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EB018 Rev 0 96/05/17

9087A – 198th Street, Langley, BC Canada V1M 3B1 y Telephone (604) 888-0110
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Basic Principles:

1 Automatic synchronizing of a generator consists of electrically “coupling” the

generator output to another source of electrical energy and operating the
generator such that its output adds to the other source.

2 Automatic synchronizing can encompass a wide variety of conditions such


a) Two or more equal or similar-sized generators which, when

paralleled to each other, will operate as though they were one larger
generator. This is the most common application and reason for
parallel operation.

b) Two or more unequal-sized generators which are operated in parallel

as though they were one larger generator. This is also a common

c) Generator systems (which may consist of two or more individually-

paralleled generators) which are operated in parallel with another
electrical system which, by comparison, is infinitely large. This is the
case of operation in parallel with the normal electrical utility source.
This is commonly done for on-site peak shaving, bottom shaving or
cogeneration systems. It may be done momentarily in some special

Benefits of automatically-synchronized (paralleled) systems:

1 Economy

An existing distribution system may not lend itself to being split into several
sections and handled by separate non-paralleled units. When the loads are
expected to expand substantially, the initial investment is minimized by
installing one smaller generator set, and then adding more sets in parallel
as the loads increase.

2 Reliability

When a part of the emergency load is deemed very critical, it may be

desirable to have more than one generator capable of being connected to
that load. When there is a normal source outage, all generators in the
system are started.

The probability of having a generator start and achieve nominal voltage and
frequency is increased according to the number of sets available. The first
set ready to handle the essential load does so. As the other generators are

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running and connected to the bus, the remaining loads are connected in
declining order of priority.

Types of Systems:

There are two types of paralleling systems:

a) Sequential paralleling
In sequential paralleling, the engine/generator sets are connected to
the bus in a predetermined order. The lead engine is connected to
the bus first. When the engine/generator selected as number 2 is
ready to be connected, a synchronizer is connected between the
output terminals of generator 2 and the bus. Then the generator is in
synchronism, its paralleling circuit breaker is closed, connecting it to
the bus. Usually, a restriction is imposed to limit the time the controls
will consume in attempting to synchronize and parallel a set to the
bus before reconnecting the controls to the next set in sequence.

b) Random paralleling
Random access permits simultaneous synchronizing of each set to
the bus. The random access method is faster than sequential
paralleling but more expensive. Codes mandating emergency loads
to be reconnected within ten seconds may require the method of
operation. With diesel or natural-gas-driven engine/generator sets, it
is reasonable to expect that the emergency bus will be established
within the ten-second limit in a random access system, because any
one of the generators can be first on line.

c) Dead field paralleling

d) Utility paralleling

Synchronizing Basics:

1) To successfully synchronize a generator to a bus requires some degree of

instrumentation to tell the operator what the phase relationships are
between the two sources. The simplest is two voltmeters connected to read
voltage between the same phases of the incoming generator and the bus.

When the two sources are in phase and at equal voltage, both Va and Vb will
read 0 volts. (The third phase will also be the same since, if any two are
correct, the third must be correct.) When the phases are 180° out of sync,
the voltmeters will read 2 x normal system voltage. As the phases go in and
out of sync the voltmeters will drift from 0 to 2 x to 0 at a rate which depends
on the slip frequency (frequency difference). The breaker closure must
occur when the voltage difference is at, or very near, 0. Otherwise each

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source will be subjected to extreme currents and forces which will damage
the equipment. Out of sync voltage differences (and resultant forces)
increase rapidly with increasing phase to phase mismatch angles. In
general the forces are acceptably small if the phase angles are within about
± 15° of true synchronism.

2) Two synchronizing lights can be used in place of voltmeters. When the

lights are out, the phases are synchronized. When the phases drift out of
sync, the lights will come on due to the voltage difference. It is usual to use
three lights to cater to the possibility of one burned bulb. Bulbs must be
rated for 2 x voltage.

3) A synchroscope is a pointer-type meter that incorporates the two voltmeter

movements with a single pointer. The pointer moves to a circular position
dependent on the voltage difference. At zero volts it will be located at top
dead centre. The synchroscope position is representative of voltage
difference, not phase displacement angle. Any area within about 30° to 45°
of top dead centre represents a fairly small voltage difference corresponding
to a fairly small phase-to-phase displacement. A synchroscope will rotate at
the slip frequency rate.

4) All of the foregoing are instrumentation devices which will allow an operator
to observe when synchronism occurs and to initiate breaker closure
accordingly. The operator must adjust the incoming generator speed (and
voltage if necessary) to obtain synchronized conditions).

5) For automatic systems, an automatic device must be used to obtain

synchronized conditions and initiate breaker closure at the proper time.
There are a wide variety of automatic synchronizers available to interface
with various types of governors. The synchronizer can also be utilized to
match voltages as well as speed.

Protection devices:

1) When a synchronous generator is connected to an external electrical

source, it is capable of acting as though it were an electric motor. In the
case of generator sets operating in parallel, if the engine output power fails
for any reason, such as shutdown, the generator will motor the engine at
bus frequency. The required power, usually about 10 to 20% of rated
power, will be provided by other machines. To prevent this occurrence, all
paralleled generators must be fitted with a reverse-power relay. The relay is
set to open the generator breaker at about 5 to 10% reverse power.

2) The generator breaker must be rated to withstand and interrupt the

available fault currents from the load bus. This may require special breaker
considerations when paralleling to an infinite bus.

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3) There are many additional protective devices that can be applied to single
or parallel-operated generators. Particular application considerations will
determine the requirements.

Technical considerations for automatically synchronized systems:

1) The generator output must be the same as the bus; that is:
– Same number of phases
– Same phase to phase voltage
– Same phase rotation (e.g. ABC or ACB)
2) The generator and bus AC waveforms must be in identical phase
relationship at the time of breaker closure to connect them. This is called
the in phase or synchronized condition. Note that if the phase rotations
are the same, then the B to B and C to C relationship will be identical to the
A to A relationship. If the phase rotations are opposite then synchronism of
all 3 phases can never be achieved. If the breaker is closed to connect the
two sources based on only one phase being in synchronism, major
damage can immediately occur.

3) Only when the two sources are inphase or synchronized (each phase
voltage matched, phase rotation matched and phase angles matched) can
the two sources be connected together.

4) Once the two sources have been connected together they will remain in
synchronism no matter what (unless the breaker(s) open and disconnect
one of the sources). The two sources are effectively “geared” together by
electrical forces.
5) If the two sources are two equal generator sets, say for example 2 x 500
kWe as soon as they are in parallel, the system should now behave as
though it were a single 1000 kW generator.
6) The key to parallel operation is to make the system behave as it should.
The challenge comes from the fact that the “single” generator has two
regulator exciters and two governor systems. The characteristics of the two
machines must be matched for the “whole” system to function correctly.
7) The voltage and frequency controls of a paralleled generator not only
control voltage and frequency.
(a) Voltage control (excitation control) now controls the reactive power
output of the generator. If the generator is over excited, instead of the
voltage rising the excess excitation will result in generation and
delivery of excess kVARs to the bus. If it is under excited it will
“absorb” kVAR’s from the bus. When the excitation level is exactly

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correct for the actual bus voltage the generator will share the kVAR’s
required by the load.
(b) Frequency control (governor speed control) now controls the real
power output of the generator set (kWe output). If the governor
frequency (speed) setting is higher than the actual bus frequency, the
governor will sense an underspeed condition and attempt to correct
the condition by increasing the fuel. This can only result in increased
power output. Likewise if the governor frequency setting is below the
actual bus frequency, then the governor will sense overspeed and
react by reducing the fuel.

8) In the case of two or more engine generator sets operating in parallel, it is

readily apparent that the regulators and governors must function together
to achieve system control.

9) In the case of an engine generator paralleled to an infinite bus, it is not

possible to control the infinite bus. Its regulators and governors are not
accessible, and even if they were, other considerations (such as other
connected customer needs) would prevent adjusting the bus controls to
satisfy an insignificantly small paralleled generator.
For paralleling considerations a bus can start to be considered as infinite
when the bus capacity is about 5 times the paralleled generator capacity.
Thus if a 100 kW generator is paralleled to a bus powered by a 1000 kWe
generator, it is essentially being connected to an infinite bus. (There are
exceptions to this condition but these are beyond the scope of this sales
and marketing seminar)

10) This is a classic case of “two halves do not necessarily make a whole”.
However, the control of paralleled generator(s) is in fact simple, reliable
and extremely versatile.

Load Control:

1) Whenever engine/generators are paralleled, the loads should be divided

and controlled so that the system will not be overloaded. Overloading an
emergency system will cause voltage and frequency deviations and
possibly cause the failure of the complete system. The loads can be
grouped into blocks consistent with the prime mover size. See Figure 7-
10. This means that load prioritization is necessary. The system can then
control the connection of load to the bus in a prioritized sequence as
generators are placed on line. Similarly, the system must disconnect, or
shed loads in reverse order of priority, to ensure maximum continuity of
power to the highest priority loads if bus capacity reduces due to loss of
generating units.

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2) Having established the basis for load connection and shedding, it is

necessary to consider the means to achieve this switching. There are
several ways to switch the loads. In an emergency power system, one
convenient means is to utilize the automatic transfer switches for load
connect and load dump operation. See Figure 7-11. Another method
involves the use of remote-control switches, or contactor to open and
close, adding and shedding the loads. Downstream circuit breakers can
also be tripped to shed load. However, if shunt-tripped molded-case circuit
breakers are the method used, consideration should be given to the fact
that these breakers must be manually reset to reconnect the load. In short,
there are many approaches to load switching. The preferred approach for
any application is determined by the requirements of the application.

Load Share Basics:

1) Governor speed adjustment controls generator set load (kW) after the
generator is paralleled to a bus.

If a diesel generator with droop governing is paralleled to the utility bus, the
generator frequency will be exactly the same as the utility bus at the
moment that paralleling occurs. If no change in set speed occurs, the
generator will run in parallel with the utility, but will not produce any load.

2) A more normal parallel generator set condition is the parallel operation of 2

or more engine generators onto a common bus. The considerations are
identical to the infinite bus except that speed (or voltage) set point
adjustments on one generator will in fact result in a speed or voltage
change on the bus along with the expected change in real or reactive load.
Increasing the load on one generator will correspondingly decrease the load
on the other bus connected generators. To maintain the bus frequency and
load share requires adjustments of both governors. Likewise, to maintain
bus voltage and kVAR share requires adjustment of both regulators.

3) For paralleling with load-droop governors or reactive load droop regulators,

the set speed (voltage) of both sets must be adjusted (one up, one down) if
a constant bus frequency (voltage) is required. Usually the small voltage
variations are of no concern, and voltage adjustments are not necessary
provided both regulators have equal kVAR droop and both are set for equal
voltage at equal kVAR load. It is often desirable to maintain a relatively
constant bus frequency at various loads. If droop governing is being used,
the set speeds must be trimmed with each load change.

4) Electronic load sensing governors can be used for parallel operation with
isochronous speed (frequency) control and electronically controlled load

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The electronic load signals from all the paralleled generators can be
interconnected and used to bias each governor so that it carries its share of
the total load. The sets do not have to be equal size. Each will carry its
proper portion of the total load.

5) The generator voltage regulators can be equipped with a reactive load

share system that will avoid regulator droop with varying kVAR loads. This
is called cross current compensation.

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