The two general types of construction used for shunt reactors are dry-type and oil-immersed. The construction features of each type, along with variations in design, are discussed under the headings which follow.
Dry-type shunt reactors generally are limited to voltages through 34.5 kV and are usually applied on the tertiary of a transformer which is connected to the transmission line being compensated. The reactors are of the air-core (coreless) type, open to the atmosphere, suitable for indoor or outdoor application. Natural convection of ambient air is generally used for cooling the unit by arranging the windings so as to permit free circulation of air between layers and turns.
The layers and turns are supported mechanically by bracing members or supports made from materials such as ceramics, glass polyester, and concrete. The reactors are constructed as single-phase units and are mounted on base insulators or insulating pedestals which provide the insulation to ground and the support for the reactor.
Because the dry-type shunt reactor has no housing or shielding, a high-intensity external magnetic field is produced when the reactor is energized. Care is thus required in specifying the clearances and arrangement of the reactor units, mounting pad, station structure, and any metal enclosure around the reactor or in the proximity of the reactor.
A closed metallic loop in the vicinity of the reactor produces losses, heating, and arcing at poor joints; therefore, it is important to avoid these loops and to maintain sufficient separation distances. Shielding may be required when it is not possible to arrange dry-type units in an equilateral-triangle configuration isolated from external magnetic influences. This shielding is required to limit the impedance deviation between phases. Deviation from impedance values for reactors will result in a deviation from the actual MVAR rating.
For the same range of applications, the primary advantages of dry-type air-core reactors, compared to oil-immersed types, are lower initial and operating costs, lower weight, lower losses, and the absence of insulating oil and its maintenance. The main disadvantages of dry-type reactors are limitations on voltage and kVA ratings and the high intensity external magnetic field mentioned above. Because these reactors do not have an iron core, there is no magnetizing inrush current when the reactor is energized.
The two design configurations of oil-immersed shunt reactors are coreless type and gapped iron-core type. Both designs are subject to low-frequency longtime constant currents during de-energizing, determined by the parallel combination of the reactor's inductance and line capacitance. However, the gapped iron-core design is subject to more severe energizing inrush than the coreless type.
Most coreless shunt reactor designs have a magnetic circuit (magnetic shield) which surrounds the coil to contain the flux within the reactor tank. The steel core-leg that normally provides a magnetic flux path through the coil of a power transformer is replaced (when constructing coreless reactors) by insulating support structures. This type of construction results in an inductor that is linear with respect to voltage.
The magnetic circuit of a gapped iron-core reactor is constructed in a manner very similar to that used for power transformers with the exception that small gaps are introduced in the iron core to improve the linearity of inductance of the reactor and to reduce residual or remanent flux when compared to a reactor without a gapped core.
Oil-immersed shunt reactors can be constructed as single-phase or three-phase units and are very similar in external appearance to that of conventional power transformers. They are designed for either self cooling or forced cooling.