Circuits in PE Power Exam

Welcome to our all-in-one guide on Circuits in PE Power Exam. Circuits form the backbone of power systems, enabling electrical energy generation, transmission, and distribution.

We will explore the fundamental electrical quantities and laws, series and parallel circuits, and advanced topics such as three-phase circuits, power factor correction, and power system analysis. 

This comprehensive guide will delve into the fundamental aspects of circuits in the PE Power exam. Whether you are a student, professional, or simply curious about the intricacies of circuits in power engineering, this detailed guide provides a clear understanding of the principles and applications underpinning this vital field.

Let’s discuss everything under the umbrella of this vast topic and explore methods of understanding circuits.

Fundamentals of Circuit Analysis

Fundamentals of Circuit Analysis

Discussing the fundamental aspects and elements of a primary circuit is necessary to get a deeper understanding of circuits in the PE Power exam. This section will cover the fundamental electrical quantities and laws, including Ohm’s and Watt’s laws and their mathematical representations. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Fundamental Electrical Quantities and Laws

Ohm’s Law

Ohm’s Law states that the current flowing through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points, given the temperature and physical conditions remain constant. Mathematically, Ohm’s Law can be expressed as:

V = I R

Where:

  • V = Voltage (in volts)
  • I = Current (in amperes)
  • R = Resistance (in ohms)

Watt’s Law

Watt’s Law relates power (P), voltage (V), and current (I) in an electrical circuit. It states that power is equal to the product of voltage and current. The mathematical representation of Watt’s Law is:

P = V I

Variations of Watt’s Law based on Ohm’s Law

Watt’s Law can be modified using different substitutions based on Ohm’s Law. Here are some variations:

  • P = I^2 * R

 This equation relates power to the square of current and resistance.

  • P = V^2 / R

This equation relates power to the voltage’s square and the resistance’s reciprocal.

  • P = I^2 * R = V^2 / R

Combining the previous equations, we can relate power to current and voltage using Ohm’s Law.

Series and Parallel Circuits

Series and Parallel Circuits

Series Circuits

A series circuit is a configuration where the components are connected in a sequential manner, forming a single path for current flow.

Current in a Series Circuit

In a series circuit, the circuit’s current remains constant throughout all the components. The mathematical expression for the total current (I) in a series circuit is:

I = I1 = I2 = I3 = … = In

Where:

  • I = Total current in the series circuit
  • I1, I2, I3, … = Current flowing through each component (resistor, capacitor, etc.)

Voltage in a Series Circuit

The total voltage in a circuit (V) for a series circuit equals the sum of the voltage drops across each component. Mathematically, it can be represented as:

V = V1 + V2 + V3 + … + Vn

Where:

  • V = Total voltage in the series circuit
  • V1, V2, V3, … = Voltage drops across each component

Equivalent Resistance in a Series Circuit

The equivalent resistance in a circuit (R) for a series circuit is the sum of the resistances of all the components in the circuit. The mathematical formula for calculating the equivalent resistance in a series circuit is:

R = R1 + R2 + R3 + … + Rn

Where:

  • R = Equivalent resistance of the series circuit
  • R1, R2, R3, … = Individual resistances of each component

Parallel Circuits

A parallel circuit is a configuration where the components are connected in such a way that the voltage across each element is the same.

Current in a Parallel Circuit

In a parallel circuit, the total current in a circuit (I) equals the sum of the currents flowing through each component. The mathematical expression for calculating the total current in a parallel circuit is:

I = I1 + I2 + I3 + … + In

Where:

  • I = Total current in the parallel circuit
  • I1, I2, I3, … = Current flowing through each component

Voltage in a Parallel Circuit

The voltage in a circuit across each component in a parallel circuit remains the same. Therefore, the total voltage (V) across the parallel circuit is equal to that across any individual components. Mathematically, it can be represented as:

V = V1 = V2 = V3 = … = Vn

Where:

  • V = Total voltage in the parallel circuit
  • V1, V2, V3, … = Voltage across each component

Equivalent Resistance in a Parallel Circuit

The equivalent resistance in a circuit (R) for a parallel circuit is given by the reciprocal of the sum of the reciprocals of the individual resistances. The formula for calculating the equivalent resistance in a parallel circuit is:

1/R = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + … + 1/Rn

Where:

  • R = Equivalent resistance of the parallel circuit
  • R1, R2, R3, … = Individual resistances of each component

You can effectively analyze and design electrical circuits by understanding the concepts of series and parallel circuits, along with the fundamental electrical quantities and laws.

Explore the fundamentals of circuits, including circuit laws, series & parallel circuits, and sample problems in more detail by reading our detailed guide on circuit analysis.

Related Reading

Three-Phase Circuits

Three-phase circuits are commonly used in electrical power systems for efficient power generation, transmission, and distribution. These circuits consist of three voltage sources or generators, with each source having a phase shift of 120 degrees from the other two.

How Three-Phase Circuits Work

In a three-phase circuit, the three voltage sources are typically denoted as A, B, and C or as phases 1, 2, and 3. Each phase has a sinusoidal voltage waveform, and the three waveforms are equally spaced apart, forming a balanced system. The voltage sources are connected so that the phases are 120 degrees out of phase.

A balanced load can be achieved by connecting loads across the three phases, which results in a constant power transfer. This balanced power transfer is a crucial advantage of three-phase systems, allowing for higher power capacity and efficient utilization of conductors and transformers.

Types of Three-phase Circuits

Balanced Circuits

The impedances and loads connected across the phases are equal in a balanced three-phase circuit. This results in equal current flow through each phase and a balanced power distribution. The voltages and currents in a balanced circuit have a specific relationship, with the sum of the currents at any instant equaling zero.

Unbalanced Circuits

In contrast, an unbalanced three-phase circuit has unequal impedances or loads across the phases. This leads to unequal currents in each phase, resulting in an unbalanced power distribution.

Unbalanced circuits can cause voltage fluctuations, power quality issues, and increased stress on equipment. Therefore, it is vital to identify and address unbalanced conditions to maintain a stable and efficient system.

Layouts in Three-Phase Systems

Layouts in Three-phase Systems

Delta Connection (∆)

The phases are connected in a triangular or delta configuration in a delta-connected three-phase system. Each load or impedance is connected between two phases, forming a closed circuit loop. This connection provides a high line voltage and lower line current than the wye connection.

Wye Connection (Y)

The phases are connected in a star or wye configuration in a wye-connected three-phase system. One end of each load or impedance is connected to a common neutral point, and the other is connected to the respective phase. This connection provides a lower line voltage and higher line current than the delta connection.

Power Factor

Power factor is a measure of how effectively electrical power is being utilized in a circuit. It represents the ratio of real (active) power to apparent power in an AC circuit. The power factor is expressed as a decimal or a value between 0 and 1, or sometimes as a percentage.

Mathematically, the power factor (PF) is calculated as:

PF = cos(θ)

Where:

  • PF = Power factor
  • θ = Angle between the voltage and current waveforms

A power factor of 1 (or 100%) indicates a purely resistive load with no reactive components. A power factor of less than 1 indicates the presence of reactive components in the circuit, such as inductive or capacitive loads.

Power Factor Correction

Power factor correction aims to improve the power factor of a circuit by reducing the reactive power and bringing it closer to unity (1) or near 100%. This helps maximize the power transfer capacity, reduce energy losses, and improve the system’s efficiency.

Power factor correction is typically achieved by using power factor correction capacitors, which introduce reactive power in the opposite phase to the reactive power of the load. This cancels out or minimizes the reactive power, resulting in a higher power factor.

Power Factor Sample Problem

A three-phase industrial facility has a power factor of 0.75 lagging. The total apparent power (S) is 600 kVA, and the total active power (P) is 450 kW. Determine the required capacitor bank size to correct the power factor to 0.95 lagging.

Step 1 – Calculate the reactive power (Q) using the apparent power (S) and the active power (P):

The reactive power (Q) is determined by finding the square root of the difference between the square of the apparent power (S) and the square of the active power (P). This step helps us quantify the reactive power component present in the system.

Q = √(S^2 – P^2)

*This formula utilizes the Pythagorean theorem to determine the magnitude of the reactive power component.

Q = √((600,000)^2 – (450,000)^2)

Q ≈ 360,555.13 VAR

Step 2 – Determine the reactive power (Qc) required to correct the power factor:

We need to determine the additional reactive power (Qc) required to correct the power factor. This is achieved by multiplying the active power (P) by the tangent of the power factor angle (θ).

Qc = P * tan(θ)

Qc = 450,000 * tan(cos^(-1)(0.95))

Qc ≈ 113,309.25 VAR

Step 3 – Calculate the required capacitance (C) using the reactive power (Qc) and the system voltage (V):

To achieve power factor correction, capacitors are used. The required capacitance (C) is calculated by dividing the necessary reactive power (Qc) by the product of the angular frequency (ω) and the square of the system voltage (V^2).

This step determines the capacitance value needed to generate the necessary reactive power and improve the power factor.

C = Qc / (ω * V^2)

Assuming the line voltage (V) is 480 V and the angular frequency (ω) is 2πf, where f is the frequency:

C = 113,309.25 / (2 * π * 60 * (480)^2)

C ≈ 11.8 μF

Therefore, a capacitor bank with a capacitance of approximately 11.8 μF is required to correct the power factor to 0.95 lagging.

*This example provides a simplified calculation. In practical scenarios, factors such as the type of load, harmonic content, and system characteristics should be considered for accurate power factor correction.

Learn more about Resonance and better understand how RLC circuits behave and operate in a circuit loop.

Power System Analysis

Power system analysis is a branch of electrical engineering that focuses on studying and analyzing electrical power systems. It involves various techniques and methodologies to assess power systems’ performance, stability, and reliability. 

Per-Unit System and System Representation

The per-unit system is a method used to normalize the values of electrical quantities in a power system. It simplifies calculations and allows for better comparison and analysis of different system components.

The per-unit system uses a reference value, typically the rated or base value of a particular quantity (e.g., voltage or current).

To better understand the per-unit systems and their respective symbols, have a look at the following table:

QuantityBase ValuePer-Unit Value
VoltageV_baseV_pu
CurrentI_baseI_pu
PowerP_baseP_pu
ImpedanceZ_baseZ_pu
AdmittanceY_baseY_pu
Transformer RatioK_baseK_pu

In this table, the base value represents the reference value for each quantity (e.g., the rated voltage or current). In contrast, the per-unit value is the normalized value expressed as a ratio concerning the base value.

System representation refers to how the components and parameters of a power system are represented mathematically or graphically. Various representations are used, including one-line, impedance, and network models. These representations help in understanding the interconnections and characteristics of the system components.

Fault Analysis

Fault analysis is a crucial aspect of power system analysis that involves studying the behavior of a power system under abnormal conditions, specifically during faults or short circuits. It helps determine the fault current magnitude, fault locations, and the impact of faults on system components.

One common type of fault analysis is short-circuit analysis, which focuses on calculating the fault currents that occur when a short-circuit fault happens in the system. This analysis helps design protective devices and determine the required ratings for circuit breakers, fuses, and other protective equipment.

To illustrate short-circuit calculations, let’s consider a sample problem:

A 3-phase, 4-wire power system has the following data:

  • Generator impedance: Zg = 0.1 + j0.2 p.u. per unit (pu)
  • Transformer impedance: Zt = 0.05 + j0.1 p.u.
  • Transmission line impedance: Zl = 0.02 + j0.05 p.u.
  • Load impedance: Zload = 0.2 + j0.3 p.u.

Let’s calculate the fault current magnitude and MVA at the fault location.

  • Step 1 – Draw the single-line diagram of the power system, including the generator, transformer, transmission line, and load.
  • Step 2 – Convert all impedances to per-unit values by dividing them by the system base impedance.
  • Step 3 – Determine the equivalent impedance of the system by summing up the per-unit impedance values.
  • Step 4 – Calculate the fault current using Ohm’s Law:

Fault current (I) = V / Z_eq

where V is the rated line-to-line voltage of the system and Z_eq is the equivalent impedance.

  • Step 5 – Calculate the fault MVA using the following formula:

Fault MVA = 3 * V^2 / Z_eq

where V is the rated line-to-line voltage of the system and Z_eq is the equivalent impedance.

Now let’s follow these steps individually to calculate the fault current magnitude and the fault MVA.

Given data:

V = 480 V (rated line-to-line voltage)

Convert impedances to per-unit values

Zg = 0.1 + j0.2 p.u.

Zt = 0.05 + j0.1 p.u.

Zl = 0.02 + j0.05 p.u.

Zload = 0.2 + j0.3 p.u.

Calculate the equivalent impedance

Z_eq = Zg + Zt + 2 * Zl + Zload

Z_eq = 0.1 + j0.2 + 0.05 + j0.1 + 2 * (0.02 + j0.05) + 0.2 + j0.3

Z_eq = 0.44 + j0.9 p.u.

Calculate the fault current

I = V / Z_eq

I = 480 / (0.44 + j0.9)

I ≈ 510.99 – j354.62 A

The fault current magnitude is approximately 658.27 A.

Calculate the fault MVA

Fault MVA = 3 * V^2 / Z_eq

Fault MVA = 3 * (480^2) / (0.44 + j0.9)

Fault MVA ≈ 346.15 + j756.41 MVA

The fault MVA at the fault location is approximately 800.16 MVA.

Therefore, the fault current magnitude is approximately 658.27 A, and the fault MVA at the fault location is approximately 800.16 MVA.

*In practical scenarios, fault analysis involves more complex systems, including various faults and more sophisticated models. The sample problem above provides a simplified illustration demonstrating the concept of short-circuit calculations. 

Read our detailed guide on Demand Calculations in the PE Power exam and explore more detailed techniques like Fault-Tree Analysis (FTA).

Related Reading

Transformers and Reactors

Transformers and Reactors

Transformers and Reactors are another vital aspects of circuits in the PE Power exam. Let’s explore these crucial devices in the circuit.

Transformers – Overview

Transformers are essential for voltage conversion and power transmission in electrical systems. They are widely employed in various applications across power generation, distribution, and industrial sectors. Transformers enable efficient and reliable transfer of electrical energy between different voltage levels.

Operating Principles of Transformers

The fundamental operating principles of transformers are based on the principles of electromagnetic induction. Transformers consist of two or more coils, known as windings, wound around a common magnetic core. These windings are electrically insulated from each other.

When an alternating current (AC) passes through the primary winding, it generates a varying magnetic field around the core. This varying magnetic field induces an electromotive force (EMF) in the secondary winding through electromagnetic induction. The secondary winding, in turn, transfers this induced EMF to the connected load.

According to Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, the magnitude of the induced voltage in the secondary winding is directly proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux linkage concerning time.

Mathematically, the voltage ratio of a transformer can be expressed as:

V2 / V1 = N2 / N1

Where:

  • V1 and V2 are the voltages on the primary and secondary sides, respectively,
  • N1 and N2 are the numbers of turns in the primary and secondary windings, respectively.

Law of Electromagnetic Induction

The Law of Electromagnetic Induction, discovered by Michael Faraday and later formulated by James Clerk Maxwell, states that a changing magnetic field induces an electromotive force (EMF) or voltage in a conductor. This principle forms the basis for understanding self-induction and mutual induction.

Self-Induction

It occurs when the changing current in a conductor induces an EMF in the same conductor. It arises due to the magnetic field produced by the changing current, which interacts with the conductor itself.

According to the law of self-induction, the induced EMF in a conductor is directly proportional to the rate of change of current. The magnitude of the induced EMF can be calculated using the formula:

ε = -L * (di/dt)

Where:

  • ε is the induced EMF,
  • L is the self-inductance of the conductor (a property of the conductor),
  • di/dt is the rate of change of current.

The negative sign in the formula indicates that the induced EMF opposes the change in current. A conductor’s self-inductance (L) depends on its physical characteristics, such as the number of turns, the conductor’s shape, and the material’s magnetic permeability.

Mutual Induction

Mutual induction occurs when the changing current in one coil induces an EMF in another nearby coil. It involves the interaction of magnetic fields between two or more separate coils.

The induced EMF in the secondary coil of a mutual inductor can be calculated using the formula:

ε₂ = -M * (di/dt)

Where:

  • ε₂ is the induced EMF in the secondary coil,
  • M is the mutual inductance between the primary and secondary coils,
  • di₁/dt is the rate of change of current in the primary coil.

Similarly, the mutual inductance (M) depends on the physical characteristics of the coils, such as the number of turns, the proximity of the coils, and the magnetic coupling between them.

Voltage and Number of Turns in Coils

In transformers, the relationship between the voltage and the number of turns in the primary and secondary coils is determined by the principle of electromagnetic induction.

According to Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, the induced voltage (V₂) in the secondary coil is proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux linkage (N₂Φ) concerning time. Mathematically, this relationship can be expressed as:

V = -N * dΦ/dt

Where:

  • V₂ is the induced voltage in the secondary coil,
  • N₂ is the number of turns in the secondary coil,
  • dΦ/dt is the rate of change of magnetic flux linkage.

Similarly, for the primary coil, the relationship between the voltage (V₁) and the number of turns (N₁) is given by:

V = -N * dΦ/dt

These equations demonstrate that the induced voltages in the primary and secondary coils are directly proportional to the number of turns in the respective coils. As a result, transformers can step up or step down voltages by varying the number of turns in the primary and secondary windings while maintaining a constant frequency.

By controlling the turns ratio (N₂/N₁), transformers can efficiently transfer electrical energy between different voltage levels, making them crucial devices in power transmission and distribution systems.

Transformer Types and Configurations

Transformers can be categorized based on their applications, construction, and configurations. Below are some commonly used transformer types and configurations:

  • Power Transformers are extensively used in power transmission and distribution systems to step up or down voltage levels. They are designed to handle high power levels and are typically large.
  • Distribution transformers step down high voltage levels from transmission lines to lower voltage levels suitable for consumer distribution. They are commonly found on utility poles or in distribution substations.
  • Autotransformers have a single winding with multiple taps, serving as both the primary and secondary winding. They are more compact and cost-effective than conventional transformers. Autotransformers are used for voltage adjustments in electrical systems.
  • Three-phase transformers are designed explicitly for three-phase power systems. They have three primary windings and three secondary windings. These transformers are widely used in industrial applications and power transmission networks.
  • Shell-type transformers have a central magnetic core surrounded by primary and secondary windings. This configuration provides better magnetic coupling and improved efficiency.
  • Core-type transformers have a primary winding wound around the core, followed by the secondary winding. They are widely used in power transmission and distribution systems.

These transformer types and configurations operate on the same principle of electromagnetic induction but differ in design, construction, and specific applications.

To explore the working principles and in-depth analysis of different transformers based on diode placement and the nature of coils, including Step-up, Step-down, and Center-tapped transformers.

Transformer Equivalent Circuits

Transformer equivalent circuits represent the electrical behavior of transformers in a simplified form. The equivalent circuit models capture the relationship between the primary and secondary windings and the losses within the transformer.

Here is a typical representation of a transformer equivalent circuit:

ComponentSymbolDescription
Primary ImpedanceZpRepresents the total impedance of the primary winding, including both resistance and reactance.
Secondary ImpedanceZsRepresents the total impedance of the secondary winding, including resistance and reactance.
Magnetizing ReactanceXmRepresents the magnetizing reactance of the transformer, which is associated with the core and magnetic field. It accounts for the energy required to establish the magnetic flux in the core.
Core Loss ResistanceRcRepresents the transformer’s core loss resistance, including hysteresis and eddy current losses.
Winding ResistanceRp, RsRepresents the resistive components of the primary and secondary windings, respectively.

The equivalent circuit allows us to analyze and calculate various parameters such as voltage regulation, losses, and efficiency in a transformer.

Reactors in Power Systems

Reactors are electrical devices used in power systems for several purposes, including system protection, power factor correction, and harmonic filtering. While reactors and transformers may share similarities, they serve distinct purposes and have different operating principles.

The main differences between reactors and transformers include:

  • The Operating Principle – Reactors are primarily based on the principle of inductance, which restricts the current flow in the circuit. They are designed to provide a desired impedance level to the system, offering resistance to current flow. On the other hand, transformers are based on electromagnetic induction, enabling the efficient transfer of electrical energy between different voltage levels.
  • Voltage Conversion – Transformers facilitate voltage conversion, allowing the stepping up or stepping down of voltage levels. Reactors, however, do not provide voltage conversion. Their primary function is to limit or control the circuit’s current flow.
  • Core Design – Transformers have a magnetic core facilitating energy transfer and flux linkage between the primary and secondary windings. Reactors, in contrast, may or may not have a core, depending on their design and application. Reactors often use air cores or cores with low magnetic permeability to minimize energy transfer and maximize inductance.
  • Losses – Transformers are designed to minimize losses and maximize energy efficiency. They have low resistance in windings and employ core materials with low hysteresis and eddy current losses. Reactors, on the other hand, generally have higher resistances due to the desired impedance they provide. They may have losses associated with the resistive component of the reactor.

Simply, transformers are mainly used for voltage conversion and energy transfer. Whereas reactors are primarily used for controlling current flow, power factor correction, and harmonic mitigation.

Transformers rely on electromagnetic induction, while reactors operate based on inductance. Understanding these differences is crucial for selecting the appropriate device for specific applications in power systems.

Protection and Coordination

Protection and coordination are critical aspects of power systems that ensure electrical networks’ safe and reliable operation. Here are five technical aspects related to protection and coordination in power systems:

  • Protective Relaying – Use of relays to detect abnormal conditions and initiate actions for fault isolation in power systems.
  • Fault Detection and Coordination – Rapid identification and isolation of faults through techniques like current and voltage sensing, fault location algorithms, and coordinated operation of protective devices.
  • Protective Device Coordination Studies – Selective operation of protective devices to isolate faults while minimizing disruption to healthy sections of the power system.
  • Relay Settings and Coordination Studies – Determining optimal settings for relays considering fault currents, system impedance, and coordination requirements and conducting studies to ensure proper coordination.
  • Communication and Data Integration – Utilizing communication technologies for enhanced protection and coordination, enabling faster fault detection, improved coordination, and integration of advanced protection schemes.

Learn our detailed blog on Reliability in the PE Power exam for a detailed account of Protection and Safety in the Power systems.

Power Electronics and Converters

Power electronic devices are designed to handle and control large amounts of electrical power. They play a vital role in modern power systems, enabling efficient conversion, control, and regulation of electric power.

These devices are used in various applications such as motor drives, renewable energy systems, electric vehicles, industrial equipment, etc. Power electronic devices can convert electrical energy from one form to another, such as AC to DC, DC to AC, or change the voltage and frequency levels of the power.

Some commonly used power electronic devices in the circuit include rectifiers, inverters, transistors, and integrated circuits designed for power applications.

Rectifiers, for example, convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). They are widely used in power supplies and various electronic devices that require a steady DC power source.

Similarly, for students who want more profound insights into the properties of electrical materials, diodes, and semiconductors, we recommend referring to our detailed guide on the properties of electrical materials.

This guide will provide comprehensive information on the characteristics, behavior, and applications of diodes and semiconductors, including their properties, operation principles, and material considerations.

By exploring these resources, you can thoroughly understand power electronic devices, their functionalities, and the materials that enable their operation.  

Related Reading

Conclusion

Mastering the methods of understanding circuits in PE Power exam preparation is essential for academic success and is crucial in your career as a professional power engineer.

The knowledge you’ve gained here will be valuable in various engineering disciplines, including power systems, electrical design, and renewable energy. If you want to take your engineering career to the next level and prepare for the PE Power exam, check out Study for FE.

We offer specialized PE power exam preparation courses taught by PE-licensed professionals. Don’t miss this opportunity to boost your chances of success on the PE Power exam and take the next step towards becoming a licensed professional engineer.

Start your journey with Study for FE today and unlock a world of opportunities in power engineering!

wasim-smal

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.