheds are presented in Table 8-3 for various types of wetting that simulate conditions which are known to have
caused flashover in service355. These tests show that, with 7 booster sheds on a multiple cone post insulator and 10 on a barrel
type insulator, an improvement of never less than a factor 2 was obtained in the tolerable pollution level. In one case, this
factor was as much as 128.

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Table 8-3: Improvement in performance of a 400 kV substation insulator from fitting booster sheds 355.

Test Procedure Insulator Angle of tilt, No. of Performance, Factor of improvement

Degrees Booster WPS, kg/m3 over bare insulator.
20 second wash Multiple cone post 0 7 113 2.8
Plain shed cylindrical 0 10 40 2.8
Plain shed taper 0 10 56 4
Plain shed taper 10 10 80 4
Antifog shed taper 10 10 40 2.8
2 second wash Multiple cone post 0 7 40 2
Plain shed cylindrical 0 10 28 4
Plain shed taper 0 10 40 5.6
Plain shed taper 10 10 28 5.6
Antifog shed taper 10 10 40 8
Side spray Multiple cone post 0 7 240 16
Plain shed cylindrical 0 10 160 16
Impulse wash Multiple cone post 0 7 40 4
Plain shed cylindrical 0 10 40 5.6
Plain shed taper 0 10 40 5.6
Plain shed taper 10 10 56 4
Rain Plain shed cylindrical 0 10 240 2
Plain shed taper 0 10 240 4
Plain shed taper 10 10 160 128
Antifog shed taper 10 10 40 8

Investigations for their use under d.c. voltage have shown that by installing booster sheds on a HVDC wall bushing, its
dielectric strength under uneven rain or polluted conditions can be improved by up to 80 % 202. Laboratory tests have also
been performed on vertically installed d.c. station post insulators with booster sheds 110. By fitting 20 booster sheds on a
stacked station post insulator of 8.8 m overall length, the dielectric strength of this post insulator was increased by 30 % at a
pollution level of 0,02 mg/cm2, as compared to that of the insulator without such booster sheds.

8.5 Methods for increasing insulator reliability under ice and snow conditions
For reliable operation of insulation under ice or snow conditions, it is generally necessary to use insulators with a long dry
arc-distance. As ice and snow flashovers are relatively infrequent, it is reasonable to restrict the use of special insulator
designs to only selected parts of overhead lines. For example, fit them only on that part of a line that experiences regular
icing or that runs close to cooling towers etc. On other parts of the line, more economical measures to improve their
operational reliability should be considered.

8.5.1 Some measures to prevent flashovers during ice conditions

Some measures to prevent flashovers during ice conditions are:
1) Prevention of icicle bridging;
Utilising V or horizontal strings.

V-strings offer a substantial improvement over suspension (i.e. vertical) strings with regard to the ice-flashover strength
as water does not easily drip down the string to form an ice bridge 111. This effect is even more pronounced on
horizontal strings 356 357.
Booster sheds.

The use of 3 booster sheds per metre of insulator can increase the flashover voltage under icing conditions by 20% for a
system voltage of 110 kV and 40% for 400 kV183 358. However, booster sheds tend to restrict natural washing.

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Special insulator shapes or different types of disc insulators in the same string.

For post insulators, it is possible to use designs with alternate long and short sheds. The difference between the shed
diameters must be sufficient to prevent icicle bridging.

The same effect can be achieved on suspension insulator strings by building up the string with insulators of different
diameters; e.g. an arrangement of alternate normal and aerodynamic discs.

The use of vertical polymeric insulators may prove to be ineffective if the sheds are spaced closer together than is the
case for the discs of the equivalent ceramic insulator string. In this situation, the ice-flashover voltage may actually be
lower than that for a ceramic string of the same length. An improvement may be achieved by using the polymer insulator
in V or horizontal configuration or by having an alternate long and short shed-profile with sufficient inter-shed spacing
Semiconducting glaze insulators.

Semiconducting glazed porcelain insulators usually provide a resistive current of approximately 1 mA. This steady
current improves the voltage grading and warms the insulator surface slightly. Semiconducting glazed post insulators
have shown the highest withstand voltage under icing conditions among the various insulators tested - including
conventional ceramic and polymeric insulators 180. However, there is no common agreement on the effectiveness of this
Shielding insulators from water melted from ice.

By having shields places between the tower and insulator strings, the water released from the ice during melting will be
drained away from the insulators.
2) Increasing the dry arc-distance of insulators:
Please refer to Section 7.3
3) Lowering the operating voltage:
If provided for in the design of the system, the operating voltage may be lowered sufficiently to reduce the stress on the
insulator below the flashover value during the critical conditions - i.e. ice melting358.
4) Reducing the number of parallel insulators:
In areas with heavy ice accretion (for example close to cooling towers), the number of parallel vertical insulators
(insulator posts, equipment etc) should be limited to reduce the probability of flashover 358.
5) Installing stress rings:
The performance of long insulator strings under ice conditions can be improved by using stress rings that even out the
grading of the electric field along the insulator, thereby preventing a high gradient at the live end 359.

8.5.2 Some measures to prevent flashovers during snow conditions

These measures are aimed at preventing the build-up of snow on horizontal or tension insulators.
1) Vertical arrangement of twin or triple tension insulator strings:
A vertical arrangement of strings in lieu of the normal near-horizontal strings presents a smaller collection area for snow
accumulation, thereby preventing the build-up of a large amount.
2) Insertion of a extension rod:
An extension rod of about 1 m length can be inserted between the tower and the insulator string to prevent enhanced
snow accumulation due to snow bridging from the tower cross-arm to the insulator.
3) Semiconducting glaze insulators:
Please refer to the discussion in Section 8.5.1 for more information.
4) Increase the spacing between adjacent insulator strings:
A bigger spacing between parallel tension strings prevents snow from bridging across one insulator string to another.

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9.1 Introduction
The effect of contamination on metal oxide surge arresters with porcelain housings has already been the subject of numerous
investigations, mostly made during the last ten years 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372. Work on MOA with polymeric
housings is still in progress and will not be referred to herein.
It is generally accepted that contamination of the arrester housing can have three effects:
1. Pollution flashover of the housing when the critical severity is reached.
2. Overheating of the varistor blocks if significant energy is dissipated internally, due to either capacitive coupling to the
housing or redistribution of current at intermediate flanges of multi-unit arresters.
3. Ageing, or even failure, due to internal partial discharges triggered by transient radial fields between the blocks and the
arrester housing - particularly during dry band formation and sparkover.
Both the ANSI/IEEE Standard C62.11373 and the Amendment 1 to IEC standard 60099-4374 specifies a pollution test for metal
oxide arresters.
The present review deals mostly with the aspect of the temperature rise in metal oxide arrester blocks due to external

9.2 Operational Experience and Field Tests

General use of MOAs started on a large scale in the early eighties. Although the experience is generally satisfactory, several
arrester failures due to pollution were reported in Europe for voltage levels from 63 kV to 420 kV 363. It was noted that
arresters could fail at extremely low levels of pollution and without excessive energy stress from the network 363. These
failures were mostly attributed to internal discharges resulting from contamination on the arrester housing. Such internal
discharges manifest themselves by:
Excessive loss of oxygen inside the arrester.
Substantial degradation of varistors, as evidenced by decreasing reference voltage and increased resistive current and
power loss.
Salt formation on the varistor surface.
The problem appeared to be confined to the first generation of varistor blocks that had inadequate protective coating. The
provision of an adequate coating, together with the reduction of radial stress and the filling with a passive medium, were the
recommended measures for solving the problem. Nevertheless, several natural-pollution test programmes were launched and
supplemented by extensive laboratory tests, which went beyond the investigation of the problem of internal discharges.
At Brighton Insulator Testing Station, CERL conducted natural pollution tests - for more than five years - on a 1-unit 132 kV
arrester, several 3-unit 275 kV arresters and three 3-unit 400 kV arresters. In these tests, as well as in other tests at Martigues
conducted by EdF - referred to below - both external current and internal current at the base unit were measured.
Measurement of the mean temperature of the varistor blocks of the 3-unit 275 kV arrester at Brighton yielded 40C, 107C
and 124C in the top, middle and bottom units respectively. In another arrester, these temperature were 57C, 132C, and
129C and, in a third arrester, 40C, 40C and 143C. Within the latter arrester, the varistors were punctured near their centre
and had been permanently damaged in the base unit 363.
These results showed that the location of maximum temperature rise was random and could occur in any unit : bottom,
medium or top.
The field tests at Martigues367 included two 2-unit 245 kV arresters, one 2-unit and one 3-unit 420 kV arrester as well as two
2-unit 300 kV arresters. The specific leakage path varied between 18 and 30 mm/kV system voltage and the housing diameter
varied between 267 and 386 mm. Here again, the internal and external currents were measured at the base of the bottom unit.
Temperature measurements were carried out with fibre optic sensors and thermostrips.
During a 10-month period at Martigues, the monthly-recorded maximum temperature rise - although significant - was much
more modest than those reported above from Brighton. The following interesting conclusions could be reached:
For most pollution events, a significant temperature rise occurs in 6 hours or less.

1999-09-01 134
The external charge/h rose to 11 C/h for a 2-h period and 9 C/h for 6-h period, both were for the 2-unit 420 kV arrester.
The temperature rise in the bottom unit correlates rather well with the internal charge flow, per 5-min period, through
that unit.
To a first approximation, the external charge was found to be proportional to the arrester diameter.
The external charge, scaled to the housing diameter, appears to be representative of the discharge activity on the arrester.
The magnitude of the internal current cannot be linked to a block-temperature rise.
Similar field tests were reported from a 300 kV switchyard at Lista, Norway. No temperature rise measurement was
undertaken, since the arresters were connected to the network. It was stated that no correlation was found between internal
and external charge activity. To avoid confusion, however, it must be underlined that this statement applies only to charges of
just one arrester unit.

9.3 Artificial Pollution Tests of Lightning Arresters

9.3.1 Test Techniques

Several techniques have already been used in the laboratory to simulate conditions leading to varistor block overheating.
These techniques include:
Slurry cycles
Partial wetting
Salt-Fog tests on surge arresters have been carried out in accordance with IEC Publication 507 22, sometimes with prolonged
duration - e.g. 2 h instead of 1 h.
The Solid-Layer test was also carried out with layer preparation and application made according to IEC Publication 507 22,
although the steam-input rate was sometimes different from that of the standard - e.g. 0.8 1/h/m3
In the slurry test - which is not standardised - the contaminant was a slurry of water, betonite, non-ionic detergent and sodium
chloride prepared according to ANSI/IEEE C62.11 1987 362. The volume resistivity was between 400 and 500 cm. The
contaminant was applied to the complete arrester. Several test cycles were performed, each consisting of slurry application, a
dripping period (3 min.) followed by an energisation period. The latter being, usually, 15 minutes although it can apparently
be shorter without significant effect on the test results 372.
In the partial-wetting test conducted according to ANSI/IEEE C62.11-1987 373, the slurry was prepared as per that mentioned
above but was applied only to the lower half of the surge arrester. The maximum voltage-off time for the contaminant
application was 10 minutes, with a dripping off time of less than 3 minutes. The energisation time was 15 minutes. The test
comprised two cycles, followed by a 30-minute interval at MCOV to demonstrate thermal stability. The arrester was deemed
to have passed the test if it demonstrated thermal stability, no complete or unit flashovers occurred and no visual physical
damage of internal parts could be found.
Some variants of the above tests have also been used. For example 365, arresters were contaminated according to the Solid-
Layer method but an artificial dry zone was created, having a length equal to approximately 10% of the leakage path. Wetting
under voltage took place in air with relative humidity > 85%.
The control of the test parameters and the calibration needed to fit field conditions will be dealt with, following the section on
laboratory test results.

9.3.2 Laboratory Test Results

In 1984, Lenk reported on pollution tests carried out on 2-unit and 3-unit arresters with MCOV of 140 and 210 kV 360. The
test techniques comprised salt-fog, 5-h slurry and partial wetting. The 1-h Salt-Fog test was carried out at FGH according to
IEC Publication 507. The slurry test comprised 20 cycles, each with a 15-minute voltage application. The partial-wetting test
consisted of applying a slurry made according to ANSI C62.1-1981, with a resistivity of 425-440 m. It was applied to the
bottom unit housing. Usually, there were 3 cycles of tests for each arrester. The voltage was applied for 15 minutes.

1999-09-01 135
Only a moderate temperature rise was recorded for the Salt-Fog test (< 30C) and the slurry test (< 35C) 360. The partial
wetting test was found to be the most severe, yielding a temperature rise of up to 79C. This paper served as a basis for the
standardisation of the partial-wetting method referred to in C62.11-1987 373
The results of a Salt-Fog test on the arresters described in Section 9.2 were reported by Vitet et al. 366, for salinities in the
range 1.2-80 kg/m3. Typical temperature rise curves - as a function of the test duration for different salinities - are shown in
Figure 9-1 366. The variation of the varistor temperature of the bottom unit as well as that of the internal current and of the
energy are shown in Figure 9-2 as functions of the salt-fog duration. Figure 9-3 shows the flow of external charge as a
function of the test duration 366.

Figure 9-1: Typical temperature during a Salt-Fog tests of 1.2 to 80 g/l salinity 366.

Figure 9-2: Bottom unit temperature, internal energy and internal current peaks in a Salt-Fog test 366.

From the aforementioned test, the following observations can be made 366:
No correlation was found between the maximum varistor-temperature and fog salinity.
A somewhat contradictory finding is that the external charge per hour correlates well with fog salinity and, moreover,
increases almost linearly with the test-duration.
Current peaks cannot be used to determine the thermal stress on the arrester blocks.

1999-09-01 136
Breaks in the duration of the fog spray have no effect because discharge activity ceases during such breaks.
Solid-Layer tests conducted by Vitet et al. 366 - with ESDD in the range 0.20.7 mg/cm2 - yielded a negligible temperature rise
in the bottom unit and a maximum temperature rise in the top unit of 26C; which are much less than the corresponding values
with the Salt-Fog test. Good correlation was reported between the external charge on the bottom-unit and the temperature rise
of the top-unit varistor.

Figure 9-3: External charge build-up during a Salt-Fog test. 366

Figure 9-4 shows the varistor temperature variations with test-time of the slurry test 366. In this case, the test comprised 6
cycles and the maximum temperature rise occurred with equal probability on the top or bottom unit of a 2-unit arrester. It was
found that the temperature rise in the slurry test was practically independent of the resistivity of the slurry or of the specific
leakage path. The temperature rise in the bottom unit correlated well with its internal charge. Figure 9-5 shows the
temperature variation of the top varistor and the external charge measured on the bottom unit during a partial-wetting test 366.
Note, that here, the external charge corresponds also to the internal charge of the top unit and, therefore, correlates quite well
with the top-varistor temperature rise.

Figure 9-4: Temperature and charge flow during a slurry test with six test cycles 366.

1999-09-01 137
A comparison was made 366 between the flow of external charge and the test-time for the above four test techniques. The
slurry test, after six cycles, resulted in an external charge that was slightly larger than the corresponding charge of a 2-h Salt-
Fog test. The charge associated with the Solid-Layer test, or that of a 2-cycle partial-wetting test, was significantly lower than
that of the slurry test.
Work by ENEL-CESI on pollution testing of metal oxide surge arresters has been reported in an initial paper361 and in more
detail in two subsequent publications 370 371.
It was concluded 361 that, from the point of view of thermal effects, the Salt-Fog test was more severe than the standard Solid-
Layer test. The standard Salt-Fog withstand test did not yield a significant varistor-temperature rise. On the other hand, a
significant temperature rise was obtained after repeated cycles of a salt-fog at salinities much below the withstand level. With
a block temperature up to 130C, a significant change in the arrester parameter (degradation) can result, particularly
manifested by increased resistive current and additional power loss.

Figure 9-5: Temperature and external charge flow during a partial wetting test366.
It was also found that, contrary to the finding discussed above, drying periods under voltage can significantly accelerate
thermal stresses in the arrester blocks 361.
Temporary overvoltages led to a significant temperature rise (116C instead of 38C in one case).
Finally, it was reported that a better correlation exists between temperature rise and internal current than that with external
Garasim et al 371 have conducted pollution tests on 2-unit arresters that included measurement of internal and external currents
in both top and bottom units. This permits a more directly relevant correlation to be made between the test parameters and the
thermal stresses. The tests included the following techniques, as designated in the paper:
a) Partial-wetting test, with 2-cycle application according to ANSI/IEEE C62.11 1987 373.
b) Slurry test, with 6-cycle application.
c) Solid-Layer test according to IEC Publication 507, but with only one arrester unit contaminated with ESDD-0.015
d) Solid-Layer test as above, but applied to the complete arrester.
e) Salt-Fog test according to IEC 507, but with a 2-h duration and salinities in the range 2.5-40.9 kg/m3.
This paper leads to the following conclusions:
The test severity is determined by non-uniformity of the pollution rather than by the contamination level.
Pollution methods with forced non-uniformity have better repeatability. This is particularly so for technique (a) partial
Block heating is closely related (almost proportionally) to inner charge flow but only loosely correlated to external
charge, except - of course - when the two are identical.

1999-09-01 138
Inner charge in the partial-wetting technique is a function of insulator geometry and wetting conditions (quantity of water
to be evaporated).
The proportionality constant between temperature rise and inner charge is generally in the range 7-10C/Coulomb.
From pollution tests conducted on surge arresters in the UK, reported by Sparrow 364, it was found that:
The rate of wetting has an important effect on the rate of external charge flow.
An increase of the applied voltage (thereby decreasing the specific leakage path) led to a significant decrease in the rate
of external charge flow.
Salinity had little effect on the charge flow per hour.
ESDD measurement does not appear to be a good basis for site severity as far as arrester heating is concerned.
The aim of an artificial pollution test should be to obtain a value of external charge per hour that is in accordance with
that at natural sites.
Some of the above points are confirmations of previous findings 362.
Verma et al. 369 reported on field experience in Germany and Salt-Fog tests on metal oxide arresters at FGH. The major
concern appears to be internal partial discharges caused by external pollution - with their associated varistor degradation and,
even, failure as referred to above. To alleviate that concern, German utilities require a 2000-h Salt-Fog test at phase-to-
ground voltage with a salinity of 1 kg/m3.
Salt-Fog tests were also reported in Vermas work 369. It was concluded that, if the ratio of the test voltage Ut (phase-to-
ground) to the arrester reference voltage Ur is less than 0.54, pollution will have no significant thermal effect on the varistors.
It is noted, however, that such a low ratio may not be practical, owing to the protective-level requirements. This work also
confirmed that a high temperature rise can be obtained at salinities much below the withstand level. It also showed that higher
temperatures are generally encountered with multi-unit rather than with single-unit arresters and that higher temperatures
occur on the top rather than on the bottom unit.
Feser et al. 365 found that for both single- and multi-unit arresters, an artificial single dry band - representing approximately
10% of the leakage path, particularly in the vicinity of the flange - can lead to a significant temperature rise of the varistor
blocks. A solid-layer contaminant was applied during those tests and wetting took place in air with a relative humidity > 85%.
In single units, the temperature rise was attributed to capacitive coupling between the varistor column and the housing and
temperatures as high as 85C were recorded. In a 2-unit arrester, temperatures as high as 105C were measured.
In a report on Solid-Layer tests (18-26 S) 368 of 110 kV and 220 kV ZnO arresters, a temperature rise of up to 46C occurred.
It was found that this temperature rise did not depend on the leakage path or the form factor of the arrester housing but, rather,
on the specific capacitance along the resistor stack. The temperature rise proved to be a statistical variable, which can be
represented by an exponential distribution. For clean and dry conditions, the calculations of overheating of the arrester
elements, as a function of input power, were provided.

9.4 Standardisation of a Laboratory Test

The purpose of this discussion is to emphasise the factors that could influence the selection of a standard laboratory test. It is
not intended to constitute an endorsement for one technique or another.
It was established in the research referred to above, that a high temperature rise of varistor blocks occurs at a pollution
severity far below the withstand level. It also follows that conventional severity measurements, such as ESDD or leakage
current peak-values, can not be used to relate field and laboratory conditions.
A quantity that has served that purpose 366 367 372 is the amount of external charge on a reference insulator, preferably a
longrod or an arrester housing, that flows during a 2-h or 6-h duration.
In one investigation 372, the requirements made of a laboratory test method were perceived as follows:
1. It should establish an external charge activity of sufficient intensity and duration - e.g. up to 6 C/h on a small-diameter
housing using a current threshold of 2 mA peak.
2. An appreciable temperature rise should appear in any unit of a multi-unit arrester.
3. External charge accumulation should be essentially independent of the specific leakage path.
These investigations 372 concluded that only the Salt-Fog and the slurry methods fulfil the above requirements.

1999-09-01 139
Concerning the first requirement, the effect of selecting a value of threshold current based on the charge flow per hour should
be clarified. It would be even better to eliminate that quantity altogether. Instead, the real charge rate should be determined
by excluding the capacitive component from the total current.
As for the second point, only the slurry method fulfils that requirement; because in the Salt-Fog test, the top unit is the hottest
in most cases 362 367. The third point is not always satisfied by the Salt-Fog test since, as reported by Sparrow 362, the charge
flow-rate increases with the increase of the specific leakage path - particularly at 10 kg/m3 salinity.
Furthermore, Lenk 360 found that - from the thermal point of view - the partial-wetting method was the most severe. However,
this condition is, admittedly, infrequent. In practice, some examples are malfunction of the transformer deluge system (fire
protection) and stratified fog. Bargigia et al. 371 have found that this method provides the best repeatability of all the test
techniques investigated.
A comparison between the major laboratory techniques is shown in Table 9-1. Also included are the controlling parameters to
achieve the required charge rate, the thermal effect of the test, the representativity (i.e. simulation of field conditions), the
repeatability and existing standardisation experience for each method. It should be noted that while the salt-fog technique is
known to have excellent repeatability for insulator pollution tests, Vitet et al 366 have found large variations in the maximum
varistor-temperature under tests with identical salinity. However, these authors provided no satisfactory explanation for such
a large dispersion of the test results. The final column includes some possible modifications to make the method more
versatile, if deemed necessary. As already mentioned, the effect of the drying periods in the Salt-Fog test is somewhat
controversial. Furthermore, the repetition of the partial wetting test - with the wet contaminant applied to the upper half whilst
keeping the lower half clean and dry - would cause a temperature rise in different units. This practise would remove one of
the major objections against this test.

Table 9-1: Comparison of pollution test techniques to model pollution stress for varistor block heating.



Salt-Fog Complete arrester -Nozzle pressure Substantial Good Good IEC Std 507 Inclusion of drying
-Liquid flow rate (Polluted insulators periods
-Test duration only)
Solid-Layer Complete arrester -Steam flow rate Mild Good Good IEC Std 507
-Test duration (Polluted insulators
Slurry Complete arrester -Cycle duration Substantial Fair Good JEC-217
-Cycles per test
- Slurry resistivity
Partial Wetting Lower half -Cycle duration Substantial Fair Very Good ANSI/IEEE Test repetition with
-Cycles per test C62.11-1987 pollution applied to
- Slurry resistivity the upper half

In April 1998, the IEC issued Amendment 1 to IEC standard 60099-4: "Artificial pollution test with respect to the thermal
stress on porcelain-housed, multi-unit metal-oxide surge arresters"374. A brief summary of the salient features of that
document is given below.
A basic feature of this document is contained in a table that correlates the flow of external charge - qz per hour per metre of
arrester housing diameter - to the minimum creepage distance, for the range 16-31 mm/kV - which correspond to the different
pollution zones specified in IEC guide 815. For a 2h-event, qz varies in the range 0.5 to 55 C/h.m, while for a 6h-event it
varies in the range 0.24 to 36 C/h.m. The implicit assumptions here are that the external charge is determined by the specific
leakage path for all climatic and pollution conditions - e.g. industrial, marine, desert etc - and that the external charge flow is
proportional to the arrester housing diameter. An estimate of the upper limit of the arrester block temperature rise is first
made, assuming that all the expected charge will flow internally. If this estimated temperature rise Tzmax is below 40 oC, no
pollution test is required. If Tzmax is equal to or greater than 40 oC, there are two options: either carry out a pollution test or
omit that test and carry out the duty-cycle test by preheating the arrester to 20 oC + Tzmax. If carried out, the purpose of this
pollution test will be to determine the ratio of the internal- to the external-charge flow for the different arrester units. The
temperature of the internal parts may be measured instead of the internal charge. Two options for the pollution-test technique
are permitted in IEC 60099-4, Amendment 1: the slurry method and the Salt-Fog method.
In effect, the slurry test that is described comprises a wet contaminant - having a volume resistivity in the range 400 to
500 cm - that is applied uniformly to the whole arrester housing surface and with no wetting subsequent to the application of
the voltage.

1999-09-01 140
The Salt-Fog test that is prescribed is performed at two steps below the withstand salinity of the arrester housing. The test
cycle comprises 15 minutes of fog application under voltage followed by 15 minutes of energisation without fog (drying
period). As mentioned previously, the drying period under voltage can be an important factor 361.
With the so determined division of the charge flow between the external and the internal paths, and by using the external
charge severity table referred to above, a new estimate Tz of the block temperature is calculated. If Tz < 40 oC, the arrester
is preheated to 60 oC to carry out the duty cycle test. Otherwise, preheating will be to 20 oC + Tz.

1999-09-01 141

10.1 Insulator profiles and dimensions

Table 10-1: Details for line insulators; Refer Table 10-24.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
Cap & Pin Designs
Bullers 54260 34 297 140 426 0.78 376

CEGB 374 kN 381 200 565 124

ENEL 120 kN 280 145 410 124

Doulton 6672 47 380 190 611 0.9 377

IEEE 39 254 146 305 0.62 378

NGK 820 kN 460 290 800 379

NGK 680 kN 440 280 750 379

CERL Reference A 29 394 210 592 0.86 378

Longrod designs CORE SHED LEAKAGE

L7524SN/1360 75 200 46 164 197
1.15m length, 24

1999-09-01 142
Table 10-2: Details for substation insulators (Tapered Barrel/Post); Refer Table 10-24.


(mm) (mm) (m) (m)
min max
Plain Shed 790 810 570 3.5 10.29 0.15 376

3-skirt a.f. shed 496 890 650 3.2 12.90 0.28 376
abcb support

3-skirt a.f. shed 405 800 490 3.07 10.82 0.37 376
sealing end

2-skirt a.f. shed 496 870 630 3.50 11.94 0.30 376
abcb support

2-skirt a.f. shed 716 1160 780 2.94 10.16 0.23 376
oil filled c.t.i.

Notes: a.f. : antifog

c.t.i. : current transformer insulator
abcb : air blast circuit breaker

1999-09-01 143
Table 10-3: Details for substation insulators (Parallel Barrel / Post); Refer Table 10-24.


(mm) (mm) (m) (m)
Easy Grease 628 920 3.39 13.60 0.21 376
shed abcb

2-unit plain shed 314 450 3.65 8.69 0.17 376

2-skirt a.f. shed 868 1090 3.73 11.86 0.17 376

SF6-filled c.t.i.

2-skirt a.f. shed 498 740 3.46 11.02 0.29 376

abcb support 1

2-skirt a.f. shed 623 877 3.40 11.72 0.24 376

abcb support 2

Italian 2-unit 740 920 3.37 7.95 0.17 376

plain shed

National Grid 260 384 1.25 3.52 0.16 129

V1 interrupter

1999-09-01 144
Table 10-3: Continued.


(mm) (mm) (m) (m)
CERL 230 484 3.80 12.67 0.32 375
Reference Post

Notes: a.f. : antifog

c.t.i. : current transformer insulator
abcb : air blast circuit breaker

Table 10-4: Details for substation insulators (Parallel Barrel / Post alternating long and short shed); Refer Table 10-24.


(mm) (mm) (m) (m)
Long Short
CEGB 70/60 profile 260 400 380 1.85 7.42 9.34 375

CEGB 70/50 profile 260 400 360 1.85 6.70 0.31 375

New Circuit 230 410 350 3.80 14.21 0.40 375

Breaker P1

New Circuit 230 356 314 3.80 14.01 0.34 375

Breaker P2

National Grid P1 234 376 336 1.30 4.30 0.34 129

1999-09-01 145
Table 10-5: Details for post and cap and pin insulators; Refer Table 10-25. From reference 125.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
III Multiple cone 317 527 110 352 to 385 0.28

IV Standard disc 14 254 140 298 0.8

Cap and pin

V a.f. Cap and pin 24 381 186 587 1.01

VI Long creepage 27 415 170 636 1.08

a.f. Cap and pin

Notes: a.f. : antifog

Table 10-6: Details for cap and pin and pedestal post insulators; Refer Table 10-26. From reference 197.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
6a, Cap and pin - 263 - -

6b, Cap and pin - 319 - -

7, Cap and pin - 250 - -

6c, Cap and pin - 250 - -

2a, Pedestal post - 438 - -

1999-09-01 146
Table 10-7: Details for barrel insulators; Refer Table 10-26. From reference 197.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
1a 113 269 53

1b 69 163 50

2b 100 181 56

2c 113 213 50

2d 125 225 56

2e 113 244 38

4a 138 250 56

4b 75 200 50

5a 75 156 31

5b 88 169 31

8a 125 263 69

9c 300 400 62

8b 119 256 31 / 73
(Alternating long
and short shed)
9b 250 375 25/38
(Alternating long
and short shed)

1999-09-01 147
Table 10-8: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Table 10-27 and Table 10-28. From reference 380.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
I 4-skirt, a.f. 50 321 165 508

II 5-skirt 40 318 165 508

III Bell shape 42 275 146 356

IV 1 very long skirt - 356 171 566

V 46 381 187 478

VI 5-skirt 49 321 175 502

VII 4-skirt, 2 long - 267 159 483

VIII 5-skirt 49 321 165 508

IX 43 282 149 457

X 6-skirt 40 267 146 406

XI 4-skirt, 1 long - 356 171 566

XIV Aerodynamic 39 425 159 356


1999-09-01 148
Table 10-9: Details for post and longrod insulators, Refer Table 10-27. From reference 380.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
XII Longrod 97 289 64 210

XXI Parallel Post 165 283 84 180

XXII Parallel Post 146 260 57 188

XXIII Parallel Post 125 233 54 149

XXV Parallel Post 165 254 50 161

XXVI 3-shed - 432 - 864

Pedestal Post

XXX Multiple cone 165 337 88 252


1999-09-01 149
Table 10-10: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Table 10-29. From reference 315.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
V1 Flat profile 37.5 380 130 340

V2 Standard 37.5 280 146 386

V3 Long leakage 44 320 170 534

V4 Very long 47.5 355 171 571


P1 Long leakage 45 292 149 470

P2 Standard 39 254 146 305

* Insulator designation as used in reference

1999-09-01 150
Table 10-11: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Table 10-30. From reference 380.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
P3, 4-skirt 321 171 546

A, 4-skirt 254 146 394

B, 4-skirt 320 170 530

D, 4-skirt 400 159 603

E, 5-skirt 380 195 690

G, 4-skirt 254 159 432

H, 5-skirt 330 170 546

J, 5-skirt 267 146 457

K, 4-skirt 321 165 508

M, 5-skirt 290 160 470

N, 5-skirt 260 160 621

1999-09-01 151
Table 10-12: Details for post and longrod insulators; Refer Table 10-30. From reference 381.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)**
0 Long rod 73 200 41 120
1 I, Plain shed, post 233 360 37 149
1A I, Plain shed, post 233 360 48 159
2 I, Plain shed, post 233 360 66 174
3 I, Plain shed, post 235 400 63 224
4 I, Plain shed, post 230 420 56 237
5 I, Plain shed, post 250 420 84 253
6 II, 3 skirt, post 237 370 50 227
7 II, 3 skirt, post 237 370 62 242
8 II, 3 skirt, post 235 400 62 273
9 II, 3 skirt, post 240 430 62 323
10 II, 3 skirt, post 240 430 95 355
11 III, ALS shed, post 236 420 19/64 215/87
12 III, ALS shed, post 236 420 19/64 214/62
Notes: * : Insulator designation as used in reference
** : Leakage path per shed; i.e. for quoted shed spacing
*** : Profiles of Insulator type I, II, II are given below
I, Plain shed, post II, 3 skirt, post III, ALS shed, post

Table 10-13: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Table 10-31 and Table 10-32. From reference 199.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
A, standard - 254 146 280

B1, Fog - 254 146 430

B2, Fog - 320 170 550

C1, d.c. - 280 146 445

C2, d.c. - 320 165 512
C3, d.c., extra creepage - 320 170 545
C4, d.c., very long creepage - 400 195 635

D, Longrod - 180 875 2085

1999-09-01 152
Table 10-14: Details for post insulators; Refer Table 10-32. From reference 199.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)*
Deep-rib profile 65 236

Under-rib profile 50 157

Table 10-15: Details for polymeric longrod insulators; Refer Table 10-34, Table 10-35 and Table 10-40. From references
126 and 127.


(mm) R (mm) (mm) (mm)***
V EPDM 24 110 66 158

VI EPDM ** 31 134/102 36/90 216

VII Silicone rubber 35 134 49 118

VIII EPR 38 171 61 146

Notes: * : Description as used in reference

** : Alternate long and short shed design
*** : For quoted shed spacing; i.e. between two large sheds for design VI

1999-09-01 153
Table 10-16: Details for polymeric longrod insulators; Refer Table 10-36. From reference 381.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
R 34 92 32 79

S 42 164 55 139

T 43 127 66 155

V 44 123 60 222

W 40 178 65 156

Table 10-17: Details for polymeric longrod insulators; Refer Table 10-37. From reference 380.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
XIII 61 222 100 200

XXVII 25 130 40 110

Table 10-18: Details for polymeric longrod insulators; Refer Table 10-38. From reference 315.


PROFILE (mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)**

Low slope 35 160 35 134

Low slope with rib 35 160 45 158

Mean slope 35 160 55 167
Mean slope with rib 35 160 45 169
High slope 35 160 45 172

High slope with rib 35 160 55 200

Notes: * : Description as used in reference
** : For quoted shed spacing

1999-09-01 154
Table 10-19: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Figure 10-1. From reference 111.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
A-11 - 254 146 305

A-12 - 254 130 305

A2 - 290 178 395

B2 - 280 165 370

B3 - 320 198 425

C2 - 280 172 370

C4 - 400 244 535

D5 - 380 220 495

Table 10-20: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Figure 10-2. From reference 382.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
A - 254 146 280

B - 280 170 370

C - 320 195 425

1999-09-01 155
Table 10-21: Details for cap and pin insulators; Refer Figure 10-3. From references 22, 124 and 143.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
A (A) - 254 146 305

B (B) - 254 146 390

C - 254 130 270

D - 279 140 433

1 - 381 200 560

2 - 355 171 530

3 - 280 145 300

4 - 280 145 400

1a - 254 146 290

1b - 254 146 290

2a - 254 146 390

2b - 254 146 390

1999-09-01 156
Table 10-22: Details for cylindrical Insulators (Parallel Barrel); Refer Figure 3-11. From reference 85.


(mm) (mm) (mm)
B Various 70 70 238

C Various 65 65 250

H Various 70 70 190

I Various 70 70 203

J Various 120 92 407

Table 10-23: Details for interrupter head insulators (Parallel Barrel); Refer Figure 3-17. From reference 129.


(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
V1 260 384 52 1250 3520

H1 340 426 36 1500 4800

H2 380 616 70 1100 3600

H3 380 500 34 1100 4000

H4 380 584 70 1500 4650

1999-09-01 157
10.2 Ranking of insulators

10.2.1 Ceramic Insulators

Table 10-24: Critical a.c. flashover strength of ceramic insulators vertically mounted; performance in artificial pollution test
of Very Heavy severity *.

Ranking Insulator Type ** Ref. Axial Stress Surface Stress

No kV/m *** kV/m ****
1 National Grid P1, Post 129 91 28
2 CEGB 70/60 profile, Post 375 84 21
3 CEGB 374 kN, Cap & pin 124 76 27
4 New Circuit Breaker P2, Parallel Post 375 76 21
5 3-skirt a.f. shed abcb support, Tapered barrel 376 74 18
6 New Circuit Breaker P1, Parallel Post 375 73 20
7 L75/24SN/1360, Longrod 197 73 21
8 Easygrease shed abcb support, Parallel barrel 376 71 17
9 CEGB 70/50 profile, Post 375 70 19
10 ENEL 120 kN, Cap & pin 124 69 24
11 Allied 54656, Cap & Pin 376 66 22
12 National Grid V1 Interrupter Head, Parallel Barrel 129 68 24
13 3-skirt a.f. shed sealing end, Tapered barrel 376 66 19
14 2-skirt a.f. shed SF6-filled c.t.i., Parallel Barrel 376 60 19
15 2-skirt a.f. shed abcb support 1, Parallel Barrel 376 60 19
16 2-skirt a.f. shed Oil c.t.i., Tapered Barrel 376 59 17
17 Doulton 6672, Cap & pin 377 58 18
18 2-skirt a.f. shed abcb support 2, Parallel Barrel 376 58 17
19 2-skirt a.f. shed abcb support, Tapered Barrel 376 58 17
20 Italian 2-unit plain shed, Parallel Barrel 376 53 23
21 Plain shed, Tapered Barrel 376 53 18
22 IEEE, Cap & Pin 378 51 24
23 NGK 820 kN, Cap & Pin 379 47 17
24 2-unit plain shed, Parallel Barrel 376 47 20
25 NGK 680 kN, Cap & Pin 379 46 17
26 CERL Reference, Parallel Post 375 46 14
27 CERL Reference A, Cap & Pin 378 44 16
* All tests made with a salt-fog of 80 kg/m3 except those reported in reference 197 which were at an
ESDD of 0.6 mg/cm2
** Name by which the insulator is specified in the relevant reference
*** Axial stress is voltage divided by axial distance between metal fittings
**** Surface stress is voltage divided by leakage path length
a.f. antifog
c.t.i. current transformer insulator
abcb air blast circuit breaker

1999-09-01 158
Table 10-25: a.c. Ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; flashover performance under marine pollution at BITS *.

Ranking Insulator Type ** FOM *** LPR ****

No (Average)
1 VI Long creepage a.f. Cap & Pin 1.19 0.89
2 V a.f. Cap & pin 1.08 0.79
3 III Multiple cone Post 1.07 0.93
4 IV Standard disc Cap & Pin 1.00 1.32
5 I a.f. Cap & Pin (CERL Reference A) 1.00 1.00
* Data from reference 125
** a.f. is antifog
*** Measure of flashover performance, from the viewpoint of axial length when compared to
that of a vertical string of reference insulators (i.e. CERL Reference A in Table 10-24); an
average of all values for same insulator type
**** LPR is leakage path ratio, determined as leakage path of CERL Ref. A insulator divided by that of
the test insulator, for the same pollution flashover performance
Table 10-26: a.c. Ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; flashover performance under natural pollution in Sweden *.

Ranking Insulator Type Specific Leakage Volt/LP

No (mm/kV, System) ** (kV/m) ***
1 6a, Cap & Pin 10.4 56
2 8a, Barrel 10.8 54
3 1a, Barrel 11.7 50
4 6b, Cap and Pin 11.7 50
5 2b, Barrel 11.8 49
6 7, Cap & Pin 11.8 49
7 6c, Cap & Pin 11.8 49
8 1b, Barrel 12.2 48
9 2e, Barrel 13.1 44
10 9c, Barrel 13.4 43
11 8b1, Barrel 13.9 42
12 2c, Barrel 14.5 40
13 2a, Pedestal post 14.6 40
14 4a, Barrel 15.2 38
15 4b, Barrel 15.5 37
16 5a, Barrel 15.6 37
17 2d, Barrel 15.9 37
18 8b2, Barrel 15.9 37
19 9b, Barrel 16.7 35
20 5b, Barrel 19 31
* Data from reference 197
** Specific leakage for same number of flashovers at the same location over same time period
*** Actual stress along the insulator surface

1999-09-01 159
Table 10-27: Critical d.c. flashover strength of ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; negative polarity; performance in
artificial pollution, using spray fog and Portland cement *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 XI 4-skirt, 1 long, Cap & Pin 178 54
2 VIII 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 158 51
3 I 4-skirt, a.f., Cap & Pin 149 48
4 IV 1 very long skirt, Cap & Pin 149 45
5 II 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 146 47
6 XXX Multiple cone, Post 143 57
7 XXVI 3-shed, Pedestal Post 141 60
8 XIV Aerodynamic Profile Cap & Pin 139 63
9 VI 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 139 48
10 X 6-skirt, Cap & Pin 132 47
11 VII 4-skirt, (2 long), Cap & Pin 129 43
12 XII Longrod 125 57
13 XXII Parallel Post 123 44
14 XXIII Parallel Post 113 45
15 XXI Parallel Post 111 41
16 III Bell shape, Cap & Pin 110 46
17 XXV Parallel Post 103 43
* Data from reference 380
** Numbers as used in reference 380
a.f. antifog profile
Table 10-28: Critical d.c. flashover strength of ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; negative polarity; performance in
artificial pollution, using spray fog and kaolin plus salt at ESDD = 0.2 mg/cm2 *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 I 4-skirt, a.f., Cap & Pin 236 76
2 VI 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 209 72
3 IV 1 very long skirt, Cap & Pin 185 56
4 VIII 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 171 55
* Data from reference 380
** Numbers as used in reference 380
a.f. Antifog profile
Table 10-29: Critical d.c. flashover stress for ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; positive polarity; performance in
artificial pollution using (a) Salt-Fog test and (b) Clean-Fog test *.

Insulator ** Salt-Fog test Clean-Fog test

No Type of Ranking Axial Surface Ranking Axial Surface
Cap & Pin unit No Stress Stress No Stress Stress
kV/m kV/m kV/m kV/m
V3 Long leakage 1 102 32 4 99 32
V4 Very long leakage 2 80 24 3 102 31
V2 Standard 3 67 26 1 113 45
V1 Flat profile 4 63 24 2 103 40
P1 Long leakage 5 54 17 5 88 28
P2 Standard 6 44 21 6 71 34
* Data from reference 315
** Insulator number and description are those used in reference 315
*** V in number designates glass insulator; P in the number designates porcelain insulator

1999-09-01 160
Table 10-30: Critical d.c. flashover strength of ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; negative polarity; performance in
artificial pollution, using clean-fog and kaolin plus salt at ESDD = 0.05 mg/cm2 *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 K 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 81 26
2 E 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 80 23
3 D 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 80 21
4 B 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 77 25
5 J 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 77 25
6 0 Longrod 74 26
7 P3 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 68 21
8 N 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 67 17
9 H 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 63 20
10 A 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 62 23
11 M 5-skirt, Cap & Pin 61 21
12 10 II, 3-skirt, Post 59 20
13 12 III, ALS shed, Post 59 18
14 9 II, 3-Skirt, Post 59 15
15 8 II, 3-skirt, Post 57 17
16 11 III, ALS shed, Post 55 15
17 7 II, 3-skirt, Post 54 19
18 G 4-skirt, Cap & Pin 53 20
19 3 I, plain shed, Post 53 20
20 1A I, plain shed, Post 52 21
21 6 II, 3-skirt, Post 51 16
22 2 I, plain shed, Post 50 24
23 5 I, plain shed, Post 50 20
24 1 I, plain shed, Post 50 17
25 4 I, plain shed, Post 47 15
* Data from reference 381
** Insulator designation as used in reference 380
*** ALS is alternate long and short shed
P3 is a reference insulator, that was tested simultaneously with each other type of line
insulator so as to provide a correction factor
Table 10-31: d.c. Flashover performance of ceramic line insulators; vertically mounted; natural saline pollution *.

Ranking Insulator *** Axial length Leakage path

No ** No Type ratio **** ratio *****
1 C2 d.c. Cap & Pin 0.74 1.42
2 B1 Fog Cap & Pin 0.77 1.18
3 B2 Fog Cap & Pin, Extra creepage 0.79 1.49
4 A Standard Cap & Pin 1.0 1.0
5 D Longrod 1.0 1.24
* Data determined from reference 199
** Based on performance at 3 test stations, for both positive and negative polarity
*** Insulator number and description are those used in reference 199
**** Mean value of axial length of test insulator divided by axial length of reference insulator
(i.e. type A, standard Cap & Pin) for same flashover performance
***** Leakage path of test insulator divided by that of reference insulator for same flashover

1999-09-01 161
Table 10-32: Critical d.c. flashover stress for ceramic insulators, vertically mounted; performance in artificial pollution,
using Clean-Fog test with Tonoko plus NaCl at ESDD = 0.05 mg/cm2 *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 C4 d.c. Cap & Pin very long creepage 92 28
2 C3 d.c. Cap & Pin extra creepage 90 28
3 - Post, Deep-rib profile 90 25
4 C1 d.c. Cap & Pin 86 29
5 - Post, Under-rib profile 68 22
6 A Cap and Pin, Standard Profile 65 34
* Data from reference 199
** Insulator number and description as used in reference 315
Table 10-33: d.c. Withstand stress for a porcelain housing, vertically mounted, as a function of its average diameter;
performance in artificial pollution using Clean-Fog test with ESDD of 0.12 mg/cm2 *.

Average diameter, mm 200 270 400 560 680

Axial Stress, kV/m 67 54 48 42 36
Surface Stress, kV/m ** 23 19 17 15 13
* Data from reference 199
** Average values for a normal profile and an under-rib profile

10.2.2 Polymeric insulators

Table 10-34: a.c. Polymeric insulators, vertically mounted; flashover performance under marine pollution at BITS *.

Ranking Insulator Type ** FOM *** LPR ****

No (Average)
1 VII Silicone rubber >1.53 <2.5
2 V EPDM 1.21 1.25
3 VIII EPR 1.17 1.16
4 VI EPDM 1.12 2.27
5 Epoxy resin 0.9 0.56
* Data determined from references 126 and 127
** Descriptions used in References 126 and 127
*** FOM is the Figure of Merit and is axial length of a vertical string of reference insulators
(i.e. CERL Reference A in Table 10-24) divided by the axial length of test insulator for the
same pollution flashover performance
**** LPR is leakage path ratio, determined as leakage path of the reference insulator divided by that of
the test insulator, for the same pollution flashover performance
Table 10-35: a.c. Polymeric insulators, vertically mounted; performance in artificial salt-fog of 80 kg/m3 *.

Ranking Insulator Type ** Axial Stress Surface Stress

No kV/m kV/m
1 VI EPDM 82 34
2 VIII EPR 75 31
3 V EPDM 67 28
4 VII Silicone rubber 61 25
* Data determined from reference 378
** Number used in reference 378

1999-09-01 162
Table 10-36: Critical d.c. flashover strength of polymeric insulators, vertically mounted; negative polarity; performance in
artificial pollution, using Clean-Fog test with kaolin plus NaCl at ESDD = 0.05 mg/cm2 *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 S ? 124 50
2 V ? 104 28
3 R ? 100 40
4 W ? 90 38
5 T ? 78 33
* Data from reference 381
** Insulator identification as used in reference 381
Table 10-37: Critical d.c. flashover strength of polymeric insulators, vertically mounted; negative polarity; performance in
artificial pollution, using Spray fog and Portland cement *.

Ranking Insulator Axial Stress Surface Stress

No No ** Type kV/m kV/m
1 XXVII Silicone rubber 159 59
2 XIII EPDM 138 69
* Data from reference 380
** Insulator identification as used in reference 380
Table 10-38: Critical d.c. flashover stress for polymeric insulators, vertically mounted; positive polarity; performance in
artificial pollution using (a) Salt-Fog test and (b) Clean-Fog test. *

Insulator ** Salt-Fog test *** Clean-Fog test ****

No Type of Ranking Axial Surface Ranking Axial Surface
Cap & Pin unit No Stress Stress No Stress Stress
kV/m kV/m kV/m kV/m
F Mean slope with rib 1 120 32 4 153 41
J High slope with rib 2 114 31 1 183 50
E mean slope 3 112 37 3 172 57
I high slope 4 111 29 6 174 46
B low slope with rib 5 110 32 2 150 43
A low slope 6 107 28 5 149 39
* Data from reference 315
** Insulator identification and shed description are those used in reference 315
*** Salt-fog salinity of 28 kg/m3
**** ESDD = 0.07 mg/cm2

1999-09-01 163
10.3 Insulator performance as a function of pollution severity

Figure 10-1: Laboratory a.c. test results, using solid layer method, for cap and pin insulators; showing specific creepage at
50% flashover vs. SDD 111.

Figure 10-2: Laboratory a.c. test results, using solid layer method, for cap and pin insulators; showing specific creepage at
50% flashover vs. SDD 382

1999-09-01 164
Figure 10-3: A.c. test results from various laboratories, using Salt-Fog method, for cap and pin insulators; showing specific
creepage at withstand vs salinity 22 143 124

10.4 Ageing of Insulators

Table 10-39: a.c. Flashover voltage of a 132 kV epoxy-resin crossarm determined for various surface conditions; Salt-Fog
salinity of 80 kg/m3.

After being in Applied coating to ex-service unit

Insulator New service Years
condition 2.5 5 Transformer oil Silicone oil Hydrocarbon grease
Mean flashover 108 54 51 76 71 >134
voltage kV
Tested after Having been Rapid loss of Non-oily Evidence of tracking
some exposed to marine water repellency appearance, on insulator surface on
Comments conditioning pollution of very during test but still water completion of test
discharges, heavy severity repellent at end
but no surface of test
* Data from reference 249
Table 10-40: a.c. Flashover stress of new and aged polymeric insulators in artificial salt-fog pollution *.

Flashover stress at 80 kg/m3 salinity, kV/m

Insulator type ** New Aged 6 months Aged 4 years
EPDM VI 89 88 79
Silicone rubber, VII 75 - 61
* Data from reference 378
** Insulator number as used in reference 378

1999-09-01 165

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