# Overvoltage on transformer secondary

Started by November 28, 2017
```On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 23:50:25 GMT, Steve Wilson <no@spam.com> wrote:

>John Larkin <jjlarkin@highland_snip_technology.com> wrote:
>
>> On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:51:06 +0000 (UTC), antispam@math.uni.wroc.pl
>> wrote:
>
>>>I his article about troubleshooting () Bob Pease writes:
>>>
>>>: If the power line switch was turned off at exactly the wrong time of
>>>: the cycle, the flux in the transformer steel core could be
>>>: strored at high level.  Then, if the line power switch was
>>>: reconnected at exactly the wrong time in the cycle, the flux
>>>: in the transformer would ontinue to build up until the
>>>: transformer saturated and produced a voltage spike of 70 to 90V on
>>>: its secondary.
>
>>>Possibility of saturation is well-known.  However, getting voltage
>>>spike on secondary due to saturation looks strange:
>
>>>1) saturation means that high current in primary gives only tiny
>>>   increase of flux.  SEM is proportional to derivative of flux, so SEM
>>>   is limited.  In fact, high current in primary is because SEM is to
>>>   small to oppose line voltage.
>>>2) Ignoring stray inductance SEM on the secondary is transformer
>>>   constant times SEM on the primary.  Ohmic losses mean that
>>>   SEM on primary is lower than voltage on the primary, SEM on
>>>   secondary is higher than voltage on secondary.  I would expect
>>>   similar effect from stray inductance.
>
>>>So I do not see how saturation can lead to overvoltage on secondary.
>
>> Not on the half-cycle that saturates the core. But maybe on the next
>> opposite-sign half cycle, the one that yanks the core out of
>> saturation.
>
>> That will happen when there is a lot of magnetizing (actually
>> demagnetizing) current.
>
>Instead of speculating, the correct procedure would have been to measure
>the pulse with a scope, something that Bob P. should have done in the first
>place.

Why do you think he never scoped the voltages? He mentions "extensive
investigations", not speculation.

>
>Guessing at the problem was very poor troubleshooting technique, as well as
>increasing the size of the capacitor by some arbitrary amount. Yhat was
>very poor engineering, as shown by the residual failure rate.

He didn't say the cap value was increased by "some arbitrary amount."

The residual failure rate was "near zero", whatever that means. No
failure rate will ever be zero.

>
>Another problem was the cascading failure. If the cap failed, it would
>destroy the regulator. This could damage the following circuits which
>depended on the regulator output voltage. One of the tenets of good
>engineering is to prevent cascading failure, something that Bob P. should
>have emphasized.

Different people have their own definitions of "good engineering." To
me, a failed box is failed, and it doesn't matter much how many parts
are failed. The best design minimizes the field falure rate, not the
details of a failure. I do try to prevent part failures from starting
fires or blowing traces off boards, but if a failed mosfet might take
out a gate resistor, I'm not going to make a big effort to prevent
that.

A lower system failure rate but more parts lost per failure sounds
good to me.

>
>So in this case, Bob showed the worst possible examples of bad
>troublehooting technique and poor engineering. Not a very good result for a
>book on troubleshooting technique.

Bob was a pretty good engineer. He just had bad taste in cars.

--

John Larkin         Highland Technology, Inc
picosecond timing   precision measurement

jlarkin att highlandtechnology dott com
http://www.highlandtechnology.com

```
```On 2017-11-28 16:12, Steve Wilson wrote:
> Ubuntu 10.04

Are you kidding? This hasn't received updates for 2.5 years, 4.5 if
you're on the desktop version.

Do you still use Windows 98 as well?

```
```On Wednesday, 29 November 2017 00:23:57 UTC, John Larkin  wrote:

> Different people have their own definitions of "good engineering." To

highly dependant on what you're designing for.

NT
```
```Ant <usenet@antiphase.eu> wrote:

> On 2017-11-28 16:12, Steve Wilson wrote:
>> Ubuntu 10.04

> Are you kidding? This hasn't received updates for 2.5 years, 4.5 if
> you're on the desktop version.

I don't care. I never use it to scan the web, but it is needed to run with
Virtualbox 4.3.36 for legacy software. I have tried later versions but
always ran into some incompatibilty problems, so I'll stay with 10.04.

> Do you still use Windows 98 as well?

I did for a long time, then switched to XP. I like it a lot better than
Win7.

Just to terrorize you a bit further, my main browser is Firefox 12. It has
a phenomenal range of add-ons that are invaluable for browsing the web. I
can control javascript, CSS, page color, and kill tabbed browsing which is
not meeded on XP. I also control the keybindings, use custom toolbar
buttons, have cert bypass, and a password editor. None of these are
available in later versions. I also depend on the Nir software utilities
for many other invaluable functions.

Also, I never use critical passwords in FF12. They are all in another VDI
that is protected by Sticky password manager.

There are a few websites that refuse to use SHA-1, and won't work with
FF12. For these, I use Palemoon 26.5.0, but I reaally don't like it. None
of the Nir Software works with it, so it is almost useless.

So, you say, you have no protection. How do you prevent malware?

My response is, you can't, even with the most advanced operating system and
anti-virus software available. You need to recognize how vulnerable you
are, and create a system where it doesn't matter if you get infected.

For me, the system is excellent backups on a platform that is not
accessible to malware. That is extremely easy with Virtualbox. The backups
are through Ubuntu, not Windows. Since I use RAID0, it is not possible for
Windows malware to get to the backups.

In Windows, if you get infected, the usual remedy is to pave over and
rebuild. This means you have to reinstall all your programs, and configure
everything back to the way it was. This also happens if you lose a hard
disk drive. It can take a very long time to reinstall and reconfigure, and
you will never get everything back as it was before.

With Ubuntu, if you lose the operating system, all you have to do is
reinstall it, and run a simple bash file to reinstall all your programs.
All your config files are in the Home directory, and they will survive the
reinstall.

In Windows, all I have to do is copy the backup files. This restores the
operating system and all the software and config files. It only takes a few
minutes for 100GB of files, then I am back to exactly where I was before
the failure.

```
```Steve Wilson wrote:

-----------------------

>
> Instead of speculating, the correct procedure would have been to measure
> the pulse with a scope, something that Bob P. should have done in the first
> place.
>
> Guessing at the problem was very poor troubleshooting technique, as well as
> increasing the size of the capacitor by some arbitrary amount. Yhat was
> very poor engineering, as shown by the residual failure rate.
>

** As I read the account, fitting a 1000uF electro in lieu of 10uF solved the problem completely.

> Another problem was the cascading failure. If the cap failed, it would
> destroy the regulator.

** Bob never said the electro failed. When over-voltaged, electros draw large currents immediately. Seems this zener like action did not help, likely because the instant failure voltage of the reg IC was less than the max voltage of the electro.

> This could damage the following circuits which
> depended on the regulator output voltage. One of the tenets of good
> engineering is to prevent cascading failure, something that Bob P. should
> have emphasized.
>

** My reading is that the reg IC failed and the 10uF was unharmed.

> So in this case, Bob showed the worst possible examples of bad
> troublehooting technique and poor engineering. Not a very good result for a
> book on troubleshooting technique.
>
>

** Bob was looking for a rare event causing spike over-voltages on the secondary at switch on, so one related to inrush surge core saturation sprung to mind.

OTOH, it is very unlikely for an iron core supply tranny to have higher voltage at the secondary than its turns ratio dictates - so another thing to look out for is a rare or intermittent cause of PRIMARY overvoltage.

Aside from a lightning hit, this is most only likely to happen at the moment the AC switch on the particular unit is opened OR and much worse if a switch or breaker opens that controls the AC supply to MANY units. All the units then have their AC supply terminals connected in parallel with no actual supply in place. Imagine some of there units are inductor ballast fluoro tubes.

If, as is normal, the supply switch contacts arc upon opening - a burst of noise with peak voltage up to double the supply peak occurs at the secondary of an *unloaded* transformer.

I have tried this on the bench with a 100VA e-core and found that bridging a 10uf film cap across the secondary had little effect.

IME, the most likely scenario is due to arcing at switch off, possibly aided and abetted by other items powered from by the same supply switch or breaker. The reg IC fails instantly due to overvoltage and of course this is not discovered until the next time the unit is powered up.

Using a 1000 uF electro on the secondary fixes the problem.

Other fixes like primary side varistors and X1 caps may help too.

....  Phil

```
```On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:45:52 -0500, "P E Schoen" <paul@pstech-inc.com>
wrote:

>Waldek wrote in message news:ovjt4q\$oth\$1@z-news.wcss.wroc.pl...
>
>> I his article about troubleshooting () Bob Pease writes:
>
>: If the power line switch was turned off at exactly the wrong time of
>: the cycle, the flux in the transformer steel core could be
>: strored at high level.  Then, if the line power switch was
>: reconnected at exactly the wrong time in the cycle, the flux
>: in the transformer would ontinue to build up until the
>: transformer saturated and produced a voltage spike of 70 to 90V
>: on its secondary.
>
>> Possibility of saturation is well-known.  However, getting voltage spike
>> on secondary due to saturation looks strange:
>
>> 1) saturation means that high current in primary gives only tiny
>   increase of flux.  SEM is proportional to derivative of flux,
>   so SEM is limited.  In fact, high current in primary is because
>   SEM is to small to oppose line voltage.
>> 2) Ignoring stray inductance SEM on the secondary is transformer
>   constant times SEM on the primary.  Ohmic losses mean that
>   SEM on primary is lower than voltage on the primary, SEM on
>   secondary is higher than voltage on secondary.  I would expect
>   similar effect from stray inductance.
>
>> So I do not see how saturation can lead to overvoltage on secondary.  I
>> can imagine getting overvoltage on secondary for different reasons.  Pease
>> wrote that overwoltage was releated to having very small filtering
>> capacitor and that bigger capacitorsolved the problem.  AFAIC bigger
>> capacitor would solve problem regardless of reason... Has anybody
>> experienced such overvoltage? Can you explain why saturation could lead to
>> overvoltage on secondary?
>
>I have experienced the effects of remanent magnetism and DC offset in
>circuit breaker test sets, which use large step-down transformers to drive
>high currents (up to 100,000 amps) into circuit breakers. The load as seen
>by the mains power (usually 480 VAC) is mostly inductive, so the output is
>controlled by an SCR switch that fires close to the waveform peak, resulting
>in minimal DC offset.
>
>If the output is initiated at a zero crossing, the first half-cycle may have
>a peak as much as twice normal, and the waveform then decays until it is
>symmetrical about the zero voltage level.
>
>When an odd number of half-cycles is applied to the transformer, there is a
>net DC component that creates remanent magnetism in the core. If the next
>application of voltage is in the same phase, the core will saturate and
>cause a high current spike in the primary. Since under such circumstances,
>the core is already saturated, the output voltage on the secondary would be
>expected to be lower than usual, except perhaps for a very brief spike.
>However, if the phase is opposite to the magnetization, It might be possible
>for the output to see a higher-than-normal voltage, especially if the
>voltage is applied at or near a zero crossing to produce DC offset.
>
>At least, that's how I understand it and what I have observed.
>
>Paul

Yep, in high power transformer based supplies you can get core
saturation. One way  around it is to remember which cycle (pos, neg)
was last applied. It has been done.

Cheers
```
```On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 23:31:40 -0500, Martin Riddle
<martin_ridd@verizon.net> wrote:

>On Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:45:52 -0500, "P E Schoen" <paul@pstech-inc.com>
>wrote:
>
>>Waldek wrote in message news:ovjt4q\$oth\$1@z-news.wcss.wroc.pl...
>>
>>> I his article about troubleshooting () Bob Pease writes:
>>
>>: If the power line switch was turned off at exactly the wrong time of
>>: the cycle, the flux in the transformer steel core could be
>>: strored at high level.  Then, if the line power switch was
>>: reconnected at exactly the wrong time in the cycle, the flux
>>: in the transformer would ontinue to build up until the
>>: transformer saturated and produced a voltage spike of 70 to 90V
>>: on its secondary.
>>
>>> Possibility of saturation is well-known.  However, getting voltage spike
>>> on secondary due to saturation looks strange:
>>
>>> 1) saturation means that high current in primary gives only tiny
>>   increase of flux.  SEM is proportional to derivative of flux,
>>   so SEM is limited.  In fact, high current in primary is because
>>   SEM is to small to oppose line voltage.
>>> 2) Ignoring stray inductance SEM on the secondary is transformer
>>   constant times SEM on the primary.  Ohmic losses mean that
>>   SEM on primary is lower than voltage on the primary, SEM on
>>   secondary is higher than voltage on secondary.  I would expect
>>   similar effect from stray inductance.
>>
>>> So I do not see how saturation can lead to overvoltage on secondary.  I
>>> can imagine getting overvoltage on secondary for different reasons.  Pease
>>> wrote that overwoltage was releated to having very small filtering
>>> capacitor and that bigger capacitorsolved the problem.  AFAIC bigger
>>> capacitor would solve problem regardless of reason... Has anybody
>>> experienced such overvoltage? Can you explain why saturation could lead to
>>> overvoltage on secondary?
>>
>>I have experienced the effects of remanent magnetism and DC offset in
>>circuit breaker test sets, which use large step-down transformers to drive
>>high currents (up to 100,000 amps) into circuit breakers. The load as seen
>>by the mains power (usually 480 VAC) is mostly inductive, so the output is
>>controlled by an SCR switch that fires close to the waveform peak, resulting
>>in minimal DC offset.
>>
>>If the output is initiated at a zero crossing, the first half-cycle may have
>>a peak as much as twice normal, and the waveform then decays until it is
>>symmetrical about the zero voltage level.
>>
>>When an odd number of half-cycles is applied to the transformer, there is a
>>net DC component that creates remanent magnetism in the core. If the next
>>application of voltage is in the same phase, the core will saturate and
>>cause a high current spike in the primary. Since under such circumstances,
>>the core is already saturated, the output voltage on the secondary would be
>>expected to be lower than usual, except perhaps for a very brief spike.
>>However, if the phase is opposite to the magnetization, It might be possible
>>for the output to see a higher-than-normal voltage, especially if the
>>voltage is applied at or near a zero crossing to produce DC offset.
>>
>>At least, that's how I understand it and what I have observed.
>>
>>Paul
>
>Yep, in high power transformer based supplies you can get core
>saturation. One way  around it is to remember which cycle (pos, neg)
>was last applied. It has been done.
>
>Cheers

Forgot to mention 'Core walking' is a somewhat milder case. Capacitive
coupling can alieviate that.

Cheers
```
```"Martin Riddle"  wrote in message
news:s2es1dt2bqsu2ngljgfn04j0inbahdaekv@4ax.com...

>> Yep, in high power transformer based supplies you can get core
>> saturation. One way  around it is to remember which cycle (pos, neg) was
>> last applied. It has been done.

> Forgot to mention 'Core walking' is a somewhat milder case. Capacitive
> coupling can alieviate that.

I think one company's circuit breaker test set incorporated a gradually
changing phase firing on the controller to demagnetize the core. But IIRC it
had to be done after the breaker tripped.

The test set is designed to apply an equal number of positive and negative
half-waves, at least when applying pulses of six cycles or less to determine
instantaneous trip point. But when it tripped, there could be DC offset
because it might trip in 1.5 cycles, or even less than 1/2 cycle.

Paul

```
```On 28/11/2017 23:50, Steve Wilson wrote:
> Instead of speculating, the correct procedure would have been to measure
> the pulse with a scope, something that Bob P. should have done in the first
> place.
>

Why do you say it was speculation? Seems to me just as likely that Pease
did scope and that was how they found the magnitude and timing of the
transient. Nothing in the writing says they speculated.

piglet
```
```On 28/11/2017 14:51, antispam@math.uni.wroc.pl wrote:
> So I do not see how saturation can lead to overvoltage on
> secondary.  I can imagine getting overvoltage on secondary
> for different reasons.  Pease wrote that overwoltage was releated
> to having very small filtering capacitor and that bigger capacitor
> solved the problem.  AFAIC bigger capacitor would solve problem
> regardless of reason... Has anybody experienced such overvoltage?
> Can you explain why saturation could lead to overvoltage on
> secondary?
>

Saturation could have occurred rapidly and caused large dI/dT ?

piglet

```