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Earth Calcualtion

# Earth Calcualtion

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09/15/2012

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DESIGN AND CALCULATION OF AN EARTH ELECTRODE
J. Gomez
Abstract
People using electrical installations have to be protected against electrical shock. For purposes of protection a distinction is made between direct and indirect contact. Direct contact is contact witha live conductor. Protection is provided by the insulation of cables or the screening of live parts.An indirect contact happens when someone touches exposed metal parts which are not intendedto carry current but have become live as a result of a fault. In this case metallic parts raise themetal to a dangerous potential (contact voltage). Here protection is provided by connecting theexposed metal part (i.e. the case of the electrical machine) to the earthing point of the installation.A protective device will disconnect the circuit as soon as a fault current flows to earth. The earthfault value will depend on the impedance of the path taken by the fault current, which is knownas the earth fault loop. The resistance of the earth electrode plays an important role in the finalimpedance of the earth fault loop, especially when the neutral of the transformer is earthedwithout any impedance. A good earth electrode should have the lowest possible value comparedwith the rest of the earth loop (voltage divisor). If this can be achieved, the contact voltage willbe limited and the current that trips the protections will be of a higher value. The maximumduration of a contact voltage is established according to IEC 60364-4 413.1.1.1. An importantconstraint in obtaining a good resistance value for the earth electrode is the resistivity of the soil.

1

SOIL RESISTIVITY
The resistivity of a given type of soil will vary by several orders of magnitude as a result of small changesin the moisture content, salt concentration, and soil temperature. A broad variation of resistivity occurs asa function of soil types. Knowledge of exactly what type of soil we have at a given site will help to designin a precise manner the earth electrode.
Table 1:
Resistivity values of the earthing medium
MediumResistivity (m)MinimunAverageMaximun
City, industrial area100010 000Surface soil, loam150Clay2100Sand and gravel50100Surface limestone10010 000Limestone54000Shale5100Sandstone202000Granite, basalt10 000Decomposed gneiss50500Freshwater lake200200 000Sea water20100200Pastoral, low hills, rich soil30Marsh2100Pastoral, medium hills200Fill, ash, cinder62570Rocky soil, steep hills105001000Clay, shale, gumbo340200Gravel, sandstone, with little clay orloam, granite500100010 000Sandy, dry, typical coastal country3005005000

2

Ring groundEasy to design and to install(especially around an existingfacility). Readily available. Can beextended to reach water table.Not useful where large rock formations are near surface.Horizontal bare wires (radials)Can achieve low resistance whererock formations prevent use of vertical rods.Subject to resistance fluctuationswith soil drying.Horizontal grid (bare wire)Minimum surface potentialgradient. Easy to install if donebefore construction. Can achievelow resistance contact in areaswhere rock formations prevent theuse of vertical rods.Can be combined with vertical rodsto stabilize resistance fluctuations.Subject to resistance fluctuationswith soil drying if vertical rods notused.Vertical rodsSimple design. Easiest to installparticularly around an existingfacility. Hardware readily available.Can be extended to reach watertable.Not useful where large rock formations are near surface. Stepvoltage on earth surface can beexcessive under high fault currents.PlatesCan achieve low resistance contactin limited area.Most difficult to install.Incidental electrodes (pipes,foundations, buried tanks)Can show very low resistance.Little or no control over futurealterations. Must be employed withother electrodes.
3

CALCULATION OF EARTH RESISTANCE
For this purpose a straightforward design based on graphs is proposed.-

General points:

Choose the configuration of the earth electrode according to the shape of the facility.

Calculate the resistance to earth for the configuration.

Check if the calculated resistance meets the design goal.

Complete the design to include all necessary interconnections.-

Steps to calculate the earth electrode:

Starting data: configuration, resistivity, length and diameter of rods.

Determine the resistance of one of the ground rods from Fig. 1. Start by drawing a line betweenthe chosen diameter ‘d’ and the length ‘l’. Then indicate the crossing point in ‘q’. From this pointplace a line between ‘q’ and the resistivity and read the resistance at the point where the linecrosses ‘R’.