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Home / Technical Articles / Instrument transformers (CTs, VTs) in the system
Instrument transformers from ABB
Instrument transformers from ABB

Three main tasks of CTs and VTs

The three main tasks of instrument transformers are:

  1. To transform currents or voltages from a usually high value to a value easy to handle for relays and instruments.
  2. To insulate the metering circuit from the primary high voltage system.
  3. To provide possibilities of standardizing the instruments and relays to a few rated currents and voltages.

Instrument transformers are special types of transformers intended to measure cur- rents and voltages. The common laws for transformers are valid.

Here we will cover six important aspects of using instrument transformer in the power system:

  1. Terminal designations for current transformers
  2. Secondary grounding of current transformers
  3. Secondary grounding of voltage transformers
  4. Connection to obtain the residual voltage
  5. Fusing of voltage transformer secondary circuits
  6. Location of current and voltage transformers in substations

1. Terminal designations for current transformers

According to IEC publication 60044-1, the terminals should be designated as shown in the following diagrams. All terminals that are marked P1, S1 and C1 are to have the same polarity.

Figure 1 left - Transformer with one secondary winding; Figure 2 right - Transformer with two secondary windings
Figure 1 left – Transformer with one secondary winding; Figure 2 right – Transformer with two secondary windings

Figure 3 left - Transformer with one secondary winding which has an extra tapping; Figure 4 right - Transformer with two primary windings and one secondary winding
Figure 3 left – Transformer with one secondary winding which has an extra tapping; Figure 4 right – Transformer with two primary windings and one secondary winding

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2. Secondary grounding of current transformers

To prevent the secondary circuits from attaining dangerously high potential to ground, these circuits have to be grounded. Connect either the S1 terminal or the S2 terminal to ground.

For protective relays, ground the terminal that is nearest to the protected objects. For meters and instruments, ground the terminal that is nearest to the consumer.

When metering instruments and protective relays are on the same winding, the protective relay determines the point to be grounded.

  • If there are unused taps on the secondary winding, they must be left open.
  • If there is a galvanic connection between more than one current transformer, these shall be grounded at one point only (e.g. differential protection).
  • If the cores are not used in a current transformer they must be short-circuited be- tween the highest ratio taps and shall be grounded.

It is dangerous to open the secondary circuit when the CT is in operation. High voltage will be induced.

Figure 5 left - Transformer; Figure 6 right - Cables
Figure 5 left – Transformer; Figure 6 right – Cables

Figure 7 - Busbars
Figure 7 – Busbars

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3. Secondary grounding of voltage transformers

To prevent secondary circuits from reaching dangerous potential, the circuits shall be grounded. Grounding shall be made at only one point on a voltage transformer secondary circuit or galvanically interconnected circuits.

A voltage transformer, which on the primary is connected phase to ground, shall have the secondary grounding at terminal n.

A voltage transformer, with the primary winding connected between two phases, shall have the secondary circuit, which has a voltage lagging the other terminal by 120 degrees, grounded. Windings not in use shall be grounded.

Figure 8 - Voltage transformers connected between phases
Figure 8 – Voltage transformers connected between phases

Figure 9 - set of voltage transformers
Figure 9 – set of voltage transformers

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4. Connection to obtain the residual voltage

The residual voltage (neutral displacement voltage, polarizing voltage) for earth-fault relays can be obtained from a voltage transformer between neutral and ground, for instance at a power transformer neutral.

It can also be obtained from a three-phase set of voltage transformers, which have their primary winding connected phase to ground and one of the secondary windings connected in a broken delta.

Figure 10 illustrates the measuring principle for the broken delta connection during an earth-fault in a high-impedance grounded (or ungrounded) and an effectively grounded power system respectively.

From the figure, it can be seen that a solid close-up earth-fault produces an output voltage of

Ursd = 3 x U2n

in a high-impedance earthed system and

Ursd = U2n

in an effectively grounded system. Therefore a voltage transformer secondary voltage of

U2n = 110 / 3 V

is often used in high-impedance grounded systems and U2n = 110 V in effectively grounded systems. A residual voltage of 110 V is obtained in both cases. Voltage transformers with two secondary windings, one for connection in Y and the other in broken delta can then have the ratio:

Voltage transformers ratio formulas

for high-impedance and effectively grounded systems respectively. Nominal voltages other than 110 V, e.g. 100 V or 115 V, are also used depending on national standards and practice.

Figure 10 - Residual voltage (neutral displacement voltage) from a broken delta circuit
Figure 10 – Residual voltage (neutral displacement voltage) from a broken delta circuit

5. Fusing of voltage transformer secondary circuits

Fuses should be provided at the first box where the three phases are brought together. The circuit from the terminal box to the first box is constructed to minimize the risk of faults in the circuit.

It is preferable not to use fuses in the voltage transformer terminal box, as this will make the supervision of the voltage transformers more difficult. The fuses in the three-phase box enable a differentiated fusing of the circuits to different loads like protection and metering circuits.

The fuses must be selected to give a fast and reliable fault clearance, even for a fault at the end of the cabling. Earth faults and two-phase faults should be checked.

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6. Location of current and voltage transformers in substations

Instrument transformers are used to supply measured quantities of current and voltage in an appropriate form to controlling and protective apparatus, such as energy meters, indicating instruments, protective relays, fault locators, fault recorders and synchronizers.

Instrument transformers are thus installed when it is necessary to obtain measuring quantities for the above mentioned purposes.

Typical points of installation are switchbays for lines, feeders, transformers, bus couplers, etc., at transformer neutral connections and at the busbars.

Figure 11 - Current and voltage transformers in a substation
Figure 11 – Current and voltage transformers in a substation

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Location in different substation arrangements

Below are some examples of suitable locations for current and voltage transformers in a few different switchgear arrangements.

Figure 12 - Double busbar station
Figure 12 – Double busbar station

Figure 13 - Station with transfer busbar
Figure 13 – Station with transfer busbar

Figure 14 - Double breaker and double busbar station
Figure 14 – Double breaker and double busbar station

Figure 15 - Sectionalized single busbar station
Figure 15 – Sectionalized single busbar station

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Reference: Instrument Transformers Application Guide – ABB

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Edvard Csanyi

Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for design of LV/MV switchgears and LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, commercial buildings and industry facilities. Professional in AutoCAD programming.

30 Comments


  1. Nelson Freeman
    Sep 09, 2020

    I really enjoyed this article


  2. Kong Samnang
    Jun 04, 2020

    Dear Mr/Ms ,

    Nice to know you .
    My name Samnang from Cambodia .
    We have a project which talk about CT & VT , LV, MV and HV .
    I hope that you will feedback to me soon .

    Many thanks


  3. Govind kr. jawa
    Oct 03, 2019

    CVT,s primary is earthed or not earthed.


  4. SUMER SINGH KHANGAROT
    May 30, 2019

    Why do CT’s primary terminal P2 shorted with Tank or Body of Current Transformer?


    • rahman
      Jul 11, 2019

      maintaining the same potential between live part and tank cover of the Current Transformer by the way avoid the breakdown or flashover and maintain healthy and safely operation


  5. Nomvano Mtimba
    Oct 09, 2018

    How is a hairpin or top core type CT installed in the HV yard of Transmission substation, i.e. the arrangement/orientation of the CT in relation to P1 and P2 and the plant being protected?


  6. Mamata patil
    Mar 29, 2018

    In substation why we use 3 current transformers and only 2 potential transformers, why not 3 PTs?


  7. BALAJI K
    Mar 22, 2018

    what is the difference between open delta connection and closed delta connection of voltage transformer
    also open delta, how many winding available in the circuit?


  8. negi
    Mar 06, 2017

    thanks for your interesting articles. i have a question: is it true if we ground 3 VTs in MV boards. when we use two VTs the connection is broken star, but when we use 3 VTs should we ground their n point or ot???

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