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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY, VOL. 20, NO. 2, APRIL 2005

Analysis of Zig-Zag Transformer Applying in the


Three-Phase Four-Wire Distribution Power System
Hurng-Liahng Jou, Member, IEEE, Jinn-Chang Wu, Kuen-Der Wu, Wen-Jung Chiang, and Yi-Hsun Chen

AbstractThe load unbalance and the nonlinear loads result


in a significant neutral current in the three-phase four-wire
distribution power system. The Zig-Zag transformer has been
proposed to attenuate the neutral current of the three-phase
four-wire distribution power system. In this paper, an analysis
is carried out and computer simulation is used to evaluate the
performance of the Zig-Zag transformer under ideal and nonideal
power conditions. The simulation results show that (a) the Zig-Zag
transformer can effectively attenuate the neutral current and
zero-sequence harmonic currents on the utility side under the
balanced utility voltage, (b) the utility side neutral current becomes
larger under the unbalanced utility voltage or the distorted utility
voltage with zero sequence harmonic components after applying
the Zig-Zag transformer, (c) the insertion of an inductor in the
utility side of the neutral conductor can alleviate overloading
of the neutral current caused by the unbalanced utility voltages
and the distorted utility voltages with zero sequence harmonic
components.
Index TermsNeutral current, three-phase four-wire, Zig-Zag.

I. INTRODUCTION

HREE-PHASE four-wire distribution power system has


been widely used for supplying low-level voltage to office
buildings, commercial complexes, manufacturing facilities,
etc [1]. The loads connected to the three-phase four-wire
distribution power system may be either the single-phase
or the three-phase loads. The typical loads connected to the
three-phase four-wire distribution power systems may be computer related equipment, automatic office machines, adjustable
speed drives, lighting ballasts and other power electronic related equipment. Most of these loads have the nonlinear input
characteristic, which creates a problem of high input current
harmonics. The harmonic current will pollute the power system
and result in the problems such as transformer overheats, rotary
machine vibration, degrading voltage quality, damaging electric
power components, medical facilities malfunction, etc. The
third harmonic is most serious for the single-phase nonlinear
loads. The current of the integer multiples 3rd are regarded as
the zero-sequence current. The zero-sequence current flowing in

Manuscript received December 9, 2003; revsied July 12, 2004. Paper no.
TPWRD-00621-2003.
H.-L. Jou is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, R.O.C. (e-mail:
hljou@mail.e.kuas.edu.tw).
J.-C. Wu is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, Kun
Shan University of Technology, Tainan 710, Taiwan, R.O.C. (e-mail:
jinnwu@mail.ksut.edu.tw)
K.-D. Wu, W.-J. Chiang, and Y.-H. Chen are with the Department of Electrical
Engineering, National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung
807, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TPWRD.2005.844281

the neutral conductor of the three-phase four-wire distribution


power system is three times of the zero-sequence components
of each phase current. Furthermore, the single-phase loads may
result in serious load unbalance. The unbalanced load currents
contain zero-sequence components and also flow in the neutral
conductor. Survey results across computer sites in U.S. show
that 22.6% of the sites have neutral currents exceeding the
full-load phase currents [2], which may result in an overload
accident of the neutral conductor. Additionally, a large neutral
current may also result in the saturation problem in the distribution power transformer. Thus, the three-phase four-wire
distribution power systems have the problems of harmonic
pollution, load unbalance and over-load of neutral conductor
[3][6].
The Zig-Zag transformer has been used to attenuate the neutral current and zero-sequence harmonic currents on the utility
sites [7][9] in recent years due to the advantages of low cost,
high reliability and simplified circuit connection. The Zig-Zag
transformer has also another application for avoiding DC magnetization and iron losses caused by the three-phase single-way
rectifier [10]. In order to understand the performance of the
Zig-Zag transformer, the analysis and computer simulation are
made under ideal and nonideal power conditions in this paper.
The simulation results can be used as the reference in the application of the Zig-Zag transformer.
II. BASIC THEORY
Zig-Zag transformer is a special connection of three
single-phase transformers windings or a three-phase transformers windings [8], [9]. The circuit connection is as shown
in Fig. 1(a). In the three-phase four-wire distribution power
,
system, the three-phase zero-sequence currents (
and
) have the same amplitude and the same phase, and
they can be represented as
(1)
The neutral current
is the sum of three-phase zero-sequence currents, and it is represented as
(2)
Because the turn ratio of the transformers windings is 1:1 in
Fig. 1, the input current flowing into the dot point of the primary
winding is equal to the output current flowing out from the dot
point of the secondary winding. Then, we can obtain

0885-8977/$20.00 2005 IEEE

(3)
(4)
(5)

JOU et al.: ANALYSIS OF ZIG-ZAG TRANSFORMER APPLYING IN THE THREE-PHASE FOUR-WIRE DISTRIBUTION POWER SYSTEM

1169

Fig. 2. The system configuration of three-phase four-wire distribution power


system with the Zig-Zag transformer.

Fig. 1.

Zig-Zag transformer: (a) circuit connection and (b) phasor diagram.


Fig. 3. The zero-sequence equivalent circuit.

Equations (3)(5) indicate that three-phase currents flowing


into three transformers must be equal. This means that the
Zig-Zag transformer can supply the path for the zero-sequence
current. Fig. 1(b) shows the phasor diagram [10] of Fig. 1(a).
From Fig. 1(b), it can be found that the voltage across the
transformers winding is
of the phase voltage of the
three-phase four-wire distribution power system.
III. ANALYSIS OF ZIG-ZAG TRANSFORMER IN THE
THREE-PHASE FOUR-WIRE SYSTEM

From (6), the zero-sequence voltage can be expressed as


(7)
is the zero-sequence current source, and it contains the
unbalanced fundamental load currents and zero-sequence of
harmonic load currents , and it can be derived as
(8)

Fig. 2 shows the system configuration of the Zig-Zag transformer applied in the three-phase four-wire distribution power
systems. In Fig. 2,
is the impedance of the neutral conductor between the load and the Zig-Zag transformer, and
is
the impedance between the utility and the Zig-Zag transformer.
consists of
and
, where
is the impedance of
the neutral conductor and
is the impedance of the inserted
inductor.
The current flowing through the Zig-Zag transformer is only
the zero-sequence component, and the zero-sequence equivalent
circuit of Fig. 2 is shown in Fig. 3. This consists of two zero-sequence sources,
and
. In the practical three-phase
four-wire industry distribution power system, the unbalanced
utility voltages may occur frequently due to the unequal load
distribution of the upstream in each phase or the abnormal phase
change even when the loads are balanced. The
is a zero
sequence voltage source caused by the unbalanced utility voltages. Assuming the thee-phase voltages (
,
,
)
are unbalanced, the zero-sequence, the positive-sequence and
the negative-sequence components (
,
,
) can
be represented as
(6)

is the zero-sequence impedance of the Zig-Zag


In Fig. 3,
transformer. The effects of the
and
to the neutral
current of the utility side after using the Zig-Zag transformer can
be analyzed by using the superposition theory. For considering
the effect of the
, the
should be assumed to be a
short circuit in Fig. 3. Then, the utility side neutral current
caused by
can be expressed as
(9)
Equation (9) indicates that the magnitude of the utility side neutral current caused by
will be reduced after applying the
Zig-Zag transformer. If
is reduced or
is increased,
in the utility side can be further attenuated.
For considering the effect of
,
should be assumed
to be an open circuit in Fig. 3. From Fig. 3, it can be found that
the Zig-Zag transformer supplies a low impedance path for the
zero-sequence voltage
. This implies that the utility neutral current becomes larger under the unbalanced utility voltage
after applying the Zig-Zag transformer. The neutral current of
the utility side
caused by
can be expressed as
(10)

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY, VOL. 20, NO. 2, APRIL 2005

Equation (10) shows that the Zig-Zag transformer supplies


a path for the zero-sequence current flowing between the
utility and the Zig-Zag transformer. However, the impedance
of the utility system, the Zig-Zag transformer and the neutral
conductor are very small in most of the three-phase four-wire
distribution power systems. This implies that a significant
neutral current will be generated after applying the Zig-Zag
transformer under the condition of unbalanced utility voltages,
and this significant neutral current is an undesired performance
of the Zig-Zag transformer. This significant neutral current may
result in the burn-down of the Zig-Zag transformer, the neutral
conductor and the distribution power transformer. This means
that the undesired performance of the Zig-Zag transformer
occurs under the condition of unbalanced utility voltages.
Additionally, the distorted utility voltages may also contain the
zero-sequence voltages. To avoid this problem, the Zig-Zag
transformer is not suggested to be applied in the unbalanced or
the distorted voltages of the three-phase four-wire distribution
) is inserted in the
power system except an inductor (
neutral conductor of the utility side.
can be obtained
Then, the practical utility side current
by adding (9) and (10), and this can be expressed as

(11)
From (11), it can be found that the Zig-Zag transformer can
be used to bypass the zero-sequence current of the load, but it
will also induce a significant zero-sequence current when the
utility voltages contain zero sequence components. Equation
(11) shows that the larger the
is, the smaller the
will
be. This means that the installation of Zig-Zag transformer must
be as near to the load as possible to increase
. For reducing
the utility side neutral current furthermore, an inductor (
),
shown in Fig. 2, can be inserted in the neutral conductor of
the utility side in some applications. However, this application
may result in the neutral voltage variation or raising the neutral
voltage of the load side. Because many electrical facilities use
the neutral line as the referred ground, the neutral voltage variation or raising the neutral voltage of the load side may cause
shut down or abnormal operation of the electric facilities in the
load side.

IV. COMPUTER SIMULATIONS


Computer simulations under different utility and load conditions are made to verify the performance of the Zig-Zag transformer in the application for attenuating the neutral current of
the three-phase four-wire distribution power system. The parameters used in the computer simulation are shown in Table I.
The load in the following computer simulation is the singlephase rectifier with a load of capacitor and resistor connected in
parallel. In general, the input power stage of computer related
equipment could be regarded as this kind of load. The current of
single-phase rectifier contains rich harmonics, such as 3rd, 5th,
7th, etc. orders. Because only the steady state is considered in
this paper, the start time of computer simulation is 450 ms in the
following simulation.

TABLE I
MAJOR PARAMETERS USED IN THE SIMULATION

Fig. 4. Simulation result of phase A under the balanced nonlinear loads,


(a) utility current, (b) load current, (c) Zig-Zag transformer current, (d) utility
side neutral current, and (e) load side neutral current.

A. Balanced Utility Conditions


The simulation result of the three-phase four-wire distribution
power system with the Zig-Zag transformer under the balanced
nonlinear loads is shown in Fig. 4. The loads are three same
single-phase rectifier loads, and the load currents are 12.1 A
(RMS). The dominant harmonic current of single-phase rectifier
is the 3rd harmonic current. The 3rd harmonic current is a zero
sequence component, and it will flow into the neutral line. As
seen in Fig. 4(e), the neutral conductor of the load side contains
a significant zero-sequence current (20.89 A RMS). Fig. 4(d)
shows that the neutral current on the utility side is only 0.96
A (RMS). This indicates that the neutral current on the utility
side is only 4.59% of that on the load side. This result shows
that the Zig-Zag transformer has the expected performance for
attenuating the neutral current effectively. Moreover, the THD
(total harmonic distortion) of the utility current is reduced from
140% to 129% because the 3rd harmonic current is attenuated
by the Zig-Zag transformer.
Load unbalance occurs frequently in the practical three-phase
four-wire industry distribution power systems due to the unequal
load currents in each phase. To represent this, the load currents
of each phase are 0.6:0.8:1 in a, b and c phases respectively in
the following simulation; and Fig. 5 shows the simulation results
of this condition. The unbalanced load generates a fundamental
component current in the neutral conductor. Hence, the neutral
current on the load side, shown in Fig. 5(e), contains not only the
3rd harmonic component but also the fundamental component,
and it is 27.023 A (RMS). As seen in Fig. 5(d), the neutral
current on the utility side is very small. The neutral current
on the utility side is only about 4.5% of that on the load
side. The utility currents are 0.77:0.83:1 in a, b and c phases,

JOU et al.: ANALYSIS OF ZIG-ZAG TRANSFORMER APPLYING IN THE THREE-PHASE FOUR-WIRE DISTRIBUTION POWER SYSTEM

Fig. 5. Simulation result of phase A under the unbalanced nonlinear loads,


(a) utility current, (b) load current, (c) Zig-Zag transformer current, (d) utility
side neutral current, and (e) load side neutral current.

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Fig. 7. Simulation result of phase A under the utility voltage with phase
unbalance, (a) three-phase utility voltage, (b) utility current, (c) load current,
(d) Zig-Zag transformer current, (e) utility side neutral current, and (f) load
side neutral current.

B. Unbalanced Utility Voltages

Fig. 6. Simulation result of phase A under the single-phase nonlinear loads,


(a) utility current, (b) load current, (c) Zig-Zag transformer current, (d) utility
side neutral current, and (e) load side neutral current.

respectively. This indicates that the Zig-Zag transformer is


capable of balancing the three- phase currents due to canceling
the zero-sequence current.
In the practical three-phase four-wire industry distribution
power system, the condition of the single-phase load also may
occur. This can be regarded as the most serious load unbalance.
Fig. 6 shows the simulation results of this condition indicating
that the neutral current is attenuated from 12.323 A (RMS) to
less than 0.539 A (RMS). This means that the neutral current
of the utility side is only 4.37% of that on the load side. The
utility currents are 1:0.5:0.5 in a, b and c phases, respectively.
This indicates that the Zig-Zag transformer has the performance
of balancing the three-phase currents.
From the above simulation, it can be found that the Zig-Zag
is capable of attenuating the neutral current under the condition of balanced utility voltages. This result is very consistent
to (9). Moreover, the Zig-Zag transformer can reduce the total
harmonic distortion and balance the three- phase currents of the
utility side.

In the practical three-phase four-wire industry distribution


power system, the unbalanced utility voltages caused by the
unequal load distribution in each phase or the abnormal phase
change may occur frequently. The unbalanced utility voltages
can be divided into amplitude unbalance and phase unbalance.
Considering the phase unbalance, the phases of three-phase
and 110 respectively. Fig. 7 shows
voltages are 0 ,
the simulation results of this condition. Since the unbalanced
three-phase voltages contain a zero-sequence voltage, and this
will generate a significant fundamental component flows between the utility, the neutral conductor on the utility side and
the Zig-Zag transformer. As seen in Fig. 7, the neutral current on the utility side contains a large fundamental component.
This coincides with the above analysis that the use of Zig-Zag
transformer in an unbalanced three-phase four-wire distribution
power system will induce a significant unexpected neutral current. The neutral current on the utility side is 97.72 A (RMS),
and that is 20.95 A (RMS) on the load side. The neutral current of the utility side becomes larger, and that is more than four
times of that on the load side.
Considering the amplitude unbalance, the amplitudes of
three-phase voltages are 180 V, 180 V and 160 V respectively.
Fig. 8 shows the simulation results of this condition. Since
the unbalanced three-phase voltages contain a zero-sequence
voltage, and this will generate a significant fundamental component flows through the utility, the neutral conductor on the
utility side and the Zig-Zag transformer. The neutral current on
the utility side is 62.17 A (RMS), and that is 20.17 A (RMS)
on the load side. The neutral current on the utility side is about
three times of that on the load side.
The above results show that the neutral current and phase
current of three-phase four-wire distribution power system
under the unbalanced utility voltages becomes larger after
applying the Zig-Zag transformer. At the same time, the current
flowing through the Zig-Zag transformer is also very high.

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Fig. 8. Simulation result of phase A under the utility voltage with amplitude
unbalance, (a) three-phase utility voltage, (b) utility current, (c) load current,
(d) Zig-Zag transformer current, (e) utility side neutral current, and (f) load side
neutral current.

These results are very consistent to (10). Although the Zig-Zag


transformer can balance the utility currents to reduce the zero
sequence components of the utility voltages, but the utility
voltages still may contain zero-sequence components due to the
zero-sequence current generated by the upstream loads. This
indicates that the unbalance analysis of the three-phase four-wire
utility voltages is very important before applying the Zig-Zag
transformer. Otherwise, the use of the Zig-Zag transformer in
the three-phase four-wire distribution power system may result
in the burn-down of the Zig-Zag transformer or the neutral
conductor. The unbalanced utility voltages, which may cause
the neutral current after applying the Zig-Zag transformer to
become larger than that before applying the Zig-Zag transformer,
,
and
. If the
is depended on the impedances of
voltage unbalance is larger than 3%, the neutral current becomes
larger after applying Zig-Zag transformer under the system
parameters using in this paper. Fortunately, the use of an
) can alleviate this problem.
insertion inductor (
C. Distorted Utility Voltage
Waveforms of the utility voltages are frequently distorted due
to the wide use of the nonlinear loads in the distribution power
system. Fig. 9 shows the simulation result under the condition
of the utility voltages containing 19 V 3rd harmonic and 17 V
5th harmonic. Because the 3rd harmonic voltage is a zero-sequence voltage, it will induce a significant neutral current
flowing through the utility and the Zig-Zag transformer. Fig. 9
shows that the utility current, the utility side neutral current
and the Zig-Zag transformer current all contain a significant
3rd harmonic component due to the 3rd harmonic voltage. The
neutral current on the utility side is 113.46 A (RMS) and that
is 20.754 A (RMS) on the load side. The neutral current on the
utility side is more than five times of that on the load side. These
results show that the neutral current in three-phase four-wire
system after applying the Zig-Zag becomes larger when the
utility voltages contain zero-sequence harmonic components.
This result is very consistent (10).

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY, VOL. 20, NO. 2, APRIL 2005

Fig. 9. Simulation result of phase A under the distorted utility voltage,


(a) three-phase utility voltage, (b) utility current, (c) load current, (d) Zig-Zag
transformer current, (e) utility side neutral current, and (f) load side neutral
current.

Fig. 10. The relationship between utility side neutral current and the insertion
inductor.

D. The Effect of Insertion Inductor


From the analysis in Section III, it can be found that an
inductor can be inserted into the neutral conductor on the utility
side to increase the impedance of the neutral conductor on the
utility side to reduce the neutral current on the utility side in
the three-phase four-wire distribution power system with the
Zig-Zag transformer. Hence, an inductor is suggested to be
inserted in the neutral conductor of the utility side in some
applications to intensify the effect of the Zig-Zag transformer for
attenuating the neutral current. Fig. 10 shows the relationship
of the neutral current on the utility side and the insertion
inductor. As seen in Fig. 10, the larger the insertion inductance
is, the better the attenuating effect of the neutral current on
the utility side will be. Besides, the insertion of an inductor in
the utility side neutral conductor can improve overloading of
the neutral current caused by the unbalanced utility voltages
and the distorted utility voltages with zero-sequence harmonic
components.
V. CONCLUSIONS
The over-load of the neutral conductor is a very serious
problem in todays three-phase four-wire distribution power
systems. Although this problem can be solved effectively by
using the three-phase four-wire active power filter, the use of

JOU et al.: ANALYSIS OF ZIG-ZAG TRANSFORMER APPLYING IN THE THREE-PHASE FOUR-WIRE DISTRIBUTION POWER SYSTEM

three-phase four-wire active power filter is limited due to its


high cost. The Zig-Zag transformer is still a popular solution
for this problem due to its low cost, easy installation and free
maintenance. The analysis and simulation results in this paper
show that:
(1) the Zig-Zag transformer can effectively attenuate the
neutral current and zero-sequence harmonic currents
on the utility side under the balanced utility voltages;
(2) the utility side neutral current becomes larger under the
unbalanced utility voltages after applying the Zig-Zag
transformer;
(3) the utility side neutral current becomes larger under the
distorted utility voltages with zero sequence harmonic
components after applying the Zig-Zag transformer;
(4) the insertion of an inductor in the utility side can increase the attenuated rate of the utility side neutral current, however, it may cause abnormal operation of the
electric facilities in the load side and even electrical
accidents;
(5) the insertion of an inductor in the utility side neutral conductor can improve the undesired increasing
of the neutral current and the zero-sequence harmonic
currents of the utility side after applying the Zig-Zag
transformer under the unbalanced utility voltages and
the distorted utility voltages with zero-sequence harmonic components;
(6) the performance of the Zig-Zag will be better if the
Zig-Zag transformer is installed near to the load.
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Hurng-Liahng Jou (M98) was born in Taiwan, R.O.C., in 1959. He received


the B.S.E.E. degree from Chung Yuan University, Jonglih, Taiwan, in 1982,
and the M.S.E.E and Ph.D.E.E. degrees from National Cheng Kung University,
Tainan, Taiwan, in 1984 and 1991, respectively.
Currently, he is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering of
National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. His
research interests include power electronics applications and power quality improvement technique.

Jinn-Chang Wu was born in Tainan, Taiwan, in 1968. He received the M.S.E.E.


and Ph.D.E.E. degrees from National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan,
in 1992 and 2000.
Currently he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Kun Shan University of Technology. His research interests are power
quality and power electronic applications.

Kuen-Der Wu was born in Tainan, Taiwan, R.O.C., in 1954. He received the


B.S.E.E. degree from Tamkang University, Taipei, Taiwan, in 1977, and the
M.S.E.E. degree from National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, in
1980.
He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering of National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung,
Taiwan. His research interests are power electronics applications and power
quality improvement technique.

Wen-Jung Chiang was born in Changhua, Taiwan, R.O.C., in 1980. He received the B.S.E.E. degree from National Kaohsiung University of Technology,
Taiwan, in 2003. He is currently pursuing the M.S. degree in the Electrical Engineering Department of National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences,
Kaohsiung Taiwan.
His research interests are power electronics applications and DSP control.

Yi-Hsun Chen was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C., on April 16, 1984. He is
currently pursuing the B.S. degree in electrical engineering, National Kaohsiung
University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung Taiwan.