It is important to monitor the radial loads in hydropower units in order to protect the machine from harmful radial loads. Existing recommendations in the standards regarding the radial movements of the shaft and bearing housing in hydropower units, ISO-7919-5 (International Organization for Standardization, 2005, “ISO 7919-5: Mechanical Vibration—Evaluation of Machine Vibration by Measurements on Rotating Shafts—Part 5: Machine Sets in Hydraulic Power Generating and Pumping Plants,” Geneva, Switzerland) and ISO-10816-5 (International Organization for Standardization, 2000, “ISO 10816-5: Mechanical Vibration—Evaluation of Machine Vibration by Measurements on Non-Rotating Parts—Part 5: Machine Sets in Hydraulic Power Generating and Pumping Plants,” Geneva, Switzerland), have alarm levels based on statistical data and do not consider the mechanical properties of the machine. The synchronous speed of the unit determines the maximum recommended shaft displacement and housing acceleration, according to these standards. This paper presents a methodology for the alarm and trip levels based on the design criteria of the hydropower unit and the measured radial loads in the machine during operation. When a hydropower unit is designed, one of its design criteria is to withstand certain loads spectra without the occurrence of fatigue in the mechanical components. These calculated limits for fatigue are used to set limits for the maximum radial loads allowed in the machine before it shuts down in order to protect itself from damage due to high radial loads. Radial loads in hydropower units are caused by unbalance, shape deviations, dynamic flow properties in the turbine, etc. Standards exist for balancing and manufacturers (and power plant owners) have recommendations for maximum allowed shape deviations in generators. These standards and recommendations determine which loads, at a maximum, should be allowed before an alarm is sent that the machine needs maintenance. The radial bearing load can be determined using load cells, bearing properties multiplied by shaft displacement, or bearing bracket stiffness multiplied by housing compression or movement. Different load measurement methods should be used depending on the design of the machine and accuracy demands in the load measurement. The methodology presented in the paper is applied to a 40 MW hydropower unit; suggestions are presented for the alarm and trip levels for the machine based on the mechanical properties and radial loads.

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