Utilities face numerous challenges in maintaining services and ensuring safety, while rolling out smarter network technology.  Power delivery to a customer premises through the Utility distribution network is increasingly billed and monitored through smart meters.  While meters vary, many have some power monitoring function as well as their consumption/billing capabilities.   Even though meters can perform both of these key roles, Utilities can face additional issues in the last stage of delivery of service to a customer.

The cabling infrastructure that physically connects the customer premises to the power distribution network varies in type, length and in the way it is connected to the network.  Issues with cable damage, deterioration and tampering often remain undetected unless the cable damage leads to a power outage. Even then, detection is often down to the customer noticing power loss unless the meter is equipped to notify the Utility of the outage.  In addition to damage or cable failure, cable tampering to enable power theft is an increasing issue worldwide.

Low voltage cable fault

Cable damage can have permanent or intermittent effects.  These can vary from all or one of the cable cores being severed, through to damage or erosion that creates an intermittent problem, usually causing arcing and sometimes fire risk. Both damage types represent challenges for outage management.  While meters with power monitoring can (if equipped) notify of an outage, locating the problem can be an issue that delays repair.  In contrast, intermittent issues are rarely detected until they develop into a full fault, causing a service outage and possible safety risk.

To detect and locate these faults or tamper events requires the capability to see what is happening within the infrastructure while operational.   To ‘look into’ cabling infrastructure while it is in operation, requires the monitoring system to be able to sense faults while power and communications are present, without interfering with the operation of the infrastructure being monitored.   This has been achieved by LiveWire using a combined solution of Spread Spectrum and Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) technology. This capability also enables real time detection of unauthorised cable/wire taps for the purposes of power theft.

Whether the SSTDR capability is built into a device such as a smart meter, or is utilised within engineer site test equipment, power utilities can now monitor for faults in real time, speed the location of both permanent and intermittent issues and prove power theft events without taking the customer out of service.

Embedded Solutions

LiveWire’s sensor ‘engines’ in the form of fully engineered, credit-card sized printed circuit boards and multi-board stacks, as well as SSTDR chip-sets with corresponding reference designs for very high-volume applications.

LiveWire can work with most communications and control options.  Update and reporting interfaces that can be used include serial, USB, JTAG, Ethernet and others. Board-level solutions can support several other communications protocols including, SPI, I2C and CAN.

Handheld Solutions

Fully housed sensor modules for permanent installation. Handheld products using LiveWire’s Spread Spectrum brand of TDR for maintenance, field testing and electrical contractor markets.

The Mantis™ LW-MM200 is the first live cable tester module that monitors energized cable run faults and electrical circuits around-the-clock.

Fault Trapper monitors live circuits for intermittent conditions to record time and distance to Opens, Shorts and Arc Faults.

Dual mode TDR for testing and monitoring energized and unenergized systems.

Power Prowler

3-In-1 DMM/TDR Cable Fault Finder

FaultChaser Handheld

Fault Finding/Cable Length Measurement TDR