Steven McFadyen's Articles

Steven is a Chartered electrical engineering consultant with considerable experience on major internationally recognised and award winning projects in Europe, South East Asia, and the Middle East. His expertise has been called on for numerous technically challenging projects in power systems, airports, rail, mining, pharmaceutical, datacentre, and other industries.

Cable Insulation Properties

Cable insulation is used to provide electrical separation between conductors of  a cable.  During the historical development of cables, numerous types of insulation have been employed.  During recent years, there has been some consolidation in the types of insulation used.

This post provides some information on the more commonly used cable insulation materials.

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Material Properties

Everything physical in electrical engineering from insulations to conductors revolves around materials. Here we are listing common materials along with their most useful properties in relation to electrical engineering.

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Medium Voltage Switchgear Room Design Guide

Many medium voltage (MV) indoor switchgear rooms  exist worldwide. The complexity of these rooms varies considerably depending on location, function and technology adopted by the owner. This article provides general guidance on the factors to be considered in the design of a typical room.

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Low Voltage Switchroom Design Guide

Low voltage (LV) switchrooms are common across all industries and one of the more common spatial requirements which need to be designed into a project. Main LV switchrooms will typically contain free standing switchboards and Motor Control Centres (MCC), along with auxiliary equipment required for the room to function (bus ducts & cable containment, distribution boards, lighting, small power, air-conditioning equipment, fire fighting, etc.).    In addition LV switchrooms often also house other related equipment – marshalling panels, UPS systems, control panels etc..

This article gives some design guidance for the correct sizing of these rooms.

     

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IEC Document Designation

Often document control is dictated by project requirements, for example a particular organisation may have an existing numbering system. Existing company or group/department document control systems may also be employed. In the absence of any agreed document control, it is recommended that the system detailed in IEC 61355 be followed.

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How Electrical Circuits Work

If you have no idea how electrical circuits work, or what people mean then they talk about volts and amps, hopefully I can shed a bit light.  I’m intending this post to be a simple introduction to electrical circuits for anyone who doesn’t know, but is interested.

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Periodic Electrical Installation Inspection – What to Inspect?

This is the second post in a series of two on periodic electrical inspections. In the first post, I discussed how often inspections should be carried out. As with how often, when looking at what to inspect there are two considerations – 1) inspection of systems, which businesses themselves have decided are critical to their operation and 2) the minimum systems which need to be inspected according to regulations. 

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Periodic Electrical Installation Inspection – How Often?

How often installations are inspected is up to the owner of the installation, provided such durations do not exceed any regulatory maximums in force. The criticality of the electrical installation to the continuation of the business, often determines how frequently the installation is inspected, for example many banks will carry out annual inspections of their installations. Other types of enterprise may do inspections more frequently and many installations are only inspected as often as required by regulation.

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Laplace Transform

Laplace transforms and their inverse are a mathematical technique which allows us to solve differential equations, by primarily using algebraic methods.  This simplification in the solving of equations, coupled with the ability to directly implement electrical components in their transformed form, makes the use of Laplace transforms widespread in both electrical engineering and control systems engineering.

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Are We Losing Professional Integrity

I have been thinking recently that there appears to be less professional integrity around than when I first started my career in electrical engineering. Recently the IET has also had a discussion around if engineers should sign an engineering equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. While I’m not necessarily in favour of swearing oaths, it does illustrate that I’m not the only one thinking about integrity and ethics.

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Three Phase Power Simplified

A single phase system is perhaps the most common type of system most people are familiar with. This is what people have in their homes and what appliances are plugged in to. For larger amounts of power, three phase systems are used.

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Generation of a Sine Wave

A fundamental concept behind the operation of alternating current systems is that voltage and current waveforms will be sinusoidal – a Sine Wave. This is best explained by considering how a coil of wire behaves when rotated in a magnetic field.

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What are you reading!

Reading is a bit of a hobby of mine and I"ve done a few off-topic posts in the past on this. Rather than continue doing the occasional post I thought ...

Meeting room of the future

The IET site has a video of a visit showing of a high tech meeting room developed at Napier University in Edinburgh. It a good demonstration of innovative...

Resistors

Resistors are electronic components that oppose the flow of current.  Manufactured in various types and ranges they have a wide application to electronics...

Paternoster Lifts

These lifts were first built in 1884 by J. E. Hall and called a paternoster ("Our Father", the first two words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin) due to its...

Load Flow Study – how they work

A load flow study is the analysis of an electrical network carried out by an electrical engineer. The purpose is to understand how power flows around...

What is Aircraft Ground Power

Ever wondered what kind of power an aircraft uses when parked at the airport stand. Normally the aircraft generates it own power, but when parked with...

Why use catalogues

I'm a fan of using manufacturers catalogues. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, if your involved in the purchase of equipment, you will likely...

Smarter Electrical Distribution

The other day I came across an article in Technology Review on the development of a smart transformer. A professor at North Carolina State University is...

Induction Motor Equivalent Circuit

Induction motors are frequently used in both industrial and domestic applications.  Within the induction motor, an electrical current in the rotor is induced...

Introduction to Current Transformers

Current transformers (CTs) are used to convert high level currents to a smaller more reasonable level for use as inputs to protection relays and metering...

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