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Short Circuit Calculations

All electrical systems are susceptible to short circuits and the abnormal current
levels they create. These currents can produce considerable thermal and
mechanical stresses in electrical distribution equipment. Therefore, it's important
to protect personnel and equipment by calculating short-circuit currents during
system upgrade and design. Because these calculations are life-safety related,
they're mandated by 110. of the !"#, $hich states%
&"quipment intended to interrupt current at fault levels shall have an interrupting
rating sufficient for the nominal circuit voltage and the current that is available at
the line terminals of the equipment. "quipment intended to interrupt current at
other than fault levels shall have an interrupting rating at nominal circuit voltage
sufficient for the current that must be interrupted.'
(hen you apply these requirements to a circuit brea)er, you must calculate the
ma*imum +-phase fault current the brea)er $ill be required to interrupt. This
current can be defined as the short-circuit current available at the terminals of the
protective device.
,ou can assume that +-phase short circuits are &bolted,' or have no impedance. -n
addition, a +-phase short circuit can be considered a balanced load, $hich means
you can use a single-phase circuit to analy.e one of the phases and the neutral.
/istribution equipment, such as circuit brea)ers, fuses, s$itchgear, and 0##s,
have interrupting or $ithstand ratings defined as the ma*imum rms values of
symmetrical current. A circuit brea)er can't interrupt a circuit at the instant of
inception of a short. -nstead, due to the relay time delay and brea)er contact
parting time, it $ill interrupt the current after a period of five to eight cycles, by
$hich time the /# component $ill have decayed to nearly .ero and the fault $ill
be virtually symmetrical.
#losing a brea)er against an e*isting fault ma)es it possible to intercept the pea)
of the asymmetrical short-circuit current, $hich is greater than the rms value of the
symmetrical current. 1or this reason, equipment is also tested at a particular test
234 ratio value typical to a particular electrical apparatus, such as s$itchgear,
s$itchboards, or circuit brea)ers, and is designed and rated to $ithstand and3or
close and latch the pea) asymmetrical current described above.
1ault analysis is required to calculate and compare symmetrical and asymmetrical
current values in order to select a protective device to adequately protect a piece of
electrical distribution equipment.
Methods of calculation. 4ather than using a theoretical approach to determine
short-circuit currents, published standards offer methods to compute a symmetrical
steady state solution to $hich you can apply a multiplier in order to obtain the
pea) value of an asymmetrical current. The result is precise enough to fall $ithin
an acceptable tolerance to meet !"# requirements.
The classical approach and the method defined by A!5-3-""" are t$o such
industry-accepted methods for calculating short circuits. Both methods assume
that the fault impedance is .ero 6bolted short circuit7 and the pre-fault voltage is
constant during the evolution of the fault. -n actuality, the fault has its o$n
impedance, and the voltage drop, due to the short-circuit current, lo$ers the
driving voltage.
The classical approach is used to calculate the Thevenin equivalent impedance as
&seen' by the system at the point of the fault. Thevenin impedance is defined as
the impedance seen at any point in a circuit once all the voltage generators have
been short circuited and all the current generators have been opened. Transformer
and utility impedances and rotating machine subtransient reactances describe all
possible contributions to a short circuit. 8nce $e have calculated the symmetrical
and pea) duties, $e can determine the required rating of the protective device by
direct comparison to manufacturer equipment ratings.
This over-simplified one-line diagram of a power distribution system included
values necessary for working through the two methods of short-circuit
calculation referred to in the text.
The A!5-3-""" method, $hich is described in -""" 5td. #+9.010-19 and its
revision in 1, is used for high-voltage 6above 100:7 equipment. -t calls for
determining the momentary net$or) fault impedance, $hich ma)es it possible to
calculate the close and latch rating of the brea)er. -t also calls for identifying the
interrupting net$or) fault impedance, $hich ma)es it possible to calculate the
interrupting duty of the brea)er. The interrupting net$or) fault impedance value
differs from the momentary net$or) fault impedance value in that the impedance
increases from the subtransient to transient level.
The -""" standard permits the e*clusion of all +-phase induction motors belo$ ;0
hp and all single-phase motors. <ence, no reactance ad=ustment is needed for these
motors. The Chart at right clarifies the A!5-3-""" procedure.
Classical calculation. Begin by converting all impedances to &per unit' values.
>er unit base values and formulae used are as follo$s%
?@A.B ):
The AN!"!### short-circuit calculation
method follows a step-by-step process.
Cet's run through an e*ample calculation to ma)e this discussion a little more
tangible. 4efer to the one-line diagram in the $igure above $ith the follo$ing
input data%
Dtility% @A.B):, 1,@000:A, 234?B1
Transformer 6T
7% @0:A, @A.B3B.1A):, /,-E, F?9G, 234;1;
0otor 1 60
7% -nduction, B.1A):, 1,000 hp, >1?0.H, efficiency;0.H, 2I
0.1A pu, 234?@H
0otor @ 60
7% -nduction, B.1A):, B hp, >1?0.H, efficiency?0.H, 2I
pu, 234?10
!o$ it's possible to calculate the equivalent Thevenin impedance for a fault at Bus
@ by combining the per unit 2 and 4 values to obtain the relative impedances.
6@.HJ=@H7?0.1AAJ=@.H19 pu?@.H@+e=
(e may no$ calculate the short-circuit current rms at Bus @%
The pea) duty the brea)er is required to close and latch may be evaluated using
the follo$ing formula, $hich constitutes a multiplier to the rms current, $hich $as
calculated above%
Dse Table 1, page 1 in A!5- #+9.0A-19 >referred 4atings and 4elated 4equired
#apabilities to rate ne$ s$itchgear. -t's useful in comparing calculated duty
6B,1AA and 1@,A@A7 and standard ratings. The Table includes sample values
e*tracted from the A!5- table.
These are the short-circuit current ratings required for our s$itchgear duty
corresponding to a continuous current, for e*ample, 1,@00A. !o further steps have
to be ta)en, as the table itself, by comparison, provides the required specifications
for the equipment to be installed.
Compare calculated duty and standard ratings
using Table % in AN! C&'.()-%**'.
AN!"!### calculation. The A!5-3-""" calculation method is based on the
same per unit quantities as calculated before. <o$ever, it differs from the classical
method because it ma)es it possible to study t$o separate circuits derived from the
original one% one resistive only and one reactive only. This $ill be carried out for
both momentary and interrupting net$or) fault impedances.
1or each net$or), Thevenin equivalent resistance and Thevenin equivalent
reactance $ill then be combined in order to obtain the equivalent Thevenin
impedance. This is the significant difference bet$een the A!5-3-""" procedure
and the classical calculation method.
As mentioned before, the momentary net$or) fault impedance is based on the
subtransient reactances of the rotating machines, $hich allo$s for the calculation
of the first-cycle pea) fault duty. The total fault resistance and reactance values
$ill be calculated separately, follo$ing the same formula as the F
equation in
the classical calculation section, e*cept the Fs must be replaced $ith the 4s and
Then they'll be combined as total fault impedance F
, $hich $ill yield -
and -
according to the formulas.
The interrupting net$or) fault impedance is based on individual equipment
transient reactances. -n the previous e*ample, only the reactance of 0otor 1 needs
to be ad=usted. -t's acceptable to neglect 0otor @ at medium voltage levels. The
resistances of the net$or), in fact, don't vary $ith respect to time. A!5- #+9.010-
1 identifies the ad=ustment factor as 1.;.
-n this case, the total fault resistance and fault reactance 6$ith ad=ustments7 $ill be
calculated separately as already seen.
, symmetrical duty is calculated as it $as in the classical method. <o$ever,
it's typically characteri.ed by a smaller magnitude because the F
current is larger than the one in the momentary net$or) calculation.
is essential because a multiplier factor is applied to this quantity for
comparison to the brea)er interrupting rating.
This multiplier $ill account for%
The additive contribution of the /# current component, $hich might still
be &alive' after the time of contact parting.
The eventual subtractive contribution of the A# current decay, due to the
evolution of the reactances to$ard larger values. This effect is possible
$hen the generation of po$er is local.
Multipliers necessary for one short-circuit calculation
method are shown in AN! C&'.(%(-%***.
The multipliers, in function of time of contact parting and of the ratio 234 at the
point of fault, are described in curves starting from figure A-H, page A0, #+9.010-
1 6$igure7.
8nce -
has been multiplied by this factor 6bet$een 1 and 1.@;7, you have the
minimum rating of your equipment. As in the classical method, you can also use
Table 1, page 1 in A!5- #+9.0A-19 to determine a standard rating.
+hich method is better, Both methods basically provide the same results. There
are no theoretical reasons to prefer one to the other, only practical reasons. The
A!5-3-""" approach is the evolution of a method conceived in the '90s in the
Dnited 5tates, $hen no computer-assisted calculations $ere available. A!5-3-"""
#+9.010-1 can only be used at medium or high voltages and only at A0 <..
#alculation programs have been developed to determine fault currents that apply
the multiplier factors called for in this standard. -n fact, some clients may as) for
the application of this calculation methodology by contract. 0anufacturers may
also recall the A!5-3-""" standard in their catalogues. The classical method is
used mainly in lo$-voltage studies and can also be applied at ;0 <.. -t's a $ell-
)no$n procedure because it's a common topic in every &po$er system' college