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Issue 15

Months topic: Voltage selection of power capacitors

My capacitor name plate shows three ratings at three different voltages. What is
the relation between capacitor applied voltage and kVAr rating?

kVAr rating of the capacitor is directly proportional to square of the applied voltage. This is
evident from the below formula:


As capacitance (C in uF) remains same for a capacitor, XC will remain constant.

For example, if a capacitor is rated for 30 kVAr at 480 V, and if the applied voltage is 440 V,
the kVAr output can be calculated as follows:


 %! &'(#$
 Eq. 1


Similarly, if we apply 500 V for the same capacitor, the kVAr output will be 32.5 kVAr. In this
case, we are applying voltage more than the rated value and the capacitor will deliver kVAr
output more than its rated value. Hence the life of the capacitor will reduce drastically,
because of over-voltage and over-current.

To summarize, the name plate of a capacitor (for e.g. 30 kVAr, 480V) has the following

Rated Voltage Qrated Current

(V) (kVAr ) (A)
480 30 36.08
440 25.2 35.06
415 22.4 31.16

Similarly, for 25 kVAr and 440 V capacitor, the name plate contains the respective kVAr
ratings and current ratings at 440 V, 415 V and 400 V.
My system voltage is 415 V; should I select 415 V capacitors or 440 V capacitors?

Before deciding the voltage of the capacitor, it is important to understand about the
percentage impedance of the transformer (%Z). The percentage impedance is the voltage
drop on full load due to the winding resistance and leakage reactance of the transformer.
This is expressed as a percentage of the rated voltage. For example, if the secondary of the
transformer is rated for 433 V and %Z as 4%, the voltage available at the load end, during
full load conditions, would be 415 V only. When the load decreases, the voltage drop
decreases and hence the voltage at the load end increases. During no-load conditions, the
voltage can reach a maximum of 433 V.

If a capacitor is selected with 415 V(in the above case), it would be subjected to over-voltage
during partial load or no-load conditions. This would impact the capacitor life drastically. For
a normal capacitor, following are the over-voltage limits permitted as per IS:

10% over-voltage for 12 hours in every 24 hours

15% over-voltage for 30 minutes in every 24 hours
20% over-voltage for 5 minutes in every 24 hours
30% over-voltage for 1 minute in every 24 hours

Hence, the capacitor should be rated for 440 V, even though the voltage at the load end is
measured as 415 V. In general, it is a better practice to select capacitor voltage, so as to
avoid the prolonged over-voltage conditions.

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