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#5035 - 10/28/01 05:30 PM Sparks and Fireballs
Nevin Offline

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 31
Loc: Lititz PA 17543
Accidently pinch off a sealtite cable containing a 480 volt branch circuit and what happens? It tripped the 15amp breaker protecting this circuit but it also tripped the 400amp breaker protecting the feeder to the panel containing the 15 amp breaker. Is this normally what would occur in a direct line to line to ground fault such as this? I did not check the AIC ratings on the breakers. Could the breakers having two different ratings have caused the 400 amp to trip? Or is anything to be expected in a situation like this?

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#5036 - 10/29/01 02:49 AM Re: Sparks and Fireballs
Scott35 Offline

Broom Pusher and

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 2724
Loc: Anaheim, CA. USA
If the service / main breaker was 1000 amps or larger, I would say the GFPE [Ground Fault Protection for Equipment], which is intregal with the main breaker, tripped along with the branch circuit OCPD. That would be a normal situation.

Since you described a 400 amp main, this most likely does not have GFPE [maybe it does??].

Sounds like from what you have described, you have in effect, a "Non-Selective" system.
Both of the breakers have similar ratings for Peak Let-Thru / Time-Current curves.

Could be a few reasons for this behavior, from adding a high load to an already loaded 400 amp main, to creating an arc acrossed the contacts of the 15 amp breaker, to coming very close of exceeding the AIC rating on the 15 amp breaker.

Typically this situation occurs where there's a very high AIC level available at points away from the Transformer, or systems with a lot of Motors running during the time of the fault.

I have seen this happen on 480Y/277 VAC systems before, plus on 208Y/120 VAC systems. Each time there was an extremely high level of SCA available [Short Circuit Amperes].
They also turned out to have incorrectly rated breakers for the available L-L current, and were indeed setup to be Non-Selective.

The Non-Selective problem, for example - on the 208Y/120 system - was due to using 10KAIC trip rated subfeed breaker [225 amp frame] and branch breaker [100 amp frame].
They both had equal Peak Let-Thru / Time-Current curve plots, which made them both trip.

In one way, this is a good thing [in case the smaller breaker fails to open], but normally this type of system is a result of poor designing / installations.
This situation can be a major nuisance when it brings down an entire building from a fault on a simple 20 amp circuit. That's why the point of designing a "Selective" system is pressed, as opposed to a "Non-Selective" system.

Scott SET

*note: had to fix typos again

[This message has been edited by Scott35 (edited 10-29-2001).]
Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!

#5037 - 10/29/01 05:24 AM Re: Sparks and Fireballs
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
There's been a gradual increase in awareness of this here in recent years, and most guides (and the IEE Wiring Regs.) now emphasize the need for time vs. trip/blow curves of fuses or C/Bs to be selected carefully to avoid taking out more of the system than s necessary. They call it "discrimination" here.

#5038 - 10/29/01 11:25 AM Re: Sparks and Fireballs
electure Offline


Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4226
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
It's not an uncommon thing
Many times a branch C/B will hold until the feeder C/B trips in the case of a dead fault (Hey, has anybody done a bolted fault?)
Scott's got it. It's bad selectivity.
Bet that was a surprise for the "pincher"!


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