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2.0 INTRODUCTION: The object of earthing system is to provide as nearly as possible a
The object of earthing system is to provide as nearly as possible a surface , under and around a
substation , which shall be at , at a uniform potential and nearly zero or absolute earth potential
as possible with a view to ensure,
i) All parts of equipments (other than live parts) connected to the earthing system (through
earthing conductors) shall be at ground potential.
ii) Operators and attendants shall be at ground potential at all times.
By providing a ground surface of uniform potential under and surrounding the substation, no
difference in potential exists great enough to shock or injury to an attendant when short circuits
or abnormal occurrences take place.
The concept of good earthing of equipments is to obtain an earth resistance as low as possible.
However in a system if a ground fault currents are excessively high it is very difficult to keep
ground potential to safe limits even if the earth resistance is kept low. In order achieve a safe
potential difference , the modern practice is adopt grid or mat earthing so that a voltage gradient
control under, ground fault conditions so as to keep the potential difference between two points
within safe limits and avoid danger to attendant.
Fig 1
The MS flat is laid horizontally and vertically to form a grid or mat and buried below the
ground. Raisers are brought out from the grid and all electrical equipments including fencing
and gates of substation are connected. Usually the exposed conductors are GI flats.
The flow of ground fault currents results in voltage gradients on the surface of the earth in the
vicinity of the grounding system.

The voltage that exists between the two feet of a person standing on a ground is called step

potential ref Fig 2.

Potential rise during fault R f R f
Potential rise during fault
R f
R f

E step

Fig 2 The tolerable step potential E Step value of E Step (Tolerable) = (Rk +2 Rf )Ik Volts, where Rk

is body resistance , Rf is resistance between one step & ground. For practical purpose it is

assumed to be 3 ρ where ρ is soil resistivity of the soil in Ohm meter.

Rk is resistance of the body in Ohms usually 1000 Ohms. Ik is the rms current flowing through

the body in Amps.

I k = k / t where k= S B & S B is the empirical constant related to electric shock energy =

0.0135for persons weighing 50 Kgs and 0.0246 for persons weighing 70 Kgs.

K for persons weighing 50 Kgs is taken as 0.116 & 0.157 for persons weighing 70 Kgs.

Corresponding values of I k and shock duration 3 sec are 0.116 / t and 0.0155 / t are 0.067 &

0.009 for sustained faults.


step for fault duration of 3 sec


step ( Tolerable) = [1000 + 6 ρ] 0.157 / t]


step ( Tolerable) = [157 + 0.942 ρ] / t]

For sustained faults,


step ( Tolerable) = [1000 + 6 ρ] 0.157 / t]


step ( Tolerable) = 9 + 0.054 ρ / t

Spreading of gravel or crushed rock layer of 0.08 to 0.15 m or ( 3 to 6 inch) thickness on the

earth surface will retard the evaporation of moisture from soil and will increase the contact

resistance between feet & soil. This resistance may be considerably less than that of crushed

rock. The resultant value of resistance depends on the thickness of crushed rock layer and

relative value of the resistivity of earth and rock . for values ref Fig 3. By neglecting the mutual resistance between the feet and assuming equivalent radius of foot equal to 0.080 m (3 inches) & for fault duration less than 3 sec,

E step ( Tolerable) = [1000 + 6 ρ s C s (hs, k)] 0.157 / t Volts where ρ s is resistivity of crushed

rock in ohm mtrs, C s is reduction factor for de rating the nominal value of surface layer resistivity , 1 for soil resistivity equal to crushed rock resistivity


step Potential for sustained faults,


step ( Tolerable) = [1000 + 6 ρ C s (hs, k)] Volts


step ( Tolerable) = 9 + 0.054 ρ C s (hs, k) Volts

For grounding to be safe, for step contact under fault conditions the voltage gradient in volts per

meter on the surface of the ground should not exceed the value obtained from the above equation.

not exceed the value obtained from the above equation. Fig 3 Reduction factor C s ,

Fig 3 Reduction factor C s , function of reflection factor k and layer thickness h s of crushed rock

ρ - ρ s k = ----------------- = Reflection Factor ρ + ρ s


The voltage that exists between hand and both feet of a person is called touch potential as shown Fig 4. The tolerable touch Potential E touch = (Rk + Rf /2) Ik Volts.

E Touch R f / 2 E Touch Fig 4
E Touch
R f / 2
E Touch
Fig 4

Similarly for tolerable touch potential the potential difference between any point on the ground

where a person stands and any point on the equipment which can be touched simultaneously is

given by,


touch (Tolerable) = (Rk = Rf /2) Ik


touch (Tolerable) = (157 + 0.2355 ρ) / t Volts for sustained faults


touch (Tolerable) = (9 + 0.0135 ρ) / t Volts


touch (Tolerable) = (1000 + 1.5 ρ) 0.157/ t Volts

Similarly Tolerable touch potential with Gravel or crushed rock layer

E touch (Tolerable) = [1000 +0.235 ρ Cs (hs, k)] / t Volts

For sustained Faults

E touch (Tolerable) = (9 + 0.0235 ρ Cs (hs, k) / t Volts


4.1 While designing a grounding grid for a substation the following information are required.

i) Maximum Ground Fault Current.

ii) Resistivity of the soil at the substation site.

iii) Fault Clearing Time.

iv) Area Covered by the substation.

i) Maximum Ground Fault Current.

The maximum ground fault current constitutes a major factor in the design. This determines

cross sectional area of the ground conductor as well as rise of grounding potential. The

potential gradient is a function of current. A multiplication factor of 1.2 to 1.5 times the

calculated fault current will be considered for any future growth in the grids leading to rise in

fault currents.

ii) Resistivity of the soil.

Resistivity of the soil varies between 1 to 10000 ohm mtr. It is necessary to obtain accurate

data on the soil resistivity and its variations. Tests are to be conducted at different seasons to

get a better data. A number of test locations are to be selected and test conducted accordingly.

The average arithmetical value will give the soil resistivity to be considered for design


iii) Fault Clearing Time.

Fault Clearing Time depends on

a) System Stability.

b) Type of switchgear.

c) Relay used.

As per Indian standards the fault clearing time will be for 3 seconds.

iv) Area Covered by the substation.

The area covered depends on number and type of equipment. The area can be calculated

when once the substation layout is finalized.


i) Selection of Grounding Material:

Materials for grounding conductor shall have,

a) High Conductivity,

b) Low rate of corrosion by soil,

c) Low rate of corrosion due to galvanic action.

Copper will fulfill the above requirement. It will also create galvanic action with other

materials like zinc lead and iron buried near to it. Due cathodic in nature, copper material

causes corrosion of other materials like steel pipes, conduits etc.

Due to high cost and scarcity, copper material is not being used for grounding. As an

alternative, steel is being used for grounding purposes. The advantage of using steel is as


a) Available in plenty,

b) Cheaper than copper,

c) Avoids galvanic action in the soil with most other materials buried is also iron.

The major disadvantage of using steel as grounding material is , its corrosion which is

approximately 6 times faster than that of copper. Higher cross-section of steel is to be used to

take care of corrosion. Galvanizing steel (zinc coated) is one method to restrict corrosion.

However galvanized steel is not buried in the soil. As an alternative, steel coated with copper

will also restrict the corrosion effect. If the soil resistivity is low, rate of corrosion of

galvanized steel will be faster.

ii) Size of conductor.

The size of conductor involves the following factors.

a) Thermal stability to ground fault currents.

b) Mechanically strong.

c) The material lost at least 50 years.

d) Sufficient conductivity so that it does not contribute substantially to local potential gradients.

For thermal consideration, the size of conductor depends on,

a) Ground Fault Current.

b) Fault Clearing Time.

c) Material of the conductor.

The minimum size of conductor is as detailed below.



Minimum size of conductor in circular mils (mm) per amp



n of

Fault in



Welded Joints


Bolted joints


























46 (0.0233)




























Note One Circular mill is 0.0005067 sq mm.

iii)Preliminary arrangements of Grounding Conductor.

a) Continuous grounding conductors should surround the substation to enclose as much as possible.

b) Additional grounding conductors should be laid in parallel lines at reasonably uniform spacing along the rows of structure or equipment.

c) Cross connection resulting in meshes should be provided for multiple paths from transformer neutral connection.

d) In areas where soil resistivity varies season to season, additional grounding rods of not less than 3 mtrs are to be provided. The rods shall have capability to carry current without overheating.

Maximum ground fault current

Min No. Number of rods = --------------------------------------------


iv) Conductor Length required for Gradient Control:

In order to keep touch potential within safe limits, minimum length of buried conductors is required. The touch potential is referred as mesh potential i.e. potential from grounded structure to the centre of a rectangle of the grid mesh.

Km x Ki x ρ x Ig t L = -------------------------------------- mtrs

157 + 0.235 ρ s x Cs (hs, k)


Calculation of Resistance of Grounding system by Sverak formulae :

Km = 1 /

2 π[ In { D 2 / 16 h d + ( D+ 2h) 2 / 8 D d – h / 4d}+ (k ii / k h ) x In

8 / π (2n -1) ]


= n A x n B



A &

n B

are the number of conductors in each direction.

D = Spacing between parallel conductors.

d = Equivalent diameter of grounding strip in meters.

4 x A /π

d = ---------------


h= depth of burial of grid conductors.

K ii = 1 for grid with ground rods along the perimeter or in grid corners, as well as both along

the perimeter and throughout the grid area.



ii = ---------------- (2 π) 2/n

For grids with no ground rods or a few ground rods inside the grid and not on the periphery.

k h = 1+ h/h 0 h 0 = 1 m for usual depth range of 0 < h 2.5 m.

K i = 0.656 + 0.172 n

ii) Calculation of Resistance of Grounding system.

Niemann’s formula:



ρ / 4 r + ρ / L

Where r = A / π & h (depth of burial of grid) < 0.25 m, r = A / π

For Grid depth between 0.25 and 2.5 m, correction for the grid depth is required. Using

Sverak’s approximation

R (h) = ρ [1/L + 1/ 20 A {1 + 1 / (1+ h 20 /A)}]

h = grid burial depth in mtrs.

L = Total Length of buried conductor.

A = area of grid m 2

ρ = Resistivity in Ohm mtr.


Calculation of Resistance of Grounding system As per Indian standard

100 ρ

288 x

l 2

R= ----------- Inv -------------

2 π l Where,

ρ = Resistivity in Ohm mtr.


l = Length of strip in Cms.

t = width of strip (in case of strip) or twice the diameter (in case of round conductor) in cms.

W= depth of burial of electrodes in cms.

5.0 Checking the Design;

Having decided the size , length and layout of the grounding conductor, it is necessary to

check the grid potential rise and to check that step & touch potentials remain within limits as

would be tolerable and no serious harm to the operating staff is feared.

5.1 Maximum Grid Potential & touch potential Rise.

This is cal culated form Ohm’s law

IR = Max ground Fault current X Resistance of grounding system.

5.2 Internal Mesh & Touch potential

The meshes of grounding grid shall be sufficiently small so that the stp & touch potentials are

kept within safe limits The mesh potential is

K m K i ρ E mesh = --------------------


157+ 0.2355 ρ s Cs (hs, k)

E touch (Tolerable) = ----------------------------------



If E mesh value is less that

E touch (Tolerable) no further correction in further closing of

mesh. If E mesh value is more than E touch (Tolerable) modification in design is to be done.

5.3 Step Portential at the Pheriphery:

The value of step potential at the pheriphary

Ks Ki ρ l E step = --------------------------


Where K i is irregularity factor = 0.656 + 0.172 n , n is the greater of n A & n B

K s =mesh factor =

157 + ρ Tolerable E step outside the sub station for natural earth = ------------- t

1/ π [ 1/2h + 1/ D +h + 1/D

( 1- 0.5 n-2 )

for 0.25 < h< 2.5 m

6.0 Transferred Potential:

Any conducting object connected to the substation earth ground, such as telephone wires, rails, fences, or metallic piping, may also be energized at the ground potential in the substation. This transferred potential is a hazard to people and equipment outside the substation. The ground potential rise (GPR) produces a dangerous potential difference between the sub station and a remote ground connection located at a telephone company control office, remote terminal, distant manufacturing building or other sites. Telecommunication cable damage can occur if grounding takes place across the potential difference caused by a power fault or lightning strike.

7.0. Fencing:

Out door substatoion except pole mounted SS shall be effectively protected by fencing not less than 2.5 m in height so as to prevent access to electric supply lines.and apparatus there in by an un athorised persons. Generally metallic post are used for fence and burried to a certain depth. The general practice is to provide pipe or rod earhing to the fence post alternatively. The metallic gates of SS or also earthed by pipe earhing.

8.0 General Instructionsfor Laying earth grid:

1) Trenches dug for burrying the grounding conductor shall be filled with earth free of stones. The filling shall be carefully rammed. 2) all joints of grounding steel strips between themselves and grounding electrodes shall be overlapped & welded. The length of welds shall be equal to at least double the width of the strip. Where copper conductors are is used the joints shall be rivetted or brazed or bolted. 3) Joints in the earth bar between switchgear units or to cable sheaths which may subsequently require to be broken shall be bolted.

4) for protection against rust of urried welded joints , located in soil , the weld shall be coated with molten bitumen and covered with bitumen impregnated tape. In case of coppwer conductor the joints shall be tinned. 5) Before welding , the steel strips shall be clamped tightly to ensure good surface contact between them. 6) Where the diameter of the bolt for connecting the earth bar to apparatus exceeds one quarter of the width of the earth bar, the connection to te the bolts shall be made with a wider piece or falg of metal jointed to the earth bar. If copper the earth bar or flags shall be tinned at the point of connection to equipments and special care is required to ensure a permanent low resistance contact to iron or steel. 7) The equipment earthing shall be done as per IE rules. 8) The overhead ground wires of transmission lines shall be solidly connected to the grounding grid. 9) All the area over which the ground grid ia spread shall be covered by 7.5 cm thick crushed rock which shall also be spread 1 to 1.5 m from the pheriphey grounding conductor. Where the fence is connected to the main grounding system crushed rock shall be placed outside along the pheriphery og the fence. 10)Separate earthing electrodes shall be provided in the vicinity of lightning arresters, coupling capacitors and transformer neutrals. These electrodes shall be connected to general earthing system so as to have minimum of impedance between the lightning arresters , groungd terminals and the protected equippments.