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Introduction to IEC/TR 61641

A status update and insides

Bas Bouman Hans Meulenbroek
Manager Damstra Lab Product Manager LVS
Member of NEC 17BD and NEC64
Member of IEC 17D/MT11, MT13, MT15
Member of IEC TC64 and CLC64
April 2010

2008 Eaton Corporation. All rights reserved.

General information

IEC/TR 61641: Enclosed

low-voltage switchgear and
controlgear assemblies
Guide for testing under
conditions of arcing due to
internal fault
IEC/TR 61641 is:
Not a standard, but a
technical report
Not a part of the IEC
60439/61439 series
Not a compulsory test


Edition 2 published beginning of 2008

New definitions:
Ip arc (permissible current under arcing
t arc (permissible ac duration)
Ipc arc (permissible conditional short-
circuit current under arcing conditions)
Arc free zone
Arc proof zone
Arc proof assembly
New test criteria:
6) and 7) concerning switchgear
assembly availability

Important definitions (1)

3.4 Arc
Short-circuit arising from a fault between active parts of different
potential and/or between active parts and other conductive parts
resulting in a free burning arc within an ASSEMBLY
3.5 Personal protection under arcing conditions
Ability of an ASSEMBLY to limit the risk of personal injury caused by
the mechanical and thermal effects of an internal arcing fault

Note 1: This applies to enclosed low-voltage switchgear and controlgear

assemblies when doors and covers are closed and correctly secured

Note 2: It does not cover all effects which may constitute a risk, such as
toxic gases

Important definitions (2)

3.6 ASSEMBLY protection under arcing conditions

Ability of an assembly to limit the effects of an internal arcing fault on
the operation to a defined area inside the ASSEMBLY
3.7 Arc free zone
Part of a circuit within the ASSEMBLY where it is not possible to
apply an ignition wire without destroying the insulation material on
3.8 Arc proof zone
Part of a circuit where an ignition wire can be applied and fullfilling all
relevant criteria for the assessment of the test
3.9 Arc proof ASSEMBLY
Assembly consisting of arc free zones and/or arc proof zones

Criteria to assess personal protection

Personal protection is achieved when these criteria are fullfilled:

1) Correctly secured doors, covers, etc., do not open
2) Parts (of the ASSEMBLY), which may cause a hazard, do not fly
off. (This includes large parts or those with sharp edges, for
example inspection windows, pressure relief flaps, cover plates,
3) Arcing does not cause holes to develop in the freely accessible
external parts of the enclosure as a result of burning or other
4) The indicators arranged vertically do not ignite (indicators ignited
as a result of paint or stickers burning are excluded from this
5) The protective circuit for accessible parts of the enclosure is still

Criteria to assess assembly protection

Personnel protection and assembly protection is achieved when

criteria 1) to 6) are fullfilled:
6) The ASSEMBLY is capable of confining the arc to the defined area
where it ignited, and there is no propagation of the arc to other
areas within the ASSEMBLY

In addition, if specified by the manufacturer, criterion 7 applies where

the ASSEMBLY is to be suitable for limited continued operation:
7) After clearing of the fault or after isolation or disassembly of the
affected functional units in the defined area, emergency operation
of the remaining ASSEMBLY is possible. This is verified by a
dielectric test with a value of 1,5 times the rated operational voltage
during 1 min.

Capitole 40 and arc free

1) Incomer
Big separators between terminals (arc
Epoxy resin insulated busbars
between incomer and main busbar
(arc free)
2) Main busbar
Epoxy resin insulated (arc free)
3) Vertical busbar
Fully incapsulated (arc free)
4) Outgoing units
Unprotected circuit: arc free
Protected circuit: arc proof
Units are tested and assessed
arc proof in accordance with
IEC/TR 61641

Test report Capitole 40

U = 415 V
Ip arc = 80 kA
t arc = 300 ms

Eaton LVS arc safety levels definition
I. IEC 61439 :
no personnel or assembly protection

II. Level 1 + IEC TR 61641 criteria 1-5 :

personnel protection and no assembly protection

III. Level 2 + IEC TR 61641 criteria 6 and 7

personnel protection and limited assembly protection,
1 panel or the complete main busbar system can fail

IV. Level 3 + insulated main busbar system:

personnel protection and limited assembly protection,
1 panel can fail

V. Level 4 + functional unit protection:

personnel protection and assembly protection,
only 1 functional unit can fail

Capitole 40 and arc safety levels

Capitole 40 with insulated main bus bars meets systems safety level V:

An arc can only occur behind the short circuit protection of the outgoing
functional unit.

In case an arc occurs in the outgoing functional unit the design is such that
the consequences of an arc are limited to this outgoing function unit.

In case of an arc only 1 outgoing functional unit will probably be lost.