The apartment complex I’m in is only a year old, so we’re still in the Defect period with the builders. I’m on the Committee of the Owners Corporation, so I get to see the utility areas. The builders put in private metering; those meters always show 243V (expected) but 0W. I just assumed they didn’t install the CTs.
I was there when an electrician popped the panel on a switchboard with a private meter for something else, and was astonished to see that the three-phase feed did indeed have a CT installed. They just hadn’t done the final step of connecting the CT to the meter. There’s no sign of a shorting load across the contacts either.
Some quick Googling confused me, because the CT was 125:0.1, so 1250x on a 240V circuit, meaning 300kV across these open contacts at peak load. Only 30kV could arc in air over 1cm, but the contacts are maybe 1mm apart in an unplugged RJ12. (Datasheet for both meter and CT: http://www.crompton-instruments.com/downloads/2015/EPP-2238-0315_Integra_DL1.pdf)
OK, so it isn’t arcing. Good. That’s not actually my question. More Googling implies that the CT is now fully saturated magnetically, so useless anyway. Is that true? Are the CTs now so hopelessly compromised that simply plugging them in won’t work now? Even worse: is the existing installation dangerous, going to arc at the first dust particle the settles across the terminals?
The installation instructions for the CT states “Don’t open circuit the CT while the primary is energised.” That’s ambiguous. One way to read that is that it’s the act of disconnecting the CT that’s dangerous - which I can fully imagine since it would draw an arc. But that might mean leaving it open is fine? There might be circuitry in the CT to detect open circuit?
I’m going to also assume that connecting the CT to the meter while energised is also a bad idea, but perhaps slightly less so. One factor stopping the committee from finishing the private metering has always been the fact that we’d have to drop the power while CTs were being installed. A couple of minutes of no power is a lot more palatable than many hours’ worth! Although, if we’d have to replace the CTs anyway, it wouldn’t be a saving.
If the CTs hadn’t been installed, then it isn’t a defect - they installed V&I meters but only wired them up for volts. But because they installed the CTs, it is a defect that they didn’t wire them up: especially since the CTs even come with the wiring. Getting the builders back to wire them up will be easy; but if the CTs don’t work anymore, getting the builders to replace them will be much harder.