Relays--Introduction [Industrial Electrical Power Systems]

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It had been repeatedly indicated in the earlier sections that relays are the devices, which monitor the conditions of a circuit and give instructions to open a circuit under unhealthy conditions. The basic parameters of the three-phase electrical system are voltage, current, frequency and power. All these have pre-determined values and/or sequence under healthy conditions. Any shift from this normal behavior could be the result of a fault condition either at the source end or at the load end. The relays are devices, which monitor various parameters in various ways and this section gives a brief outline of their principles of operation.

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The types of relays can be broadly classified as:

• Electromechanical relays

• Static relays (analog and digital)

The electromechanical relays had been dominating the electrical protection field until the use of silicon semiconductor devices, becoming more common. The use of static relays in the early stages were more due to the advantages like lower weight, non-moving mechanical parts, reduced wear and tear, etc. However, the initial static relays had not been overwhelmingly accepted in the electrical field also due to their 'static' nature.

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Further, the reliability of electronic components in the initial stages had been unsatisfactory due to the quality issues and their ability (or inability) to withstand source fluctuations and ambient temperature conditions. However, the reliability of electronic components improved subsequently, and the advent of digital electronics technology and microprocessor developments gave a completely different picture to the use of static relays. The earlier analog relays have been slowly replaced with digital relays, and today's protection technology is more inclined towards use of digital relays, though the electromechanical relays are still preferred in certain applications, with cost being one of the main reasons. The use of static analog relays is not so common.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013 17:09