WHAT IS VOLTAGE CONTROL?
In a modern power system, electrical energy from the generating station is delivered to the ultimate consumers through a network of transmission and distribution. For satisfactory operation of motors, lamps, and other loads, it is desirable that consumers are supplied with substantially constant voltage. Too wide variations of voltage may cause erratic operation or even malfunctioning of consumers’ appliances. To safeguard the interest of the consumers, the government has enacted a law in this regard. The statutory limit of voltage variation is ± 6% of the declared voltage at consumers’ terminals.
The principal cause of voltage variation at the consumer’s premises is the change in load on the supply system. When the load on the system increases, the voltage at the consumer’s terminals falls due to the increased voltage drop in
(i) alternator synchronous impedance
(ii) transmission line
(iii) transformer impedance
(iv) feeders and
The reverse would happen should the load on the system decrease. These voltage variations are undesirable and must be kept within the prescribed limits (i.e. ± 6% of the declared voltage). This is achieved by installing voltage-regulating equipment at suitable places in the power system. The purpose of this chapter is to deal with important voltage control equipment and its increasing utility in this fast-developing power system.
IMPORTANCE OF VOLTAGE CONTROL
When the load on the supply system changes, the voltage at the consumer’s terminals also changes. The variations of voltage at the consumer’s terminals are undesirable and must be kept within prescribed limits for the following reasons:
(i) In the case of lighting load, the lamp characteristics are very sensitive to changes in voltage. For instance, if the supply voltage to an incandescent lamp decreases by 6% of the rated value, then illuminating power may decrease by 20%. On the other hand, if the supply voltage is 6% above the rated value, the life of the lamp may be reduced by 50% due to the rapid deterioration of the filament.
(ii) In the case of a power load consisting of induction motors, the voltage variations may cause erratic operation. If the supply voltage is above the normal, the motor may operate with a saturated magnetic circuit, with consequent large magnetizing current, heating, and low power factor. On the other hand, if the voltage is too low, it will reduce the starting torque of the motor considerably.
(iii) Too wide variations of voltage cause excessive heating of distribution transformers. This may reduce their ratings to a considerable extent.
It is clear from the above discussion that voltage variations in a power system must be kept to a minimum level in order to deliver good service to consumers. With the trend towards larger and larger interconnected systems, it has become necessary to employ appropriate methods of voltage control.
LOCATION OF VOLTAGE CONTROL EQUIPMENT
In a modern power system, there are several elements between the generating station and the consumers. The voltage control equipment is used at more than one point in the system for two reasons. Firstly, the power network is very extensive and there is a considerable voltage drop in transmission and distribution systems. Secondly, the various circuits of the power system have dissimilar load characteristics. For these reasons, it is necessary to provide individual means of voltage control for each circuit or group of circuits. In practice, voltage control equipment is used at:
(i) Generating stations
(ii) Transformer stations
(iii) The feeders if the drop exceeds the permissible limits
METHODS OF VOLTAGE CONTROL
There are several methods of voltage control. In each method, the system voltage is changed in accordance with the load to obtain a fairly constant voltage at the consumer’s end of the system. The following are the methods of voltage control in an AC power system:
(i) By excitation control
(ii) By using tap-changing transformers
(iii) Auto-transformer tap changing
(iv) Booster transformers
(v) Induction regulators
(vi) By synchronous condenser
Method (i) is used at the generating station only whereas methods (ii) to (v) can be used for transmission as well as primary distribution systems. However, method (vi) is reserved for the voltage control of a transmission line. We shall discuss each method separately in the next sections.
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