Surge Voltage and its Distribution and Control:

The design of power apparatus particularly at high voltages is governed by their transient behavior. The transient high voltages or surge voltages originate in power systems due to lightning and switching operations. The effect of the surge voltage is severe in all power apparatuses. The response of a power apparatus to the impulse or surge voltage depends on the capacitances between the coils of windings and between the different phase windings of the multi-phase machines. The transient voltage distribution in the windings as a whole are generally very non-uniform and are complicated by travelling wave voltage oscillations set up within the windings. In the actual design of an apparatus, it is, of course, necessary to consider the maximum voltage differences occurring, in each region, at any instant of time after the application of an impulse and to take into account

An experimental assessment of the dielectric strength of insulation against the power frequency voltages and surge voltage, on samples of basic materials, on less complex assemblies, or on complete equipment must involve high voltage testing. Since the design of an electrical apparatus is based on the dielectric strength, the design cannot be completely relied upon, unless experimentally tested. High voltage testing is done by generating the voltages and measuring them in a laboratory.

When high voltage testing is done on component parts, elaborate insulation assemblies, and complete full-scale prototype apparatus (called development testing), it is possible to build up a considerable stock of design information; although expensive, such data can be very useful. However, such data can never really be complete to cover all future designs and necessitates use of large factors of safety.

A different approach to the problem is the exact calculation of dielectric strength of any insulation arrangement. In an ideal design each part of the dielectric would be uniformly stressed at the maximum value which it will safely withstand. Such an ideal condition is impossible to achieve in practice, for dielectrics of different electrical strengths, due to the practical limitations of construction. Nevertheless it provides information on stress concentration factors—the ratios of maximum local voltage gradients to the mean value in the adjacent regions of relatively uniform stress.

A survey of typical power apparatus designs suggests that factors ranging from 2 to 5 can occur in practice; when this factor is high, considerable quantities of insulation must be used.

Generally, improvements can be effected in the following ways:

  • by shaping the conductors to reduce stress concentrations,
  • by insertion of higher dielectric strength insulation at high stress points, and
  • by selection of materials of appropriate permittivities to obtain more uniform voltage gradients.