Over Current Relay Working Principle Types

In an over current relay or o/c relay the actuating quantity is only current. There is only one current operated element in the relay, no voltage coil etc. are required to construct this protective relay.

Working Principle of Over Current Relay

In an over current relay, there would be essentially a current coil. When normal current flows through this coil, the magnetic effect generated by the coil is not sufficient to move the moving element of the relay, as in this condition the restraining force is greater than deflecting force. But when the current through the coil increases, the magnetic effect increases, and after a certain level of current, the deflecting force generated by the magnetic effect of the coil, crosses the restraining force. As a result, the moving element starts moving to change the contact position in the relay. Although there are different types of overcurrent relays but basic working principle of overcurrent relay is more or less same for all.

Types of Over Current Relay

Depending upon time of operation, there are various types of Over Current relays, such as,

  1. Instantaneous over current relay.
  2. Definite time over current relay.
  3. Inverse time over current relay.

Inverse time over current relay or simply inverse OC relay is again subdivided as inverse definite minimum time (IDMT), very inverse time, extremely inverse time over current relay or OC relay.

Instantaneous Over Current Relay

Construction and working principle of instantaneous over current relay is quite simple.
Here generally a magnetic core is wound by a current coil. A piece of iron is so fitted by hinge support and restraining spring in the relay, that when there is not sufficient current in the coil, the NO contacts remain open. When the current in the coil crosses a preset value, the attractive force becomes enough to pull the iron piece towards the magnetic core, and consequently, the no contacts get closed.
over electric current
We refer the pre-set value of current in the relay coil as pickup setting current. This relay is referred as instantaneous over current relay, as ideally, the relay operates as soon as the current in the coil gets higher than pick upsetting current. There is no intentional time delay applied. But there is always an inherent time delay which we cannot avoid practically. In practice, the operating time of an instantaneous relay is of the order of a few milliseconds.
Instantaneous Over Current Relay Characteristic

Definite Time Over Current Relay

This relay is created by applying intentional time delay after crossing pick up the value of the current. A definite time overcurrent relay can be adjusted to issue a trip output at an exact amount of time after it picks up. Thus, it has a time setting adjustment and pickup adjustment.
Definite Time Over Current Relay Characteristic

Inverse Time Over Current Relay

Inverse time is a natural character of any induction type rotating device. Here, the speed of rotation of rotating part of the device is faster if the input current is more. In other words, time of operation inversely varies with input current. This natural characteristic of electromechanical induction disc relay is very suitable for overcurrent protection. If the fault is severe, it will clear the fault faster. Although time inverse characteristic is inherent to electromechanical induction disc relay, the same characteristic can be achieved in microprocessor-based relay also by proper programming.
Inverse Time Over Current Relay Characteristic

Inverse Definite Minimum Time Over Current Relay or IDMT O/C Relay

Ideal inverse time characteristics cannot be achieved, in an overcurrent relay. As the current in the system increases, the secondary current of the current transformer is increased proportionally. The secondary current enters the relay current coil. But when the CT becomes saturated, there would not be a further proportional increase of CT secondary current with increased system current. From this phenomenon, it is clear that from trick value to certain range of faulty level, an inverse time relay shows specific inverse characteristic. But after this level of fault, the CT becomes saturated and relay current does not increase further with increasing faulty level of the system. As the relay current does not increase further, there would not be any further reduction in time of operation in the relay. We define this time as the minimum time of operation. Hence, the characteristic is inverse in the initial part, which tends to a definite minimum operating time as the current becomes very high. That is why the relay is referred as inverse definite minimum time over current relay or simply IDMT relay.

Want To Learn Faster? 🎓
Get electrical articles delivered to your inbox every week.
No credit card required—it’s 100% free.

About Electrical4U

Electrical4U is dedicated to the teaching and sharing of all things related to electrical and electronics engineering.

Leave a Comment