(19)
(11)EP 3 502 715 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 18212609.4

(22)Date of filing:  14.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G01R 19/25(2006.01)
G01R 29/18(2006.01)
G01R 21/133(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 14.12.2017 US 201762598814 P

(71)Applicant: Veris Industries, LLC
Tualatin, OR 97062 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Cook, Martin
    Tigard, OR 97223 (US)

(74)Representative: CBDL Patentanwälte 
Königstraße 57
47051 Duisburg
47051 Duisburg (DE)

  


(54)BRANCH CURRENT MONITOR AND METHOD FOR MONITORING CURRENT


(57) A branch current monitor (20) comprises a board (24) that includes a first connector (52), a first support including a plurality of current sensors (54A, 54B, 54C, 54D) interconnected to said first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load, a first cable electrically interconnecting said first connector (52) and said plurality of current sensors (54A, 54B, 54C, 54D), said first connector (52) suitable for receiving sensor data from said first cable representative of current levels of said respective conductors of said plurality of current sensors (54A, 54B, 54C, 54D), a processor (30) interconnected with said first connector (52) associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, said processor (30) interconnected with said first connector (52) associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, said processor (30) interconnected with said first connector (53) associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to a branch current monitor, in particular for metering power consumption of a building such as a data center. The invention also relates to a method for monitoring current.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] The total power consumption of a building or other facility is monitored by the electric utility with a power meter located between the utility's distribution transformer and the facility's power distribution panel. However, in many instances it is desirable to sub-meter or attribute the facility's power usage and cost to different occupancies, buildings, departments, or cost centers within the facility or to monitor the power consumption of individual loads or groups of loads, such as motors, lighting, heating units, cooling units, machinery, etc. These single phase or multi-phase electrical loads are typically connected to one or more of the branch circuits that extend from the facility's power distribution panel. While a power meter may be installed at any location between a load and the distribution panel, it is often advantageous to install a power meter capable of monitoring a plurality of circuits proximate the power distribution panel to provide centralized monitoring of the various loads powered from the panel.

[0003] Digital branch current monitors may incorporate data processing systems that can monitor a plurality of circuits and determine a number of parameters related to power consumption by the individual branch circuits or groups of circuits. A branch current monitor for measuring electricity consumption by respective branch circuits comprises a plurality of voltage and current transducers that are periodically read by the monitor's data processing unit which, in a typical branch current monitor, comprises one or more microprocessors or digital signal processors (DSP). For example, a branch current monitor from Veris Industries, Inc. enables up to ninety circuits to be monitored with a single meter and utilizes the MODBUS® RTU network communication interface to enable remote monitoring as part of a building or facility management system. The data processing unit periodically reads and stores the outputs of the transducers quantifying the magnitudes of current and voltage samples and, using that data, calculates the current, voltage, power, and other electrical parameters, such as active power, apparent power and reactive power that quantify the distribution and consumption of electricity. The calculated parameters are typically output to a display for immediate viewing or transmitted from the meter's communication interface to another data processing system, such as a building management computer for remote display or further processing, for example formulating instructions to the facility's automated equipment.

[0004] The voltage transducers of digital branch current monitors commonly comprise a voltage divider network that is connected to a conductor in which the voltage will be measured. The power distribution panel provides a convenient location for connecting the voltage transducers because typically each phase of the electricity is delivered to the power distribution panel on a separate bus bar and the voltage and phase is the same for all loads attached to the respective bus bar. Interconnection of a voltage transducer and the facility's wiring is facilitated by wiring connections in the power distribution panel, however, the voltage transducer(s) can be connected anywhere in the wiring that connects the supply and a load, including at the load's terminals.

[0005] The current transducers of digital power meters typically comprise current transformers that encircle each of the power cables that connect each branch circuit to the bus bar(s) of the distribution panel. Bowman et al., U.S. Patent No. 6,937,003 B2, discloses a branch current monitoring system that includes a plurality of current transformers mounted on a common support facilitating installation of a branch current monitor in a power distribution panel. Installation of current transformers in electrical distribution panels is simplified by including a plurality of current transformers on a single supporting strip which can be mounted adjacent to the lines of circuit breakers in the panel. The aforementioned branch current monitor from Veris Industries, Inc. is commonly used to monitor up to four strips of current sensors; each comprising 21 current transformers on a common support. In addition, the branch current monitor provides for eight auxiliary current transformer inputs for sensing the current flow in two 3-phase mains with two neutrals and six voltage connections enabling voltage sensing in six bus bars of two 3-phase mains.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION



[0006] In view of the aforementioned situation, it is an object of the invention to provide an improved branch current monitor and an improved method for monitoring current, allowing in particular to properly align the different phases of multi-phase conductors to loads, especially when a set of voltage references for the different phases of the multi-phase conductors are not available.

[0007] The object is achieved by a branch current monitor according to claim 1 respectively a method for monitoring current according to claim 12. Advantageous embodiments are subject of the respective dependent claims.

[0008] According to the invention, a branch current monitor comprises a board that includes a first connector, a first support including a plurality of current sensors interconnected to said first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load, a first cable electrically interconnecting said first connector and said plurality of current sensors, said first connector suitable for receiving sensor data from said first cable representative of current levels of said respective conductors of said plurality of current sensors, a processor interconnected with said first connector associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, said processor interconnected with said first connector associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, said processor interconnected with said first connector associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.

[0009] In one embodiment, the branch current monitor is free from being directly sensing at least one of a voltage associated with said respective conductors to said load and a current level of a main conductor that provides current to each of a plurality of said current sensors.

[0010] In another embodiment, a set of three current sensors is grouped together for a particular load based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C, and optionally also based upon their ordered arrangement with respect to one another. In this embodiment, the set of three current sensors may further be based upon a proximity to one another. A plurality of said sets of three current sensors may be grouped together for respective particular loads based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C. Each of said plurality of sets associated with said respective particular load may be compared against a mapping of said current monitor to determine if they are consistent. Advantageously, any inconsistencies in comparison against said mapping may be identified. The mapping may be modified based upon said comparing.

[0011] In a preferred embodiment, said phase A may be assigned based upon the most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or said phase B may be assigned based upon the next most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or said phase C is assigned based upon the least prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.

[0012] A method according to the invention comprises the steps of:
  • receiving sensor data representative of current levels from a plurality of current sensors interconnected to a first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load;
  • associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing a voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;
  • associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;
  • associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.


[0013] In a preferred embodiment, the method is free from directly sensing at least one of a voltage associated with said respective conductors to said load and a current level of a main conductor that provides current to each of a plurality of said current sensors.

[0014] A set of three current sensors or a plurality of sets of three current sensors may be grouped together for a particular load based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C, and optionally also based upon their ordered arrangement with respect to one another and/or upon a proximity to one another. If a plurality of sets of three current sensors is grouped together, said phase A may be assigned based upon the most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or said phase B may be assigned based upon the next most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or said phase C may be assigned based upon the least prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.

[0015] Further advantages and characteristics of the invention will become apparent form the following non-limiting description of preferred embodiments in conjunction with the drawing, which comprises 12 figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING



[0016] 
FIG. 1
is a block diagram of an exemplary branch current monitor.
FIG. 2
is a perspective view of a current transformer strip for a branch current monitor.
FIG. 3
is a top view of the current transformer strip of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4
is a front view of an exemplary electrical distribution panel of a branch current monitor.
FIG. 5
illustrates a perspective view of another current transformer strip for a branch current monitor.
FIG. 6
illustrates a view of a connector board for a branch current monitor with a temperature sensor.
FIG. 7
illustrates a front view of an exemplary electrical distribution panel of a branch current monitor without voltage connections.
FIG. 8
illustrates a front view of an exemplary electrical distribution panel of a branch current monitor without voltage connections and without voltage conductor current sensors.
FIG. 9
illustrates a set of current sensor measurements and associated loads.
FIG. 10
illustrates another set of current sensor measurements and associated loads.
FIG. 11
illustrates a phase assignment technique.
FIG. 12
illustrates another phase assignment technique.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0017] Referring in detail to the drawings where similar parts are identified by like reference numerals, and, more particularly to FIG. 1, a branch current monitor 20 arranged to monitor the voltage and current in a plurality of branch circuits comprises, generally, a data processing module 22, a current module 24 and a voltage module 26.

[0018] The branch current monitor 20 is preferably housed in a housing and/or the data processing module 22 is preferably housed in a housing and/or the current module 24 is preferably housed in a housing and/or the voltage module is preferably housed in a housing. In some embodiments, the branch current monitor and/or the data processing module and/or the current module and/or the voltage module includes one or more connectors suitable to detachably connect a separate power meter to sense electrical properties of the branch current monitor and/or the data processing module and/or the current module and/or the voltage module.

[0019] The data processing module 22 comprises a data processing unit 30 which, typically, comprises at least one microprocessor or digital signal processor (DSP). The data processing unit 30 reads and stores data received periodically from the voltage module and the current module, and uses that data to calculate the current, voltage, power and other electrical parameters that are the meter's output. The resulting electrical parameters may be output to a display 32 for viewing at the meter or output to a communications interface 34 for transmission to a building management computer, for remote display or use in automating or managing facility functions.

[0020] The data processing module may also include a memory 36 in which the programming instructions for the data processing unit and the data manipulated by the data processing unit may be stored. In addition, the branch current monitor typically includes a power supply 38 to provide power to the data processing unit and to the voltage and current modules.

[0021] The voltage module 26 includes one or more voltage transducers 42 each typically comprising a resistor network, a voltage sampling unit 48 to sample the output of the voltage transducers and convert the analog measurements to digital data suitable for use by the data processing unit and a multiplexer 44 that periodically connects the voltage sampling unit to selected ones of the voltage transducers enabling periodic sampling of the magnitude of the voltage at each of the voltage transducers. Typically, each phase of the electricity supplied to a distribution panel is connected to a bus bar 23A, 23B, 23C, to which are connected the circuit breakers 16 that provide a conductive interconnection to each of the respective loads, by way of examples, a single-phase load 21A and a three-phase load 21 B.

[0022] Since the voltage and phase supplied to all commonly connected loads is the same, a meter for measuring three-phase power typically includes three voltage transducers 42A, 42B, 42C each connected to a respective bus bar 23A, 23B, 23C. A clock 40, which may be included in the data processing unit, provides periodic timing signals to trigger sampling of the outputs of the voltage transducers by the voltage sampling unit. The voltage module may also include a voltage sensor memory 46 in which voltage sensor characterization data, including relevant specifications and error correction data for the voltage transducers are stored. If a portion of the voltage module requires replacement, a new voltage module comprising a voltage sensor memory containing sensor characterization data for the transducers of the new module can be connected to the data processing unit.

[0023] The data processing unit reads the data contained in the voltage sensor memory and applies the sensor characterization data when calculating the voltage from the transducer data output by the replacement voltage module.

[0024] The current module 24 typically comprises a current sampling unit 50, a multiplexer 52 and a plurality of current transducers 54A, 54B, 54C, 54D communicatively connected to respective sensor positions 55 of the current module. The multiplexer 52 sequentially connects the sampling unit to the respective sensor positions enabling the sampling unit to periodically sample the output of each of the current transducers. The current sampling unit comprises an analog-to-digital converter to convert the analog sample at the output of a current transducer selected by the multiplexer, to a digital signal for acquisition by the data processing unit. The clock 40 also provides the periodic timing signal that triggers sampling of the current transducer outputs by the current sampling unit.

[0025] The current module may also include a current sensor memory 56 in which are stored characterization data for the current transducers comprising the module. The characterization data may include transducer identities; relevant specifications, such as turns ratio; and error correction factors, for examples equations or tables enabling the phase and ratio errors to be related to a current permitting correction for magnetization induced errors. The characterization data may also include the type of transducers, the number of transducers, the arrangement of transducers and the order of the transducers' attachment to the respective sensor positions of the current module.

[0026] At start up, the data processing unit queries the current sensor memory to obtain characterization data including error correction factors and relevant specifications that are used by the data processing unit in determining the monitor's output.

[0027] Referring also to FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, monitoring current in a plurality of branch circuits requires a plurality of current transducers, each one encircling one of the branch power cable(s) 88 that connect the power distribution panel to the load(s) of the respective branch circuit. Current sensing may be performed by an individual current sensor, such as a current transducer, which is connected to the current module. On the other hand, a branch current monitor may comprise one or more sensor strips 80 each comprising a plurality of current sensors attached to a common support, such as sensors 54. The sensors 54 are preferably current transducers but other types of sensors may be used, inclusive of split-core transformers.

[0028] Each current transducer comprises a coil of wire wound on the cross-section of a toroidal metallic or non-metallic core. The toroidal core is typically enclosed in a plastic housing that includes an aperture 82 enabling the power cable 88 to be extended through the central aperture of the core. The openings 82 defined by the toroidal cores of the transformers are preferably oriented substantially parallel to each other and oriented substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 90 of the support 86. To provide a more compact arrangement of sensors, the sensors 54 may be arranged in substantially parallel rows on the support and the housings of the sensors in adjacent rows may be arranged to partially overlap in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the support.

[0029] To facilitate routing the power cables of the branch circuits through the cores of the current transformers, the common support maintains the current transformers in a fixed spatial relationship that preferably aligns the apertures of the toroidal coils directly opposite the connections of the power cables 88 and their respective circuit breakers 16 when the strip is installed in a distribution panel 100. For protection from electrical shock, a transient voltage suppressor 94 may be connected in parallel across the output terminals of each sensor to limit the voltage build up at the terminals when the terminals are open circuited.

[0030] The transducer strip 80 may include the current sensor memory 56 containing characterization data for the current transformers mounted on the support 86. The current sensor memory may also include characterization data for the transducer strip enabling the data processing unit to determine whether a transducer strip is compatible with the remainder of the meter and whether the strip is properly connected to the data processing module. Improper connection or installation of an incompatible transducer strip may cause illumination of signaling lights or a warning message on the meter's display. In addition, the transducer strip 80 may comprise a current module of the power meter with one or more current transducers, the multiplexer 52, the current sampling unit 50 and the current sensor memory all mounted on the support 86. A connector 98 provides a terminus for a communication link 102 connecting the current transducer strip (current module) to the data processing module 22.

[0031] The branch current monitor may also include one or more errant current alarms to signal an operator or data processing system that manages the facility or one or more of its operations of an errant current flow in one of the monitored branch circuits. When a current having a magnitude greater or lesser than a respective alarm current limit is detected in one of the branch circuits an alarm annunciator is activated to notify the operator or another data processing system of the errant current flow. An alarm condition may be announced in one or more ways, including, without limitation, periodic or steady illumination of a light 71, sounding of an audible alarm 73, display of a message on the meter's display 32 or transmission of a signal from the communications interface 34 to a remote computer or operator.

[0032] A commercial power distribution panel commonly supplies a substantial number of branch circuits and a branch current monitor for a distribution panel typically includes at least an equal number of current transformers.

[0033] Referring to FIG. 4, an exemplary electrical distribution panel includes two three-phase mains 104A, 104B which respectively are connected to main circuit breakers 106A, 106B. Each of the phases of each main is connected to a bus bar 23A, 23B, 23C. The three bus bars extend behind each of two rows of branch circuit breakers 16 that respectively conductively connect one of the bus bars to a conductor that conducts current to the branch circuit's load(s). A single phase load is connected to single bus bar, a two-phase load is typically connected to two adjacent circuit breakers which are connected to respective bus bars and a three-phase load is typically connected to three adjacent circuit breakers which are each connected to one of the three bus bars.

[0034] Typically, a two-phase load or three phase load is connected to the appropriate number of adjacent circuit breakers in the same row. The exemplary distribution panel has connections for 84 branch circuit conductors which can be monitored by a branch current monitor produced by Veris Industries, Inc. The branch current monitor monitors the current, voltage and energy consumption of each circuit of the distribution panel, including the mains. The accumulated information can be transmitted to a remote consumer through a communications interface or viewed locally on a local display. Data updates occur approximately every two seconds and as a circuit approaches user configured thresholds, alarms are triggered by the monitor.

[0035] As illustrated in FIG. 4, the main acquisition circuit board 108 of the branch current monitor 20 is connectable to as many as four current transformer strips or support units 80A, 80B, 80C, 80D each supporting 21 current transformers. The transformers of the support units are connectable to the data processing unit of the branch current monitor by communication links 102 comprising multi-conductor cables. In addition, the branch current monitor includes connections for six auxiliary current transformers 114 which are typically used to monitor the current in the mains. Since the voltage and phase are common for all loads connected to a bus bar, the branch current monitor also includes six voltage connections 116. A data channel 120 connected to the communications interface enables transmission of data captured by the branch current monitor to other data processing devices that are part of a building management system or other network.

[0036] The main acquisition circuit board 108 is preferably housed in a housing. In some embodiments, the main acquisition circuit board 108 includes one or more connectors suitable to detachably connect a separate power meter to sense electrical properties of the current and/or voltage being sensed. The strips or support units may be housed in a housing, in whole or in part. In some embodiments, the strips or support units includes one or more connectors suitable to detachably connect a separate power meter to sense electrical properties of the current and/or voltage being sensed.

[0037] The branch current monitor is installed in the distribution panel by mounting the current transformer strips to the panel adjacent to the rows of circuit breakers and by passing each of the branch circuit conductors 88 through a central aperture in one of the toroidal current transformers and connecting the conductors to the respective circuit breakers. The main acquisition board 108 is attached to the electrical panel and the multi-conductor cables 102 are connected to the board.

[0038] The mains conductors are passed through the apertures in the auxiliary current transformers and the auxiliary current transformers are connected to the main acquisition board. The voltage taps are connected to respective bus bars and to the main acquisition board. The data channel 120 is connected and the branch current monitor is ready for configuration.

[0039] Referring to FIG. 5, in another embodiment, the strip unit may include a set of connectors at each general location a current sensor is desired. A current transformer may be included with a flexible wire within a connector at the end thereof and a connector on the strip unit. The current transformer is then detachably connectable to the connector of the strip unit. The current transformer may include a solid core or a split core, which is more readily interconnected to existing installed wires. If desired, the strip unit may include one or more power calculation circuits supported thereon. For example, the data from the current transformers may be provided to the one or more power calculation circuits supported thereon together with the sensed voltage being provided by a connector from a separate voltage sensor or otherwise voltage sensed by wires interconnected to the strip unit or signal provided thereto. As a result of this configuration, the connector may provide voltage, current, power, and other parameters to the circuit board.

[0040] All or a portion of the strip unit is preferably housed in a housing. The strips unit may be housed in a housing, in whole or in part. In some embodiments, the strip unit includes one or more connectors suitable to detachably connect a separate power meter to sense electrical properties of the strip unit.

[0041] Referring to FIG. 6, another embodiment includes a set of one or more connector boards 400 in addition to or as an alternative to the strip units. Each of the connector boards may include a set of connectors 410 that may be used to interconnect a current transformer thereto. Each of the connector boards may include a connector 420 that interconnects the connector board to the circuit board 108. Each of the connector boards may be labeled with numbering, such as 1 through 14 or 1 through 42, and 15 through 28 or 42 through 84. Often groups of three connectors are grouped together as a three phase circuit, thus connectors 1 through 42 may be 14 three phase circuits. For example, the connector board with the number of 1 through 14 may be intended to be connected to connector A. For example, the connector board with the numbers of 15 through 28 may be intended to be connected to connector B. All or a portion of the connector board is preferably housed in a housing. In some embodiments, the connector board includes one or more connectors suitable to detachably connect a separate power meter to sense electrical properties of the connector board.

[0042] It is to be understood that the current sensor may be any suitable technique, including non-toroidal cores.

[0043] Referring again to FIG. 2 though FIG. 6, the installer of a branch current monitor may misconnect one or more of the bus bars 23A, 23B, and/or 23C to the main acquisition board and accordingly the voltages would most likely be improperly aligned with the current being provided by the corresponding power conductor. For example, phases A (23A) and B (23B) may be reversed on the connection on one side of the panel (e.g., left side) while being properly connected on the other side of the panel (e.g., right side) to the main acquisition board. Typically, the main acquisition board which should associate a selected set of power conductors with phase A will actually be associating the selected set of power conductors to phase B, and the main acquisition board which should associate a selected set of power conductors with phase B will actually be associating the selected set of power conductors to phase A. This will result in improper power calculations by the main acquisition board and other electrical characteristics.

[0044] Referring again to FIG. 2 though FIG. 6, the installer of the branch current monitor) may misconnect one or more of the power conductors through the current transformer to the associated circuit breaker and thus improperly align one or more power conductors with the corresponding circuit breaker. For example, power conductors may be reversed on the connection to the corresponding circuit breaker, which also change relationships the phase relationships of a multi-phase connection. Typically, the main acquisition board which should associate one or more power conductors with phase A will actually be associating the one or more power conductors with phase B, and the main acquisition board which should associate one or more of power conductors with phase B will actually be associating the one or more power conductors to phase A. This will result in improper power calculations by the main acquisition board and other electrical characteristics, in addition to improper association of the current measurements with the associated load in the case that the power conductors are interconnected to different loads.

[0045] Referring again to FIG. 2 though FIG. 6, the installer of the power panel may misconnect one or more of the circuit breakers to a different bus bar than anticipated thus improperly align the power conductor with the corresponding bus bar. For example, circuit breaker 16A may be reversed from the anticipated connection to bus bar 23A to a connection to bus bar 23B, and circuit breaker 16B may be reversed from the anticipated connection to bus bar 23B to a connection to bus bar 23A, which changes the phases of a multi-phase connection. Typically, the main acquisition board which should associate one or more circuit breakers with phase A will actually be associating the one or more power conductors to phase B, and the main acquisition board which should associate one or more of circuit breakers with phase B will actually be associating the one or more power conductors to phase A. This will result in improper power calculations by the main acquisition board and other electrical characteristics, in addition to improper association of the current measurements with the associated load in the case that the power conductors are interconnected to different loads.

[0046] Referring again to FIG. 2 though FIG. 6, the installer of the power panel may program configuration data into within the main acquisition board (or otherwise programmed into an interconnected network device) that aligns particular power conductors and their associated sensed current levels sensed by particular current transformers, with particular bus bars may include errors, thus improperly align the power conductors with the corresponding bus bars and/or sensed current levels. The configuration data may be incorrect and result in errors in the data calculations.

[0047] As it may be observed, there are many sources of potential errors when configuring a branch current monitor which are problematic to identify and rectify. Furthermore, these problems persist in many different configurations, such as those embodiments illustrated in FIG. 2 through FIG. 6.

[0048] In many instances, the phase alignment between the voltage sensor for a bus bar and the current sensor sensing the changing current for a load are correlated together with one another. With the phase alignment being correlated together between the voltage(s) and current(s), and each of the bus bars being related to a particular phase of a single phase, a two phase, and/or a three phase circuit, the corresponding current sensors are likewise then associated with phase A, phase B, and/or Phase C of a corresponding load. Such measurements may be used to configure a branch current monitor and/or used to verify the configuration of a metering system employing the branch monitor. In situations where the power factor between the current and voltage waveforms differs significantly, the corresponding voltages and current phases for A, B, and C are not necessarily those that are closet to one another making confirmation that the phases of the currents and voltages are properly aligned with one another more problematic. Unfortunately, such alignment techniques for configuring and/or verifying the phases associated with the loads are not feasible in some building environments, including for example a data center environment, because the voltages to the loads are not readily available for interconnection therewith.

[0049] Upon further consideration it was determined that the power factor between the corresponding currents and voltage are typically around 0.9 which means that the phases between the voltage and current waveforms are substantially aligned with one another. In such an environment, it was determined that a metering system can presume that the corresponding voltage alignment (power factor) and the magnitude of the voltage waveforms are generally known due to the controlled nature of the environment. Accordingly, the corresponding voltage and current waveforms of a multi-phase load are generally 120 degrees out of phase with one another (for a three phase load), and the corresponding voltage and current waveforms for the same and for different loads are likewise generally aligned with another.

[0050] Referring to FIG. 7, a modified branch current monitor suitable for some building environments, including for example a data center environment, may omit the connections to the voltages for the corresponding phases of a multi-phase system. In this manner, the system will only sense the currents from the power conductors and not the voltages of the corresponding phases of the multi-phase system. The system may estimate the current to the loads based upon the data from the current sensors. The system may estimate the power based upon a nominal voltage value and power factor, if appropriate.

[0051] Referring to FIG. 8, in addition, preferably the branch current monitor functioning as an energy monitor system omits the connections of the current sensors 114 that are interconnected with the mains, since the mains are typically not readily accessible in some building environments, including for example a data center environment. The system may estimate the current to the loads based upon the data from the current sensors. The system may estimate the power based upon a nominal voltage value and power factor, if appropriate.

[0052] Referring to FIG. 9, the energy monitor system may sense all or a part of the current waveforms from each of the current transformers for each of the strips. By way of example, for each of the current transformers (e.g., 21 current transformers) characteristics of the voltage waveform may be determined, such as its minimum, maximum, zero crossing, rising zero crossing, falling zero crossing, the timing of a characteristic, or otherwise. The characteristics determined from the current transformers (e.g., minimum, maximum, zero crossing, rising zero crossing, falling zero crossing, the timing of a characteristic, or otherwise) may be compared to one another to determine which of the current transformers are likely properly associated with which phase of a single phase, a two phase, and/or a three phase circuit. For example, current transformers 01, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, and 19 may be associated with phase A. For example, current transformers 02, 05, 08, 11, 14, 17, and 20 may be associated with phase B. For example, current transformers 03, 06, 09, 12, 15, 18, and 21 may be associated with phase C.

[0053] With each of the current transformers associated with a particular phase, the current transformers may be grouped with respective single phase, two phase, and/or three phase circuits. Typically, adjacent current transformers with different phases are associated with the same load. In this manner, current transformers 01, 02, 03 may be associated with load 1, current transformers 04, 05, 06 may be associated with load 2, current transformers 07, 08, 09 may be associated with load 3, current transformers 10, 11, 12 may be associated with load 4, current transformers 13, 14, 15 may be associated with load 5, current transformers 16, 17, 18 may be associated with load 6, current transformers 19, 20, 21 may be associated with load 7. The result of such a phase determination and grouping may result in a set of data indicating a mapping between the current transformers, the respective phases, and the respective loads. This mapping may be compared against the mapping of the current transformers, phases, grouping of phases for particular loads, programmed into the energy metering system. If the mappings are consistent with one another, then the system may indicate no discrepancies were determined. If the mappings are not consistent with one another, then the system may indicate there are discrepancies, the system may indicate the nature of the discrepancies, and/or the system may modify the mapping of the energy metering system to be consistent with the mapping determined from the current transformers. In addition, the mapping determined from the current transformers may be used to program the energy metering system.

[0054] Referring to FIG. 10, the energy monitor system may sense all or a part of the current waveforms from each of the current transformers for each of the strips. By way of example, for each of the current transformers (e.g., 21 current transformers) characteristics of the voltage waveform may be determined, such as its minimum, maximum, zero crossing, rising zero crossing, falling zero crossing, the timing of a characteristic, or otherwise. The characteristics determined from the current transformers (e.g., minimum, maximum, zero crossing, rising zero crossing, falling zero crossing, the timing of a characteristic, or otherwise) may be compared to one another to determine which of the current transformers are likely properly associated with which phase of a single phase, a two phase, and/or a three phase circuit. For example, current transformers 01, 04, 05, 07, 12, 15, 17, 20, and 21 may be associated with phase A. For example, current transformers 02, 06, 08, 10, 13, 16, and 18 may be associated with phase B. For example, current transformers 03, 09, 11, 14, ad 19 may be associated with phase C.

[0055] With each of the current transformers associated with a particular phase, the current transformers may be grouped with respective single phase, two phase, and/or three phase circuits. Typically, adjacent current transformers with different phases are associated with the same load. In this manner, current transformers 01, 02, 03 may be associated with load 1, current transformer 04 may be associated with load 2, current transformers 05, 06 may be associated with load 3, current transformers 07, 08, 09 may be associated with load 4, current transformers 10, 11 may be associated with load 5, current transformers 12, 13, 14 may be associated with load 6, current transformers 15, 16 may be associated with load 7, current transformers 17, 18, 19 may be associated with load 8, current transformer 20 may be associated with load 9, current transformer 21 may be associated with load 10. The result of such a phase determination and grouping may result in a set of data indicating a mapping between the current transformers, the respective phases, and the respective loads. This mapping may be compared against the mapping of the current transformers, phases, grouping of phases for particular loads, programmed into the energy metering system. If the mappings are consistent with one another, then the system may indicate no discrepancies were determined. If the mappings are not consistent with one another, then the system may indicate there are discrepancies, the system may indicate the nature of the discrepancies, and/or the system may modify the mapping of the energy metering system to be consistent with the mapping determined from the current transformers. In addition, the mapping determined from the current transformers may be used to program the energy metering system.

[0056] Referring to FIG. 11, by way of example, the phase A may be assigned to the phase that is the most prevalent for the current sensors, Phase B may be assigned to the phase that is the second most prevalent for the current sensors, and Phase C may be assigned to the phase that is the third most prevalent for the current sensors. In the case that two sets of phases are the same prevalence, the earlier of phase A, B, and C may be assigned based upon anticipated position of that phase (e.g., phase A for top current transformer, phase B for second top current transformer, phase C for third top current transformer). Other assignment techniques for phase A, B, and C may be used, such as based upon the spatial arrangement of phase groupings, such as groups of different phases in a vertical alignment adjacent one another.

[0057] Referring to FIG. 12, by way of example, the system may group sets of phases A, B, C which are in an ordered group vertically (e.g., current transformer 01 having phase A, current transformer 02 having phase B, current transformer 03 having phase C) as being associated with a respective three phase load. The system may then group sets of phases A, B and B C which are in an ordered group vertically (e.g., current transformer 01 having phase A, current transformer 02 having phase B, or current transformer 01 having phase B, current transformer 02 having phase C) as being associated with a respective two phase load. The system may then group individual phases of phase A, B, and C as being associated with a respective single phase load.

[0058] The invention also relates to a method for monitoring current comprising the steps of:
  • receiving sensor data representative of current levels from a plurality of current sensors interconnected to a first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load;
  • associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing a voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;
  • associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;
  • associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.


[0059] In advantageous embodiments, the method may comprise on or more of the following features taken in isolation or all technically possible combinations:
  • the method is free from directly sensing a voltage associated with said respective conductors to said load,
  • the method is free from being directly sensing a current level of a main conductor that provides current to each of a plurality of said current sensors,
  • a set of three current sensors is grouped together for a particular load based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C, such set of three current sensors may in particular be based upon a proximity to one another, and optionally also based upon their ordered arrangement with respect to one another,
  • a plurality of sets of three current sensors is grouped together for a respective particular loads based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C,
  • said phase A is assigned based upon the most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors,
  • said phase B is assigned based upon the next most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors
  • or said phase C is assigned based upon the least prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.


[0060] The detailed description, above, sets forth numerous specific details to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known methods, procedures, components, and circuitry have not been described in detail to avoid obscuring the present invention.

[0061] All the references cited herein are incorporated by reference. The terms and expressions that have been employed in the foregoing specification are used as terms of description and not of limitation, and there is no intention, in the use of such terms and expressions, of excluding equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof, it being recognized that the scope of the invention is defined and limited only by the claims that follow.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMBERS



[0062] 

16 circuit breakers

20 branch current monitor

21A single-phase load

21A three-phase load

22 data processing module

23 bus bar

23A, 23B, 23C bus bar

24 current module

26 voltage module

30 data processing unit

32 display

34 communications interface

36 memory

38 power supply

40 clock

42 voltage transducer

42A, 42B, 42C voltage transducers

44 multiplexer

46 voltage sensor memory

48 voltage sampling unit

50 current sampling unit

52 multiplexer

54 sensor

54A, 54B, 54C, 54D current transducer / sensor

55 sensor positions

56 current sensor memory

71 light

73 audible alarm

80 sensor strip (transformer strip)

80A, 80B, 80C, 80D current transformer strip

82 aperture

86 support

88 branch power cable

90 longitudinal axis

94 voltage suppressor

98 connector

100 distribution panel

102 communication link / multi-conductor cable

104A, 100B three-phase mains

106A, 106B circuit breakers

108 main acquisition circuit board

114 auxiliary current transformer / sensor

116 voltage connection

120 data channel

400 connector board

410 connectors

420 connector




Claims

1. A branch current monitor comprising:

- a board that includes a first connector;

- a first support including a plurality of current sensors interconnected to said first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load;

- a first cable electrically interconnecting said first connector and said plurality of current sensors

- said first connector suitable for receiving sensor data from said first cable representative of current levels of said respective conductors of said plurality of current sensors;

- a processor interconnected with said first connector associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels;

- said processor interconnected with said first connector associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels;

- said processor interconnected with said first connector associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.


 
2. The branch current monitor of claim 1, characterized in that it is free from being directly sensing at least one of a voltage associated with said respective conductors to said load and a current level of a main conductor that provides current to each of a plurality of said current sensors.
 
3. The branch current monitor of claim 1 or 2, wherein a set of three current sensors is grouped together for a particular load based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C, and optionally also based upon their ordered arrangement with respect to one another.
 
4. The branch current monitor of claim 3, wherein said set of three current sensors is further based upon a proximity to one another.
 
5. The branch current monitor of one of claims 3 or 4, wherein a plurality of said sets of three current sensors is grouped together for a respective particular loads based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.
 
6. The branch current monitor of claim 5, wherein each set of said plurality of sets associated with said respective particular load is compared against a mapping of said current monitor to determine if they are consistent.
 
7. The branch current monitor of claim 6, wherein any inconsistencies in comparison against said mapping are identified.
 
8. The branch current monitor of claim 6 or 7, wherein said mapping is modified based upon said comparing.
 
9. The branch current monitor of one of claims 1 to 8, wherein said phase A is assigned based upon the most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.
 
10. The branch current monitor of claim 9, wherein said phase B is assigned based upon the next most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.
 
11. The branch current monitor of claim 9 or 10, wherein said phase C is assigned based upon the least prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.
 
12. A method for monitoring current comprising the steps of:

- receiving sensor data representative of current levels from a plurality of current sensors interconnected to a first support suitable to sense changing current of a respective conductor to a load;

- associating a plurality of said current levels with phase A based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing a voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;

- associating another plurality of said current levels with phase B based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load;

- associating yet another plurality of said current levels with phase C based upon similarities of said plurality of said current levels without regard to sensing said voltage level of any of said respective conductors to said load, where said current levels associated with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C are all associated with only one of said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C.


 
13. The method according to 12, characterized in that it is free from directly sensing at least one of a voltage associated with said respective conductors to said load and a current level of a main conductor that provides current to each of a plurality of said current sensors.
 
14. The method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein a set of three current sensors or a plurality of sets of three current sensors is grouped together for a particular load based upon said association with said phase A, said phase B, and said phase C, and optionally also based upon their ordered arrangement with respect to one another and/or upon a proximity to one another.
 
15. The method according to claim 14, wherein a plurality of sets of three current sensors is grouped together, wherein said phase A is assigned based upon the most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or wherein said phase B is assigned based upon the next most prevalent of said plurality of current sensors and/or wherein said phase C is assigned based upon the least prevalent of said plurality of current sensors.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description