Friday, May 16, 2014

Residual Current detector principle of operation and uses


Residual Current Detector:-
Residual current detector works on the principle that amount of current flowing through phase should return through neutral as both phase and neutral are connected to RCD’s . RCD detects any mismatch between two currents that is through phase and neutral. RCD tripping value is usually in milliamp and mostly available in 30mA and 100 mA tripping range.
If a house has an earth system connected to an earth rod and not the main incoming cable, then it must have all circuits protected by an RCD

A current flow of 30 mA  is sufficiently small that it makes it very difficult to receive a dangerous shock. Even 100 mA is a relatively small figure when compared to the current that may flow in an earth fault without such protection.

The residual current device – principle of operation

The residual current devices monitor the current flowing in a circuit by means of a torroid, which is a small current transformer specially designed to detect earth fault currents. All live conductors will pass through this coil, the currents flowing in the live conductors of a healthy circuit will balance and therefore no current will be induced in the torroid. Live conductors of a circuit include all phase and neutral conductors. When an earth fault is present on a circuit, current will be flowing to earth through an abnormal or unintended path. This earth fault path could be through a person in contact with live parts .

The Technology behind the RCD’s

There are two types of technologies available in residual current devices:-
1.      Electromagnetic and
2.      Electronic
These both offer very reliable performance.


Electromagnetic devices use a very sensitive torroid, which operates the trip relay when it detects very small residual currents. These devices generally require no reference earth lead and are unaffected by temporary loss of supply, as the power to trip the device is derived directly from the fault current.

Electronic devices do not need such a sensitive torroid as electronic circuits within the device amplify the signal to operate the trip relay. However, these devices often require a safety earth reference lead to ensure that the device will continue to operate in the event of the supply neutral being lost. The power to trip the device is taken from both the fault current and the mains supply, enabling the overall size of the devices to be reduced.

Limitations of RCD:-
1. RCD are use-full only where there is standard form of waveforms and can't be used where non standard waveforms are generated from loads.
2. RCD can't provide protection against overloads. 
3. RCD's can't protect against overheating.
4. There is always problem of Nuisance tripping in RCD's . Sudden changes in load causes current flow in earth which will leads to tripping of RCD's.