The patent's inventors are Gass, Randall J. (
This patent was filed on
From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "A typical two-pole circuit breaker (for example, a residential two-pole circuit breaker) receives as inputs two line voltages and a neutral voltage. The two line voltages (line-to-neutral voltages) typically are 120V alternating current ('AC') signals, 180 degrees out of phase from one another. Each line voltage alternates in polarity with respect to the neutral voltage, which is determined from the two line voltages in a conventional manner. The sum of the two line voltages (the line-to-line voltage) is a 240V AC voltage.
"A microprocessor or controller in the circuit breaker can be used to measure line voltages. For example, circuits can be used to divide a line voltage and output the divided signal to the microprocessor. The microprocessor includes an analog to digital (A/D) converter to receive the analog voltage and convert it to a digital voltage for measurement by the microprocessor.
"Basic AC voltage power quality is expected throughout a system employing a circuit breaker. Due to variations in the distribution network upstream from the circuit breaker, the AC voltage is expected to vary within a certain range. Variations in the AC voltage outside of this range could damage the circuit breaker or components (such as appliances) downstream from the circuit breaker. For example, metal oxide varistors (MOVs) in many components will heat up when subjected to a prolonged overvoltage and eventually fail. Other downstream components can similarly fail if subjected to prolonged overvoltage conditions. Likewise, circuit breakers often include MOVs or other components that can fail if subjected to a prolonged overvoltage condition.
"Currently, circuit breakers are tripped based on measurements of current rather than voltage. A gradual increase in voltage will not cause these circuit breakers to trip. What is needed is a way to detect such improper voltage conditions by monitoring a line-to-neutral voltage and/or a line-to-line voltage and take appropriate action to limit the effect of improper voltages on the circuit breaker and downstream components."
Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "According to an aspect of the present disclosure, a method of tripping a circuit breaker includes sampling an AC line voltage at regular intervals during a first time period to generate a plurality of AC line voltage samples. Each sample of the set of AC line voltage samples is summed to generate a voltage area value. A controller determines whether the voltage area value exceeds a threshold. In response to the voltage area value exceeding the threshold, an amount determined as a function of the voltage area value is added to a count value. The circuit breaker is caused to trip in response to the count value equaling or exceeding a maximum count value.
"According to another aspect of the present disclosure, a circuit breaker includes a first circuit configured to receive an alternating current (AC) line voltage and generate a signal indicative of the AC line voltage. The circuit breaker also includes a controller coupled to the first circuit configured to sample the AC line voltage at regular intervals during a first time period to generate a plurality of AC line voltage samples and sum each sample of the set of AC line voltage samples to generate a voltage area value. The controller is configured to determine whether the voltage area value exceeds a threshold. In response to the voltage area value exceeding the threshold, the controller is configured to add to a count value an amount determined as a function of the voltage area value, and cause a circuit breaker to trip in response to the count value equaling or exceeding a maximum count value.
"According to another aspect of the present disclosure, in a circuit breaker, a method includes summing a plurality of samples of an alternating current (AC) voltage to generate a voltage area value. If the voltage area value indicates that the AC voltage is an anomalous voltage, a circuit breaker is caused to trip.
"Advantageously, components downstream from a circuit breaker, as well as the circuit breaker itself, can be protected from prolonged exposure to improper voltages, which can lead to component failure. For example, by detecting an overvoltage condition and tripping the circuit breaker upon detection of the overvoltage condition, the circuit breaker and downstream components can be protected from overheating due to the overvoltage condition.
"The foregoing and additional aspects and embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments and/or aspects, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided next."
For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Gass, Randall J.; Drame, Issa;
Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Microprocessors, Schneider Electric
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