Medium-voltage vacuum circuit breaker life extension: An approach utilizing industry standardized maintenance intervals, new testing techniques, and modern replacement parts

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Vacuum circuit breakers are the dominant switchgear technology used in medium-voltage (1kV-38kV) power system applications. Throughout their service life, these breakers must remain in optimum working condition. With an ever-increasing percentage of medium-voltage vacuum circuit breakers in service nearing or already exceeding their design life, asset owners are facing difficult decisions about how to extend the usable life of their equipment beyond planned obsolescence; while also maintaining the safety and reliability of their electrical systems. This paper will provide evidence which shows that simply using a breaker’s age or number of operations to quantify mechanism health and schedule maintenance can be inaccurate. Additionally, it will describe how a three-tiered approach utilizing industry standardized maintenance intervals and philosophies during the life of the equipment, available testing techniques/technologies, and component upgrades with modern replacements can be applied to medium-voltage vacuum circuit breakers across the board in order to modernize the aging population and keep these valuable assets in service for many years to come.

This white paper is sponsored by Vacuum Interrupters, Inc.