Testing of circuit breakers is more difficult as compared to other electrical equipment like transformer or machine because the short circuit current is very large. Testing of the transformer is mainly divided into two groups, type tests, and routine tests.
Type Tests of Circuit Breaker
Type tests are conducted for the purpose of proving the capabilities and confirming the rated characteristic of the circuit breaker. Such tests are conducted in the specially built testing laboratory.
Type tests can be broadly classified as the mechanical performance test, thermal test, dielectric or insulating test, short circuit test for checking the making capacity, breaking capacity, short time rating current and operating duty.
Mechanical Test – It is mechanical ability type test involving the repeated opening and closing of the breaker. A circuit breaker must open and close at the correct speed and perform its designated duty and operation without mechanical failure.
Thermal Test – Thermal tests are carried out to check the thermal behavior of the circuit breakers. The breaker under test deal with the steady-state temperature rises due to the flow of its rated current through its pole in a rated condition. The temperature rise for rated current should not exceed 40° for current less than 800A normal current and 50° for normal value of current 800A and above.
Dielectric Test – These tests are performed to check power frequency and impulse voltage withstand capacity. Power frequency tests are kept on a new circuit breaker; the test voltage changes with a circuit breaker rated voltage.
The test voltage with a frequency between 15-100Hz is applied as follows. (1) between poles with circuit breaker closed (2) between pole and earth with circuit breaker open, and (3) across terminals with circuit breaker open.
In impulse tests impulse voltage of specified magnitude is applied to the breaker. For outdoor circuit dry and wet tests are conducted.
Short -Circuit Test – Circuit breakers are subjected to sudden short-circuits in short-circuit test laboratories, and oscillograms are taken to know the behavior of the circuit breakers at the time of switching in, during contact breaking and after the arc extinction.
The oscillograms are studied with particular reference to the making and breaking currents, both symmetrical and asymmetrical restriking voltages, and switchgear is sometimes tested at rated conditions.
Routine Tests of a Circuit Breaker
Routine tests are also performed as per recommendations of the standards of Indian Engineering Service and Indian Standards. These tests are performed on the manufacturers’ premises. Routine tests confirm the proper functioning of the circuit breaker. The routine tests confirm the proper functioning of the circuit breaker.
Power frequency voltage test being the same as mentioned under the heading of type tests, the millivolt drop test is performed to determine the voltage drop within the current path of the breaker mechanism. Operational test is performed on the breaker by simulating its tripping by artificially closing the contacts of the relays.