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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EU Code of Conduct on Data Centres - Best Practices

The European Union is implementing a voluntary code of practice for participants with the aim of improving the overall efficiency of data centres. As part...

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the study of coordinating electromagnetic fields give off equipment, with the withstand (compatibility) of other...

Power Transformers - An Introduction

One of the fundamental requirements of an alternating current distribution systems it to have the ability to change the magnitude of voltages.  It is more...

How to measure power supply quality

If your are ever called out to troubleshoot something on your electrical system, one of the first things consider is the supply voltage. You want to ensure...

Photovoltaic (PV) - Utility Power Grid Interface

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are typically more efficient when connected in parallel with a main power gird. During periods when the PV system generates energy...

A mechanical engineering paper, some history and memories

I was digging in my bookshelf and came across the 80th Anniversary Association of Mine Resident Engineers, Papers and Discussions Commemorative Edition...

1,000 kV UHV First for China

At the beginning of the year China put the world's first 1,000 kV UHV transmission system into operation. Transmitting power at over a million volts is...

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 ...

Lightning Risk Assessment (IEC 62305)

IEC 62305 'Protection against lightning' requires a risk assessment be carried out to determine the characteristics of any lightning protection system...

ABB Technical Guides - Motor Operation

ABB has produced a range of technical guides that offer concise explanations of the major technologies and technical issues in low voltage AC drives. ...

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