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Power Quality
Technical Seminar
Abstract – This paper discusses a new concept in power quality
monitoring through the use of digital multimeters specially
designed for use in circuits with nonlinear loads, together with
other intelligent electronic devices and database management
system. These devices allow utilities to monitor and analyze
relevant disturbances in the distribution system.
Interconnected equipment on a high-speed communications
network provides the basis for an electrical power quality
monitoring system. This system is a powerful tool for
evaluating and minimizing the costs of interruptions,
maintenance, and any other influencing factors that may
negatively impact the power system.

Rohit Gunnala
Rohit Gunnala, 07311A0263, EEE – IV/IV

Abstract – This paper discusses a new concept in power PQ events. The second approach involves the installation
quality monitoring through the use of digital
of mitigation equipment that depends on the characteristics
multimeters specially designed for use in circuits with
of the protected device. The costumer usually buys the
nonlinear loads, together with other intelligent
electronic devices. These devices allow utilities to mitigation equipment. The most commonly used mitigation
monitor and analyze relevant disturbances in the equipment is the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
distribution system. Interconnected equipment on a The PQ Monitoring System monitors the quality
high-speed communications network provides the basis of supply of all of its high voltage costumers, as
for an electrical power quality monitoring system. This
well as a sample (200 measuring points) of its medium
system is a powerful tool for evaluating and minimizing
voltage customers. The Power Quality Monitoring System
the costs of interruptions, maintenance, and any other
influencing factors that may negatively impact the monitors both the voltages and the currents.
power system.
2. Power Quality
Key words – Database, Digital Fault Recorders (DFRs),
PQ View Software, Power Quality and Voltage sag. Power quality is the set of limits of electrical
properties that allows electrical systems to function in their
1. Introduction intended manner without significant loss of performance or
life. Table – I shows common Power Quality Indices and
In recent years, Power Quality (PQ) assessment
their main applications.
and improvement has been attracting a growing amount of
attention, as the standard of living increases, and as a result TABLE – I
of the growing dependency on a reliable and continuous Common Power Quality Indices
supply of electricity. The cost of damages caused by PQ S.No. Index Main Application
events has become significantly higher than in the past, 1. Total General purpose,
because of the increased usage of electronic equipment in Harmonic standards
the industrial and commercial sectors. Power factor Revenue metering;
Semiconductor switching devices are being mitigating losses
utilized for a wide range of applications in the domestic, 3. Telephone Audio circuit
commercial and industrial sectors. These devices offer influence interference
economical solutions for the optimized use of electrical
4. C message Communications
energy. However, they have nonlinear characteristics, and index interference
thus cause disturbances to the voltage and current 5. IT product Audio circuit
waveforms. At the same time, semiconductor devices are interference; shunt
capacitor stress
sensitive to PQ problems. VT product Voltage distortion index
For the last few years, Power Quality has become
7. K factor Transformer de-rating
an increasingly important issue. Some electric companies
worldwide have initiated monitoring systems and have 8. Crest factor Dielectric stress
begun tackling Power Quality related problems. When Unbalance 3-phase circuit balance
tackling PQ problems, there are two main approaches: The factor
first deals with the planning and manufacturing of
electrical equipment, which is designed and manufactured
according to standards that ensure that it is less sensitive to
10. Flicker factor Incandescent lamp of the PQ along with customer follow-ups to
operation; bus voltage
regulation; sufficiency assess the impacts.
of short-circuit capacity. • Identifying Problem Conditions: Monitoring can
identify problem conditions throughout the system
2.1. PQ Monitoring before they cause widespread customer
complaints, equipment malfunctions and even
PQ monitoring has traditionally been used for problem
equipment failures. Examples include: resonance
solving in industrial, commercial and residential system.
conditions that can cause localized harmonic
Monitoring is installed after a problem has been identified
distortion problems, breaker problems that cause
to characterize the problem and help identify possible
restrikes during capacitor switching, arcing
solutions. PQ monitoring will always be needed for these
conditions due to bad connections and cable
problem-solving applications, but permanent systems are
insulation problems, fault performance problems
starting to reduce the need for portable monitors in many
resulting in an excessive number of voltage sags
and momentary interruptions and grounding

Benefits of PQ monitoring are: problems resulting in stray voltages and neutral

• Understanding PQ and Reliability: Customers
define reliability problems as any conditions that 2.1.1. General PQ Monitoring

cause their equipment and process to misoperate.

Hand-held meters are also available that can monitor the
The monitoring system permits United
full range of PQ monitoring functions. They can be used as
Illuminating to characterize the system
a simple multimeters or they can be configured to record
performance in terms of its impact on customer
voltage variations, distortion levels and transients. This
equipment. Customers are increasingly concerned
type of meter is probably more than is needed for tracking
about this as deregulation takes over and there
down wiring and grounding problems but it can come in
may be less incentive for the distribution company
handy when extended monitoring is required to
to provide the levels of PQ that are required for
characterize the PQ variations.
proper operation of the facility.
• Prioritizing System Improvements: Utilities
traditionally prioritize capital expenditures and
system maintenance based on solving system
problems and handling system growth. These
expenditures are also related to maintaining an
acceptable level of reliability. A more customer-
driven approach to prioritizing system
expenditures is based on the costs of system
disturbances to customers. Prioritizing
expenditures based on end-user costs has the
objective of achieving the highest level of
customer satisfaction. In this period of
deregulation, such an objective could be
particularly important. Understanding the impacts Figure 1
of PQ variations on customers requires monitoring
3. Systems Approach to PQ monitoring
The clear trend in PQ monitoring is to use a The system consists of four basic components:
systems approach. The PQ monitoring system should
continuously assess the performance of the system and
assist in identifying problems as well as provide • Monitoring Instruments
information for long-term evaluation of performances. • Downloading Computers
• Master Station
System Configuration: The concept of the PQ monitoring
• Internet or Company Intranet
system is illustrated in Figure 2. The figure illustrates
Information from the monitoring system can be
monitoring at the substation and at selected customer sites.
used at a number of different levels within the utility and
The substation is important because it is the point of
by customers. The most basic use is to view individual
common coupling for many voltage variations. For
disturbance data. Detailed information about disturbances
instance, the voltage sag experienced at the substation
is used to understand the causes of faults and other
during a feeder fault is experienced by all the customers on
transients on the system and to evaluate the performance of
other feeders supplied from the same substation bus.
protection equipment both on the power system and in
Customer service entrance locations are monitored to
customer facilities.
understand the coupling of the disturbances from the power
system into the customer facility and also to assess the
impacts of the customer operation on the power system.
Figure 2

The objectives for a monitoring program offer information to its customers to help them
determines the choice of measurement equipment and match their sensitive equipment's characteristics
triggering thresholds, the methods for collecting data, the with realistic power quality characteristics.
data storage and analysis requirements, and the overall • Monitoring to characterize specific problems:
level of effort required. Several objectives identified for PQ Many power quality service departments or plant
monitoring are: managers solve problems by performing short-
• Monitoring to characterize system performance: term monitoring at specific customers or at
This is the most general requirement. A power difficult loads. This is a reactive mode of power
producer may find this objective important if it quality monitoring, but it frequently identifies the
has the need to understand its system performance cause of equipment incompatibility which is the
and then be able to match that system performance first step to a solution.
with the needs of customers. By understanding the • Monitoring as part of an enhanced power quality
normal power quality performance of a system, a service: Many power producers are currently
provider can quickly identify problems and can considering additional services to offer customers.
One of these services would be to offer waveform. Characterization of voltage sags
differentiated levels of power quality to match the involves a plot of the rms voltage versus time.
needs of specific customers. A provider and Outages can be defined just by duration.
customer can together achieve this goal by Monitoring to characterize harmonic distortion
modifying the power system or by installing levels and normal voltage variations requires
equipment within the customer's premises. In steady-state sampling with trending of the results
either case, monitoring becomes essential to over time. It may be prohibitively expensive to
establish the benchmarks for the differentiated monitor all the different types of power quality
service and to verify that the utility achieves variations at each location.
contracted levels of power quality. • The priorities for monitoring should be
determined up front based on the objectives of the
3.1. What to Monitor?
effort. Projects to benchmark system performance

Power quality encompasses a wide variety of should involve a reasonably complete monitoring

conditions on the power system. Important disturbances effort. Projects designed to evaluate compliance

can vary in duration from very high frequency impulses with IEEE Std. 519-1992 for harmonic distortion

caused by a lightning stroke, to long-term over voltages levels may only require steady-state monitoring of

caused by a regulator tap switching problem. harmonic levels. Other projects focused on
specific industrial problems may only require
• The range of conditions that a power quality monitoring of rms variations, such as voltage sags
instrument must characterize creates problems or momentary interruptions.
both in terms of the monitoring equipment
complexity and in the data collection 3.2. Where to Monitor?

requirements. Table – II provides a brief summary

Obviously, distribution system power quality
of monitoring requirements for different types of
monitoring can be a very expensive proposition due to the
power quality variations. The methods of
number of possible locations. It is very important that the
characterizing are important for the monitoring
monitoring locations be selected carefully based on the
project objectives to minimize the costs involved.
• For instance, characterizing most transients
requires high frequency sampling of the actual

Monitoring requirement for different types of power quality variations
S.No. Type of power quality variation Requirements for monitoring Analysis and Display
1 Voltage regulation and unbalance Three phase voltages Trending
. rms magnitudes Statistical evaluation of voltage
Currents for response of equipment levels and unbalance

2 Harmonic Distortion 3-phase voltages and currents Individual waveforms and FFTs
. Waveform Characteristics Statistical characteristic of
harmonic levels
3 Voltage sags, swells and short 3-phase voltages and currents for each Waveform plots and rms vs time
. duration interruptions event that is captured plots with pre- and post-events
Rms resolution of one cycle or better information included
during the rms vs time events and for Evaluation of power conditioning
triggering equipment performance during

4 Transients 3-phase voltages and currents with Waveform plots

. complete waveforms Evaluation of event causes (e.g.,
Minimum of 128 samples per cycle capacitor switching, upline or
downline from monitor)

Primary objective is to characterize power quality 3.3. Selecting the monitoring equipment
on primary distribution feeders. Therefore, feeder circuit
There are many different types of monitoring
near the sub-station is the best place to locate monitoring
equipment that form part of a power quality monitoring
project. We find four basic categories of equipment
However, it is not realistic to assume that three
particularly useful:
sites selected on any feeder can completely characterize
power quality. More commonly, a typical monitoring • Digital Fault Recorders: These may already be in
project has objectives that involve characterizing the power place at many substations. DFR manufacturers do
quality that is actually being experienced by customers on not design the devices specifically for power
the distribution system. In this case, we prefer monitoring quality monitoring. However, a DFR will typically
at actual customer service entrance locations on the feeder trigger on fault events and record the voltage and
because it includes the effect of step down transformers current waveforms that characterize the event.
supplying the customer. Data collected at the service This makes them valuable for characterizing rms
entrance can also characterize the customer load current disturbances, such as voltage sags, during power
variations and harmonic distortion levels. Monitoring at system faults. DFRs also offer periodic waveform
customer service entrance locations has the additional capture for calculating harmonic distortion levels.
advantage of reduced transducer costs. Frequently, the Figure 3 depicts the actual DFRs found in
monitoring instrument obtains voltages by direct substations.
connection, while the metering CTs provide current
A good compromise approach is to monitor at the
substation and at selected customer service entrance
locations. The substation is important because it is the
point of common coupling for most rms voltage variations.
The voltage sag experienced at the substation during a
feeder fault is experienced by all the customers on other
feeders supplied from the same substation bus. Customer
equipment sensitivity and location on a feeder together
determine the service entrance locations for monitoring.
For instance, it is valuable to have a location immediately
downline from each protective device on the feeder.
instruments to have transient monitoring
• Special-Purpose Power Quality Monitors: This
instrument features monitoring of three-phases
and current plus neutral. A 14-bit A/D board
provides a sampling rate of 256 points per cycle
for voltage, and 128 points per cycle for current.
The high sampling rate allowed detection of
voltage harmonics as high as the 100th in order
and current harmonics as high as the 50th. Most
power quality instruments can record both
triggered and sampled data. Triggering should be
based upon rms thresholds for rms variations and
on wave shape for transient variations.
Simultaneous voltage and current monitoring with
triggering of all channels during a disturbance is
an important capability for these instruments.
Power quality monitors have proved suitable for
Figure 3
substation, feeder locations, and customer service
• Voltage Recorders: Power providers use a variety entrance locations.
of voltage recorders to monitor steady-state
3.4. Easing Data Collection and Analysis
voltage variations on distribution systems. We are
encountering more and more sophisticated models The data collected during the PQ monitoring was
fully capable of characterizing momentary voltage enormous, considering the technology available to us at the
sags and even harmonic distortion levels. project's onset. Its analysis would have been an all but
Typically, the voltage recorder provides a trend insurmountable task without a software system for
that gives the maximum, minimum, and average automatically characterizing measured events and storing
voltage within specified sampling window (for the results in a well-defined database. PQView® is the tool
example, 2 seconds). With this type of sampling, which is developed to pull together all of the facets
the recorder can characterize a voltage sag involved in that and other monitoring projects. Figure 3
magnitude adequately. However, it will not shows the screenshot of PQView® Software. Power
provide the duration with a resolution less than Quality Diagnostic System (PQDS) is a general purpose
two seconds. tool being developed by Electrotek Concepts and funded
• In-Plant Power Monitors: It is now common for by EPRI that helps a utility organize the data collection,
monitoring systems in industrial facilities to have processing, and analysis tasks associated with power
some power quality capabilities. These monitors, quality issues. It should orchestrate a much more efficient
particularly those located at the service entrance, power quality investigation, allowing a power provider
can be used as part of a utility monitoring better customer support with fewer work forces. A PQDS
program. Capabilities usually include wave shape user will be able to use various modules to help conduct a
capture for evaluation of harmonic distortion case study with the results being stored in an Investigation
levels, voltage profiles for steady-state rms Database.
variations, and triggered wave shape captures for
voltage sag conditions. It is not common for these
PQView®'s data manager module, the data analysis tasks
can be performed by a server computer that accepts remote
instructions from a World Wide Web browser such as
Netscape™ or Microsoft's Internet Explorer™ By using a
web browser, PQView® becomes a multi-platform
application, being able to cross boundaries based on
incompatible operating systems.


Power quality monitoring is fast becoming an

integral component of general distribution system and
customer service entrance monitoring. Power producers
PQView® is the PQDS Measurement Module. It
will integrate power quality monitoring with monitoring for
fulfils data collection, characterizing, analysis, and
energy management, evaluation of protective device
reporting roles. This module maintains the database of all
operation, and distribution automation functions. The
monitoring results utilized by the PQDS, including both
requirements of instruments for power quality monitoring
raw measurement data and data characterized for statistical
may dictate more sophisticated instruments than would be
analysis and reporting. PQView® allows a user to create
required for simple voltage recording or energy use.
any number of power quality databases and to decide
However, these instruments can incorporate power quality
which information should be loaded into a database. This
capabilities along with their other functions.
provides flexibility in deciding how to organize the
A power quality monitoring system should make
information. The power quality database created and
use of the wide variety of available networking
managed by PQView® can also include data from other
infrastructure. However, the actual power quality database
sources, such as site surveys. Input filters have already
must be maintained with data in standard formats for
been developed for PQView® to incorporate measurement
comparisons, analysis, and reports. As standards bodies
results from a variety of commonly used instruments and a
define performance indices for power quality, utilities will
data interchange format (PQDIF) has been developed to
want to benchmark system performance using these indices
make interfacing with instruments even easier in the future.
so that they can offer differentiated services for customers
With PQView®, a power quality investigator can that have special requirements.
choose from a number of pre-defined charts and reports. Communication and customer participation will
For steady-state analysis, PQView® provides a Steady- be an important factor determining the success of a power
State Wizard which can generate both trends and quality monitoring project. The Internet and the World
histograms. For analyzing sags, swells, and interruptions, Wide Web provide an excellent opportunity to involve
we provide an RMS Variation Analysis Panel which gives customers at minimal additional cost to the utility.
the user flexibility in analyzing and displaying statistical In Toto, information from PQ monitoring systems
graphs. can help improve the efficiency of operating the system
Power quality problems are customer problems. and the reliability of customer operations.
Since customers are an integral part of the power quality
equation, it is often vital to include them in the power
quality monitoring effort. We have designed the PQView® [1] Images Courtesy - Google Images, Google Image
power quality monitoring system to include customer and Ripper
utility field personnel through direct communication.
Although the data management tasks are still performed by
[2] Digital meters – Power Quality monitoring and
Analysis by BalaVinayagam
[6] A Systems Approach to Power Quality Monitoring for
Performance Assessment
Dan Sabin, Mark McGranaghan - Electrotek Concepts,
Knoxville, Tennessee Ashok Sundaram – EPRI
[7] Trends in Power Quality Monitoring by Mark
McGranaghan from IEEE Power Engineering Review and
[8] Electrical Power Quality & Utilization Magazine
Volume 3, Issue 2: Leonardo Energy by Daniel Kottick,
Israel Electric Corp.