Unit protection schemes, formed by a number of relays located remotely from each other, and some distance protection schemes, require some form of communication between each location in order to achieve a unit protection function. This form of communication is known as protection signalling. Additionally communications facilities are also required when remote operation of a circuit breaker is required as a result of a local event. This form of communications is known as inter-tripping. The communication messages involved may be quite simple, involving instructions for the receiving device to take some defined action (trip, block, etc.), or it may be the passing of measured data in some form from one device to another (as in a unit protection scheme). Various types of communication links are available for protection signalling, for example:
i. private pilot wires installed by the power authority
ii. pilot wires or channels rented from a communications company
iii. carrier channels at high frequencies over the power lines
iv. radio channels at very high or ultra high frequencies
v. optical fibers
Whether or not a particular link is used depends on factors such as the availability of an appropriate communication network, the distance between protection relaying points, the terrain over which the power network is constructed, as well as cost. Protection signalling is used to implement Unit Protection schemes, provide teleprotection commands, or implement inter-tripping between circuit breakers.
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