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Characteristics of 400 V dc plug and socket-outlet for DC distribution systems

Tomonori Iino, Keiichi Hirose, Masatoshi Noritake


Research & Development Headquarters NTT FACILITIES, INC. 2-13-1, Kitaotsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0004 Japan E-mail: hirose36@ntt-f.co.jp FUJITSU COMPONENT LIMITED Suzaka, Oaza, Suzaka-shi, Nagano, 382-0076 Japan SHIZUOKA University 3-5-1 Johoku, Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka, 432-8561 Japan

Akio Nakamura, Koichi Kiryu, Junya Sekikawa

AbstractThis paper reports test results and reviews for the developed plug and socket-outlet applied to the 400 V dc power systems expected to improve energy efciency in communication sites, data centers, commercial buildings, and smart energy systems. However, there are some safety issues to use 400 V dc power. The plug and socket-outlet has a unique mechanism based on combination of a permanent magnet and mechanical contacts in the limited small space. The mechanism should solve the problems such as both arc extinguishing and protection against electric shock known as critical DC power issue for a long time. The results of an investigation of inrush current also are reported, including current size, effects and testing methods, as one problem in the construction and operation of 400 V dc power distribution circuit. Index TermsDirect current, plug and socket, arc extinguishing, safety, inrush current, international standardization.

become loose with use, leading to heat degradation, and the tracking phenomenon is also more likely to occur than in other parts of the circuit. As a result, re breaks out in the socket and plug more often than in other parts of the wiring. Therefore, long-term reliability at the connection point between power supply and the load equipment is also important from the viewpoint of re prevention. In this paper, we mainly report the basic characteristics of a 400 V dc class plug and socket outlet (10 A rating) that conforms to international standards and was developed on the basis of previous studies. Moreover, the IEC has begun discussions on the effects of inrush current on direct current circuit as a problem to be solved in addition to the other items. II. C AUTIONS C ONCERNING D IRECT C URRENT D ISTRIBUTION S YSTEMS A. Overvoltage at time of open circuit A direct current circuit that comprises a direct current power supply (E0 ), bulk capacitor (C0 ) for voltage stabilization, wiring (resistance component R and inductance component L), plug and socket-outlet, and load RL is shown in Fig. 1. When the switch is opened the circuit while current is owing, it is necessary to interrupt the current (extinguish the arc) rapidly to prevent re or damage to the equipment or facilities. However, induced voltage E1 is generated at the primary side terminal of the plug and socket as shown by Eq. (1), and a harmful abnormal overvoltage may be impressed on the equipment and facilities when the circuit open time, dt, is short. Conversely, when dt is longer, the direct current arc continues and re or equipment damage may result, so a suitable interruption characteristic is needed. The circuit inductance L is determined by the material, shape and length x (m) of the conductor from the power supply to the load. For parallel two-way wiring (conductor radius, r and distance between conductor centers, D, where 2r D), the inductance per meter L0 (mH/m) of a straight section of one-way conductor is expressed by Eq. (2). When copper is used as the conductor, the two-wire inductance L can be computed with Eq. (3) by taking the relative permeability, s , to be 1.00 and doubling the value of Eq. (2).

I. I NTRODUCTION The energy consumption has been increasing along with economic progress and greater convenience in social life. However, if we take note of the trend in power consumption in recent years, we see that ICT power use has been increasing with advances in the communication network social infrastructure and the widespread use of digital load equipment and terminals [1]. Energy conservation has come to be recognized as an urgent problem, particularly for data centers, which accommodate and operate a large amount of ICT equipment and consume a large amount of power [2]. Direct current power distribution is one of the solutions of energy saving in data centers, and studies on practical implementation are in progress in various countries around the world [3]. Two choices can be considered for the voltage to be used for direct current distribution. One is the 48 V dc that has conventionally been used for powering communication equipment and the other is 400 V dc, which can be applied for load equipment that has a greater energy consumption and has a higher power supply efciency as well [4]. The 400 V dc exceeds the 60 V dc of safe extra low voltage (SELV) system and the 120 V dc of extra low voltage (ELV) systems, safety requires special consideration in a 400 V dc class data center. According to a report of electrical safety [5], sockets and plugs are essential for supplying power to electric equipment as well as for preventing electrical shock, so sockets and plugs are in wide use. Nevertheless, these connectors can easily

di E0 = Ri + L , dt L0 = 0.05s + 0.4605 log L = 2L0 . D , r

(1) (2) (3)

Data centers use cables that vary in cross-sectional area from 14 to 325 mm2 according to the allowable current and permissible voltage drop. The cable lengths vary with the layout of the data center building and the conguration and capacity of the power supply, but International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards [6], which set specications for building electrical facilities, recommend that cables not exceed 500 m. Accordingly, the calculated value of L for 500 m of cable that has a cross-sectional area of from 14 to 325 mm2 is from 340 to 280 mH. Considering that the circuit includes connection points and the internal wiring of equipment, a value of 0.5 mH can be assumed. The value of the overvoltage induced when the circuit is opened, V , should be kept within the rated voltage for the ordinary input voltage range of the load equipment +10%. Therefore, we assume that current i at the time the load current is interrupted is ramped down from the rated current of 10 to 0 A, and from V = Li/t, we conclude that a t of a few milliseconds is the target interruption time. B. Inrush current at time of close circuit In recent years, switching power supplies have been used for ICT load equipment. For conformance to Voluntary Control Council for Interference by Information Technology Equipment (VCCI) and other Electro-Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) standards, and for suppression of noise and prevention of miss-operation due to the effects of noise from inside and outside the equipment itself, EMI lters are placed at the input to the power supply circuit. A capacitor of several F is connected to the EMI lter in parallel with the power supply circuit. An inrush current for charging, Iinrush , ows in that capacitor just after the plug has been inserted into the socket, unrelated to the on and off operations of the switching power supply. If there is insufcient tolerance to Iinrush , the contact points will weld shortly after current ows and damage by the arc may decrease the safety and reliability of the distribution system.

It is therefore necessary to evaluate the ability to withstand Iinrush that is equivalent to the surge current. The peak value and waveform of Iinrush varies with the voltage of the direct current power supply E0 , the wiring root, and the capacitance and type of the lter capacitor Cx . 1) Circuit conguration of 400 V dc: An example of the conguration from the power supply facilities to the load equipment for a data center is shown in Fig. 2. After conversion of the input alternating current to direct current by a rectier, the primary distribution wiring carries the power to the power distribution unit (PDU). From there, the secondary distribution wiring carries the power to the racks, which are the units of load. Within a rack, multiple sockets in a strap conguration supply power to individual units of ICT equipment via plug connectors. The congurations of the primary and secondary distribution wiring vary with facility capacity and building layout, but from experience with similar facilities, we assumed a wiring length range of from 3 to 200 m for the primary distribution and from 3 to 30 m for the secondary distribution in our investigation. 2) Load equipment and the size of Cx : We assumed that the special EMI lter for the direct current input equipment used in data centers and other such facilities has the same function and capacity as existing EMI lters for alternating current, and investigated its effects on the direct current power distribution circuit. The relation of the rated capacity of ICT equipment that is currently on the market and the capacitance Cx of the EMI lter (composite value) is shown in Fig 3. There is no correlation between the load capacitance and Cx , but the value of 2 F is frequent and we can see that the maximum is 7 F. Assuming increasing capacitance and diversication of load equipment, we investigated values of Cx up to 10 F. III. S IMULATION AND E XPERIMENTAL R ESULTS OF I NRUSH C URRENT A. Experimental method The circuit for the inrush current experiment is shown in Fig. 4. For the 400 V dc power supply system, we used a Takasago model HX0600-25. From the voltage uctuation rate of the power supply system, we set the internal resistance of the power supply at 50 m. To stabilize the direct current

Fig. 1.

DC R-L circuit for on/off test of the switch.

Fig. 2.

Power distribution system in the data center.

voltage, a bulk capacitor, C0 , that has a capacitance (4,700 F) that is sufciently higher than Cx connected in parallel to the part that corresponds to the PDU. The resistance component for the plug and socket connection between the direct current circuit and the load equipment is set to 80 m, the measured value for a test device made for 400 V dc. To match the constraints on the facilities in the experiments, we used a 14 mm2 3 m conductor unit that is equivalent to the primary distribution wiring and a 14 mm2 3 m unit that is equivalent to the secondary distribution wiring, both made with the same parallel conductor cable. The mm2 power cord component that is connected to the 400 V dc plug and socket is set to 1.5 m. The value of Cx was set to ve levels: 1.0, 2.2, 3.3, 4.7, and 9.4 F. Although a lm capacitor is generally used for Cx , we also tested with an electrolytic capacitor for comparison. Although there is an equivalent series resistance (ESR), the simulation was run according to the capacitor manufacturers catalog values of from 0.1 to 0.5 for the lm capacitor and from 0.75 to 4.5 for the electrolytic capacitor. In measuring the inrush current, the current was obtained with a non-contact probe (AM503B Tektronix) at the moment the plug was connected to the socket with the initial charge of Cx at 0 and the waveform was acquired with a DL1740 digital oscilloscope (YOKOGAWA). B. Experimental results As example results, the inrush current waveforms for the two cases of using the electrolytic capacitor and using the lm capacitor for Cx are presented in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6. The electrolytic capacitor has a larger ESR than the lm capacitor, and the total resistance of the direct current circuit, R, is (R = 2L)2 (1 = LC ), so no damping of the current oscillation is seen. However, the R value that includes the ESR of the lm capacitor, for which Cx has diverse values, satises the condition (R = 2L)2 < (1/LC ) and the current waveform is damped. It is necessary to evaluate the tolerance to the inrush current

(Iinrush ), which is equivalent to the surge current that arises just after the plug is inserted into the socket and power is supplied to the circuit. If tolerance to the inrush current is insufcient, contact points can fuse and damage or discharge wear might affect the safety and reliability of the power supply. The peak value and waveform of Iinrush vary with the direct current power supply voltage E0 , the wiring path, and the capacitance and type of the lter capacitor Cx , etc. The conditions under which Iinrush is large are a short wiring path, a large capacitance of an electrolytic capacitor, and a small ESR. Because it is difcult to lay wire to the actual wiring length in the test environment, we checked to see if the experiments and simulations produce the same tendencies under the condition of shortest wiring length and the simulations conrmed the effect for long cable lengths (200 m, maximum for secondary distribution). The Cx used for the ICT equipment lter is a lm capacitor of several F, but we obtained the peak of Iinrush for the 10 F or so value that is set as the upper limit for this investigation. The results of the experiments and simulations are presented in Fig. 7. For the shortest-path wiring condition, Iinrush increases with the capacitance of the capacitor, and for Cx = 9.6 F, Iinrush is about 500 A. With the primary wiring from the power supply to the PDU set at 200 m, assuming an ordinary data center, Iinrush is 200 A or less. When the relation of wiring inductance L and resistance R is (R = 2L)2 < (1 = LCx ), the current is observed to have a damped waveform. When Cx is about 10 F or less and the wiring is shortest-path, the current has an oscillation period of somewhat less than 20 s and the Iinrush value that is equivalent to the rst half wave continues for just a few microseconds. This result conrms that the prototype plug and socket outlet can sufciently withstand an Iinrush value of about 500 A. C. Discussion of the inrush current The tendencies of the peak inrush current values for when an EMI lter is connected to a direct current circuit were obtained by experiment and simulation. When the total impedance for a closed circuit is small (the cabling is short), the capacitance of Cx is large, and the ESR is small, the peak inrush current

Fig. 3.

Relation between ICT power supply capacity and Cx value.

Fig. 4.

Inrush current test circuit.

is maximum at about 500 A peak. Considering current data center wiring conditions, the current waveform is damped oscillation with a period of 10 s or less. The effect of the contact at the plug and socket outlet is an oscillating waveform for which the second and subsequent waves are in the state of power supplied with full contact, so measures for withstanding only the rst half-wave that occurs under partial discharge are sufcient. The Cx values of current EMI lters are about 2 F or less, so the present experimental objective is to withstand the peak value of 300 A peak. Although the prototype device of was subjected to 1000 cycles of 300 A peak inrush current (wave-front duration of 8 s and tail-wave duration of 20 s), there was no surface degradation or damage to either plug or socket, conrming that the device is not affected. IV. R EQUIREMENTS FOR 400 V DC P LUG & S OCKT- OUTLET A. Prevention of electrical shock and malfunction, and secure connection of the ground line Points A to D in Fig. 2 indicate the connection points of the equipment and facilities. Work performed at points A to C is done when the facility is constructed or expanded. It is generally conducted by specialists such as data center facility managers or building contractors that have electrical expertise. At point D, on the other hand, work is performed frequently for the installation or replace of ICT equipment and involves plug and socket connections. This work is mostly performed by ICT or software engineers whose electrical expertise is inadequate compared to that of personnel who work on the other points. Accordingly, safe use of the plug and socket connectors requires use conditions that prevent electrical shock, prevent wrong operation of connection, and ensure a secure grounding connection, etc. on the same safety level as ordinary industrial electrical equipment or home electrical appliances. To reduce the risk of electrical shock, it is important that the voltage relative to ground not be large, as is also proposed in [7]. Even though the voltage between wires is 400 V dc, it is possible to control the voltage relative to ground to 200 V dc, the electrical middle point. Thus, a secure connection between load equipment and the ground line is an important requirement for the safety of plug and socket outlet, as well.

B. Current increase during an incoming voltage drop for a constant power load (temperature rise) In the case that the power supply and load in the direct current distribution system shown in Fig. 1 are connected by a cable of wiring length x (m) and the load has a constant power P , if there is a drop in the power supply voltage E0 due to storage battery discharge for example, then as indicated by Eq. (4), the current Idc increases in inverse proportion to load input voltage E1 . In that case, the current tolerance and temperature rise specications must be satised at connection points such as plug and socket outlets. Idc = P/E1 . (4)

When the pins of the plug and the terminals of the socket engage, a contact resistance is generated and a Joule loss occurs when current ows. That causes the temperature to rise at the points of engagement. If there is not good engagement at the contact surfaces, the looseness increases the contact resistance and the temperature rise may exceed the specied value. In the worst case, it may lead to a re. The IEC standards for alternating current plug and socket outlets specify a temperature rise of 45 K or less for a one-hour current ow at 16 A, or 160% of the current value for a 10 A rating [8]. The plug and socket outlet that we developed is rated at 400 V dc and 10 A, but the constant power characteristic of the load must be taken into consideration. For example, when a 4-kW constant power load that operates at 400 V dc and 10 A is operating at 260 V dc due to battery discharge or other such reason, the current is increased by a factor of 1.54 to 15.4 A. This state is an example of when the storage battery discharge continues for the prescribed time and the voltage approaches the nal discharge voltage, so it is not likely to continue for a long period of time. C. Extinguishing the arc discharge by permanent magnet Because the target rating for the plug and socket outlet is 400 V dc and 10 A, we tested for arc discharge when the circuit is opened with the rated load connected. The waveforms for the current and the voltage between the contact points are compared for the cases with and without the permanent magnet (Fig. 8). When the permanent magnet was placed near the

Fig. 5.

Inrush current for electrolytic capacitor (3.3 F).

Fig. 6.

Inrush current for lm capacitor (3.3 F).

contact points, the arc duration was 3 ms or less; without the permanent magnet, the duration was 284 ms. This conrms the effectiveness of the permanent magnet in extinguishing the arc in a remarkably shorter time. V. C HARACTERISTICS OF D IRECT C URRENT P LUG AND S OCKET- OUTLET In addition to comply with the conditions, the safety measures listed below were targeted in our prototype plug and socket outlet [9]. As a shock-prevention function, no voltage is impressed on the positive and negative terminals inside the socket when the socket is not in use. The socket and plug are constructed to prevent polarity mismatch when the plug is inserted and to prevent unintentional removal after the plug has been inserted. To avoid burdening workers, the mechanism activates the arc extinguishing function and the electrical shock prevention function simultaneously by the ordinary operation of plug insertion. To reduce power consumption and improve reliability in the socket, complex control circuitry and semiconductor devices are not used. A. Shape To achieve the development target rating, we test-fabricated a direct current plug and socket outlet that has mechanical contact points and a permanent magnet set inside the socket. The appearance of the prototype is shown in Fig. 9. A multisocket unit for use in a data center with a plug inserted is shown in Fig. 10. The plug and socket shape, pin layout, and dimensions shown in Fig. 9 are compatible with the 400 V dc, 5 A proposal that was drafted by IEC and is being studied by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). The specications of the prototype 400 V dc, 10 A direct current plug and socket were submitted as a proposal to IEC by the Japan Committee in October 2010. B. Safety mechanisms The developed plug and socket structure is illustrated in Fig. 11. The switch shown in that gure operates internal

mechanical contact points. If the plug is not inserted into the socket, the switch cannot slide. Until the switch is moved to completely to the ON side, the mechanical contact points remain separated and the two terminals inside the socket are not charged. This mechanism implements a safety measure to prevent electrical shock by ensuring that an unused socket never carries a voltage. After a plug has been inserted into the socket, the switch can be moved to the ON position so that the contact points make contact and at the same time the socket locking pin is activated to hold the plug in place so that it cannot be unintentionally removed while the switch is on. In this way, the mechanism functions to both prevent removal of the plug and prevent looseness in the plug engagement with the socket from increasing the contact resistance and controlling the temperature rise as a safety measure against re. The ground pin on the plug side is longer than the positive and negative pins so that it is inserted into the socket before the other two pins. The electrical midpoint of the 400 V dc power supply is connected to the load equipment as the ground line, so even if a ground leakage or ground fault occurs, the voltage relative to ground is controlled, thus contributing to safety. To test the withdrawal force of the locking mechanism for preventing unintentional removal of an inserted plug, we conducted pull-out tests. The results for application of a vertical withdrawal force on the plug in the state shown in Fig. 9 (b) satised the strength specied by IEC 60884-2-6 (120 N) [10], conrming that the engagement holding strength is sufcient. C. Circuit opening and closing characteristics To evaluate the circuit opening and closing characteristics of the prototype plug and socket, the direct current test circuit shown in Fig. 1 is used. The direct current power supply, E0 , is xed at 400 V dc, but a 4,700 F electrolytic capacitor, C0 , is connected in parallel for safe operation during transients. The load resistance, RL , was set to 40 for a rated current of 10 A. The voltage and current waveforms for the test circuit of with L = 0.5 mH (error rate of 3%) and the plug and socket

Fig. 7.

Experiment and simulation results for peak inrush current.

Fig. 8.

Effect of permanent magnet for arc discharging.

Fig. 9.

Developed plug & socket-outlet.

Fig. 11.

Conguration of plug & socket-outlet.

Fig. 10.

Multiple socket-outlets and inserted plug into a socket-outlet.

switch in the on and off positions are tested. Although the delay until the rated voltage is applied at the load terminals after the switch is moved to the on position, on , varies with the inductance L, that delay causes no problem in operation. The arc interruption time after the switch is turned off, o , is 2 ms or less regardless of the value of L. The voltage rise observed on the primary side of the switch at that time, o , is proportional to the value of L. Nevertheless, for L = 0.5 mH, it is 40 V or less for a time of 0.1 ms or less. The voltage uctuation range for continuous use of the load equipment is generally the nominal voltage 10%. Therefore, the overvoltage of 40 V conrmed by these tests results should not affect the power supply system, other facilities, or the load equipment when the switch is put in the off position. D. Testing temperature rise in the contact area Constant current was drawn from the current source in the state with the plug and socket engaged to conduct the tests. A thermocouple (Type-K) was attached to the engagement area of the plug and socket outlet and the temperature rise were recorded up to the point of temperature saturation for current ows, I0 , of 5, 10, and 15 A. The result of temperature rise in the engagement area is 45 K is about 17 A, which satises the conditions assumed for the IEC standard. VI. C ONCLUSION The testing of the plug and socket-outlet showed that all of the seven requirements listed below were satised, and conrmed that safe use in actual 400 V dc operation is possible.

1) Implementation of a safety mechanism for preventing miss-operation or looseness 2) Protection against electrical shock by covering up and separating live wires 3) Complete connection of the ground line 4) Interruption of continuous current (arc current) at the time of circuit opening 5) Control of overvoltage due to induced power at the time of circuit opening 6) Tolerance to inrush current at the time of circuit closing 7) Current increase (temperature rise) during constant power load voltage drops R EFERENCES
[1] METI, Green IT Initiative, (2007-12). (in Japanese) [2] K. Hirose, The Current of Global Data Center Industry and Its Trend in Japan, The journal of IEIEJ, 29(12), pp. 973-976, December 2009. (in Japanese) [3] My Ton, Brian Fortenbery, W. Tschudi, DC Power for improved data center efciency, LNBL report, January 2007. [4] K. Hirose, M. Yamasaki, and T. Matsumura A study on Direct Current Distribution Voltage for Information and Communications System, Technical report of IEICE. Energy Engineering in electronics and communications, vol. 108, no. 402, pp. 7-12, January 2009. (in Japanese) [5] K. Kinoshita, Tracking Phenomenon and Fire of Organic Insulating Materials, National Research Institute of Police Science, vol. 46, no. 12, pp. 123-129, December 2009. (in Japanese) [6] IEC 60364-1, Low-voltage electrical installations Part I: Fundamental principles, assessment of general characteristics, denitions, 2005. [7] M. Noritake, T. Iino, A.Fukui, K. Hirose, M. Yamasaki, A study of the safety of the dc 400V distribution system, Proc. of Intl Conf. on IEEE INTELEC 2009, Incheon, Korea, Oct. 2009. (CD-ROM) [8] IEC 60884-1, Plugs and socket-outlets for household and similar purpose, Part I: General requirements, 2006. [9] K. Hirose, et. al, Development of 400 VDC plug and socketoutlet for DC distribution system, The journal of IEIEJ, vol. 31, no. 11, pp. 889-896, 2011-11. (in Japanese) [10] IEC 60884-2-6, Plugs and socket-outlets for household and similar purposes, Part 2-6: Particular requirements for switched socket-outlets with interlock for xed electrical installations.