The Construction Of Laboratory Equipment For The Determination / Investigation Of Electrical Insulator Breakdown

Project and Seminar Material For Electrical Electronics Engineering EEE

Project and Seminar Material For Electrical Electronics Engineering EEE


Insulation deterioration occurs on power system when insulators are subjected to abnormal stresses. Since insulators cannot resist indefinite amount of energy, with enough voltage applied, any insulating material will eventually succumb to the electrical pressure and electron flow will occur and once current is forced through an insulating material, breakdown of that material’s molecular structure has occurred. After breakdown, the material may or may not behave as insulator any more.

This project presents the construction of effective and efficient laboratory equipment designed to detect the breakdown of insulators when subjected to excess voltage and also to calculate the dielectric strength of insulators.
The equipment constructed incorporates a high frequency transformer to supply the different test voltages, a voltmeter to measure the applied voltage to the electrodes as well as the flashover voltage, a transistor to switch ON the high frequency transformer, a feedback circuit to maintain a stable voltage supply and an LED to indicate when a breakdown of insulators has occurred.

Also, the position of the electrodes that is the distance between the two electrodes/conductors was also considered because it helps in the determination of the dielectric strength of the insulator.

This work is split into five chapters thus: Chapter 1 deals with the general introduction of the work; Chapter 2 presents the review of the literature based on the previous information by other researchers and scholars. Chapter 3 deals with the function of the individual components of the equipment, the working principle as well as the circuit diagram. Chapter 4 deals with the main project design, testing, results and the observations while Chapter 5 presents the conclusion and the recommendations.

Table Of Contents

  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgment
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract

Chapter One

  • Introduction

Chapter Two

  • Literature review

Chapter Three

  • 3.0 – Equipment Design Diagram
  • 3.1 – Function of Individual components
  • 3.2 – Principles of Operation
  • 3.3 – How to operate the entire equipment

Chapter Four

  • 4.0 – Construction of the Equipment
  • 4.1 – Equipment Testing
  • 4.2 – Results
  • 4.3 – Observations
  • 4.4 – Bill of Engineering Measurements and evaluations

Chapter Five

  • 5.0 – Conclusions
  • 5.1 – Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One


Insulation is the isolation between conductors of electrical power system. It may be solid, liquid, gas or vacuum. The insulation deterioration and its effects are two phenomena that must be familiar with by any electrical or maintenance engineer if adequate safety of equipment and personnel and continous service to consumers are to be maintained.

Since the introduction of electricity in the 19th century, there has been a growing demand for electrical energy. Higher voltages led the researchers to develop new types of insulators. Many natural insulators, which were widely used at the beginning of this century, have been replaced by ceramic or porcelain materials. Many of these suffer from low impact strength, inflexibility, cracking during the manufacturing process, etc. A great variety of organic insulating materials are being used as electrical insulation in cables, machines, switch boards, outgoing lines and since these devices are being used under severe ambient conditions, breakdown of the insulating material has become a serious problem and it has a strong influence on safety and reliability of the insulators.

Deterioration of insulators occurs as a result of ageing and stresses imposed on them during their normal working life. The end result of the occurrence is the damaging or shortening of the life span of electrical equipment being protected by these insulators. Occasionally, personnel and environment in which such system is being operated are negatively affected. Also, the cost of replacement of the equipment is another effect that must not be over-looked.
This project deals with the determination of dielectric strength of insulators by investigating / determining the voltage that can breakdown a particular insulator. The result of this preliminary study on solid insulator show that every insulator has a particular voltage that it can withstand without breaking down that insulator’s molecular structure.

Generally, a survey of previous equipment used by the various researchers was found to be very complicated and expensive and such equipment cannot be afforded by local Nigerian researchers due to cost. It was this that necessitated us to come up with a locally made equipment to detect the breakdown of insulators due to excess voltage in practical system. The construction is simple, cheap and reliable.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

Insulators suffer from the phenomena of electrical breakdown. When any voltage applied across a length of an insulating substance exceeds the dielectric strength of that substance, the insulator suddenly breaks down.
It should be noted that any wire which presents a voltage higher than 60V can cause human shock and electrocution hazards and such wires must be insulated. Electrical wires may be insulated with Polyethylene, Cross-Linked Polyethylene, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Rubber-Like Polymers, Oil Impregnated Paper, Teflon, Silicon or modified Ethylene Tetraflouroethylene (ETFE). Flexible insulating materials like PVC are used to insulate any circuit and prevent human contact with a “live wire” (that is one having a voltage of 600Volts or less).

In conclusion, the locally made equipment for detecting / investigating breakdown of electrical insulators due to excessive voltage is cheaper and easier to afford than those constructed and used by the earlier researchers on the same subject matter.

5.2 Recommendations

Since insulators are meant to protect and safeguard electrical equipment and personnel, and that its failure will lead to hazards like fire outbreak, damage to equipment and properties, personal injury, loss of life, unplanned expenses due to replacement etc, it is recommended that:

  1. Engineers should know the dielectric strength of the insulators they intend to use.
  2. They should compare the insulator’s dielectric strength with the available voltage to ensure that the insulator can withstand them.
  3. Due to cost, the local engineers cannot afford the previous equipment used by the earlier researchers, so they should adapt to the locally made equipment like the one used in this work because it compares favorably with those used previously used by earlier researchers.

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