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Coordination of protections devices


Application note

With respect to LV electrical power distribution requirements, operators give top priority to safety of persons and

equipment and to availability of energy (continuity of supply). The implementation of a protection plan meets the first requirement, while implementation of coordination of these protection devices meets the second requirement. However, the achievement of a reliable and effective solution results in study and production costs that the operator must try and control. Schneider Electric, thanks to the Merlin Gerin and Telemecanique circuit breaker ranges with high performance as standard, offers solutions that optimise the response to these two issues.

Continuity of supply is enhanced by total discrimination: p upstream with the MV/LV transformer protection fuses, putting back into operation involves fewer restrictions, p downstream with all feeders, discrimination is often of the time kind.

Main LV Switchboard 800 to 4000 A

Installation requirements: lsc < 100 kA, need for continuity of supply This is the most common case in industrial sites (petrochemistry, etc.) and large tertiary sites (high-rise buildings, etc.). The Masterpact NT and NW with their N1, H1 and H options guarantee as standard total discrimination with the Compact NS circuit breakers up to 630 A. This is made possible by very high thermal withstands (up to 85 kA 1 s for the NW H). We are in the area of time discrimination. Discrimination with MV can be considered either by means of logic discrimination or by adjustment of the Long Time Delay slope of the Masterpact circuit breaker (IDMTL curves).

Application to an installation
The Main LV Switchboard
High current switchgear
The Main LV switchboard is the main key to electrical power distribution. Short-circuit currents are high. This is the area of power circuit breakers designed for high current electrical power distribution. In order to manage the stresses at the supply end of the Main LV Switchboard and at the power feeders, Schneider Electric proposes high performance solutions as standard. Switchboard incoming circuit breakers are of the industrial kind with high breaking capacity (40 to 150 kA), nominal rating of 1000 to over 5000 A, category B with a high lcw (40 kA to 100 kA - 1 s), a high electrodynamic withstand and a stored energy operating mechanism whose features include source coupling.

Installation requirements: lsc up to 150 kA, the need for continuity of supply is vital. This type of main LV switchboard is found in industries implementing large processes (supplying welding lines for car construction, steel works, etc.). These are normally multi-source installations in which the short-circuit current may be as high as 150 kA on the main busbar. Traditional switchgear then no longer allowed a high level of discrimination to be maintained on the power feeders. How can the need for high performance in breaking power (150 kA 380/415 V) be combined with a high thermal withstand? The H3 type Masterpacts eliminate lsc up to 150 kA. Total discrimination with the Compact circuit breakers placed downstream is also guaranteed as standard thanks to a thermal withstand of 65 kA 1 s.

Specific installation requirements: cable feeder, increased transformer power, etc. requiring considerable limitation of the fault current. In this case, the L1 type limiter Masterpacts NT and NW reduce electrodynamic stresses thanks to their high limitation capacity, while at the same time maintaining a level of discrimination up to 37 kA 1s for the NW which is unmatched for this type of circuit breaker. The Schneider Electric Masterpact range technologies meet discrimination requirements at the supply end of the installation as well as specific limitation needs. Masterpact NWH3 lcu = lcs = 150 kA lcw = 65 kA 1 s In order to break short-circuit currents up to 150 kA while yet maintaining a high level of discrimination, Schneider Electric has developed a new technique for disengaging the opening mechanism (patented). When a short-circuit current occurs, an

electromagnetic force is created which pushes the pole by moving it apart. The pole motion activates a pawl by means of a kinematic chain. The motion of this pawl directly releases the pole shaft before the electronic weighing system trips. The mechanical system is tripped at the same time as the electronic weighing system, thus confirming circuit breaker opening and indicating the fault on the front face.

The L1 NW type circuit breakers also use this technology.

Traditional circuit breaker Choice criteria/ Solutions

Masterpact NT/NW NT H1 NW H1 NW H2 NW H3 NW L1 NT L1

Limitation capacity (tenue des cbles,) Discrimination/ upstream Discrimination/ downstream Dimensions Breaking capacity (kA)
Key to symbols: NA: Not Applicable

non limiteur NA * ** * < 65

* : average

limiteur *

NA *** **** *** < 4

NA *** **** ** < 65

*** : very good

NA * *** ** < 100

50 * *** ** > 100

*** *** ** ** > 100

**** **** NA *** > 100

** : good

**** : excellent

Remarks: p circuit breaker size is an important technicoeconomic choice criterion. p breaking capacity is not the only choice criterion.

p the advantage of limitation increases as the rating decreases (withstand of cables that are less numerous). A limiting circuit breaker can be used even for lsc < 100 kA for small ratings.

The subdistribution switchboard

This is the intermediate part of LV distribution. At this level power is distributed by conductors of optimum size. Short-circuit currents can reach 100 kA. p Continuity of supply is vital. Protection devices must be coordinated with the upstream (main LV switchboard) and downstream (Subdistribution and Final Distribution Switchboards) LV distribution protection devices. Continuity of supply is ensured by: O total discrimination between circuit breakers for feeders whose availability requirements are great (priority), O partial discrimination, at least, for non-priority feeders. Discrimination is mainly of the "energy" type. p Circuit breakers must limit the electromagnetic and mechanical effects of short-circuit currents: they must cut the current as quickly as possible to minimise stresses on the cables and connections. They must therefore be highly limiting. The Subdistribution Switchboard level is the area of the Moulded Case Circuit breakers (MCCBs).

Roto-active breaking This high current limitation technique uses a new tripping energy: pressure. Each circuit breaker pole has a chamber in which a rotating contact generates, by electromagnetic repulsion, two arcs in series when a short-circuit current occurs. A piston and spring device uses the pressure due to arcing to cause reflex tripping when a certain threshold is passed, roughly 3 ms after contact repulsion. Up to this threshold, pressure is insufficient to cause tripping, and arc impedance limits the short-circuit current. Above this threshold, breaking is very fast (1 ms) and limits still further the short-circuit current. Limitation is highest when the rating is small.

Compact NSX breaking technique

In order to enhance limitation and discrimination performance, Schneider Electric has developed a range of Compact NSX Moulded Case Circuit breakers from 100 A to 630 A by using a "revolutionary" breaking technique: "rotoactive" breaking. p Thanks to the use of breaking gas pressure speeding up tripping and implementation of energy discrimination, the Compact NSX circuit breakers ensure: O natural discrimination as standard, that is to say requiring no special trip units, O total discrimination up to full breaking capacity of the device complying with the rule for a two-rating difference. p Thanks to rotary breaking, the Compact NSX circuit breakers are ultra-quick and limiting. Cascading performance is thus excellent.

Operating principle of reflex tripping

Trip units The Compact NSX are equipped with a thermal magnetic or electronic trip unit. Setting of the Long Time Delay (LTD) thresholds guarantees current discrimination. The Short Time Delay (STD) protection has as standard a mini time delay allowing time discrimination for short-circuits of average value, above the Short Time Delay tripping threshold of the upstream circuit breaker.

Micrologic 6.3E trip unit for Compact NSX 400/630 (continued on page 7)

Discrimination consists of ensuring coordination between the operating characteristics of the circuit breakers connected in series so that, should a fault occur downstream, only the circuit breaker placed immediately upstream of the fault trips.

Key points
Discrimination can be:
p total, performed for all fault or short-circuit current values, p partial, performed for a limited fault or shortcircuit current range.

Discrimination techniques
Current discrimination
Obtained by staging the Long Time Delay (LTD) and Short Time Delay (STD) tripping curves of 2 serial-connected circuit breakers.

Energy discrimination

Above the upstream Short Time Delay (STD) tripping threshold, discrimination can only be determined by comparison of the energy curves.

Time discrimination

Obtained by Dt staging in time of the Short Time Delay (STD) tripping curves of circuit breaker D1.


tripping energy curve non-tripping energy curve

General discrimination rules

Time discrimination is the extension of current discrimination.

There are no general discrimination rules.

Enhancement of current and time discrimination

Discrimination rules for Schneider Electric circuit breakers Masterpact

Total discrimination with the Compact NSX (1) circuit breakers placed downstream.

The downstream limiting circuit breaker enhances discrimination of the association of the 2 circuit breakers by pushing back the discrimination limit ls.

Compact NSX

Total discrimination as soon as the ratio of the circuit breaker ratings (1) is greater than 2..
(1) respecting the staging of the current thresholds (LTD and STD).

Key points
Limitation and cascading
A technique consisting of creating a backelectromotive force (bemf) that opposes the development of the short-circuit current. This bemf is the arc voltage due to arc resistance that is formed between contacts when they separate. The pace at which it develops depends on contact separation speed. Current limitation increases: p as intervention time decreases p as the rate at which this back-electromotive force develops, increases p when the maximum value of the backelectromotive force is greater than maximum voltage of the source.


A network design technique used to enhance the breaking capacity of a downstream circuit breaker by making the upstream limiting circuit breaker contribute to breaking the fault current. The arrangements of the Compact NSX reduce the energy of a prospective short-circuit current of 10 kA from 2.28 108 A2s to 0.3x10 A2s, i.e. reduce the thermal stress by a factor of 600.

Discrimination or cascading Of great economic interest in Subdistribution and Final Distribution Switchboards, the notion of cascading of protection devices opposes that of discrimination. As its aim is tripping of the upstream circuit breaker, it therefore leaves a large part of the installation de-energised if a fault occurs. The Compact NSX breaking techniques enable management of this paradox.

Customer Requirements and Standard

Customer Requirements and Protection Devices
Customer requirements vary according to the level of the installation in question. p At the supply end of distribution, energy availability is vital. p For subdistribution switchboards, limitation of stresses in event of a fault is important. p For final distribution, safety is a main requirement. The features of the protection devices technology, discrimination technique, limitation, standards, etc. vary according to needs.

Circuit breaker standard

Standard IEC 0947-2 is one of the construction standards defining Low Voltage electrical switchgear specifications. It applies to circuit breakers and their associated releases and gives their main technical data. Standard IEC 60947-2 recognises and defines coordination of protection devices, discrimination and cascading. For critical points, it requires verification by testing. Consequently, circuit breaker coordination can only be guaranteed by the manufacturer who records the results of his tests in charts. Circuit breaker coordination is recognised and even recommended by the installation standards of most countries.

(continued from page 4)


Breaking techniques offer technical advantages in terms of discrimination and limitation which are directly converted into economic advantages. p Limitation and discrimination: the end of a paradox When energy discrimination is implemented, the downstream circuit breaker breaks with a current limitation such that the fault energy is markedly less than the tripping threshold of the upstream circuit breaker. The downstream Compact NSX is naturally selective with the upstream Compact NSX. As the upstream Compact NSX has contacts that have slightly repulsed, an arc voltage has been generated. This voltage is added to the arc voltage of the downstream circuit breaker to help it break the fault current. The breaking capacity of the downstream Compact NSX is enhanced by cascading. Thus with Compact NSX, cascading and discrimination can be implemented at the same time, thereby generating optimised installation costs (optimised choice of circuit breakers, etc.) and operating costs (natural discrimination of Compact NSX, etc.). p "Natural" discrimination rules between the Compact NSX circuit breakers This innovating technique standardises discrimination rules between devices: p overload protection, current discrimination, between Compact NSX circuit breakers is achieved if the tripping threshold ratio is such that the Long Time Delay is greater than 1.6 and the Short Time Delay greater than 1.5, p short-circuit protection, time discrimination applicable up to reflex tripping of the upstream device. Beyond this, energy discrimination is operational as soon as the rating of the upstream Compact NSX is greater than 2.5 times the rating of the downstream Compact NSX.

Discrimination rules between Compact NSX and Multi 9 As a new feature, total selectivity exists also between Compact NSX and Multi 9 miniature circuit breaker for ratings up to 40 A. Energy discrimination according to Compact NSX Amplified in Compact, it completes conventional current and time discrimination. The outstanding limitation and reflex tripping allow a natural staging of D2 tripping/D1 nontripping energy curves. When a very high short-circuit is detected by devices D1 and D2, their contacts open at the same time and limit the current (RC curve). Arcing energy is: p high at D2, causing it to trip p limited at D1, insufficient to make it trip.


Tripping Curve Non Tripping Curve Contact Repulsion Curve

Rule Protection between Compact NSX is selective if the circuit breaker rating ratio is greater than 2.5.

Final Distribution Switchboard

The protection devices are placed directly upstream of the loads: discrimination with the higher level protection devices must be achieved. A small shortcircuit current (a few kA) characterises this level. This is the Area of the Miniature Circuit breaker. The technologies developed in the Multi 9 Miniature Circuit breakers in the Merlin Gerin ranges guarantee optimised protection: a nominal rating from 0.5 to 125 A, a breaking capacity up to 50 kA as per IEC 6094-2, B, C, D and MA, etc. tripping curves. The Multi 9 circuit breakers are ideal for use in the home or for the protection of auxiliaries. They then comply with standard IEC 60898. On the other hand, if they are intended for industrial use, they must comply with standard IEC 6094-2.

Multi 9 limitation technique

Limitation partly depends on the magnetic actuator. Once released, the mechanism will strike the moving contact, making it move at a high speed very early on. The arc voltage therefore develops very quickly at a very early stage. For small rating circuit breakers, specific pole impedance contributes to limitation. The limitation performance of Multi 9 circuit breakers guarantee total discrimination with the upstream Compact NSX circuit breakers.

Safety and availability of energy

Electrical installation operators are very familiar with these synonymous notions of operating quality and cost-effectiveness. Coordination of LV protection devices is a key factor in the achievement of these aims. The Merlin Gerin and Telemecanique range circuit breakers proposed by Schneider Electric guarantee from 1 A to more than 6300 A the optimisation of the protection plan by the use of innovating technologies adapted to each situation, i.e.: p outstanding limitation of the Masterpact and Compact NSX circuit breakers for distribution with very great energy constraints p total discrimination as standard of the circuit breaker ranges p "enhanced" discrimination and cascading: the Compact NSX circuit breakers put an end to the antinomy of these 2 notions. The summarising table below lists the main features of the Schneider protection system. Subdistribution Final Distribution Switchboards Switchboards 100 1000 A 20 100 kA * *** Moulded Case (MCCB) 1 100 A 3 10 kA * ** Miniature

Switchboards Switchboards technical data Nominal l lsc Thermal withstand lcw and/or TED Continuity of supply Switchgear implemented

Main LV switchboards 1000 6300 A 0 150 kA *** *** Power or Moulded Case (MCCB) FI

Switchgear technical data Circuit breaker standard IEC 6094-2 Type of trip unit thermal magnetic electronic Rating Standard ln Icu Technical discrimination current/time energy logic Limitation capacity

*** (1)

*** (1) ** *** 100 to 630A 25 to 150 kA * *** ***

** (2) *** (2) 1 to 125 A 3 to 25 kA ** ***

*** 800 to 6300 A 50 to 150 kA *** ** * to ***

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As standards, specifications and designs change from time to time, please ask for confirmation of the information given in this publication. This document has been printed on ecological paper. Design: Schneider Electric Photos: Schneider Electric Printed:



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*** important and/or compulsory ** possible * not very important (1) Compulsory (2) According to the type of application for domestic use, IEC 60898 must be taken into consideration