It doesn’t take much to unleash an arc flash but the consequences can be devastating. A wrench slipping from a worker’s hand can produce a disastrous explosion that can maim or kill employees, destroy equipment, and disrupt a facility for weeks.
The main line of defense against arc flashes is to prevent them but when flashes do occur, most electrical systems are ill prepared to contain them. That’s because the traditional techniques used to handle flashes are rudimentary. Traditional arc-resistant switchgear is designed not to eliminate the flash, but to muffle it, exhausting its energy through a chimney or plenum. It provides no protection for equipment. Even worse, its effectiveness can be severely compromised if a cabinet door is open or a panel is off, as it is likely to be during routine maintenance.
GE’s innovative Arc Vault takes a different approach. It doesn’t exhaust the arc flash; it extinguishes it. Arc Vault can stop an arcing fault in less than eight milliseconds, a fraction of the time that traditional systems need to stop a flash.
Arc Vault sets the new standard for arc fault protection but that’s not the whole story. It also saves you money. By reducing downtime, decreasing switchgear damage, and by providing the ability to be added as a retrofit, it enables you to maximize the return on your existing equipment.
Arc Vault is another way GE uses technology to add value to your business.
Features and Benefits
Out of the box thinking
- The system consists of an activation switch, a protective trip unit and a containment dome, all working together to provide fast protection from arc flash hazards.
- The activation switch can be set as part of a maintenance procedure to enable the system.
- With the activation switch enabled, the trip unit will look for a current spike, then trigger the containment dome and call for the main breaker to trip.
- A secondary arc fault is created within the containment dome, which can extinguish the arc flash within 8ms of the initial event.
- The secondary arc flash continues, protected in the containment dome, until the main breaker clears and de-energizes the entire system.
Inside the box protection
- The GE Arc Vault protection system will contain an arc fault in less than 8ms, resulting in incident energy in accordance with IEEE 1584 at 18″ from the arc event of less than 1.2 cal/cm, with the circuit breaker compartment doors open in a 480V 65kAIC system.
- The system reduces building construction costs, when compared to traditional arc resistant switchgear, because it does not require exhaust chimneys or plenums to direct the arc flash energy outside of the building.
- If an arc flash incident occurs during maintenance, the low-voltage switchgear can be operational again within a working day, assuming appropriate replacement parts are available. This improves your overall system uptime when compared to traditional arc resistant switchgear.
- The system reduces the energy released by 63% or more, compared to a bolted fault that would occur with a crowbar system. The energy reduction will lower the stress on other system components − such as transformers, circuit breakers, and bus bar construction − and improve your overall system uptime when compared to traditional arc resistant switchgear.
- The system can be retrofit onto existing GE or other manufacturers’ low voltage equipment, including switchgear, switchboards and MCCs.
- The system will protect the transformer transition section and the low-voltage line-up in a system that contains an upstream controllable device. In a system where an upstream controllable device does not exist, the Arc Vault protection system will provide protection to the downstream low voltage equipment only.
- The GE Arc Vault protection system can be retrofit without having to replace the existing low voltage equipment line-up.