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P.K. Pattanaik
Asst. Manager (Elect.)


It is termed as “Restricted Earth Fault” relay and used for the protection of the equipment, like transformer,
alternator etc from earth fault that occurred within a restricted zone. This zone is basically between the line CT and the
equipment (say transformer). The restricted zone fault can be termed as internal fault of the equipment. Consider the case
of winding fault, for which this relay actuates. Total portion of the winding can not be protected from fault, by this relay.
Because, the voltage available for driving earth fault current becomes small, for the fault, occurrence near the neutral
point of the transformer. Moreover if the relay would be used for too sensitive to the faults for 100 % Protection then, the
relay operation can not be differentiated from the spurious signal (harmonic signal), external faults and switching surges.
So this relay protects only a restricted part of the winding. Practically the setting of the relay is so used of the order with
minimum availability of the rated current. Because of this restricted protection, the relay is named as REF.


1. Star connection winding with neutral earthing.

2. Neutral CT of suitable ratio and burden.
3. For auto transformer, suitable matching CT ratio between line CT and NCT.
4. Separate core from CT secondary.
5. Suitable relay with suitable stabilizing resistor.
6. Present trend of the use of non-linear resistor across the relay.


The use of resistance (Impedance) on the neutral path, limits the earth fault current and changes the % protection
from earth fault to the winding of the transformer. Following formula can be used for determining the protected portion of
the winding.

% of winding un-protected = (R x I0 x 100)/V

R= Impedance or resistance in Ohms between neutral and ground.
*I0= Minimum operating current in primary of CT
V= Line to Neutral voltage.
*I0= x I, where x = % setting of the relay
I Rated primary phase current = (Rated MVA) / ( 3 VL x 10-6)

So for the case of solid ground neutral, maximum part of the winding can be protected from fault. But total
portion of the winding can not be protected in any manner. So, along with REF protection, it is always advisable to use
differential protection also.


2.1 Stabilizing resistor : The external resistor such used in series with the relay coil circuit is termed as stabilizing
resistor. For the restricted earth fault protection scheme, usually residual current (Vector sum of all three phase current)
and NCT secondary current, play the important role for protection. But because of unequal status of CT (saturation, CTR,
class burden etc), some times spill currents in the relay circuit may cause indiscriminate operation. To avoid unwanted
operation, a stabilizing resistor is connected in series with relay coil.

2.1.1 Setting of stabilizing resistor : The value of this resistor should be so chosen that, under maximum steady state
through fault condition, there will be developed insufficient voltage across the bus wires to cause a spill current equal to
the relay operating current. So for calculation of stabilizing resistor, following assumptions are to be made.

i. One set of CTs is completely saturated.
ii. The whole of primary fault current is perfectly transformed by the remaining CTs.
iii. The maximum loop lead burden between the relay and CT is used.

For one set of CT saturation, the maximum voltage appears across the relay circuit is
V = {If(Rc + Rb)} / N volts

Where If = Equivalent secondary pilot current of max. fault current

Rc = CT internal resistance.
Rb = Maximum lead Burden.

If = Ic / N; Ic = Maximum short current rating of switch gear.

V = Max. Voltage appears across relay ckt.
Rr = Relay impedance at setting current = (Burden)/(Relay setting current)2 = P/Is2
But total relay impedance (Rs+Rr) = V / (Relay setting current) = V/Is

Hence Rs =Stabilizing resistance to be used = (V/Is-P/Is2) ohm

(Note):- Is = REF relay setting current

P= Burden of relay.


For an internal earth fault within the protected zone, the current no longer remains balanced. The CTs try to feed
the fault current into the high impedance REF relay. The voltage across the relay immediately rises above the operate
voltage. Now for this severe condition, most of the secondary current passes through this NLR also called (Varistor) and
helps for limitation of over voltage in the CT circuit.


For requirement of CT, it is necessary to know or to have good estimation of maximum through fault current, by
considering the multi phase faults and earth faults in the system.
Basically for directly earthed transformer, the through fault current at an external earth fault is higher than three
phase through fault current. This fault current is given by.

*E.F current = (Un 3)/(Z1+Z2+Z0)

Where Un = Phase to phase voltage

Z1+Z2+Z0 = Total +ve, -ve and zero sequence impedance.
*(A value of 15 times power transformer nominal current may sometimes be obtained.)

6.1 Points to be considered

1. Core design of TOROID type with low leakage reactance.

2. Equal current ratio and turn ratio, for all the inter-connected CT cores.
3. Not too high secondary resistance.
4. Saturation voltage or knee-point voltage at least twice the selected relay operate voltage.
5. Ukp or Usat 2 V
6. Since V = If (Rc + Rb) / N
7. Identical CT cores in the three phases
8. Dedicated CT cores for REF connection
9. Should have low wiring resistance up to the summation point, where the CT circuits are inter-connected. So,
summation point should be near the HVCT secondary.


7.1 Testing Of Relay:

i) Physically check: The relay should be free from damage. Mechanical contacts, indications, terminals (if any) should
be checked for perfect working operation. The contacts (N/O, N/C) should be checked along with the continuity of
the relay coil. The stabilizing resistor, NLR (if used) should be measured for the value of its resistance.

ii) Electrical check :

a) Secondary injection test: From the standard secondary kit, the current should be injected to the REF coil, for
different tap positions, at the terminals mentioned in the respective manual. So, accordingly, the contacts extension
terminals should be checked, whether working or not. Moreover the time of operation should be within the limit of
mentioned values in the catalogue or manual. One of the typical figures of testing of CAG-14 (REF) relay has been
shown below
b) Sensitivity check of REF Protection: It is similar to that of secondary injection test as mentioned in (a). But
here REF relay is tested after connection with the circuit, along with power transformer. Testing is done with primary
injection to one of the CT being in connection as shown below. Now the operating voltage is measured across the
relay at the time of operation of the relay. This voltage is called the sensitivity voltage and should be compared with
value of theoretical calculation. The current through relay circuit can be measured at the time of operation.

c) Stability check of REF Protection: This check is also done with circuit being in connection with the
transformer. For this check primary current is injected to any one of the CT and allowed to return through the NCT,
as like shown in the figure. For correct connection and polarity of CT, in the circuit the ammeter that connected will
not show any current. But for wrong connection or reverse connection of CT polarity, the current through relay
circuit will show double as that of the secondary reflected current of each CT. This check should be confirmed for all
the phases one after another. This check is helpful for knowing the following.

i) CT ratio of the CT core used in the circuit, along with the NCT.
ii) Polarity of each CT core used.
iii) Confirmation of correct circuit connection.

d) Load balancing test of the circuit with REF : For load balancing check, usually 3 supply of 440 V is
supplied to * one side of the transformer with other side being short circuited. So, this condition can be stated as the
load charging of transformer at 440 V supply. The different circuit behaviour at the relay terminals can be checked.
Now current behaviour to different relay like B/U relays, Differential relay and REF relay can also be obtained. This
check can be termed as the preliminary charging of transformer with 440V Supply.

*Note:- 3 supply to LT side with HT side short circuited, provides considerable current for proper study of the current
flow behavior to different relay circuit. Study with REF relay is done with following principle.
Important Note ( CAUTION) : The S.C Current calculation should be done for supply to LT and shorting to HT
condition and according to the value obtained, proper care should be taken with provision of fuse protection.

Theoretical S.C. Calculation:

S.C. current Ish = (IFL x VA x 100) / (%ZxVN)
IFL = Rated F.L. current, whose side S.C. current is to be calculated
= (Rated MVA x 106) / {√3 x Rated voltage (volt)}
VA = Applied voltage during the test in volt
%Z = % Impedance
VN = Rated voltage of that side to which testing supply given in volt

i) 3 supply to LT side, HT side shorted.

Primary Currents.

R= Iamp r = x Iamp Where

Y= Iamp y= x Iamp I = current measured on the primary
B= Iamp b = x Iamp side of HT
N= 0 amp n= 0 amp x = Voltage HT / Voltage LT

Secondary current

H.T. side L.T side

1) B/U relays B/U relays
R (o/c) Y amp. r (o/c) z amp.
Y (o/c) Y amp. y (o/c) z amp.
B (o/c) Y amp. b (o/c) z amp.
E/F (o/c) 0 amp. E/F (o/c) 0 amp.
2) REF relay: - 0 amp. REF relay: - 0 amp.


8.1 Problem: - Newly installed 100 MVA, 220/132 KV Auto transformer was tripping on REF relay, for the fault on any
of the External Feeder Sometimes REF relay was tripping without any fault on any feeder.
8.1.1 Data : -

1. On the date of Commissioning the Transformer was charged and stood o.k.
2. After Two days the transformer tripped on REF (CAG 14) relay for the E/F on one of the 220 KV feeder.
3. On 4th and 5th day, similar incident was repeated.

8.1.2 Preliminary Check up (ON LOAD)

100 MVA Auto transformer ( 220 KV Side)

Current on Panel Ammeter : - 130 Amp

C.T.R = 300/1

1. B/U relay (Secondary) O\C relay

R 0.45 A, Y 0.44A, B 0.45 A

2. E/F relay ( Secondary)

18 mA ? (Doubt)

3. REF relay
21 mA ? (Doubt)

4. Differential relay % Basis : - 20%

H.T. L.T. Op. Coil

0.45 A 0.43 A 1mA
0.44 A 0.4 A 0.07mA
0.45 A 0.4 A 0.7mA
Note : - L.T side (132kv) current cold not be measured, because of the use of “ER” relay in the circuit.

8.1.3 Preliminary Check up (NO LOAD)

1. B/U relay (Secondary) O\C relay

R 5.2 mA, Y 3mA, B 6.4mA

2. E/F relay ( Secondary)

4.4 mA

3. REF relay
0 mA

8.1.4 Analysis Of Preliminary Check Up

Secondary current on E/F of 220 KV side relay = 18 mA.
So, Primary current on neutral path of 220 kv side = (18mA x 300) = 5.4 Amp
Now corresponding primary current on neutral path of 132 kv side
5.4 x 220/132 = 9 Amp.
Net current on neutral path = (9~5.4) Amp = 3.6 Amp
Secondary 132 LV side current = 9/600 = 15 mA
Secondary NCT current = 12mA (measured approximately)
Net REF current = Residual current of (220 kv ~ 132 kv) + Secondary NCT current
= (18 – 15) + 12 mA
If (additive) = 15 mA
If (Subtractive) = 6 mA
As REF was measured with current of 21 mA. So doubt was on the C.T connection polarity.

8.1.5 Accordingly NCT terminals were reversed

1) The current measured by instruments are not accurate and dependent on the accuracy factor of measuring
instruments and equipment like C.T, A.C.T etc in the circuit.
2) The circuit is assumed being in the connection as fig. No.
(Without physical check up of the secondary circuit).

8.1.6 Proceedings After Reversal Of Nct Terminals

(A) The transformer was idle charged and current were measured.

REF Nil (1.2 mA), E/F 3.8 mA, R 4.2 mA, Y 2.8 mA, B 5.5 mA

(B) The transformer was loaded and currents were measured

REF Nil (1.2 mA), E/F 18 mA ? (Doubt), Over R 0.45 A, Y 0.45 A, B 0.45 A

(C) Current were measured after 30 mnts of loading.

REF 0.5 mA (10 mA range), E/F 19 mA (100 mA) ? (Doubt)
R 0.46 A (1 Amp range), Y 0.47 A (1 Amp range) B 0.48 A (1 Amp range)

Again the same problem repeated as mentioned in the data above i.e. tripping of transformer on REF with
tripping of External feeder sometimes only REF relay.

8.2.1 Detail Study

8.2.2 Preliminary check up (with load)

H.T side (220 kv)
Current on ammeter : 78 Amp
C.T.R : 300/1
(1) B/U secondary current:
R 0.24 , Y 0.24 A, B 0.24 A
(2) E/F 19 mA ? (Doubt)
(3) REF 2.5 mA
(4) Differential relay

H.T. L.T. Op. Coil

0.22 A 0.25 A 0.4 mA
0.23 A 0.23 A 0.2 mA
0.25 A 0.23 A 0.3 mA

8.2.3 PLAN : - The circuit was planned to be connected as described fig. No. 9


Note : 220 KV side line CTR = NCT = 300 / 5) x (5 x 1) = 300 / 1

* 220 Kv side line CTR = 300/1
** 132 KV side line CTR = 300/1

8.2.3 Current Calculation.

Suppose “y” Amp is the residual current on 220 KV CT secondary. Then corresponding primary current = 300 x
Amp. This current will pass through neutral i.e. neutral primary current = 300y Amp. As VA i.e. rating if transformer on
primary and secondary side being same.
i.e. VI = constant.
I (1/V) for transformer
Neutral primary current for 132 KV side = 300y (200/132) = 500y Amp
Residual secondary current = 500y/300 = 1.66666y = (5/3)y
Net NCT secondary current = Net NCT primary current / 300 = (500y-300y)/300= (2/3)y
Net residual current through REF
= (Net residual 132 KV side current – Net residual 220 KV side current) = {(5/3)y-y}=(2/3)y
[For direction of current flow, refer fig ]
Hence for any kind external fault due to which the residual current only will be increased, but not the REF relay.
But for internal fault, the REF will actuate.
* Separate core should be selected for REF only on 220 KV side if available, or else otherwise the back up core
can be chosen for this practice in this case.
** Separate core, particularly (300/1) ration must have to used on 132 KV side. This core no way should be
mixed with back up or any other protection.
Then shut down was taken and physically circuit was checked on the 220 KV C/R panel

8.3 Findings On The Circuit

i)The circuit connection was like fig. No

8.4 Modification Of The Circuit

i. The differential core was separated and used only for differential circuit.
ii. Separate core from 132 KV line CT was changed from (600/1) to (300/1) ratio and used for REF circuit.
iii. Circuit was used as per the standard Auto Transformer circuit .

8.4.1 Final Conclusion

After modification of the circuit, the transformer was charged and stood O.K.. The problems as described above were
solved and the transformer did not trip further for the external fault on any feeder.