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Source: ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT HANDBOOK

CHAPTER 20
FUSES

A fuse is an overcurrent protective device with a circuit-opening fusible part that is heated
and severed by the passage of current through it. Fuses can meet most of the protection
requirements for good system operation.
The fuse is a thermal device. Heat will melt the fuse element regardless of its source.
The fundamental features of fuses are as follows:
1. The fuse combines the sensing and interrupting elements in one unit.
2. It is a single-phase device. Only the fuse in the affected phase will melt to isolate the fault.
Three-phase motors will continue to run on single-phase power for extended periods.
This may result in overheating and damage to the motors.
3. The fuse response is a function of I 2T, where I is the current and T is the time the cur-
rent exists. It has an inverse-time characteristic—the higher the current, the faster the
fuse blows.
4. Most fuses require considerably more current than their amperage rating to operate. For
example, NEMA standards require that E-rated fuses of 100E and below melt in 300 s at 200
to 240 percent of their rating. Fuses above 100E must melt in 600 s at 220 to 264 percent
of their rating. These durations are considered extremely long for short-circuit protection.
5. Fuses should be coordinated with downstream devices to ensure faults are cleared within
reasonable times (1 to 5 s or faster). A fault magnitude of 5 or more times the current
rating of the fuse is required to clear the fault within this range of operating times.
The application of fuses is a little difficult in some situations due to this current-
magnitude requirement. Another protective scheme must be used in some critical appli-
cations, usually at higher cost.

TYPES OF FUSES

The most common types of fuses are single-element, dual-element, and current-limiting.

Single-Element Fuses
Single-element fuses have a high-speed response to overcurrents. They are usually used for
the protection of nonmotor loads. Motor inrush currents are usually 6 times the normal
full-load current.
Single-element fuses could cause nuisance opening during the starting period. Therefore,
they are not normally suitable for motor controllers.
Note: The single-element fuses could cause nuisance openings if used in other induc-
tive load applications such as transformers or solenoids.

20.1
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FUSES

20.2 CHAPTER TWENTY

Dual-Element Fuses

The dual-element fuse has two distinct series-connected sections. The first provides instan-
taneous operation for short circuits, and the second provides time-delayed operation for
normal overloads. These fuses are ideally suited for motor controllers. The manufacturers
of these fuses recommend their use for short-circuit and running overload protection.
However, this is not a common practice in industry. The dual-element fuses are not
highly desirable for running overload protection because of the lengthy downtime required
to obtain and install a new fuse. Most controllers are equipped with overload relays. These
relays are manually or automatically resettable after an overload that caused the devices to
open the circuit.

Current-Limiting Fuses

Current-limiting fuses are designed to open the circuit in less than 1Ⲑ4 cycle (based on 60
Hz). Figure 20.1 illustrates the performance of a current-limiting fuse. The current-limiting
fuse will react as any other fuse to low and medium magnitudes of fault current (Fig. 20.2).
The current-limiting action will occur at high magnitudes of fault current (Fig. 20.3).
A current-limiting fuse will not produce external arcing. The special quartz sand inside
the fuse container is transformed to glass by the energy from the fault current. The glass
creates an insulating material that results in circuit opening.
The circuit-limiting fuse has the highest capability to interrupt short circuits of any fuse
available. The current-limiting fuse operates to drive the fault current of a voltage surge to
zero. These fuses keep a voltage surge to a minimum to prevent equipment damage.
Figure 20.4 illustrates the differences in time-current characteristics of two different
types of current-limiting fuses. The two fuses shown are both E-rated fuses at the 5.0-kV
level. The fuse on the right is a “slower” fuse. This feature makes it more suitable for trans-
former primary protection than the “fast” fuse on the left.

EXAMPLE 20.1 Consider a 500-kVA transformer connected delta-wye on a 4800-V sys-


tem. The full-load current is a 60 A. The magnetizing inrush current is 10 to 12 times the
full-load current. It lasts 0.1 s. At a current of 12 times full load, or 720 A, the “fast” fuse
on the left in Fig. 20.4 may have blown on magnetizing inrush current. The fuse on the right
had plenty of time to withstand the inrush current.

FIGURE 20.1 The current-limiting action of current-limiting-type fuses. A,


arcing time; M, melting time; C, total clearing time; P, available peak current;
L, let-through current; DC, dc component.

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FUSES

15 A

30 A

60 A
100 A

200 A
400 A
600 A

500 1000
100 200
50
20
10

FIGURE 20.2 Time-current data for 600-V Duralim 6JD fuses, average melting.
5
Time, s
2
1
0.5
0.2
0.05 0.1
0.01 0.02
1

10

20

50
100

200

500

1000

2000

5000

10,000

20,000

50,000

100,000

Current, A

20.3
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FUSES

20.4 CHAPTER TWENTY

200,000

100,000
600 A
50,000
400 A

200 A
20,000
Instantaneous peak let-through current, in A

100 A

10,000 60 A
30 A
5000 15 A

2000

1000

500

200

100
100

200

500

1000

2000

5000

10,000

20,000

50,000

100,000

200,000
300,000

Available short-circuit current, rms A


FIGURE 20.3 Current-limiting data for Duralim 6JD fuses at 600 V ac. (Tests are conducted at 600 V, one
phase, with one fuse. In actual field applications, current limitation may be greater due to either the involve-
ment of two or three fuses for line-line faults or reduced voltage for line-neutral or line-ground faults.
Therefore, the above chart provides worst-case conditions with regard to current limitation.)

FEATURES OF CURRENT-LIMITING FUSES

Current-limiting fuses are fully rated to withstand moderate overloads without damage or
a change in characteristic. Current-limiting fuses are generally used in motor starters and
low-voltage circuit breakers to protect the motor contacter or circuit breaker from destruction
when subjected to fault-current magnitudes in excess of their interrupting rating.
When current-limiting fuses are used, the NEC requires that “Fuseholders for current-
limiting fuses shall not permit insertion of fuses that are not current-limiting” (Art. 240-60).
Therefore, the fuse holder which will take class R fuses must be used. Class R fuses provide
high degree of current limitation with interrupting current capability of up to 200,000 A.
This interrupting current rating distinguishes class R fuses, from class H fuses, which
have an interrupting rating of only 10,000 A. Class K fuses (K-1, K-5, and K-9) have an
interrupting rating as low as 50,000 A. Figures 20.5 and 20.6 illustrate the differences in con-
struction of these fuses.

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FUSES

FUSES 20.5

100

100E

10
Seconds

1.0

0.1
200 400 1000
Amperes
FIGURE 20.4 Plot of two different types of current-limiting
fuses showing the differences in time-current characteristics.

Class R Class H and K

Class H and K Class R


FIGURE 20.5 The two knife-blade fuses have the FIGURE 20.6 The two ferrule-type fuses have
same physical dimensions. The class R fuse, how- approximately the same physical dimensions. The class
ever, has a rejection slot in one blade; the other fuse R fuse, however, has a rejection groove on one ferrule;
does not. Both fuses can be installed in a standard the other does not. Both fuses can be installed in a stan-
non-rejection-type fuseholder. Only class R fuses dard non-rejection-type fuseholder. Only the class R
can be inserted in a rejection-type fuseholder. fuse can be installed in a rejection-type fuseholder.

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FUSES

20.6 CHAPTER TWENTY

Medium-voltage motor controllers are fault-protected by high-interrupting-capacity,


current-limiting fuses. Backup R-rated fuses are especially designed for motor service with
capability of carrying high starting currents during prolonged acceleration without fuse
deterioration or nuisance blowing. These fuses do not have actual current ratings. However,
they have application designations with typical melting time, total arc clearing time, and
current-limiting characteristics.

ADVANTAGES OF FUSES OVER CIRCUIT


BREAKERS

Fuses are preferred over circuit breakers for the following reasons:

1. Fuses do not have moving parts. They are maintenance-free and do not require periodic
checking. They can be relied upon to protect a circuit for an indefinite time.
2. In general, fuses are considered more accurate and reliable than circuit breakers.
3 A blown fuse usually provides greater incentive to correct the cause of a failure than a
tripped circuit breaker.

Note: A detailed comparison between current-limiting fuses and circuit breakers is pre-
sented in the appendix. This comparison was conducted by an independent firm (Noram).
The comparison describes the numerous advantages that current-limiting fuses have over
circuit breakers.

APPENDIX: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM PROTECTION


CONSIDERATIONS

Why Noram Chose to Develop Duralim HRC Fuses (over CBs)

Noram embarked down the “protection road” by developing either circuit breakers (CBs)
or current-limiting fuses (CLFs). After careful review of its users’ and specifiers’ list of
desired core performance requirements for electrical protective devices, the Duralim HRC
fuse was born.

Core Performance Requirements

General Purpose—One Device for All Applications. Both CBs and CLFs can be used
as general-purpose devices if the proper types and ratings are chosen. Certain application
decisions or compromises may have to be made in order to achieve a general-purpose
capability.
For example, a CB’s frame size may have to be increased to ensure that adequate inter-
rupting rating (IR) is achieved for systems with high fault levels. A CLF with time-delay
overload characteristics could be employed to permit the same fuse to be used for not only
feeder protection, but also full backup motor protection.
Noram came to the conclusion that for this requirement (general purpose), a time-delay
CLF with high interrupting capacity (IR 200 kA) provided an excellent means to protect
main, feeder, and branch circuits with both noninrush and inrush circuit characteristics.

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FUSES

FUSES 20.7

High Level of Protection—Overload and Short-Circuit. In the overload region, both the
CB and the CLF can provide protection, assuming that the proper device and rating are pro-
vided for the specific application. In the short-circuit region, certain advantages arise with
the high-rupturing capacity (HRC) fuse over that of the CB, due to the CLF’s high level of
current limitation. Although current-limiting CBs are available, they are generally larger
than standard breakers, more expensive, and significantly less current-limiting than HRC
class J fuses.

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FUSES

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