The high-impedance REF relay is normally a currentoperated relay with a resistor in series that provides stabilization. Generally, it may be one of two different types. The first type has internal resistors and has a voltage setting. In this type, the resistors are effectively switched in and out to change the setting and therefore the value of the stabilizing voltage. The second type has an external variable resistor where the setting is calculated in ohms and applied by changing the resistance of the variable resistor. Any mismatch in CT ratio will result in spill current, part of which will flow through the relay. Spill current cannot be related to current that flows on the primary side and flows on the secondary side. It may, therefore, cause the flow of “fictitious” current that results from CT inaccuracy. Not all spill current will necessarily flow through the relay; some of the current also flows through CTs (phase and/or neutral) not carrying primary fault current. Effectively, the spill current flowing through the relay raises the voltage across the relay and CTs, causing more magnetizing current to flow. In the case of a through fault, equilibrium is reached between the voltage, relay current, and magnetizing current. Generally, relay current is far less than the operating current, as explained in the calculation of the stabilizing voltage.
Another important factor in the design of an REF scheme is the minimum allowable knee-point voltage of the phase and neutral CTs. This value is necessary during the design phase of the high-impedance REF scheme to ensure adequately specified CTs.
Low-impedance REF protection is provided with new numerical or microprocessor-based protection relays. Generally, relay manufacturers employ different methods to provide REF protection. In most cases, operation of the low-impedance REF protection is based on the fundamental current, after filtering removes all harmonic currents. The most important difference between classical highimpedance REF protection and new low-impedance REF protection is the input impedance. As with all numerical relays, the input impedance of the low-impedance REF is very low compared to high-impedance relays. For example, a lowimpedance relay typically has an input impedance of 0.1 VA.
At 1 A nominal rating, this computes to 0.1 W. On the other hand, for a high-impedance REF relay with a voltage setting of 100 V and a 20 mA operating current, the input impedance is 5 kW. This is a significant difference. Low-impedance REF protection does not have the same inherent stability against CT saturation for external faults as does high-impedance REF protection. A second significant difference is that the operating current of the low-impedance REF protection is not realized by CT connection. With low-impedance REF, the relay measures all four CTs necessary to realize the element.