Power Systems: Arc Flash Hazard Analysis, Short Circuit Study, and Breaker Coordination for Data Centers, Computer Rooms, & Mission Critical Technical Spaces

Arc Flash Hazard Analysis

An arc flash is an undesired electrical discharge that travels through the air from one conductor to another or from a conductor to a ground. Often there is sufficient electricity to cause substantial damage to equipment, fires, serious injury, and even death. The temperature may exceed 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, rendering it capable of vaporizing metal and sending a molten metal blast in all directions with extreme force, causing tremendous damage in its wake. Generally, the higher the voltage is, the higher the risk.

PTS’ Arc Flash Hazard Analysis Objectives:

  • Arc Flash WarningDetermine short circuit calculations and the clearing times of the phase overcurrent devices
  • Calculate flash protection boundaries and incident energy at all locations where work could be performed
  • Assess personal protective equipment PPE requirements for specific activities and locations
  • Adherence to IEEE flash standards to minimize risk in the first place
  • Evaluate equipment for arc flash and shock protection

The Need for Breaker Coordination

Electrical distribution systems often protect equipment (conductors, transformers, motors, etc) with fuses and/or circuit breakers. When an overcurrent situation exists, it causes the protective device to trip. Ideally, this protective action would only impact the part of the system where the failure occurred.

In a properly coordinated system, the protective devices are selected and adjusted to minimize the impact of equipment failures within a system. A coordination study analyzes the characteristic curves of the fuses and breakers and compares them against one another.

Breaker Coordination
In a coordinated electrical system the overcurrent device immediately ahead of the fault will de-energize the circuit. In uncoordinated systems a feeder breaker or even the service breaker could trip on a branch circuit fault.

Objective of a Breaker Coordination/Short Circuit Study

The goal of a PTS Protective Device Coordination Study is to achieve an optimum balance between
equipment protection and selective isolation that is consistent with the operating requirements of the overall power system.

The short-circuit study checks the interrupting ratings of all protective equipment, conductors, and switches for adequacy. Inadequate equipment ratings can result in extensive damage to the
equipment during faults and system operation, and may introduce safety hazards to operating personnel, resulting in costly remedial measures.

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Facility Electrical Testing is part of the PTS project process in the Operations and Maintenance phase:

Data Center Project Process Data Center Consulting Data Center Design and Engineering Data Center Products Data Center Construction Data Center Commissioning Data Center Implementation Data Center Monitoring and Control Data Center Operations and Maintenance

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Learn more about the PTS Data Center Maintenance Management (DCMM) Service, a complete & integrated managed solution for the operational maintenance of data center sites, from stand-alone data center facilities to tenant-space computer rooms, and their related support infrastructure.