What’s the Role of Fiber Optics in the Substation?

The Benefits of Fiber

Substations contain critical assets for transforming, switching and distributing power across the grid. These assets are monitored, controlled and protected by a complex collection of devices to ensure safe and efficient operation of the grid. The products used in these applications must be able to withstand the harsh substation environment, including extreme temperatures, high levels of electromagnetic interference, power fluctuations, and in some cases, vibration. With the introduction of microprocessor-based devices for monitoring, control, and protection, there is the need for high-speed, low-latency communications in the substation to exchange large amounts of critical data. Hardwired communication links are susceptible to electrical noise and distance limitations (up to 150 meters). Fiber optic communications are inherently immune to electromagnetic interference and provide electrical isolation between the connected devices, which drastically reduces the risks to personnel and equipment. The lightweight, ruggedness, and flexibility of fiber allows it to be easily installed in the substation. The cost to install and terminate fiber is comparable to that of copper wire. For these reasons, fiber is the preferred choice for communications within the substation.

qualitrol t/guard 405 fiber optic winding temperature hot spot transformer monitorQualitrol Neoptix OptiLink II Fiber Optic Software

Fiber for Asset Condition Monitoring

Fiber optics is ideal for asset condition monitoring. Qualitrol has a line of fiber optic transformer temperature probes that are designed to be embedded in the transformer winding and mounted in other locations under oil in the transformer tank as part of the transformer manufacturing process. More than 150,000 Qualitrol temperature probes are currently in use worldwide. The Qualitrol temperature probes are very reliable (minimum MTBF is 100,000 hours) under continuous mechanical vibration and temperature cycling, and there is no drift in temperature measurement, so no recalibration is required. The temperature probe communicates with Qualitrol transformer temperature monitoring equipment using fiber optics. The Qualitrol fiber optic family includes the Nomad-Touch single channel; and T/Guard (405, 408, 2B) and OmniFlex-2 multi-channel data recorders, which have advanced communications capabilities (Modbus, DNP 3.0, IEC 60870-5 and IEC 61850) to integrate with substation SCADA and asset monitoring systems. The Qualitrol 509DW and Qualitrol QTMS are multi-channel recorders that include advanced calculations for integrated comparisons of simulated winding to direct winding hot spot measurements, and for estimating the remaining insulation life of transformers. The Qualitrol QTMS and T/Guard-408 also has an embedded web server. Qualitrol’s QLink software provides longer-term logging, storage, and reporting of transformer temperatures. For more information on asset management, read our previous blog on “The Asset Management Value Proposition”.

Contact Qualitrol Today!

Implementing state-of-the-art fiber optic networks in the substation requires a knowledgeable, reliable and experienced partner. Qualitrol has a line of transformer temperature probes, monitoring software, and fiber optics communication equipment that will ensure you implement a successful asset monitoring program while reducing installation costs and increasing communications reliability in the substation. Qualitrol has more than 50 years of experience in power transformers and can help you select the optimal transformer monitoring solution for your needs. Contact us below to discuss with a Qualitrol expert.