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Which PD measurement method is the best and in which conditions?


Partial discharge is a phenomenon that occurs in electrical insulation systems when localized breakdowns or discharges happen within the insulation material. These discharges can be indicative of insulation degradation and, if left unattended, may lead to equipment failure. Detecting and monitoring partial discharges is crucial for ensuring the reliability and safety of electrical systems, especially in high-voltage applications. Various methods have been developed to detect and analyze these discharges, each with its own set of advantages and limitations.

1. Capacitive Coupling Method:

How it Works:

The capacitive coupling method measures the capacitive component of the PD signal using a coupling capacitor. It is a non-intrusive technique that doesn't require direct contact with the equipment.


• Suitability for High-Voltage Equipment: Capacitive coupling is well-suited for detecting partial discharges in high-voltage equipment.

• Non-intrusiveness: It is a non-contact method, minimizing the impact on the monitored equipment.


• Sensitivity to External Interference: The method is sensitive to external electromagnetic interference, which may affect the accuracy of measurements.

• Impact of Capacitance Variations: Variations in capacitance within the system may influence the accuracy of the measurements.

2. Inductive Coupling Method:

How it Works:

The inductive coupling method measures the inductive component of the PD signal using an inductive coil. Similar to capacitive coupling, it is a non-contact method.


• Non-contact Nature: Inductive coupling, being a non-contact method, is suitable for applications where direct contact is not feasible.

• Less Sensitive to External Interference: Compared to capacitive coupling, it is less sensitive to external electromagnetic interference.


• Lower Sensitivity: The sensitivity of the inductive coupling method may be lower compared to other PD detection methods.

• Signal Attenuation Over Distance: The signal strength may attenuate over a distance, affecting the detection capability.

3. UHF (Ultra-High Frequency) Method:

How it Works:

The UHF method detects electromagnetic pulses generated by PD in the ultra-high-frequency range.


• High Sensitivity and Early Detection: UHF is known for its high sensitivity, allowing for the detection of PD in its early stages.

• Suitability for Enclosed Systems: It is effective in detecting PD in enclosed systems, such as GIS (Gas Insulated Switchgear).


• Line of Sight Requirement: Accurate measurements with the UHF method often require a clear line of sight, which may limit its applicability in certain configurations.

• Sensitivity to Environmental Conditions: The method is sensitive to environmental factors, which can impact its reliability.

4. Acoustic Method:

How it Works:

The acoustic method detects acoustic waves produced by PD events using microphones or sensors.


• Non-intrusive and Suitable for Enclosed Systems: Acoustic methods are non-intrusive and can be effective in enclosed systems.

• Effectiveness in Surface Discharge Detection: This method is particularly useful for detecting surface discharges.


• Sensitivity to Background Noise: Acoustic methods may be sensitive to background noise, potentially affecting the accuracy of PD detection.

• Limited Frequency Range: The frequency range of acoustic detection is limited compared to some other methods.

5. HFCT (High-Frequency Current Transformer) Method:

How it Works:

The HFCT method measures the high-frequency component of the current signal during PD events.


• Direct Measurement of Current: HFCT directly measures the current flowing during PD events, providing detailed information.

• Suitability for Various Equipment: It is suitable for various types of equipment.


• Direct Access to Conductors Required: The HFCT method requires direct access to the conductors, which may not be practical in all situations.

6. TEV (Transient Earth Voltage) Method:

How it Works:

The TEV method measures the transient voltage induced on the surface of the equipment during PD events.


• Effectiveness for GIS and Cable Systems: TEV is effective for detecting PD in GIS and cable systems.


• Sensitivity to Environmental Conditions: The sensitivity of the TEV method may be influenced by environmental conditions.

Choosing the Best Method:

Selecting the most appropriate PD detection method involves considering the specific requirements of the monitoring application. Different conditions and characteristics of the equipment and environment may favor one method over another. Here are some considerations for choosing the best method:

1. Equipment Type and Voltage Level:

• High-Voltage Equipment: Capacitive coupling, UHF, and HFCT methods are often preferred for high-voltage equipment due to their sensitivity and capability to detect early-stage PD.

2. Contact Requirements:

• Non-Intrusive Monitoring: Capacitive coupling, inductive coupling, UHF, and acoustic methods are non-intrusive and suitable for applications where direct contact with the equipment is challenging or undesirable.

3. Discharge Types:

• Surface Discharge: Acoustic methods are effective for detecting surface discharges.

4. Early Detection:

• Early-Stage PD Detection: UHF is known for its high sensitivity, making it suitable for detecting PD in its early stages.

5. Versatility:

• Various Equipment Types: Capacitive coupling, inductive coupling, and HFCT methods are versatile and can be applied to various types of equipment.

6. Environmental Considerations:

• Enclosed Systems: UHF and acoustic methods are effective in enclosed systems.

• Environmental Sensitivity: Consider the sensitivity of the chosen method to environmental conditions, as in the case of the UHF and TEV methods.

7. Interference:

• Minimal Interference: Capacitive coupling and inductive coupling methods are less sensitive to external interference.

8. Comprehensive Monitoring:

• Combination of Methods: Employing a combination of methods can provide a more comprehensive monitoring approach, leveraging the strengths of different techniques.

9. Expert Consultation:

• Consulting Experts: Seeking advice from experts in the field is crucial for making an informed decision based on the specific context of the application.


In conclusion, the choice of the best partial discharge detection method is a nuanced decision that depends on a multitude of factors. No single method is universally superior, and the selection process should involve a careful evaluation of the specific requirements, characteristics of the equipment, and environmental conditions. Different methods offer unique advantages and face specific limitations, and considering these factors is essential for effective and reliable partial discharge monitoring. A tailored approach, possibly involving a combination of methods, can enhance the comprehensiveness of the monitoring system, ultimately contributing to the overall reliability and safety of electrical systems.

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