• Cy Cates

Protecting Power System Infrastructures from Voltage & Current Imbalances

A guide to fundamental system improvement

The purpose of this document is to introduce Phaseback VSGR (Voltage Stabilizing Ground Reference), while explaining how it fundamentally improves the electrical system, improving efficiency, correcting Power Quality issues, preventing damage & increasing uptime.


1. Why is prevention so critical?

It’s very cost effective.

2. 4 Common Power Problems

Can Phaseback VSGR prevent these?

Yes, many of them.

a. Arc Flash Events and Faults Events---85% approx.

b. Transients---All of them.

c. Interruptions---Prevent faults.

d. Frequency Variations---85% improvement

3. Phaseback VSGR’s Design

a. Prevents Arc Flash----Prevent Arcing Gr. Faults.

4. How Phaseback VSGR Protects---By balancing Voltage ph/grnd.

5. Save Money, Save Lives---Yes!

6. Questions and Answers---All questions are welcome

7. References and Further Reading

1. Why is prevention so critical? Reduces the operational cost significantly.

In the United States, reliance on electrical power is greater than ever before. However, the grid’s generating capability, distribution, and end user systems are all susceptible to major imbalances and damage caused by terrestrial weather events, geomagnetic disturbances, potential enemy attack, and everyday usage by its customers.

At present, the systems offered to solve power problems such as transients, harmonics, and outages are of limited effectiveness, and do not eliminate the source of the problem. What is needed is a solution that prevents the damage caused by the problem, so it never returns. The solution must be one that performs this function without failure. It needs to be available at all voltage levels from low voltage to the high KV voltage level.

Power quality problems affect every part of America’s economy. According to the latest studies, these problems annually cost over $150 billion. Designing prevention-based solutions is the best way to eliminate these massive costs.

2. 4 Common Power Problems

In order to effectively protect all power systems, one must first identify the cause of the most pervasive power problems and understand their impact. While these problems are most commonly found in end user systems at the low voltage range, they can also be found in utility generation, transmission, and distribution systems.

Four of the Six most common issues in a power system as defined by IEEE:

a. Arc Flash

b. Transients

c. Interruptions

d. Frequency variations

a. Eliminate Causes of Arc Flash

Arc flash is caused by unrestrained ground faults that allow copper to heat to a plasma state. After a few milliseconds, it becomes an unquenchable plasma fire. One cubic inch of copper will expand almost instantly into seven cubic feet of 35,000°F superheated gas. The resulting pressure wave can crush a worker’s chest. An arc flash study by the Department of Labor showed that in a 7-year period, 2,576 U.S. workers died due to arc flash incidents, and another 32,807 sustained lost time injuries, losing an average of 13 days away from work.

There is finally a solution to the causes of arc flash. Adding a Phaseback Voltage Stabilizing Ground Reference (VSGR) to the power system prevents the three causes of an arc flash event:

• Transient Voltage Spikes

• Arcing Ground Faults

• Phase Voltage Imbalances

With all three of these causes controlled and prevented, the insulation breakdown associated with arc flash no longer occurs. Correcting power factor is a simpler process without Transient and Harmonic issues. Prevention is the ultimate suppression.

Phaseback VSGR: The Only Proven Arc Flash Prevention Product

On January 13th, 2017, Phaseback VSGR’s resilience against arc flash events was tested at the KEMA high-voltage laboratory in Pennsylvania. Arc flash tests were performed with the expectation of causing catastrophic failure of system and VSGR.

The result: No damaged equipment, no arc flash, and no hazardous rise in voltage. The load continued to operate without event. Kema Arc Flash Test report.

In the graph depicted below, the Phaseback VSGR mitigated a test charge of 6,000 volts with a resulting rise of only 12V. In doing so, it used 0.25 amperes of current.

b. Transients

When someone says they have experienced a power surge, they are referring to an impulsive transient. Numerous terms have been used to describe impulsive transients, such as bumps, glitches, or spikes. The causes of impulsive transients include lightning, poor grounding, the switching of inductive or capacitive loads, utility fault clearing, and electrostatic discharge. The results can range from the loss (or corruption) of data to physical damage of equipment. Of these causes, lightning is probably the most damaging. Phaseback VSGR mitigates 200,000V impulsive transients without event.

c. Interruptions

An interruption is defined as the complete loss of supply voltage or load current. The causes of interruptions can vary, but are most likely the result of some type of electrical supply grid damage, such as lightning strikes, animals, trees, vehicle accidents, destructive weather (high winds, heavy snow or ice on lines, etc.), equipment failure, or a circuit breaker tripping.

While the Utility infrastructure is designed to automatically compensate for many of these problems, it is not infallible. Phaseback VSGR installed at the substation would provide correction when single phase events occur, limiting the number of recloser or cutout fuse blowing events, preventing outages and the “single phase” condition (loss of one phase on the primary side of the transformer) that causes so much damage, as the remaining phase voltages go high.

d. Frequency Variation

There are many kinds of frequency issues from offsets, notching, harmonics, and inter-harmonics; however, these are all conditions that occur largely in the end user’s power system. These variations happen because harmonics from loads are more likely in smaller wye type systems.

The high frequency variations that may lead to massive interconnected grid failure would come from the sun or from enemy attack. Damage to only a few key infrastructure components could result in prolonged blackouts and collateral damage to adjoining devices.

Solar flares are natural occurrences that vary in severity and direction. This “solar weather” is sent out from the surface of the sun throughout our solar system in all directions. These flares contain large amounts of magnetic energy, and depending on how they hit the earth, can cause component damage on the surface or could temporarily change the properties of the planet’s magnetic core. Either way, a direct hit of large proportion could cause equipment failure and black out entire regions.

Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP) can be used in similar fashion, but would be directed by enemy combatants in the form of a high altitude nuclear explosion. For example, a well-executed detonation over Cincinnati, Ohio could black out 70% of the American population. Damage to large power transformers or generators could take months to repair. The high frequency disturbance of nuclear explosions can destroy unprotected components much like an opera singer’s voice can break a glass.

The magnitude of each disturbance may depend on the source, but each can be mitigated effectively using the electro-magnetically operated phase voltage stabilization, Phaseback VSGR.

3. Phaseback VSGR's Design

Phaseback VSGR is the only solution that focuses on prevention.

The major difference in the design of Phaseback VSGR versus traditional surge protectors is that Phaseback VSGR operates at the speed of current flow to correct the voltage potential in relation to ground rather than draining current to ground.

By its patented design, Phaseback VSGR continuously stabilizes voltage relative to ground within a power system without using solid state technology like metal oxide varistors (MOVs). Phaseback VSGR reacts at the speed of current flow, which prevents power buildup, and mitigates arc flashes. Phaseback does not allow voltage leakage, nor will transient events degrade its performance as is seen in MOVs.

With Phaseback VSGR, utility company linemen will feel more secure due to the increase in power line stability while working on them, since arc flash incidents will become distant memories. The components (matched single-phase transformers) in this permanent solution are sized by the voltage class and kVA in which they will be employed. The voltage specification determines the appropriate turn ratios needed to properly size each system.

All three transformers are spaced from one another according to IEEE standards to prevent arcing or magnetic flux between each phase. Ohm’s law explains how power reacts proportionately regardless of scope: Phaseback VSGR’s effectiveness would be the same in a 300kV system as it is on a 480V system. Phaseback VSGR systems all come in a NEMA type 3R enclosure with appropriately sized integrated fused disconnects. Phaseback is wired in parallel to the power system, and protects from the secondary side of a power transformer to the primary side of the downstream transformer. This also rings true from the generation source to the primary on the initial transformer. All connected components would be protected, and Phaseback would maintain the voltage stability between phase and ground, preventing damage caused by downstream activity, or directly on line. No power system would need to be turned off to connect Phaseback: linemen could hot tap them into the system, then engage Phaseback using the disconnect.

4. Phaseback VSGR Prevents Arc Flash, even in a Worst-Case Scenario According to the IEEE, the majority of phase-to-phase faults start as either phase/ground faults or flashover due to insulation breakdown. Before Phaseback VSGR, a phase/ground fault or flashover would inevitably result in an Arc Flash event. The graph above depicts a phase-to-ground fault which led to a phase-to-phase fault. No arc flash occurred.

Phaseback VSGR mitigated Arc Flash. To be clear, Phaseback VSGR Detected and Corrected Grounds on Two Phases without a Fault or Arc Flash Incident!

5. How Phaseback VSGR Protects

Focusing on voltage allows Phaseback to address each of the 4 Common Power Issues. Let’s see how it would correct each of those issues individually.

Transients are the brief voltage spikes that occur regularly and may last only 20µs, .02 seconds (1 cycle = .0166 second). Phaseback stabilizes the voltage ph/grnd so no current can flow, preventing damage caused by current flow. With a power analyzer, one could see that disturbances placed directly on line are completely mitigated.

Balancing Voltage Phase to Ground with Phaseback VSGR

Phase voltage 61% imbalance VSGR OFF

Phase voltage imbalance 6% VSGR ON

Interruptions have many causes, but the damage occurs in the brief moments when the system loses power. During a power loss, motors wind down and temporarily become mini generators, sending inappropriate voltages to connected loads.

Phaseback would not prevent sustained power losses, but would prevent damage to loads by allowing a softer landing should an outage occur.

The Phaseback system would also reduce the harmful effects of voltage instability like sags, swells, or under/over-voltage. The primary sides of the transformers and their adjoining secondary constantly stabilize the voltage discrepancy. Conventional surge suppressors and MOV systems route power to ground, which can cause an unsafe condition, and surely reduces the life of the device and connected loads.

Waveform and frequency variations might best be described as noise on the line from massive magnetic forces. These magnetic hits to the grid can cause damage to generators, transformers, auto tapping devices, and connected loads throughout. High frequency noise from hostile EMPs change the normal 60 Hz flow of electrons, which may wreak havoc on infrastructure. Depending on the severity or proximity to such hostilities, damage could range from loss of end user electronic devices to the overheating of the stators on utility generation plants or power transformers. Phaseback would act as a gatekeeper, suppressing any frequency above or below the 60 Hz range. Without the Phaseback system, damage to grid components could occur in an instant, but since it operates only on 60 Hz waveforms, it routes the inappropriate waveform to the integrated resistor bank at the exact speed of the infraction.

Phaseback, therefore, corrects voltage disturbances that are out of specification, before they happen.

6. Save Money and Lives

Facilities equipped with the Phaseback VSGR have seen it for themselves: power quality problems are no longer a cost of doing business. Premature equipment failure, arc flash hazards, and excessive energy consumption are no longer a fact of life!

Phaseback VSGR is the world’s only energy-saving, energy-efficient, future-proof, harmonic noise eliminating, ground fault & arc flash preventing, lightning arresting, EMP mitigating, voltage stabilizing system. It is the only power quality product that produces a return on investment, typically within one year.

Phaseback is a scalable product. It can be engineered for power systems of all sizes and all voltage classes. Phaseback connects in parallel with the power system. Only one unit is needed for each transformer in an ungrounded Delta facility. One is required on the load side of a grounded wye and on the load side of each stepdown transformer. Phaseback is universally applicable: it benefits generation, distribution, industrial, commercial, military, and even residential power systems.

Since its patenting in 2005, Phaseback has been implemented for a wide variety of purposes, including military, industrial, and factory applications. Phaseback has 15 years of continuous, fault-free operation in numerous applications. All Phaseback products are backed by a lifetime warranty.

There is a limit to how much a company can compensate for financial losses by increasing the cost of its products or services. With the knowledge of what Phaseback can do for your facility, will you continue to allow power issues to rob your organization of its profits?

Applied Energy LLC is committed to proving ourselves as the only true power quality solution. All Applied Energy products are designed to enable proper utilization of power for our clients. Contact us at Applied Energy LLC to find out how we can help you.

7. Questions and answers

How to apply Phaseback VSGR

Send your questions to cycates@cycates.com . The chart below helps with some of the questions below.

a. How is Phaseback VSGR sized?----Phaseback VSGR is sized based on the kVA of the Transformer. Selecting low voltage Phaseback VSGR.

b. Where should Phaseback VSGR be installed?---Place Phaseback VSGR on the secondary side of any Power Transformer, to protect the system. Connect the Phaseback VSGR to a 30A CB or disconnect switch at any available point on the secondary side of the Transformer (within 1000ft).

c. What about Grounded Wye Systems? Phaseback VSGR will work best and provide great protection when the neutral is not grounded. This may cause some changes to the system when 277V loads are being used. As an example, a separate transformer may be needed for those single phase loads.

d. What about High Resistance Ground Systems? Phaseback VSGR can be installed on the system, where a High Resistance Ground is installed. You may want to disconnect the HRG to save energy. The Phaseback VSGR will improve the system greatly; provide the functionality of the HRG (Voltage correction and save money on energy.

e. What about a Delta System?---Phaseback VSGR on a Delta system provides the ideal electrical system, with stabilized Voltage, Harmonic removal, and all of the other Phaseback VSGR benefits. This would represent the ideal situation if you are starting from scratch, just make sure to include the appropriate K rating on the transformer and size it correctly for Harmonics and temperature considerations.

f. What equipment can be removed Phaseback VSGR is installed?

g. Reactors on the line side of any drives. This will save energy and protect the drive and the system. Load side inductors can be removed when Phaseback DVS (Drive Voltage Stabilizer) is connected between the drive and motor.

a. Harmonic Filters & Amp Trap devices when Phaseback VSGR is installed on a Delta secondary. This will save energy.

b. Isolation Transformers. This will save energy and provide the best source for motors and drives.

c. When Delta/Delta Transformer with Phaseback VSGR connected to secondary are used to power the system, (AFPT Arc Flash Preventing Transformer) standard 6 pulse drives will work well and harmful harmonics will circulate in the transformer, keeping the harmonics low on the system. Phaseback VSGR is a critical component in this scenario.

h. What about 5kV and higher voltages?

i. Yes. Phaseback VSGR is available up to 35kV with the same system benefits. Send RFQ to cycates@cycates.com

j. Is Phaseback VSGR protection available for my home? What are some pricing examples?

a. Yes. Phaseback for 120/240V split phase model# PB150RES. List. $2500.ea

b. Budget price for 480V Phaseback VSGR?

c. 6MVA model# PB480D3000I. List. $ 23,700.ea

d. 750kVA model# PB480D350I. List $ 12,765.ea

Drop me an email for a quote on specific sizes and voltage ratings. cycates@cycates.com


1. References and Further Reading

Approaches for Minimizing Risks to Power System Infrastructure due to Geomagnetic Disturbances. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: October 2010.

Kramer, Miriam. “Scientists Work to Protect Earth’s Power Grid from Extreme Solar Storms”; Space.com, July 2, 2013.

Hinton, William. “Phaseback VSGR Scalability”; Applied Energy White Paper, December 2013. “This is Phaseback”; Applied Energy White Paper, January 2013.

Electromagnetic Pulse: Effects on the US Power Grid. Environmental & Energy News. August 8, 2011.

National Research Council: Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System. The National Academies Press, Washington DC: 2012.

James William Nilsson and Susan A. Riedel (2008). Electric circuits. Prentice Hall.

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