Optical detection is reliable in intrinsically characterizing partial discharges (PDs). Because of the great volume and high-level power supply of the optical devices that can satisfy the requirements in photosensitivity, optical PD detection can merely be used in laboratory studies. To promote the practical application of the optical approach in an actual power apparatus, a silicon photomultiplier (SiPM)-based PD sensor is introduced in this paper, and its basic properties, which include the sensitivity, pulse resolution, correlation with PD severity, and electromagnetic (EM) interference immunity, are experimentally evaluated. The stochastic phase-resolved PD pattern (PRPD) for three typical insulation defects are obtained by SiPM PD detector and are compared with those obtained using a high-frequency current transformer (HFCT) and a vacuum photomultiplier tube (PMT). Because of its good performances in the above aspects and its additional advantages, such as the small size, low power supply, and low cost, SiPM offers great potential in practical optical PD monitoring.
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