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Circuit Breaker Ratings:

             In this, you will learn ratings of circuit breaker and making & breaking capacity of circuit breaker.A circuit breaker may be called upon to operate under all conditions.However, major duties are imposed on the circuit breaker when there is a fault on the system in which it is connected.Every electrical equipment will have rating mentioned on it to avoid the damage of it.In the same way ratings of circuit breaker are also mentioned by the manufacturers on the circuit breaker.Under fault conditions, a circuit breaker is required to perform the following three duties :

            (i) It must be capable of opening the faulty circuit and breaking the                        fault current.

            (ii) It must be capable of being closed onto a fault.

           (iii) It must be capable of carrying fault current for a short time while                      another circuit breaker (in series) is clearing the fault.

Corresponding to the above mentioned duties, the three ratings of circuit breaker are below

(i) Breaking capacity 
(ii) Making capacity and 
(iii) Short-time capacity.

(i) Breaking capacity:

            It is current (rms) that a circuit breaker is capable of breaking at given recovery voltage and under specified conditions (e.g., power factor, rate of rise of restriking voltage).The breaking capacity is always stated at the r.m.s. value of fault current at the instant of contact separation.When a fault occurs, there is considerable asymmetry in the fault current due to the presence of a d.c. component.The d.c. component dies away rapidly, a typical decrement factor being 0·8 per cycle. At this instant, the fault current has

                     x = maximum value of a.c. component
                     y = d.c. component

∴ Symmetrical breaking current = r.m.s. value of a.c. component
                                               = x/√2

      Asymmetrical breaking current = r.m.s. value of total current

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           It is a common practice to express the breaking capacity in MVA by taking into account the rated breaking current and rated service voltage.Thus, if I is the rated breaking current in amperes and V is the rated service line voltage in volts, then for a 3-phase circuit,

                      Breaking capacity√3 × V × I × 10 -6 MVA

            In India (or Britain), it is a usual practice to take breaking current equal to the symmetrical breaking current. However, American practice is to take breaking current equal to asymmetrical breaking current.Thus the American rating of circuit breaker is higher than the Indian or British rating.

         It seems to be illogical to give breaking capacity in MVA since it is obtained from the product of short-circuit current and rated service voltage. When the short circuit current is flowing, there is only a small voltage across the breaker contacts, while the service voltage appears across the contacts only after the current has been interrupted.Thus MVA rating is the product of two quantities which do not exist simultaneously in the circuit.

                 Therefore, the agreed international standard of specifying breaking capacity is defined as the rated symmetrical breaking current at a rated voltage.

(ii) Making capacity:

             There is always a possibility of closing or making the circuit under short circuit conditions.The capacity of a breaker to “make” current depends upon its ability to withstand and close successfully against the effects of electromagnetic forces.These forces are proportional to the square of maximum instantaneous current on closing.Therefore, making capacity is stated in terms of a peak value of current instead of rms value.

                     The peak value of current (including d.c. component) during the first cycle of current wave after the closure of circuit breaker is known as making capacity.

            It may be noted that the definition is concerned with the first cycle of current wave on closing the circuit breaker.This is because the maximum value of fault current possibly occurs in the first cycle only when maximum asymmetry occurs in any phase of the breaker.In other words, the making current is equal to the maximum value of asymmetrical current.

           To find this value, we must multiply symmetrical breaking current by √2 to convert this from r.m.s. to peak, and then by 1·8 to include the “doubling effect” of maximum asymmetry. The total multiplication factor becomes √2 × 1·8 = 2·55.

                  ∴ Making capacity =2·55 × Symmetrical breaking capacity

(iii) Short-time rating: 

              It is the period for which the circuit breaker is able to carry fault current while remaining closed.Sometimes a fault on the system is of very temporary nature and persists for 1 or 2 seconds after which the fault is automatically cleared.In the interest of continuity of supply, the breaker should not trip in such situations.

              This means that circuit breakers should be able to carry high current safely for some specified period while remaining closed i.e., they should have proven short-time rating.However, if the fault persists for a duration longer than the specified time limit, the circuit breaker will trip, disconnecting the faulty section.

              The short-time rating of a circuit breaker depends upon its ability to withstand (a) the electromagnetic force effects and (b) the temperature rise. The oil circuit breakers have a specified limit of 3 seconds when the ratio of symmetrical breaking current to the rated normal current does not exceed 40. However, if this ratio is more than 40, then the specified limit is 1 second.

            Apart from all the three ratings of circuit breaker, every circuit handle a maximum voltage rating and current rating, if the ratings are exceeded then the circuit breaker may damage. 

(iv)Voltage Rating:

          Every circuit breaker has a voltage rating that designates the maximum voltage it can handle.In other words, the voltage rating of a circuit breaker can be higher than the circuit voltage, but never lower. For example, a 480 VAC circuit breaker could be used in a 240 VAC circuit, but a 240 VAC circuit breaker could not be used in a 480 VAC circuit.The voltage rating is a function of the circuit breaker’s ability to suppress the internal arc that occurs when the circuit breaker’s contacts open.

         Some circuit breakers have what is referred to as a “slash” voltage rating, such as 120/240 volts.In such cases, the breaker may be applied in a circuit where the nominal voltage between any conductor and ground does not exceed the lower rating and the nominal voltage between conductors does not exceed the higher rating.

(V)Normal current rating: 

            It is the rms value of current which the circuit breaker is capable of carrying continuously at its rated frequency under specified conditions.The only limitation, in this case, is the temperature rise of current-carrying parts.

          Continuous current rating of circuit breaker is the maximum continuous current a circuit breaker is designed to carry without tripping.This rating is sometimes referred to as the ampere rating because the unit of measure is amperes, or, more simply, amps.

            The rated current for a circuit breaker is often represented as In. This should not be confused with the current setting (Ir), which applies to those circuit breakers that have a continuous current adjustment.Ir is the maximum continuous current that a circuit breaker can carry without tripping for the given continuous current setting.Ir may be specified in amps or as a percentage of In.

           As mentioned previously, conductors are rated for how much current they can carry continuously.This is commonly referred to as the conductor’s ampacity.In general, the ampacity of conductors must be at least equal to the sum of any non-continuous load current plus 125% of the continuous load current.Conductor ampacity is one of the factors that must be considered when selecting and applying a circuit breaker.

             Siemens circuit breakers ratings are rated using 60°C or 75°C conductors.This means that even if a conductor with a higher temperature rating is used, the ampacity of the conductor must be figured on its 60°C or 75°C rating.

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