Hipot Testing Helps Spot Insulation Problems in Distribution Cables
One of the reasons that causes distribution cables to fail is rain. Rainwater can seep into the insulation and cause problems. Rainwater sometimes has dissolved contaminants that can add to the damage. Most cables fail due to water treeing where electricity conducts in a tree branch like pattern and degrades the insulation.
Damaged cables can cause inefficient delivery of power and lead to power losses or electrical hazards. Cable problems can be difficult to spot because the damage usually happens internally. You need to have a set of tools to completely diagnose cable problems. Most engineers use an AC hipot to test the insulation if it can handle currents within its normal and slightly above its limits. A bad insulation that has a conductive insulator breaks down and is discarded after. Only AC high potential testing is used on distribution cables that have been in operation for a while. This is because a DC hipot can destroy a cable even it is still in a good condition because of the very high voltage used.
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