A key part of an automated feeder switching system is the automated switch. The term “automated” in this context means the switch is designed for use on an automated or SCADA system.

In order to be automated, existing switches may be retrofitted with motor operators, current and voltage sensors, RTUs and communication devices to allow the remote operation necessary to realize the benefits available with automated feeder switching systems.

However, switches designed for occasional, manual operation may not be entirely suitable for operation on an automated distribution circuit feeder. Manual switches are typically not designed to be operated the hundreds of times required by a fully automated system over the life of a typical switch.

Nor are they ordinarily designed for duty cycle fault-closing to allow the system operator to inadvertently close into a fault from the SCADA master station—and still leave the switch in an operable condition.

More recently, switches designed specifically for automation have appeared in the market like the one below.

Such switches incorporate design features that make them particularly applicable for use in an automated feeder switching system:

1. Duty-cycle fault-closing allows the switch to be closed into a typical fault several times before experiencing damage severe enough to render the switch inoperable.

2. Integrated voltage and current sensors provide the ability to monitor voltages, currents, and loads that are in turn used as inputs to algorithms to effect automated switching for fault isolation and restoration and for shifting loads for circuit optimization.

3. Integrated operating mechanisms enable the switches to be operated remotely via computer commands. Integration with the switch ensures optimum operation without the need for cumbersome ground-to-switch linkages.

4. Integrated load interrupters should be designed to allow operation under any weather conditions since it will not be possible to visibly inspect the switch for ice or other problems prior to operation.

5. Integrated control power sources eliminate the need to rely on locally available control power sources—or to install such power sources.

6. Integrated visible air-gap isolation provides the visible air gap when needed for certain types of line work.

In addition, an associated control package should include switch-operating controls, a local/remote switch, backup power for dead-line SCADA operation, a remote-terminal unit, and data communication devices. The entire package should be assembled and tested for proper operation by a single supplier to eliminate the need for the utility to perform the integration.

The control box should be separately located from the switch to allow access by technicians who are not qualified in high-voltage operations. In underground switchgear applications, the control should be isolated from the high-voltage compartments of the switchgear.

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