Dielectric loss in cables 

By on

cableSection
Cable cross section showing
insulation
 
Dielectrics (insulating materials for example) when subjected to a varying electric field, will have some energy loss.   The varying electric field causes small realignment of weakly bonded molecules, which lead to the production of heat.  The amount of loss increases as the voltage level is increased.  For low voltage cables, the loss is usually insignificant and is generally ignored.  For higher voltage cables, the loss and heat generated can become important and needs to be taken into consideration.

Dielectrics (insulating materials for example) when subjected to a varying electric field, will have some energy loss.   The varying electric field causes small realignment of weakly bonded molecules, which lead to the production of heat.  The amount of loss increases as the voltage level is increased.  For low voltage cables, the loss is usually insignificant and is generally ignored.  For higher voltage cables, the loss and heat generated can become important and needs to be taken into consideration.

Dielectric loss is measured using what is known as the loss tangent or tan delta (tan δ).  In simple terms, tan delta is the tangent of the angle between the alternating field vector and the loss component of the material.  The higher the value of tan δ the greater the dielectric loss will be.  For a list of tan δ values for different insulating material, please see the Cable Insulation Properties note.  

Note: in d.c. cables with a static electric field, there is no dielectric loss.  Hence the consideration of dielectric loss only applies to a.c. cables.

Cable Voltage

Dielectric loss only really become significant and needs to be taken into account at higher voltages.  IEC 60287 "Electric Cables - Calculation of the current rating", suggests that dielectric loss need only be considered for cables above the following voltage levels:

  Cable Type   U0, kV
Butyl Rubber 18
EDR 63.5
Impregnated Paper (oil or gas-filled) 63.5
Impregnated Paper (solid) 38
PE (high and low density) 127
PVC 6
XLPE (filled) 63.5
XLPE (unfilled) 127

 

Cable Dielectric Loss

Cable Capacitance

Cable capacitance can be obtained from manufacturers or for circular conductors calculated using the following:

  C= ε 18ln( D i d c ) 10 9 F. m 1

Given the tan δ and capacitance of the cable, the dielectric loss is easily calculated:

  W d =ω C U 0 2 tan δ

It is possible to use the above for other conductor shapes if the geometric mean is substituted for Di and dc.

Symbols

dc - diameter of conductor, mm
Di - external diameter of insulation, mm
C - cable capacitance per unit length, F.m-1
U0 - cable rated voltage to earth,  V
Wd - dielectric loss per unit length, W.m-1
tan δ - loss factor for insulation
ε - insulation relative permitivity
ω - angular frequency (2πf)

See Also



Steven McFadyen's avatar Steven McFadyen

Steven has over twenty five years experience working on some of the largest construction projects. He has a deep technical understanding of electrical engineering and is keen to share this knowledge. About the author

myElectrical Engineering

comments powered by Disqus



DC Component of Asymmetrical Faults

The image (reproduced from IEC 60909) shows a typical fault in an ac system.  From the illustration it can seen that there is an initial dc component ...

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...

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...

Understanding LV Circuit Breaker Fault Ratings

I think this post is going to be helpful to several of our readers. While the IEC low voltage circuit breaker Standard [IEC 60947-2, Low voltage switchgear...

Control Theory

Control theory looks at how systems work and are controlled from a mathematical view.  This note gives a brief introduction to some of the concepts – more...

Standard Cable & Wire Sizes

IEC 60228 is the International Electrotechnical Commission's international standard on conductors of insulated cables. Among other things, it defines a...

Understanding electric motor insulation & temperature

Anyone specifying or using electric motors should have a basic understanding how the insulation is related to temperature. Three classes of insulation...

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...

New Mail Chimp

We've been sending out Newsletters on a regular basis for a few weeks now. To do this we have been using Google's Feedburner service. While Feedburner...

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...

Have some knowledge to share

If you have some expert knowledge or experience, why not consider sharing this with our community.  

By writing an electrical note, you will be educating our users and at the same time promoting your expertise within the engineering community.

To get started and understand our policy, you can read our How to Write an Electrical Note