An electrical coordination study is the assessment of an electrical system to determine the appropriate protective device settings, minimize arc flash incidents, and protect equipment and personnel from faults in the system. The coordination study, along with an arc flash analysis, is required by code and essential for any new construction or major facility renovation project. These studies should also be performed whenever modifications to an electrical system are made.
At its base, a coordination study analyzes the tripping curves for overload devices including long-time, short-time, and instantaneous trip values. When faults occur, the objective is to have the nearest device to the fault trip rather than a device upstream.
Oftentimes, manufacturers will provide an electrical coordination study with their equipment, or coordination studies can be performed by a licensed third-party electrical engineer. Having the manufacturer prepare the study has the advantage of providing a sole source of responsibility along with various other benefits.
Results of the arc flash analysis that accompanies the coordination study are used for equipment labeling that provides arc flash and shock hazard information and PPE requirements for working in the area. Arc flash labels are usually required for the final electrical inspection.
An electrical coordination study usually takes 1-3 months to complete and sometimes longer, so it is important to begin the process early on. Upon completion, it is submitted to the project’s electrical designer for approval. The study is then used to set all breaker trip settings in the facility and provide documentation for electrical commissioning.