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This paper presents a comprehensive comparative analysis between rate-of-change-of-frequency (ROCOF) and vector-surge (VS) relays for distributed generation islanding detection. The analysis is based on the concepts of detection-time versus active power-imbalance curves and critical active power imbalance. Such curves are obtained through dynamic simulations. The performance of these devices considering different scenarios is determined and compared. Factors such as voltage-dependent loads, generator inertia constant, and multidistributed generator systems are analyzed. False operation of these relays due to faults in adjacent feeders is also addressed. Results show that ROCOF relays are more reliable to detect islanding than vector surge relays when the active power imbalance in the islanded system is small. However, ROCOF relays are more susceptible to false operation than VS relays.