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What is Skin Effect in Power System? (Electrical Engineering): Explanation

Updated on June 19, 2013

Skin Effect

There are mainly two effects to be considered in flow of current in conductors of power system.

1. Skin Effect

2. Proximity Effect

What is “Skin Effect”?

Here I am going to explain about Skin Effect. This name is given as from the “skin” word of human body is compared with conductor’s skin. There are two types of current that can pass through conductors in power system. Which are:

1. Alternating Current (A.C)

2. Direct Current (D.C)

When The D.C. (Direct Current) flows in the conductor, the passing current is uniformly distributed across the section of conductor.

When an A.C. Current passing through conductor tends to distribute itself non-uniformly throughout the cross section. The Portion which is near to the surface of conductor will carry a major part of total current. This phemenon is known as skin effect. We can understand this easily by considering the example. Now consider a solid current carrying conductor of circular cross section as shown in figure below:

cross section of conductors (skin effect)
cross section of conductors (skin effect) | Source

Now we can assume this conductor by a large number of small elements in parallel, bunched together and occupying the same space such that the total area of cross section remaining unchanged as shown in figure. Each small element now carries a fraction of total current and these currents setup magnetic fields.

There is a difference in the flux set up by the inner and outer elements. The flux due to element ‘a’ links but not with any of the outer elements. The flux due to an outer element like ‘b’ links with all inner elements up to ‘b’.

The innermost element ‘a’ is concentrated with more flux, thus the inductance of it is much more than that of an outer element ‘b’, which is nearer to surface.

Due to higher reactance of the inner elements, the current would have tendency to concentrate itself to paths nearer to surface of the conductor. This reduces the effective area of cross section of the conductor. The distribution of current is non-uniform.

A typical distribution of current is as shown in below figure:

current flowing in conductor power system (skin effect)
current flowing in conductor power system (skin effect) | Source

Because of this effect the effective resistance of path through which current is passing will be increased. At frequencies less than 50 Hz and diameter less than 1 cm, skin effect is negligible.

Skin effect will depends on the following factors:

1.Frequency: Skin effect increases with increase in frequency

2.Diameter: it increases with increase in diameter.

3.Shape of wire: skin effect is less for stranded conductor and more for solid conductor.

4.Nature of material

Thus skin effect plays major part on selecting conductors for power system. Because there are many factors that affects this effect.

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