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KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

GROUNDING & EARTHING

M S Suresh

What do they mean?

Earthing
Grounding
Bonding

Earthing

Earthing is provision of specific return path for fault


currents for protective device to operate
Earthing is also connection of electronic circuits to 0V
reference line

Grounding
Grounding is connecting electrical circuits
and metal parts to planet earth

Bonding
Bonding is connecting adjacent conducting materials
together reliably to ensure interconnected objects are at
the same potential

Earthing & Grounding

In normal use Earthing and Grounding are


mixed up and generally referred for connecting
to the planet earth.
Earthing is commonly used in UK and
Grounding in USA
In Asia both terms are used. Most commonly
used is Earthing.

Earthing Nomenclatures

Clean Earth
Dirty Earth
Plant Earth
Structural Earth
Power Earth
Neutral Earth
Panel Earth
Restricted Earth
Surge Earth
Protective Multiple
Earth(PME)

Screen Earth
System Earth
Computer Earth
Instrument Earth
Secure Earth
DC Earth
Intrinsic Safe Earth
Chassis Earth

Ground/Earth Symbols
Ground Point

0V reference(chassis)
not connected to ground

Why should we ground?

Grounding is done

To prevent potential electric shock hazard.


To provide a dedicated reliable low impedance return path for
fault currents so that the fault can be detected and source of
power is removed quickly
To minimize the effect of lightning strikes on the installation
To prevent build up of electrostatic discharges
To minimize the effect of electrical interference and provide a
signal reference for instrumentation system
To provide fault path necessary to ensure the safety of explosion
proof apparatus.

Causes for electrical shock hazard

Potential difference between metal parts and


earth causes electric shock when touched.
Potential difference occurs due to:
Body

of electrical equipments coming in contact


with live wires due to internal fault
Static charge developed due to intermittent
contact between non conducting materials

What is the effect of electric shock?

Electric shock is the result of current through the


body which interferes with nervous control and
functioning of heart and lungs.
The severity of electric shock depends on the
amount of current that passes through the body.
1mA

Electric shock and pain is felt

5mA

Maximum current thru body that is harmless

10-20mA

Cannot break away from contact with live parts

50mA

Starts interfering with heart functioning

100-300mA

Fatal

How electric shock is prevented?


Grounding the metal parts eliminates the potential
difference to earth

What is the effect of grounding?

Electric charge in the live parts flows to earth.


Earth being large mass the electric charge is dispersed
over large mass and gets neutralized.

Lightning & its effect

Electric charge is developed in the cloud due


to moist air currents. When the charge voltage
is very high the atmospheric resistance breaks
down and lighting occurs.
The potential of the surface where lighting
strikes raises very high momentarily until the
charge is dispersed in the earth.
Very high potential results in large current flow
of the order of 30kA which causes severe
damage to the place where lighting strikes

Lightning and Its effect

Protection against lightning


Install lightning arrestor at highest points and
ground with low resistance conductor to avoid
the lightning current from passing through
sensitive equipment

Bond to minimize
potential difference
Large Potential difference due to ground
resistance

Protecting against lightning


Lightning on the conductors can be protected by using
surge protection devices

Electrical interference
The inter-winding capacitance causes stray current to flow through the
instrument amplifier and cable capacitance to main supply neutral causing
interference problem.
Grounding 0V reference line (link X-Y) provides bypass path for interference
current and eliminates the path through instrument amplifier

How is grounding done?


Old Method
In this method, a pit is dug and a large wire mesh is
placed. It is covered with charcoal first and then
sand. A pipe is inserted to water the pit periodically.
Charcoal retains moisture and keeps the ground
around mesh wet. Wet ground is good conductor
compared to dry ground. Sand fill is to indicate the
location of ground pit when some one digs the place
accidentally. Sand also helps to rain ground water
quickly to the wire mesh.
Ground resistance is low and absorbs electrons
quickly due to large surface of wire mesh in contact
with the ground.
Expensive to build and requires large area

How is grounding done?


Present Method
In this method a conductive rod is driven in to the
ground and surrounding is watered.
This method is easy to make and least expensive
Absorption rate slower compared to old method but
effective

Grounding requirements
IS Barriers
A fault current of 100A will raise the voltage at X1 to 100V assuming resistance of
ground wire(X1-X) is 1 . This will result in potential difference of 100V between
body of instrument and internal components in hazardous area, which is not
acceptable. It should be restricted to 10V. This means ground wire resistance
should be 0.1. The ground wire resistance can be higher if the fault current is
lower. Standards specify 1

Body is at 0V and
internal circuit is at 100V

Body is at 100V and


internal circuit is at 0V

Grounding requirements
IS Barriers & Isolators
As in the previous example a 100A fault to ground will result in 100V potential
difference between screen and body of instrument in hazardous area. The
ground wire resistance should be limited to 0.1 to limit the potential difference
to 10V.

Grounding requirements
Surge Arrestors
Is grounding in fig-1 correct? Why?
The voltage across conductor and body of protected equipment is Vc+Vt.
Vc - SPD limiting voltage . Vt - Surge voltage. Vt can be 1000V or more
depending on ground wire resistance. Even though SPD limiting voltage is 16V,
the potential difference in protected equipment is 1016V or more. This will
damage the protect equipment.
In fig-3 the potential difference is SPD limiting voltage Vc thus equipment is
protected

Fig - 1

Fig - 2

Fig - 3

Surge Arrestors grounding


Digital signals

Where should the SPD earth be connected?

Panel Earth
in MP
Connect to System
Earth.

This will protect the Power


not the
module.
Why?
modulesupply
but notbut
power
supply.
Why?

Surge Arrestors grounding


Digital Signals

Insulate PS from panel and ground to system earth

Surge Arrestor grounding


Analogue Signals

Grounding requirements
Surge Arrestors & IS barriers

Grounding wire resistance shall be selected to ensure potential


difference in the field device is not more than 10V for maximum
fault current of the system. It shall not be more than 1 as per
standard

Grounding requirements
Non hazardous application

Why run separate ground wire to earth mat?


Cabinet

If there is a power fault in the cabinet, fault A


current flows from C to G. The potential of C
raises due to ground cable resistance but
does not affect the potential of A and B.
Similarly if there is an external fault on field
device current flows from A to G and
potential of A raises but does not affect B
and C.

C
G

Cabinet

Power fault in cabinet will raise the


potential of C due to ground wire
resistance. Since B is connected to C,
potential of B will also raise and affect
sensitive circuits.

Common or Separate Earth?


Power fault

The power fault current flows from


0v ground mat to neutral ground
mat and back to power supply
neutral point. Since the ground
resistance is generally high, fault
current is low and not sufficient to
activate
protective
devices.
Potential shock hazard and
damage to sensitive equipment.
Lightning strikes may create large
potential difference between 0V
line and equipment. May damage
sensitive equipment.

0
V

Fault current

Common grounding Errors


Marshalling Cabinet

System Cabinet

Equivalent Circuit

Vc

Vc+Vt
Vc

Vt

Safety
Earth

System
Earth

SPD limiting voltage Vc is typically 16V and peak inductive voltage Vt across ground
wire can be as high as 1000V. Voltage across the module terminal and body is
therefore 1016V. This will damage the module.

To protect the module the SPD DIN rail should be insulated


and connected to System Cabinet earth bar as shown in
dotted line. The voltage across the module is Vc.

Module

Module

TP

Common grounding errors


Marshalling
Cabinets

Power
Distribution
Cabinet

MCB

MCB

Power Cable

Ground wire in power cable does


not serve any purpose. It may
cause circulating current if the
ground mats are different.
Use two core cables and save money

Common grounding errors


Insulation between cabinet and
base frame serves no purpose
as it is shorted by the
grounding of non-insulated
earth bar in the cabinet to
safety earth mat.

Rack Insulated

Insulation

Safety Earth

System Earth

Common grounding errors


Safety Earth has no function as it
is not grounding any item.
This is done under the false
notion that system earth does not
provide safety.

Rack

Insulation

System Earth

Safety Earth

IMPORTANT
Grounding eliminates potential
difference between equipment
and earth and always provides
safety by whatever name it is
called

Safety violations
Fused Terminal

230V AC

Fan

Disconnecting Terminal

Both lines are live. It is possible technician


may open only one line for attending to
problem and will suffer electric shock
Ground the neutral line

OR
L

230V AC

Fan

Use Double Pole MCB. Both line and


neutral must be isolated at the same time

Grounding - Daisy chain connection


B

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

50A

50A

1
G

Ground bar in building

Fault in cabinet C will


result in fault current
flowing from C to G via CB-A-G and C-D-E-G. Since
the resistance is equal the
current in two branches will
be 50A each as the total
resistance to ground is
equal. The potential of
ground bars in each
cabinet
ignoring
the
inductive effect will be:
A & E 50V, B & D 55V,
C 60V

In this arrangement potential of ground bars in all the cabinets will


be affected when there is a ground fault in any cabinet.

Grounding - Star connection


B

Fault current will flow


directly from C to G. The
potential of ground bar in
C will raise to 100V and
other cabinets are not
affected.

100A
1

Ground bar in building

In real life situation since cabinets are connected by mounting frame and
metal frames of cabinets, there will be some current flow through other
cabinets ground bar and there will be some potential raise in all the cabinets.
This however will be very small.

Why System Cabinet is insulated?


System
Cabinet

Other
Cabinet

100A

1V
0V

100V
99V

98
M
100A
99A

1A

When the system cabinet is not


insulated, it is connected to other
cabinets via the panel metal parts.
If there is fault in the other panel,
then part of the fault current will
flow through system cabinet
ground bar, raising its potential.

Insulation electrically isolates the


system cabinet from other
cabinets and prevents the flow of
fault current from other cabinets
through its ground bar affecting
its potential.

Cable Screen
Why ground only on one side?
Junction Box

Marshalling
Panel

Circulating Current

Ground Potential Difference

Although the different grounds in the plant are bonded, potential difference still exists
due to capacitance and inductive current flowing to the grounds. This results in
circulating current in the cable screen which induces emf in the conductors.

Connect Screen at marshalling end only to ensure all cable screens are at
same potential

Grounded or Ungrounded supply UPS


UPS rated 30 KVA and above are three phase type.
Insist on grounding the neutral. If the neutral is not
grounded the neutral point voltage will not be zero
for unbalance loads and will affect individual phase
voltages.
R
N
Y
B

Grounded or Ungrounded supply


DI Signals
Grounded System

Ground fault in field will result in fault current flow as shown. If the ground
resistance between plant earth and instrument earth is high then the fuse will not
blow. If the earths are bonded then fault current will be sufficiently high to blow
the fuse

Grounded or Ungrounded supply


DI Signals
Ungrounded Supply

ELR

No change when an earth fault occurs. Earth leak current will flow as shown and
ELR will indicate earth fault. To locate the fault, each circuit has to be isolated one
by one. This may be difficult in running plant. External fault or interference can
affect the signal voltage and prolonged fault condition may damage the module

Grounded or Ungrounded supply


DO Signals
Grounded Supply

Ground fault in field will result in fault current flow as shown. If the ground
resistance between plant earth and instrument earth is high then the fuse will not
blow. If the earths are bonded then fault current will be sufficiently high to blow
the fuse

Grounded or Ungrounded supply


DO Signals
Ungrounded Supply
ELR

A second
fault
will result
short
circuit
and
one
the fuses
thewill
No
changeearth
in the
status.
Earth in
leak
current
will
flow
asofshown
and in
ELR
associated
circuit
will blow.
will continue
to affect
indicate
status as the circuit
indicate
fault.
External
fault ELR
or interference
may
thefault
module.
with healthy fuse still has earth fault.

Overall grounding With SA

Overall grounding Without SA

References
TP 1121 A definitive guide to earthing and bonding in hazardous area (MTL)
TAN 1003 Earthing guide for surge protection (MTL)
IEC 60364-1 Electrical Installation of buildings
IEC 60364-4-41 Protection against electric shock
IEC 60363-4-54 Earthing arrangements, protective conductors and protective
bond conductors

Further reading
Practical Grounding, Bonding, Shielding and Surge Protection by
G. Vijyaraghavan, Mark Brown & Malcom Barnes

Thank You