Arc Flash Study & Power System Analysis


What is an arc flash study?

Arc flash study is used to determine if there are any hazards or risks in the workplace related to electrical systems. An arc flash, sometimes referred to as a flashover, refers to a combination of light and heat produced as part of an arc fault. An arc fault is a type of electrical discharge or explosion resulting from a low-impedance connection through the air to ground or another voltage phase within an electrical system. IPE Canada undertakes arc flash assessments to study the power system of a facility and determine the incident energy at specific electrical devices with which employees may interact.

IPE Canada’s on-site arc flash studies include:

  1. Arc flash equipment labelling
  2. Fault current and coordination analysis
  3. Recommendations for improvements
  4. Requirements for proper personal protective equipment

Why is an arch flash study important?

Arc flash labels are important warning signs which should be visible in all electrical facilities. This labelling helps ensure the protection of all electrical workers from injury due to electrical shocks or explosions by identifying the fault level and required PPE protection. The warning labels should display the:

  1. Arc flash hazard boundary
  2. Hazard risk classification
  3. Incident energy level
  4. Type of personal protective equipment required
  5. Potential shock hazard
  6. Equipment name, bus, or node identification
  7. The date on which the label was printed


What is a coordination study?

A coordination study is an evaluation of the protective devices of a system. Protective devices include protective relays, fuses, circuit breakers, and the circuits they are intended to protect. The goal of a coordination study is to determine how long equipment can sustain operation without becoming damaged or failing. This is determined by comparing the operating levels and times of each of the protective devices to the withstand levels and times.

Why is a coordination study important?

Coordination studies are important because they allow us to understand how a frequently-changing electrical distribution system operates. If protective devices are set too low, they may trip, causing critical loads to be dropped, whereas if they are set too high, the protective devices further upstream may trip. These complications could result in an outage of a large part of the electrical distribution system or a complete blackout of the facility. Based on the findings, our technicians can improve equipment and personnel protection.


What is a short circuit analysis?

Short circuit analysis is used by our team to determine the magnitude of short circuit current that the system is capable of producing, and comparing it with the magnitude of the interrupting rating of the overcurrent protective devices. A short circuit current — also referred to as a fault — introduces large amounts of energy in the form of heat and magnetic force into a power system. Electrical power distribution systems depend on accurate and thorough knowledge of short-circuit fault currents and protective devices’ ability to interrupt these currents.

Why is a short circuit analysis important?

Our team performs a short circuit analysis during the initial designing of a power system; however, this won’t be the only time. We recommend that a short circuit analysis is performed every time a facility is expanded, or new electrical equipment is added. Short circuit currents can impose the most serious hazard to power distribution system components and are one of the most important concerns to keep in mind when protection systems are being developed and applied.


What is a load assessment?

A basic electric load assessment, or load inventory, is a listing of all electrical devices within a facility, their power ratings or loads, and the approximate number of hours that the device or equipment operates daily. Each electrical load within a facility consumes energy and contributes to costs. This means that understanding and analyzing these electrical loads is the best way to support, protect, and expand the services it can offer. The result of an IPE Canada load assessment is an estimate of a facility’s consumption, the number of watt-hours used by the facility daily, the total electrical load on the facility, and the sum of all inventoried loads.

Why is a load assessment important?

Electrical load assessments offer a way of tracking increases or decreases in the usage of energy within a facility, which is a key component of energy management, cost savings, and identifying efficiencies.


What is power quality?

Power quality refers to the ability of electrical equipment to consume the energy that is supplied to it. The efficiency of electrical equipment is impacted by several different power quality issues, including electrical harmonics, poor power factor, voltage instability, and imbalance. These power quality issues can result in a number of consequences, including increased energy usage and costs, higher maintenance costs, and equipment instability, and failure.

Why is power quality maintenance important?

Power quality is an important component of any business or facility for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Good power quality saves money and energy
  2. Improve the overall performance of equipment
  3. Avoid catastrophic failures
  4. Reduce power disturbances


What is Harmonics?

The presence of harmonics in electrical systems is an indication that the current and voltage are distorted and deviate from sinusoidal waveforms. Harmonic currents are the result of non-linear loads that are connected to the distribution system.

How can harmonics affect power systems?

  1. An increased need for power consumption during equipment operation leading to greater inefficiencies
  2. Increased installation and utility costs
  3. Overheating of components
  4. Equipment malfunction
  5. Inaccurate measurements on sensors
  6. Interference with telecommunication
  7. Tripping of circuit breakers
  8. Overall decreased profitability

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  • Why does an arc flash occur?

    An arc flash can occur for a number of reasons. Luckily, the majority of these reasons include human error and are, therefore, preventable. Many arc flashes are the result of electrical workers manipulating live electrical equipment for testing or repair purposes. During this process, they may accidentally cause a fault or short-circuit, resulting in an arc flash. An arc flash, or arc blast, can also be the result of several other errors, including improper work technique or electrical equipment, corrosion or damage to electrical equipment, and inadequate safety training.

  • Why is a short circuit dangerous?

    A short-circuit can cause a significant amount of damage and can be very dangerous to human life. A short-circuit is dangerous because of the conditions created when two nodes of an electric circuit, planned to be at different voltages, form an abnormal connection. This connection causes damage to the circuit, overheating, flames, and blasting. These can be very dangerous scenarios for personnel working with or near electrical equipment that experiences the short-circuit. For this reason, short-circuit analysis is a key component of electrical facility safety.

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