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Flexible Current Transformers Mitigate the Effects of Power Surges

Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina was rendered blind by a power surge a few days before 2015. The sudden occurrence knocked out radar and air traffic control systems for only ten minutes, but it created hours of delays for incoming and outgoing flights. A subsequent update by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pointed to some line work as the cause.

As a golden rule, aviation authorities can’t risk sending pilots up without knowing the positions of other aircraft. This is why any power interruption can be inconvenient for both the facility staff and the general public. Facility managers must know how to react to power surges and other power-related events.

The first step in mitigating power surges is to recognize that they are sometimes inevitable and thereby spell the need to install a flexible current transformer. Such a device is commonly used to measure surge currents. Aside from utility works, power surges can also be caused by lightning or internal circuitry (e.g. activating high-powered systems).

The next step is to identify the cause. If the facility is experiencing power surges on a clear day, lightning is unlikely to be the culprit. Experts believe most power surges stem from within a facility, such as a faulty wire or tripped circuit breaker somewhere. You can use the readings on the current transformer to determine fluctuations in a conductor’s current.

Due to the twists and turns found inside a fuse box, Rogowski coils would have to be used. These coils go around the conductor with relative ease and gather data for the main wall-mounted terminal. Rogowski-type units are often sold as a set so you don’t have to worry about getting the correct parts individually.

Quality flexible current transformers like DENT Instruments RoCoil TCA-5 have been designed to maintain accuracy in the most adverse conditions. Since the coils barely touch the conductor when installed, the entire system can be spared from damage due to overloaded currents. In addition, they can measure trace alternating currents in a direct-current circuit.

Power surges are a fact of life, which makes the proper protective measures a necessity for any facility. Although surge protectors excel at their task, the solution can sometimes be all a matter of knowing when to turn something on or off. Current transformer dealers like Aim Dynamics can provide you with the means of making that decision.

(Source: “Power surge causes brief outage at airport’s tower,” WSOC-TV, December 30, 2014)

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