Copper Devel opment Associ ati on

Earthing Practice
CDA Publication 119, February 1997
Earthing Practice
CDA Publication 119
February 1997
Members as at 1
st
January 1997
ASARCO Inc
Boliden MKM Ltd
Thomas Bolton Ltd
Brandeis Ltd
The British Non- Ferrous Metals Federation
Codelco Services Ltd
Gecamines Commerciale
IMI plc
Inco Europe Ltd
Noranda Sales Corporation of Canada Ltd
RTZ Limited
Southern Peru Copper Corporation
ZCCM(UK) Ltd
Acknowledgements
The writing and reproduction of this publication is financed by the members of Copper Development
Association, European Copper Institute, and International Copper Association. The contributions by Mr
James Regan (for assistance with chapters 3, 5, 13 and 15), Mr Vin Callcut (chapter 12 and assistance
with chapter 11) and the helpful comment received from Dr Agnes Segal, Mr Jack Davidson, Mr A M G
Minto, Mr R Parr and Mr David Chapman are gratefully acknowledged.
Copper Development Association
Copper Development Association is a non-trading organisation sponsored by the copper producers and
fabricators to encourage the use of copper and copper alloys and to promote their correct and efficient
application. Its services, which include the provision of technical advice and information, are available
to those interested in the utilisation of copper in all its aspects. The Association also provides a link
between research and user industries and maintains close contact with other copper development
associations throughout the world.
Website: www.cda.org.uk
Email: helpline@copperdev.co.uk
Copyright: All information in this document is the copyright of Copper Development Association
Disclaimer: Whilst this document has been prepared with care, Copper Development Association can
give no warranty regarding the contents and shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss
arising out of its use
3
Earthing Practice
by Trevor Charlton
Preface
Earthing of electrical networks and installations is important to ensure correct operation. It
also serves a vital safety role - facts which are amply reinforced in legislation and codes of
practice.
Most engineers in power supply, buildings services and instrumentation will need to become
familiar with the subject during their career. This may arise when investigating equipment
failure, unsatisfactory power quality, interference or ensuring that safe conditions are
provided for staff working on electrical equipment.
Despite an obvious need, earthing is barely covered during engineering degree courses. It is
also difficult to obtain up to date, reliable information on the subject. For example, if one
consults books on building services or electrical substation design, the chapter on earthing is
almost inevitably a small one - a situation which is almost reversed when one examines the
standards which apply.
Books which attempted to cover the whole subject are generally quite old, were written
before detailed computer analysis was possible and before many of the high frequency and
other problems being experienced now were fully understood. For these reasons, earthing
has developed an aura, such that it is often described as a black art. It is however a science
and there is now a range of software tools and measurement techniques with which it is
possible to accurately predict performance.
This book has been written to help overcome some of the above difficulties. It is intended to
act as an introduction to the subject, explaining the general concepts and providing sufficient
background information to help the reader recognise when to seek further advice.
The book starts by discussing
• the reasons for earthing
• the alternative types of earthing system and
• legislation.
The main emphasis is on practical application, so chapters on the type of electrode available,
how to install, maintain and measure their impedance are included. Being able to predict
performance is important at the design stage, but rather than introduce complex formulae,
general design guidance is given and some graphs have been included to illustrate the more
important factors influencing performance. The coverage has been broadened to include
typical earthing system designs for a range of applications and the problems which can be
anticipated. The main focus of the book is towards the earth electrode, i.e. that part of the
earthing system which is installed in the ground. An efficient earth electrode is required for
lightning protection, domestic electrical wiring and large industrial or power plants. The
general installation and design aspects for the earth electrode are similar throughout these
applications, although the overall earthing system design will differ significantly amongst
them. Copper has and continues to be the most widely used material for earthing. Its
successful application is reinforced in standards, such as BS 7430, ‘Code of Practice for
Earthing’, which states “Copper is one of the better and commonly used materials for earth
electrodes and underground conductors” In fact, some standards forbid the use of many other
metals for this purpose - especially for the buried earth electrode.
4
Aware of the need for a readily available source of information, the CDA has taken the
initiative to provide this book to help users of copper obtain better performance from the
material. Two chapters, on the properties of copper and corrosion resistance, have been
included to help with material selection.
5
Contents
1 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 9
2 Standards and Legal Framework .................................................................................................... 13
2.1 Philosophy Underlying the Standards ........................................................................................ 13
2.2 The Legal Situation in the UK ................................................................................................... 15
2.3 Summary of Contents of Main Standards and Codes of Practice............................................... 17
2.3.1 Domestic, commercial and industrial premises.................................................................................17
2.3.1.1 Existing................................................................................................................................17
2.3.2 High and medium voltage electricity substations..............................................................................17
2.3.2.1 Existing................................................................................................................................17
2.3.2.2 Future...................................................................................................................................18
3 Methods of Earthing....................................................................................................................... 19
3.1 Main Power Network ................................................................................................................. 19
3.1.1 Unearthed or insulated system..........................................................................................................19
3.1.2 Earthed systems ................................................................................................................................20
3.1.2.1 Impedance earthed system...................................................................................................20
3.1.2.2 Low impedance (solidly) earthed system.............................................................................21
3.2 Earthing on LV Systems and Within Premises........................................................................... 21
3.2.1 Types of System................................................................................................................................21
4 Earth Conductors............................................................................................................................ 27
4.1 Requirements of the Earthing System........................................................................................ 27
4.2 Bonding and Protective Conductors.......................................................................................... 27
4.3 Earth Electrodes......................................................................................................................... 28
4.3.1 Rods..................................................................................................................................................28
4.3.2 Plates.................................................................................................................................................29
4.3.3 Horizontal electrodes ........................................................................................................................29
4.3.4 Electrode Derivatives........................................................................................................................30
5 Installation Methods ....................................................................................................................... 31
5.1 Introduction................................................................................................................................ 31
5.2 Rods ........................................................................................................................................... 31
5.3 Plates.......................................................................................................................................... 32
5.4 Horizontal Electrodes................................................................................................................. 32
5.5 Backfill....................................................................................................................................... 33
5.6 Connections................................................................................................................................ 33
5.6.1 Mechanical connections....................................................................................................................33
5.6.2 Brazed connections ...........................................................................................................................34
5.6.3 Exothermic joints..............................................................................................................................34
5.6.4 Welded connections..........................................................................................................................34
5.7 Fault Current Carrying Capacity ................................................................................................ 35
5.8 Testing and Inspection Facilities................................................................................................ 35
6 Performance of Earth Electrodes.................................................................................................... 36
6.1 Effect of Electrode Shape, Size and Position............................................................................. 36
6.1.1 Increasing the buried depth of a vertical rod in uniform soil. ...........................................................36
6.1.2 Increasing the length of a horizontal conductor. ...............................................................................38
6.1.3 Increasing the side length of a square earth grid/plate. .....................................................................39
6.1.4 Increasing the radius of an earth rod. ................................................................................................39
6.1.5 Buried depth .....................................................................................................................................40
6.1.6 Proximity effect.................................................................................................................................40
6.2 Complex Electrode Arrangements ............................................................................................. 41
6.3 Contact Resistance ..................................................................................................................... 42
6.4 Soil Resistivity ........................................................................................................................... 42
6.5 Measurement of Soil Resistivity ................................................................................................ 43
7 Design of Earth Electrode Systems ................................................................................................ 47
7.1 Introduction................................................................................................................................ 47
7.2 Small Area Electrode Systems ................................................................................................... 48
7.3 Medium Area Electrode Systems ............................................................................................... 50
7.4 Sites Requiring More Specific Attention ................................................................................... 53
7.4.1 Communication facilities ..................................................................................................................53
7.4.2 Surge diverters. .................................................................................................................................54
7.4.3 Reactors and AC to DC converters ...................................................................................................54
7.4.4 Co-generation plants .........................................................................................................................55
6
7.4.5 Capacitor banks/capacitor voltage transformers................................................................................55
7.4.6 Gas insulated switchgear (GIS).........................................................................................................55
7.4.7 Fence earthing...................................................................................................................................56
7.4.7.1 Independent fence earthing..................................................................................................56
7.4.7.2 Fence connected to the substation earthing .........................................................................57
8 Earthing Design Within Buildings.................................................................................................. 58
8.1 Introduction................................................................................................................................ 58
8.2 Typical TN-S Arrangements ...................................................................................................... 58
8.3 Integrated Earthing Systems....................................................................................................... 61
8.4 Arrangements to reduce interference.......................................................................................... 62
9 Lightning Protection....................................................................................................................... 65
9.1 Introduction................................................................................................................................ 65
9.2 The Formation of Lightning....................................................................................................... 65
9.3 Risk Assessment......................................................................................................................... 66
9.4 Components of the Lightning Protection System....................................................................... 66
9.4.1 Air terminations ................................................................................................................................66
9.4.2 Down leads and bonding conductors ................................................................................................66
9.4.3 Earth termination ..............................................................................................................................67
9.4.4 Surge protection devices ...................................................................................................................68
9.5 Lightning Protection of Power Lines ......................................................................................... 68
10 Electrical Interference .................................................................................................................... 69
10.1 Resistive Coupling................................................................................................................. 69
10.2 Capacitive Coupling .............................................................................................................. 70
10.3 Inductive Coupling ................................................................................................................ 71
11 Corrosion........................................................................................................................................ 74
11.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 74
11.2 Types of Corrosion ................................................................................................................ 74
11.2.1 In air..................................................................................................................................................74
11.2.2 Underground.....................................................................................................................................74
11.2.2.1 Bimetallic corrosion.............................................................................................................74
11.2.2.2 Chemical corrosion..............................................................................................................75
11.3 Resistance to Corrosion ......................................................................................................... 75
11.3.1 Atmospheric oxidation......................................................................................................................76
11.3.2 Underground corrosion.....................................................................................................................76
11.4 Corrosion Test Field Trials.................................................................................................... 77
12 Types of Copper and Typical Applications .................................................................................... 81
12.1 Coppers.................................................................................................................................. 81
12.1.1 High conductivity coppers ................................................................................................................81
12.1.2 Deoxidised copper ............................................................................................................................81
12.1.3 Oxygen-free High Conductivity copper ............................................................................................81
12.1.4 High Conductivity copper alloys ......................................................................................................82
12.2 Standard Copper Designations............................................................................................... 82
12.2.1 BS EN Standards ..............................................................................................................................82
12.3 Properties............................................................................................................................... 83
12.3.1 Electrical conductivity and resistivity...............................................................................................83
12.3.2 Thermal conductivity........................................................................................................................84
12.3.3 Temper designations .........................................................................................................................84
12.3.4 Tensile strength.................................................................................................................................84
12.3.5 Other properties ................................................................................................................................87
12.4 Joining Coppers ..................................................................................................................... 90
13 Measuring the Impedance of Earth Electrode Systems.................................................................. 92
13.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 92
13.2 Equipment Required .............................................................................................................. 92
13.3 Safety..................................................................................................................................... 92
13.4 Measurement of Small and Medium Sized Electrodes........................................................... 93
13.5 Measurement of Larger Area Electrode Systems................................................................... 94
14 Artificial Method of Reducing Earth Resistivity ............................................................................ 95
14.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 95
14.2 Acceptable Low Resistivity Materials ................................................................................... 96
14.2.1 Bentonite...........................................................................................................................................96
14.2.2 Marconite..........................................................................................................................................96
14.2.3 Gypsum.............................................................................................................................................97
7
14.2.4 Others................................................................................................................................................97
14.3 Unacceptable Backfill Materials............................................................................................ 97
15 Maintenance of Earthing Systems .................................................................................................. 98
15.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 98
15.2 The Philosophy of Maintenance ............................................................................................ 98
15.3 Inspection............................................................................................................................... 98
15.4 Examination........................................................................................................................... 99
16 Further Reading............................................................................................................................ 101
8
Index of figures
Figure 2-1 Touch, Step and Transfer potentials around an earth rod electrode.......................................... 14
Figure 2-2 Permitted touch potential, in accordance with EA TS 41-24 .................................................... 15
Figure 3-1 Capacitive currents in a three-phase system............................................................................... 19
Figure 3-2 Typical T N-S system............................................................................................................... 22
Figure 3-3 Typical TN-C-S (Protective Multiple Earth) Supply ................................................................ 22
Figure 3-4 Typical P N B System............................................................................................................... 23
Figure 3-5 Typical TT System.................................................................................................................... 23
Figure 3-6 Typical IT System..................................................................................................................... 24
Figure 3-7 Residual current detector .......................................................................................................... 25
Figure 4-1 Earth Plates (courtesy A N Wallis and Co)............................................................................. 29
Figure 6-1 Resistance v Rod Length........................................................................................................... 37
Figure 6-2 Resistance v Rod Length in Multilayer Soil.............................................................................. 38
Figure 6-3 Resistance v Horizontal Conductor Length............................................................................... 38
Figure 6-4 Resistance v Square Loop Side Length..................................................................................... 39
Figure 6-5 Resistance v Rod Radius........................................................................................................... 40
Figure 6-6 Combined Resistance of Two Vertical Rods as Separation Between them is Increased........... 41
Figure 6-7 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation - relatively uniform soil............. 45
Figure 6-8 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation - three layer soil ........................ 46
Figure 7-1 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod earthing ..................................... 47
Figure 7-2 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single plate earthing................................... 48
Figure 7-3 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod and perimeter (potential
grading) electrode ............................................................................................................................... 49
Figure 7-4 Potential on surface of soil around and within a substation with older design incorporating
rods and horizontal electrodes ............................................................................................................ 50
Figure 7-5 Modern substation mesh type earthing arrangement ................................................................. 51
Figure 7-6 Potential on surface of soil above and around a modern ‘mesh’ type earthing arrangement..... 53
Figure 7-7 Earthing system for a medium-wave radio station .................................................................... 54
Figure 8-1 TN-C-S earthing arrangement in a domestic property .............................................................. 59
Figure 8-2 Typical TN-S installation within a commercial or light industrial property.............................. 60
Figure 8-3 Earthing problems arising when equipment is interconnected .................................................. 61
Figure 8-4 Nested shield type arrangement ................................................................................................ 63
Figure 8-5 Hybrid Earthing arrangement to reduce interference (courtesy W J Furse, based on work by
Eric Montandon)................................................................................................................................. 64
Figure 10-1 Example illustrating resistive interference .............................................................................. 70
Figure 10-2 Example illustrating capacitive interference ........................................................................... 71
Figure 10-3 Inductive interference ............................................................................................................. 72
Figure 10-4 Reducing inductive interference by using an earthed shield/screen ........................................ 73
Index Of Tables
Table 6-1 Typical values of resistivity for different soils ......................................................................... 43
Table 11-1 Corrosion Susceptibility of Metals........................................................................................... 77
Table 11-2 Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on Corrosion........................................................... 78
Table 12-1 Present British Standards for Copper and copper Alloys for general and electrical purposes . 83
Table 12-2 New BS EN designations for Wrought Coppers ...................................................................... 85
Table 12-3 Typical Properties of High Conductivity Copper and Aluminium........................................... 88
Table 12-4 Comparison of Creep Properties .............................................................................................. 88
Table 12-5 Physical properties of copper ................................................................................................... 89
Table 12-6 A Guide to the suitability of joining processes for coppers...................................................... 91
9
1 Introduction
It is well known that most electricity systems need to be earthed and this practice probably
started in the very first days of electrical experiments. Then, as now, static was discharged
by connection to a plate which was in contact with the general mass of earth. The practice
has continued and been progressively developed, such that connections to earth occur at
almost every point in the electricity system. This includes the generating station, the lines
and cables which distribute electricity and the premises at which it is used. The need for
such a connection is sometimes enshrined in legislation. For example in the UK, the
Electricity Supply Regulations 1988, clause 5(1), requires all systems (i.e. Generation,
Transmission and Distribution) to be earthed at one point. This does not actually extend to
the installation within premises and whilst it is still the most common arrangement to earth
such installations, the standards (for example via BS 7671: 1992, Amendment 1, 1994,
Requirements for Electrical Installations) allow for certain unearthed arrangements.
Whilst earthing forms an intrinsic part of the electricity system, it still remains in general a
misunderstood subject and is often referred to as a “black art” - even sometimes by well
qualified engineers. In recent years there have been rapid developments in the modelling of
earthing systems at power frequencies and higher, mainly facilitated by computer hardware
and software. This has increased our understanding of the subject at the same time that the
design task has become significantly more difficult and emerging standards are requiring a
more detailed, safer design. There is thus an opportunity to explain earthing concepts more
clearly and a need for this to be conveyed to earthing system designers and installers so that a
greater understanding may be gained.
By earthing, we generally mean an electrical connection to the general mass of earth, the
latter being a volume of soil/rock etc., whose dimensions are very large in comparison to the
electricity system being considered.
Before discussing definitions, it is worth noting that in Europe we tend to use the term
earthing, whilst in north America, the term “grounding” is more common. The IEEE
definition of grounding is:
“Ground (ground system). A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, by
which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to the earth or some conducting body of
relatively large extent that serves in place of the earth.”
For use within Europe, if the generally accepted terms were replaced as below, then the
meaning remains the same.
“Earth (earth system). A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, by which
an electric circuit or equipment is connected to the mass of earth or some conducting body of
relatively large extent that serves in place of the mass of earth.”
As will be described later, it is possible to operate an electrical system without an earth, so
why is the practice of earthing electricity systems so commonplace?
The most often quoted reasons for having an earthed system are:
• To provide a sufficiently low impedance to facilitate satisfactory protection operation
under fault conditions.
• To ensure that living beings in the vicinity of substations are not exposed to unsafe
potentials under steady state or fault conditions.
• To retain system voltages within reasonable limits under fault conditions (such as
lightning, switching surges or inadvertent contact with higher voltage systems), and
ensure that insulation breakdown voltages are not exceeded.
• Custom and practice.
10
• Graded insulation can be used in power transformers.
• To limit the voltage to earth on conductive materials which enclose electrical conductors
or equipment.
Less often quoted reasons include:
• To stabilise the phase to earth voltages on electricity lines under steady state conditions,
e.g. by dissipating electrostatic charges which have built up due to clouds, dust, sleet,
etc.
• A means of monitoring the insulation of the power delivery system.
• To eliminate persistent arcing ground faults.
• To ensure that a fault which develops between the high and low voltage windings of a
transformer can be dealt with by primary protection.
• To provide an alternative path for induced current and thereby minimise the electrical
“noise” in cables.
• Provide an equipotential platform on which electronic equipment can operate.
To perform adequately in fulfilling any of the above functions, the earthing system must
generally have a low impedance so that in dispersing or collecting current from the ground,
an excessive voltage rise does not occur. Of course within installations an earth connection
is also necessary to ensure the correct operation of equipment - for example electronic
devices, where an earthed shield may be required. It is essential to consider the earthing
within a whole installation as one complete system and for this to be designed and installed
accordingly.
Earthing of electrical installations is primarily concerned with ensuring safety. The earthing
system is normally designed to provide two safety functions. The first is termed bonding.
Any exposed conductive metalwork which can be touched is connected together via bonding
conductors. Most electrical equipment is housed inside metal enclosures and if a live
conductor comes into contact with this, the enclosure will temporarily also become live.
Bonding is to ensure that, should such a fault develop, then the potential on all exposed
conductive metalwork is virtually the same. In other words, the bonds equalise potential
within the site so that the resulting potential differences are minimal. An equipotential
‘platform’ is thus created.
If a person is in contact simultaneously with two different pieces of exposed metalwork, a
bonding conductor should ensure that the person does not receive a shock, as the potential
difference between equipment should be insufficient for this to occur. The same principle
applies within large electricity substations, factories and houses. In factories, bonding of
exposed metalwork would normally ensure that an electrical fault to the frame of one
machine did not create a potential difference between that and earthed metalwork on an
adjacent machine. In the home, bonding ensures that, should a fault to the frame of a
washing machine or cooker develop, someone simultaneously touching either of these and
the metal sink would not experience an electric shock.
The second function of the earthing system is to ensure that, in the event of an earth fault,
any fault current which does result can return to source in a controlled manner. By a
controlled manner, we mean that the return path is predetermined such that damage to
equipment or injury to individuals does not occur. The earth connection is not of infinite
capacity and zero impedance. However, the impedance of the earthing system should be low
enough that sufficient earth fault current can flow to operate protective devices correctly,
which will in turn initiate the operation of circuit breakers or fuses to interrupt the flow of
current. The required impedance value is normally calculated by the protection designer via
11
fault analysis programmes and this would be provided to those responsible for the design of
the earthing system. In addition, the rise in potential which the earthing system will
experience whilst fault current is flowing, should also be limited to a pre-determined value.
These are the functions that the earthing system must provide, but they are required to meet a
wide range of different problems. The first is a conventional fault, e.g. that arising from
damage to a cable or breakdown of the phase to earth insulation in a piece of equipment. The
equipment can be in a substation, a factory or the home. We term these "power frequency"
faults, since most of the energy dissipated in the fault will be at mains frequency (50 Hz).
In some locations, such as radio or television transmitters, sites where large amounts of
power are rectified or capacitor banks are switched, then energy will be available at higher
frequencies than normal. The earthing system must be specially designed to provide a low
impedance at these frequencies.
Many electrical installations are prone to the risk of damage as a result of a lightning strike
and special arrangements are necessary to reduce the risks involved. An adequate earthing
system is a fundamental part of this arrangement. Because a lightning impulse is steep
fronted and a source of high frequency currents, special earthing system designs are again
necessary. For example, bends in above ground conductors will form a small inductance
which will be insignificant at power frequency, but may create a high impedance to lightning
current. This may be sufficient for there to be a ‘flashover’ whereby the current flows
through other routes to ground in preference to the designed route - possibly causing
significant damage in the process.
The earthing system is also used as a means of achieving safe working conditions during
some types of maintenance or construction. Plant which was previously energised has to be
switched off and its previously live components are connected to earth before any work can
commence. This allows any stored energy to be discharged safely to ground and helps
prevent dangerous voltages arising on the equipment being worked on (these could otherwise
occur due to induction, errors or power system faults). In some industrial premises the
earthing system is required to continuously discharge the build up of static, and thus prevent
a fire or explosion risk. Examples include paper manufacturing plants or when explosives or
volatile chemicals are present.
A popular misconception is that the earthing system is only required during fault conditions.
In fact it also serves a number of vital roles during routine operation. For example, many
power supplies now include a connection to earth, through which residual and harmonic
currents are dispersed to ground. The previously held belief that these currents could be
‘dumped’ to earth with no adverse consequences is now known to be false. Currents which
flow to ground, in this way must return to source, forming a loop. These loops will create
potential differences which, although small, cause ‘noise’, ‘hum’ and possible damage to
electronic equipment. This process, together with the increasing amount of harmonic current
being injected into the public supply network, is a growing cause of significant power quality
problems. Some equipment contains earthed screens, which operate continuously to reduce
the field produced outside the case or reduce the impact of external fields on the equipment
performance.
In recent years, a number of factors have drawn attention to earthing systems. One is the
increased use of plastic sheathed underground cables, another the use of plastic water pipes.
Plastic water pipes have had a particular impact on domestic properties, which used to place
great reliance on the earthing facility provided by the older metal pipes. Plastic sheathed
cables are now used instead of the previous types which had a lead sheath and steel
armouring in direct contact with the soil. This has had a detrimental effect on the overall
efficiency of earthing systems and placed more reliance on the remaining components of the
earthing system, including the earth electrodes installed at all electricity substations. It is
12
now more important than before to ensure that the earth electrode systems are correctly
designed, installed and maintained.
Clearly, the earthing system performs a wide range of similar functions throughout all the
stages of providing electricity, i.e. at the generating station, the electricity company
substations (at which the supply voltages are changed) through to the electrical installations
in homes, offices and factories. Copper is the most widely used material for these earthing
systems. Its well tried and tested properties of relatively low electrical resistance,
malleability and good corrosion resistance have ensured that it has been the preferred
material for very many years.
13
2 Standards and Legal Framework
2.1 Philosophy Underlying the Standards
As a general rule, the standards provide the design limits to be met and (together with
supporting codes of practice) explain how the earthing system can be designed to meet these.
They generally include formulae to enable the necessary calculations to be carried out or
detailed guidance on practical aspects - for example, how to connect items of equipment or
where to position the electrodes. In this chapter the potentials on which the design limits are
based will be described, based on supply industry practice. Readers should note that there
are differences in the design limits appertaining to the supply industry and consumer
electrical installations. For example, the shock voltage limits are lower within electrical
installations than in supply industry substations. It is important to refer to the appropriate
standard to check the design limits which apply to each situation.
Previously, it was established practice to design the earthing system to achieve a certain
impedance value and the main electrodes were usually positioned near the equipment where
fault current was expected to pass (for example transformers). This has changed during the
last ten years, as the approach in the standards has moved towards that of north American
practice. The most significant change is that now the earthing system must be designed to
ensure that the potentials in its vicinity during a fault are below the appropriate limits. When
an earth fault occurs and current flows to ground via the earth electrode, the potential on the
electrode and any equipment connected to it, will rise above true earth potential. The
potential reached under severe fault conditions, can be several thousand Volts. As the earth
fault current flows into the soil surrounding the electrode, the potential within the soil and on
its surface will rise. Moving away from the electrode system towards a remote point, the
potential will progressively reduce until eventually it becomes that of true earth. This
situation is shown in Figure 2-1, where the potential rise on the surface of the soil
surrounding a single vertical earth rod, has been illustrated in three dimensions. This
attempts to explain the potentials involved, in a semi-structural way.
Reference to Figure 2-1 shows that the rate of reduction of soil surface potential, or the
potential gradient, is greatest near the rod and reduces as one moves away towards a remote
point. Imagine that a person is walking away from the rod in a straight line towards a remote
(reference) earth, i.e. down the potential “slope”, taking equally spaced steps. The potential
difference between the feet would be higher near the rod (for example at position A1, where
it would be the potential difference between points A1 and A2) and would fall rapidly with
each successive step (for example it is lower at position B1, i.e. B1-B2) before leveling out
some distance away. This effect is recognised in the standards and is the basis of the term
“step potential”, which is the potential difference between two points on the surface of the
soil which are one metre apart. The situation described for a single rod is similar to that for
all electrode systems and the step potential is highest in the area immediately beyond the
buried electrodes, in uniform soil conditions. Step potential is a directional quantity and
calculations are required to find the highest value in a full 360 degree radius.
We have recognised that the potential on the surface of the soil differs according to the
position in relation to the electrode system. This has implications for the second type of
potential difference, the “touch” potential. Whilst fault current is flowing through the
impedance of the earthing system, all of the exposed metal connected to this will experience
a rise of voltage. For small systems, this is assumed to be the same value on all metalwork
and is referred to as the GPR (Grid Potential Rise). In the example shown in Figure 2-1, the
GPR is approximately 420V. The potential at a point on the surface of the soil will be lower
than this, by an amount dependent on the buried depth of the electrode and the horizontal
distance away. If a person is in contact with exposed metalwork and is standing on the soil,
then their hands will be at same potential as the GPR, whilst their feet will be at a lower
14
potential. This potential difference will be lowest if the feet are directly above the buried rod
and will increase as they move further away. For example, Figure 2-1 shows that the touch
voltage is significantly higher at position B1 than at position A1. The touch potential is
normally the potential which dictates the design of the earth electrode system within an
outdoor substation and it will be greatest in areas furthest away from buried electrodes where
it is still possible to touch exposed metalwork. In chapter 7, examples of earth electrode
arrangements are discussed and the new arrangements attempt to reduce touch voltages. It is
also important to ensure that a potential difference cannot be experienced between hands
which are in simultaneous contact with different pieces of exposed metalwork and this is
catered for by inter-equipment bonding as discussed in chapter 4.
Figure 2-1 Touch, Step and Transfer potentials around an earth rod electrode
Finally, if an insulated cable which is connected to a remote (reference) earth, is brought near
the rod, the potential difference between the cable and the rod is called the “transfer
potential”. The same transfer potential would be present if an insulated cable were taken
from the rod to a remote point, where metalwork connected to a remote (reference) earth
electrode system was present. The highest value of transfer potential is thus the GPR and this
is the value normally used for calculations. At present, transfer potential limits are set by
communication directives. They are 430 V and 650 V in the UK, depending on the type of
installation, above which additional precautions are required.
Whether a person experiencing any of these potentials is at risk depends on a range of
factors, including the GPR. The standards attempt to take these factors into account and
establish limits, below which the design is considered acceptable. The ultimate risk of these
potentials is that they will be sufficient to cause an electric shock which causes ventricular
fibrillation of the heart. In arriving at the present limits, it was necessary to predict the
proportion of current which would flow in the region of the heart and then establish limits
based on its magnitude and duration. In UK standards, curves C1 and C2 of IEC 479-1, 1989
(International Electrotechnical Committee, Effects of Current Passing Through the Human
Body) are used. These curves illustrate, for two probability levels, the current required for
different time durations to cause ventricular fibrillation in a human.
15
The design limits are stated as voltages and in arriving at appropriate limits, it is necessary to
consider the impedance through which the current will flow. This comprises of the human
body impedance, hand contact resistance, any footwear resistance and the resistivity of the
surface material underneath the feet. These factors are all taken into account in the standards
and Figure 2-2 has been included to illustrate typical limits. This shows the tolerable voltage
limits according to EA TS 41-24 (see section 2.3.2), assuming 100 Ohm-metre surface soil, a
1,000 Ohm body impedance, 4,000 Ohm footwear impedance and a foot contact resistance of
300 Ohm. A second curve shows the effect of having a high resistivity surface covering on
top of the soil. Curve C1 of IEC 479-1 is used, but note that the x and y axes have been
transposed in this figure to make it easier to understand. From Figure 2-2 it is evident that a
relatively high voltage can be tolerated for short periods. It should be pointed out that
voltage limits are presently being debated in both European and National Standard making
committees. There are presently differences between the limits stated in Standards and it is
hoped that one set will soon be available.
In designing the earthing system, the designer would use the formulae and techniques
described in the standards or codes of practice to arrive at a design which has touch potentials
lower than the applicable limits.
2.2 The Legal Situation in the UK
The main three pieces of safety legislation applicable are the ‘Health and Safety at Work etc.
Act, 1974’, the ‘Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989’ and the recent ‘Construction (Design
and Management) Regulations 1994’.
Breaches of these constitute a criminal offence and would leave an individual or company
liable to prosecution. The Health and Safety at Work Act places duties on the employer and
employee regarding health, safety and welfare. Clearly this applies to the situation where an
employee is required to work in a location where adverse electrical potentials may be
experienced during fault conditions.
Figure 2-2 Permitted touch potential, in accordance with EA TS 41-24
16
The Electricity at Work Regulations deal with safety during the installation and use of
electricity. In Regulation 8 they specifically refer to earthing. Suitable precautions and metal
casings around machinery are discussed.
The CDM regulations apply to all projects and require that a safe working environment is
provided during construction and maintenance. Maintenance is normally an on-going task, so
the regulations apply over the lifetime of the installation. Since earthing is a fundamental
component in providing safety in relation to electricity, it undoubtedly means that the
earthing system comes within the scope of the regulations. Potential risks during
maintenance, repair or renovation should be highlighted in a Health and Safety file which is
retained by the occupier/duty holder of the site. Adequate records are required in the form of
drawings and a historical record of maintenance.
Electricity companies are required to adhere to the ‘Electricity Supply Regulations, 1988, as
amended’ and are licensed to enable them to distribute electricity within their geographical
area. The licence, called the ‘PES licence’, requires companies to advise on the method of
earthing it has adopted and that they abide by the Electricity Supply Regulations and the
‘Distribution Code’, amongst others. Earthing is covered in regulations 4 to 8 of the
Electricity Supply Regulations. Regulation 5 requires that high and low voltage systems are
earthed. It refers to solid and impedance earthing but does not mention unearthed systems.
Regulation 8 requires that exposed metalwork (such as that enclosing or supporting
equipment) is to be earthed where necessary to prevent danger. Where a dangerous
occurrence takes place, the earthing system condition is one of the factors covered in the
reporting procedure. The Distribution Code states "Arrangements for connecting the system
with earth shall be designed to comply with the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988". The
code covers earthing and refers specifically to a number of British Standards and other Codes
of Practice, which are described below.
The standards, codes of practice and regulations are in the regulatory and commercial
domain. Failure to abide by them could have serious financial consequences.
17
2.3 Summary of Contents of Main Standards and Codes of Practice
2.3.1 Domestic, commercial and industrial premises
(i.e. installations up to 1,000 V ac and 1,500 V dc - between phases, with some minor
exceptions).
2.3.1.1 Existing
BS 7671 1992, Amendment 1, 1994. Requirements for Electrical Installations. (This is also
known as the IEE Wiring Regulations, 16th Edition). Applies to all aspects of new electrical
installations and requires that older installations are re-appraised when they are extended.
Whilst it applies to all aspects, earthing comprises a significant part of the document because
of the safety implications.
There is not a formal code of practice to support the BS, but there are a number of
publications produced by the Institutions which serve this purpose. They help to illustrate
practical arrangements which satisfy the regulations.
The Institution of Electrical Engineers publish a series of guidance notes. Guidance note
number 5 concerns protection against electric shock and a significant amount of the text is
concerned with earthing. The Institution of Incorporated Executive Engineers also publish an
illustrated Guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations, which helps explain many practical
applications.
2.3.2 High and medium voltage electricity substations
2.3.2.1 Existing
BS 7354:1990 Code of Practice for Design of high-voltage open-terminal stations,
Section 7: Earthing
This covers substation construction and design considerations and includes some
formulae. Some safety limits are introduced.
BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for Earthing
This is, in effect, the technical supplement to BS 7354. It covers construction and
measurement and includes resistance formulae, ratings, and material selection.
Guidance is given for the earthing of many specific applications including protection
of solid state devices against static electricity. It applies to all land based systems
except medical equipment.
EA Technical Specification 41-24:1992 (Issued 1994)
Guidelines for the design, testing and maintenance of main earthing systems in
substations. This document is intended to be used in conjunction with BS 7430, and
ER S.34. It supersedes ER S5/1 and covers the design of substation earthing,
including some formulae. Guidelines are given for the construction, maintenance
and measurement of the earthing system.
EA Engineering Recommendation S.34:1986
A guide for assessing the rise of earth potential at substation sites. The core
technical reference document for the electricity supply industry in Britain. It
includes resistance formulae, current distribution formulae and nomograms.
18
2.3.2.2 Future
prEN 50179 Power Installations Exceeding 1 kV ac or 1.5 kV dc
This is a new European standard, presently in near final draft form and currently
called CLC TC/112. Chapter 9 deals with earthing systems. This is an attempt to
standardise earthing practices in Europe and is likely to come into effect in 1996 as a
framework type document. It is likely to establish general rules but not include
detailed technical application guidance. It will be necessary for all the present
British Standards and Codes of Practice to be reviewed and amended once this comes
into force. One possible change involves the allowable potentials, and draft
documents indicate that this may be lower than the present ones. In turn, this will
require a more detailed design of the earthing systems, probably involving additional
electrodes. Minimum cross sectional areas for earth conductors are 16 mm² for
copper, 35mm² for aluminium and 50 mm² for steel.
Other relevant standards are:
DIN VDE 0141: 1989 Technical Help to Exporters Translation
Earthing systems for power installations with rated voltages above 1 kV. The
German earthing standard. General principles are introduced and some resistance
formulae given. The basis of the design of the earthing system is a series of tables
giving the relevant criteria for different systems. Construction, inspection and
maintenance are also covered.
ANSI/IEEE Std. 80: 1986
IEEE Guide for safety in ac substation grounding. A comprehensive USA standard
which covers design and technical aspects. It covers soil modelling, fault current
distribution, worked examples and special considerations, e.g. Gas insulated
switchgear (GIS). This standard is generally considered to be stringent in its
approach.
CCITT Directives
These mainly involve electromagnetic interference in telecommunication cables,
arising from power and electrified rail systems.
19
3 Methods of Earthing
3.1 Main Power Network
Earthing on the power network will be considered first, as the method of earthing this
strongly influences the method subsequently chosen within buildings. In theory, the main
power network does not have to be earthed and sometimes arguments are put forward that an
unearthed network may be more reliable. In some cases this can be true but, in general,
unearthed networks can become unreliable due to over-stressing of the insulation which
surrounds cables or lines. This can arise due to static, induction or intermittent faults.
In the UK and most of Europe, the main power networks are earthed. For example, in the
UK, the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988, Regulation 5 concerns connection with earth.
This requires that each part of the power network (i.e. each voltage level) be connected to
earth. In the case of high voltage systems, the earth connection should be as near as possible
to the source of voltage. Generally, a separate earth is required at each voltage level,
although the earths from different voltage networks are often combined.
There are a number of ways in which the power system can be operated. These include
unearthed, high impedance earthed and low impedance earthed arrangements. They are quite
different concepts and to those who are familiar with the relatively large earth conductors and
low earth values on traditional systems, use of small earth conductors and high impedances
on other systems can come as a surprise. These different arrangements are described in more
detail below:-
3.1.1 Unearthed or insulated system
This does not have a deliberate, formal connection to earth. There may be some high
impedance connections for instrumentation, for example the coil of a measuring device.
Under normal conditions the capacitance between each phase and earth is substantially the
same. The effect is to stabilise the system with respect to earth so that, with a three-phase
system, the voltage of each phase to earth is the star voltage of the system. The neutral point,
if any, is then at, or near, earth potential, (see Figure 3-1).
Figure 3-1 Capacitive currents in a three-phase system
20
Faults on overhead distribution lines are not uncommon, particularly during bad weather
conditions when branches of trees may fall onto the lines. When the first incident occurs,
involving, say a contact between a conductor and earth, there may be no damage as there is
not a complete metallic circuit to enable current to flow. This is different to an earthed
system, where a significant current would flow. At first sight, the unearthed system may
appear to be a safer and more reliable system. In reality a current would flow in the
unearthed system, returning via capacitive coupling to the other two phases. The capacitive
current flowing at the fault point is three times the normal capacitive current to earth from
each phase of the whole system. The damage due to the first fault is likely to be slight, since
the total current is still relatively small. However, the current could be sufficient to risk
electrocution if someone was to touch the damaged conductor. Power companies often find
that it is time consuming to locate faults on this type of system. The introduction of an
unearthed system into the UK would require a change in the Electricity Supply Regulations.
The probability of a second fault is higher than generally thought, as the voltage across the
remaining insulation will be phase to phase level rather than phase to earth (i.e. an increase
of √3 in magnitude). This will stress the phase to earth insulation and may cause accelerated
ageing and breakdown. A second fault is likely to involve considerable fault energy and
damage. It is thus important to remove the first fault as quickly as possible.
Resonance can cause over-voltages on this type of system. The system already has a high
capacitance and if a phase conductor is connected to earth via a connection having a high
inductance (e.g. an instrument transformer), then resonance, high circulating currents and
over-voltages can occur. An intermittent arcing fault which has a high impedance can cause
similar high voltages leading to equipment failure. This is due to a trapped charge effect on
the neutral. The charge is progressively built up with each subsequent arc and can produce
voltages which can be sufficiently high to overseers insulation by 6 to 7 times (in theory), of
that occurring at normal voltage. In practice, due to weather conditions, dust etc., the actual
voltages measured have been 3 or 4 times the normal voltage.
If continuity of supply is an important factor for the distribution system, then an ungrounded
system may have some advantages. However, the insulation applied between each phase
conductor and earth is likely to need increasing to at least the same as that between different
phases, in order to deal with single phase to ground faults, and the trapped charge scenario.
3.1.2 Earthed systems
An earthed system has at least one conductor or point (usually the neutral or star point)
intentionally connected to earth. For reasons of cost and practicality, this connection is
normally made near the position where the three individual transformer phase windings are
joined, i.e. the star point or neutral. This method is adopted if there is a need to connect line
to neutral loads to the system, to prevent the neutral to earth voltage fluctuating with load.
The earth connection reduces the voltage fluctuation and unbalance which would otherwise
occur. Another advantage is that residual relays can be used to detect faults before they
become phase to phase faults. This can reduce the actual damage caused and the stresses
imposed on other parts of the electrical network.
The type of earthed system is classified according to the type of connection provided. The
main types are:-
3.1.2.1 Impedance earthed system
Resistors and/or reactors are deliberately inserted in the connection between the neutral point
and earth, normally to limit the fault current to an acceptable level. The impedance can, in
theory, be high enough that little more fault current flows than in an unearthed situation.
21
In practice, to avoid excessive transient over-voltages due to resonance with the system shunt
capacitance, inductive earthing needs to allow at least 60% of the 3 phase short circuit
capacity to flow for earth faults. This form of earthing has a lower energy dissipation than
resistive earthing.
Arc-suppression coils, also known as Peterson coils or ground fault neutralisers, can be used
as the earth connection. These are tuned reactors which neutralise the capacitive coupling of
the healthy phases, so that fault current is minimal. Due to the self-clearing nature of this
type of earthing it is effective in certain circumstances on medium voltage overhead systems,
for example, those which are prone to a high number of transient faults, e.g. the Hungarian
20 kV system. The use of auto reclosing circuit breakers has reduced the use of this method
of earthing generally in high and medium voltage systems.
Resistance earthing is more commonly used, because it can allow the fault current to be
limited and damp transient over-voltages, if the correct value of resistance is chosen. In UK
distribution systems, particularly those at 11 kV, it is common to find 750, 1,000 or 1,500 A
liquid earth resistors (LERs) installed in various combinations to limit the earth fault current.
In new installations, it is now more common to use ceramic type resistors. These require less
space, have significantly lower maintenance costs and cool down more quickly than liquid
resistors following the passage of fault current.
3.1.2.2 Low impedance (solidly) earthed system
This is the most common arrangement, particularly at low voltage. Here the neutral/earth
connection is through an adequate connection in which no impedance has intentionally been
added. The disadvantage of this arrangement is that the earth fault current is normally high,
but the system voltages remain suppressed or low under fault conditions.
The prime example on newer supply systems in the UK is PME, (Protective Multiple
Earthing) where there is no separate formal earth conductor. The neutral conductor carries
unbalance current and acts as the earth conductor. To protect against the possible loss of the
neutral/earth connection from the source, the neutral is earthed at several positions (thus the
term "multiple").
3.2 Earthing on LV Systems and Within Premises
Having dealt with the type of earthing available on the Power System, the low voltage
system and the wiring within premises must be considered.
3.2.1 Types of System
There are a number of methods by which an earth connection can be given and there are now
standard definitions for these in Europe. They are each identified by a coding which contains
the following letters:
T : terre, direct connection to earth
N : neutral
C : combined
S : separate
The main types are described below and diagrams have been provided to explain these in
more detail. Please note that the earth electrodes in the diagrams include a resistor symbol to
show that the electrode has an impedance, which is predominantly resistive.
TN-S The incoming supply has a single point of connection between the supply
neutral and earth at the supply transformer. The supply cables have separate neutral and
earth protective conductors (SNE) Generally the neutral conductor is a fourth ‘core’ and the
earth conductor forms a protective sheath, or PE conductor. The customer may be provided
22
with an earth terminal connected to the sheath of the service cable or to a separate earth
conductor. This was a standard arrangement prior to the introduction of protective multiple
earthing (PME) systems. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-2.
TN-C-S The supply neutral is earthed at a number of points. The supply cables have a
combined neutral and earth metallic outer sheath with a PVC covering (they are termed CNE
cables). The combined neutral earth sheath is the PEN (protective earth neutral) conductor.
An earth terminal, which is connected to the supply neutral, is provided by the electricity
supplier. The supply within the customers premises would be TN-S, i.e. the neutral and
earth would be separate, linked only at the service position. Before the customer is allowed
to make use of the earth terminal, the supplier must be satisfied that all internal, normally
exposed metalwork (such as water, gas, central-heating pipes etc.), is bonded together in the
manner prescribed in the Regulations. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-3.
PNB Protective Neutral Bonding. This is a variation of the TN-C-S system in that the
customer is provided with an earth terminal connected to the supply neutral, but the neutral is
Figure 3-2 Typical T N-S system
Supply Single Point Earthed. SNE Mains and Service Cables. Customer provided
with earth terminal from the sheath of the service
cable.
Figure 3-3 Typical TN-C-S (Protective Multiple Earth) Supply
Neutral earthed by Supplier at a number of locations. CNE Mains and Service cables.
Customer provided with earth terminal connected to the service neutral.
23
connected to earth at one point only, normally at or near to the customer’s supply point. This
arrangement is reserved for use when a customer has an individual transformer and is no
longer listed in BS 7671. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-4.
The remaining two systems are:-
TT This is a system where the supply is earthed at one point only, but the cable sheaths and
exposed metalwork of the customer’s installation are connected to earth via a separate
electrode which is independent of the supply electrode. The arrangement is illustrated in
Figure 3-5.
Figure 3-5 Typical TT System
Figure 3-4 Typical P N B System
Customer has own transformer. Single point neutral earth CNE cables used.
Supply is earthed at one point only. Customer provides own earth which is
independent of the supply earth.
24
IT This is a system having no direct connection between live parts and earth, but
with the exposed conductive parts of the installation being earthed. Sometimes a high
impedance connection to earth is provided to simplify the protection scheme required to
detect the first earth fault. See Figure 3-6.
Figure 3-6 Typical IT System
Earthing arrangements within buildings in the UK should conform to British Standard 7671.
This standard is based upon the 16th edition of the Institution of Electrical Engineers
Regulations for Electrical Installations. The Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 do not
apply, where the installation does not form part of the public network, so an earth connection
is not a statutory requirement and unearthed systems (IT) are permitted and used in special
circumstances. However, BS 7671 still requires a main earth terminal and the Electricity at
Work Regulations will probably be applicable.
The underlying principle is first to take all reasonable precautions to avoid a direct contact
with live electrical parts, and secondly to provide measures to protect against indirect contact.
The latter involves effective earthing and bonding, and a system of protection which removes
the fault condition. The principle is more commonly known as protective bonding and will
be covered in a little more detail in chapter 4. It is not however the intention of this book to
describe earthing within buildings in detail as there are already a large number of
publications which cover this. Readers are referred to the publications listed in chapter 16,
where they will be able to find the subject adequately covered.
Although it is now normal practice for all electricity suppliers in the UK to provide each
customer with an earth terminal, for a variety of reasons not every customer has been given
this facility. The customer must, however, provide his own protection against the dangers of
an earth fault. One way in which this can be achieved is by using an earth leakage detector
and circuit breaker. This device still requires a connection to earth and detects when an earth
Source isolated from earth or connected to earth through a high impedance. All
exposed conductive parts of the installation are connected to an independent earth.
Not remissible for public supply in the UK.
25
fault occurs in a circuit. It then causes a circuit breaker (or trip) to operate and isolate the
faulty circuit.
The recognised device is the current operated detector known either as the Residual Current
Device (RCD) or the Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB). This unit operates by
detecting the residue, or difference, between the current flowing into and returning from a
source. (See Figure 3-7). When the residual current exceeds a predetermined value, the
RCD contacts open. The unit can be designed to be ultra sensitive, with very high speed
operation for use in special situation, e.g. hospitals. A test button is incorporated. Initially,
the detectors were voltage sensors i.e. they detected a rise in voltage on the earthed structure.
However, for many years, the voltage detecting device has been considered to be unreliable,
it did not protect against phase to neutral faults and its use is no longer recognised by BS
7671.
Figure 3-7 Residual current detector
In addition to providing main earth fault protection, RCDs are also used extensively in
conjunction with conventional protection, such as fuses or miniature (over-current) circuit
breakers. A particular application for RCD protection is on the circuit providing supply to
equipment which uses a trailing lead - such as a lawn-mower or hedge trimmer. When used
in this way, RCDs provide “Supplementary Protection against Direct Contact”. It should be
noted that RCDs do not react to overload, so additional protection is required for this.
There are some locations where special earthing arrangements are necessary. These include:-
(a) Mines and Quarries. Under the 1989 Electricity at Work Regulations, the Health and
Safety commission have issued two approved Codes of Practice:-
(i) The use of Electricity in Mines.
(ii) The use of Electricity at Quarries.
26
Detailed direction is given in these documents on the earthing arrangements which
must be made.
(b) At Petrol Filling Stations. The Health and Safety Executive have issued Publication
HSE (41) covering the electrical installations at petrol filling stations. A new Institute of
Petroleum document is presently being prepared on this subject.
(c) Lightning Protection of Buildings. This is covered in BS 6651, ‘Protection of
structures against lightning’.
(d) Lift Installations. This is covered in BS 5655, ‘Safety rules for construction and
installation of lifts’.
(e) Temporary installations.
(f) Caravan sites and marinas.
27
4 Earth Conductors
Having introduced the wide variety of earthing arrangements possible, it is now necessary to
consider the earthing system itself. The most important functions of the earth conductors are
explained and some definitions introduced. The different types of earth electrode available
are described and surprisingly the same types are generally used whether the earthing system
is for a house, factory or generating station.
4.1 Requirements of the Earthing System
The function of the earthing system is two-fold.
• To provide a low enough impedance path, via the earth conductors, back to the supply
source so that in the event of a failure to earth of a live conductor, sufficient current will
flow safely along a predetermined route to enable the circuit protective device to operate.
• To limit the potential rise on all metalwork to which persons and animals normally have
access, to a safe value under normal and abnormal circuit conditions. The bonding
together of all normally exposed metalwork, such as gas, water, central-heating pipework
etc., and the connection of that bond to the earth terminal, will prevent the possibility of a
dangerous potential difference arising between adjoining pipework under both normal
and abnormal conditions.
There are two main types of earth conductor, which are “bonding” (also referred to as
protective) conductors and earth electrodes.
4.2 Bonding and Protective Conductors
Within the regulations, a number of definitions have developed to describe the different types
of earth conductor used. The practical application of these conductors within buildings will
be discussed again in chapter 8. The types are:-
Circuit Protective Conductor (CPC)
This is a separate conductor installed with each circuit and is present to ensure that some, or
all, of the earth fault current will flow back to source along it. It may be an individual
conductor, the metal outer sheath of a cable or the metalwork formed by a conduit or
trunking.
Bonding Conductors
These ensure that exposed conductive parts (such as metal enclosures) remain at
approximately the same potential during electrical fault conditions. The two forms of
bonding conductor are:-
• Main equipotential bonding conductors which interconnect together and to earth,
exposed conductive parts which do not normally carry current, but could do so under a
fault condition. These bonds normally connect exposed incoming metal gas and water
pipes, the main services and main structural steelwork to the earthing system. Within
installations, to comply with BS 7671, these bonds must be of a certain minimum size (at
least 6 mm
2
), and generally do not need to be greater than 25 mm
2
copper, unless the
supply is PME. If the supply is PME, then the required size will be related to that of the
incoming neutral conductor (see BS 7671, table 54 and Note).
• Supplementary bonding conductors are to ensure that electrical equipment and other
items of conductive material in specific zones are bonded together and remain at
substantially the same potential. They are used in addition to the main equipotential
bonding conductors and circuit protective conductor.
28
Bonding and earth conductors within electricity substations need to be of sufficient size that
they can carry a certain amount of fault current for three seconds, without damage. The table
below shows some of the more common sizes of tape used for both bonding and “in ground”
electrodes. The current rating shown is that calculated according to the formula in EA TS
41-24. The ratings are based on an ambient temperature of 30°C, three seconds fault duration
and maximum temperatures of 375°C and 295°C for copper and aluminium respectively.
Different formulae are applicable, according to the situation, so the standards should always
be consulted before assigning a current rating. Also, an allowance for some material loss by
corrosion over the life of the installation should be made.
Maximum current
kA
Tape cross section (mm)
Copper
Tape cross section (mm)
Aluminium
12.0 4 x 25 4 x 40
18.5 4 x 40 6 x 40
22.0 4 x 50 6 x 50
For bonding conductors, it is essential that the conductor size chosen is capable of dealing
with the full value of anticipated fault current. If a fault develops, the whole of the fault
current may flow through via the earth conductor through to the “in ground” electrode
system. Once there, it will normally be split up between the various electrodes, so these can
often have a smaller cross sectional area than the main earth or bonding conductor.
4.3 Earth Electrodes
The earth electrode is the component of the earthing system which is in direct contact with
the ground and thus provides a means of releasing or collecting any earth leakage currents.
In earthed systems it will normally be required to carry quite a large fault current for a short
period of time and so will need to have a cross-sectional area large enough to be able to carry
this safely. Electrodes must have adequate mechanical and electrical properties to continue
to meet the demands on them over a relatively long period of time, during which actual
testing or inspection is difficult. The material should have good electrical conductivity and
should not corrode in a wide range of soil conditions. Materials used include copper,
galvanised steel, stainless steel and cast iron. Copper is generally the preferred material for
reasons described later. Aluminium is sometimes used for above ground “bonding”, but most
of the standards forbid its use as an earth electrode due to the risk of accelerated corrosion.
The corrosive product - an oxide layer - is non-conductive, so could reduce the effectiveness
of the earthing.
The electrode can take a number of forms. These include vertical rods, plates and horizontal
conductors, the most common of which are described below.
4.3.1 Rods
These are the most common form of electrode, because they are relatively cheap to install
and can be used to reach into deeper, low resistivity soil with only limited excavation and
backfilling. They are available in a range of lengths, diameters and materials complying with
the Electricity Association Technical Specification 43-94.
The rod is either of pure copper or copper plated steel. The plated type is normally used
when mechanical driving is necessary, since the steel used has high tensile strength. The
copper plating should be of high purity copper and electrolytically applied. The latter helps
ensure that the copper plating does not slip off during driving! Solid copper rods are used in
more aggressive soil conditions, for example when there is a high salt content. Stainless steel
rods (austenitic steel to BS 970, grade 316S12) are more anodic than copper and can be used
29
where galvanic corrosion is possible. However, stainless steel has poor current carrying
capabilities in comparison to copper and this must be taken into account.
There are threaded portions at each end of the rod which allow a pointed spike, a hardened
(high strength steel) driving head or additional rods to be screwed on. Rolled threads are
stronger than cut threads and it is important for plated rods that the plating is intact across the
threaded section. Some manufacturers also have a cross head drilling spike which is
particularly useful if the rod couplings have a greater diameter than the rod. It is claimed that
this type of head permits driving to greater depth. Rods are readily available in diameters of
15 mm to 20 mm diameter (solid copper) and 9.5 mm to 20 mm diameter (Copper Bond).
Lengths are 1.2 to 3 metres for individual rods.
Shielded sections of rod are also available for use when, for example, there is a highly
corrosive layer of soil through which a deep driven rod must pass. The shielding would be
of, say, PVC to prevent contact between the rod and the corrosive soil. Of course this section
will not contribute towards reducing the impedance value, because it is not in contact with
the soil.
4.3.2 Plates
There are several types of plate used for earthing purposes, but the only type which is
generally considered as an electrode would be solid and of substantial size. Lattice type
plates, as illustrated in Figure 4-1 are used for potential grading and would not be expected to
pass significant amounts of fault current. They are normally made of copper or steel mesh.
Figure 4-1 Earth Plates (courtesy A N Wallis and Co)
Plate electrodes are of copper or ribbed cast iron. The cast iron plates normally are a
minimum of 12 mm thick and either 915 mm or 1,220 mm square. Copper plates are
typically 600 mm to 900 mm square and between 1.6 mm and 3 mm thick.
Where multiple plates are used, they must be some distance apart to prevent any interaction.
Normally this is a minimum of 2 m, possibly extending to 9 m.
4.3.3 Horizontal electrodes
These are made from high conductivity copper strip or stranded conductor. Strip is normally
the preferred material as it has a larger surface for a given cross section area and is
considered to have a superior performance at higher frequencies, due to a slightly higher
capacitance when installed in the soil. It can be more difficult to connect (for example to
vertical earth rods), so may involve a slightly higher installation cost.
30
To reduce overall costs, strip is often used for the electrodes which will be required to carry
most current (i.e. the perimeter electrode and main plant connections) whilst smaller,
stranded conductor would be used elsewhere (see chapter 7). Strip which is installed
underground is normally fully annealed (ref. BS 1432, ‘Specifications for copper for
electrical purposes: high conductivity copper rectangular conductors with drawn or rolled
edges’ - C101) so that it can be bent easily.
For above ground purposes PVC sheathed strip, solid or stranded conductors are available.
Tinned or lead covered copper tape is also available for special applications.
4.3.4 Electrode Derivatives
There are some interesting derivatives available which include a number of ideas which it is
claimed improve the performance of an earth electrode. They include earth pits and ground
reservoirs.
An earth pit may comprise of several large pipes inserted vertically into the soil. They are
bonded together and surrounded by low resistivity material.
A ground reservoir is typically a cavity at a position where moisture collects, which is filled
with scrap metal and other conductive material. Perhaps the most expensive electrode of this
type is situated underneath the English Channel. One of the boring machines used for the
channel tunnel has been used for this purpose. Because of the anticipated cost of removing
it, it was directed downwards and is now used for earthing.
An example of a derivative is the XIT Grounding System. The electrode consists of a 50 mm
diameter copper tube, available in lengths up to 6 metres.
The hollow shaft is partly filled with coarse metallic salts, called Calsolyte, and the top and
bottom of the tube sealed with caps. Breather holes are drilled into the top, and drainage
holes into the bottom. The backfill material recommended is Bentonite (see section 14.2 for
a description of this material).
The device functions as follows: -
Changes in atmospheric pressure and natural air movement ‘pump’ air through the breather
holes at the top of the tube. The moisture in the absorbed air comes into contact with the
Calsolyte and, via a hygroscope process, droplets of water are formed. As the moisture
accumulates, an electrolyte solution is formed which travels to the bottom of the tube.
In time, sufficient electrolyte is formed such that it flows through the drainage holes into the
surrounding soil by osmosis. The electrolyte thus forms “roots” into the surrounding soil
which help to maintain its resistivity at a low level.
31
5 Installation Methods
5.1 Introduction
When installing electrodes, there are three conditions which must be satisfied:-
• the work must be carried out efficiently to minimise installation costs,
• the backfill used must not have a pH value which will cause corrosion to the electrode;
and
• any joints or connectors used below ground level must be so constructed that corrosion of
the joint/connector will not take place.
The method of installation, backfill and connection detailed in the following paragraphs will
depend upon the type of electrode system to be used and on the site conditions. Where
practicable, use should be made of existing excavation work e.g. by laying electrode strip in a
cable trench. Mechanical aids or hand tools are invariably required to assist in the
installation.
5.2 Rods
These generally offer the cheapest and most convenient means of installing an electrode.
Often, little surface disturbance is required (such as breaking of concrete or tarmac surfaces)
- but checks are of course necessary to ensure that there is no equipment buried there that can
be damaged when driving in the rods - such as water or gas pipes. The installation methods
include manual driving, mechanical driving and drilling.
Short rods (typically up to 3 metres in length) are often installed just by using a manually
operated heavy hammer. Relatively short, frequent blows are normally the most effective.
The rods are normally fitted with a hardened driving head and a steel tip to assist in ensuring
that the rod itself is not damaged during the process.
Longer rods are often driven in a similar way, but using a pneumatic hammer which requires
much less physical effort and provides a more certain, directed inertia. Electric, petrol,
hydraulic oil, or air driven tools have all been used successfully for this. Due to their weight,
these tools sometimes require a rig to support them.. A typical electric hammer would have a
consumption of 500 watts and deliver about 1500 blows per minute and some designs do not
require a rig. It is possible to drive rods down to a depth of 10 metres or more using this
method, depending, of course, on the actual soil conditions. It has also been recorded that
rods of 30 m length have been installed in this way - but it is not known how straight they
are! They have sometimes been known to bend and break back through the surface of the soil
some distance away. The time taken to install the rod will vary according to the soil type.
For example, in loose sand/gravel, the installation rate for an 11 mm diameter rod may be 3.5
metres per minute, but this can fall to 0.5 metres per minute in stiff clay.
The diameter of the rod is a major factor in the effort needed to install it. Smaller (9 mm
diameter) rods are relatively easy to install, but as the required rod length increases, so the
diameter must be increased to ensure that the rod has sufficient mechanical strength -
particularly at joint positions. Doubling the rod diameter from 12 mm to 24 mm increases the
mechanical resistance to driving by more than three times. Where the rods are to be deep
driven, they are normally either welded or mechanically coupled together. The coupling
arrangement must be such that the diameter of the rod is not increased significantly, or this
will make installation more difficult and produce a hole with a wider diameter than the rod.
The coupling should also shield the threaded section, to help prevent corrosion.
32
Copper plated steel rods are significantly stronger than solid copper rods, which bend quite
easily and may break when attempts are made to drive them into rocky soil.
When deeper rods are required or in difficult soil conditions where there is underlying rock,
the most effective means is to drill a narrow hole into which the rod electrode and a suitable
backfill material are installed. This method is often surprisingly economic, since a
significant number of deep holes can be drilled in a day using modestly priced equipment.
Rods can be installed routinely to depths of 20 metres and, with more specialist equipment, to
significantly greater depth. Besides the advantages of obtaining a greater depth and a more
controlled route for the electrode, another benefit is that relatively thin, solid copper
electrodes can be installed in this way.
Because the solid copper rod has a better conductivity than the plated type, this further
improves the benefit obtained from use of long rods. If driven mechanically into the ground
at such depth, rods would normally need to be much thicker and a copper coated steel rod
may be necessary to provide sufficient strength. In the past a number of different shapes,
such as star shaped cross section, have been used to increase the strength of the rod and make
it less likely to bend in rocky conditions. However, they are not generally available now.
The shape difference only has a marginal effect on the electrical resistivity obtained, but
would require less material for the same surface area.
In many situations, long vertical rods can provide an economic solution and there are a
number of specialist small companies with the drilling facilities to achieve this.
There is also equipment available which, to avoid using mechanical joints, uses stranded
copper conductor deep driven to provide a similar effect to that of a conventional rod. A
steel rod is driven into the ground, pulling the stranded copper conductor in behind it. In
time the steel is likely to corrode away leaving the copper conductor to provide the
permanent electrode.
5.3 Plates
Originally, in the early 1900’s, plates were so commonplace that all earth electrodes were
called earth plates. As the use of electricity increased there was a need for the plates to deal
with ever greater currents, which was accomplished by increasing the plate dimensions.
Their use continued for some considerable time, mainly due to custom and practice, despite
the fact that they have some disadvantages. For example, they generally require manual or
mechanical excavation and so the installation cost can be quite high. To reduce the amount
of excavation required, plates are normally installed in the vertical plane about 0.5 metres
below the surface. It is easier to pack the soil thoroughly against the plate when backfilling,
if they are installed vertically. Another disadvantage was due to the locations chosen for
earth plates. Often they were positioned too close together and their zones of influence
overlapped one another. This increases their combined resistance to a higher value than
expected. If plates are required to carry a significant amount of current, then this resistance
needs to be low. In practice, the combined resistance was not sufficiently low enough and
the fault current would generally seek other routes. So, in this situation, the improved current
density stated as an advantage for plates is not achieved. A better arrangement can usually be
provided using rods and horizontal electrodes.
Because of the relatively high installation cost, there is little justification to use plates now
and they are normally replaced by a cluster of rods when deterioration is detected.
5.4 Horizontal Electrodes
These can be mechanically ploughed directly into the ground or are more usually installed in
ready opened trenches about half a metre deep. Use of narrow mechanical excavation
equipment can result in modest installation costs in locations where this is possible. The
33
installation depth is normally a minimum of 0.5 metres and more if necessary to be below the
frost or cultivation level.
On many large projects the whole area may be excavated to allow civil works. This often
presents a good opportunity to minimise costs by laying the electrode conductor at that time.
Great care must be exercised to prevent damage to, or theft of, conductor once laid.
5.5 Backfill
In all cases the backfill medium must be non-corrosive, be of a relatively small particle size
and should, if possible, help to retain moisture. More often than not, the previously
excavated soil is suitable as a backfill, but should be sieved to remove any large stones and
placed around the electrode, taking care to ensure that it is well compacted. The soil should
have a pH value between 6.0 (acidic) and 10.0 (alkaline) - see chapters 11 and 14. Normal,
stiff clay is not a suitable backfill material as, if heavily compacted, it may become almost
impervious to water and could remain relatively dry. It may also form large lumps which do
not consolidate around the rod.
Materials which should not be used as backfill include sand, coke-breeze, cinders and power-
station ash, many of which are acidic and corrosive.
In some circumstances, special backfill materials are required. The materials available,
together with advice on when to use them are listed in chapter 14.
5.6 Connections
The earth electrodes have to be connected together in some way and it is normal for this to be
via bare copper if possible, since this will help in further reducing the overall impedance
value. Connections between the various components must be mechanically robust, have good
corrosion resistance and low electrical resistivity. It is prudent to avoid unnecessary joints
and connections. Consideration must also be given to the fault currents and fault duration
that the earthing system may be expected to withstand.
The British and other standards quote material specifications that are deemed acceptable, for
example stating that couplings for copper rods need to have a minimum copper content of
80%. The jointing methods used include mechanical, brazed, exothermic, and welded and
are explained in more detail below:-
5.6.1 Mechanical connections
These are commonly used and can be mechanical (bolted connection) or hydraulic
(compression). The connectors must meet the requirements of the applicable standards. The
process of proving compliance with standards normally involves a series of life tests during
which the connector is subjected to mechanical, electrical and thermal shocks. It follows that
the design, size and material used are important factors - particularly since such connectors
may be buried unseen in the ground for a number of years before being required to perform.
A good, low resistance electrical connection is essential, particularly on radial types of
electrode system. It does not take much contact resistance for this to exceed the impedance
of the electrode system. During maintenance, connections have been uncovered with a
resistance of more than 20 Ω. Clearly this would prejudice the performance of the electrode
system.
Where copper strips are bolted together, care should be taken with the hole size drilled to
accommodate the bolt. If this is too large, the current carrying capability of the strip will be
prejudiced. For this reason, the standards and codes of practice normally limit the hole
diameter to one third of the strip width or less.
34
Where dissimilar metals (e.g. copper and aluminium tape) are bolted together the surfaces
should be thoroughly cleaned and protected by an oxide inhibitor. Once the connection has
been made, the exterior should be protected by bitumastic paint or other means (such as
Densotape) to protect against moisture ingress. When jointing copper and aluminium, the
copper should first be tinned. For outdoor locations and in electricity substations, a bolted
joint of this type is presently the preferred method described in the standards for connecting
dissimilar metals. These connections must be a minimum distance above ground and cannot
be buried.
For jointing certain type of conductor e.g. earth rods to cable or tape, proprietary clamps are
available. These should have a high copper content - brass should not be used.
At one time, tin and rivet type joints were used. The copper tape was drilled, then tinned,
and riveted together. However, the rivets sometimes work loose due to vibration etc. This
method of jointing is clearly not suited to deal with the higher values of fault current
encountered now.
5.6.2 Brazed connections
Brazing is widely applied to copper and copper alloys. This method has the advantage of
providing a low resistance joint which will not corrode. It is presently the preferred method
described by the standards for connecting copper tapes within a substation. However, it is
essential that the brazing is effectively carried out. A good joint can be difficult to make on
site particularly where large cross sectional areas are involved. Clean flat surfaces are
essential as brazing materials are generally not free flowing like solder. There is thus the
possibility of adequate connection only at points of contact, but with significant voids left
unfilled. For this work, a good source of heat is essential, particularly for large connectors.
5.6.3 Exothermic joints
These are made via a graphite mould which is designed to fit the specific type of joint and
conductor sizes. A powder mix of copper oxide and aluminium is ignited using a flint gun
and the subsequent reaction forms a virtually pure copper joint around the conductors. The
high temperature reaction takes place within the confines of the graphite mould. Each mould,
if properly maintained, can be used for between 50 and 70 joints. Benefits claimed for this
type of joint are that it:-
• Provides a corrosion resistant, low resistance, permanent joint.
• Uses relatively unskilled jointing techniques.
• Can operate at high temperatures, possibly enabling the conductor size to be decreased.
This type of joint is not presently permitted for connecting copper and aluminium within
substations. Metals which can be connected include stainless steel, brass, copper, copper
plated steel, galvanised steel, bronze and steel rail. There are some safety aspects involved
with this type of joint, but the technique is rapidly developing to address these - for example
by reducing the gas given off.
5.6.4 Welded connections
Copper can be joined by bronze welding or gas shielded arc welding.
Bronze welding is an effective, low cost jointing technique, used primarily to make on-site
joints (for example in copper pipework). In this classical technique, brass is used as a filler
metal to form a surface bond between the copper parts. The technique uses a higher
temperature and a filler material which is more closely matched to copper, than in brazing.
35
Whilst bronze welding can be used to connect copper to ferrous metals, this is not normally
carried out for earthing.
When heavier gauge copper components need to be jointed, then gas shielded arc welding is
used. An electric arc provides the heat, whilst the area around the electrode and weld is
shielded by a gas such as argon, helium or nitrogen. This reduces the amount of oxidation
which takes place during the welding process. Nitrogen is widely used as the “inert gas”
when welding copper. Specially developed filler materials are required and are known to
perform well when welding copper.
Aluminium can be welded via inert gas tungsten arc (to BS 3019 part 1) or inert gas metal arc
(to BS 3571 part 1). Cold pressure welding is also sometimes used for joints between
aluminium.
5.7 Fault Current Carrying Capacity
The type of joint can influence the size of conductor used due to the different maximum
permissible temperature for the various joints. For example, BS 7430 1991 Code of Practice
for Earthing recommends a maximum permissible temperature of 250
o
C for bolted joints,
450
o
C for brazed joints and 700
o
C for welded joints. Hence if we were to consider a fault
current of 25 kA and a duration of 1 second, the following conductor sizes would be required
for each type of joint:
Connection Bolted Brazed Welded
Maximum temp. 250
o
C 450
o
C 700
o
C
Conductor Size 152 mm
2
117 mm
2
101 mm
2
Clearly the method of jointing used may permit cost savings via use of smaller conductor
sizes. Note however, that the relevant standard being used should be checked, as different
values of the maximum permissible temperature may be quoted.
5.8 Testing and Inspection Facilities
Where access to connections may be required, then this is normally facilitated by means of an
inspection housing. Sometimes it is prudent to leave one or two inspection housings in place
above a horizontal electrode to enable vertical rods to be added later, if required.
It is now suggested that connections to substantial individual sections of the earthing system
have a test link accessible via such test housing. The link would have a circular cross section
around which a clip on impedance tester could be fitted. It is not generally considered safe
practice to remove test links whilst the earthing system is connected to live equipment.
36
6 Performance of Earth Electrodes
The earthing system designer is normally faced with two tasks:-
• to achieve a required impedance value, and
• to ensure that touch and step potentials are satisfactory.
In the majority of cases there will be a need to reduce these values. Initially the designer
should concentrate on achieving a certain impedance value. This value may have been
decided from considerations of protection. The factors which influence the impedance are:-
• The physical dimensions and attributes of the earth electrode system.
• Soil conditions (composition, water content etc.).
The earthing system consists of conductive material above ground (bonding conductors etc.),
metal electrodes within the soil and the surrounding soil itself. Each of these will contribute
towards the overall impedance value. The earthing system components will be covered first
and soil discussed at the end of the chapter. However, it is important to recognise that the
characteristics of the soil strongly influence the earthing system performance. The most
important characteristic of the soil is its resistivity, which is measured in Ohm-metres.
The previous chapter dealt with connections. Contact resistances at connections and
material interfaces must clearly be kept to a practical minimum. In addition, the metal used
for the above ground connections should have good electrical conductivity and the superior
property of copper resulted in its use in the majority of installations. The system of metal
electrodes will present an impedance to current flow consisting of three main parts. These
are the resistance of the electrode material, the contact resistance between the electrode and
the surrounding soil and finally a resistance dependent on the characteristics of the
surrounding soil.
The impedance of the metal electrode material is usually relatively small, consisting of the
linear impedance of the rod and/or horizontal conductors. The properties of the metal used
and the cross sectional area will clearly influence this. In electrical terms, copper is superior
to steel, so has traditionally been the preferred material.
6.1 Effect of Electrode Shape, Size and Position
A dominant part of the impedance is that due to the physical orientation of the earth
electrodes. The graphs in Figure 6-1 to Figure 6-6 illustrate the effect that changes in these
dimensions can have on the impedance and enable the designer to assess the relative merit of
each option. These are further discussed below:
6.1.1 Increasing the buried depth of a vertical rod in uniform soil.
Figure 6-1 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing
the buried length of the rod. It also shows that the improvement per unit length decreases as
the rod length increases. However the graph illustrating the performance in uniform soil does
not tell the complete story. The decrease in resistance obtained via a long rod may be
particularly desirable in non uniform soil conditions. Figure 6-2 demonstrates the
improvement in electrode resistance possible when increasing the length of a rod in a soil
which consists of three layers. The top two layers are of relatively high resistivity down to a
depth of six metres. The resistance of the rod is high until it extends beyond these layers, due
to the high resistivity of the soil surrounding it.
37
Figure 6-1 Resistance v Rod Length
As the rod length increases the overall resistance falls progressively more quickly. This is
due to deeper soil with better electrical properties being reached. In this case there is a clear
improvement in performance with each additional metre of rod installed, far greater at this
depth than for the rod in uniform soil. Once the rod reaches about 15 metres length, there is
little difference in the resistance of a rod in this soil structure compared to one in uniform soil
of 50 Ohm-metres resistivity. However, the per unit improvement with each additional metre
installed starts to reduce rapidly as in the case of uniform soil.
In soil conditions as illustrated in Figure 6-2, it is important that the top section of the rod has
a low longitudinal resistance as this section provides the connection to the beneficial
electrode beneath. This could be achieved by using either a solid copper top section or a
plated section with an increased cross section.
In some soil conditions, particularly where there is a limited area available, use of vertical
rods may prove to be the most effective option, but it does depend on the soil structure.
Finally, it is important to note that vertical rods give a degree of stability to the impedance of
an earthing system. Normally they should be of sufficient length that they are in or near the
water table (if it exists at reasonable depth at the location) and below the freezing line. This
means that the impedance should be less influenced by seasonal variations in water content or
temperature.
38
Figure 6-2 Resistance v Rod Length in Multilayer Soil
6.1.2 Increasing the length of a horizontal conductor.
Figure 6-3 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing
the length of a horizontally laid earth electrode.
Figure 6-3 Resistance v Horizontal Conductor Length
39
It should be noted that the calculations in this example do not take account of the linear
impedance of the conductor, so the values are optimistic for long lengths. Again, the
improvement per unit length decreases as the electrode length increases. Horizontally laid
strip is generally considered to be a good option, particularly when it is possible to route this
in several different directions. This further increases the reduction possible, although not by
50%. For high frequency applications, increasing the number of available routes in this way
does significantly reduce the surge impedance.
6.1.3 Increasing the side length of a square earth grid/plate.
Figure 6-4 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing
the area encompassed by the earth electrode. Whilst it shows that the improvement per unit
area decreases, the reduction in resistance is still significant. In fact this is, more often than
not, the most effective way of reducing the resistance of the earthing electrode.
Figure 6-4 Resistance v Square Loop Side Length
6.1.4 Increasing the radius of an earth rod.
Figure 6-5 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing
the radius of the rod. There is a rapid reduction in the benefit per unit increase in diameter
once this exceeds 0.05 metres, except in soil of high resistivity where the same effect is
noticed at about 0.2 metres diameter. Normally there is little to be gained by extending the
radius of earth electrodes beyond that necessary to deal with the mechanical and corrosion
requirements. Tubes can be used instead of solid conductors to increase the external surface
area, whilst moderating the increase in volume of the metal used. However, the increased
installation cost may outweigh the value of the performance increase. In rocky conditions it
may be advantageous to increase the effective diameter of the electrode by surrounding it
with material which has a lower resistivity than the surrounding rock, as described in chapter
14.
40
Figure 6-5 Resistance v Rod Radius
6.1.5 Buried depth
This only provides a marginal reduction in impedance, but at a relatively high cost, so is not
normally considered. It should however be remembered that the greater the burial depth, the
smaller the voltage gradients on the surface of the soil. Within a substation a high voltage is
required above the electrode, to minimise touch voltages. However, if an earth electrode
extends into a field, then a low surface voltage is required to reduce step potentials. In some
cases it is advantageous to increase the depth of electrodes to reduce the risk of electrocution
to horses, cattle and other animals. They are more susceptible to step voltages than humans
because of the distance between their front and rear legs. For rods, this can be achieved by
installing a plastic pipe around the top metre or two of each rod.
6.1.6 Proximity effect.
If two earth electrodes are installed close together, then their zones of influence will overlap
and the full benefit possible will not be achieved. In fact, if two rods or horizontal electrodes
are close together, the combined earth impedance of the two can be virtually the same as for
one, meaning the second is redundant. Spacing, position and soil characteristics are the
dominant factors in this. Figure 6-6 shows how the overall resistance of two five metre
vertical rods changes as the distance between them is increased. From this it can be seen that
the rods should be more than 4m apart in uniform soil. Calculations of this type are the basis
for the established practice of installing electrodes at least the same distance apart as their
length.
41
Figure 6-6 Combined Resistance of Two Vertical Rods as Separation Between them is Increased
6.2 Complex Electrode Arrangements
For more complex arrangements of electrodes, more detailed analysis to take all of the above
factors into account, is required.
The figures (except Figure 6-2) illustrate performance in uniform soil conditions.
Unfortunately, in practice, it is unusual to find uniform soil conditions. A multi-layer soil is
more usual. For example, there may be a surface layer of loam or peat above sand, gravel or
clay. Further underneath the material may change to rock. This may be represented as a
three layer soil structure, the resistivity of the layers increasing with depth.
At another site there may be silt or sand/gravel and then a water table a few metres below the
surface. This may form a two layer structure, with the resistivity beneath the water table
being significantly lower than that of the surface layer. The actual soil structure and the
electrical properties of each layer will affect the electrode resistance value and it may be
important to assess this at an early stage.
The values shown in the graphs were obtained using computer software which takes into
account soil structure and electrode geometry. In addition to calculating the value for
straightforward electrodes, this type of software can deal with complex arrangements such as
those that will be described in chapter 7. However, some relatively straightforward formulae
are available to enable a reasonably accurate prediction of the resistance of electrodes in soil
which is of uniform resistivity. It should be noted that different formulae are used by
different standards and whilst these often provide similar values, this does mean that
particular care is needed to ensure that the correct formulae and approach is used, depending
on the design specification and the standard on which this is based.
In the case of a rod, the formula (taken from BS 7430 and EA S34) is:
R=
ρ
π 2
8
1
l
l
ln
d
|
\

|
.
|

|
\

|
.
|
42
where : R = resistance of rod (Ω)
ρ = soil resistivity (Ωm)
l = length of rod (m)
d = diameter of rod (m)
For a short, buried horizontal conductor, the formula (taken from BS 7430) is:
R
d h
Q =
|
\

|
.
|

ρ
π 2
4
2
l
l
ln
where : R = resistance of horizontal buried conductor (Ω)
l = length of conductor (m)
d = diameter of conductor (m)
h = height below ground (m)
Q = 1.3 for circular conductors
Q = 1.0 for strip conductors
In DIN VDE 0141 and CLC TC 112, the above formula has been simplified to:
R
d
=
|
\

|
.
|
ρ
π l
l
ln
2
6.3 Contact Resistance
In the formulae and computer simulations it is assumed that the earth electrodes are in perfect
contact with the surrounding soil. It is to reduce this contact resistance to a minimum value
that it is important to ensure that the backfill material is of the appropriate type, as described
in section 14. Clearly, large, dry stones surrounding the electrode would have a detrimental
effect on its performance. In fact, in a new installation, the most significant resistance is
likely to be at the interface between electrodes and soil. This arises mainly because the soil
has not yet consolidated.
6.4 Soil Resistivity
The most important remaining factor influencing the impedance of the earthing system is the
impedance of the medium in which the earth electrodes are situated, i.e. the soil.
Because soil resistivity is such an important factor governing the performance of earth
electrodes, it needs to be discussed in some detail. Soil resistivity is expressed in Ohm-
metres. This unit is the resistance between the two opposite faces of a one metre cube of
uniform soil. The value obtained is thus in Ohm-metre
2
per metre, which is traditionally
shortened to Ohm-metres. Some typical resistivity values are given in Table 6-1
.
43
Table 6-1 Typical values of resistivity for different soils
Type Resistivity (Ohm-metre)
Sea water 0.1 - 1
Garden soil/alluvial clay 5 - 50
London clay 5 - 100
Clay, sand and gravel 40 - 250
Porous chalk 30 - 100
Quartzite/crystalline limestone 300+
Rock 1,000 - 10,000
Gneiss/igneous rock 2,000+
Dry concrete 2,000 - 10,000
Wet concrete 30 - 100
Ice 10,000 - 100,000
The two main factors which influence the soil resistivity value are the porosity of the material
and the water content. Porosity is a term which describes the size and number of voids
within the material, which is related to its particle size and the pore diameter. It varies
between 80/90% in the silt of lakes, through 30/40% in sands and unconsolidated clay to a
few percent in consolidated limestone.
As mentioned previously, it is most unusual to find soil which can be described as uniform
for earthing purposes. We are interested in soil to a significant depth as the earth fault
currents flow deeply into the ground. There may be thin layer of soil on the surface, with
layers of rock underneath. Each successive layer of rock would have fewer cracks, be more
solid and would be expected to have a higher resistivity.
If an electrode was installed at the surface, then the distance, thickness and actual resistivity
of each of the layers would be important factors influencing its eventual resistance value.
Temperature and water content have an important influence on the soil resistivity and hence
the performance of the earthing system. An increase in water content causes a steep
reduction in resistivity until the 20% level is reached when the effect begins to level out.
Dissolved minerals and salts in the water may help further to reduce the resistivity,
particularly where these are naturally occurring and do not become diluted over time. The
water content will vary seasonally and is likely to cause variations in the impedance of the
earthing system. Whilst there is data on the effect this has on individual rods, we are not yet
aware of the effect on larger substations which encompass a larger area. The very high
resistivity of ice (table 6.1) compared to water, shows why it is necessary to install the
electrodes beneath the freezing line. This is about 0.6 metres depth in the UK, but may be
deeper in exposed, mountainous locations.
6.5 Measurement of Soil Resistivity
It is important that the resistivity is assessed as accurately as possible, since the value of the
resistance of the electrode is directly proportional to the soil resistivity. If the incorrect value
of soil resistivity is used at the design stage, the measured impedance of the earthing system
may prove to be significantly different to that planned. This could, in turn, have serious
financial consequences.
The test is traditionally carried out using a four-terminal earth tester. Four spikes are driven
into the ground as shown in the diagram, spaced a distance of “a” metres apart. The depth to
which each spike is driven should not exceed “a” divided by 20 and is not normally greater
44
than 0.3 metres. The outer two spikes should be connected to the current terminals C1 and
C2 of the instrument, the inner spikes to the potential terminals P1 and P2.
It is important to ensure that the test spikes are not inserted in line with buried metal pipes or
cables, as these will introduce measurement errors.
If “R” is the instrument resistance reading in Ohms, for a separation “a” metres, then the
apparent resistivity is given by the following formula:
Resistivity = 2 x ã x R x a Ohm-metres.
The term “apparent resistivity” is used since the above formula assumes that the soil is
uniform to a depth “a” metres below the centre point of the measurement traverse. We are
able to obtain information about the actual soil layering by taking a series of readings, with
“a” being increased by 1 m steps up to 6 m separation, then by 6 m steps up to typically 30 m
separation. For very large area sites, especially where there is rock beneath, readings may be
advisable at 50 m, 80 m and even 100 m spike separation. The test instrument used should be
sufficiently accurate to measure quite small resistance values at these large spacings - in the
order of 0.01Ω to 0.002Ω. The measurements should preferably be made in an area of
reasonably undisturbed soil. Typically the lower values of “a” will give high values of soil
resistivity because they are heavily influenced by the surface soil which normally drains or
has its water content reduced by sun and/or wind. As the distance “a” increases, the apparent
resistivity would normally decrease, unless there is underlying rock.
A curve of resistivity against separation should be drawn during the measurement exercise.
This will provide information on the general structure of the soil in the locality, identify
rogue readings and help in deciding how many measurements are required. If there are large
fluctuations in measured values, then it is likely that the soil conditions are variable, the
ground has been made up, or there are buried pipes in the area. In all cases, measurements
should be taken on a number of traverses across the site. Some of these traverses should be
at right angles to one another to enable any interference from nearby electricity cables to be
identified.
Some examples of soil resistivity curves are shown in Figure 6-7 and Figure 6-8. In Figure
6-7, a number of measurements have been taken at the site and there are variations between
them. The apparent resistivity value is higher at short spacings and then falls into a
reasonably narrow, uniform band. Computer analysis produces a two layer model where the
surface layer is 0.2 m thick and has a resistivity of 126 Ohm-metres. The underlying material
has a value (biased towards the higher readings) of 47 Ohm-metres.
45
Figure 6-7 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation - relatively uniform soil
For practical purposes one would assume a uniform soil of 47 Ohm-metres, since the value of
the surface layer will change throughout the year. In the second example (Figure 6-8), the
readings are much more difficult to interpret and analysis via computer software produces a
three layer model. The middle layer has a low resistivity, so vertical rods or horizontal
electrodes installed at greater depth than normal would be used. The actual readings are
shown to be either side of an average computer model and typifies the variation expected on
different traverses across the same site. The average three layer model would normally be
used for earthing calculations.
Test spikes should not normally be installed within 5 metres or so of an electricity substation,
unless suitable precautions are taken. The buried cables there will influence the readings and
should an earth fault occur whilst testing is taking place, the potential gradient near the
substation may be sufficient to introduce a risk of electric shock to those carrying out the test.
46
Figure 6-8 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation - three layer soil
The method of soil resistivity measurement described above is the Wenner method, using
spikes which are equidistantly spaced. There are other methods available for use in more
difficult locations. These include the Schlumberger technique where the distance between
the instrument and each current spike and each voltage spike is the same, but that between the
voltage and current spikes is different. This is illustrated below:
Software is also available which can enable the soil resistivity to be calculated when the
spacing along the traverse is arbitrary. This may enable soil resistivity readings to be taken
when there are physical obstructions (roads, pavements, concreted areas etc.) preventing use
of the Wenner method. Finally, another method of determining the soil resistivity involves
measuring the resistance obtained at different depths as an earth electrode is driven into the
ground (the method of taking the measurement, but not how to interpret the readings is
covered in chapter 13). The measurements are repeated at a number of locations around the
substation and the average values used to determine the soil resistivity and layering. Because
of localised effects, this method is not generally as accurate as the Wenner and other
techniques, but may be the only one method available is some built up areas.
47
7 Design of Earth Electrode Systems
7.1 Introduction
Chapter 6 covered ways in which the designer could seek to reduce the impedance of the
earthing system, since in general this is likely to improve its performance. This chapter will
concentrate on the more detailed design necessary to ensure that the step and touch criteria,
on which the newer standards are based, are satisfied. Note that the fault currents used are
higher than would normally be anticipated in a domestic or commercial installation, but the
electrode performance would be similar.
To illustrate the different design concept required, imagine that the designer has been asked
to ensure that the earth electrode has an impedance of 5.0 Ohms, in order that the protective
equipment will operate. If we also assume that the soil in the location is of uniform, 50 Ohm-
metre resistivity, and the mechanical properties of the soil are suitable, then the most
economic method of achieving this value may be to use a single vertical rod.
From computer simulation, use of the formula in paragraph 6.1 or use of the graph in Figure
6-1, it can be calculated that a rod of approximately 12.5 m length will provide this value.
Assume that the equipment to be protected by this earthing system is housed within a metal
enclosure of 3 m length and 2 m width. If the fault current anticipated is 200 A, then clearly
the potential on the electrode and enclosure will rise to 1,000 V during the time that it takes
the protection to operate. There will be a voltage on the surface of the soil above the
electrode, which will reduce with increasing distance from it.
Assuming the earth rod has been installed at one corner of the enclosure, then the voltage
profiles on the surface of the soil surrounding it will be as shown in Figure 7-1 (note that
Figure 2-1 is based on the same example and shows the situation in three dimensions).
Figure 7-1 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod earthing
48
These are formed because the fault current is assumed to flow uniformly into the surrounding
soil and the potential contours result from marking the position of equal voltages along each
current path. (The equipotential lines in all the figures have been shown as percentages of
the actual GPR (voltage rise)). A person touching the opposite corner of the enclosure, with
their feet one metre away (i.e. at the position shown in Figure 7-1), would experience a
potential difference between hands and feet of 784 V.
As mentioned in chapter 2, the permitted touch voltage depends on the relevant standard and
the time taken for the protection system to disconnect the faulty circuit. Clearly a single rod
does not provide a well designed earthing system, but is precisely the type which would
traditionally have been used in the past. Another traditional method was to use a plate and
for comparison purposes, Figure 7-2 illustrates the voltage profiles which would result if a
buried plate, 900 mm square, at 0.6 metres depth was used instead of the vertical rod. This
would have an impedance of 17 Ohm. The equipotential lines are elliptically shaped near the
electrode and become circular as the distance from it increases. For a 200 A current flow, the
touch potential at the corner of the enclosure is now 3,060 V. This higher figure is due to the
higher impedance of the plate compared to the rod.
Figure 7-2 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single plate earthing
7.2 Small Area Electrode Systems
If the above electrode arrangements are used as the main earth for a domestic property, they
may suffice. The anticipated fault current would be lower than 200 A, so the voltage rise
would be significantly reduced and so would the touch voltage. In addition, the wall of the
house would normally be non-conducting and the connection to the earth electrode insulated.
It is thus unlikely that a person could experience a touch voltage of the type illustrated. It
should be noted that the fault clearance time could be quite long, so the permitted touch
voltage would be low
49
Within an industrial or commercial premise, the anticipated fault current will be higher and
the touch voltage limit may be exceeded for arrangements such as those in Figure 7-1 and
Figure 7-2. In a substation owned by an electricity company the fault current would almost
certainly exceed 200 A - sometimes by a factor of ten to one hundred. Even if the protection
operates in an electricity substation in less than 0.2 seconds, there may still be touch voltage
(and other) problems if the arrangement in Figure 7-1 or Figure 7-2 were used.
Figure 7-3 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod and perimeter (potential
grading) electrode
To improve matters a perimeter (or potential grading) electrode can be installed in the soil,
situated approximately one metre away from the enclosure, buried at 0.5 metres. This
conductor is sometimes called a guard ring. The voltage profile around the enclosure for the
same fault current of 200 A is shown in Figure 7-3. In this case the single rod and perimeter
conductor reduce the impedance to 3.17 Ohm. The touch voltage has now been reduced to
182 V. If the same arrangement is applied to the plate example, the impedance is reduced to
4.9 Ohm and the touch voltage becomes 307 V. Clearly the perimeter electrode has improved
the safety of the installation.
This is the basic way in which earthing systems should be designed to comply with the new
standards. The perimeter electrode is limiting the touch potential which can be experienced
by smoothing the potential gradient in the vicinity of the enclosure. In addition, it reduces
the electrode impedance and, in the above examples, the potential rise. Either of these
arrangements may be acceptable within an industrial or commercial premise. In this case the
perimeter conductor of the electrode system also provides the potential grading required to
reduce the touch voltage. It is possible to have separate electrodes to achieve this, as
discussed in section 7.3 below.
50
For small electricity substations, a better design is to use a loop of horizontal conductor as
the perimeter electrode and position vertical rods at each of the four corners. These would be
shorter than the previous example, typically 3 metres in length. This would provide a more
efficient earthing system in 50 Ohm-metre uniform soil and provide an impedance of 3.7
Ohm. The touch voltage would be 175 V.
7.3 Medium Area Electrode Systems
Medium area systems would typically be found at an electricity substation. It should be
noted that there are other components of the earthing system associated with substations
which also need to be considered. For example, it is usual for steel reinforcing bars within
building foundations or piles, the cable sheaths of underground cables and the earth wire of
overhead lines (the type supported on steel towers), to be connected to the earthing system.
Individual consideration of these is beyond the scope of this book, which will concentrate
just on the earth electrode installed at the substation.
In older designs, it is not uncommon to find electrode arrangements such as that in Figure
7-4. As previously, the main objective with this design was to obtain a specific earth
impedance value. The design is based on vertical earth rods and arose from the knowledge
that placing earth rods approximately the same distance apart as their length, made effective
use of the land area. Horizontal electrodes interconnect these rods and further decrease the
impedance value. This concept was the start of the modern mesh designs, but at this early
stage, it was not recognised that the rods within the site have little effect. Because of the
radial type design, the performance of the system could be seriously compromised if
corrosion occurs at any one of a number of positions.
Finally, there are areas, indicated on the figure, where touch voltages could be excessive.
These are on the lines between B-C, D-E, F-G and H-I. If exposed metalwork, connected to
the earthing system, were present here, touch potentials might exceed the allowable values.
Figure 7-4 Potential on surface of soil around and within a substation with older design
incorporating rods and horizontal electrodes
51
The voltage profiles on the surface of the soil are shown in the figure to illustrate this, again
as a percentage of the GPR.
A modern design is shown in Figure 7-5. It is based on the following principles:
• An effective perimeter conductor loop.
• Good interconnection between electrodes and important items of plant.
• Economic use of good quality material.
• Potential grading across the site.
The perimeter electrode is positioned either 2 m inside the fence or about 1m outside.
Vertical earth rods are connected to this. The perimeter electrode distributes or collects most
current at power frequency and is a key component. It may be of larger cross sectional area
than that used underground within the substation. It will often be of copper tape to take
advantage of its greater surface area compared to stranded conductor of a similar cross
sectional area. The vertical rods are connected to this electrode to improve its performance
and allow a degree of security against seasonal variations, such as changes in the level of the
water table. Where theft of third party damage is a possibility, then the perimeter conductor
may be covered in concrete at regular intervals. A number of horizontal cross members are
installed across the site area, often ten metres or so apart. The actual separation will depend
on soil conditions, the fault current and predicted rise of earth potential.
Figure 7-5 Modern substation mesh type earthing arrangement
The cross connections perform two functions. The first is to allow all exposed metalwork to
be connected together and prevent potential differences between them (i.e. bonding). The
second is to provide potential grading on the surface within the site area, to reduce step and
touch voltages. The cross members are normally connected at each intersection and at each
end to the perimeter electrode. If the perimeter conductor is situated 2m within the fence, but
52
there is a reason to believe that the touch voltage on the fence could be excessive, then a
potential grading conductor could be installed 1m outside the fence. This would be
connected to the fence, but not to the main earth grid. Because it would not be required to
carry significant current, it can have a small cross sectional area. This option is costly,
mainly due to the additional excavation involved and it is more usual to combine the role of
perimeter conductor and fence potential grading conductor and extend the electrode outside
the fence.
All electrodes are interconnected, ensuring a high degree of security. Mechanical failure or
corrosion of one or more connectors should not seriously effect the performance of the
earthing system. This is an important feature since the electrode system is unseen, possibly
in a corrosive environment and must perform adequately over a long period of time.
This newer type of design uses more copper, but uses it effectively. Care needs to be taken in
the choice of material used, since it is possible to experience chemical or electro-chemical
corrosion. Use of dissimilar metals can increase the risk of this, so copper is often used
throughout.
The fence in this example is earthed via rods at each corner and near the overhead line
crossing. The fence earths are independent of the earth grid. However, if the earth grid
perimeter electrode is taken outside the fence, it is usual to bond the fence to the main
earthing system.
The above features of the design will ensure that touch and step criteria are met. The voltage
contours on the surface of the soil are shown in Figure 7-6. An inspection of these shows
that the potential on the surface area above the main electrode system is between 70 and 90%
of the GPR. This means that the touch voltages will be within approximately 30 and 10% of
the GPR. There may still be a need to reduce the impedance of the electrode system. For
example, additional precautions are presently required if the GPR is above 430 V (low
reliability circuits) or 650 V (high reliability circuits). It is sometimes advantageous to
extend the earthing system so that the rise of earth potential is reduced sufficiently that these
limits are not exceeded. The two main choices are to use longer vertical rods on the
perimeter conductor or to extend the earthing system outwards to enclose a larger area. The
type of improvement possible by these methods can be assessed by reference to chapter 6.
53
Figure 7-6 Potential on surface of soil above and around a modern ‘mesh’ type earthing arrangement
7.4 Sites Requiring More Specific Attention
The previous designs have been concerned with power frequency (50 Hz) performance and
the most common electrode arrangements. However, it is recognised that there are many
circumstances when further consideration is necessary. Some of these are described in the
following section.
7.4.1 Communication facilities
Because of the high frequencies involved, a different earthing grid design is required. This
attempts to maximise the amount of conductor in the immediate vicinity of the structure.
This is achieved by a design similar to that shown in Figure 7-7, which was used at a medium
wave radio station. Long lengths of thin copper wire have been installed radially out from
the communication mast. They were installed to a shallow depth using a plough.
At high frequency radio stations a local earth is required, but is not generally as large as that
required for medium wave.
54
Figure 7-7 Earthing system for a medium-wave radio station
7.4.2 Surge diverters.
These devices are used to protect the electricity system within a building (typically being
situated where the electricity supply enters the building), to protect an individual item of
equipment in a building and to protect equipment within electricity substations. When the
device operates, it diverts some current to ground to reduce the voltage “spike” which could
otherwise damage the equipment which it is required to protect. The current flowing through
the surge diverter is not sinusoidal and when transformed into Fourier components, it has a
waveform which is made up of high frequency components.
The connection from the surge diverter to earth and the electrode system itself have an
impedance which is predominantly resistive but also has an inductive component. This
inductance is especially important at higher frequencies where the inductive component of
the subsequent voltage rise may be considerably higher than the resistive component. This
effect can seriously reduce the efficiency of the surge diverter. To counteract this, special
earthing arrangements are necessary. For example, the conductor which connects the earth of
the device to the earthing system must be as short and straight as possible. In most cases a
separate earth electrode is installed immediately adjacent to the device and connected direct
to the surge diverter. This is in addition to the normal connection to the main earthing
system.
7.4.3 Reactors and AC to DC converters
Normally there are high electro-magnetic fields associated with such devices. These can, in
turn, induce high currents in any nearby metal structures or earth conductors. Additional
55
precautions are required to prevent induced circulating currents. One method is to ensure
that such equipment is only earthed at one point. Another solution is to use non-metallic
fencing or supports in close proximity to these devices. Where thyristors are used, again high
frequency harmonic currents may be present and the earth electrode may need to be
positioned close to their source to prevent significant potential differences arising.
7.4.4 Co-generation plants
Special arrangements are normally required, particularly to enable generation to continue
when the main electricity supply is not available. The method of earthing must be
compatible with that of the electricity network, which may be earthed at a single point or be
multiply earthed.
In larger installations supplied via high voltage networks, a separate earthing system will
normally be required. When the main supply fails, the generator will be disconnected from it
and the separate earthing system switched in. Generation will then be possible in “islanded”
mode, with the installation being earthed as required by the regulations. In some situations,
for example near a large substation, it may be possible to share the main electricity earthing
system.
When connected on the low voltage network, it is sometimes possible to use the electricity
system earth in parallel with that of the generator.
In most cases an earthing system will be required and the guidance given in this book would
be applicable in designing the electrode arrangement. However, the need to switch the earth
connection and precautions which are sometimes necessary when several generators operate
in parallel, make this a specialist topic. For example a special earthing transformer may be
used. There is a considerable amount of advice available and some of the main sources are
listed in chapter 16.
In large generating stations, use has traditionally been made of the deep pile foundations
which are required to support the plant. These can form effective electrodes, but continuity
strips are required across any joints in the pile, to ensure a low electrical resistance. These
sites typically occupy a large area and it is necessary to consider the voltage drops which
occur across the site and take steps to reduce these.
7.4.5 Capacitor banks/capacitor voltage transformers
Switching transients from the high voltage system will see these devices as virtually a short
circuit to earth and will be dispersed through them with little attenuation. The bonding
connection and the in-ground electrodes need to be designed to cater for this. Normally an
independent high frequency electrode (rod) is installed immediately adjacent to the
equipment. A connection is also made to the main earth grid.
7.4.6 Gas insulated switchgear (GIS)
This type of equipment is very compact and occupies a small area of land, typically only 10%
to 15% of that required by conventional outdoor air insulated equipment. The reduced area
available usually places an immediate limit on the impedance value which can be achieved
practically. However, there are additional factors associated with GIS which considerably
complicate the design task. These are as follows:
• High fault current. Because of the expense of GIS equipment, it is normally used at
higher voltages. The earth fault current at these voltages is high - typically 20kA or
more, and this places an onerous demand on the earthing system.
• Residual AC current. GIS equipment uses earthed metal screens around individual phase
conductors. Current is continuously induced in these screens and a residual AC current
56
is likely to flow continuously via the earthing system. There is presently concern that
these AC currents may cause accelerated corrosion, particularly in steel electrodes.
• High frequency currents. The nature of the equipment means that switching transients
can occur whilst electrical currents are being interrupted. These transients include
components at very high frequencies. As has been previously mentioned, the electrode
system to deal with high frequency currents is different to that for 50 Hz operation. The
most often quoted solution is to increase the density of the earth electrodes in the
immediate vicinity. However this needs to be accompanied by specific screen
terminating arrangements and secondary control wiring needs to be routed to minimise
inductive interference. The design seeks to ensure that high frequencies are confined to
the inside of screened enclosures, but the presence of interfaces (such as at air
terminations, insulated CT flanges and transformer bushings) allow some opportunity for
these to escape.
It is also important to ensure that the earthing design does not permit circulating currents to
flow, which would cause interference. Design of the earthing system for GIS equipment is
thus a particularly challenging task and present research should result in improved earthing
arrangements. At present, the advice generally given is to earth GIS equipment at the
following positions: -
close to the circuit breaker,
close to cable sealing ends,
close to the SF
6
/air bushing,
close to instrument transformers,
and at each end of the busbars (intermediate points also, depending on length).
7.4.7 Fence earthing
General
Generally, for reasons of security and economics, a metal fence is used to enclose the
substation. Where a bare metal fence is used, then it must be earthed. This is to cater for the
situation where a live conductor (say an overhead line) has come into contact with the fence
or to prevent the fence voltage rising due to coupling with nearby live conductors. If it was
not earthed, it might be possible for it to be energised at a considerable voltage, with obvious
safety implications. The fact that members of the public are likely to have direct access to
these fences means that certain precautions are necessary to avoid danger. Use of a non-
metallic fence (or brick walls), whilst generally more expensive, avoids many of the
difficulties which the following practices are designed to overcome. Plastic covered fences
are treated the same as bare metal fences, because of the possibility of wear to the plastic
covering. Metal gates should be bonded at both top and bottom by flexible connections to
the gate post. The following practice is based on Electricity Association Technical
Specification .
7.4.7.1 Independent fence earthing
This is the most common arrangement, however it does not permit full use of the area
available for installing electrodes. A 2 m corridor is required between the fence and the edge
of the earthing system (i.e. the perimeter conductor). Exposed equipment is then normally
situated 1 m inside the perimeter electrode. The fence is earthed by installing 3m rods at
each corner, either side of where overhead HV conductors cross, and at approximately 50 m
intervals along the sides. Any buried electrodes which pass under the fence must be insulated
for a distance of 2m either side of it. Gate posts must be bonded below ground to prevent
touch voltages occurring between the two posts or the open gates.
57
The main advantage of this arrangement is that lower touch voltages arise on the fence and
all earth electrodes are enclosed in an area where they are under the control of the occupier of
the site.
7.4.7.2 Fence connected to the substation earthing
If the fence comes within 2 metres of the perimeter earth conductor or any exposed
metalwork, or if the fence is situated wholly within the earthing system, then the fence is
normally bonded to the earthing system. Bonds are required at 50 metre intervals, the fence
corners and where overhead HV conductors cross the fence. Wherever possible, it is best to
extend the earthing system such that the perimeter conductor is 1 m outside the fence. This
ensures that touch voltages on the fence remain at a low level and considerably simplifies the
design. The increased land area used results in a lower earth impedance, but there is an
increased risk of third party damage to the perimeter electrode. Where such a fence is close
to an independently earthed fence, they should be electrically separated, e.g. by a non-
metallic fence or by insulating fixings.
In some situations, it may not be desirable to bond the fence (for example if this will result in
high surface voltages during faults, or if the fence is near third party equipment). Another
option is to separately earth the fence and then install a small potential grading conductor 1m
outside the fence and connect this to the fence at regular intervals. The fence potential rise
will be lower than that of the main earthing system and the potential grading conductor will
ensure that touch voltages are low.
58
8 Earthing Design Within Buildings
8.1 Introduction
There are presently more publications on this aspect of earthing than on any other and it is
the purpose of this chapter to provide just an overview of the more important aspects of
earthing within buildings. Those requiring a more detailed coverage are referred to the
standards and books listed in chapter 16. Additional material can also be found in books
which deal with Building Services. The Institution of Electrical Engineers run a series of
courses covering design, installation, maintenance and testing of fixed and portable
appliances.
BS 7671, Requirements for Electrical Installations, 1992 is the prime reference document.
The main objectives of this and other regulations is to protect persons, property and livestock
against hazards arising from an electrical installation. Earthing is fundamental to most of the
practices for achieving safety. The earthing system must provide a direct route to the soil for
fault current whilst minimising touch and step potentials. The secondary function, is to help
mitigate disturbances and serve as a common voltage reference for sensitive electronic
equipment. However, with greater use of sensitive electronic equipment, particularly
computers, there is a growing awareness of the importance of the secondary function of the
earthing system. This is leading to a consensus of opinion that the earthing system must be
designed as an overall system such that it fulfills the safety and performance requirements.
8.2 Typical TN-S Arrangements
The most common protective measure is earthed equipotential bonding and automatic
disconnection of supply. The standards set maximum disconnection times for different types
of equipment. In deciding which times are appropriate, the earthing arrangement outside the
property, i.e. the supply network, also has to be considered. This is because any earth fault
current normally has to return to the source transformer. The earth loop impedance is made
up of the impedance of the earthing system at the source transformer, the earth conductors
between the transformer and the property and the impedance from the point of fault back to
the supply point in the property.
Figure 3-3 illustrated a typical TN-C-S supply and this is the most common arrangement for
new and recent supplies to domestic premises in the UK. In this arrangement the neutral and
earth conductors are combined in the supply network. However they must be separated
within premises.
Figure 8-1 shows a typical arrangement.
The main earth terminal is installed at the supply position. This is connected to the supply
neutral and the earth bar in the consumer unit or distribution board. In addition, the gas,
water and other services entering the property are bonded to the main earth terminal. A
circuit protective (earth) conductor is run with each electrical circuit which leaves the
consumer unit. In a normal wiring arrangement, this would be the uninsulated copper earth
wire which is enclosed with the insulated phase and neutral conductors in a PVC sheathed
cable. All items of exposed conductive metalwork are bonded together to ensure that there
are no potential differences between them during fault conditions.
59
Figure 8-1 TN-C-S earthing arrangement in a domestic property
Now consider a more complex installation, for example part of that within an office or small
factory. An arrangement, with emphasis on the earthing arrangement, is illustrated in Figure
8-2. The different types of earth conductor were described in chapter 2 and there is now an
opportunity to explain them in more detail.
The supply is TN-C, whilst the installation is TN-S. There is one main earthing terminal
which is connected to the supply neutral. The protective conductors and main equipotential
bonds are routed back to the main earth terminal. The main earthing terminal acts as the
single reference point and can comprise of a bar, a plate or even a copper internal “ring”
conductor. This would often be connected directly to an effective earth electrode and this
connection must be of copper, as the regulations will not allow use of aluminium or copper
clad aluminium because of the corrosion risk involved. The earth electrode should be
positioned as close as possible to the main earthing terminal.
A circuit protective conductor accompanies all current carrying conductors. If this conductor
has a cross sectional area of 10 mm
2
or less, then it must be of copper. The main
equipotential bonds are used to connect incoming services (such as metal gas or water pipes
within the property). Supplementary bonding conductors give a visible indication that
exposed metal equipment is interconnected and are mainly used when the required
disconnection times cannot be met. The circuit protective conductors should already have
ensured this, but the supplementary bond is normally shorter and thus more direct. It is not
intended to carry fault current, but the minimum sizes are such that it is likely to carry some.
Supplementary bonding conductors can (if necessary) also be used to connect external
metalwork such as ladders, handrails etc. This would only be necessary if the external
metalwork could introduce a potential (normally earth potential) and were within reach of
conductive parts of equipment.
60
Figure 8-2 Typical TN-S installation within a commercial or light industrial property
The designer must ensure that the protective conductor impedance is co-ordinated with the
protective equipment characteristics such that during an earth fault, any voltages on exposed
equipment which can be simultaneously touched are of magnitude and duration that they do
not introduce danger. The voltage rise within an area during a fault has to be limited to a
value stated in the regulations and this value is established by setting a minimum value of
earth loop impedance. The maximum values are given in tables 41A1 and 41A2 of BS 7671.
It is essential that copper protective conductors used have a sufficiently large cross sectional
area and guidance on selecting the appropriate size is included in BS 7671 (tables 54B and
54C) Section 543.
Note that earth connections to metal enclosures should be grouped at one point, to avoid
current having to flow through the metal of the enclosure itself. This could create
interference. Where cables run between buildings, they should enter/leave at one point and if
possible be routed through metal ducts which are electrically continuous. The
duct/armouring should be connected back to the main earthing terminal. Surge protection
may also be required at this point.
IT type equipment, such as computer power supplies, are now found to be causing particular
problems with traditional types of earthing arrangements. This type of equipment has a
permanent connection to earth and is a source of earth leakage current which has a high
content of harmonics. Single phase rectified loads produce odd harmonics, some of which
61
are additive in the neutral and earth conductors. If we assume that such equipment is situated
at locations A, B and C in Figure 8-3, then the route along the protective conductor from C to
the main earth terminal can be long, will have an impedance and there will be a voltage
difference between the “earth” at C and that elsewhere. The inductance of the protective
conductor will be especially important as the voltage difference will be greater for the
harmonic currents than those at power frequency. This voltage difference is likely to create
noise (or interference) and ultimately a shock risk. Heating and radiated electro-magnetic
fields will be produced which could also cause interference. One way of reducing the voltage
at C is to route an additional, separate protective conductor directly back to the main earth
termination or as close as practical to it. This conductor should preferably be insulated and
not run in parallel with cables or steelwork. A route which is as direct as possible will
minimise its impedance.
In addition to the voltage reduction gained by this reduced impedance, there would be a
further reduction because the leakage current associated with equipment at A and B would no
longer follow the same route. This is called a “clean” earth and is shown in Figure 8-3. The
“clean” earth could only be taken to a separate earth electrode if this in turn is bonded back to
the main earthing terminal. If this bond did not exist, the arrangement would not conform to
the regulations and could be dangerous. Other methods of producing a clean earth include
use of isolation transformers and power line conditioners (typically an isolation transformer
together with voltage regulation and some filtering of harmonics).
Figure 8-3 Earthing problems arising when equipment is interconnected
As mentioned previously, it is essential to select the appropriate cross sectional area and to
reduce unwanted interference there is a growing tendency to increase the size of the
protective conductors to help reduce interference in such installations. The cost to customers
of data loss and equipment failure is often far greater than the initial capital cost of improving
the earthing system.
8.3 Integrated Earthing Systems
It is not generally possible to have a system consisting of a number of different earthing
systems, since these will inevitably interact and it is generally accepted that one integrated
design with a low earth impedance is better than a number with medium impedance values.
Figure 8-3 helps to illustrate why it is necessary to have one integrated design. It is first
assumed that items of equipment at A and B each have their own earth electrode and that the
metal enclosures of each are bonded to these. If an earth fault develops at A, possibly due to
lightning, then fault current will flow to the ground via R
b
and the potential on the exposed
metalwork will rise. If there is no connection between A and B, equipment at B will be
unaffected.
62
However, if there is a need to take a communication cable (X-Y) between the two sites, and
assuming initially this has its sheath earthed only at A, there will be a potential difference
between the sheath and the enclosure at B which may cause a flashover. If the cores of the
cable are connected to a signal reference ground (the electronic equipment ground plane) at
either end, then significant damage could result due to the potential difference and current
flow. If the cable sheath is connected at each end, then some current will flow along it to
earth via R
b
. The potential difference between A and B will depend on the magnitude of the
current, the impedance of the cable sheath and the individual impedances of R
a
and R
b
. Note
that even when using fibre optic cables, care needs to be exercised as these often incorporate
metal screens or draw wires.
The accepted way to reduce the potential difference is to bond the two enclosures together as
closely as possible, by using a number of parallel connections. This would include copper
earth wire, the cable sheaths and conduits etc. If A and B were separate buildings, the
preferred way to bond the earthing systems would be a horizontal loop electrode
approximately 1m outside each building, with several large electrodes interconnecting these.
Consider now that A and B are within the same building and that B has been provided with a
so called “clean” earth. During normal operation the equipment at B will not be affected by
interference on the earthing system at A (assuming it is possible to separate them totally -
which is unlikely). However, during fault conditions there will be a potential difference
between the enclosures (and possibly the reference earths) in exactly the same way as
described above. For this reason it is normal to bond the two earthing systems together,
although sometimes this is arranged to happen only during fault conditions.
8.4 Arrangements to reduce interference
The basic method is to ensure that the supply and return paths for fault current are as close as
possible, since this reduces the electromagnetic field produced. This is accomplished with
armoured cables and a protective conductor routed with the phases. If single core cables are
used with single point bonding, these requirements are normally achieved by running an earth
wire with the cables. One source of interference arises when the earthing system forms loops
through which leakage and fault currents can circulate. One arrangement which limits the
number of such loops and also provides a progressively more protected environment within a
building is termed a nested shield arrangement. Whilst this arrangement is mainly concerned
with surge protection, it is relevant here as it also involves earthing zones. Figure 8-4 shows
three zones. Equipment within zone 2 is connected to the outer earth conductor and shield.
This has a single connection to the main earth electrode. Equipment within zone 3 is
connected to the shield/earth conductor surrounding it and then via a single connection to the
shield of zone 2.
63
Figure 8-4 Nested shield type arrangement
This progressive shielding arrangement enables different amounts of protection to be
afforded and, for example, zone 3 would normally be expected to have the least interference
and would be the location for particularly sensitive or critical equipment. Cables passing
between zones would require special connections such that the design is not compromised.
Surge protection units would also be required at each position where a cable passes through a
shield. Any fault current or induced interference current is transferred to the outer shield and
eventually into the earth electrode. Faults which do arise should be diverted to ground at the
outermost boundary to minimise the effect on equipment within.
Another arrangement designed to minimise interference, whilst ensuring that the earthing
system is designed in a controlled manner without loops, is the hybrid design illustrated in
Figure 8-5. It is intended to minimise earth loop areas, such as those that can arise when
cabling between floors or adjacent areas. This arrangement is particularly applicable to
buildings made from non-conducting materials.
64
Figure 8-5 Hybrid Earthing arrangement to reduce interference (courtesy W J Furse, based on work
by Eric Montandon)
Note the new system blocks (1, 2 & 3) are hybrid-bonded and may be connected to the
existing 4.
KEY
Zone 1 Not directly exposed to lightning
Zone 2 No partial lightning currents
Zone 3 Made up of equipment shielding
EB Equipotential bonding
XXXX Steel reinforcements in concrete
SERP System earth reference point. This is the only metallic interface between the
system and common earth. It must be directly connected to the structures steel
reinforcement where cables leading to the system enter. All conductors that are
bonded to the system earth within the system zone must be earthed at the SERP.
65
9 Lightning Protection
9.1 Introduction
The main purpose of a lightning protection scheme is to shield a building, its occupants and
equipment from the adverse effects associated with a lightning strike. These effects could
otherwise result in fire, structural damage and electrical interference - leading to equipment
damage or electric shock. To perform correctly, the protection scheme must capture the
lightning, lead it safely downwards and then disperse the energy within the ground. The
components used to facilitate this are air terminations, down leads and bonding leads and the
earth termination (or electrode). These are all discussed in more detail in this chapter. The
final component, which has not been covered here, is surge protection equipment. There are
a number of specialist books on this subject where detailed advice is available, some of
which are listed in chapter 16.
9.2 The Formation of Lightning
It is generally accepted that lightning is created by a separation of electric charges due to air
turbulence. The charge separation is thought to be due to the interaction of raindrops,
snowflakes and ice crystals. Clouds containing moisture rise and cool as they do so. If the
rate of rise is gradual, then mist and rainfall normally result. However, if the rate of rise is
above a certain level, the cooling effect will be accelerated. This may cause larger raindrops
or even freezing. The mechanics of the rainfall or freezing helps to cause charge separation,
leading to a build up of negative charge on the cloud base and positive charge on the top of
the cloud or on the ice particles. The subsequent potential differences created between
clouds or between clouds and the ground can then be sufficiently high that a cloud to cloud or
cloud to ground discharge (lightning strike) occurs.
Cloud to cloud lightning can cause electrical interference and sometimes significant damage,
but it is the ground strikes which are generally the most destructive. As the potential
difference between the cloud base and the underlying air/ground plane exceeds the
breakdown value of the air in the immediate vicinity, the air becomes ionised and a
downstroke begins - travelling at about 2 metres per micro-second. It follows a haphazard
path, generally downwards, made up of small steps. There is some debate about the way in
which the steps are produced and the point at which the actual arc commences, but eventually
the negatively charged downwards leader will approach the ground. Positive charges will, in
turn, be induced on the ground surface and, in particular on any high structures. If the
potential is sufficiently high at the ground (or on a high structure), then ionisation of the air
here commences and an upward charged leader, positively charged, will be created.
Eventually the negative and positive charged leaders will meet, often via a seemingly
haphazard route, and the lightning discharge will be experienced, which is normally negative.
A high current of short duration, is accompanied by a bright flash and noise.
The amount of lightning activity is not the same throughout the country, it varies according to
many factors, including geographical location, height etc. The energy associated with the
discharge also varies. It is necessary to consider these factors and others, in deciding whether
a lightning protection scheme is required and the form it should take.
66
9.3 Risk Assessment
:BS 6651:1992 ‘Protection of structures against lightning’, is based on a probabilistic
assessment which takes the following factors into account:
• Soil resistivity.
• The external dimensions of the structure and any electrically connected adjacent
structures.
• The length of overhead cables emanating from the structure.
• The flash density in the locality - associated with the thunderstorm days per year.
• The construction type - mainly the height, type of roof, and protection scheme (if any) in
place. In general, the larger it is, the more likely it is to be struck.
• Geographic factors - the vertical height above sea level and relation with other structures,
for example how close is it to tall trees.
• Ground profile and terrain.
These factors take into account the collection area made up by the structure and cables
connected to it and the methodology enables the risk of a strike to be calculated. If the risk is
less than 1 in 100,000, then generally no protection is required. However, in order to carry
out the formal risk assessment, this needs to be assessed in relation to the consequences of a
direct strike. If the building is associated with an oil refinery or houses explosives, then a
lightning protection scheme offering the highest possible degree of protection will be
required, even if the risk of a strike is small.
9.4 Components of the Lightning Protection System
The overall design is based on the concept of a rolling sphere, which is applied to the
structure to ensure that all exposed areas are protected by the scheme. The individual
components are as described below. The materials used are generally high purity copper or
aluminium (99%+ pure) of a similar grade to that used for electrical conductors. The
lightning protection system must be designed to provide a sufficiently low impedance that the
lightning energy will follow the required route. This requires an integrated design and use of
materials with sufficiently low impedance. The various components of the system are each
described in more detail below.
9.4.1 Air terminations
These consist of vertical rods and/or a lattice of conductors on the roof and top edges of a
structure. The strips of the lattice typically form a mesh of 10 m by 20 m, smaller on high
risk buildings. Metal projections, including rods, are connected to this. BS 6651 requires
that all parts of the roof are within 5m of a conductor of the air termination. This distance is
reduced to 2.5 m in high risk buildings. Copper is again the most widely used material. Rods
were traditionally pointed, but modern designs now normally have a smoothed, but blunt tip.
Rods, if used, are positioned near those locations where a strike is most likely - i.e. roof
peaks, building corners etc.
9.4.2 Down leads and bonding conductors
These are required to provide a low impedance path down the structure, in a manner which
minimises potential differences and induced current. The ideal arrangement would be a
metal building where the current would flow through the skin of the building. The design for
traditional buildings seeks to use the advantages of this, i.e. by providing a number of parallel
paths to reduce the fault current in each. These would be symmetrically positioned around
67
the building, ideally including the corners. Sensitive electronic equipment should not be
positioned within the building, near to these down paths as there is a risk of inductive
interference. Current would flow in all paths, but the largest would flow in the path nearest
to the point of impact.
The down leads are required to be as short and straight as possible, any bends being gradual
rather than right angled. They are typically 10 m to 20 m apart. They should be of robust
construction and securely fixed in order to withstand the significant mechanical forces which
accompany the flow of lightning current. In addition to formal down leads, metal girders,
metal sheeting and reinforcing are also used.
Bonding conductors are used to connect these to any exposed metalwork on or near the
structure. This is to ensure that a sideflash does not occur. As the current flows down the
lead, a potential would be created. If metalwork (such as central heating ducts, pipes etc.)
were not bonded, this could initially be at a potential nearer to that of earth and thus could
offer a more desirable path to ground. If the potential difference exceeded the breakdown
value of the air or medium in-between, then a sideflash could result, accompanied by severe
damage.
BS 6651 contains a formula to determine whether a nearby structure needs to be bonded or
not. Potential equalisation is thus provided on the top and sides of the structure.
Copper and aluminium are the most widely used materials. Stranded conductor is normally
preferred to tape as it is easier to install and its skin effect at high frequencies results in better
performance. Copper is considered to be more resistant to corrosion in areas with salt laden,
moist air, near concrete, on tree bark and where there is air pollution. The copper is
sometimes lead coated to increase its corrosion resistance when used on chimneys and near
other sources of flue gases. PVC sleeving is also sometimes fitted for aesthetic reasons.
Each down lead should be taken to an earth termination and if these are not interconnected,
then the down leads would often be interconnected via a horizontal ring conductor installed
near ground level. A test clamp is often fitted to enable the continuity of pairs of downleads
to be checked at ground level and provide a means of isolating the earth electrode.
9.4.3 Earth termination
This can consist of a ring of buried copper (referred to in the USA as a counterpoise) which
encircles the structure, and/or vertical earth rods. The impedance of the termination (i.e.
below a down lead) is required to be a maximum of 10 Ohm. Aluminium is not permitted for
use underground. Each down lead must have its own earth electrode termination and these
are normally looped together to form a ring, with horizontal electrodes being used to
interconnect them and help to reduce the overall impedance. The most common terminations
are driven rods and these are required to be at least 1.5 m long with a minimum of 9m being
used for each system.
The ring helps to provide potential equalisation at ground level, in addition to potential
grading. The latter helps reduce the touch voltage which could be experienced by a person in
contact with the down lead during a lightning discharge.
Although the other parts of the protection system may be designed in isolation, the electrode
arrangement should not be. The complete installation should rise in potential together, to
avoid excessive voltage differences, and this means that the earth termination should both be
bonded to the rest of the earth electrodes and significantly, designed as an entity. Within
buildings, it is necessary to contact the electricity company if the lightning protection system
is to be connected to the earth terminal. Whilst this may cause potentials to arise on the
earthing system outside, connection is generally necessary to ensure that all exposed
metalwork is bonded.
68
Normally the lightning protection and main power system earths would be interconnected.
Where this is not desirable, for technical reasons, an “earth potential equaliser” can be
installed between them. This will interconnect the earthing systems if the voltage between
them exceeds a certain value - typically several hundred Volts.
9.4.4 Surge protection devices
Having designed the lightning protection system, the main areas at risk should be readily
identifiable and additional precautions taken, where necessary, to protect electronic
equipment. Earthing, shielding and bonding cannot always guarantee immunity from
interference, so surge protection devices supplement these where necessary and form the last
part of the formal defence. There is a wide range of devices available for this purpose.
Generally, they are designed to divert the energy associated with an over-voltage into the
earthing system to avoid this causing insulation breakdown within equipment.
The operating voltage is below that at which damage to the protected equipment would occur.
They are voltage limiting devices connected between phase and earth, normally metal oxide
varistors. Voltage switching devices suddenly switch to a low resistance once a threshold
voltage is exceeded. They include spark gaps and gas discharge tubes. Other devices used
include surge reduction filters ( to give added protection to sensitive electronic equipment)
and surge barriers ( where cables enter or leave a building).
Appendix C of BS 6651 contains useful additional information about the application of surge
diverters.
9.5 Lightning Protection of Power Lines
The majority of high voltage transmission and distribution lines (132 kV, 275 kV, 400 kV)
are installed on steel lattice towers. Due to the length of these lines, if in an area with
significant lightning activity, they are susceptible to direct strikes and induced effects due to
a nearby strike or cloud-to-cloud lightning. An over-running earthwire is provided to give the
appropriate protection. This is earthed at the start and end of each line and at every support
position. In general, the earth electrode at the support is formed by the steel legs installed in
concrete in the soil. This normally provides an impedance at power frequency of 10 Ohm or
less. However in high resistivity soil, the impedance may be too high and additional earth
electrodes are installed.
The earth electrode arrangement may be a horizontal loop situated one metre or more outside
the tower footing, possibly with some vertical earth rods attached to it. As the soil resistivity
increases, long (say 20 m) horizontal electrodes may need to be installed, routed radially
outwards from the tower footings. In worst cases, this is accompanied by a buried earth wire
which runs underground alongside the line itself. In older line designs, sections of cast iron
pipe were sometimes installed underground between the tower legs, but in this position the
improvement to the earth impedance is not normally significant.
If lightning strikes a tower, then some of the associated current will be diverted through the
footings to earth and some via the over-running earth wire to adjacent towers. The voltage
arising on the tower can, in some cases, be sufficient that the breakdown voltage of the line
insulators is exceeded and a back flashover will occur from the tower to the phase
conductors. This will often be followed by a power frequency discharge.
Over-voltage protection devices are installed to protect equipment on overhead lines. This
includes surge diverters and a variety of “spark gaps”. The latter involve one or more steel
rods connected to the phase conductors, the rod tips being positioned a set distance from an
earthed rod or plate. When the voltage exceeds a certain value, the air gap between these
breaks down and diverts the associated energy down into the earthing system.
69
10 Electrical Interference
Interference is an everyday occurrence in electrical circuits, but fortunately in the majority of
cases it is un-noticed. This may be due to design of the installation or the immunity built into
the equipment being used, so performance continues despite the interference. The
consequences of interference can range from audible ‘clicks’ on hi-fi systems, flicker in
lighting circuits, loss of data in IT systems, incorrect operation of equipment through to
actual damage or destruction of equipment. The latter examples can be very costly in terms
of lost production, in addition to that due to equipment damage.
Interference is particularly troublesome for data processing and communication circuits
which require a high degree of quality. Part of the reason for this is that electronic equipment
from which these cables emanate has a “ground reference plane” to which digital signals are
referred. To avoid excessive voltages within equipment, the ground reference plane is
normally connected to the metal equipment enclosure. This in turn is connected to the main
earthing system. Communication cables normally have an earthed screen, but also contain a
signal reference conductor which is connected to the ground reference. Problems arise when
special arrangements are made to avoid connecting adjacent equipment via the cable screen
or armour. However, they may unknowingly be interconnected via the ground reference
conductor.
The mechanisms by which interference arises are:-
• resistive (also known as galvanic) coupling
• capacitive coupling
• inductive coupling.
These will all now be covered in a little more detail. Improvements to the earthing system
are often required to reduce such interference and the shielding aspects can require a lower
earth value than the safety and protection operation criteria.
10.1 Resistive Coupling
This coupling arises when there is either a direct electrical connection between the source of
the disturbance and the affected circuit, or via a resistive medium (such as the soil). The
conditions giving rise to resistive coupling via the soil have already been covered in chapters
1, 2 and 7. As described in these earlier chapters, an earth fault condition may have caused
the potential on an earthing system to rise. A voltage created on the sheath of a cable which
passes near to the earthing system is said to be due to resistive (or galvanic or conductive)
coupling.
The implications arising from galvanic coupling can be seen by reference to Figure 10-1.
Assume that the equipment at X has been affected by a lightning surge and the excess voltage
has been reduced by diverting the energy to earth via a shunt connected surge diverter (i.e.
between phase and earth). As the current flows down into the soil, it must pass through the
impedance of the above ground connections (L
x1
and R
x1
) and below ground electrode (R
x2
)
of the earthing system. A voltage will be present on the earthed equipment at X. If the
equipment is connected to that at Y by a cable sheath having an impedance made up of
resistance (R
xy
) and inductance (L
xy
), then there will be a difference in voltage between the
earthed equipment at X and Y. The magnitude of the voltage difference will depend on the
earth impedance values at X and Y, together with that of the connection between them (L
xy
and R
xy
). The potential difference in this example is called resistive (galvanic) interference
and it can be reduced by either:-
70
• decreasing the earth impedances ( R
x2
and R
y2
)
• reducing the impedance of the connection between X and Y, i.e. L
xy
and R
xy
.
• reducing the above ground earthing connection impedance at X and Y.
Figure 10-1 Example illustrating resistive interference
Normally the most effective way is to closely bond the equipment via cable sheaths, conduit
etc. and earth wire. If the connection is via a cable sheath, then a surge protection unit may
be necessary to prevent an excessive voltage difference between the cable cores and sheath
during fault conditions. Ideally, connected equipment would be situated upon an
equipotential platform consisting of a continuous plate. As this is generally impractical, the
common method is to provide a magnetic shield (say a metal conduit) and several conductive
paths in parallel with this, being earthed at each end and at intermediate locations.
10.2 Capacitive Coupling
Any two conductive metallic components which are separated in a medium will have a
capacitance between them. If one component is charged, then a charge will arise on the
second one.
This mechanism is used beneficially in electronics and electrical engineering, but when it
creates unwanted voltages, it is called capacitive interference. This is the type of interference
which would be experienced if a metal conductor is routed near a high voltage overhead line
and is due to the electric field.
The overhead conductor is shown as X
1
X
2
in Figure 10-2. It is assumed that at one moment
the conductor is positively charged, then (due to the capacitance between them) a negative
charge will be created on the plate Y
1
Y
2
. The capacitive current which flows is directly
proportional to the frequency and voltage magnitude. For this reason, the interference
current can be significant if the overhead line is struck by lightning, when the magnitude,
harmonic content and rate of change will all be high.
71
The methods available to reduce this interference are:-
• reduce the overlap between the components (for example the distance in parallel).
• increase the separation between them.
Both methods are traditionally used for signal and communication cables, which are routed
some distance from mains cables and if they need to cross them, would do so at right angles,
wherever possible.
Figure 10-2 Example illustrating capacitive interference

Another method is to place a metal screen around the circuit requiring protection and connect
it to earth at one point. The interference voltage arising in the sheath will be dispersed to
earth and the effect on the cables inside will be significantly reduced. Normally an
electrostatic screen would only be earthed at one end, the one having the lowest earthing
system impedance. There will be potential differences along the length of the screen, as
capacitive currents are distributed but must flow to one end to be discharged. This could
cause interference at the remote end, so good conductive material such as copper is used to
minimise this. An electrostatic shield would preferably be applied around each twisted pair
in a large cable and another around the whole cable.
The following materials are typically used for capacitive screening:-
• tape or foil made from copper or aluminium
• single braid, made of tinned copper
• single spiral lap, made from tinned copper
• double braid, made from tinned copper.
Tape or foil provides the greatest screening protection, whilst braid has better mechanical and
electrical properties.
10.3 Inductive Coupling
This is the most common type of interference, caused by electro-magnetic coupling,
particularly at power frequency (50Hz). It is due to magnetic fields.
Figure 10-3 helps to illustrate how inductive coupling arises. The current flowing in
conductor X creates a magnetic field around it, as shown. The magnetic field is produced
because the current in X is alternating. The magnetic field strength reduces as the distance
from X is increased. Conductor Y may be some distance away, but some flux lines from X
will encircle it as shown. As the current in conductor X changes, the magnetic field
encircling conductor Y will change and this, in turn, will cause a voltage along its length.
72
The voltage arising in conductor Y is thus caused by inductive interference and increases
with the rate of change of current in conductor X.
Figure 10-3 Inductive interference
If conductor Y is earthed at both ends, as shown in Figure 10-4, then the potential difference
between the two ends will cause a current to flow along the conductor and through the
earth/ground. The current in Y will be in a direction such that the magnetic field it produces
will oppose that existing around conductor X.
Sources of this type of interference can be normal mains cables, mains or earth cables
carrying unbalanced current (particularly earth fault current) or lightning protection
conductors which are dispersing fault current.
It is particularly difficult to protect against this type of interference and the general methods
used include:-
• increasing the separation between cables (X to Y). Increasing the separation is not always
practicable and may involve considerable expense if not implemented at the initial
construction stage.
• reduce the effect of the magnetic field on circuit Y. One method of achieving this is to
use twisted pair cables, but this only works for balanced differential types of signalling.
• reducing the magnetic field produced around the cables to be protected. If the cable
sheath or screen is earthed at both ends, as shown in Figure 10-4, then whilst current is
flowing in cable X, a current will also be induced in cable sheath Y. Its direction will be
such that the magnetic field it produces will act in opposition to that from conductor X.
The end result is that the magnetic field and interference on the cores of cable Y will be
reduced. Individual power cables would be arranged in a triangular manner (trefoil) such
as to reduce the magnetic field produced around them under normal load conditions.
Power cables would also be run on earthed steel trays to reduce the magnetic field created.
If plastic conduit is used, then a separate shield wire may be required, earthed at each end.
73
• diverting the magnetic field away. This is achieved by using a high permeability material
(such as steel) as a screen. This will normally be earthed at each end. The magnetic field
surrounding it will be distorted and the field density within the steel increases whilst that
around the cores decreases
Note that capacitive coupling can still arise when twisted pairs are used, so it is best practice
to position these as close to the ground conductor as possible.
Figure 10-4 Reducing inductive interference by using an earthed shield/screen
74
11 Corrosion
11.1 Introduction
Electricity supplies are required in all areas of the country, which include rural areas, city
centres and industrial areas. Earthing system components are installed above and below
ground and in both situations must cope with a wide range of environments. In air, there may
be smoke from process plants, or rainwater which has dissolved airborne material.
Underground, the moist environment may include naturally occurring minerals, chemicals
(fertilisers etc.) or contaminated substances which have been buried. As mentioned
previously, the earthing system is a critical part of the electricity supply system and needs to
perform, normally unseen, over a considerable period of time. The security required can be
assured by careful selection of material.
11.2 Types of Corrosion
11.2.1 In air
In air corrosion is normally caused by either chemical reaction with rainwater solutions
which have dissolved airborne gases or dust particles from industrial processes. Corrosion
can also occur due to inappropriate bimetallic connections or contact with other materials.
This type of corrosion is the least troublesome and can generally be controlled by good
construction practice, including material selection. The standards include the necessary
guidance on this. For example, selection and fitting of bimetallic connections, to include the
physical orientation, how to exclude water, contact materials required etc. The standards also
include guidance on fitting earth conductors, for example BS 7430 stipulates that aluminium
conductors should not be drilled and fixed direct to concrete structures, because of the risk of
corrosion.
11.2.2 Underground
Corrosion underground generally takes place in a combination of two ways, uniform general
corrosion leading to an overall loss in weight of the component and pitting corrosion in small,
selective areas. The latter type of corrosion can be serious for tubes but less so for earthing
strips or plates. It is also important to consider what other equipment is present in the area,
as this may influence the corrosion risk. For example, a nearby pipeline may be fitted with
an impressed current cathodic protection scheme which may interact with the new earthing
system. There may also be a residual standing voltage at the electrical installation which may
either affect the corrosion rate (AC influenced) or cause nearby electrolytic action (DC
influenced).
There are two sources of general corrosion, which are bimetallic corrosion and chemical
corrosion.
11.2.2.1 Bimetallic corrosion
When dissimilar metals are joined and in an electrically conductive aqueous liquid - such as
most underground situations, the possibility of bimetallic corrosion exists. The most
susceptible metal will be preferentially corroded. This sacrificial effect is exploited in many
corrosion reduction techniques. The most susceptible metal will be the one which is least
‘noble’. Table 11-1 shows the ranking of the more common metals in descending order of
nobility. In the presence of an electrolyte, the more noble metal becomes cathodic to the
lower order metal which become anodic. The anodic metal corrodes. The design should
allow for the smallest components to be more noble than large ones.
75
One method of assessing the risk of galvanic corrosion is provided by the “areas” rule. For
this the anodic area (e.g. of steel) is divided by the cathodic area (e.g. of copper). As the
ratio between the anodic and cathodic area decreases, the rate of corrosion increases sharply.
For example, if a steel pipe is jointed to a large copper pipe, the ratio of the areas is small and
rapid corrosion occurs in suitable conditions.
An additional problem which can be experienced is severe corrosion at a joint between
different metals, say copper and aluminium or copper and steel. Where the joint is
unprotected and accessible to moisture, a significant rise in electrical contact resistance can
occur.
The implication of this type of corrosion is that care must be taken to ensure compatibility
between dissimilar metals used, i.e. the electrical potential (as indicated on the galvanic
series) between them should be kept to a minimum to prevent galvanic action. A particular
case is the combination of galvanised earth rods and copper/copperbond earth rods. The zinc
layer on the galvanised rods behaves as the anode to the more noble copper cathode.
Corrosion of the zinc layer can then occur leaving the steel core of the galvanised rod
exposed which in turn will offer relatively little corrosion resistance to the surrounding soil.
Note also that sometimes the zinc layer may be removed due to ‘general’ soil corrosion (e.g.
in soils with a high chloride content).
11.2.2.2 Chemical corrosion
The soil can either be neutral, acidic or alkaline and the relative state of a soil is represented
on a pH scale as follows:-
pH number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Chemical action will take place between the metal and any acid or alkali in solution in the
soil. The rate of corrosion will be influenced by the nobility of the metal, i.e. the lower its
nobility, the more rapidly it corrodes. Again guidance is given in the standards, where the
material surrounding the electrode is required to be relatively neutral.
Additional aspects of corrosion which should be considered are:
• Corrosion Fatigue (Stress Corrosion). Fatigue failures can be found under conditions of
less severe stress than would be expected when the effect is aggravated by the presence
of a corrosive atmosphere or liquid. They can be accentuated in corrosive environments,
especially in the presence of retained internal stress caused by cold working.
• Crevice Corrosion. Where a crevice is formed, as can happen in the small gaps between
mating flanges or joints, a crevice can be set up where the water is static and likely to
become anaerobic. This can accelerate corrosion in some metals, especially in the
common stainless steels, where their surface condition becomes active rather than
passive. As shown in Table 11-1, this will alter their position in the electrochemical
series. In addition, this type of corrosion may affect copper coated rods. Should the
copper coating be scratched and removed from the steel core, corrosion will be more
probable.
• Biofouling. This involves the growth of moss, lichens and similar matter. Copper does
not suffer from this and it is not hospitable to growth of organisms.
11.3 Resistance to Corrosion
Although corrosion resistance is not as easily quantified as many other mechanical
properties, it does influence lifetime costings, for example good resistance to corrosion
resulting in fewer expensive service failures. This is one of the many reasons why copper is
so frequently selected as an engineering material.
76
11.3.1 Atmospheric oxidation
Copper forms two oxides, both of which are conductors. In humid air, cuprous oxide forms
first and then gradually darkens through brown to the black of cupric oxide. When copper is
heated, copper oxide forms more rapidly and may be loosened by quenching in water.
When copper is outdoors and exposed to rainwater containing dissolved carbon dioxide, the
typical protective green patina forms.
The patina or oxides formed are relatively thin and form a layer which inhibits further
corrosion.
11.3.2 Underground corrosion
Many of the applications of copper and its alloys rely on good corrosion resistance,
particularly in many aqueous, chemical and underground environments. Objects dating back
to 4,000 BC have been discovered in good condition after being buried by floods in early
Mesopotamian times. The Egyptians used copper extensively in architecture, even making
water pipes by rolling up copper strip. Sections of water pipe that had been buried in gypsum
5,000 years ago have been recovered in useable condition. Copper implements dating back to
2,500 BC have been found buried in various parts of the British Isles.
The use of copper for earthing is more recent and it has performed well in the majority of soil
conditions. Experience gained with buried copper pipes is a useful means of illustrating this
and allowing comparisons to be made.
Table 11-1 shows the galvanic behaviour of metals, measured in saline water. Common
stainless steels are shown with values for normal exposed passive conditions, together with
the active surface conditions often found in crevices. Copper is towards the more noble
range of the series, but having a significantly lower price than the most noble metals, which
again explains its use for underground purposes.
Interestingly, despite its good anti-corrosive properties, copper is an essential trace element in
the diet of humans and animals and essential to the growth of most plants. It is not normally
considered to be a harmful toxic metal.
77
Table 11-1 Corrosion Susceptibility of Metals
Most Susceptible
(Least noble)
↓ Magnesium and its alloys
↓ Zinc and its alloys
↓ Aluminium and its alloys
↓ Cadmium
↓ Stainless steel, 13% Cr (active)
↓ Lead-tin solder, 50/50
↓ Stainless steel, 18/8 type 304 (active)
↓ Stainless steel, 18/8/3Mo type 316 (active)
↓ Lead
↓ Tin
Brasses
Gunmetals
Aluminium bronzes
Copper
Copper-nickel alloys
↑ Monel
↑ Titanium and its alloys
↑ Stainless steels (passive)
↑ Silver
↑ Gold
↑ Platinum
Least susceptible
(More noble)
11.4 Corrosion Test Field Trials
Although it is well accepted that copper resists corrosion well in service in normal
conditions, it is useful to remember that only the precious metals such as gold and platinum
resist corrosion under all circumstances. Occasional failures have occurred when soil
conditions have been unusually aggressive and sufficient experience gained to give
guidelines on soil conditions to be avoided in order to obtain full service life from copper.
Because of the very great number of variables encountered in service, accelerated tests
carried out in laboratories have been of limited use. Field trials carried out in closely
monitored service conditions have proved far more reliable. The results of some of these are
summarised in Table 11-2.
78
Table 11-2 Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on Corrosion
The table is condensed from ‘Underground Corrosion’, National Bureau of Standards (USA) 450pp., November 1945 and shows results obtained after field trials with exposure
periods ranging from four to thirteen years. The effects of many variables on corrosion rates were studied for four metals commonly used for underground pipework. The range
of results was wide and showed different influences on each metal. Generally, the durability of copper was very evident when compared with steel or cast iron. Further tests were
carried out with galvanised steel (3oz/ft
2 -
915g/m
2
) which was shown to give some extension to life but to be largely ineffective after five years.
Test No Soil Average corrosion rate, inches x 10
-3
/y Characteristics of soil and climate
Copper Brass Lead Steel Cast Iron Mean
Temp.
o
F
Annual
rainfall
(inches)
Moisture
%
pH Resistivity
Ω-cm
67 Cinders 1.58 3.51 3.22 9.67 >20 46 30 11 8.0 455
43 Tidal marsh 0.81 0.04 0.02 2.13 2.51 52 43 55 3.1 60
63 Tidal marsh 0.62 0.011 0.004 1.44 1.09 66 45 47 2.9 84
60 Peat 0.91 0.64 0.07 2.77 3.82 49 37 43 2.6 218
33 Peat 0.17 0.25 - 1.81 2.47 46 30 73 6.8 800
58 Muck* 0.29 0.49 0.64 2.61 3.59 69 57 58 4.0 712
29 Muck* 0.16 0.39 0.36 2.27 3.90 69 57 34 4.2 1,270
45 Alkali Soil 0.04 0.02 0.02 1.23 2.00 47 15 15 7.4 263
64 Clay 0.60 0.30 0.05 >20 >20 58 16 41 8.3 62
56 Clay 0.11 0.14 0.12 4.67 >20 69 49 29 7.1 406
61 Clay 0.05 0.18 0.58 0.93 1.26 69 57 31 5.9 943
27 Clay 0.016 0.06 0.05 0.82 0.68 67 56 43 6.6 570
28 Clay adobe 0.11 0.11 0.07 2.59 3.84 61 10 25 6.8 408
5 Clay adobe 0.04 0.08 0.45 0.70 1.06 56 23 29 7.0 1,346
3 Clay loam 0.04 0.10 0.06 0.60 0.57 61 48 29 5.2 30,000
8 Clay loam 0.03 0.03 0.06 0.97 3.06 49 21 37 7.6 350
25 Clay loam 0.016 0.07 0.03 2.4 0.51 46 30 26 7.2 2,980
36 Sandy loam 0.26 0.07 0.03 0.30 0.16 64 53 14 4.5 11,200
10 Sandy loam 0.12 0.33 0.09 0.60 0.79 50 41 13 6.6 7,460
79
12 Fine sandy loam 0.40 0.31 0.12 0.49 0.36 62 15 12 7.1 3,190
16 Fine sandy loam 0.08 0.24 - 0.97 1.36 67 61 22 4.4 8,290
37 Fine sand 0.23 0.21 - 1..00 2.14 69 47 7 3.8 11,200
Test No Soil Average corrosion rate, inches x 10
-3
/y Characteristics of soil and climate
Copper Brass Lead Steel Cast Iron Mean
Temp.
o
F
Annual
rainfall
(inches)
Moisture
%
pH Resistivity
Ω-cm
31 Fine sand 0.012 0.03 0.019 0.35 0.26 69 47 3 4.7 20,500
66 Fine gravely loam 0.08 0.18 0.025 3.08 0.73 70 8 16 8.7 23.2
6 Gravely sandy
loam
0.014 0.02 0.018 0.16 0.08 51 34 12 5.9 45,100
4 Loam 0.03 0.20 0.19 0.84 1.48 54 40 22 5.6 6,670
35 Loam 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.16 0.26 62 15 18 7.3 2,060
23 Silt loam 0.18 1.06 - 2.54 4.76 65 6 25 9.4 278
1 Silt loam 0.08 0.14 0.18 1.22 1.89 49 34 29 7.0 1,215
20 Silt loam 0.05 0.06 0.28 0.80 1.10 49 34 22 7.5 2,870
19 Silt loam 0.05 0.17 0.04 0.46 0.60 50 32 28 4.6 1,970
18 Silt loam 0.010 0.03 0.016 0.35 0.47 51 28 28 7.3 1,410
Type of Soil - Cinders caused the worst corrosion although their sulphate and chloride contents were not always high. It is thought that the presence of sulphide caused the aggressive environment.
Some of the problems could also be caused by galvanic action between the copper and carbon which formed 26% of the cinders.
* ‘Muck’ Soils with a high content of muck (US term for decaying vegetation) and other high humus soils were aggressive. Of the other soils the clay (No 64) that is strongly alkaline and badly
drained was aggressive.
Drainage - The worst cases of corrosion occurred in soils with very poor drainage.
Moisture Equivalent - High moisture is usually associated with poor drainage and high humus content, conditions favourable to corrosion.
Annual rainfall - When between 30 and 60 inches per year the effect is not significant. Where less than 21inches, the soil was often very alkaline.
Mean temperature - not very significant, effects more dependant on range from summer to winter.
Water composition - analysis was given for sodium, potassium, calcium magnesium, carbonate, chloride and sulphate. High sulphate and chloride, generally associated with poor drainage and high
humus, was often present when corrosion rates were high.
pH value - 7.0 is neutral, smaller numbers show greater acidity, higher numbers greater alkalinity - values were found to vary with measurement techniques and exposure of the soil to air. Soils with
high sulphate and chloride were generally acid and the remarks above also apply. Neutral soils caused few problems.
80
Soil Resistivity - The figures given are for saturated soils at 60
o
F. These soils would have higher resistivities most of the year. Very low resistivity (less than 10 Ohm-cm) is always associated with
severe corrosion.
Field tests in the U.K. Test results after a series of tests by the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association on copper and lead in British climatic conditions gave conclusions that were similar
to those reported above when related to type of soil, humus content, acidity, alkalinity and contents of sulphate and chloride. Estimates of the effect of time on corrosion rates showed that generally
they decreased after acquiring protective scales. Only in wet acid peat was this effect not found.
81
12 Types of Copper and Typical Applications
12.1 Coppers
Copper has the highest conductivity of any of the commercial metals. It has good mechanical
properties at low, ambient and elevated temperatures and has excellent resistance to
corrosion. It is mined in every inhabited continent. Ore reserves, and the continuing
development of mining techniques, are such that future supplies are assured.
There are three popular types of copper, high conductivity, phosphorus deoxidised and
oxygen-free, each suitable for earthing applications. In addition, there are a wide variety of
less-common high conductivity copper alloys with improved properties for special
applications.
12.1.1 High conductivity coppers
High conductivity (HC) copper, with a nominal conductivity of 100% IACS (International
Annealed Copper Standard), is first choice material used for electrical applications such as
earthing strip and wire, busbars, cables and windings for motors and transformers. It was
designated C101 in British Standards, Cu-ETP in BS EN specifications and CW003A and
CW004A in the BS EN computer designations. HC copper is very readily worked hot and
cold. In annealed form, it has excellent ductility which means that it can easily be bent to
shape. It is available in all fabricated forms.
It work hardens relatively slowly and can be annealed in neutral or oxidising atmospheres.
Oxygen is intentionally present in HC copper to combine with residual impurities so that they
have no effect on conductivity. This oxygen can be reduced to steam if copper is annealed in
atmospheres containing excess hydrogen, causing embrittlement. 'Bright' annealing
atmospheres therefore have to be carefully controlled.
Most copper is now cast continuously and the desirable oxygen content is reduced. In cast
form, copper has a slightly lower conductivity than that after being worked and annealed.
Adding small quantities of silver to copper improves its elevated temperature properties,
especially creep strength.
12.1.2 Deoxidised copper
The use of deoxidants when casting copper ensures that excess oxygen is removed. This
produces a material that can readily be brazed or welded without fear of embrittlement.
Phosphorus is the preferred deoxidant and when used the conductivity of copper is slightly
reduced. This copper, termed C106 (Cu-DHP, CW024A), sometimes also called ‘DONA
copper’, is used in tubes for fresh water services. It is also available in rod, sheet and strip
form. The phosphorus content reduces conductivity to about 92% of that of HC copper for
the minimum of 0.013% or to 73% if at the maximum of 0.05% phosphorus. This is still a
better conductor than many other materials. For castings, boron is frequently used as a
deoxidant and many other additions also have a deoxidising effect.
12.1.3 Oxygen-free High Conductivity copper
Designated C103, (Cu-OF, CW008A), this copper is made only by casting in a controlled
atmosphere. It can subsequently be worked exactly as normal high conductivity copper. It is
used for applications where high conductivity of over 100% IACS is required in addition to
freedom from the possibility of embrittlement in reducing atmospheres. It may be welded or
brazed without the special precautions needed for normal high conductivity copper, C101
(Cu-ETP, CW003A & CW004A). There is a grade of higher purity still, C110 (Cu-OFE,
82
CW009A) that is normally only required for high-vacuum electronic applications such as
transmitter valves. This is certified to have a very high purity and low residual volatile gases.
Oxygen free coppers are suitable for earthing applications but, depending on production
volumes, may sometimes command a premium price.
12.1.4 High Conductivity copper alloys
For electrical applications such as resistance welding electrodes where service is at high
temperatures under heavy stress, special alloys are available. The most popular of these is
copper-chromium, CC101 (CW105C), which contains up to 1% of chromium and is fully
heat treatable to room temperature properties which are maintained as the operating
temperature rises. Conductivity is around 80% IACS, which means that the material is not
often used for earthing, but is suitable for applications such as rotor rings for use in heavy-
duty rotating electrical machines.
Further details of all these materials are available in the CDA Technical Note TN 29 'High
Conductivity Coppers, referred to in chapter 16.
12.2 Standard Copper Designations
The product forms covered by the BS designations contain compositions, specified
mechanical properties, dimensional tolerances and special test methods. These are shown in
Table 12-1.
12.2.1 BS EN Standards
European standards are produced for relevant copper product forms and become British
Standards with a ‘BS ENxxxxx’ number. Eventually there will be no differences between
national standards for these materials.
In the new BS EN standards the opportunity has been taken to consider and include the
materials and requirements most commonly needed. Each document forms a complete
product standard, so there is no need to cross-refer between separate documents covering
compositions, properties, tolerances etc.
In addition to the use of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) compositional
designation system, there is a new common numbering system for coppers and copper-based
materials. This is much more easily identifiable by computer database systems.
CDA Publication TN 10 gives a useful cross-reference between the different numbering
systems.
American standards and UNS numbering system for metals remain unaffected in the
foreseeable future. For coppers and copper alloys, the UNS numbering system is
administered by CDA (Inc.), New York.
Table 12-2 shows the wrought coppers and copper alloys most common in Europe and being
included in the BS EN standards, together with their designations and proposed material
identification numbers.
83
Table 12-1 Present British Standards for Copper and copper Alloys for general and electrical
purposes
Copper Refinery Shapes
Current Standard Subject
6017 Copper Refinery Shapes (This standard is also occasionally referred
to when copper is being ordered by composition only, with no
mandatory properties)
Copper and Copper Alloys for General Purposes
Current Standard Subject
1400 castings
3146 investment castings
2870 sheet, strip and foil
2871 Part 1 copper tube for water, gas and sanitation
Part 2 copper and copper alloy tube for general engineering
Part 3 copper and copper alloy tube for heat exchangers
2872 forging stock and forgings
2873 wire
2874 rods, bars and sections
2875 plate
Copper for General Electrical Purposes
Current Standard Subject
159 busbars and busbar connections
1432 strip with drawn or rolled edges
1433 rod and bar
1434 commutator bar
1977 high conductivity tubes
3839 oxygen free high-conductivity copper (electronic grade)
4109 wire
4608 rolled sheet, strip and foil
6929 high conductivity copper wire rod
12.3 Properties
The properties of copper and some other materials are shown in tables 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5.
The properties which are more relevant to earthing are now discussed below.
12.3.1 Electrical conductivity and resistivity
The mandatory electrical property for high conductivity copper is now mass resistivity for
which the unit Ωg/m² is used. This property is chosen because it can be the most accurately
measured. It is shown in BS 5714 that the error in measurement of mass of small sections
such as wire or strip is likely to be less than that for volume. The use of volume
measurements quoted in IEC publication No. 28 (1913) assumes a standard density for
copper in the wrought form used for the test of 8.89 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cm³). This
was valid when originally published in 1913 when oxygen contents were typically 0.06%.
84
Modern coppers now contain only about 0.02% oxygen, so the density is nearer 8.91 g/cm³.
For oxygen-free coppers 8.94 g/cm³ is more realistic.
The values given in Table 12-5 for volume resistivity and conductivity are interpreted using
the IEC standard density value of 8.89 g/cm³ which may be subject to revision. Conductivity
values are shown in both SI units of Siemens per metre and "per cent IACS (International
Annealed Copper Standard)", this latter being the traditional way of comparing the
conductivity of other metals and copper alloys with high conductivity copper. With the
improvements in purity previously mentioned, most commercial high conductivity copper has
a conductivity around 101.5% IACS in the annealed state. Work hardened material will have
a lower value due to internal strain effects. Cast material also has a lower value due to grain
boundary and porosity effects.
For high conductivity copper, electrical conductivity checks are carried out in rod mill
laboratories on samples drawn to 2 mm diameter and given a specified anneal. An accurately
calibrated Kelvin double resistance bridge is usually used for the measurement.
Conductivity measurements made on larger sections or by other techniques are generally less
accurate. Tests made using an eddy-current instrument are normally accurate to about ±3%
on flat surfaces.
12.3.2 Thermal conductivity
Thermal conductivity is rarely measured routinely but can be taken as being proportional to
electrical conductivity with the effects of alloying additions, temper and temperature.
12.3.3 Temper designations
The types of copper preferred are to BS 1432 (annealed), BS 125
Copper strip for use below ground is normally required to be soft so that it can easily be bent
around obstructions. For above ground use, harder material is required such that shape will
be maintained on structures. This property is also necessary to avoid movement due to the
mechanical forces which accompany the passage of sudden, large electrical currents.
12.3.4 Tensile strength
Properties quoted in standards are normally minima typical for the size and temper stated and
are for quality control purposes. They are suitable for use in designing for general
engineering applications. For particular requirements, realistic typical figures can generally
be obtained from the manufacturers at the time of discussing an order. For economically
large quantities it may be possible to meet special requirements for any properties.
85
Table 12-2 New BS EN designations for Wrought Coppers
The shaded materials are those most often used. Materials standardised are marked ‘*’ and ‘0’, those with the ‘0’ being most easily available.
Alloy Designation Common British
Description
Typical properties Remarks Availability
ISO/CEN
Designation
Nearest
BS
equivalent
Proposed
EN
Number
Tensile
strength
N/mm
2
Elongation
%
Hardness
HV
Tube Rod Forg-
ings
Prof-
iles
Wire Plate
sheet
strip
Cu-ETP C101 &
C100
CW003A Electrolytic, tough
pitch high
conductivity copper
200-360 42-3 40-110 High conductivity copper for strip, rod,
wire and other fabricated electrical
components. C100 is standardised only for
high conductivity rod for electrical
applications but satisfies the requirements
of Cu-ETP.
* O * O O *
Cu-Ag(0.04) C101 CW011A Silver bearing
copper
200-360 42-3 40-110 Silver improves creep strength and raises
softening temperature. Available to special
order to same standards as Cu-ETP.
*
Cu-Ag(0.07) CW012A ditto *
Cu-Ag(0.10) CW013A ditto *
Cu-FRHC C102 CW005A Fire refined, tough
pitch, high-
conductivity copper
200-360 42-3 40-110 Not commonly available but C101 satisfies
the requirements.
* *
Cu-HCP CW021A 200 30 40 Deoxidised copper with good conductivity. * *
Cu-DLP CW023A Low phosphorus
deoxidised copper
200-360 42-3 40-110 Deoxidised copper with good conductivity. * * *
Cu-FRTP C104 CW006A Tough pitch, non-
arsenical copper
200-360 42-3 40-110 General engineering and building
applications where high electrical
conductivity is not required. Oxygen
content will cause embrittlement if heated
in a reducing atmosphere.
* *
86
Alloy Designation Common
British
Description
Typical properties Remarks Availability
ISO/CEN
Designatio
n
Nearest
BS
equivalen
t
Proposed
EN
Number
Tensile
strength
N/mm
2
Elongatio
n
%
Hardnes
s
HV
Tub
e
Rod Forg
-ings
Prof-
iles
Wire Plate
sheet
strip
Cu-DHP C106 CW024A Phosphorus
deoxidised non-
arsenical copper
200-400 42-3 40-110 General engineering applications where
highest conductivity not required. No
oxygen, therefore no embrittlement.
O * * * * *
Cu-OF C103 CW008A Oxygen free, high
conductivity
copper
200-360 30-10 40-100 High conductivity. Does not suffer from
embrittlement when heated in reducing
atmosphere.
* * *
87
12.3.5 Other properties
• Elongation. As with tensile properties, elongation figures in specifications are typical
minima. It must be remembered that, as the tensile strength or hardness of a material is
increased by cold working, so the elongation generally decreases. Elongation is normally
measured on a length of 5.65√So, So being the cross sectional area of the section of a
proportional test piece.
• Hardness Hardnesses of cast coppers and copper alloys are generally measured using the
ball indenter technique of the Brinell method because of the need to cover a representatively
large area. Hardnesses of wrought materials are usually measured using the diamond
indenter of the Vickers method which makes a smaller impression. Comparisons between
these two techniques should be used with caution and comparative tests on actual
components are needed for verifying conversions. Similar considerations apply to the
relationship between hardness and tensile strength. For high conductivity copper alloys, BS
4577

includes a useful appendix showing approximate conversions and the scatter of results
found.
• Compressive Strength. This property is not often measured directly, but it may be roughly
estimated that the stress for 0.2% permanent set in compression is equal to the 0.2% proof
stress.
• Shear Strength. This property is also rarely measured, but, for sheet and strip, shear
strength may be estimated at two thirds of the tensile strength.
• Proof Stress. Typical values can be obtained from manufacturers. Proof stress values
quoted in documents are usually given relative to either 0.1 or 0.2% permanent deformation,
the latter being more common. Conversions should be used only where calibrated curves or
tables are available relevant to the material.
• Properties at Elevated Temperatures. Coppers and copper alloys can all be used at
temperatures well above ambient. Maximum working temperature depends on composition,
stress and time at temperature. Coppers can be used at temperatures over 100
o
C for many
years. Alloyed coppers such as copper-chromium and copper-beryllium can be used at
much higher temperatures.
• Properties at Low Temperatures. Coppers and copper alloys do not become brittle at low
temperatures.
88

Table 12-3 Typical Properties of High Conductivity Copper and Aluminium
Property Unit Copper Aluminium
Electrical conductivity (annealed) % IACS 101 61
Electrical resistivity (annealed) µΩcm 1.7241 2.826
Temperature coefficient of resistance (annealed) /°C 0.0039 0.004
Thermal conductivity at 20°C W/mK 397 230
Coefficient of expansion /°C.10
6
17 23
Tensile strength (annealed) N/mm
2
200-250 55-60
Tensile strength (half hard) N/mm
2
260-300 85-100
0.2% proof stress (annealed) N/mm
2
50-55 20-30
0.2% proof stress (half hard) N/mm
2
170-200 60-65
Elastic modulus MN/mm
2
118-130 70
Specific heat J/kgK 385 900
Density g/cm
3
8.91 2.70
Melting point °C 1063 660
Fatigue strength (annealed) N/mm
2
62 35
Fatigue strength (half hard) N/mm
2
117 50
For copper, many properties such as strength, conductivity and fatigue strength are significantly
better than that of aluminium. The density difference means that for a given conductor rating
the size of aluminium will be greater but still lighter. However, copper needs fewer supports to
restrain it which can affect installation economics. The capability of copper to absorb heavy
electromagnetic and thermal stresses generated by heavy currents gives a considerable factor of
safety, as does the ability to resist mechanical or thermal cycling.
Table 12-4 Comparison of Creep Properties
Material Testing temperature
o
C
Min Creep Rate
% per 1,000 hrs
Stress
N/mm
2
Aluminium 20 0.022 26
Copper 150 0.022 26
Copper - 0.086% silver 130 0.004 138
Copper - 0.086% silver 225 0.029 96.5
High conductivity aluminium shows evidence of significant creep at ambient temperatures if
heavily stressed whereas copper can be used at up to 150
o
C at the same stress level, a
temperature often used for electrical equipment. For even higher temperatures or stresses
copper-silver can be used without significant loss of conductivity. (Note: The values shown are
typical for electrolytic tough pitch high conductivity copper (C101) usually used for earthing
purposes. Values for other grades of copper may differ from those quoted.
89
Table 12-5 Physical properties of copper
Property
Atomic number 29
Atomic weight 63.54
Lattice structure: face centred cubic
Density: standard value (IEC) 8.89 g/cm³
Density: typical value 8.92 g/cm³
at 1083°C (solid) 8.32 g/cm³
at 1083°C (liquid) 7.99 g/cm³
Melting point 1083 °C
Boiling point 2595 °C
Linear coefficient of thermal expansion at:
-253°C 0.3 x 10
-6
/°C
-183°C 9.5 x 10
-6
/°C
-191°C to 16°C 14.1 x 10
-6
/°C
25°C to 100°C 16.8 x 10
-6
/°C
20°C to 200°C 17.3 x 10
-6
/°C
20°C to 300°C 17.7 x 10
-6
/°C
Specific heat (thermal capacity) at:
-253°C 0.013 J/g°C
-150°C 0.282 J/g°C
-50°C 0.361 J/g°C
20°C 0.386 J/g°C
100°C 0.393 J/g°C
200°C 0.403 J/g°C
Thermal conductivity at:
-253°C 12.98 Wcm/cm² °C
-200°C 5.74 Wcm/cm² °C
-183°C 4.73 Wcm/cm² °C
-100°C 4.35 Wcm/cm² °C
20°C 3.94 Wcm/cm² °C
100°C 3.85 Wcm/cm² °C
200°C 3.81 Wcm/cm² °C
300°C 3.77 Wcm/cm² °C
Electrical conductivity (volume) at:
20°C (annealed) 58.0-58.9 MS/m (m/Ohm mm²)
20°C (annealed) 100.0-101.5 % IACS
20°C (fully cold worked) 56.3 MS/m (m/Ohm mm²)
20°C (fully cold worked) 97.0 % IACS
90
Electrical resistivity (volume) at:
20°C (annealed) 0.017241-0.0170 Ohm mm²/m
20°C (annealed) 1.7241-1.70 µΩ cm
20°C (fully cold worked) 0.0178 Ohm mm²/m
20°C (fully cold worked) 1.78 µΩ cm
Electrical resistivity (mass) at:
20°C (annealed) Mandatory maximum 0.15328 Ωg/m²
Temperature coefficient of electrical resistance (a) at
20°C:
annealed copper of 100% IACS
(applicable from -100°C to 200°C)
0.00393 per °C
fully cold worked copper of 97% IACS
(applicable from 0°C to 100°C)
0.00381 per °C
Modulus of elasticity (tension) at 20°C:
annealed 118,000 N/mm²
cold worked 118,000-132,000 N/mm²
Modulus of rigidity (torsion) at 20°C:
annealed 44,000 N/mm²
cold worked 44,000-49,000 N/mm²
Latent heat of fusion 205 J/g
Electro chemical equivalent for:
Cu
++
0.329 mg/C
Cu
+
0.659 mg/C
Normal electrode potential (hydrogen electrode) for:
Cu
++
-0.344 V
Cu
+
-0.470 V
12.4 Joining Coppers
Table 12-6 shows that coppers can be easily joined by soldering, brazing and welding. Some
care is needed with C101 HC copper that it is not heated in a reducing atmosphere such as that
in most gas torch flames or controlled atmosphere furnaces. The reason for this is that the high
conductivity is ensured by the presence of small particles of copper oxide in the metal. They
absorb impurities during solidification, preventing them from adversely affecting conductivity.
The copper oxide can be reduced, one of the products of the reaction being steam which
expands and embrittles the copper. The use of conventional gas shielded arc processes
(Tungsten Inert Gas [TIG] or Metal Inert Gas [MIG]) avoids the problem.
Since copper has such a high conductivity for heat as well as electricity, care must be taken to
ensure plenty of heat input to ensure full melting and adhesion of solder, brazing filler or weld
metal. For soldering and brazing, usual precautions should be taken to clean and flux the
surface. Further details of recommended joining practice are included in CDA Publication No
98.
91
Table 12-6 A Guide to the suitability of joining processes for coppers
BS designation C101 C106 C103
BS EN designation Cu-ETP Cu-DHP Cu-OF
Proposed EN designation CW003A &
CW004A
CW024A CW008A
Type of copper High conductivity
Copper
Deoxidised
Copper
Oxygen-free
copper
Soldering 1 1 1
Brazing 2 1 2
Bronze welding X 2 3
Oxy-acetylene welding X 2 X
Gas shielded arc welding (TIG &
MIG)
3 1 X
Manual metal arc welding X X X
Resistance welding X 2 X
Cold pressure welding 2 2 2
Key 1 - Excellent
2 - Good
3 - Fair
X - Not recommended, though may be possible.
92
13 Measuring the Impedance of Earth Electrode Systems
13.1 Introduction
Measurement of the Ohmic value of a buried electrode is carried out for two reasons:-
• To check the value, following installation and prior to connection to the equipment, against
the design specification.
• As part of routine maintenance, to confirm that the value has not increased substantially
from its design or original measured value.
The most common method of measuring the earth value for small or medium sized electrodes is
known as the “fall of potential” method; described in detail in section 13.4. For this method to
be successfully applied at large area sites, test leads may be required to be routed to 8 00m or
even 1,000 m away and at many locations this is not practicable. Other methods may then have
to be used and some of these are described briefly in section 13.5.
13.2 Equipment Required
For small and medium sized electrode systems, a normal four-terminal composite earth
resistance tester is suitable. This may be the same instrument as used for soil resistivity
measurement. There are two potential terminals P1 and P2, and two current terminals C1 and
C2. As part of the package, the manufacturer normally provides four earth spikes and some
drums of trailing lead. Composite instruments normally only measure the resistive value of the
electrode impedance.
To protect the instrument against possible over-voltage during the test period, modern
instruments include a 100 mA fuse in the test lead circuits (terminals C2 and P2). If the
instrument is not provided with these fuses, it is recommended that they be connected
externally.
For large electrode systems, more sophisticated equipment is normally required. This has to
measure quite small impedances and will have to pass more current than the composite
instrument. Discrete components, which include a power amplifier, a variable frequency source
and frequency selective measurement instruments are normally required.
13.3 Safety
The test procedure involves bringing a connection from remote earth spikes which are at or
about true earth potential, into the area immediately adjacent to the electrode to be measured.
Whilst testing is taking place, should an earth fault occur which involves equipment connected
to the main electrode, the potential on and around the electrode would rise. For small
electrodes, this may not introduce any significant difficulty. However, in larger electrode
systems or those associated with power networks, the voltage rise may be significant.
Depending on the stage of testing at that time, one of those persons carrying this out may be
subjected to a possibly dangerous potential difference, say between hands. To ensure that this
does not occur, a rigorously policed safety procedure is required which includes the following
elements:
• One person in charge of work.
• Communication between those carrying out the tests, via radio or portable telephone.
• Use of rubber gloves and adequate footwear.
• Use of a suitably voltage rated ganged double switch to which the trailing leads are
connected to the instrument.
93
• Use of a metal plate to ensure equipotentials in the test position. The plate should be large
enough to house the instrument, switch and operator during the test. It should have a
terminal installed, so that the plate can be bonded to the electrode.
• Postponement of testing during lightning or other severe weather conditions.
13.4 Measurement of Small and Medium Sized Electrodes
The method normally used is the “fall of potential” method. The procedure recommended is as
follows:-
• The plate is placed at the test position. The instrument, switch and (if appropriate) the
fuses, should also be placed on the plate. The P1 - C1 terminals of the tester should each be
connected to the electrode to be tested and one connection made to the plate.
• The current spike should normally be installed a minimum of 100 m away, at least five
times the largest dimension of the electrode system being measured. When measuring the
resistance of a few earth rods, then a distance of 40 m to 50 m may be sufficient. The
current spike position should be preferably across open ground or fields, chosen such that a
line between the spike and the test position will cross, rather than run parallel to, existing
cable routes or other buried metal pipes.
• The voltage spike should be positioned approximately 2m away from the line between the
test point and the current spike, initially at a distance of 61.8% of that between the test point
and the current spike. (Note:- The reason for choosing 61.8% distance is based on
mathematical theory, applied to soil of uniform resistivity).
• Trailing leads should then be run out between the instrument at the test point and the two
spikes and be connected to them. With the ganged switch open, the trailing leads should be
connected to the switch, which is then connected to the P2-C2 terminals of the instrument.
• The operator should stand with both feet on the plate. Having informed the other persons
involved, the ganged switch is closed, the test instrument operated and the reading taken.
The switch is then re-opened.
• This procedure should be repeated, with the voltage spike first moved to a position 10m
nearer to the test position and then 10m nearer to the current spike. If the three readings are
within 5% of each other, the 61.8% reading may be accepted as a representative value.
• If the readings vary outside 5%, then the procedure must be repeated, with the current spike
at a new position, normally further away than for the previous test.
The most common cause of error arises due to placing the current spike too close to the
electrode under test. The influence of the earth electrode and current spike will overlap and the
measured resistance will normally be a lower value than the real one. The second most common
mistake is placing the voltage spike too close to the test electrode which produces a much lower
reading than the true value. Other sources of error include not accounting for buried metal
which is in parallel with the test traverse, having the voltage and current leads too close together
and damage to the trailing lead insulation.
The theory (and hence the 61.8% rule) does not hold if the soil is not uniform, the grid is large
or (as stated above) the current electrode is too close. Computer simulation can assist here, by
predicting the distance from the grid at which the voltage spike can be positioned to obtain the
actual impedance.
In practice, the measured value may be considerably lower than the design value predicted for
the electrode system, because there may now be a number of parallel electrode paths connected,
including the sheaths of underground cables etc.
94
13.5 Measurement of Larger Area Electrode Systems
The fall of potential method can be used on larger electrode systems, but it is suggested that the
current electrode is positioned at a distance of between six and ten times that of the diagonal
distance across the electrode system. This is not normally practical, so several derivatives of
the fall of potential method have been developed. These include the slope method (where the
gradients between adjacent measurement points are computed) and the intersecting curves
method.
In another variation of the test, the voltage spike is moved out at right angles to the grid/current
spike traverse. The distance of the spike from the grid is progressively increased until the
measured value barely changes. This figure should then be just below the actual electrode
impedance.
If metallic underground pipes or cables are running in the same direction as any of the test
routes, this will again produce an incorrect earth reading.
Where the earth grid is large or has long radial connections, e.g. to cables or tower line earth
wires, the resulting size of the earth grid is so large that traditional fall of potential measurement
is impractical. Estimation can still sometimes be achieved by a series of on site measurements
backed up by computer simulation.
Another method is called high current injection where several hundred Amperes are passed into
the electrode system using a power circuit and another electrode system some distance away.
The actual rise of potential is measured by reference to a remote electrode (normally via a
metallic telephone circuit), from which the electrode impedance can be calculated. However,
this method is costly to carry out and can still be subject to errors. One common error is not
accounting for the impedance of metallic circuits which interconnect the two electrode systems
being used (communication circuits, low voltage interconnection etc.).
95
14 Artificial Method of Reducing Earth Resistivity
14.1 Introduction
This chapter is to describe briefly the conditions in which additives can help in reducing the
earth impedance. Some salts are naturally occurring in the soil, but those considered here are
deliberately added with the intention of changing the resistivity of the soil in the vicinity of the
electrode. In general, despite the generally held belief to the contrary, the number of real
applications for additives are quite small and this is an over-emphasised option. Some of the
additives used in the past have been corrosive and if used now could cause environmental
difficulties.
In old (1930’s) books on earthing, it is sometimes suggested that the resistance of electrodes can
be decreased by up to 90% by chemical treatment. The chemicals traditionally recommended
and used were sodium chloride (salt), magnesium sulphate (epsom salts), copper sulphate,
sodium carbonate (washing soda) and calcium chloride. In most cases the cheaper chemicals
were used. They were spread around the electrodes and dissolved by adding water before
backfilling or it was left for natural waterflow (rain etc.) to dissolve them. The chemicals have
the effect of reducing the resistivity of the surrounding soil. The new resistivity can fall to
0.2Ω-m using washing soda (sodium carbonate) or to 0.1Ω-m using salt. A particularly high
concentration of dissolved salts is not necessary to see an appreciable reduction in resistivity,
for example:
1.2 g/litre salt in distilled water has a resistivity of 5Ωm.
6 g/litre salt in distilled water has a resistivity of 10Ωm.
This reduction in soil resistivity will, in turn, reduce the impedance of the electrode system.
The improvement depends mainly on the original resistivity of the soil, its structure and the size
of the electrode system. However, since the chemicals used are chosen because they are
soluble, they will continue to be progressively diluted by rainwater or movement of water
through the area. The soil resistivity will then increase, until eventually it returns to its former
value. This was recognised and the time for this to occur is sometimes only a few months.
Regular maintenance and replenishment of the undiluted chemicals was recommended and
sometimes a refillable man-hole was provided in which to place the chemicals. It has
sometimes been the practice in some establishments to add chemicals just before an annual test
measurement, but this does not help the earthing system perform its function correctly during
the rest of the year when it may be required to deal with fault current.
In addition to the maintenance cost, the impact on the local environment should be considered
and may conflict with the Environmental Protection legislation. Some of the chemicals used
(such as salt) are known to cause rapid corrosion of the electrodes themselves - particularly
steel, thereby reducing the available life of the installation. Indeed, in some of the older
arrangements, this risk was recognised and pipe placed around some sections of the electrode to
protect it - thereby reducing its effectiveness!
The actual effect on the resistance of the electrode may not be as dramatic as originally thought
and to put this into perspective, reference back to Figure 6-5 in chapter 6 shows the actual effect
of increasing the diameter of the electrode. The chemicals need to extend the effective volume
of the electrode significantly to have a noticeable effect. As mentioned in chapter 6, there is a
contact resistance between the electrode and the soil. Where a new rod has been driven into the
ground, the sideways movement will have increased the width of the hole in which the rod lies.
The gap between the rod surface and the compressed soil to its side will introduce a large
contact resistance which will be apparent when testing the resistance of the rod.
Pouring a mixture of chemicals and soil into the area around the rod will provide an immediate
and significant reduction in the rod’s resistance. However, its resistance would fall anyway as
96
the surrounding soil consolidates due to rainfall etc. A more environmentally acceptable way to
accelerate this effect is to add a low resistivity material, such as Bentonite slurry, as the rod is
driven in. As the earth electrode is driven into the soil the Bentonite is drawn down by the rod.
By continuously pouring the mixture into the hole during the driving process, a sufficient
quantity is dragged down to fill most of the voids around the rod and lower its overall
resistance. Installing the rod a little deeper can sometimes achieve the same or a better, more
permanent result than using low resistivity backfill material.
Adding Bentonite and similar materials, such as Marconite, in a trench or larger drilled hole
around the electrode has the effect of increasing the surface area of the earth conductor,
assuming the resistivity of the added material is lower than that of the surrounding soil.
14.2 Acceptable Low Resistivity Materials
As mentioned previously, fine sieved soil or garden loam is normally a suitable backfill
material to surround the buried electrode. For special situations, there are a number of
materials as follows:
14.2.1 Bentonite
This is a natural forming, pale olive brown clay which is slightly acidic, having a pH of 10.5. It
can absorb nearly five times its weight of water and in so doing, can swell up to thirteen times
its dry volume. Its chemical name is sodium montmorillonite. When in situ, it can absorb
moisture from the surrounding soil and this is the main reason for using it, since this property
helps stabilise the electrode impedance throughout the year. It has a low resistivity -
approximately 5 Ohm-metres, and is non-corrosive. Under extremely dry conditions, the
mixture can crack thereby affording little contact to the electrode. Fortunately the weather
conditions in the UK are such that this is not normally a problem. Bentonite is thixotropic in
character and therefore gels when in an inert state, so should not leach out. Bentonite is most
often used as the backfill material for deep driven rods. It is easily compacted and adheres
strongly.
14.2.2 Marconite
It is essentially a conductive concrete, in which a carbonaceous aggregate replaces the normal
aggregate used in the concrete mix. It has some similar properties to Bentonite, i.e. causes little
corrosion with certain metals and has a low resistivity. It was developed as a process which
started in 1962 when Marconi engineers sought a material which conducted by movement of
electrons rather than ions. It contains a crystalline form of carbon and the overall material has a
low sulphur and chloride content.
There is stated to be some corrosion of ferrous metal and copper whilst the Marconite is in
slurry form, but it is suggested that a thin protective layer forms. When the concrete has set,
corrosion is said to cease. Metal should ideally be painted with bitumen or a bitumastic paint as
it enters the Marconite structure to prevent corrosion at this point. Aluminium, tin coated or
galvanised steel should not be installed in Marconite.
When Marconite is mixed with concrete, its resistivity can fall to as low as 0.1 Ohm-metre. It
will retain its moisture even under quite dry conditions, so has been used in the hotter climates
as an alternative to Bentonite. Its principle application in the UK is at locations where theft or
third party interference is likely to be a problem, or to enclose electrodes in holes or voids
within rock. When surrounding an earth rod with Marconite which has been installed in rock,
the resistance of the rod will be reduced as the volume of Marconite used is increased.
For example, if a 1 m rod is installed at the centre of a hemisphere of Marconite of radius 1.5m,
it would have a resistance of approximately 2,000 Ohm if the surrounding rock is of 2,000 Ohm-
97
metres. If the radius of the hemishere is increased to 3 m and then 5 m, the resistance would fall
to 1,080 Ohm and 650 Ohm respectively. Because of the prohibitive cost of removing such a
volume of rock, it makes sense to make use of existing cavities for this purpose, where possible.
Also, the void is likely to be part filled with other materials (such as concrete) to reduce the
amount of proprietary material required. Marconite is normally considered as having a
resistivity of 2 Ohm-metres.
Marconite is also sometimes used for anti-static flooring and electro-magnetic screening.
Note that Marconite is a registered trade mark of Marconi Communication Systems Limited.
14.2.3 Gypsum
Occasionally, calcium sulphate (gypsum) is used as a backfill material, either by itself or mixed
with Bentonite or with the natural soil from the area. It has low solubility, hence is not easily
washed away, and has a low resistivity (approximately 5-10 Ohm-metres in a saturated
solution). It is virtually neutral, having a pH value of between 6.2 and 6.9. It is naturally
occurring, so should not generally cause environmental difficulties in use. It is claimed that it
does not cause corrosion with copper, although sometimes the small SO
3
content has caused
concern about its impact on concrete structures and foundations. It is relatively inexpensive and
is normally mixed with the soil forming the backfill around the earth electrode. The particle
size is similar to coarse sand.
It is claimed that it assists in maintaining a relatively low resistivity over a long period of time,
in areas where salts in the vicinity are dissolved away by water movements (rainfall etc.).
However, the fact that the material is not easily dissolved will moderate the benefits achieved,
since it will not permeate far into the ground. This means that the beneficial effect will be
localised for say an area excavated around a buried electrode. This in turn means that the
reduction in the resistance value of the electrode will not be dramatic but will be reasonably
sustainable.
14.2.4 Others
Additional materials are often being introduced, for example a copper solution which when
mixed with other chemicals creates a gel. These must satisfy environmental legislation and it is
important to confirm the situations in which improvements in the electrode impedance can be
expected when such products are used.
14.3 Unacceptable Backfill Materials
Some power station ash and clinker have been used in the past, when it was thought that their
carbon content would be beneficial. Unfortunately, these materials may contain oxides of
carbon, titanium, potassium, sodium, magnesium or calcium, together with silica and carbon. In
moist conditions, some of these will almost inevitably react with copper and steel to cause
accelerated corrosion.
98
15 Maintenance of Earthing Systems
15.1 Introduction
Where an electricity supplier provides an earth terminal at a premises, maintenance of the
earthing and bonding system is confined to maintenance of the conductors and connections
which form part of that system.
At special locations, e.g. on an IT or TT system, the occupant/owner is required to provide an
independent earth electrode, and any maintenance procedure must include this electrode.
For electricity suppliers, or other owners of distribution networks, maintenance of their earthing
and bonding systems involves work on both the bonding conductors above ground and the
buried electrode. For the electrode, testing from above ground has been the accepted method of
verifying its condition. However, as explained in chapter 11, corrosion can take place on some
electrode components or joints. A test of the earthing system impedance will not necessarily
detect this corrosion and is not, on its own, sufficient to indicate that the earthing system is
adequate.
For electrode systems associated with the higher voltage networks, selected excavation and
inspection of electrode systems is now recommended.
15.2 The Philosophy of Maintenance
Maintenance of earthing systems normally forms part of the maintenance of the overall
electrical system. The quality and frequency of the maintenance should be sufficient to prevent
danger, so far as is reasonably practicable. Recommendations on the type of maintenance
required and the frequency for various types of installation can be found in the following
documents:
• For domestic and commercial premises, in BS 7671.
• For factories, the HSE. has issued a “Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work
Regulations 1989”. In Appendix 2, a list is given of the various documents which should be
referred to for a variety of specialist applications.
• The Electricity Supply Regulations, 1988 as amended, impose a duty on Electricity
Suppliers to inspect their installations and works.
The frequency of maintenance and the recommended practice at any installation depend upon
the type and size of the installation, its function and its voltage level. For example, it is
recommended that domestic premises are tested every five years and industrial premises every
three. Places with public access require more frequent inspection and those requiring an annual
inspection include petrol stations, caravan sites, theatres, cinemas and launderettes. All forms
of installation should be subject to two types of maintenance.
• Inspection, at frequent intervals, of those components which are, or can readily be made,
accessible.
• Examination, to include a more thorough inspection than that possible by inspection,
possibly including testing.
15.3 Inspection
Inspection of the earthing system at an installation normally takes place in association with
visits for other maintenance work. It consists of a visual inspection only of those parts of the
system which can be seen, particularly looking for evidence of decay, corrosion, vandalism or
theft.
99
The following summarises the procedure at differing installations:-
• Domestic, Commercial Premises. Inspection normally takes place in association with other
work on the premises, e.g. upgrading, extensions etc. An electrical contractor should not
only thoroughly inspect, but also recommend changes where it is clear that an installation
does not meet the standards required by BS 7671. A particular check recommended is to
ensure that the bond between the supplier’s and customer’s earth terminals is of sufficient
size to satisfy the regulations.
• Factories. Regular inspection of the electrical installation is recommended under the
Electricity at Work Regulation 1989. A record should be maintained of the date and
findings of each inspection.
• Installations with lightning protection. Again a regular inspection is recommended, and
should be documented, to comply with BS 6651.
• Electricity company or industrial distribution substations. These require regular inspection,
typically once a year, with the earthing arrangements being visibly inspected. Where the
low voltage network is overhead, the earthing system on the network is checked as part of
the regular line patrols.
• Electricity company main substations. These are continuously monitored from remote
control rooms and inspected frequently - typically 6 to 8 times a year. Obvious examples of
earthing system deficiency, such as that due to theft of exposed copper earthing conductors,
if not detected by the continuous monitoring, would be identified during one of these visits.
15.4 Examination
Examination of an earthing system normally takes place as part of the examination of the whole
electrical system.
The examination consists of a very thorough, detailed inspection of the whole earthing system.
Apart from looking for the obvious, the examiner will check whether the system meets the
current earthing standard. In addition to this thorough inspection, the system must be tested, as
indicated, at the following types of installation.
• Domestic, Commercial Premises. Examination of these installations by an electrical
contractor is normally made at the request of the customer. BS 7671 recommends that this
is carried out not less frequently than once every 5 years. BS 7671 also recommends that all
extraneous non-conductive metalwork, including gas, hot and cold water, central heating
etc. pipework should be bonded together and then connected to the customer’s earth
terminal, with conductors of adequate size.
• Two separate test are required as part of the examination:
An earth loop impedance test. Commercial testers are available for this purpose.
A function test on all RCDs in the installation. This test has to be independent of the
built-in push button on the RCD.
• Factories. Examination is required regularly according to the type of installation. A
detailed record should be kept at each examination. The examiner will check that the
existing earthing system complies with current Regulations.
The following tests are required on the earthing system:-
An earth loop impedance test.
A function test on all RCDs installed.
100
A bonding test on all extraneous non-conductive metalwork, e.g. the metal enclosures,
control cabinets, vending machines etc. This is carried out using a low resistance
measuring (micro) Ohmmeter and the test is required between the customer’s earth
terminal and all extraneous non-conductive metalwork.
Earth Electrode Resistance. Should the installation have its own independent earth
electrode, then as part of examination the value of this electrode should be measured
and compared with its design value. This may mean isolating the earth electrode, and
may thus require that the supply is switched off during the period of the test.
Installations with Lightning Protection. Examination is recommended to meet the
requirement of BS 6651. As well as a very thorough inspection, to ensure that the
installation complies with the current Regulations, the following testing is required.
Earth Electrode Value. The value of the electrode should be measured.
Previously this meant isolating the electrode from the main lightning protection
conductors. This could not be carried out during any lightning activity and
precautions were required when breaking the link between the electrode and the
lightning conductors, since it was possible for an excessive voltage to appear
across the open link, should there be a fault to earth on the electricity supply
network. Clip on type impedance measuring instruments are now available for
this and do not require the electrode to be disconnected.
Once measured, the value of the earth electrode should be compared with the
design value, or that obtained during the previous test.
Electricity company or industrial distribution substations. Examination is carried
out less frequently - typically once every 5 or 6 years. A very thorough inspection is
recommended, removing covers etc. where appropriate. The examiner is particularly
required to check that the bonding of all normally accessible metalwork, transformer
switchgear tanks, steel doors, steel fencing etc. meets the requirement of Technical
Standard 41 - 24.
The following testing is typically carried out, with the equipment normally in
commission. A special procedure has to be used to guard against possible excessive
voltage occurring during the testing.
Bonding tests between the earth electrode and normally accessible metalwork.
Tracing of buried electrode and examination of this at some locations to ensure
corrosion has not taken place.
The high-voltage earth electrode value is measured and compared with previous or
design values.
Checking the pH value of the soil.
A separation test to ensure that the HV. electrode and LV electrodes are electrically
separate. This test is not required if the design conditions permit the two electrode
systems to be bonded together.
101
16 Further Reading
British and European standards can be obtained from the British Standards Institution, 389
Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4AL.
Engineering recommendations and technical reports can be obtained from Electricity
Association Services Ltd., 30 Millbank, London, SW1P 4RD.
Standards and codes of practice
ANSI/IEEE Std. 80: 1986, IEEE Guide for safety in AC substation grounding.
ANSI/IEEE Std. 81: 1983, IEEE Guide for measuring Earth Resistivity, Ground Impedance
and Earth Surface Potentials of a Ground System.
BS 6651: 1992, Protection of structures against lightning.
BS 7354 1990, Code of Practice for Design of high-voltage open-terminals stations, Section
7: Earthing.
BS 7430 1991, Code of Practice for Earthing.
BS 7671: 1992, Requirements for Electrical Installations.
CLC TC/112 Chapter 9: Earthing Systems (February 1994 Draft).
DIN VDE 0141: 1989 (Technical Help to Exporters Translation) Earthing systems for power
installations with rated voltages above 1 kV.
EA Engineering Recommendation S.34: 1986, A guide for assessing the rise of earth
potential at substation sites.
EA ER G59, Recommendations for the connection of private generating plant to the
electricity boards distribution system.
EA Technical Specification 41-24:1992 (Issued 1994), Guidelines for the design, testing and
main earthing systems in substations.
ER S5/1, Earthing Installations within substations.
Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989, Health and Safety
Executive, ISBN 0-11-8833963-2.
The Construction ( Design and Management ) Regulations, 1994. Statutory Instruments 1994
No 33140.
The Distribution Code of the Public Electricity Suppliers of England and Wales, March 1990.
The Electricity Supply Regulations, 1988. Statutory Instruments 1988 No 1057.
102
Earthing within buildings and industry
ASEE Illustrated Guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations.
Earthing and bonding in large installations, S Benda, ABB Review, 1994.
Earthing of Telecommunications Installations, International Telegraph and Telephone
Committee, 1976.
ECA/ECA of S/NICEIC Handbook on the 16th Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations,
Blackwell Scientific Publications.
Electrical Installation Technology, F G Thompson, Longman, 1992.
Grounding and Shielding in Facilities, R Morrison and W H Lewis.
IEE On Site Guide to the 16th Edition Wiring Regulations, 1992.
IEE Wiring Regulations, Explained and Illustrated, Brian Scadden, 1989.
IEEE Practice for grounding of industrial and commercial power systems, Standard 42 -
1991.
IEEE Practice for Grounding of Industrial Power Systems, IEEE Green book, Standard 141-
1993.
Industrial Power Distribution and Illuminating Systems, Kao Chen.
Modern Electrical Installation for Craft Apprentices, Brian Scadden, Butterworths.
Protection against electric shock, guidance note number 5, Institution of Electrical Engineers,
London.
Safety of Electrical Installations up to 1,000V, Rudolph, VDE Verlag, 1990.
The Design of Electrical Services for Buildings, F Porques, 1989.
Touch voltages in electrical installations, Jenkins, Blackwell.
Earthing within high voltage substations
J and P Transformer Book, S Austin Stigant and A C Franklin, Newnes-Butterworth, London.
Modern Power Station Practice, BEI Ltd, Third Edition.
Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers,
Switchgear Manual, 8th Edition, ASEA Brown Boverie.
Books and papers on earthing in general
“Earthing Systems - Which Path to Follow”, ERA report 93-0432, published by ERA
Technology, Leatherhead.
ANSI/IEEE Std 100: 1992, New IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical and Electronic
Terms.
Characteristics of different power system neutral grounding techniques : fact or fiction. F J
Angelini and D D Ship, IEEE
Earthing Principle, and Practice, R.W.Ryder, Pitman and Sons, 1952.
Electrical Earthing and Accident Prevention, M G Say, Newnes.
Handbook of Electrical Installation Practice, Editor E A Reeves, Blackwell , Third Edition,
1996.
National Electric Code Handbook, McPartland, McGraw Hill, 1993,
103
Lightning
Lightning Protection for People and Property, M Frydenlund, Von Nostrand Reinhold, 1993.
Co-generation
EA ET 113, Notes of Guidance for the protection of private generating sets up to 5 MW for
operation in parallel with Electricity Boards distribution networks.
Good Practice Guide 1, Guidance notes for the implementation of small scale packaged
combined heat and power, Energy Efficiency Office.
Copper
Copper for Busbars, CDA publication number 22, Copper Development Association, Potters
Bar, Herts. EN6 3AP.
Copper Underground : Its Resistance to Soil corrosion, (Out of print). Copper Development
Association, Potters Bar, Herts. EN6 3AP.
Manufacturers publications
A Simple Guide to Earth Testing, Megger Instruments.
Earthing and Lightning Protection, Consultants Handbook, W J Furse, Nottingham.
Electronic Systems Protection Handbook, W J Furse, Nottingham.
Computer simulation of earthing systems
CDEGS suite of programmes, developed by Safe Engineering Services of Canada.
104
INDEX
A
AC to DC converters .......................................54
Air terminations...............................................66
Annual rainfall .................................................79
ANSI/IEEE Std. 80:1986...............................18
Arc-suppression coils ......................................21
Artificial method of reducing earth resistivity. 95
Atmospheric oxidation.....................................76
B
Backfill material ..............................................32
Bentonite ...............................................30, 96
Gypsum.......................................................97
Marconite ....................................................96
unacceptable materials ................................97
Bentonite ...................................................30, 96
Bimetallic corrosion ........................................74
Biofouling........................................................75
Bonding conductor ....................................27, 67
Bonding test...................................................100
Brazed connections..........................................34
British Standards .............................................82
British Standards for Copper and Copper Alloys
for general purposes ....................................83
BS 125.............................................................84
BS 1432...........................................................84
BS 1432, ‘Specifications for copper for
electrical purposes: high conductivity copper
rectangular conductors with drawn or rolled
edges ...........................................................30
BS 5655 Safety rules for construction and
installation of lifts........................................26
BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against
lightning ................................................26, 66
BS 7354:1990..................................................17
BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for Earthing
....................................................................17
BS 7671:1992 Requirements for Electrical
Installations .............................................9, 17
BS EN Standards .............................................82
Buried depth ....................................................40
C
C101 ....................................................30, 81, 90
C103 ................................................................81
C106 ................................................................81
C110 ................................................................81
Capacitive coupling.........................................70
Capacitive screening........................................71
Capacitor banks ...............................................55
Capacitor voltage transformers........................55
Caravan sites....................................................26
CC101..............................................................82
CCITT Directives ..........................................18
Circuit Protective Conductor ...........................27
CLC TC/112....................................................18
Climate, effect on corrosion ............................78
Cloud to cloud lightning..................................65
Co-Generation Plants.......................................55
Communication circuits...................................69
Communication facilities.................................53
Comparison of Creep Properties......................88
Compressive strength.......................................87
Computer equipment .......................................60
Connections
brazed..........................................................34
exothermic...................................................34
mechanical...................................................33
welded .........................................................34
Construction (Design and Management)
Regulations..................................................15
Contact resistance............................................42
Copper alloys, high conductivity.....................82
Coppers............................................................81
high conductivity.........................................81
oxygen free....................................... 81
specifications
C101 ................................................. 81
C103 ................................................. 81
C106 ................................................. 81
C110 ................................................. 81
CC101............................................... 82
Cu-DHP............................................ 81
Cu-ETP............................................. 81
Cu-OF............................................... 81
Cu-OFE............................................. 81
CW003A........................................... 81
CW004A........................................... 81
CW008A........................................... 81
CW009A........................................... 82
CW024A........................................... 81
CW105C........................................... 82
Corrosion.........................................................74
bimetallic.....................................................74
effect of climate...........................................78
effect soil characteristics .............................78
Fatigue.........................................................75
field tests in the U.K....................................80
field trials ....................................................77
susceptibility of metals................................77
underground ..........................................74, 76
Counterpoise....................................................67
CPC.................................................................27
Creep properties, comparisons.........................88
Crevice Corrosion............................................75
Cu-DHP...........................................................81
Cu-ETP............................................................81
Cu-OF..............................................................81
Cu-OFE............................................................81
Current carrying capacity.................................34
CW003A..........................................................81
CW004A..........................................................81
CW008A..........................................................81
CW009A..........................................................82
105
CW024A..........................................................81
CW105C..........................................................82
D
Data processing ...............................................69
Deoxidised copper ...........................................81
Design of earth electrode systems....................47
DIN VDE 0141:1989......................................18
Domestic premises...........................................58
DONA copper..................................................81
Down leads ......................................................66
Drainage ..........................................................79
E
EA Engineering Recommendation S.34:1986
....................................................................17
EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992 .....................17
EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992.................15, 56
Earth conductors..............................................27
Earth electrode.................................................28
derivative.....................................................30
design ..........................................................47
horozontal ...................................................29
medium area systems...................................50
performance ................................................36
plates ...........................................................29
Rods ............................................................28
small area systems.......................................48
Earth system, defined.........................................9
Earth termination.............................................67
Earth, defined ....................................................9
Earthed systems ...............................................20
Earthing on LV systems...................................21
Earthing system types
IT24
PNB.............................................................22
TN-C-S........................................................22
TN-S............................................................21
TT ...............................................................23
Earthing systems
high frequency.............................................53
maintenance.................................................98
radio frequency............................................53
requirements................................................27
Earthing within buildings.................................58
Effect of
buried depth ................................................40
increasing electrode length..........................38
increasing radius..........................................39
proximity.....................................................40
Effect of electrode shape .................................36
Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on
Corrosion.....................................................78
Electrical interference......................................69
Electrical noise ................................................69
Electricity at Work Regulations.......................15
Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 .....9, 16, 19
Elongation .......................................................87
Environmental protection legislation...............95
Equipotential platform.....................................10
ER S5/1............................................................17
Exothermic joints.............................................34
F
Fall of potential method...................................92
Fence earthing..................................................56
G
Galvanic coupling............................................69
Gas Insulated Switchgear.................................55
GIS ..................................................................55
GPR.................................................................13
Grid potential rise............................................13
Ground system, defined .....................................9
Ground, defined.................................................9
Gypsum............................................................97
H
Hardness ..........................................................87
Health and Safety at Work Act ........................15
High Conductivity Copper Alloys ...................82
High Conductivity Coppers .............................81
High frequency earthing systems .....................53
High voltage transmission lines .......................68
Horizontal electrodes.......................................29
installations .................................................32
HSE (41)..........................................................26
HSE Publication HSE (41) ..............................26
Hybrid Earthing arrangement ..........................64
I
IACS..........................................................81, 84
IEC 479-1 ........................................................15
IEE Wiring Regulations...................................17
Impedance earthed system...............................20
Impedance of earth electrode systems ............92
Increasing length of side of square ..................39
Increasing the length of a conductor ................38
Increasing the radius........................................39
Inductive coupling ...........................................71
Information technology equipment ..................60
Inspection of the earthing system.....................98
Integrated earthing systems..............................61
Interference......................................................69
International Annealed Copper Standard...81, 84
IT24
IT equipment ...................................................60
J
Joining coppers................................................90
L
LER .................................................................21
Lift installations...............................................26
Lightning
air terminations............................................66
bonding conductor.......................................67
cloud to cloud..............................................65
counterpoise ................................................67
down leads...................................................66
earth termination .........................................67
HV transmission lines .................................68
106
protection system.........................................66
risk assessment ............................................66
stranded conductors.....................................67
surge protection...........................................68
Lightning protection ........................................65
Liquid earth resistors .......................................21
M
Maintenance of earthing systems.....................98
Marconite.........................................................96
Marinas............................................................26
Measurement of soil resistivity........................43
Mechanical connections...................................33
Medium area systems.......................................50
Metal Inert Gas................................................90
MIG.................................................................90
Mines and Quarries..........................................25
Moisture equivalent .........................................79
N
Nested shield arrangement...............................62
Noise................................................................69
O
Ohmic value of a buried electrode...................92
Oxidation.........................................................76
Oxygen-free High Conductivity Copper ..........81
P
PEN.................................................................22
Performance of earth electrodes. .....................36
Peterson coils...................................................21
Petrol Filling Stations ......................................26
pH value ..........................................................79
Plates ...............................................................29
installation...................................................32
PME.................................................................21
PNB.................................................................22
Power frequency faults ....................................11
Product standards ............................................82
Proof stress ......................................................87
Properties
aluminium....................................................88
Copper
at elevated temperatures ................... 87
at Low Temperatures........................ 87
High Conductivity copper ................ 88
Protective earth neutral ....................................22
Protective Multiple Earthing............................21
Protective neutral bonding...............................22
Proximity effect ...............................................40
R
Radio frequency earthind systems ...................53
RCCB ..............................................................25
RCD.................................................................25
Residual Current Circuit Breaker ....................25
Residual Current Detector ...............................25
Risk assessment ...............................................66
Rods.................................................................28
installation...................................................31
S
Schlumberger technique ..................................46
Shear strength ..................................................87
Single phase rectified loads .............................60
Small area electrode systems ...........................48
Soil characteristics, effect on corrosion...........78
Soil resistivity..................................................42
measurement................................................43
Schlumberger technique................... 46
Wenner method ................................ 46
Soil Resistivity.................................................80
Standards
ANSI/IEEE Std. 80:1986...........................18
BS 125.........................................................84
BS 1432.......................................................84
BS 1432, ‘Specifications for copper for
electrical purposes: high conductivity
copper rectangular conductors with drawn
or rolled edges ........................................30
BS 5655 Safety rules for construction and
installation of lifts ...................................26
BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against
lightning..................................................66
BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against
lightning..................................................26
BS 7354:1990 .............................................17
BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for
Earthing.................................................17
BS 7671:1992 Requirements for Electrical
Installations...................................9, 17, 58
BS EN.........................................................82
CCITT Directives ......................................18
CLC TC/112................................................18
copper and copper alloys.............................83
DIN VDE 0141:1989..................................18
EA Engineering Recommendation
S.34:1986................................................17
EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992.............15, 17
ER S5/1 .......................................................17
IEC 479-1....................................................15
Step potential ...................................................13
Stranded conductor ..........................................67
Stress corrosion ...............................................75
Surge diverters. ................................................54
Surge protection...............................................68
T
Temper Designations.......................................84
Temporary installations ...................................26
Tensile Strength...............................................84
Thermal conductivity.......................................84
TIG..................................................................90
TN-C-S............................................................22
TN-S................................................................21
Touch potential ................................................13
Touch, step and transfer potentials ..................14
TT. ...................................................................23
Tungsten Inert Gas...........................................90
Type of Soil .....................................................79
107
Typical resistivity values .................................42
Typical TN-C-S supply....................................58
U
Unacceptable backfill materials.......................97
Underground corrosion....................................74
Underground Corrosion...................................76
Unearthed or insulated system.........................19
W
Water composition...........................................79
Welded connections.........................................34
Wenner method................................................46
X
XIT Grounding System....................................30
108
Copper Development Association
5 Grovelands Business Centre
Boundary Way
Hemel Hempstead
HP2 7TE
Website: www.cda.org.uk
Email: helpline@copperdev.co.uk

Earthing Practice
CDA Publication 119 February 1997

Members as at 1st January 1997
ASARCO Inc Boliden MKM Ltd Thomas Bolton Ltd Brandeis Ltd The British Non- Ferrous Metals Federation Codelco Services Ltd Gecamines Commerciale IMI plc Inco Europe Ltd Noranda Sales Corporation of Canada Ltd RTZ Limited Southern Peru Copper Corporation ZCCM(UK) Ltd

Acknowledgements
The writing and reproduction of this publication is financed by the members of Copper Development Association, European Copper Institute, and International Copper Association. The contributions by Mr James Regan (for assistance with chapters 3, 5, 13 and 15), Mr Vin Callcut (chapter 12 and assistance with chapter 11) and the helpful comment received from Dr Agnes Segal, Mr Jack Davidson, Mr A M G Minto, Mr R Parr and Mr David Chapman are gratefully acknowledged.

Copper Development Association
Copper Development Association is a non-trading organisation sponsored by the copper producers and fabricators to encourage the use of copper and copper alloys and to promote their correct and efficient application. Its services, which include the provision of technical advice and information, are available to those interested in the utilisation of copper in all its aspects. The Association also provides a link between research and user industries and maintains close contact with other copper development associations throughout the world. Website: www.cda.org.uk Email: helpline@copperdev.co.uk All information in this document is the copyright of Copper Development Association

Copyright:

Disclaimer: Whilst this document has been prepared with care, Copper Development Association can give no warranty regarding the contents and shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising out of its use

Earthing Practice
by Trevor Charlton

Preface
Earthing of electrical networks and installations is important to ensure correct operation. It also serves a vital safety role - facts which are amply reinforced in legislation and codes of practice. Most engineers in power supply, buildings services and instrumentation will need to become familiar with the subject during their career. This may arise when investigating equipment failure, unsatisfactory power quality, interference or ensuring that safe conditions are provided for staff working on electrical equipment. Despite an obvious need, earthing is barely covered during engineering degree courses. It is also difficult to obtain up to date, reliable information on the subject. For example, if one consults books on building services or electrical substation design, the chapter on earthing is almost inevitably a small one - a situation which is almost reversed when one examines the standards which apply. Books which attempted to cover the whole subject are generally quite old, were written before detailed computer analysis was possible and before many of the high frequency and other problems being experienced now were fully understood. For these reasons, earthing has developed an aura, such that it is often described as a black art. It is however a science and there is now a range of software tools and measurement techniques with which it is possible to accurately predict performance. This book has been written to help overcome some of the above difficulties. It is intended to act as an introduction to the subject, explaining the general concepts and providing sufficient background information to help the reader recognise when to seek further advice. The book starts by discussing • • • the reasons for earthing the alternative types of earthing system and legislation.

The main emphasis is on practical application, so chapters on the type of electrode available, how to install, maintain and measure their impedance are included. Being able to predict performance is important at the design stage, but rather than introduce complex formulae, general design guidance is given and some graphs have been included to illustrate the more important factors influencing performance. The coverage has been broadened to include typical earthing system designs for a range of applications and the problems which can be anticipated. The main focus of the book is towards the earth electrode, i.e. that part of the earthing system which is installed in the ground. An efficient earth electrode is required for lightning protection, domestic electrical wiring and large industrial or power plants. The general installation and design aspects for the earth electrode are similar throughout these applications, although the overall earthing system design will differ significantly amongst them. Copper has and continues to be the most widely used material for earthing. Its successful application is reinforced in standards, such as BS 7430, ‘Code of Practice for Earthing’, which states “Copper is one of the better and commonly used materials for earth electrodes and underground conductors” In fact, some standards forbid the use of many other metals for this purpose - especially for the buried earth electrode.

3

Two chapters. the CDA has taken the initiative to provide this book to help users of copper obtain better performance from the material. on the properties of copper and corrosion resistance. 4 .Aware of the need for a readily available source of information. have been included to help with material selection.

.1 Domestic..........................................19 Main Power Network ................................................................................................35 6 Performance of Earth Electrodes.........................4 Rods .................................. .....................................................................................................2 The Legal Situation in the UK ..........................47 Small Area Electrode Systems ...............9 Standards and Legal Framework .........40 5......................2 Earthed systems ..................................................................17 2..3 5.53 Communication facilities ............................................................4 Complex Electrode Arrangements ..................1 Requirements of the Earthing System ..........................3................42 Soil Resistivity .....................................2 5...........................................36 6...........................................................................................................2 6..............................................................................3 6..............2....................1...1 Effect of Electrode Shape........................................................ commercial and industrial premises...................................4.............................................................................................................................................................................33 Brazed connections ...20 3.............................3 Summary of Contents of Main Standards and Codes of Practice ..........1 Impedance earthed system ...............1..................1.... Size and Position .......................................3.........4 6...............................................................................................................1.......Contents 1 2 Introduction ......................1 Philosophy Underlying the Standards .........35 Testing and Inspection Facilities....3 7...........................................................................................................54 Reactors and AC to DC converters ......27 4...........................................................1 Methods of Earthing ..................................................................................................48 Medium Area Electrode Systems .....3..............2 Bonding and Protective Conductors..........................................28 4.........2 7......1................................................................................................................43 Design of Earth Electrode Systems ........................................................................................................................................3.................................2 Future............................................................................................................................................................................4 5 ........2 Low impedance (solidly) earthed system................................................................................................................................................................32 Horizontal Electrodes..38 Increasing the side length of a square earth grid/plate............................1 Existing........6 Installation Methods ....47 Introduction....................31 Introduction...............................................................................................13 2......40 Proximity effect.....................................................2...............................................................................................................................4...2 High and medium voltage electricity substations.................17 2................................................33 Mechanical connections....................................2 6.........................................................................................................................................3 7...........................................................3 6...........................................................................54 Co-generation plants ......27 4........................................................................................................................................................................................................1.......................................................................................................................................................................6.........................3..........................3............................................5 5....................................................................1 7............................ ...........................19 3.........1...............................17 2...........................2 7......1 Earthing on LV Systems and Within Premises.......................................................................................................17 2.......................4 6...............39 Buried depth .............................................1 4.......3 5........................................................................................................................53 Surge diverters...........................20 3.......................34 Exothermic joints.......................2 5.....................................................3.....5 7 7..........................................21 3.............4 5....................21 4 Earth Conductors................................................31 Plates.............................................................................................................................................................................................................3 4.......................................................1 Unearthed or insulated system ......................15 2...................1 7................................................................................................................................................2.......................................1..................3.........................................................................................................................................................................................1.................1 5..................................................34 5............................................................................27 4.....2 3...........2...........................................18 3 3..... ................2 4............................................34 Welded connections.................................................................................................................................................................................. ...................30 5 5........................................................................................4..........................................39 Increasing the radius of an earth rod.........................................5 6..............................................................................................................................................................................36 6.................6............................................29 Electrode Derivatives...................................6.......................33 Connections.........1 Existing.................................55 7...........6...........17 2..................41 Contact Resistance .......................29 Horizontal electrodes ...............2..................32 Backfill................................21 Types of System............................6 Increasing the buried depth of a vertical rod in uniform soil....8 6.36 Increasing the length of a horizontal conductor..................................................................................3.................................................7 5...............................................1.....................1 5....................................3 Earth Electrodes ...................42 Measurement of Soil Resistivity .....4 Fault Current Carrying Capacity ....................................4...... 50 Sites Requiring More Specific Attention ............ ..........................13 2.........................................1 6.......................................19 3..........................1......31 Rods ........................28 Plates......

.....................66 Components of the Lightning Protection System ..............................................3.............................................................3.......................92 Safety ......................................2......................................2 9...........................................58 Typical TN-S Arrangements .....................................................................................................1 Independent fence earthing..4.............................................................3.........74 Types of Corrosion ..........................................2.................2 Lightning Protection of Power Lines ..........................4 13 13................................................2 12..........................................................81 12.......................................................................................................3 13.74 11...5 Capacitor banks/capacitor voltage transformers........................................................................................3 12............................................................2 13........7..............................................................................75 11...............................................................55 7.....................................................................................2 Underground ..........................................................................................................65 The Formation of Lightning .............................................................82 BS EN Standards ...........................................................................................68 Electrical Interference ................................2 9.................................................................................................3 9................................1 8.................94 Artificial Method of Reducing Earth Resistivity ..............56 7..........................................................92 Measurement of Small and Medium Sized Electrodes..................................................71 Corrosion....................74 Introduction ...81 Deoxidised copper ...................................................4.................62 Lightning Protection ...................................................................................................................................4 12 Corrosion Test Field Trials.............................................................................................4..1 In air...............................................................................................................68 9........................2...............................................................................2 12......................................................................1 11..2 Joining Coppers ...87 12..........................................2.......95 Acceptable Low Resistivity Materials ........................................................................................................2 Resistance to Corrosion .............................81 12................................................................................1.............................................................................................1 12......................4 High conductivity coppers .............7 Fence earthing....4 9 9.1 13...............................................................................................................................................................................67 Surge protection devices ...........................................81 Oxygen-free High Conductivity copper ........................................................................................84 Temper designations ...............................................................2 Chemical corrosion ........................2................................................84 Other properties ................................................2 12.......3..................................................................4.......................5 10 10.............................................................................................................................................................1 10............2 10.....................................................82 12.........................................................................................................................................................66 Down leads and bonding conductors ..........................................2....................................3............2 Fence connected to the substation earthing ....................3 8..............3 11......................................................................................65 Risk Assessment........................................1.........................................................................................................................................................................................................................58 Introduction................................96 Bentonite...............................1 9.....................................................................97 14........................................96 Gypsum..............3..............................1 11........................................55 7........................................................................................................4 12......................2...............................................96 Marconite..................................................................................................66 Earth termination .................................2...............................................................1 14............1 Standard Copper Designations.........................1 Coppers..............1...............................................90 Measuring the Impedance of Earth Electrode Systems.................3 12...................................1 14..........................................................................74 11..............................65 Introduction.............................................1 Bimetallic corrosion.........................................................................................................................4 13.......................................................83 Electrical conductivity and resistivity ................................................4 9................................................................56 7....................76 11..............................................................................................................3..................................................61 Arrangements to reduce interference...................................................70 Inductive Coupling ..........81 High Conductivity copper alloys ...4......................................57 8 8.................84 Tensile strength..........69 Resistive Coupling.........................5 Properties.........4......66 Air terminations .........................7.........................4...............................................93 Measurement of Larger Area Electrode Systems....................................................................................................................3 11 11...............................................69 Capacitive Coupling ........................................3 6 ...............................................82 12...................................................2 8.............................................6 Gas insulated switchgear (GIS)......................2..........3 12.3 9.............92 Equipment Required ...7.77 Types of Copper and Typical Applications ...............................75 Atmospheric oxidation................................................1 9.........................................................4..1...................................2.................................4...........................................................................................................................74 11.....74 11.......92 Introduction ....76 Underground corrosion ......................................1 12.....................................................................4 Earthing Design Within Buildings......................58 Integrated Earthing Systems......................................................................................................................................................83 Thermal conductivity ...........95 Introduction .................................5 14 14.......................................................2 14............................

.............................................................................1 15....98 The Philosophy of Maintenance .......4 16 Unacceptable Backfill Materials.................99 Further Reading ................................98 Examination.98 Introduction ......................... 97 Maintenance of Earthing Systems ..................................................................................101 7 .................................................................................................97 14..........................................2 15...................................................................................................................................3 15......................................................................................................................................14.........................................................................................................................2..................................................4 Others.................3 15 15..............98 Inspection................................................................................

........................22 Figure 3-3 Typical TN-C-S (Protective Multiple Earth) Supply .39 Figure 6-5 Resistance v Rod Radius....................70 Figure 10-2 Example illustrating capacitive interference ..............................................................59 Figure 8-2 Typical TN-S installation within a commercial or light industrial property...89 A Guide to the suitability of joining processes for coppers...............................................................50 Figure 7-5 Modern substation mesh type earthing arrangement .......................................................................................................................................................................................................23 Figure 3-6 Typical IT System.......... in accordance with EA TS 41-24 .......23 Figure 3-5 Typical TT System......88 Comparison of Creep Properties .......................................63 Figure 8-5 Hybrid Earthing arrangement to reduce interference (courtesy W J Furse..................................................38 Figure 6-4 Resistance v Square Loop Side Length................................................................51 Figure 7-6 Potential on surface of soil above and around a modern ‘mesh’ type earthing arrangement.............................71 Figure 10-3 Inductive interference ........................................................38 Figure 6-3 Resistance v Horizontal Conductor Length......relatively uniform soil........................................................85 Typical Properties of High Conductivity Copper and Aluminium .................................................................................................................................................................................64 Figure 10-1 Example illustrating resistive interference ............83 New BS EN designations for Wrought Coppers .............45 Figure 6-8 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation ...............................................................................25 Figure 4-1 Earth Plates (courtesy A N Wallis and Co).......................................................................................................................................................................................................14 Figure 2-2 Permitted touch potential.........19 Figure 3-2 Typical T N-S system...................................47 Figure 7-2 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single plate earthing...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................15 Figure 3-1 Capacitive currents in a three-phase system................................................................37 Figure 6-2 Resistance v Rod Length in Multilayer Soil.......................................................................................40 Figure 6-6 Combined Resistance of Two Vertical Rods as Separation Between them is Increased ............................................29 Figure 6-1 Resistance v Rod Length.............................77 Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on Corrosion.......................43 Corrosion Susceptibility of Metals...............................................................................three layer soil ...................................................88 Physical properties of copper .................53 Figure 7-7 Earthing system for a medium-wave radio station ....................................72 Figure 10-4 Reducing inductive interference by using an earthed shield/screen ...............................48 Figure 7-3 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod and perimeter (potential grading) electrode ............................................................................................................................................................................................................61 Figure 8-4 Nested shield type arrangement ...........................................................................54 Figure 8-1 TN-C-S earthing arrangement in a domestic property .............................................................................................49 Figure 7-4 Potential on surface of soil around and within a substation with older design incorporating rods and horizontal electrodes ..................................................... Step and Transfer potentials around an earth rod electrode ............................................................................73 Index Of Tables Table 6-1 Table 11-1 Table 11-2 Table 12-1 Table 12-2 Table 12-3 Table 12-4 Table 12-5 Table 12-6 Typical values of resistivity for different soils .............................................. based on work by Eric Montandon).......................................46 Figure 7-1 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod earthing ..............................................60 Figure 8-3 Earthing problems arising when equipment is interconnected ........41 Figure 6-7 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation ...............................................................78 Present British Standards for Copper and copper Alloys for general and electrical purposes .......................................91 8 .........................24 Figure 3-7 Residual current detector ............................22 Figure 3-4 Typical P N B System..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Index of figures Figure 2-1 Touch...................................................................................................................

Amendment 1. For example in the UK. by which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to the earth or some conducting body of relatively large extent that serves in place of the earth. it is worth noting that in Europe we tend to use the term earthing. requires all systems (i. whether intentional or accidental.1 Introduction It is well known that most electricity systems need to be earthed and this practice probably started in the very first days of electrical experiments. Then. In recent years there have been rapid developments in the modelling of earthing systems at power frequencies and higher. clause 5(1). such that connections to earth occur at almost every point in the electricity system. The need for such a connection is sometimes enshrined in legislation. switching surges or inadvertent contact with higher voltage systems). Custom and practice. Before discussing definitions. Requirements for Electrical Installations) allow for certain unearthed arrangements. whether intentional or accidental. This includes the generating station. whose dimensions are very large in comparison to the electricity system being considered. The IEEE definition of grounding is: “Ground (ground system). then the meaning remains the same. This has increased our understanding of the subject at the same time that the design task has become significantly more difficult and emerging standards are requiring a more detailed. the lines and cables which distribute electricity and the premises at which it is used. There is thus an opportunity to explain earthing concepts more clearly and a need for this to be conveyed to earthing system designers and installers so that a greater understanding may be gained. the term “grounding” is more common. if the generally accepted terms were replaced as below. Transmission and Distribution) to be earthed at one point. whilst in north America. we generally mean an electrical connection to the general mass of earth. the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988. 1994.even sometimes by well qualified engineers. Generation. it is possible to operate an electrical system without an earth. To retain system voltages within reasonable limits under fault conditions (such as lightning. 9 • . and ensure that insulation breakdown voltages are not exceeded. This does not actually extend to the installation within premises and whilst it is still the most common arrangement to earth such installations. Whilst earthing forms an intrinsic part of the electricity system. To ensure that living beings in the vicinity of substations are not exposed to unsafe potentials under steady state or fault conditions. the standards (for example via BS 7671: 1992. by which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to the mass of earth or some conducting body of relatively large extent that serves in place of the mass of earth. it still remains in general a misunderstood subject and is often referred to as a “black art” . The practice has continued and been progressively developed. A conducting connection. mainly facilitated by computer hardware and software. safer design.” As will be described later. so why is the practice of earthing electricity systems so commonplace? The most often quoted reasons for having an earthed system are: • • • To provide a sufficiently low impedance to facilitate satisfactory protection operation under fault conditions.e. A conducting connection.. By earthing.” For use within Europe. as now. “Earth (earth system). the latter being a volume of soil/rock etc. static was discharged by connection to a plate which was in contact with the general mass of earth.

where an earthed shield may be required. Bonding is to ensure that. the enclosure will temporarily also become live. we mean that the return path is predetermined such that damage to equipment or injury to individuals does not occur. If a person is in contact simultaneously with two different pieces of exposed metalwork. The same principle applies within large electricity substations. the impedance of the earthing system should be low enough that sufficient earth fault current can flow to operate protective devices correctly. The second function of the earthing system is to ensure that. as the potential difference between equipment should be insufficient for this to occur. An equipotential ‘platform’ is thus created. a bonding conductor should ensure that the person does not receive a shock. bonding ensures that. Provide an equipotential platform on which electronic equipment can operate. In factories. A means of monitoring the insulation of the power delivery system. e. The earth connection is not of infinite capacity and zero impedance. any fault current which does result can return to source in a controlled manner. the earthing system must generally have a low impedance so that in dispersing or collecting current from the ground. by dissipating electrostatic charges which have built up due to clouds. etc. To provide an alternative path for induced current and thereby minimise the electrical “noise” in cables. Most electrical equipment is housed inside metal enclosures and if a live conductor comes into contact with this. Earthing of electrical installations is primarily concerned with ensuring safety. The required impedance value is normally calculated by the protection designer via 10 . However. should a fault to the frame of a washing machine or cooker develop. bonding of exposed metalwork would normally ensure that an electrical fault to the frame of one machine did not create a potential difference between that and earthed metalwork on an adjacent machine. Any exposed conductive metalwork which can be touched is connected together via bonding conductors. The earthing system is normally designed to provide two safety functions. someone simultaneously touching either of these and the metal sink would not experience an electric shock. in the event of an earth fault.• • Graded insulation can be used in power transformers.for example electronic devices. To stabilise the phase to earth voltages on electricity lines under steady state conditions. should such a fault develop. To limit the voltage to earth on conductive materials which enclose electrical conductors or equipment. It is essential to consider the earthing within a whole installation as one complete system and for this to be designed and installed accordingly. sleet. Less often quoted reasons include: • • • • • • To perform adequately in fulfilling any of the above functions. In other words. To ensure that a fault which develops between the high and low voltage windings of a transformer can be dealt with by primary protection. dust. In the home. then the potential on all exposed conductive metalwork is virtually the same. By a controlled manner. The first is termed bonding. the bonds equalise potential within the site so that the resulting potential differences are minimal. Of course within installations an earth connection is also necessary to ensure the correct operation of equipment .g. an excessive voltage rise does not occur. which will in turn initiate the operation of circuit breakers or fuses to interrupt the flow of current. factories and houses. To eliminate persistent arcing ground faults.

These loops will create potential differences which. through which residual and harmonic currents are dispersed to ground.possibly causing significant damage in the process. and thus prevent a fire or explosion risk. Plastic water pipes have had a particular impact on domestic properties. cause ‘noise’. should also be limited to a pre-determined value. which operate continuously to reduce the field produced outside the case or reduce the impact of external fields on the equipment performance. The previously held belief that these currents could be ‘dumped’ to earth with no adverse consequences is now known to be false. For example. Some equipment contains earthed screens. Plant which was previously energised has to be switched off and its previously live components are connected to earth before any work can commence. sites where large amounts of power are rectified or capacitor banks are switched. Examples include paper manufacturing plants or when explosives or volatile chemicals are present. but may create a high impedance to lightning current. One is the increased use of plastic sheathed underground cables. In recent years. Because a lightning impulse is steep fronted and a source of high frequency currents. This may be sufficient for there to be a ‘flashover’ whereby the current flows through other routes to ground in preference to the designed route . ‘hum’ and possible damage to electronic equipment. An adequate earthing system is a fundamental part of this arrangement. a factory or the home. This process. This allows any stored energy to be discharged safely to ground and helps prevent dangerous voltages arising on the equipment being worked on (these could otherwise occur due to induction. although small.fault analysis programmes and this would be provided to those responsible for the design of the earthing system. In addition. a number of factors have drawn attention to earthing systems. The first is a conventional fault. another the use of plastic water pipes. It is 11 . The equipment can be in a substation. forming a loop. the rise in potential which the earthing system will experience whilst fault current is flowing. errors or power system faults). together with the increasing amount of harmonic current being injected into the public supply network. bends in above ground conductors will form a small inductance which will be insignificant at power frequency. in this way must return to source.g. Plastic sheathed cables are now used instead of the previous types which had a lead sheath and steel armouring in direct contact with the soil. which used to place great reliance on the earthing facility provided by the older metal pipes. special earthing system designs are again necessary. We term these "power frequency" faults. The earthing system must be specially designed to provide a low impedance at these frequencies. including the earth electrodes installed at all electricity substations. For example. e. but they are required to meet a wide range of different problems. is a growing cause of significant power quality problems. A popular misconception is that the earthing system is only required during fault conditions. that arising from damage to a cable or breakdown of the phase to earth insulation in a piece of equipment. since most of the energy dissipated in the fault will be at mains frequency (50 Hz). These are the functions that the earthing system must provide. many power supplies now include a connection to earth. The earthing system is also used as a means of achieving safe working conditions during some types of maintenance or construction. In fact it also serves a number of vital roles during routine operation. In some locations. Many electrical installations are prone to the risk of damage as a result of a lightning strike and special arrangements are necessary to reduce the risks involved. such as radio or television transmitters. This has had a detrimental effect on the overall efficiency of earthing systems and placed more reliance on the remaining components of the earthing system. then energy will be available at higher frequencies than normal. In some industrial premises the earthing system is required to continuously discharge the build up of static. Currents which flow to ground.

Copper is the most widely used material for these earthing systems. offices and factories. Clearly. i. the electricity company substations (at which the supply voltages are changed) through to the electrical installations in homes. Its well tried and tested properties of relatively low electrical resistance. 12 .e. at the generating station.now more important than before to ensure that the earth electrode systems are correctly designed. installed and maintained. the earthing system performs a wide range of similar functions throughout all the stages of providing electricity. malleability and good corrosion resistance have ensured that it has been the preferred material for very many years.

When an earth fault occurs and current flows to ground via the earth electrode. where it would be the potential difference between points A1 and A2) and would fall rapidly with each successive step (for example it is lower at position B1. If a person is in contact with exposed metalwork and is standing on the soil. The potential difference between the feet would be higher near the rod (for example at position A1. in uniform soil conditions.e. the “touch” potential. The potential reached under severe fault conditions. as the approach in the standards has moved towards that of north American practice. it was established practice to design the earthing system to achieve a certain impedance value and the main electrodes were usually positioned near the equipment where fault current was expected to pass (for example transformers). i. all of the exposed metal connected to this will experience a rise of voltage. Readers should note that there are differences in the design limits appertaining to the supply industry and consumer electrical installations. This has changed during the last ten years. For small systems. the standards provide the design limits to be met and (together with supporting codes of practice) explain how the earthing system can be designed to meet these. which is the potential difference between two points on the surface of the soil which are one metre apart. the potential will progressively reduce until eventually it becomes that of true earth. For example.2 Standards and Legal Framework 2.e. whilst their feet will be at a lower 13 . how to connect items of equipment or where to position the electrodes. This attempts to explain the potentials involved.1 Philosophy Underlying the Standards As a general rule. B1-B2) before leveling out some distance away. by an amount dependent on the buried depth of the electrode and the horizontal distance away. or the potential gradient. the GPR is approximately 420V. the shock voltage limits are lower within electrical installations than in supply industry substations. It is important to refer to the appropriate standard to check the design limits which apply to each situation. Previously. then their hands will be at same potential as the GPR. Imagine that a person is walking away from the rod in a straight line towards a remote (reference) earth. This effect is recognised in the standards and is the basis of the term “step potential”.for example. this is assumed to be the same value on all metalwork and is referred to as the GPR (Grid Potential Rise). can be several thousand Volts. in a semi-structural way. down the potential “slope”. the potential within the soil and on its surface will rise. This situation is shown in Figure 2-1. We have recognised that the potential on the surface of the soil differs according to the position in relation to the electrode system. Whilst fault current is flowing through the impedance of the earthing system. based on supply industry practice. has been illustrated in three dimensions. taking equally spaced steps. Moving away from the electrode system towards a remote point. They generally include formulae to enable the necessary calculations to be carried out or detailed guidance on practical aspects . i. where the potential rise on the surface of the soil surrounding a single vertical earth rod. The situation described for a single rod is similar to that for all electrode systems and the step potential is highest in the area immediately beyond the buried electrodes. In the example shown in Figure 2-1. Reference to Figure 2-1 shows that the rate of reduction of soil surface potential. Step potential is a directional quantity and calculations are required to find the highest value in a full 360 degree radius. This has implications for the second type of potential difference. In this chapter the potentials on which the design limits are based will be described. The most significant change is that now the earthing system must be designed to ensure that the potentials in its vicinity during a fault are below the appropriate limits. is greatest near the rod and reduces as one moves away towards a remote point. the potential on the electrode and any equipment connected to it. The potential at a point on the surface of the soil will be lower than this. As the earth fault current flows into the soil surrounding the electrode. will rise above true earth potential.

At present. above which additional precautions are required. It is also important to ensure that a potential difference cannot be experienced between hands which are in simultaneous contact with different pieces of exposed metalwork and this is catered for by inter-equipment bonding as discussed in chapter 4. transfer potential limits are set by communication directives. The same transfer potential would be present if an insulated cable were taken from the rod to a remote point. curves C1 and C2 of IEC 479-1. This potential difference will be lowest if the feet are directly above the buried rod and will increase as they move further away. 14 . The highest value of transfer potential is thus the GPR and this is the value normally used for calculations. For example. below which the design is considered acceptable. Figure 2-1 shows that the touch voltage is significantly higher at position B1 than at position A1. if an insulated cable which is connected to a remote (reference) earth. Step and Transfer potentials around an earth rod electrode Finally. where metalwork connected to a remote (reference) earth electrode system was present. the potential difference between the cable and the rod is called the “transfer potential”. The standards attempt to take these factors into account and establish limits. The touch potential is normally the potential which dictates the design of the earth electrode system within an outdoor substation and it will be greatest in areas furthest away from buried electrodes where it is still possible to touch exposed metalwork. Figure 2-1 Touch. In UK standards. In arriving at the present limits. for two probability levels. the current required for different time durations to cause ventricular fibrillation in a human. depending on the type of installation. including the GPR. They are 430 V and 650 V in the UK.potential. Effects of Current Passing Through the Human Body) are used. it was necessary to predict the proportion of current which would flow in the region of the heart and then establish limits based on its magnitude and duration. is brought near the rod. Whether a person experiencing any of these potentials is at risk depends on a range of factors. examples of earth electrode arrangements are discussed and the new arrangements attempt to reduce touch voltages. In chapter 7. These curves illustrate. The ultimate risk of these potentials is that they will be sufficient to cause an electric shock which causes ventricular fibrillation of the heart. 1989 (International Electrotechnical Committee.

hand contact resistance.2 The Legal Situation in the UK The main three pieces of safety legislation applicable are the ‘Health and Safety at Work etc. 4. These factors are all taken into account in the standards and Figure 2-2 has been included to illustrate typical limits. assuming 100 Ohm-metre surface soil. From Figure 2-2 it is evident that a relatively high voltage can be tolerated for short periods. A second curve shows the effect of having a high resistivity surface covering on top of the soil. it is necessary to consider the impedance through which the current will flow. 15 . Clearly this applies to the situation where an employee is required to work in a location where adverse electrical potentials may be experienced during fault conditions. Act. 1974’. the designer would use the formulae and techniques described in the standards or codes of practice to arrive at a design which has touch potentials lower than the applicable limits. a 1.000 Ohm body impedance. This shows the tolerable voltage limits according to EA TS 41-24 (see section 2.2). Curve C1 of IEC 479-1 is used. 2.3. Breaches of these constitute a criminal offence and would leave an individual or company liable to prosecution.The design limits are stated as voltages and in arriving at appropriate limits. the ‘Electricity at Work Regulations. but note that the x and y axes have been transposed in this figure to make it easier to understand. There are presently differences between the limits stated in Standards and it is hoped that one set will soon be available. It should be pointed out that voltage limits are presently being debated in both European and National Standard making committees. any footwear resistance and the resistivity of the surface material underneath the feet. in accordance with EA TS 41-24 In designing the earthing system. safety and welfare. This comprises of the human body impedance. The Health and Safety at Work Act places duties on the employer and employee regarding health.000 Ohm footwear impedance and a foot contact resistance of 300 Ohm. Figure 2-2 Permitted touch potential. 1989’ and the recent ‘Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994’.

Electricity companies are required to adhere to the ‘Electricity Supply Regulations. Suitable precautions and metal casings around machinery are discussed. Regulation 8 requires that exposed metalwork (such as that enclosing or supporting equipment) is to be earthed where necessary to prevent danger. The Distribution Code states "Arrangements for connecting the system with earth shall be designed to comply with the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988". The standards. The CDM regulations apply to all projects and require that a safe working environment is provided during construction and maintenance. codes of practice and regulations are in the regulatory and commercial domain. so the regulations apply over the lifetime of the installation. Since earthing is a fundamental component in providing safety in relation to electricity. Where a dangerous occurrence takes place. amongst others. Adequate records are required in the form of drawings and a historical record of maintenance. It refers to solid and impedance earthing but does not mention unearthed systems. repair or renovation should be highlighted in a Health and Safety file which is retained by the occupier/duty holder of the site. called the ‘PES licence’. Potential risks during maintenance. The code covers earthing and refers specifically to a number of British Standards and other Codes of Practice.The Electricity at Work Regulations deal with safety during the installation and use of electricity. the earthing system condition is one of the factors covered in the reporting procedure. it undoubtedly means that the earthing system comes within the scope of the regulations. as amended’ and are licensed to enable them to distribute electricity within their geographical area. requires companies to advise on the method of earthing it has adopted and that they abide by the Electricity Supply Regulations and the ‘Distribution Code’. Failure to abide by them could have serious financial consequences. Regulation 5 requires that high and low voltage systems are earthed. In Regulation 8 they specifically refer to earthing. 16 . which are described below. Earthing is covered in regulations 4 to 8 of the Electricity Supply Regulations. 1988. Maintenance is normally an on-going task. The licence.

2 High and medium voltage electricity substations 2. Some safety limits are introduced. and material selection.3. but there are a number of publications produced by the Institutions which serve this purpose. Guidance note number 5 concerns protection against electric shock and a significant amount of the text is concerned with earthing. ratings. The core technical reference document for the electricity supply industry in Britain.1.500 V dc .3.1 Existing BS 7354:1990 Code of Practice for Design of high-voltage open-terminal stations. Applies to all aspects of new electrical installations and requires that older installations are re-appraised when they are extended. maintenance and measurement of the earthing system. testing and maintenance of main earthing systems in substations. 2. current distribution formulae and nomograms. It includes resistance formulae. commercial and industrial premises (i.between phases. BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for Earthing This is. Guidance is given for the earthing of many specific applications including protection of solid state devices against static electricity. The Institution of Incorporated Executive Engineers also publish an illustrated Guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations. which helps explain many practical applications. 17 . including some formulae. Requirements for Electrical Installations.1 Existing BS 7671 1992. It supersedes ER S5/1 and covers the design of substation earthing. It applies to all land based systems except medical equipment.3 Summary of Contents of Main Standards and Codes of Practice 2. installations up to 1. Section 7: Earthing This covers substation construction and design considerations and includes some formulae. (This is also known as the IEE Wiring Regulations.e. with some minor exceptions).2. EA Technical Specification 41-24:1992 (Issued 1994) Guidelines for the design. Guidelines are given for the construction. 1994. EA Engineering Recommendation S.34:1986 A guide for assessing the rise of earth potential at substation sites. 2. in effect. The Institution of Electrical Engineers publish a series of guidance notes.2. Whilst it applies to all aspects.34. It covers construction and measurement and includes resistance formulae.3. They help to illustrate practical arrangements which satisfy the regulations. and ER S.3. 16th Edition). earthing comprises a significant part of the document because of the safety implications. This document is intended to be used in conjunction with BS 7430. the technical supplement to BS 7354.000 V ac and 1.1 Domestic. There is not a formal code of practice to support the BS. Amendment 1.

18 . 80: 1986 IEEE Guide for safety in ac substation grounding. This is an attempt to standardise earthing practices in Europe and is likely to come into effect in 1996 as a framework type document. The basis of the design of the earthing system is a series of tables giving the relevant criteria for different systems. It covers soil modelling. It is likely to establish general rules but not include detailed technical application guidance. ANSI/IEEE Std. e. The German earthing standard. Chapter 9 deals with earthing systems. One possible change involves the allowable potentials. fault current distribution. inspection and maintenance are also covered. It will be necessary for all the present British Standards and Codes of Practice to be reviewed and amended once this comes into force.3.2 Future prEN 50179 Power Installations Exceeding 1 kV ac or 1. probably involving additional electrodes. General principles are introduced and some resistance formulae given. In turn. A comprehensive USA standard which covers design and technical aspects. worked examples and special considerations. Other relevant standards are: DIN VDE 0141: 1989 Technical Help to Exporters Translation Earthing systems for power installations with rated voltages above 1 kV. 35mm² for aluminium and 50 mm² for steel. arising from power and electrified rail systems. and draft documents indicate that this may be lower than the present ones. CCITT Directives These mainly involve electromagnetic interference in telecommunication cables. Gas insulated switchgear (GIS).2.g.5 kV dc This is a new European standard. this will require a more detailed design of the earthing systems.2. Construction. Minimum cross sectional areas for earth conductors are 16 mm² for copper. presently in near final draft form and currently called CLC TC/112. This standard is generally considered to be stringent in its approach.

3 Methods of Earthing 3. a separate earth is required at each voltage level. the earth connection should be as near as possible to the source of voltage. for example the coil of a measuring device. in general. These include unearthed. Figure 3-1 Capacitive currents in a three-phase system 19 . in the UK. These different arrangements are described in more detail below:3. high impedance earthed and low impedance earthed arrangements. This can arise due to static. if any. with a three-phase system. formal connection to earth. unearthed networks can become unreliable due to over-stressing of the insulation which surrounds cables or lines.1 Main Power Network Earthing on the power network will be considered first. In the case of high voltage systems. is then at. earth potential. The neutral point. although the earths from different voltage networks are often combined. Generally. use of small earth conductors and high impedances on other systems can come as a surprise. Under normal conditions the capacitance between each phase and earth is substantially the same. In the UK and most of Europe. There may be some high impedance connections for instrumentation. induction or intermittent faults. as the method of earthing this strongly influences the method subsequently chosen within buildings. In theory.1. This requires that each part of the power network (i. the voltage of each phase to earth is the star voltage of the system. the main power network does not have to be earthed and sometimes arguments are put forward that an unearthed network may be more reliable.1 Unearthed or insulated system This does not have a deliberate. There are a number of ways in which the power system can be operated. or near. Regulation 5 concerns connection with earth. each voltage level) be connected to earth. (see Figure 3-1). They are quite different concepts and to those who are familiar with the relatively large earth conductors and low earth values on traditional systems.e. For example. The effect is to stabilise the system with respect to earth so that. In some cases this can be true but. the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988. the main power networks are earthed.

then an ungrounded system may have some advantages. and the trapped charge scenario. in order to deal with single phase to ground faults. the actual voltages measured have been 3 or 4 times the normal voltage.Faults on overhead distribution lines are not uncommon. of that occurring at normal voltage.2.1 Impedance earthed system Resistors and/or reactors are deliberately inserted in the connection between the neutral point and earth. particularly during bad weather conditions when branches of trees may fall onto the lines. the unearthed system may appear to be a safer and more reliable system. be high enough that little more fault current flows than in an unearthed situation. This is due to a trapped charge effect on the neutral. high circulating currents and over-voltages can occur. the insulation applied between each phase conductor and earth is likely to need increasing to at least the same as that between different phases. This is different to an earthed system. 20 . 3. This will stress the phase to earth insulation and may cause accelerated ageing and breakdown. The charge is progressively built up with each subsequent arc and can produce voltages which can be sufficiently high to overseers insulation by 6 to 7 times (in theory).1.e. The capacitive current flowing at the fault point is three times the normal capacitive current to earth from each phase of the whole system. The main types are:3.g. the star point or neutral. Resonance can cause over-voltages on this type of system. to prevent the neutral to earth voltage fluctuating with load. returning via capacitive coupling to the other two phases. The earth connection reduces the voltage fluctuation and unbalance which would otherwise occur. i. The damage due to the first fault is likely to be slight. At first sight. in theory.2 Earthed systems An earthed system has at least one conductor or point (usually the neutral or star point) intentionally connected to earth. normally to limit the fault current to an acceptable level. The probability of a second fault is higher than generally thought. involving. Another advantage is that residual relays can be used to detect faults before they become phase to phase faults. The type of earthed system is classified according to the type of connection provided. The system already has a high capacitance and if a phase conductor is connected to earth via a connection having a high inductance (e. However. The introduction of an unearthed system into the UK would require a change in the Electricity Supply Regulations. If continuity of supply is an important factor for the distribution system. This can reduce the actual damage caused and the stresses imposed on other parts of the electrical network. where a significant current would flow. In reality a current would flow in the unearthed system. A second fault is likely to involve considerable fault energy and damage. there may be no damage as there is not a complete metallic circuit to enable current to flow. Power companies often find that it is time consuming to locate faults on this type of system. This method is adopted if there is a need to connect line to neutral loads to the system. It is thus important to remove the first fault as quickly as possible. An intermittent arcing fault which has a high impedance can cause similar high voltages leading to equipment failure. The impedance can.e. an increase of √3 in magnitude). then resonance. say a contact between a conductor and earth. an instrument transformer).1.. the current could be sufficient to risk electrocution if someone was to touch the damaged conductor. dust etc. However. this connection is normally made near the position where the three individual transformer phase windings are joined. For reasons of cost and practicality. When the first incident occurs. as the voltage across the remaining insulation will be phase to phase level rather than phase to earth (i. since the total current is still relatively small. In practice. due to weather conditions.

2. have significantly lower maintenance costs and cool down more quickly than liquid resistors following the passage of fault current. 1. The disadvantage of this arrangement is that the earth fault current is normally high. The use of auto reclosing circuit breakers has reduced the use of this method of earthing generally in high and medium voltage systems. also known as Peterson coils or ground fault neutralisers. In new installations. the low voltage system and the wiring within premises must be considered.000 or 1.500 A liquid earth resistors (LERs) installed in various combinations to limit the earth fault current.2 Low impedance (solidly) earthed system This is the most common arrangement.1 Types of System There are a number of methods by which an earth connection can be given and there are now standard definitions for these in Europe. but the system voltages remain suppressed or low under fault conditions. Please note that the earth electrodes in the diagrams include a resistor symbol to show that the electrode has an impedance. particularly at low voltage. This form of earthing has a lower energy dissipation than resistive earthing. direct connection to earth N : neutral C : combined S : separate The main types are described below and diagrams have been provided to explain these in more detail. those which are prone to a high number of transient faults. particularly those at 11 kV. can be used as the earth connection. TN-S The incoming supply has a single point of connection between the supply neutral and earth at the supply transformer. Here the neutral/earth connection is through an adequate connection in which no impedance has intentionally been added. To protect against the possible loss of the neutral/earth connection from the source.g. or PE conductor. it is now more common to use ceramic type resistors. In UK distribution systems. 3. The supply cables have separate neutral and earth protective conductors (SNE) Generally the neutral conductor is a fourth ‘core’ and the earth conductor forms a protective sheath. it is common to find 750. These require less space. for example. which is predominantly resistive. 3.1. (Protective Multiple Earthing) where there is no separate formal earth conductor. Arc-suppression coils.2 Earthing on LV Systems and Within Premises Having dealt with the type of earthing available on the Power System. the Hungarian 20 kV system. 3.2. They are each identified by a coding which contains the following letters: T : terre. Resistance earthing is more commonly used. because it can allow the fault current to be limited and damp transient over-voltages. inductive earthing needs to allow at least 60% of the 3 phase short circuit capacity to flow for earth faults. the neutral is earthed at several positions (thus the term "multiple"). The customer may be provided 21 . Due to the self-clearing nature of this type of earthing it is effective in certain circumstances on medium voltage overhead systems. if the correct value of resistance is chosen. e. These are tuned reactors which neutralise the capacitive coupling of the healthy phases. The prime example on newer supply systems in the UK is PME. so that fault current is minimal.In practice. to avoid excessive transient over-voltages due to resonance with the system shunt capacitance. The neutral conductor carries unbalance current and acts as the earth conductor.

Figure 3-2 Typical T N-S system Supply Single Point Earthed. is provided by the electricity supplier. is bonded together in the manner prescribed in the Regulations. Before the customer is allowed to make use of the earth terminal. An earth terminal. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-3. The supply cables have a combined neutral and earth metallic outer sheath with a PVC covering (they are termed CNE cables). Customer provided with earth terminal from the sheath of the service cable. TN-C-S The supply neutral is earthed at a number of points. but the neutral is 22 . normally exposed metalwork (such as water.e.). This is a variation of the TN-C-S system in that the customer is provided with an earth terminal connected to the supply neutral. The supply within the customers premises would be TN-S.with an earth terminal connected to the sheath of the service cable or to a separate earth conductor. the neutral and earth would be separate. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-2. linked only at the service position. Customer provided with earth terminal connected to the service neutral. SNE Mains and Service Cables. which is connected to the supply neutral. CNE Mains and Service cables. i. central-heating pipes etc. PNB Protective Neutral Bonding. The combined neutral earth sheath is the PEN (protective earth neutral) conductor. gas. This was a standard arrangement prior to the introduction of protective multiple earthing (PME) systems. the supplier must be satisfied that all internal. Figure 3-3 Typical TN-C-S (Protective Multiple Earth) Supply Neutral earthed by Supplier at a number of locations.

Customer provides own earth which is 23 . The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-5. This arrangement is reserved for use when a customer has an individual transformer and is no longer listed in BS 7671.connected to earth at one point only. The remaining two systems are:TT This is a system where the supply is earthed at one point only. Figure 3-4 Typical P N B System Customer has own transformer. but the cable sheaths and exposed metalwork of the customer’s installation are connected to earth via a separate electrode which is independent of the supply electrode. Figure 3-5 Typical TT System Supply is earthed at one point only. independent of the supply earth. The arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3-4. Single point neutral earth CNE cables used. normally at or near to the customer’s supply point.

provide his own protection against the dangers of an earth fault. This standard is based upon the 16th edition of the Institution of Electrical Engineers Regulations for Electrical Installations. One way in which this can be achieved is by using an earth leakage detector and circuit breaker. All exposed conductive parts of the installation are connected to an independent earth. BS 7671 still requires a main earth terminal and the Electricity at Work Regulations will probably be applicable. where they will be able to find the subject adequately covered. and a system of protection which removes the fault condition. but with the exposed conductive parts of the installation being earthed. Not remissible for public supply in the UK. See Figure 3-6. Sometimes a high impedance connection to earth is provided to simplify the protection scheme required to detect the first earth fault. However. Although it is now normal practice for all electricity suppliers in the UK to provide each customer with an earth terminal. It is not however the intention of this book to describe earthing within buildings in detail as there are already a large number of publications which cover this. so an earth connection is not a statutory requirement and unearthed systems (IT) are permitted and used in special circumstances. Figure 3-6 Typical IT System Source isolated from earth or connected to earth through a high impedance. Readers are referred to the publications listed in chapter 16. This device still requires a connection to earth and detects when an earth 24 .IT This is a system having no direct connection between live parts and earth. The Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 do not apply. The principle is more commonly known as protective bonding and will be covered in a little more detail in chapter 4. Earthing arrangements within buildings in the UK should conform to British Standard 7671. and secondly to provide measures to protect against indirect contact. The latter involves effective earthing and bonding. for a variety of reasons not every customer has been given this facility. The customer must. The underlying principle is first to take all reasonable precautions to avoid a direct contact with live electrical parts. where the installation does not form part of the public network. however.

or difference. It then causes a circuit breaker (or trip) to operate and isolate the faulty circuit.fault occurs in a circuit. the voltage detecting device has been considered to be unreliable. Under the 1989 Electricity at Work Regulations. the RCD contacts open. When used in this way. This unit operates by detecting the residue. It should be noted that RCDs do not react to overload. such as fuses or miniature (over-current) circuit breakers. The recognised device is the current operated detector known either as the Residual Current Device (RCD) or the Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB). the Health and Safety commission have issued two approved Codes of Practice:(i) (ii) The use of Electricity in Mines. the detectors were voltage sensors i. e. However. The unit can be designed to be ultra sensitive. Figure 3-7 Residual current detector In addition to providing main earth fault protection. with very high speed operation for use in special situation. (See Figure 3-7).such as a lawn-mower or hedge trimmer. RCDs are also used extensively in conjunction with conventional protection. between the current flowing into and returning from a source. When the residual current exceeds a predetermined value.g. There are some locations where special earthing arrangements are necessary.e. 25 . for many years. These include:(a) Mines and Quarries. A test button is incorporated. they detected a rise in voltage on the earthed structure. hospitals. A particular application for RCD protection is on the circuit providing supply to equipment which uses a trailing lead . The use of Electricity at Quarries. RCDs provide “Supplementary Protection against Direct Contact”. it did not protect against phase to neutral faults and its use is no longer recognised by BS 7671. so additional protection is required for this. Initially.

structures against lightning’. This is covered in BS 6651.Detailed direction is given in these documents on the earthing arrangements which must be made. This is covered in BS 5655. (e) (f) Temporary installations. A new Institute of Petroleum document is presently being prepared on this subject. (b) At Petrol Filling Stations. ‘Safety rules for construction and installation of lifts’. 26 . (c) Lightning Protection of Buildings. ‘Protection of (d) Lift Installations. Caravan sites and marinas. The Health and Safety Executive have issued Publication HSE (41) covering the electrical installations at petrol filling stations.

4 Earth Conductors
Having introduced the wide variety of earthing arrangements possible, it is now necessary to consider the earthing system itself. The most important functions of the earth conductors are explained and some definitions introduced. The different types of earth electrode available are described and surprisingly the same types are generally used whether the earthing system is for a house, factory or generating station.

4.1 Requirements of the Earthing System
The function of the earthing system is two-fold. • To provide a low enough impedance path, via the earth conductors, back to the supply source so that in the event of a failure to earth of a live conductor, sufficient current will flow safely along a predetermined route to enable the circuit protective device to operate. To limit the potential rise on all metalwork to which persons and animals normally have access, to a safe value under normal and abnormal circuit conditions. The bonding together of all normally exposed metalwork, such as gas, water, central-heating pipework etc., and the connection of that bond to the earth terminal, will prevent the possibility of a dangerous potential difference arising between adjoining pipework under both normal and abnormal conditions.

There are two main types of earth conductor, which are “bonding” (also referred to as protective) conductors and earth electrodes.

4.2 Bonding and Protective Conductors
Within the regulations, a number of definitions have developed to describe the different types of earth conductor used. The practical application of these conductors within buildings will be discussed again in chapter 8. The types are:Circuit Protective Conductor (CPC) This is a separate conductor installed with each circuit and is present to ensure that some, or all, of the earth fault current will flow back to source along it. It may be an individual conductor, the metal outer sheath of a cable or the metalwork formed by a conduit or trunking. Bonding Conductors These ensure that exposed conductive parts (such as metal enclosures) remain at approximately the same potential during electrical fault conditions. The two forms of bonding conductor are:• Main equipotential bonding conductors which interconnect together and to earth, exposed conductive parts which do not normally carry current, but could do so under a fault condition. These bonds normally connect exposed incoming metal gas and water pipes, the main services and main structural steelwork to the earthing system. Within installations, to comply with BS 7671, these bonds must be of a certain minimum size (at least 6 mm2), and generally do not need to be greater than 25 mm2 copper, unless the supply is PME. If the supply is PME, then the required size will be related to that of the incoming neutral conductor (see BS 7671, table 54 and Note). Supplementary bonding conductors are to ensure that electrical equipment and other items of conductive material in specific zones are bonded together and remain at substantially the same potential. They are used in addition to the main equipotential bonding conductors and circuit protective conductor.

27

Bonding and earth conductors within electricity substations need to be of sufficient size that they can carry a certain amount of fault current for three seconds, without damage. The table below shows some of the more common sizes of tape used for both bonding and “in ground” electrodes. The current rating shown is that calculated according to the formula in EA TS 41-24. The ratings are based on an ambient temperature of 30°C, three seconds fault duration and maximum temperatures of 375°C and 295°C for copper and aluminium respectively. Different formulae are applicable, according to the situation, so the standards should always be consulted before assigning a current rating. Also, an allowance for some material loss by corrosion over the life of the installation should be made.
Maximum current kA 12.0 18.5 22.0 Tape cross section (mm) Copper 4 x 25 4 x 40 4 x 50 Tape cross section (mm) Aluminium 4 x 40 6 x 40 6 x 50

For bonding conductors, it is essential that the conductor size chosen is capable of dealing with the full value of anticipated fault current. If a fault develops, the whole of the fault current may flow through via the earth conductor through to the “in ground” electrode system. Once there, it will normally be split up between the various electrodes, so these can often have a smaller cross sectional area than the main earth or bonding conductor.

4.3 Earth Electrodes
The earth electrode is the component of the earthing system which is in direct contact with the ground and thus provides a means of releasing or collecting any earth leakage currents. In earthed systems it will normally be required to carry quite a large fault current for a short period of time and so will need to have a cross-sectional area large enough to be able to carry this safely. Electrodes must have adequate mechanical and electrical properties to continue to meet the demands on them over a relatively long period of time, during which actual testing or inspection is difficult. The material should have good electrical conductivity and should not corrode in a wide range of soil conditions. Materials used include copper, galvanised steel, stainless steel and cast iron. Copper is generally the preferred material for reasons described later. Aluminium is sometimes used for above ground “bonding”, but most of the standards forbid its use as an earth electrode due to the risk of accelerated corrosion. The corrosive product - an oxide layer - is non-conductive, so could reduce the effectiveness of the earthing. The electrode can take a number of forms. These include vertical rods, plates and horizontal conductors, the most common of which are described below. 4.3.1 Rods These are the most common form of electrode, because they are relatively cheap to install and can be used to reach into deeper, low resistivity soil with only limited excavation and backfilling. They are available in a range of lengths, diameters and materials complying with the Electricity Association Technical Specification 43-94. The rod is either of pure copper or copper plated steel. The plated type is normally used when mechanical driving is necessary, since the steel used has high tensile strength. The copper plating should be of high purity copper and electrolytically applied. The latter helps ensure that the copper plating does not slip off during driving! Solid copper rods are used in more aggressive soil conditions, for example when there is a high salt content. Stainless steel rods (austenitic steel to BS 970, grade 316S12) are more anodic than copper and can be used

28

where galvanic corrosion is possible. However, stainless steel has poor current carrying capabilities in comparison to copper and this must be taken into account. There are threaded portions at each end of the rod which allow a pointed spike, a hardened (high strength steel) driving head or additional rods to be screwed on. Rolled threads are stronger than cut threads and it is important for plated rods that the plating is intact across the threaded section. Some manufacturers also have a cross head drilling spike which is particularly useful if the rod couplings have a greater diameter than the rod. It is claimed that this type of head permits driving to greater depth. Rods are readily available in diameters of 15 mm to 20 mm diameter (solid copper) and 9.5 mm to 20 mm diameter (Copper Bond). Lengths are 1.2 to 3 metres for individual rods. Shielded sections of rod are also available for use when, for example, there is a highly corrosive layer of soil through which a deep driven rod must pass. The shielding would be of, say, PVC to prevent contact between the rod and the corrosive soil. Of course this section will not contribute towards reducing the impedance value, because it is not in contact with the soil. 4.3.2 Plates There are several types of plate used for earthing purposes, but the only type which is generally considered as an electrode would be solid and of substantial size. Lattice type plates, as illustrated in Figure 4-1 are used for potential grading and would not be expected to pass significant amounts of fault current. They are normally made of copper or steel mesh.
Figure 4-1 Earth Plates (courtesy A N Wallis and Co)

Plate electrodes are of copper or ribbed cast iron. The cast iron plates normally are a minimum of 12 mm thick and either 915 mm or 1,220 mm square. Copper plates are typically 600 mm to 900 mm square and between 1.6 mm and 3 mm thick. Where multiple plates are used, they must be some distance apart to prevent any interaction. Normally this is a minimum of 2 m, possibly extending to 9 m. 4.3.3 Horizontal electrodes These are made from high conductivity copper strip or stranded conductor. Strip is normally the preferred material as it has a larger surface for a given cross section area and is considered to have a superior performance at higher frequencies, due to a slightly higher capacitance when installed in the soil. It can be more difficult to connect (for example to vertical earth rods), so may involve a slightly higher installation cost.

29

30 . An earth pit may comprise of several large pipes inserted vertically into the soil. 4. Because of the anticipated cost of removing it. The electrode consists of a 50 mm diameter copper tube. called Calsolyte. In time. solid or stranded conductors are available. Breather holes are drilled into the top. ‘Specifications for copper for electrical purposes: high conductivity copper rectangular conductors with drawn or rolled edges’ . available in lengths up to 6 metres. stranded conductor would be used elsewhere (see chapter 7). BS 1432. an electrolyte solution is formed which travels to the bottom of the tube. They include earth pits and ground reservoirs. A ground reservoir is typically a cavity at a position where moisture collects. The electrolyte thus forms “roots” into the surrounding soil which help to maintain its resistivity at a low level. The moisture in the absorbed air comes into contact with the Calsolyte and. Strip which is installed underground is normally fully annealed (ref. They are bonded together and surrounded by low resistivity material.C101) so that it can be bent easily. strip is often used for the electrodes which will be required to carry most current (i.3. which is filled with scrap metal and other conductive material. via a hygroscope process. and drainage holes into the bottom. droplets of water are formed.4 Electrode Derivatives There are some interesting derivatives available which include a number of ideas which it is claimed improve the performance of an earth electrode. Perhaps the most expensive electrode of this type is situated underneath the English Channel.e. sufficient electrolyte is formed such that it flows through the drainage holes into the surrounding soil by osmosis. An example of a derivative is the XIT Grounding System.2 for a description of this material). The backfill material recommended is Bentonite (see section 14. The hollow shaft is partly filled with coarse metallic salts. For above ground purposes PVC sheathed strip. The device functions as follows: Changes in atmospheric pressure and natural air movement ‘pump’ air through the breather holes at the top of the tube. One of the boring machines used for the channel tunnel has been used for this purpose. Tinned or lead covered copper tape is also available for special applications.To reduce overall costs. the perimeter electrode and main plant connections) whilst smaller. it was directed downwards and is now used for earthing. As the moisture accumulates. and the top and bottom of the tube sealed with caps.

The diameter of the rod is a major factor in the effort needed to install it. and any joints or connectors used below ground level must be so constructed that corrosion of the joint/connector will not take place. little surface disturbance is required (such as breaking of concrete or tarmac surfaces) .5 Installation Methods 5. so the diameter must be increased to ensure that the rod has sufficient mechanical strength particularly at joint positions. to help prevent corrosion. Relatively short. hydraulic oil.but it is not known how straight they are! They have sometimes been known to bend and break back through the surface of the soil some distance away. there are three conditions which must be satisfied:• • • the work must be carried out efficiently to minimise installation costs. A typical electric hammer would have a consumption of 500 watts and deliver about 1500 blows per minute and some designs do not require a rig. on the actual soil conditions. of course.5 metres per minute in stiff clay. they are normally either welded or mechanically coupled together. 31 . the installation rate for an 11 mm diameter rod may be 3. or air driven tools have all been used successfully for this. frequent blows are normally the most effective. The time taken to install the rod will vary according to the soil type. Smaller (9 mm diameter) rods are relatively easy to install. mechanical driving and drilling.. Electric. Doubling the rod diameter from 12 mm to 24 mm increases the mechanical resistance to driving by more than three times. directed inertia. or this will make installation more difficult and produce a hole with a wider diameter than the rod.5 metres per minute. Where the rods are to be deep driven. but using a pneumatic hammer which requires much less physical effort and provides a more certain. in loose sand/gravel. The rods are normally fitted with a hardened driving head and a steel tip to assist in ensuring that the rod itself is not damaged during the process. The method of installation. use should be made of existing excavation work e. It is possible to drive rods down to a depth of 10 metres or more using this method.2 Rods These generally offer the cheapest and most convenient means of installing an electrode. but as the required rod length increases.1 Introduction When installing electrodes. For example. Longer rods are often driven in a similar way. 5. The coupling arrangement must be such that the diameter of the rod is not increased significantly.but checks are of course necessary to ensure that there is no equipment buried there that can be damaged when driving in the rods . Short rods (typically up to 3 metres in length) are often installed just by using a manually operated heavy hammer. It has also been recorded that rods of 30 m length have been installed in this way . Where practicable. petrol. by laying electrode strip in a cable trench. The coupling should also shield the threaded section.g. The installation methods include manual driving. Due to their weight. Mechanical aids or hand tools are invariably required to assist in the installation.such as water or gas pipes. backfill and connection detailed in the following paragraphs will depend upon the type of electrode system to be used and on the site conditions. Often. the backfill used must not have a pH value which will cause corrosion to the electrode. but this can fall to 0. these tools sometimes require a rig to support them. depending.

in this situation. So. Besides the advantages of obtaining a greater depth and a more controlled route for the electrode.Copper plated steel rods are significantly stronger than solid copper rods. 5. However. If plates are required to carry a significant amount of current. mainly due to custom and practice. Use of narrow mechanical excavation equipment can result in modest installation costs in locations where this is possible. Their use continued for some considerable time. there is little justification to use plates now and they are normally replaced by a cluster of rods when deterioration is detected. There is also equipment available which. pulling the stranded copper conductor in behind it. This method is often surprisingly economic. plates were so commonplace that all earth electrodes were called earth plates. Because of the relatively high installation cost. In practice. As the use of electricity increased there was a need for the plates to deal with ever greater currents. in the early 1900’s. with more specialist equipment.4 Horizontal Electrodes These can be mechanically ploughed directly into the ground or are more usually installed in ready opened trenches about half a metre deep. 5. which bend quite easily and may break when attempts are made to drive them into rocky soil. to avoid using mechanical joints. plates are normally installed in the vertical plane about 0. which was accomplished by increasing the plate dimensions. Another disadvantage was due to the locations chosen for earth plates. then this resistance needs to be low.5 metres below the surface. if they are installed vertically. the most effective means is to drill a narrow hole into which the rod electrode and a suitable backfill material are installed. despite the fact that they have some disadvantages. To reduce the amount of excavation required. long vertical rods can provide an economic solution and there are a number of specialist small companies with the drilling facilities to achieve this. A better arrangement can usually be provided using rods and horizontal electrodes. another benefit is that relatively thin. Often they were positioned too close together and their zones of influence overlapped one another. since a significant number of deep holes can be drilled in a day using modestly priced equipment. In time the steel is likely to corrode away leaving the copper conductor to provide the permanent electrode. A steel rod is driven into the ground. solid copper electrodes can be installed in this way. the combined resistance was not sufficiently low enough and the fault current would generally seek other routes. This increases their combined resistance to a higher value than expected. In many situations. the improved current density stated as an advantage for plates is not achieved. Rods can be installed routinely to depths of 20 metres and. have been used to increase the strength of the rod and make it less likely to bend in rocky conditions. uses stranded copper conductor deep driven to provide a similar effect to that of a conventional rod.3 Plates Originally. The 32 . For example. It is easier to pack the soil thoroughly against the plate when backfilling. they are not generally available now. The shape difference only has a marginal effect on the electrical resistivity obtained. rods would normally need to be much thicker and a copper coated steel rod may be necessary to provide sufficient strength. When deeper rods are required or in difficult soil conditions where there is underlying rock. such as star shaped cross section. If driven mechanically into the ground at such depth. Because the solid copper rod has a better conductivity than the plated type. they generally require manual or mechanical excavation and so the installation cost can be quite high. but would require less material for the same surface area. In the past a number of different shapes. to significantly greater depth. this further improves the benefit obtained from use of long rods.

size and material used are important factors . 5. since this will help in further reducing the overall impedance value. Clearly this would prejudice the performance of the electrode system.6. A good. The soil should have a pH value between 6.see chapters 11 and 14.5 metres and more if necessary to be below the frost or cultivation level. but should be sieved to remove any large stones and placed around the electrode. Connections between the various components must be mechanically robust. connections have been uncovered with a resistance of more than 20 Ω.installation depth is normally a minimum of 0. many of which are acidic and corrosive. More often than not. for example stating that couplings for copper rods need to have a minimum copper content of 80%. cinders and powerstation ash. taking care to ensure that it is well compacted. if heavily compacted. electrical and thermal shocks. Great care must be exercised to prevent damage to. During maintenance. the current carrying capability of the strip will be prejudiced. For this reason. 5. Normal.0 (alkaline) .0 (acidic) and 10. have good corrosion resistance and low electrical resistivity. if possible. care should be taken with the hole size drilled to accommodate the bolt. The British and other standards quote material specifications that are deemed acceptable. and welded and are explained in more detail below:5. The process of proving compliance with standards normally involves a series of life tests during which the connector is subjected to mechanical.5 Backfill In all cases the backfill medium must be non-corrosive. The connectors must meet the requirements of the applicable standards. The materials available. be of a relatively small particle size and should. It is prudent to avoid unnecessary joints and connections. the standards and codes of practice normally limit the hole diameter to one third of the strip width or less. The jointing methods used include mechanical. exothermic.1 Mechanical connections These are commonly used and can be mechanical (bolted connection) or hydraulic (compression). it may become almost impervious to water and could remain relatively dry.6 Connections The earth electrodes have to be connected together in some way and it is normal for this to be via bare copper if possible. special backfill materials are required. It does not take much contact resistance for this to exceed the impedance of the electrode system. stiff clay is not a suitable backfill material as. help to retain moisture. 33 . If this is too large. On many large projects the whole area may be excavated to allow civil works. or theft of. Consideration must also be given to the fault currents and fault duration that the earthing system may be expected to withstand.particularly since such connectors may be buried unseen in the ground for a number of years before being required to perform. This often presents a good opportunity to minimise costs by laying the electrode conductor at that time. It follows that the design. Materials which should not be used as backfill include sand. In some circumstances. Where copper strips are bolted together. low resistance electrical connection is essential. conductor once laid. coke-breeze. brazed. particularly on radial types of electrode system. It may also form large lumps which do not consolidate around the rod. together with advice on when to use them are listed in chapter 14. the previously excavated soil is suitable as a backfill.

permanent joint. Can operate at high temperatures. the rivets sometimes work loose due to vibration etc. Metals which can be connected include stainless steel. low cost jointing technique. particularly for large connectors. but the technique is rapidly developing to address these . However. However. There are some safety aspects involved with this type of joint.brass should not be used. 34 . the copper should first be tinned. a good source of heat is essential. In this classical technique. bronze and steel rail. but with significant voids left unfilled. It is presently the preferred method described by the standards for connecting copper tapes within a substation. These should have a high copper content . low resistance. copper plated steel. Once the connection has been made. 5. proprietary clamps are available. This type of joint is not presently permitted for connecting copper and aluminium within substations. copper and aluminium tape) are bolted together the surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and protected by an oxide inhibitor. Each mould. brass is used as a filler metal to form a surface bond between the copper parts. Clean flat surfaces are essential as brazing materials are generally not free flowing like solder. possibly enabling the conductor size to be decreased. For outdoor locations and in electricity substations.g. 5.g. then tinned. These connections must be a minimum distance above ground and cannot be buried.4 Welded connections Copper can be joined by bronze welding or gas shielded arc welding. There is thus the possibility of adequate connection only at points of contact. it is essential that the brazing is effectively carried out. When jointing copper and aluminium.6. if properly maintained. than in brazing. galvanised steel. used primarily to make on-site joints (for example in copper pipework). A powder mix of copper oxide and aluminium is ignited using a flint gun and the subsequent reaction forms a virtually pure copper joint around the conductors.6.2 Brazed connections Brazing is widely applied to copper and copper alloys. 5. For this work. The technique uses a higher temperature and a filler material which is more closely matched to copper. This method of jointing is clearly not suited to deal with the higher values of fault current encountered now. a bolted joint of this type is presently the preferred method described in the standards for connecting dissimilar metals. The copper tape was drilled. The high temperature reaction takes place within the confines of the graphite mould. Bronze welding is an effective.for example by reducing the gas given off. the exterior should be protected by bitumastic paint or other means (such as Densotape) to protect against moisture ingress.6. A good joint can be difficult to make on site particularly where large cross sectional areas are involved. Benefits claimed for this type of joint are that it:• • • Provides a corrosion resistant. Uses relatively unskilled jointing techniques. copper. For jointing certain type of conductor e. At one time. This method has the advantage of providing a low resistance joint which will not corrode. brass. and riveted together.3 Exothermic joints These are made via a graphite mould which is designed to fit the specific type of joint and conductor sizes. tin and rivet type joints were used. can be used for between 50 and 70 joints.Where dissimilar metals (e. earth rods to cable or tape.

Sometimes it is prudent to leave one or two inspection housings in place above a horizontal electrode to enable vertical rods to be added later. helium or nitrogen. It is not generally considered safe practice to remove test links whilst the earthing system is connected to live equipment. Cold pressure welding is also sometimes used for joints between aluminium. 5. 5. For example.8 Testing and Inspection Facilities Where access to connections may be required. 450oC for brazed joints and 700oC for welded joints. Note however. When heavier gauge copper components need to be jointed.7 Fault Current Carrying Capacity The type of joint can influence the size of conductor used due to the different maximum permissible temperature for the various joints. Hence if we were to consider a fault current of 25 kA and a duration of 1 second. The link would have a circular cross section around which a clip on impedance tester could be fitted. as different values of the maximum permissible temperature may be quoted. Conductor Size Bolted 250 C 152 mm2 o Brazed 450 C 117 mm2 o Welded 700 C 101 mm2 o Clearly the method of jointing used may permit cost savings via use of smaller conductor sizes. then gas shielded arc welding is used. that the relevant standard being used should be checked. this is not normally carried out for earthing. the following conductor sizes would be required for each type of joint: Connection Maximum temp. Nitrogen is widely used as the “inert gas” when welding copper. This reduces the amount of oxidation which takes place during the welding process. then this is normally facilitated by means of an inspection housing. whilst the area around the electrode and weld is shielded by a gas such as argon.Whilst bronze welding can be used to connect copper to ferrous metals. 35 . Aluminium can be welded via inert gas tungsten arc (to BS 3019 part 1) or inert gas metal arc (to BS 3571 part 1). An electric arc provides the heat. It is now suggested that connections to substantial individual sections of the earthing system have a test link accessible via such test housing. Specially developed filler materials are required and are known to perform well when welding copper. if required. BS 7430 1991 Code of Practice for Earthing recommends a maximum permissible temperature of 250oC for bolted joints.

Contact resistances at connections and material interfaces must clearly be kept to a practical minimum. The most important characteristic of the soil is its resistivity. In electrical terms. These are the resistance of the electrode material. Soil conditions (composition. The top two layers are of relatively high resistivity down to a depth of six metres. the contact resistance between the electrode and the surrounding soil and finally a resistance dependent on the characteristics of the surrounding soil. In addition. Size and Position A dominant part of the impedance is that due to the physical orientation of the earth electrodes. However. The impedance of the metal electrode material is usually relatively small. 36 . Figure 6-1 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing the buried length of the rod. The decrease in resistance obtained via a long rod may be particularly desirable in non uniform soil conditions. It also shows that the improvement per unit length decreases as the rod length increases. The graphs in Figure 6-1 to Figure 6-6 illustrate the effect that changes in these dimensions can have on the impedance and enable the designer to assess the relative merit of each option.). 6. Figure 6-2 demonstrates the improvement in electrode resistance possible when increasing the length of a rod in a soil which consists of three layers. The earthing system consists of conductive material above ground (bonding conductors etc.). water content etc. the metal used for the above ground connections should have good electrical conductivity and the superior property of copper resulted in its use in the majority of installations. copper is superior to steel. In the majority of cases there will be a need to reduce these values. so has traditionally been the preferred material.1 Effect of Electrode Shape. consisting of the linear impedance of the rod and/or horizontal conductors. it is important to recognise that the characteristics of the soil strongly influence the earthing system performance. and to ensure that touch and step potentials are satisfactory. The factors which influence the impedance are:• • The physical dimensions and attributes of the earth electrode system. The properties of the metal used and the cross sectional area will clearly influence this. The resistance of the rod is high until it extends beyond these layers. The previous chapter dealt with connections. These are further discussed below: 6.1. metal electrodes within the soil and the surrounding soil itself. However the graph illustrating the performance in uniform soil does not tell the complete story.1 Increasing the buried depth of a vertical rod in uniform soil. The earthing system components will be covered first and soil discussed at the end of the chapter. This value may have been decided from considerations of protection.6 Performance of Earth Electrodes The earthing system designer is normally faced with two tasks:• • to achieve a required impedance value. Each of these will contribute towards the overall impedance value. due to the high resistivity of the soil surrounding it. which is measured in Ohm-metres. Initially the designer should concentrate on achieving a certain impedance value. The system of metal electrodes will present an impedance to current flow consisting of three main parts.

37 . but it does depend on the soil structure. In this case there is a clear improvement in performance with each additional metre of rod installed. In soil conditions as illustrated in Figure 6-2. use of vertical rods may prove to be the most effective option. Normally they should be of sufficient length that they are in or near the water table (if it exists at reasonable depth at the location) and below the freezing line. there is little difference in the resistance of a rod in this soil structure compared to one in uniform soil of 50 Ohm-metres resistivity. However. This is due to deeper soil with better electrical properties being reached. This could be achieved by using either a solid copper top section or a plated section with an increased cross section. In some soil conditions. particularly where there is a limited area available. Finally. Once the rod reaches about 15 metres length. it is important to note that vertical rods give a degree of stability to the impedance of an earthing system. far greater at this depth than for the rod in uniform soil. the per unit improvement with each additional metre installed starts to reduce rapidly as in the case of uniform soil. This means that the impedance should be less influenced by seasonal variations in water content or temperature. it is important that the top section of the rod has a low longitudinal resistance as this section provides the connection to the beneficial electrode beneath.Figure 6-1 Resistance v Rod Length As the rod length increases the overall resistance falls progressively more quickly.

2 Increasing the length of a horizontal conductor.1. Figure 6-3 Resistance v Horizontal Conductor Length 38 . Figure 6-3 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing the length of a horizontally laid earth electrode.Figure 6-2 Resistance v Rod Length in Multilayer Soil 6.

4 Increasing the radius of an earth rod. increasing the number of available routes in this way does significantly reduce the surge impedance. particularly when it is possible to route this in several different directions. However.2 metres diameter. Tubes can be used instead of solid conductors to increase the external surface area. the reduction in resistance is still significant. In fact this is. Horizontally laid strip is generally considered to be a good option. Figure 6-5 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing the radius of the rod.1. 39 .05 metres.It should be noted that the calculations in this example do not take account of the linear impedance of the conductor. the improvement per unit length decreases as the electrode length increases. so the values are optimistic for long lengths. Normally there is little to be gained by extending the radius of earth electrodes beyond that necessary to deal with the mechanical and corrosion requirements. more often than not. Figure 6-4 shows the benefit that can be achieved in soils of different resistivity by increasing the area encompassed by the earth electrode. the increased installation cost may outweigh the value of the performance increase.3 Increasing the side length of a square earth grid/plate. Whilst it shows that the improvement per unit area decreases. except in soil of high resistivity where the same effect is noticed at about 0. whilst moderating the increase in volume of the metal used. the most effective way of reducing the resistance of the earthing electrode. There is a rapid reduction in the benefit per unit increase in diameter once this exceeds 0. Again. as described in chapter 14.1. In rocky conditions it may be advantageous to increase the effective diameter of the electrode by surrounding it with material which has a lower resistivity than the surrounding rock. For high frequency applications. 6. although not by 50%. This further increases the reduction possible. Figure 6-4 Resistance v Square Loop Side Length 6.

Calculations of this type are the basis for the established practice of installing electrodes at least the same distance apart as their length. then their zones of influence will overlap and the full benefit possible will not be achieved. position and soil characteristics are the dominant factors in this. It should however be remembered that the greater the burial depth. They are more susceptible to step voltages than humans because of the distance between their front and rear legs. if two rods or horizontal electrodes are close together. Within a substation a high voltage is required above the electrode.5 Buried depth This only provides a marginal reduction in impedance. if an earth electrode extends into a field. the combined earth impedance of the two can be virtually the same as for one. this can be achieved by installing a plastic pipe around the top metre or two of each rod. If two earth electrodes are installed close together. In some cases it is advantageous to increase the depth of electrodes to reduce the risk of electrocution to horses. For rods. cattle and other animals. However. the smaller the voltage gradients on the surface of the soil. 40 .6 Proximity effect. but at a relatively high cost. meaning the second is redundant. From this it can be seen that the rods should be more than 4m apart in uniform soil.1. Figure 6-6 shows how the overall resistance of two five metre vertical rods changes as the distance between them is increased. to minimise touch voltages. In fact. then a low surface voltage is required to reduce step potentials. 6.1.Figure 6-5 Resistance v Rod Radius 6. so is not normally considered. Spacing.

2 Complex Electrode Arrangements For more complex arrangements of electrodes. A multi-layer soil is more usual. At another site there may be silt or sand/gravel and then a water table a few metres below the surface. in practice. Unfortunately. there may be a surface layer of loam or peat above sand. For example. the formula (taken from BS 7430 and EA S34) is: ρ   8 l   ln   − 1 2πl   d   R= 41 . gravel or clay. Further underneath the material may change to rock. some relatively straightforward formulae are available to enable a reasonably accurate prediction of the resistance of electrodes in soil which is of uniform resistivity. It should be noted that different formulae are used by different standards and whilst these often provide similar values. The figures (except Figure 6-2) illustrate performance in uniform soil conditions. it is unusual to find uniform soil conditions. This may be represented as a three layer soil structure. The values shown in the graphs were obtained using computer software which takes into account soil structure and electrode geometry. more detailed analysis to take all of the above factors into account. In the case of a rod. this type of software can deal with complex arrangements such as those that will be described in chapter 7. The actual soil structure and the electrical properties of each layer will affect the electrode resistance value and it may be important to assess this at an early stage. the resistivity of the layers increasing with depth. with the resistivity beneath the water table being significantly lower than that of the surface layer.Figure 6-6 Combined Resistance of Two Vertical Rods as Separation Between them is Increased 6. this does mean that particular care is needed to ensure that the correct formulae and approach is used. This may form a two layer structure. is required. In addition to calculating the value for straightforward electrodes. However. depending on the design specification and the standard on which this is based.

This unit is the resistance between the two opposite faces of a one metre cube of uniform soil.e. in a new installation. This arises mainly because the soil has not yet consolidated. Soil resistivity is expressed in Ohmmetres. large. the above formula has been simplified to: R= ρ  2 l ln   πl  d  6. it needs to be discussed in some detail. The value obtained is thus in Ohm-metre2 per metre. dry stones surrounding the electrode would have a detrimental effect on its performance. i. which is traditionally shortened to Ohm-metres. buried horizontal conductor. Clearly. Because soil resistivity is such an important factor governing the performance of earth electrodes. In fact. the soil. Some typical resistivity values are given in Table 6-1 . the formula (taken from BS 7430) is: R=  ρ   4l 2   − Q  ln  2π l   d h   where : R = resistance of horizontal buried conductor (Ω) l = length of conductor (m) d = diameter of conductor (m) h = height below ground (m) Q = 1.0 for strip conductors In DIN VDE 0141 and CLC TC 112.3 Contact Resistance In the formulae and computer simulations it is assumed that the earth electrodes are in perfect contact with the surrounding soil.where : R = resistance of rod (Ω) ρ = soil resistivity (Ωm) l = length of rod (m) d = diameter of rod (m) For a short. as described in section 14. 6. the most significant resistance is likely to be at the interface between electrodes and soil.3 for circular conductors Q = 1. 42 . It is to reduce this contact resistance to a minimum value that it is important to ensure that the backfill material is of the appropriate type.4 Soil Resistivity The most important remaining factor influencing the impedance of the earthing system is the impedance of the medium in which the earth electrodes are situated.

An increase in water content causes a steep reduction in resistivity until the 20% level is reached when the effect begins to level out. have serious financial consequences. thickness and actual resistivity of each of the layers would be important factors influencing its eventual resistance value. The depth to which each spike is driven should not exceed “a” divided by 20 and is not normally greater 43 . sand and gravel Porous chalk Quartzite/crystalline limestone Rock Gneiss/igneous rock Dry concrete Wet concrete Ice The two main factors which influence the soil resistivity value are the porosity of the material and the water content.000 . There may be thin layer of soil on the surface. through 30/40% in sands and unconsolidated clay to a few percent in consolidated limestone. spaced a distance of “a” metres apart. The water content will vary seasonally and is likely to cause variations in the impedance of the earthing system.Table 6-1 Type Sea water Typical values of resistivity for different soils Resistivity (Ohm-metre) 0. with layers of rock underneath. in turn.10.100 40 .50 5 . shows why it is necessary to install the electrodes beneath the freezing line.6 metres depth in the UK. The test is traditionally carried out using a four-terminal earth tester.000+ 2. Porosity is a term which describes the size and number of voids within the material. since the value of the resistance of the electrode is directly proportional to the soil resistivity.100 10. be more solid and would be expected to have a higher resistivity.1) compared to water.000 30 .100.250 30 .100 300+ 1.000 . then the distance. It varies between 80/90% in the silt of lakes. we are not yet aware of the effect on larger substations which encompass a larger area. mountainous locations.5 Measurement of Soil Resistivity It is important that the resistivity is assessed as accurately as possible. but may be deeper in exposed. Four spikes are driven into the ground as shown in the diagram.000 2. Whilst there is data on the effect this has on individual rods. The very high resistivity of ice (table 6. particularly where these are naturally occurring and do not become diluted over time.1 . If an electrode was installed at the surface. Temperature and water content have an important influence on the soil resistivity and hence the performance of the earthing system. Each successive layer of rock would have fewer cracks. This is about 0. which is related to its particle size and the pore diameter. 6. Dissolved minerals and salts in the water may help further to reduce the resistivity. If the incorrect value of soil resistivity is used at the design stage. As mentioned previously. We are interested in soil to a significant depth as the earth fault currents flow deeply into the ground.10. This could. it is most unusual to find soil which can be described as uniform for earthing purposes. the measured impedance of the earthing system may prove to be significantly different to that planned.1 5 .000 Garden soil/alluvial clay London clay Clay.000 .

The underlying material has a value (biased towards the higher readings) of 47 Ohm-metres. Computer analysis produces a two layer model where the surface layer is 0. It is important to ensure that the test spikes are not inserted in line with buried metal pipes or cables. or there are buried pipes in the area.2 m thick and has a resistivity of 126 Ohm-metres. then it is likely that the soil conditions are variable. For very large area sites.in the order of 0. As the distance “a” increases. Some examples of soil resistivity curves are shown in Figure 6-7 and Figure 6-8. This will provide information on the general structure of the soil in the locality. for a separation “a” metres. with “a” being increased by 1 m steps up to 6 m separation. identify rogue readings and help in deciding how many measurements are required. the apparent resistivity would normally decrease.3 metres. the inner spikes to the potential terminals P1 and P2. A curve of resistivity against separation should be drawn during the measurement exercise.01Ω to 0. In Figure 6-7. 80 m and even 100 m spike separation. Some of these traverses should be at right angles to one another to enable any interference from nearby electricity cables to be identified. The measurements should preferably be made in an area of reasonably undisturbed soil.002Ω. readings may be advisable at 50 m. Typically the lower values of “a” will give high values of soil resistivity because they are heavily influenced by the surface soil which normally drains or has its water content reduced by sun and/or wind. The test instrument used should be sufficiently accurate to measure quite small resistance values at these large spacings . especially where there is rock beneath. If “R” is the instrument resistance reading in Ohms. as these will introduce measurement errors. measurements should be taken on a number of traverses across the site. We are able to obtain information about the actual soil layering by taking a series of readings. unless there is underlying rock. The outer two spikes should be connected to the current terminals C1 and C2 of the instrument. the ground has been made up. In all cases.than 0. The apparent resistivity value is higher at short spacings and then falls into a reasonably narrow. If there are large fluctuations in measured values. a number of measurements have been taken at the site and there are variations between them. 44 . then the apparent resistivity is given by the following formula: Resistivity = 2 x ã x R x a Ohm-metres. uniform band. The term “apparent resistivity” is used since the above formula assumes that the soil is uniform to a depth “a” metres below the centre point of the measurement traverse. then by 6 m steps up to typically 30 m separation.

unless suitable precautions are taken. 45 . the potential gradient near the substation may be sufficient to introduce a risk of electric shock to those carrying out the test.relatively uniform soil For practical purposes one would assume a uniform soil of 47 Ohm-metres. The average three layer model would normally be used for earthing calculations. so vertical rods or horizontal electrodes installed at greater depth than normal would be used. since the value of the surface layer will change throughout the year. In the second example (Figure 6-8). the readings are much more difficult to interpret and analysis via computer software produces a three layer model. The buried cables there will influence the readings and should an earth fault occur whilst testing is taking place. Test spikes should not normally be installed within 5 metres or so of an electricity substation.Figure 6-7 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation . The middle layer has a low resistivity. The actual readings are shown to be either side of an average computer model and typifies the variation expected on different traverses across the same site.

but not how to interpret the readings is covered in chapter 13).) preventing use of the Wenner method. This is illustrated below: Software is also available which can enable the soil resistivity to be calculated when the spacing along the traverse is arbitrary. These include the Schlumberger technique where the distance between the instrument and each current spike and each voltage spike is the same. using spikes which are equidistantly spaced. pavements. 46 . concreted areas etc.Figure 6-8 Apparent soil resistivity plotted against test spike separation . but may be the only one method available is some built up areas. Because of localised effects. The measurements are repeated at a number of locations around the substation and the average values used to determine the soil resistivity and layering. another method of determining the soil resistivity involves measuring the resistance obtained at different depths as an earth electrode is driven into the ground (the method of taking the measurement. There are other methods available for use in more difficult locations. Finally.three layer soil The method of soil resistivity measurement described above is the Wenner method. this method is not generally as accurate as the Wenner and other techniques. but that between the voltage and current spikes is different. This may enable soil resistivity readings to be taken when there are physical obstructions (roads.

and the mechanical properties of the soil are suitable. it can be calculated that a rod of approximately 12. This chapter will concentrate on the more detailed design necessary to ensure that the step and touch criteria.5 m length will provide this value. then the voltage profiles on the surface of the soil surrounding it will be as shown in Figure 7-1 (note that Figure 2-1 is based on the same example and shows the situation in three dimensions). since in general this is likely to improve its performance. imagine that the designer has been asked to ensure that the earth electrode has an impedance of 5. To illustrate the different design concept required.0 Ohms. If the fault current anticipated is 200 A. From computer simulation.000 V during the time that it takes the protection to operate. Assume that the equipment to be protected by this earthing system is housed within a metal enclosure of 3 m length and 2 m width. then the most economic method of achieving this value may be to use a single vertical rod. 50 Ohmmetre resistivity. are satisfied. There will be a voltage on the surface of the soil above the electrode.1 Introduction Chapter 6 covered ways in which the designer could seek to reduce the impedance of the earthing system. use of the formula in paragraph 6.1 or use of the graph in Figure 6-1. then clearly the potential on the electrode and enclosure will rise to 1.7 Design of Earth Electrode Systems 7. Figure 7-1 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod earthing 47 . but the electrode performance would be similar. If we also assume that the soil in the location is of uniform. on which the newer standards are based. Assuming the earth rod has been installed at one corner of the enclosure. in order that the protective equipment will operate. which will reduce with increasing distance from it. Note that the fault currents used are higher than would normally be anticipated in a domestic or commercial installation.

This higher figure is due to the higher impedance of the plate compared to the rod. at 0. This would have an impedance of 17 Ohm. 900 mm square. (The equipotential lines in all the figures have been shown as percentages of the actual GPR (voltage rise)). the wall of the house would normally be non-conducting and the connection to the earth electrode insulated. would experience a potential difference between hands and feet of 784 V. It is thus unlikely that a person could experience a touch voltage of the type illustrated. Figure 7-2 illustrates the voltage profiles which would result if a buried plate.2 Small Area Electrode Systems If the above electrode arrangements are used as the main earth for a domestic property. The equipotential lines are elliptically shaped near the electrode and become circular as the distance from it increases. the touch potential at the corner of the enclosure is now 3. A person touching the opposite corner of the enclosure. The anticipated fault current would be lower than 200 A.6 metres depth was used instead of the vertical rod.These are formed because the fault current is assumed to flow uniformly into the surrounding soil and the potential contours result from marking the position of equal voltages along each current path. Another traditional method was to use a plate and for comparison purposes. Clearly a single rod does not provide a well designed earthing system. they may suffice. so the permitted touch voltage would be low 48 . In addition. at the position shown in Figure 7-1). but is precisely the type which would traditionally have been used in the past. Figure 7-2 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single plate earthing 7. As mentioned in chapter 2.e. the permitted touch voltage depends on the relevant standard and the time taken for the protection system to disconnect the faulty circuit. For a 200 A current flow. so the voltage rise would be significantly reduced and so would the touch voltage. with their feet one metre away (i. It should be noted that the fault clearance time could be quite long.060 V.

situated approximately one metre away from the enclosure.17 Ohm. The touch voltage has now been reduced to 182 V. In this case the perimeter conductor of the electrode system also provides the potential grading required to reduce the touch voltage. It is possible to have separate electrodes to achieve this. This is the basic way in which earthing systems should be designed to comply with the new standards. Either of these arrangements may be acceptable within an industrial or commercial premise. The perimeter electrode is limiting the touch potential which can be experienced by smoothing the potential gradient in the vicinity of the enclosure. Clearly the perimeter electrode has improved the safety of the installation. the anticipated fault current will be higher and the touch voltage limit may be exceeded for arrangements such as those in Figure 7-1 and Figure 7-2.3 below.5 metres. If the same arrangement is applied to the plate example. In a substation owned by an electricity company the fault current would almost certainly exceed 200 A .9 Ohm and the touch voltage becomes 307 V. the impedance is reduced to 4. buried at 0. 49 . In addition.Within an industrial or commercial premise. as discussed in section 7. the potential rise. The voltage profile around the enclosure for the same fault current of 200 A is shown in Figure 7-3. This conductor is sometimes called a guard ring. it reduces the electrode impedance and. in the above examples. Figure 7-3 Potential on surface of soil around enclosure with single rod and perimeter (potential grading) electrode To improve matters a perimeter (or potential grading) electrode can be installed in the soil.2 seconds. Even if the protection operates in an electricity substation in less than 0.sometimes by a factor of ten to one hundred. In this case the single rod and perimeter conductor reduce the impedance to 3. there may still be touch voltage (and other) problems if the arrangement in Figure 7-1 or Figure 7-2 were used.

7 Ohm. This would provide a more efficient earthing system in 50 Ohm-metre uniform soil and provide an impedance of 3. where touch voltages could be excessive. it was not recognised that the rods within the site have little effect. the cable sheaths of underground cables and the earth wire of overhead lines (the type supported on steel towers). This concept was the start of the modern mesh designs. the main objective with this design was to obtain a specific earth impedance value. These would be shorter than the previous example. there are areas. to be connected to the earthing system. For example. If exposed metalwork. it is not uncommon to find electrode arrangements such as that in Figure 7-4. indicated on the figure. Individual consideration of these is beyond the scope of this book. D-E. but at this early stage. it is usual for steel reinforcing bars within building foundations or piles. 7. The design is based on vertical earth rods and arose from the knowledge that placing earth rods approximately the same distance apart as their length. Because of the radial type design. It should be noted that there are other components of the earthing system associated with substations which also need to be considered. These are on the lines between B-C. The touch voltage would be 175 V.For small electricity substations. made effective use of the land area. the performance of the system could be seriously compromised if corrosion occurs at any one of a number of positions. F-G and H-I. a better design is to use a loop of horizontal conductor as the perimeter electrode and position vertical rods at each of the four corners. touch potentials might exceed the allowable values. 50 . Horizontal electrodes interconnect these rods and further decrease the impedance value. which will concentrate just on the earth electrode installed at the substation. were present here.3 Medium Area Electrode Systems Medium area systems would typically be found at an electricity substation. connected to the earthing system. typically 3 metres in length. Figure 7-4 Potential on surface of soil around and within a substation with older design incorporating rods and horizontal electrodes Finally. In older designs. As previously.

The vertical rods are connected to this electrode to improve its performance and allow a degree of security against seasonal variations. Figure 7-5 Modern substation mesh type earthing arrangement The cross connections perform two functions. If the perimeter conductor is situated 2m within the fence. The first is to allow all exposed metalwork to be connected together and prevent potential differences between them (i. Economic use of good quality material. to reduce step and touch voltages.The voltage profiles on the surface of the soil are shown in the figure to illustrate this. A number of horizontal cross members are installed across the site area. It may be of larger cross sectional area than that used underground within the substation. often ten metres or so apart. but 51 . again as a percentage of the GPR. It will often be of copper tape to take advantage of its greater surface area compared to stranded conductor of a similar cross sectional area. The perimeter electrode distributes or collects most current at power frequency and is a key component. The perimeter electrode is positioned either 2 m inside the fence or about 1m outside. The actual separation will depend on soil conditions. The cross members are normally connected at each intersection and at each end to the perimeter electrode. Where theft of third party damage is a possibility. The second is to provide potential grading on the surface within the site area. A modern design is shown in Figure 7-5. Good interconnection between electrodes and important items of plant. It is based on the following principles: • • • • An effective perimeter conductor loop. bonding). Vertical earth rods are connected to this. the fault current and predicted rise of earth potential. such as changes in the level of the water table.e. then the perimeter conductor may be covered in concrete at regular intervals. Potential grading across the site.

if the earth grid perimeter electrode is taken outside the fence. then a potential grading conductor could be installed 1m outside the fence. All electrodes are interconnected. so copper is often used throughout. ensuring a high degree of security. additional precautions are presently required if the GPR is above 430 V (low reliability circuits) or 650 V (high reliability circuits). This option is costly. An inspection of these shows that the potential on the surface area above the main electrode system is between 70 and 90% of the GPR. since it is possible to experience chemical or electro-chemical corrosion. The two main choices are to use longer vertical rods on the perimeter conductor or to extend the earthing system outwards to enclose a larger area. Mechanical failure or corrosion of one or more connectors should not seriously effect the performance of the earthing system. This is an important feature since the electrode system is unseen. possibly in a corrosive environment and must perform adequately over a long period of time. but uses it effectively. The fence earths are independent of the earth grid. However. mainly due to the additional excavation involved and it is more usual to combine the role of perimeter conductor and fence potential grading conductor and extend the electrode outside the fence. The fence in this example is earthed via rods at each corner and near the overhead line crossing. Care needs to be taken in the choice of material used. For example.there is a reason to believe that the touch voltage on the fence could be excessive. This would be connected to the fence. it can have a small cross sectional area. There may still be a need to reduce the impedance of the electrode system. The voltage contours on the surface of the soil are shown in Figure 7-6. Use of dissimilar metals can increase the risk of this. Because it would not be required to carry significant current. This newer type of design uses more copper. The above features of the design will ensure that touch and step criteria are met. It is sometimes advantageous to extend the earthing system so that the rise of earth potential is reduced sufficiently that these limits are not exceeded. The type of improvement possible by these methods can be assessed by reference to chapter 6. 52 . it is usual to bond the fence to the main earthing system. but not to the main earth grid. This means that the touch voltages will be within approximately 30 and 10% of the GPR.

4. a different earthing grid design is required. but is not generally as large as that required for medium wave. 53 . This attempts to maximise the amount of conductor in the immediate vicinity of the structure. Long lengths of thin copper wire have been installed radially out from the communication mast.1 Communication facilities Because of the high frequencies involved. This is achieved by a design similar to that shown in Figure 7-7. They were installed to a shallow depth using a plough. Some of these are described in the following section. At high frequency radio stations a local earth is required. 7.4 Sites Requiring More Specific Attention The previous designs have been concerned with power frequency (50 Hz) performance and the most common electrode arrangements.Figure 7-6 Potential on surface of soil above and around a modern ‘mesh’ type earthing arrangement 7. which was used at a medium wave radio station. However. it is recognised that there are many circumstances when further consideration is necessary.

This is in addition to the normal connection to the main earthing system.4. special earthing arrangements are necessary. These can. The connection from the surge diverter to earth and the electrode system itself have an impedance which is predominantly resistive but also has an inductive component. it diverts some current to ground to reduce the voltage “spike” which could otherwise damage the equipment which it is required to protect. This inductance is especially important at higher frequencies where the inductive component of the subsequent voltage rise may be considerably higher than the resistive component. Additional 54 . The current flowing through the surge diverter is not sinusoidal and when transformed into Fourier components. induce high currents in any nearby metal structures or earth conductors.2 Surge diverters.4. it has a waveform which is made up of high frequency components. To counteract this.Figure 7-7 Earthing system for a medium-wave radio station 7. These devices are used to protect the electricity system within a building (typically being situated where the electricity supply enters the building). the conductor which connects the earth of the device to the earthing system must be as short and straight as possible. in turn.3 Reactors and AC to DC converters Normally there are high electro-magnetic fields associated with such devices. 7. For example. This effect can seriously reduce the efficiency of the surge diverter. When the device operates. to protect an individual item of equipment in a building and to protect equipment within electricity substations. In most cases a separate earth electrode is installed immediately adjacent to the device and connected direct to the surge diverter.

The method of earthing must be compatible with that of the electricity network. The earth fault current at these voltages is high . These are as follows: • High fault current.4. and this places an onerous demand on the earthing system. In some situations. The reduced area available usually places an immediate limit on the impedance value which can be achieved practically. Generation will then be possible in “islanded” mode. GIS equipment uses earthed metal screens around individual phase conductors. 7. However. There is a considerable amount of advice available and some of the main sources are listed in chapter 16. make this a specialist topic. When connected on the low voltage network.5 Capacitor banks/capacitor voltage transformers Switching transients from the high voltage system will see these devices as virtually a short circuit to earth and will be dispersed through them with little attenuation.4. When the main supply fails. the generator will be disconnected from it and the separate earthing system switched in. it may be possible to share the main electricity earthing system. The bonding connection and the in-ground electrodes need to be designed to cater for this. to ensure a low electrical resistance. For example a special earthing transformer may be used. for example near a large substation. with the installation being earthed as required by the regulations. However. it is sometimes possible to use the electricity system earth in parallel with that of the generator. but continuity strips are required across any joints in the pile. Current is continuously induced in these screens and a residual AC current 55 • .4. Another solution is to use non-metallic fencing or supports in close proximity to these devices. it is normally used at higher voltages.precautions are required to prevent induced circulating currents. typically only 10% to 15% of that required by conventional outdoor air insulated equipment. In large generating stations. A connection is also made to the main earth grid. there are additional factors associated with GIS which considerably complicate the design task. Where thyristors are used. the need to switch the earth connection and precautions which are sometimes necessary when several generators operate in parallel. Because of the expense of GIS equipment.6 Gas insulated switchgear (GIS) This type of equipment is very compact and occupies a small area of land. One method is to ensure that such equipment is only earthed at one point.4 Co-generation plants Special arrangements are normally required. again high frequency harmonic currents may be present and the earth electrode may need to be positioned close to their source to prevent significant potential differences arising. particularly to enable generation to continue when the main electricity supply is not available. which may be earthed at a single point or be multiply earthed. These can form effective electrodes. These sites typically occupy a large area and it is necessary to consider the voltage drops which occur across the site and take steps to reduce these. Residual AC current. Normally an independent high frequency electrode (rod) is installed immediately adjacent to the equipment.typically 20kA or more. 7. a separate earthing system will normally be required. In most cases an earthing system will be required and the guidance given in this book would be applicable in designing the electrode arrangement. In larger installations supplied via high voltage networks. use has traditionally been made of the deep pile foundations which are required to support the plant. 7.

however it does not permit full use of the area available for installing electrodes. A 2 m corridor is required between the fence and the edge of the earthing system (i. the perimeter conductor). whilst generally more expensive. As has been previously mentioned.4. However this needs to be accompanied by specific screen terminating arrangements and secondary control wiring needs to be routed to minimise inductive interference. • High frequency currents. because of the possibility of wear to the plastic covering. The fence is earthed by installing 3m rods at each corner. particularly in steel electrodes.7. The nature of the equipment means that switching transients can occur whilst electrical currents are being interrupted. avoids many of the difficulties which the following practices are designed to overcome.4. 56 . but the presence of interfaces (such as at air terminations. The design seeks to ensure that high frequencies are confined to the inside of screened enclosures. it might be possible for it to be energised at a considerable voltage. close to the SF6/air bushing. Design of the earthing system for GIS equipment is thus a particularly challenging task and present research should result in improved earthing arrangements. close to cable sealing ends. for reasons of security and economics.7 Fence earthing General Generally. insulated CT flanges and transformer bushings) allow some opportunity for these to escape. Any buried electrodes which pass under the fence must be insulated for a distance of 2m either side of it. the electrode system to deal with high frequency currents is different to that for 50 Hz operation. close to instrument transformers. 7. If it was not earthed. The fact that members of the public are likely to have direct access to these fences means that certain precautions are necessary to avoid danger.1 Independent fence earthing This is the most common arrangement. Metal gates should be bonded at both top and bottom by flexible connections to the gate post. There is presently concern that these AC currents may cause accelerated corrosion. Gate posts must be bonded below ground to prevent touch voltages occurring between the two posts or the open gates. and at approximately 50 m intervals along the sides. Use of a nonmetallic fence (or brick walls).is likely to flow continuously via the earthing system. a metal fence is used to enclose the substation. with obvious safety implications. then it must be earthed. Where a bare metal fence is used. At present. These transients include components at very high frequencies. 7. and at each end of the busbars (intermediate points also. the advice generally given is to earth GIS equipment at the following positions: close to the circuit breaker. The following practice is based on Electricity Association Technical Specification . It is also important to ensure that the earthing design does not permit circulating currents to flow. This is to cater for the situation where a live conductor (say an overhead line) has come into contact with the fence or to prevent the fence voltage rising due to coupling with nearby live conductors.e. Exposed equipment is then normally situated 1 m inside the perimeter electrode. Plastic covered fences are treated the same as bare metal fences. depending on length). The most often quoted solution is to increase the density of the earth electrodes in the immediate vicinity. which would cause interference. either side of where overhead HV conductors cross.

7. or if the fence is situated wholly within the earthing system. they should be electrically separated.4. but there is an increased risk of third party damage to the perimeter electrode. the fence corners and where overhead HV conductors cross the fence.g. Where such a fence is close to an independently earthed fence.2 Fence connected to the substation earthing If the fence comes within 2 metres of the perimeter earth conductor or any exposed metalwork. Bonds are required at 50 metre intervals. 57 . The fence potential rise will be lower than that of the main earthing system and the potential grading conductor will ensure that touch voltages are low.The main advantage of this arrangement is that lower touch voltages arise on the fence and all earth electrodes are enclosed in an area where they are under the control of the occupier of the site. e. by a nonmetallic fence or by insulating fixings. The increased land area used results in a lower earth impedance. This ensures that touch voltages on the fence remain at a low level and considerably simplifies the design. Wherever possible. or if the fence is near third party equipment). Another option is to separately earth the fence and then install a small potential grading conductor 1m outside the fence and connect this to the fence at regular intervals. it may not be desirable to bond the fence (for example if this will result in high surface voltages during faults. it is best to extend the earthing system such that the perimeter conductor is 1 m outside the fence. then the fence is normally bonded to the earthing system. In some situations. 7.

However. with greater use of sensitive electronic equipment. maintenance and testing of fixed and portable appliances.2 Typical TN-S Arrangements The most common protective measure is earthed equipotential bonding and automatic disconnection of supply. Requirements for Electrical Installations. This is leading to a consensus of opinion that the earthing system must be designed as an overall system such that it fulfills the safety and performance requirements. The standards set maximum disconnection times for different types of equipment. 58 .1 Introduction There are presently more publications on this aspect of earthing than on any other and it is the purpose of this chapter to provide just an overview of the more important aspects of earthing within buildings. Figure 8-1 shows a typical arrangement. This is because any earth fault current normally has to return to the source transformer. The earthing system must provide a direct route to the soil for fault current whilst minimising touch and step potentials.e. In this arrangement the neutral and earth conductors are combined in the supply network. The Institution of Electrical Engineers run a series of courses covering design. the gas. Additional material can also be found in books which deal with Building Services. The secondary function. In a normal wiring arrangement. 1992 is the prime reference document. A circuit protective (earth) conductor is run with each electrical circuit which leaves the consumer unit. is to help mitigate disturbances and serve as a common voltage reference for sensitive electronic equipment. there is a growing awareness of the importance of the secondary function of the earthing system. the supply network. Earthing is fundamental to most of the practices for achieving safety. The earth loop impedance is made up of the impedance of the earthing system at the source transformer. The main earth terminal is installed at the supply position. i. particularly computers.8 Earthing Design Within Buildings 8. the earthing arrangement outside the property. also has to be considered. However they must be separated within premises. All items of exposed conductive metalwork are bonded together to ensure that there are no potential differences between them during fault conditions. In addition. The main objectives of this and other regulations is to protect persons. property and livestock against hazards arising from an electrical installation. 8. this would be the uninsulated copper earth wire which is enclosed with the insulated phase and neutral conductors in a PVC sheathed cable. Those requiring a more detailed coverage are referred to the standards and books listed in chapter 16. Figure 3-3 illustrated a typical TN-C-S supply and this is the most common arrangement for new and recent supplies to domestic premises in the UK. In deciding which times are appropriate. the earth conductors between the transformer and the property and the impedance from the point of fault back to the supply point in the property. BS 7671. This is connected to the supply neutral and the earth bar in the consumer unit or distribution board. water and other services entering the property are bonded to the main earth terminal. installation.

Supplementary bonding conductors give a visible indication that exposed metal equipment is interconnected and are mainly used when the required disconnection times cannot be met. An arrangement. This would only be necessary if the external metalwork could introduce a potential (normally earth potential) and were within reach of conductive parts of equipment. The circuit protective conductors should already have ensured this. It is not intended to carry fault current. whilst the installation is TN-S. The supply is TN-C. The different types of earth conductor were described in chapter 2 and there is now an opportunity to explain them in more detail. The main earthing terminal acts as the single reference point and can comprise of a bar. The main equipotential bonds are used to connect incoming services (such as metal gas or water pipes within the property). handrails etc. The earth electrode should be positioned as close as possible to the main earthing terminal. is illustrated in Figure 8-2. a plate or even a copper internal “ring” conductor. The protective conductors and main equipotential bonds are routed back to the main earth terminal. This would often be connected directly to an effective earth electrode and this connection must be of copper. If this conductor has a cross sectional area of 10 mm2 or less. for example part of that within an office or small factory. with emphasis on the earthing arrangement. A circuit protective conductor accompanies all current carrying conductors. but the minimum sizes are such that it is likely to carry some. Supplementary bonding conductors can (if necessary) also be used to connect external metalwork such as ladders. as the regulations will not allow use of aluminium or copper clad aluminium because of the corrosion risk involved. 59 . There is one main earthing terminal which is connected to the supply neutral. but the supplementary bond is normally shorter and thus more direct. then it must be of copper.Figure 8-1 TN-C-S earthing arrangement in a domestic property Now consider a more complex installation.

The maximum values are given in tables 41A1 and 41A2 of BS 7671. This could create interference. It is essential that copper protective conductors used have a sufficiently large cross sectional area and guidance on selecting the appropriate size is included in BS 7671 (tables 54B and 54C) Section 543. such as computer power supplies. they should enter/leave at one point and if possible be routed through metal ducts which are electrically continuous. IT type equipment. The duct/armouring should be connected back to the main earthing terminal. The voltage rise within an area during a fault has to be limited to a value stated in the regulations and this value is established by setting a minimum value of earth loop impedance. Note that earth connections to metal enclosures should be grouped at one point. Surge protection may also be required at this point.Figure 8-2 Typical TN-S installation within a commercial or light industrial property The designer must ensure that the protective conductor impedance is co-ordinated with the protective equipment characteristics such that during an earth fault. any voltages on exposed equipment which can be simultaneously touched are of magnitude and duration that they do not introduce danger. This type of equipment has a permanent connection to earth and is a source of earth leakage current which has a high content of harmonics. to avoid current having to flow through the metal of the enclosure itself. Single phase rectified loads produce odd harmonics. Where cables run between buildings. some of which 60 . are now found to be causing particular problems with traditional types of earthing arrangements.

then fault current will flow to the ground via Rb and the potential on the exposed metalwork will rise. A route which is as direct as possible will minimise its impedance. If there is no connection between A and B. then the route along the protective conductor from C to the main earth terminal can be long.3 Integrated Earthing Systems It is not generally possible to have a system consisting of a number of different earthing systems. This conductor should preferably be insulated and not run in parallel with cables or steelwork. This voltage difference is likely to create noise (or interference) and ultimately a shock risk. Heating and radiated electro-magnetic fields will be produced which could also cause interference. equipment at B will be unaffected. the arrangement would not conform to the regulations and could be dangerous. Figure 8-3 Earthing problems arising when equipment is interconnected As mentioned previously. 8. This is called a “clean” earth and is shown in Figure 8-3. Other methods of producing a clean earth include use of isolation transformers and power line conditioners (typically an isolation transformer together with voltage regulation and some filtering of harmonics). The “clean” earth could only be taken to a separate earth electrode if this in turn is bonded back to the main earthing terminal. It is first assumed that items of equipment at A and B each have their own earth electrode and that the metal enclosures of each are bonded to these. If this bond did not exist.are additive in the neutral and earth conductors. If we assume that such equipment is situated at locations A. In addition to the voltage reduction gained by this reduced impedance. possibly due to lightning. there would be a further reduction because the leakage current associated with equipment at A and B would no longer follow the same route. 61 . The cost to customers of data loss and equipment failure is often far greater than the initial capital cost of improving the earthing system. B and C in Figure 8-3. it is essential to select the appropriate cross sectional area and to reduce unwanted interference there is a growing tendency to increase the size of the protective conductors to help reduce interference in such installations. separate protective conductor directly back to the main earth termination or as close as practical to it. The inductance of the protective conductor will be especially important as the voltage difference will be greater for the harmonic currents than those at power frequency. If an earth fault develops at A. will have an impedance and there will be a voltage difference between the “earth” at C and that elsewhere. Figure 8-3 helps to illustrate why it is necessary to have one integrated design. One way of reducing the voltage at C is to route an additional. since these will inevitably interact and it is generally accepted that one integrated design with a low earth impedance is better than a number with medium impedance values.

Consider now that A and B are within the same building and that B has been provided with a so called “clean” earth. although sometimes this is arranged to happen only during fault conditions. 8. if there is a need to take a communication cable (X-Y) between the two sites. care needs to be exercised as these often incorporate metal screens or draw wires. Note that even when using fibre optic cables. This has a single connection to the main earth electrode. during fault conditions there will be a potential difference between the enclosures (and possibly the reference earths) in exactly the same way as described above. by using a number of parallel connections. The potential difference between A and B will depend on the magnitude of the current. If the cable sheath is connected at each end. the preferred way to bond the earthing systems would be a horizontal loop electrode approximately 1m outside each building. Whilst this arrangement is mainly concerned with surge protection. Figure 8-4 shows three zones. with several large electrodes interconnecting these. One source of interference arises when the earthing system forms loops through which leakage and fault currents can circulate. If A and B were separate buildings. the cable sheaths and conduits etc. it is relevant here as it also involves earthing zones. these requirements are normally achieved by running an earth wire with the cables. If single core cables are used with single point bonding. 62 . The accepted way to reduce the potential difference is to bond the two enclosures together as closely as possible. then significant damage could result due to the potential difference and current flow. the impedance of the cable sheath and the individual impedances of Ra and Rb. then some current will flow along it to earth via Rb. If the cores of the cable are connected to a signal reference ground (the electronic equipment ground plane) at either end.4 Arrangements to reduce interference The basic method is to ensure that the supply and return paths for fault current are as close as possible. This is accomplished with armoured cables and a protective conductor routed with the phases. since this reduces the electromagnetic field produced. Equipment within zone 2 is connected to the outer earth conductor and shield. Equipment within zone 3 is connected to the shield/earth conductor surrounding it and then via a single connection to the shield of zone 2. This would include copper earth wire. there will be a potential difference between the sheath and the enclosure at B which may cause a flashover. During normal operation the equipment at B will not be affected by interference on the earthing system at A (assuming it is possible to separate them totally which is unlikely). and assuming initially this has its sheath earthed only at A. For this reason it is normal to bond the two earthing systems together.However. However. One arrangement which limits the number of such loops and also provides a progressively more protected environment within a building is termed a nested shield arrangement.

It is intended to minimise earth loop areas. Any fault current or induced interference current is transferred to the outer shield and eventually into the earth electrode. Faults which do arise should be diverted to ground at the outermost boundary to minimise the effect on equipment within. such as those that can arise when cabling between floors or adjacent areas. is the hybrid design illustrated in Figure 8-5. Cables passing between zones would require special connections such that the design is not compromised.Figure 8-4 Nested shield type arrangement This progressive shielding arrangement enables different amounts of protection to be afforded and. 63 . zone 3 would normally be expected to have the least interference and would be the location for particularly sensitive or critical equipment. Surge protection units would also be required at each position where a cable passes through a shield. This arrangement is particularly applicable to buildings made from non-conducting materials. Another arrangement designed to minimise interference. for example. whilst ensuring that the earthing system is designed in a controlled manner without loops.

Figure 8-5 Hybrid Earthing arrangement to reduce interference (courtesy W J Furse. 64 . based on work by Eric Montandon) Note the new system blocks (1. All conductors that are bonded to the system earth within the system zone must be earthed at the SERP. It must be directly connected to the structures steel reinforcement where cables leading to the system enter. KEY Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 EB XXXX SERP Not directly exposed to lightning No partial lightning currents Made up of equipment shielding Equipotential bonding Steel reinforcements in concrete System earth reference point. 2 & 3) are hybrid-bonded and may be connected to the existing 4. This is the only metallic interface between the system and common earth.

the protection scheme must capture the lightning.leading to equipment damage or electric shock. the air becomes ionised and a downstroke begins . It follows a haphazard path. These effects could otherwise result in fire. will be created.9 Lightning Protection 9. The mechanics of the rainfall or freezing helps to cause charge separation. The final component. often via a seemingly haphazard route. As the potential difference between the cloud base and the underlying air/ground plane exceeds the breakdown value of the air in the immediate vicinity.travelling at about 2 metres per micro-second. its occupants and equipment from the adverse effects associated with a lightning strike.2 The Formation of Lightning It is generally accepted that lightning is created by a separation of electric charges due to air turbulence. some of which are listed in chapter 16. These are all discussed in more detail in this chapter. It is necessary to consider these factors and others. but eventually the negatively charged downwards leader will approach the ground. Positive charges will. If the rate of rise is gradual. lead it safely downwards and then disperse the energy within the ground. is surge protection equipment. snowflakes and ice crystals. This may cause larger raindrops or even freezing. it varies according to many factors. in turn. the cooling effect will be accelerated. in particular on any high structures. If the potential is sufficiently high at the ground (or on a high structure). then mist and rainfall normally result. but it is the ground strikes which are generally the most destructive. and the lightning discharge will be experienced. which has not been covered here. The energy associated with the discharge also varies. then ionisation of the air here commences and an upward charged leader. including geographical location. Eventually the negative and positive charged leaders will meet. generally downwards. in deciding whether a lightning protection scheme is required and the form it should take. made up of small steps. 65 . is accompanied by a bright flash and noise. 9. A high current of short duration. down leads and bonding leads and the earth termination (or electrode). which is normally negative. leading to a build up of negative charge on the cloud base and positive charge on the top of the cloud or on the ice particles. There are a number of specialist books on this subject where detailed advice is available. Clouds containing moisture rise and cool as they do so. The components used to facilitate this are air terminations. The charge separation is thought to be due to the interaction of raindrops. The subsequent potential differences created between clouds or between clouds and the ground can then be sufficiently high that a cloud to cloud or cloud to ground discharge (lightning strike) occurs. There is some debate about the way in which the steps are produced and the point at which the actual arc commences. be induced on the ground surface and. positively charged. if the rate of rise is above a certain level.1 Introduction The main purpose of a lightning protection scheme is to shield a building. height etc. Cloud to cloud lightning can cause electrical interference and sometimes significant damage. The amount of lightning activity is not the same throughout the country. To perform correctly. structural damage and electrical interference . However.

The lightning protection system must be designed to provide a sufficiently low impedance that the lightning energy will follow the required route. Metal projections.associated with the thunderstorm days per year. are positioned near those locations where a strike is most likely . The ideal arrangement would be a metal building where the current would flow through the skin of the building. This distance is reduced to 2. However. If the risk is less than 1 in 100.5 m in high risk buildings. 9. even if the risk of a strike is small.4.e. which is applied to the structure to ensure that all exposed areas are protected by the scheme.mainly the height. Rods were traditionally pointed. BS 6651 requires that all parts of the roof are within 5m of a conductor of the air termination. smaller on high risk buildings. roof peaks. The external dimensions of the structure and any electrically connected adjacent structures. 9. are connected to this. If the building is associated with an oil refinery or houses explosives.3 Risk Assessment :BS 6651:1992 ‘Protection of structures against lightning’. Rods. 9. for example how close is it to tall trees. The strips of the lattice typically form a mesh of 10 m by 20 m. The length of overhead cables emanating from the structure. The various components of the system are each described in more detail below. the more likely it is to be struck. The design for traditional buildings seeks to use the advantages of this. Copper is again the most widely used material. Geographic factors .4 Components of the Lightning Protection System The overall design is based on the concept of a rolling sphere. the larger it is. this needs to be assessed in relation to the consequences of a direct strike. by providing a number of parallel paths to reduce the fault current in each. including rods.1 Air terminations These consist of vertical rods and/or a lattice of conductors on the roof and top edges of a structure.2 Down leads and bonding conductors These are required to provide a low impedance path down the structure. then a lightning protection scheme offering the highest possible degree of protection will be required. The individual components are as described below. is based on a probabilistic assessment which takes the following factors into account: • • • • • • • Soil resistivity.the vertical height above sea level and relation with other structures. This requires an integrated design and use of materials with sufficiently low impedance.e. The materials used are generally high purity copper or aluminium (99%+ pure) of a similar grade to that used for electrical conductors. type of roof. and protection scheme (if any) in place. i.i. These factors take into account the collection area made up by the structure and cables connected to it and the methodology enables the risk of a strike to be calculated. in a manner which minimises potential differences and induced current. if used. Ground profile and terrain. The flash density in the locality .4. in order to carry out the formal risk assessment. In general. These would be symmetrically positioned around 66 . The construction type .9. but modern designs now normally have a smoothed. building corners etc.000. then generally no protection is required. but blunt tip.

below a down lead) is required to be a maximum of 10 Ohm. but the largest would flow in the path nearest to the point of impact. Copper and aluminium are the most widely used materials. a potential would be created. it is necessary to contact the electricity company if the lightning protection system is to be connected to the earth terminal. this could initially be at a potential nearer to that of earth and thus could offer a more desirable path to ground. accompanied by severe damage. This is to ensure that a sideflash does not occur. and this means that the earth termination should both be bonded to the rest of the earth electrodes and significantly. pipes etc. designed as an entity. Aluminium is not permitted for use underground. in addition to potential grading. on tree bark and where there is air pollution. Although the other parts of the protection system may be designed in isolation. metal girders. The complete installation should rise in potential together. The down leads are required to be as short and straight as possible. The most common terminations are driven rods and these are required to be at least 1. to avoid excessive voltage differences.the building. BS 6651 contains a formula to determine whether a nearby structure needs to be bonded or not. metal sheeting and reinforcing are also used. 67 .e. Stranded conductor is normally preferred to tape as it is easier to install and its skin effect at high frequencies results in better performance. As the current flows down the lead.3 Earth termination This can consist of a ring of buried copper (referred to in the USA as a counterpoise) which encircles the structure. then a sideflash could result. The impedance of the termination (i. connection is generally necessary to ensure that all exposed metalwork is bonded. Each down lead must have its own earth electrode termination and these are normally looped together to form a ring. then the down leads would often be interconnected via a horizontal ring conductor installed near ground level.5 m long with a minimum of 9m being used for each system. Each down lead should be taken to an earth termination and if these are not interconnected. A test clamp is often fitted to enable the continuity of pairs of downleads to be checked at ground level and provide a means of isolating the earth electrode. Whilst this may cause potentials to arise on the earthing system outside. Within buildings. If metalwork (such as central heating ducts. Potential equalisation is thus provided on the top and sides of the structure. and/or vertical earth rods. Bonding conductors are used to connect these to any exposed metalwork on or near the structure. moist air. They are typically 10 m to 20 m apart. 9. Copper is considered to be more resistant to corrosion in areas with salt laden. The ring helps to provide potential equalisation at ground level. any bends being gradual rather than right angled. near concrete. ideally including the corners. Current would flow in all paths.4. The copper is sometimes lead coated to increase its corrosion resistance when used on chimneys and near other sources of flue gases. near to these down paths as there is a risk of inductive interference. PVC sleeving is also sometimes fitted for aesthetic reasons. They should be of robust construction and securely fixed in order to withstand the significant mechanical forces which accompany the flow of lightning current. the electrode arrangement should not be. If the potential difference exceeded the breakdown value of the air or medium in-between. Sensitive electronic equipment should not be positioned within the building. with horizontal electrodes being used to interconnect them and help to reduce the overall impedance.) were not bonded. In addition to formal down leads. The latter helps reduce the touch voltage which could be experienced by a person in contact with the down lead during a lightning discharge.

There is a wide range of devices available for this purpose. this is accompanied by a buried earth wire which runs underground alongside the line itself. Other devices used include surge reduction filters ( to give added protection to sensitive electronic equipment) and surge barriers ( where cables enter or leave a building). for technical reasons. possibly with some vertical earth rods attached to it. to protect electronic equipment. if in an area with significant lightning activity. An over-running earthwire is provided to give the appropriate protection.Normally the lightning protection and main power system earths would be interconnected. The latter involve one or more steel rods connected to the phase conductors. This normally provides an impedance at power frequency of 10 Ohm or less.5 Lightning Protection of Power Lines The majority of high voltage transmission and distribution lines (132 kV. an “earth potential equaliser” can be installed between them. As the soil resistivity increases. Earthing. 275 kV. sections of cast iron pipe were sometimes installed underground between the tower legs. Where this is not desirable. Due to the length of these lines. shielding and bonding cannot always guarantee immunity from interference. the impedance may be too high and additional earth electrodes are installed. 9. they are susceptible to direct strikes and induced effects due to a nearby strike or cloud-to-cloud lightning. the main areas at risk should be readily identifiable and additional precautions taken. If lightning strikes a tower. The operating voltage is below that at which damage to the protected equipment would occur. Over-voltage protection devices are installed to protect equipment on overhead lines. normally metal oxide varistors. 400 kV) are installed on steel lattice towers. This is earthed at the start and end of each line and at every support position. In general. in some cases. the rod tips being positioned a set distance from an earthed rod or plate. However in high resistivity soil. the air gap between these breaks down and diverts the associated energy down into the earthing system. where necessary. The voltage arising on the tower can.typically several hundred Volts. the earth electrode at the support is formed by the steel legs installed in concrete in the soil.4 Surge protection devices Having designed the lightning protection system. but in this position the improvement to the earth impedance is not normally significant. The earth electrode arrangement may be a horizontal loop situated one metre or more outside the tower footing. 9. This will interconnect the earthing systems if the voltage between them exceeds a certain value . then some of the associated current will be diverted through the footings to earth and some via the over-running earth wire to adjacent towers. so surge protection devices supplement these where necessary and form the last part of the formal defence. In older line designs. This will often be followed by a power frequency discharge. routed radially outwards from the tower footings. This includes surge diverters and a variety of “spark gaps”. They are voltage limiting devices connected between phase and earth. In worst cases. Generally. long (say 20 m) horizontal electrodes may need to be installed. be sufficient that the breakdown voltage of the line insulators is exceeded and a back flashover will occur from the tower to the phase conductors. 68 . Voltage switching devices suddenly switch to a low resistance once a threshold voltage is exceeded. they are designed to divert the energy associated with an over-voltage into the earthing system to avoid this causing insulation breakdown within equipment. When the voltage exceeds a certain value. They include spark gaps and gas discharge tubes. Appendix C of BS 6651 contains useful additional information about the application of surge diverters.4.

between phase and earth). the ground reference plane is normally connected to the metal equipment enclosure. loss of data in IT systems. it must pass through the impedance of the above ground connections (Lx1 and Rx1) and below ground electrode (Rx2) of the earthing system. A voltage will be present on the earthed equipment at X. The implications arising from galvanic coupling can be seen by reference to Figure 10-1. Problems arise when special arrangements are made to avoid connecting adjacent equipment via the cable screen or armour. so performance continues despite the interference. they may unknowingly be interconnected via the ground reference conductor. The conditions giving rise to resistive coupling via the soil have already been covered in chapters 1. The consequences of interference can range from audible ‘clicks’ on hi-fi systems. Communication cables normally have an earthed screen. together with that of the connection between them (Lxy and Rxy). or via a resistive medium (such as the soil). Part of the reason for this is that electronic equipment from which these cables emanate has a “ground reference plane” to which digital signals are referred. then there will be a difference in voltage between the earthed equipment at X and Y.e. This in turn is connected to the main earthing system. The magnitude of the voltage difference will depend on the earth impedance values at X and Y. The latter examples can be very costly in terms of lost production. in addition to that due to equipment damage. The mechanisms by which interference arises are:• • • resistive (also known as galvanic) coupling capacitive coupling inductive coupling.10 Electrical Interference Interference is an everyday occurrence in electrical circuits. These will all now be covered in a little more detail. but fortunately in the majority of cases it is un-noticed. Improvements to the earthing system are often required to reduce such interference and the shielding aspects can require a lower earth value than the safety and protection operation criteria. The potential difference in this example is called resistive (galvanic) interference and it can be reduced by either:- 69 . but also contain a signal reference conductor which is connected to the ground reference. This may be due to design of the installation or the immunity built into the equipment being used. 10. As described in these earlier chapters. A voltage created on the sheath of a cable which passes near to the earthing system is said to be due to resistive (or galvanic or conductive) coupling. Assume that the equipment at X has been affected by a lightning surge and the excess voltage has been reduced by diverting the energy to earth via a shunt connected surge diverter (i.1 Resistive Coupling This coupling arises when there is either a direct electrical connection between the source of the disturbance and the affected circuit. an earth fault condition may have caused the potential on an earthing system to rise. flicker in lighting circuits. If the equipment is connected to that at Y by a cable sheath having an impedance made up of resistance (Rxy) and inductance (Lxy). 2 and 7. However. As the current flows down into the soil. To avoid excessive voltages within equipment. Interference is particularly troublesome for data processing and communication circuits which require a high degree of quality. incorrect operation of equipment through to actual damage or destruction of equipment.

10. it is called capacitive interference. the interference current can be significant if the overhead line is struck by lightning. the common method is to provide a magnetic shield (say a metal conduit) and several conductive paths in parallel with this. Ideally. and earth wire. This is the type of interference which would be experienced if a metal conductor is routed near a high voltage overhead line and is due to the electric field. but when it creates unwanted voltages. It is assumed that at one moment the conductor is positively charged. Lxy and Rxy. As this is generally impractical.• • • decreasing the earth impedances ( Rx2 and Ry2 ) reducing the impedance of the connection between X and Y. then (due to the capacitance between them) a negative charge will be created on the plate Y1 Y2. The overhead conductor is shown as X1 X2 in Figure 10-2. This mechanism is used beneficially in electronics and electrical engineering. reducing the above ground earthing connection impedance at X and Y. The capacitive current which flows is directly proportional to the frequency and voltage magnitude. then a charge will arise on the second one.e. If the connection is via a cable sheath. conduit etc. then a surge protection unit may be necessary to prevent an excessive voltage difference between the cable cores and sheath during fault conditions. 70 . Figure 10-1 Example illustrating resistive interference Normally the most effective way is to closely bond the equipment via cable sheaths. being earthed at each end and at intermediate locations. when the magnitude. i. If one component is charged.2 Capacitive Coupling Any two conductive metallic components which are separated in a medium will have a capacitance between them. harmonic content and rate of change will all be high. connected equipment would be situated upon an equipotential platform consisting of a continuous plate. For this reason.

10. • increase the separation between them. made from tinned copper. Both methods are traditionally used for signal and communication cables. so good conductive material such as copper is used to minimise this. An electrostatic shield would preferably be applied around each twisted pair in a large cable and another around the whole cable.3 Inductive Coupling This is the most common type of interference. The magnetic field is produced because the current in X is alternating. made from tinned copper • double braid. This could cause interference at the remote end. It is due to magnetic fields.The methods available to reduce this interference are:• reduce the overlap between the components (for example the distance in parallel). will cause a voltage along its length. the magnetic field encircling conductor Y will change and this. The following materials are typically used for capacitive screening:• tape or foil made from copper or aluminium • single braid. Figure 10-3 helps to illustrate how inductive coupling arises. particularly at power frequency (50Hz). Tape or foil provides the greatest screening protection. but some flux lines from X will encircle it as shown. caused by electro-magnetic coupling. The magnetic field strength reduces as the distance from X is increased. Normally an electrostatic screen would only be earthed at one end. the one having the lowest earthing system impedance. There will be potential differences along the length of the screen. would do so at right angles. Figure 10-2 Example illustrating capacitive interference Another method is to place a metal screen around the circuit requiring protection and connect it to earth at one point. 71 . wherever possible. Conductor Y may be some distance away. whilst braid has better mechanical and electrical properties. made of tinned copper • single spiral lap. The current flowing in conductor X creates a magnetic field around it. The interference voltage arising in the sheath will be dispersed to earth and the effect on the cables inside will be significantly reduced. As the current in conductor X changes. which are routed some distance from mains cables and if they need to cross them. in turn. as capacitive currents are distributed but must flow to one end to be discharged. as shown.

but this only works for balanced differential types of signalling. as shown in Figure 10-4. then a separate shield wire may be required.The voltage arising in conductor Y is thus caused by inductive interference and increases with the rate of change of current in conductor X. • reduce the effect of the magnetic field on circuit Y. One method of achieving this is to use twisted pair cables. Its direction will be such that the magnetic field it produces will act in opposition to that from conductor X. mains or earth cables carrying unbalanced current (particularly earth fault current) or lightning protection conductors which are dispersing fault current. Increasing the separation is not always practicable and may involve considerable expense if not implemented at the initial construction stage. Figure 10-3 Inductive interference If conductor Y is earthed at both ends. 72 . Sources of this type of interference can be normal mains cables. earthed at each end. • reducing the magnetic field produced around the cables to be protected. It is particularly difficult to protect against this type of interference and the general methods used include:• increasing the separation between cables (X to Y). The end result is that the magnetic field and interference on the cores of cable Y will be reduced. If the cable sheath or screen is earthed at both ends. If plastic conduit is used. then whilst current is flowing in cable X. as shown in Figure 10-4. The current in Y will be in a direction such that the magnetic field it produces will oppose that existing around conductor X. Individual power cables would be arranged in a triangular manner (trefoil) such as to reduce the magnetic field produced around them under normal load conditions. Power cables would also be run on earthed steel trays to reduce the magnetic field created. a current will also be induced in cable sheath Y. then the potential difference between the two ends will cause a current to flow along the conductor and through the earth/ground.

This will normally be earthed at each end. so it is best practice to position these as close to the ground conductor as possible. This is achieved by using a high permeability material (such as steel) as a screen. The magnetic field surrounding it will be distorted and the field density within the steel increases whilst that around the cores decreases Note that capacitive coupling can still arise when twisted pairs are used.• diverting the magnetic field away. Figure 10-4 Reducing inductive interference by using an earthed shield/screen 73 .

The standards also include guidance on fitting earth conductors. there may be smoke from process plants. the possibility of bimetallic corrosion exists.2.1 Introduction Electricity supplies are required in all areas of the country. city centres and industrial areas. The most susceptible metal will be preferentially corroded. which include rural areas. It is also important to consider what other equipment is present in the area. 11.2. This sacrificial effect is exploited in many corrosion reduction techniques. selective areas. as this may influence the corrosion risk. In the presence of an electrolyte. Corrosion can also occur due to inappropriate bimetallic connections or contact with other materials.) or contaminated substances which have been buried. This type of corrosion is the least troublesome and can generally be controlled by good construction practice. because of the risk of corrosion. including material selection. chemicals (fertilisers etc. Table 11-1 shows the ranking of the more common metals in descending order of nobility. Underground. 11. or rainwater which has dissolved airborne material. 11.2. the moist environment may include naturally occurring minerals. The most susceptible metal will be the one which is least ‘noble’. There may also be a residual standing voltage at the electrical installation which may either affect the corrosion rate (AC influenced) or cause nearby electrolytic action (DC influenced). which are bimetallic corrosion and chemical corrosion.2 Types of Corrosion 11. The design should allow for the smallest components to be more noble than large ones. The security required can be assured by careful selection of material. The anodic metal corrodes. The standards include the necessary guidance on this.1 Bimetallic corrosion When dissimilar metals are joined and in an electrically conductive aqueous liquid . uniform general corrosion leading to an overall loss in weight of the component and pitting corrosion in small. the earthing system is a critical part of the electricity supply system and needs to perform. contact materials required etc. In air. a nearby pipeline may be fitted with an impressed current cathodic protection scheme which may interact with the new earthing system.such as most underground situations. over a considerable period of time. the more noble metal becomes cathodic to the lower order metal which become anodic. As mentioned previously. selection and fitting of bimetallic connections. normally unseen. There are two sources of general corrosion. Earthing system components are installed above and below ground and in both situations must cope with a wide range of environments. For example.11 Corrosion 11.2. For example. The latter type of corrosion can be serious for tubes but less so for earthing strips or plates. 74 . for example BS 7430 stipulates that aluminium conductors should not be drilled and fixed direct to concrete structures. to include the physical orientation. how to exclude water.1 In air In air corrosion is normally caused by either chemical reaction with rainwater solutions which have dissolved airborne gases or dust particles from industrial processes.2 Underground Corrosion underground generally takes place in a combination of two ways.

g. where their surface condition becomes active rather than passive. Biofouling. this type of corrosion may affect copper coated rods.g. A particular case is the combination of galvanised earth rods and copper/copperbond earth rods. the rate of corrosion increases sharply. As shown in Table 11-1. The zinc layer on the galvanised rods behaves as the anode to the more noble copper cathode. corrosion will be more probable. For this the anodic area (e. • • 11. Copper does not suffer from this and it is not hospitable to growth of organisms. An additional problem which can be experienced is severe corrosion at a joint between different metals.2 Chemical corrosion The soil can either be neutral. i. where the material surrounding the electrode is required to be relatively neutral. lichens and similar matter. the more rapidly it corrodes. of copper). a crevice can be set up where the water is static and likely to become anaerobic.e. acidic or alkaline and the relative state of a soil is represented on a pH scale as follows:pH number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Chemical action will take place between the metal and any acid or alkali in solution in the soil. of steel) is divided by the cathodic area (e. Note also that sometimes the zinc layer may be removed due to ‘general’ soil corrosion (e.2. Should the copper coating be scratched and removed from the steel core.3 Resistance to Corrosion Although corrosion resistance is not as easily quantified as many other mechanical properties. as can happen in the small gaps between mating flanges or joints. a significant rise in electrical contact resistance can occur. this will alter their position in the electrochemical series. In addition. especially in the common stainless steels. Where a crevice is formed. 75 . it does influence lifetime costings. Additional aspects of corrosion which should be considered are: • Corrosion Fatigue (Stress Corrosion). for example good resistance to corrosion resulting in fewer expensive service failures. the lower its nobility. For example.2. the ratio of the areas is small and rapid corrosion occurs in suitable conditions. Crevice Corrosion. Again guidance is given in the standards. in soils with a high chloride content). especially in the presence of retained internal stress caused by cold working. Where the joint is unprotected and accessible to moisture. say copper and aluminium or copper and steel. i. They can be accentuated in corrosive environments. This can accelerate corrosion in some metals. Corrosion of the zinc layer can then occur leaving the steel core of the galvanised rod exposed which in turn will offer relatively little corrosion resistance to the surrounding soil. As the ratio between the anodic and cathodic area decreases. The implication of this type of corrosion is that care must be taken to ensure compatibility between dissimilar metals used.g. This involves the growth of moss. 11. if a steel pipe is jointed to a large copper pipe. This is one of the many reasons why copper is so frequently selected as an engineering material. the electrical potential (as indicated on the galvanic series) between them should be kept to a minimum to prevent galvanic action.One method of assessing the risk of galvanic corrosion is provided by the “areas” rule. Fatigue failures can be found under conditions of less severe stress than would be expected when the effect is aggravated by the presence of a corrosive atmosphere or liquid. The rate of corrosion will be influenced by the nobility of the metal.e.

000 years ago have been recovered in useable condition. Copper implements dating back to 2. even making water pipes by rolling up copper strip. When copper is outdoors and exposed to rainwater containing dissolved carbon dioxide. Common stainless steels are shown with values for normal exposed passive conditions. Copper is towards the more noble range of the series. the typical protective green patina forms. Interestingly. measured in saline water. together with the active surface conditions often found in crevices. The Egyptians used copper extensively in architecture. cuprous oxide forms first and then gradually darkens through brown to the black of cupric oxide. In humid air. particularly in many aqueous. chemical and underground environments. Objects dating back to 4. copper oxide forms more rapidly and may be loosened by quenching in water.000 BC have been discovered in good condition after being buried by floods in early Mesopotamian times.3. 11. 76 . despite its good anti-corrosive properties. When copper is heated. The use of copper for earthing is more recent and it has performed well in the majority of soil conditions. Sections of water pipe that had been buried in gypsum 5. which again explains its use for underground purposes. It is not normally considered to be a harmful toxic metal.1 Atmospheric oxidation Copper forms two oxides.2 Underground corrosion Many of the applications of copper and its alloys rely on good corrosion resistance. but having a significantly lower price than the most noble metals. both of which are conductors.11. The patina or oxides formed are relatively thin and form a layer which inhibits further corrosion.3. Experience gained with buried copper pipes is a useful means of illustrating this and allowing comparisons to be made. copper is an essential trace element in the diet of humans and animals and essential to the growth of most plants.500 BC have been found buried in various parts of the British Isles. Table 11-1 shows the galvanic behaviour of metals.

The results of some of these are summarised in Table 11-2. Field trials carried out in closely monitored service conditions have proved far more reliable. Because of the very great number of variables encountered in service. it is useful to remember that only the precious metals such as gold and platinum resist corrosion under all circumstances.Table 11-1 Corrosion Susceptibility of Metals Most Susceptible (Least noble) ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ Magnesium and its alloys Zinc and its alloys Aluminium and its alloys Cadmium Stainless steel. accelerated tests carried out in laboratories have been of limited use. 77 . 18/8 type 304 (active) Stainless steel.4 Corrosion Test Field Trials Although it is well accepted that copper resists corrosion well in service in normal conditions. Occasional failures have occurred when soil conditions have been unusually aggressive and sufficient experience gained to give guidelines on soil conditions to be avoided in order to obtain full service life from copper. 50/50 Stainless steel. 18/8/3Mo type 316 (active) Lead Tin Brasses Gunmetals Aluminium bronzes Copper Copper-nickel alloys ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ Least susceptible (More noble) Monel Titanium and its alloys Stainless steels (passive) Silver Gold Platinum 11. 13% Cr (active) Lead-tin solder.

18 0.00 >20 >20 1.62 0.26 0.460 67 43 63 60 33 58 29 45 64 56 61 27 28 5 3 8 25 36 10 Cinders Tidal marsh Tidal marsh Peat Peat Muck* Muck* Alkali Soil Clay Clay Clay Clay Clay adobe Clay adobe Clay loam Clay loam Clay loam Sandy loam Sandy loam 1.64 0.9 2.3 7.12 0.29 0.07 0.10 0.58 0.8 4.06 0.91 0.25 0.45 0.59 3.30 0.67 0.9 6.07 0.1 2.79 78 .2 4.67 2.81 2.6 6. The range of results was wide and showed different influences on each metal.5 6.12 3.81 0.06 0.200 7.4 8.90 2. -3 Test No Soil Average corrosion rate.22 0.03 0.59 0.6 6.04 0.33 3.07 0.03 0.04 0.07 0.82 2. the durability of copper was very evident when compared with steel or cast iron.06 0.58 0.06 0.51 1.97 2.09 9.02 0.51 0.49 0.346 30.04 0.16 0.16 0.2 7.05 0.6 455 60 84 218 800 712 1.8 7.011 0.05 0.980 11.02 0.84 1.000 350 2. oF 46 52 66 49 46 69 69 47 58 69 69 67 61 56 61 49 46 64 50 Annual rainfall (inches) 30 43 45 37 30 57 57 15 16 49 57 56 10 23 48 21 30 53 41 Moisture % 11 55 47 43 73 58 34 15 41 29 31 43 25 29 29 37 26 14 13 pH Resistivity Ω-cm 8.17 0.04 0.0 4.93 0.08 0. inches x 10 /y Characteristics of soil and climate Copper Brass Lead Steel Cast Iron Mean Temp.60 >20 2..26 0.2 7.915g/m2) which was shown to give some extension to life but to be largely ineffective after five years.13 1.016 0.06 0.270 263 62 406 943 570 408 1.44 2.70 0. National Bureau of Standards (USA) 450pp.09 3.016 0.1 5.05 0. November 1945 and shows results obtained after field trials with exposure periods ranging from four to thirteen years.60 0.64 0.27 1.03 0. Generally.4 0.03 0.11 0.02 0.60 0.0 3.30 0.39 0.0 5.11 0.6 7.57 3.51 0.82 2. Further tests were carried out with galvanised steel (3oz/ft2 .004 0.61 2.14 0.11 0.36 0. The effects of many variables on corrosion rates were studied for four metals commonly used for underground pipework.23 >20 4.Table 11-2 Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on Corrosion The table is condensed from ‘Underground Corrosion’.47 3.68 3.77 1.

6 7.23 Copper 0. 79 .018 0.10 0.analysis was given for sodium.4 3.019 0.6 7.7.290 11.19 0. It is thought that the presence of sulphide caused the aggressive environment. Soils with high sulphate and chloride were generally acid and the remarks above also apply. Of the other soils the clay (No 64) that is strongly alkaline and badly drained was aggressive.010 0.14 Cast Iron 62 67 69 Mean Temp. effects more dependant on range from summer to winter.22 0.35 0. potassium.26 4.35 3.2 45.05 0. the soil was often very alkaline.9 5.46 0.36 2.97 1.60 0.24 0.08 0. was often present when corrosion rates were high.05 0.High moisture is usually associated with poor drainage and high humus content.84 0.06 0.48 0.18 0.7 8. generally associated with poor drainage and high humus.20 0.12 Lead 0.28 0. * ‘Muck’ Soils with a high content of muck (US term for decaying vegetation) and other high humus soils were aggressive. Moisture Equivalent .410 Type of Soil .03 0.36 1. Neutral soils caused few problems.08 0.not very significant.54 1. inches x 10 /y Characteristics of soil and climate 31 66 6 4 35 23 1 20 19 18 Fine sand Fine gravely loam Gravely sandy loam Loam Loam Silt loam Silt loam Silt loam Silt loam Silt loam 0.40 0.02 0.18 0.values were found to vary with measurement techniques and exposure of the soil to air.7 5.670 2. higher numbers greater alkalinity .14 0. Water composition .49 0.Cinders caused the worst corrosion although their sulphate and chloride contents were not always high.89 1.016 0. calcium magnesium.16 2.3 9.31 0.03 0.03 1.The worst cases of corrosion occurred in soils with very poor drainage.18 0.500 23.73 0. Some of the problems could also be caused by galvanic action between the copper and carbon which formed 26% of the cinders. Annual rainfall . Drainage .06 0.060 278 1. Where less than 21inches.870 1.04 0.0 7.47 4.014 0.215 2.190 8. carbonate. oF 69 70 51 54 62 65 49 49 50 51 15 61 47 Annual rainfall (inches) 47 8 34 40 15 6 34 34 32 28 12 22 7 Moisture % 3 16 12 22 18 25 29 22 28 28 7.100 6. smaller numbers show greater acidity.8 pH 3.02 0.21 Brass 0. Mean temperature .17 0. High sulphate and chloride.08 0. chloride and sulphate.025 0.200 Resistivity Ω-cm Average corrosion rate.26 0..5 4. conditions favourable to corrosion.4 7. pH value .08 0.012 0.03 0.12 16 37 Test No Fine sandy loam Fine sandy loam Fine sand Soil 0.80 0.76 1.00 -3 Steel 0.16 0.08 1.0 is neutral.When between 30 and 60 inches per year the effect is not significant.3 20.02 0.970 1.1 4.

humus content.K. 80 .o Soil Resistivity . These soils would have higher resistivities most of the year. Very low resistivity (less than 10 Ohm-cm) is always associated with severe corrosion.The figures given are for saturated soils at 60 F. acidity. Test results after a series of tests by the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association on copper and lead in British climatic conditions gave conclusions that were similar to those reported above when related to type of soil. alkalinity and contents of sulphate and chloride. Field tests in the U. Only in wet acid peat was this effect not found. Estimates of the effect of time on corrosion rates showed that generally they decreased after acquiring protective scales.

It is available in all fabricated forms. termed C106 (Cu-DHP. This copper.1. boron is frequently used as a deoxidant and many other additions also have a deoxidising effect. CW003A & CW004A). C110 (Cu-OFE. with a nominal conductivity of 100% IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard). It is mined in every inhabited continent.1 High conductivity coppers High conductivity (HC) copper. HC copper is very readily worked hot and cold. especially creep strength. C101 (Cu-ETP. For castings. Ore reserves. Oxygen is intentionally present in HC copper to combine with residual impurities so that they have no effect on conductivity. This oxygen can be reduced to steam if copper is annealed in atmospheres containing excess hydrogen. is used in tubes for fresh water services.013% or to 73% if at the maximum of 0. There is a grade of higher purity still.1. busbars.12 Types of Copper and Typical Applications 12. It work hardens relatively slowly and can be annealed in neutral or oxidising atmospheres. This is still a better conductor than many other materials. sometimes also called ‘DONA copper’. ambient and elevated temperatures and has excellent resistance to corrosion. It is also available in rod. this copper is made only by casting in a controlled atmosphere. is first choice material used for electrical applications such as earthing strip and wire. cables and windings for motors and transformers. It has good mechanical properties at low.3 Oxygen-free High Conductivity copper Designated C103. CW024A). 'Bright' annealing atmospheres therefore have to be carefully controlled. 12.05% phosphorus. it has excellent ductility which means that it can easily be bent to shape. high conductivity. 12. Phosphorus is the preferred deoxidant and when used the conductivity of copper is slightly reduced. It can subsequently be worked exactly as normal high conductivity copper. It is used for applications where high conductivity of over 100% IACS is required in addition to freedom from the possibility of embrittlement in reducing atmospheres.1. Cu-ETP in BS EN specifications and CW003A and CW004A in the BS EN computer designations. Most copper is now cast continuously and the desirable oxygen content is reduced. 81 . each suitable for earthing applications.2 Deoxidised copper The use of deoxidants when casting copper ensures that excess oxygen is removed. It may be welded or brazed without the special precautions needed for normal high conductivity copper. Adding small quantities of silver to copper improves its elevated temperature properties. In cast form. sheet and strip form. CW008A). In addition. (Cu-OF. In annealed form. copper has a slightly lower conductivity than that after being worked and annealed.1 Coppers Copper has the highest conductivity of any of the commercial metals. and the continuing development of mining techniques. phosphorus deoxidised and oxygen-free. causing embrittlement. There are three popular types of copper. 12. are such that future supplies are assured. The phosphorus content reduces conductivity to about 92% of that of HC copper for the minimum of 0. This produces a material that can readily be brazed or welded without fear of embrittlement. It was designated C101 in British Standards. there are a wide variety of less-common high conductivity copper alloys with improved properties for special applications.

For coppers and copper alloys.4 High Conductivity copper alloys For electrical applications such as resistance welding electrodes where service is at high temperatures under heavy stress. In addition to the use of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) compositional designation system. Eventually there will be no differences between national standards for these materials. referred to in chapter 16. dimensional tolerances and special test methods. 12. 12.). specified mechanical properties.2 Standard Copper Designations The product forms covered by the BS designations contain compositions. there is a new common numbering system for coppers and copper-based materials.CW009A) that is normally only required for high-vacuum electronic applications such as transmitter valves. Conductivity is around 80% IACS. CDA Publication TN 10 gives a useful cross-reference between the different numbering systems. CC101 (CW105C). so there is no need to cross-refer between separate documents covering compositions. This is certified to have a very high purity and low residual volatile gases. Further details of all these materials are available in the CDA Technical Note TN 29 'High Conductivity Coppers. Each document forms a complete product standard. tolerances etc.1 BS EN Standards European standards are produced for relevant copper product forms and become British Standards with a ‘BS ENxxxxx’ number. which means that the material is not often used for earthing. These are shown in Table 12-1. New York. together with their designations and proposed material identification numbers. which contains up to 1% of chromium and is fully heat treatable to room temperature properties which are maintained as the operating temperature rises. The most popular of these is copper-chromium.1. special alloys are available. American standards and UNS numbering system for metals remain unaffected in the foreseeable future. 82 . may sometimes command a premium price. Oxygen free coppers are suitable for earthing applications but. This is much more easily identifiable by computer database systems. the UNS numbering system is administered by CDA (Inc. In the new BS EN standards the opportunity has been taken to consider and include the materials and requirements most commonly needed. but is suitable for applications such as rotor rings for use in heavyduty rotating electrical machines. properties.2. depending on production volumes. 12. Table 12-2 shows the wrought coppers and copper alloys most common in Europe and being included in the BS EN standards.

strip and foil high conductivity copper wire rod 12. gas and sanitation copper and copper alloy tube for general engineering copper and copper alloy tube for heat exchangers forging stock and forgings wire rods. 12.3.06%. This property is chosen because it can be the most accurately measured.4 and 12.1 Electrical conductivity and resistivity The mandatory electrical property for high conductivity copper is now mass resistivity for which the unit Ωg/m² is used.5.89 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cm³).Table 12-1 Present British Standards for Copper and copper Alloys for general and electrical purposes Copper Refinery Shapes Current Standard 6017 Subject Copper Refinery Shapes (This standard is also occasionally referred to when copper is being ordered by composition only. This was valid when originally published in 1913 when oxygen contents were typically 0. The use of volume measurements quoted in IEC publication No.3 Properties The properties of copper and some other materials are shown in tables 12. with no mandatory properties) Copper and Copper Alloys for General Purposes Current Standard 1400 3146 2870 2871 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 2872 2873 2874 2875 Current Standard 159 1432 1433 1434 1977 3839 4109 4608 6929 Subject castings investment castings sheet. The properties which are more relevant to earthing are now discussed below. bars and sections plate Copper for General Electrical Purposes Subject busbars and busbar connections strip with drawn or rolled edges rod and bar commutator bar high conductivity tubes oxygen free high-conductivity copper (electronic grade) wire rolled sheet. It is shown in BS 5714 that the error in measurement of mass of small sections such as wire or strip is likely to be less than that for volume. 12. 28 (1913) assumes a standard density for copper in the wrought form used for the test of 8. 83 . strip and foil copper tube for water.3.

so the density is nearer 8. For high conductivity copper. Conductivity values are shown in both SI units of Siemens per metre and "per cent IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard)". 84 .3. 12. electrical conductivity checks are carried out in rod mill laboratories on samples drawn to 2 mm diameter and given a specified anneal.02% oxygen.4 Tensile strength Properties quoted in standards are normally minima typical for the size and temper stated and are for quality control purposes.3 Temper designations The types of copper preferred are to BS 1432 (annealed). Tests made using an eddy-current instrument are normally accurate to about ±3% on flat surfaces. 12. This property is also necessary to avoid movement due to the mechanical forces which accompany the passage of sudden. temper and temperature. For oxygen-free coppers 8. harder material is required such that shape will be maintained on structures. Cast material also has a lower value due to grain boundary and porosity effects. Conductivity measurements made on larger sections or by other techniques are generally less accurate. 12.2 Thermal conductivity Thermal conductivity is rarely measured routinely but can be taken as being proportional to electrical conductivity with the effects of alloying additions.91 g/cm³. For particular requirements. BS 125 Copper strip for use below ground is normally required to be soft so that it can easily be bent around obstructions. this latter being the traditional way of comparing the conductivity of other metals and copper alloys with high conductivity copper. For above ground use. An accurately calibrated Kelvin double resistance bridge is usually used for the measurement. realistic typical figures can generally be obtained from the manufacturers at the time of discussing an order.5% IACS in the annealed state.3.89 g/cm³ which may be subject to revision. For economically large quantities it may be possible to meet special requirements for any properties.3. most commercial high conductivity copper has a conductivity around 101.Modern coppers now contain only about 0. Work hardened material will have a lower value due to internal strain effects. With the improvements in purity previously mentioned. The values given in Table 12-5 for volume resistivity and conductivity are interpreted using the IEC standard density value of 8. They are suitable for use in designing for general engineering applications.94 g/cm³ is more realistic. large electrical currents.

rod.Table 12-2 New BS EN designations for Wrought Coppers The shaded materials are those most often used. Oxygen content will cause embrittlement if heated in a reducing atmosphere. General engineering and building applications where high electrical conductivity is not required. Available to special order to same standards as Cu-ETP. Silver improves creep strength and raises softening temperature. Deoxidised copper with good conductivity. tough pitch. wire and other fabricated electrical components. Cu-HCP Cu-DLP Cu-FRTP C104 CW021A CW023A CW006A 200 200-360 200-360 30 42-3 42-3 40 40-110 40-110 * * * * * * * 85 . those with the ‘0’ being most easily available.07) Cu-Ag(0. tough pitch high conductivity copper Common British Description Tensile strength N/mm2 200-360 Typical properties Elongation % 42-3 Hardness HV 40-110 High conductivity copper for strip. C100 is standardised only for high conductivity rod for electrical applications but satisfies the requirements of Cu-ETP. ditto * O Remarks Tube Rod Availability Forgings * Profiles O Wire Plate sheet strip * O Cu-Ag(0.10) Cu-FRHC C102 CW012A CW013A CW005A Fire refined.04) C101 CW011A Silver bearing copper 200-360 42-3 40-110 * Cu-Ag(0. Materials standardised are marked ‘*’ and ‘0’. highconductivity copper Low phosphorus deoxidised copper Tough pitch. Deoxidised copper with good conductivity. nonarsenical copper 200-360 42-3 40-110 * * * * ditto Not commonly available but C101 satisfies the requirements. Alloy Designation ISO/CEN Designation Cu-ETP Nearest BS equivalent C101 & C100 Proposed EN Number CW003A Electrolytic.

Does not suffer from embrittlement when heated in reducing atmosphere. therefore no embrittlement. High conductivity.Alloy Designation Common British Description Proposed EN Number CW024A Phosphorus deoxidised nonarsenical copper Oxygen free. No oxygen. Tub e Rod Forg -ings Profiles Wire Plate sheet strip * O * * * * Cu-OF C103 CW008A 200-360 30-10 40-100 * * * 86 . high conductivity copper Typical properties Remarks Availability ISO/CEN Designatio n Cu-DHP Nearest BS equivalen t C106 Tensile strength N/mm2 200-400 Elongatio n % 42-3 Hardnes s HV 40-110 General engineering applications where highest conductivity not required.

for sheet and strip. So being the cross sectional area of the section of a proportional test piece. Hardness Hardnesses of cast coppers and copper alloys are generally measured using the ball indenter technique of the Brinell method because of the need to cover a representatively large area.2% permanent deformation. Conversions should be used only where calibrated curves or tables are available relevant to the material. elongation figures in specifications are typical minima. BS 4577 includes a useful appendix showing approximate conversions and the scatter of results found.1 or 0. Alloyed coppers such as copper-chromium and copper-beryllium can be used at much higher temperatures. This property is not often measured directly. • • • • • • 87 . This property is also rarely measured. Comparisons between these two techniques should be used with caution and comparative tests on actual components are needed for verifying conversions. Proof stress values quoted in documents are usually given relative to either 0. so the elongation generally decreases. stress and time at temperature. Typical values can be obtained from manufacturers. the latter being more common.2% proof stress.5 Other properties • Elongation. Proof Stress. Coppers can be used at temperatures over 100oC for many years. Maximum working temperature depends on composition. Similar considerations apply to the relationship between hardness and tensile strength. As with tensile properties. Hardnesses of wrought materials are usually measured using the diamond indenter of the Vickers method which makes a smaller impression. Coppers and copper alloys can all be used at temperatures well above ambient.3. Properties at Low Temperatures. Elongation is normally measured on a length of 5. Properties at Elevated Temperatures. Shear Strength. but. but it may be roughly estimated that the stress for 0.12. For high conductivity copper alloys. Compressive Strength.2% permanent set in compression is equal to the 0. Coppers and copper alloys do not become brittle at low temperatures. It must be remembered that.65√So. as the tensile strength or hardness of a material is increased by cold working. shear strength may be estimated at two thirds of the tensile strength.

022 0.91 1063 2 2 Aluminium 61 2.10 N/mm N/mm N/mm N/mm 6 2 2 2 2 2 Copper 101 1.• Table 12-3 Typical Properties of High Conductivity Copper and Aluminium Property Electrical conductivity (annealed) Electrical resistivity (annealed) Temperature coefficient of resistance (annealed) Thermal conductivity at 20°C Coefficient of expansion Tensile strength (annealed) Tensile strength (half hard) 0. 88 .2% proof stress (annealed) 0. However. The density difference means that for a given conductor rating the size of aluminium will be greater but still lighter. The capability of copper to absorb heavy electromagnetic and thermal stresses generated by heavy currents gives a considerable factor of safety.826 0.0.029 Stress N/mm2 26 26 138 96. Table 12-4 Comparison of Creep Properties Material Aluminium Copper Copper . (Note: The values shown are typical for electrolytic tough pitch high conductivity copper (C101) usually used for earthing purposes. a temperature often used for electrical equipment.004 0.2% proof stress (half hard) Elastic modulus Specific heat Density Melting point Fatigue strength (annealed) Fatigue strength (half hard) Unit % IACS µΩcm /°C W/mK /°C.0039 397 17 200-250 260-300 50-55 170-200 118-130 385 8.086% silver Copper . as does the ability to resist mechanical or thermal cycling. copper needs fewer supports to restrain it which can affect installation economics.70 660 35 50 MN/mm J/kgK g/cm °C N/mm N/mm 3 62 117 For copper. many properties such as strength. Values for other grades of copper may differ from those quoted.7241 0.022 0.086% silver Testing temperature o Min Creep Rate % per 1. For even higher temperatures or stresses copper-silver can be used without significant loss of conductivity.5 C 20 150 130 225 High conductivity aluminium shows evidence of significant creep at ambient temperatures if heavily stressed whereas copper can be used at up to 150oC at the same stress level.004 230 23 55-60 85-100 20-30 60-65 70 900 2.000 hrs 0.0. conductivity and fatigue strength are significantly better than that of aluminium.

0 MS/m (m/Ohm mm²) % IACS MS/m (m/Ohm mm²) % IACS 12.393 0.92 8.9 100.99 1083 2595 g/cm³ g/cm³ g/cm³ g/cm³ °C °C /°C /°C /°C /°C /°C /°C 14.282 0.35 3.0-58.3 x 10 17.3 97.94 3.81 3.013 0.32 7.8 x 10 17.403 J/g°C J/g°C J/g°C J/g°C J/g°C J/g°C 0.85 3.1 x 10 16.7 x 10 89 .0-101.5 56.Table 12-5 Physical properties of copper Property Atomic number Atomic weight Lattice structure: Density: standard value (IEC) Density: typical value at 1083°C (solid) at 1083°C (liquid) Melting point Boiling point Linear coefficient of thermal expansion at: -253°C -183°C -191°C to 16°C 25°C to 100°C 20°C to 200°C 20°C to 300°C Specific heat (thermal capacity) at: -253°C -150°C -50°C 20°C 100°C 200°C Thermal conductivity at: -253°C -200°C -183°C -100°C 20°C 100°C 200°C 300°C Electrical conductivity (volume) at: 20°C (annealed) 20°C (annealed) 20°C (fully cold worked) 20°C (fully cold worked) 58.386 0.3 x 10-6 9.98 5.89 8.73 4.77 Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C Wcm/cm² °C 0.54 face centred cubic 8.74 4.5 x 10 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 29 63.361 0.

78 Ohm mm²/m µΩ cm Ohm mm²/m µΩ cm 12.4 Joining Coppers Table 12-6 shows that coppers can be easily joined by soldering. brazing filler or weld metal.70 0.00381 per °C per °C 0.00393 0.000-49. brazing and welding. Some care is needed with C101 HC copper that it is not heated in a reducing atmosphere such as that in most gas torch flames or controlled atmosphere furnaces.0178 1. The copper oxide can be reduced. 90 . The use of conventional gas shielded arc processes (Tungsten Inert Gas [TIG] or Metal Inert Gas [MIG]) avoids the problem. For soldering and brazing.470 N/mm² N/mm² J/g mg/C mg/C V V 118.000-132. usual precautions should be taken to clean and flux the surface.0170 1.Electrical resistivity (volume) at: 20°C (annealed) 20°C (annealed) 20°C (fully cold worked) 20°C (fully cold worked) Electrical resistivity (mass) at: 20°C (annealed) Mandatory maximum Temperature coefficient of electrical resistance (a) at 20°C: annealed copper of 100% IACS (applicable from -100°C to 200°C) fully cold worked copper of 97% IACS (applicable from 0°C to 100°C) Modulus of elasticity (tension) at 20°C: annealed cold worked Modulus of rigidity (torsion) at 20°C: annealed cold worked Latent heat of fusion Electro chemical equivalent for: ++ Cu + Cu Normal electrode potential (hydrogen electrode) for: ++ Cu + Cu 44. The reason for this is that the high conductivity is ensured by the presence of small particles of copper oxide in the metal. Since copper has such a high conductivity for heat as well as electricity. preventing them from adversely affecting conductivity.659 -0. care must be taken to ensure plenty of heat input to ensure full melting and adhesion of solder.15328 Ωg/m² 0.000 205 0.000 118. one of the products of the reaction being steam which expands and embrittles the copper.329 0.000 N/mm² N/mm² 0. They absorb impurities during solidification.344 -0.017241-0. Further details of recommended joining practice are included in CDA Publication No 98.000 44.7241-1.

Fair X .Not recommended. 91 . though may be possible.Good 3 .Excellent 2 .Table 12-6 A Guide to the suitability of joining processes for coppers BS designation BS EN designation Proposed EN designation Type of copper Soldering Brazing Bronze welding Oxy-acetylene welding Gas shielded arc welding (TIG & MIG) Manual metal arc welding Resistance welding Cold pressure welding C101 Cu-ETP CW003A & CW004A High conductivity Copper 1 2 X X 3 X X 2 C106 Cu-DHP CW024A Deoxidised Copper 1 1 2 2 1 X 2 2 C103 Cu-OF CW008A Oxygen-free copper 1 2 3 X X X X 2 Key 1 .

To protect the instrument against possible over-voltage during the test period. This has to measure quite small impedances and will have to pass more current than the composite instrument. a rigorously policed safety procedure is required which includes the following elements: • • • • One person in charge of work. Depending on the stage of testing at that time. the potential on and around the electrode would rise. To ensure that this does not occur. say between hands. For large electrode systems. As part of routine maintenance. Other methods may then have to be used and some of these are described briefly in section 13. described in detail in section 13. against the design specification. Communication between those carrying out the tests. 13. this may not introduce any significant difficulty. and two current terminals C1 and C2.4.3 Safety The test procedure involves bringing a connection from remote earth spikes which are at or about true earth potential. As part of the package. modern instruments include a 100 mA fuse in the test lead circuits (terminals C2 and P2). it is recommended that they be connected externally. 92 . into the area immediately adjacent to the electrode to be measured. If the instrument is not provided with these fuses. following installation and prior to connection to the equipment. Whilst testing is taking place. The most common method of measuring the earth value for small or medium sized electrodes is known as the “fall of potential” method. Use of a suitably voltage rated ganged double switch to which the trailing leads are connected to the instrument. Discrete components. the manufacturer normally provides four earth spikes and some drums of trailing lead. For small electrodes. This may be the same instrument as used for soil resistivity measurement.1 Introduction Measurement of the Ohmic value of a buried electrode is carried out for two reasons:• • To check the value. via radio or portable telephone. Use of rubber gloves and adequate footwear. There are two potential terminals P1 and P2. For this method to be successfully applied at large area sites. However. should an earth fault occur which involves equipment connected to the main electrode. one of those persons carrying this out may be subjected to a possibly dangerous potential difference. in larger electrode systems or those associated with power networks.000 m away and at many locations this is not practicable. to confirm that the value has not increased substantially from its design or original measured value. more sophisticated equipment is normally required. a normal four-terminal composite earth resistance tester is suitable.2 Equipment Required For small and medium sized electrode systems. test leads may be required to be routed to 8 00m or even 1.13 Measuring the Impedance of Earth Electrode Systems 13. 13. the voltage rise may be significant.5. Composite instruments normally only measure the resistive value of the electrode impedance. which include a power amplifier. a variable frequency source and frequency selective measurement instruments are normally required.

The second most common mistake is placing the voltage spike too close to the test electrode which produces a much lower reading than the true value. having the voltage and current leads too close together and damage to the trailing lead insulation. This procedure should be repeated. then a distance of 40 m to 50 m may be sufficient. The current spike should normally be installed a minimum of 100 m away. Trailing leads should then be run out between the instrument at the test point and the two spikes and be connected to them. The switch is then re-opened. the ganged switch is closed. Having informed the other persons involved. If the readings vary outside 5%. the 61. • • • • • • The most common cause of error arises due to placing the current spike too close to the electrode under test. The P1 .8% reading may be accepted as a representative value. In practice. If the three readings are within 5% of each other. which is then connected to the P2-C2 terminals of the instrument. so that the plate can be bonded to the electrode. the measured value may be considerably lower than the design value predicted for the electrode system. The procedure recommended is as follows:• The plate is placed at the test position.C1 terminals of the tester should each be connected to the electrode to be tested and one connection made to the plate. initially at a distance of 61. with the voltage spike first moved to a position 10m nearer to the test position and then 10m nearer to the current spike.4 Measurement of Small and Medium Sized Electrodes The method normally used is the “fall of potential” method. by predicting the distance from the grid at which the voltage spike can be positioned to obtain the actual impedance. switch and operator during the test. rather than run parallel to. Postponement of testing during lightning or other severe weather conditions. because there may now be a number of parallel electrode paths connected. • 13. The theory (and hence the 61. (Note:. normally further away than for the previous test. the grid is large or (as stated above) the current electrode is too close. Computer simulation can assist here. The instrument. with the current spike at a new position. Other sources of error include not accounting for buried metal which is in parallel with the test traverse. It should have a terminal installed. With the ganged switch open. applied to soil of uniform resistivity). The current spike position should be preferably across open ground or fields. switch and (if appropriate) the fuses. When measuring the resistance of a few earth rods. including the sheaths of underground cables etc.The reason for choosing 61. The operator should stand with both feet on the plate.8% of that between the test point and the current spike.8% distance is based on mathematical theory. The influence of the earth electrode and current spike will overlap and the measured resistance will normally be a lower value than the real one. then the procedure must be repeated. chosen such that a line between the spike and the test position will cross. the test instrument operated and the reading taken.• Use of a metal plate to ensure equipotentials in the test position. 93 .8% rule) does not hold if the soil is not uniform. at least five times the largest dimension of the electrode system being measured. the trailing leads should be connected to the switch. The plate should be large enough to house the instrument. should also be placed on the plate. existing cable routes or other buried metal pipes. The voltage spike should be positioned approximately 2m away from the line between the test point and the current spike.

this method is costly to carry out and can still be subject to errors. This is not normally practical. Estimation can still sometimes be achieved by a series of on site measurements backed up by computer simulation. One common error is not accounting for the impedance of metallic circuits which interconnect the two electrode systems being used (communication circuits. but it is suggested that the current electrode is positioned at a distance of between six and ten times that of the diagonal distance across the electrode system.13. from which the electrode impedance can be calculated. Another method is called high current injection where several hundred Amperes are passed into the electrode system using a power circuit and another electrode system some distance away. Where the earth grid is large or has long radial connections. the voltage spike is moved out at right angles to the grid/current spike traverse. 94 . The actual rise of potential is measured by reference to a remote electrode (normally via a metallic telephone circuit). the resulting size of the earth grid is so large that traditional fall of potential measurement is impractical.5 Measurement of Larger Area Electrode Systems The fall of potential method can be used on larger electrode systems. low voltage interconnection etc.g. so several derivatives of the fall of potential method have been developed. The distance of the spike from the grid is progressively increased until the measured value barely changes. this will again produce an incorrect earth reading. However. to cables or tower line earth wires. If metallic underground pipes or cables are running in the same direction as any of the test routes. In another variation of the test. These include the slope method (where the gradients between adjacent measurement points are computed) and the intersecting curves method.). This figure should then be just below the actual electrode impedance. e.

The soil resistivity will then increase. As mentioned in chapter 6. magnesium sulphate (epsom salts). The chemicals traditionally recommended and used were sodium chloride (salt). Indeed. The chemicals have the effect of reducing the resistivity of the surrounding soil. despite the generally held belief to the contrary. In most cases the cheaper chemicals were used. Some of the chemicals used (such as salt) are known to cause rapid corrosion of the electrodes themselves . its structure and the size of the electrode system. 6 g/litre salt in distilled water has a resistivity of 10Ωm.14 Artificial Method of Reducing Earth Resistivity 14. copper sulphate.thereby reducing its effectiveness! The actual effect on the resistance of the electrode may not be as dramatic as originally thought and to put this into perspective. In general. The new resistivity can fall to 0. However. However. they will continue to be progressively diluted by rainwater or movement of water through the area. the number of real applications for additives are quite small and this is an over-emphasised option. They were spread around the electrodes and dissolved by adding water before backfilling or it was left for natural waterflow (rain etc. Pouring a mixture of chemicals and soil into the area around the rod will provide an immediate and significant reduction in the rod’s resistance. A particularly high concentration of dissolved salts is not necessary to see an appreciable reduction in resistivity. for example: 1. In addition to the maintenance cost. since the chemicals used are chosen because they are soluble. The gap between the rod surface and the compressed soil to its side will introduce a large contact resistance which will be apparent when testing the resistance of the rod.) to dissolve them. It has sometimes been the practice in some establishments to add chemicals just before an annual test measurement. until eventually it returns to its former value. Regular maintenance and replenishment of the undiluted chemicals was recommended and sometimes a refillable man-hole was provided in which to place the chemicals. its resistance would fall anyway as 95 . Where a new rod has been driven into the ground.2Ω-m using washing soda (sodium carbonate) or to 0. The improvement depends mainly on the original resistivity of the soil. the impact on the local environment should be considered and may conflict with the Environmental Protection legislation. it is sometimes suggested that the resistance of electrodes can be decreased by up to 90% by chemical treatment. This reduction in soil resistivity will. this risk was recognised and pipe placed around some sections of the electrode to protect it . in turn. the sideways movement will have increased the width of the hole in which the rod lies. Some of the additives used in the past have been corrosive and if used now could cause environmental difficulties. but those considered here are deliberately added with the intention of changing the resistivity of the soil in the vicinity of the electrode. The chemicals need to extend the effective volume of the electrode significantly to have a noticeable effect. In old (1930’s) books on earthing. in some of the older arrangements.1 Introduction This chapter is to describe briefly the conditions in which additives can help in reducing the earth impedance.1Ω-m using salt. reference back to Figure 6-5 in chapter 6 shows the actual effect of increasing the diameter of the electrode. thereby reducing the available life of the installation. Some salts are naturally occurring in the soil. reduce the impedance of the electrode system. but this does not help the earthing system perform its function correctly during the rest of the year when it may be required to deal with fault current.particularly steel. there is a contact resistance between the electrode and the soil. sodium carbonate (washing soda) and calcium chloride. This was recognised and the time for this to occur is sometimes only a few months.2 g/litre salt in distilled water has a resistivity of 5Ωm.

can swell up to thirteen times its dry volume. When Marconite is mixed with concrete. if a 1 m rod is installed at the centre of a hemisphere of Marconite of radius 1. or to enclose electrodes in holes or voids within rock. It has a low resistivity approximately 5 Ohm-metres. in which a carbonaceous aggregate replaces the normal aggregate used in the concrete mix.2. Adding Bentonite and similar materials. the mixture can crack thereby affording little contact to the electrode.1 Bentonite This is a natural forming. For special situations.2 Acceptable Low Resistivity Materials As mentioned previously.2 Marconite It is essentially a conductive concrete. there are a number of materials as follows: 14.000 Ohm if the surrounding rock is of 2. It will retain its moisture even under quite dry conditions. such as Marconite.2. its resistivity can fall to as low as 0. Its chemical name is sodium montmorillonite. When surrounding an earth rod with Marconite which has been installed in rock. As the earth electrode is driven into the soil the Bentonite is drawn down by the rod.000 Ohm- 96 . in a trench or larger drilled hole around the electrode has the effect of increasing the surface area of the earth conductor. i. it would have a resistance of approximately 2. more permanent result than using low resistivity backfill material. 14. 14. since this property helps stabilise the electrode impedance throughout the year. Under extremely dry conditions. When in situ. It has some similar properties to Bentonite. such as Bentonite slurry. a sufficient quantity is dragged down to fill most of the voids around the rod and lower its overall resistance. but it is suggested that a thin protective layer forms. Fortunately the weather conditions in the UK are such that this is not normally a problem. Metal should ideally be painted with bitumen or a bitumastic paint as it enters the Marconite structure to prevent corrosion at this point. having a pH of 10. and is non-corrosive.e. Bentonite is most often used as the backfill material for deep driven rods. It can absorb nearly five times its weight of water and in so doing. Bentonite is thixotropic in character and therefore gels when in an inert state. Its principle application in the UK is at locations where theft or third party interference is likely to be a problem. the resistance of the rod will be reduced as the volume of Marconite used is increased. corrosion is said to cease. Installing the rod a little deeper can sometimes achieve the same or a better. fine sieved soil or garden loam is normally a suitable backfill material to surround the buried electrode.the surrounding soil consolidates due to rainfall etc. By continuously pouring the mixture into the hole during the driving process. For example. causes little corrosion with certain metals and has a low resistivity. so has been used in the hotter climates as an alternative to Bentonite. There is stated to be some corrosion of ferrous metal and copper whilst the Marconite is in slurry form. It contains a crystalline form of carbon and the overall material has a low sulphur and chloride content. Aluminium. It is easily compacted and adheres strongly. It was developed as a process which started in 1962 when Marconi engineers sought a material which conducted by movement of electrons rather than ions. so should not leach out. assuming the resistivity of the added material is lower than that of the surrounding soil.5. tin coated or galvanised steel should not be installed in Marconite. When the concrete has set. as the rod is driven in. pale olive brown clay which is slightly acidic. A more environmentally acceptable way to accelerate this effect is to add a low resistivity material.1 Ohm-metre.5m. it can absorb moisture from the surrounding soil and this is the main reason for using it.

the fact that the material is not easily dissolved will moderate the benefits achieved. where possible. for example a copper solution which when mixed with other chemicals creates a gel. Marconite is normally considered as having a resistivity of 2 Ohm-metres. together with silica and carbon.metres. some of these will almost inevitably react with copper and steel to cause accelerated corrosion.3 Gypsum Occasionally. It is claimed that it does not cause corrosion with copper. 14. The particle size is similar to coarse sand. In moist conditions. potassium. when it was thought that their carbon content would be beneficial. magnesium or calcium. titanium. and has a low resistivity (approximately 5-10 Ohm-metres in a saturated solution). 14. since it will not permeate far into the ground. 14. It is virtually neutral. Note that Marconite is a registered trade mark of Marconi Communication Systems Limited. However.2 and 6.). Unfortunately. calcium sulphate (gypsum) is used as a backfill material. these materials may contain oxides of carbon. although sometimes the small SO3 content has caused concern about its impact on concrete structures and foundations.2. Also. Marconite is also sometimes used for anti-static flooring and electro-magnetic screening.4 Others Additional materials are often being introduced. It is relatively inexpensive and is normally mixed with the soil forming the backfill around the earth electrode. so should not generally cause environmental difficulties in use. sodium. These must satisfy environmental legislation and it is important to confirm the situations in which improvements in the electrode impedance can be expected when such products are used. This in turn means that the reduction in the resistance value of the electrode will not be dramatic but will be reasonably sustainable. having a pH value of between 6. the void is likely to be part filled with other materials (such as concrete) to reduce the amount of proprietary material required. hence is not easily washed away. Because of the prohibitive cost of removing such a volume of rock. it makes sense to make use of existing cavities for this purpose. It is claimed that it assists in maintaining a relatively low resistivity over a long period of time.9. If the radius of the hemishere is increased to 3 m and then 5 m. It is naturally occurring.3 Unacceptable Backfill Materials Some power station ash and clinker have been used in the past. This means that the beneficial effect will be localised for say an area excavated around a buried electrode. in areas where salts in the vicinity are dissolved away by water movements (rainfall etc.2. either by itself or mixed with Bentonite or with the natural soil from the area. 97 . the resistance would fall to 1.080 Ohm and 650 Ohm respectively. It has low solubility.

Recommendations on the type of maintenance required and the frequency for various types of installation can be found in the following documents: • • For domestic and commercial premises. 15. on an IT or TT system.1 Introduction Where an electricity supplier provides an earth terminal at a premises. in BS 7671. A test of the earthing system impedance will not necessarily detect this corrosion and is not. on its own. particularly looking for evidence of decay. vandalism or theft. 15. 98 . theatres. accessible. At special locations. possibly including testing. of those components which are.3 Inspection Inspection of the earthing system at an installation normally takes place in association with visits for other maintenance work.g. The quality and frequency of the maintenance should be sufficient to prevent danger. the occupant/owner is required to provide an independent earth electrode. Examination. has issued a “Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989”. • • Inspection. impose a duty on Electricity Suppliers to inspect their installations and works. selected excavation and inspection of electrode systems is now recommended. its function and its voltage level. For electricity suppliers.15 Maintenance of Earthing Systems 15. maintenance of their earthing and bonding systems involves work on both the bonding conductors above ground and the buried electrode. maintenance of the earthing and bonding system is confined to maintenance of the conductors and connections which form part of that system. and any maintenance procedure must include this electrode. All forms of installation should be subject to two types of maintenance. • The frequency of maintenance and the recommended practice at any installation depend upon the type and size of the installation. For example. or other owners of distribution networks. as explained in chapter 11. sufficient to indicate that the earthing system is adequate. so far as is reasonably practicable. testing from above ground has been the accepted method of verifying its condition.2 The Philosophy of Maintenance Maintenance of earthing systems normally forms part of the maintenance of the overall electrical system. corrosion can take place on some electrode components or joints. In Appendix 2. to include a more thorough inspection than that possible by inspection. It consists of a visual inspection only of those parts of the system which can be seen. caravan sites. cinemas and launderettes. 1988 as amended. However. at frequent intervals. For the electrode. the HSE. a list is given of the various documents which should be referred to for a variety of specialist applications. For factories. Places with public access require more frequent inspection and those requiring an annual inspection include petrol stations. or can readily be made. For electrode systems associated with the higher voltage networks. e. it is recommended that domestic premises are tested every five years and industrial premises every three. corrosion. The Electricity Supply Regulations.

Apart from looking for the obvious. central heating etc. BS 7671 also recommends that all extraneous non-conductive metalwork. This test has to be independent of the built-in push button on the RCD. A function test on all RCDs installed. hot and cold water. with the earthing arrangements being visibly inspected. BS 7671 recommends that this is carried out not less frequently than once every 5 years. The examiner will check that the existing earthing system complies with current Regulations. Electricity company main substations. extensions etc.The following summarises the procedure at differing installations:• Domestic. Regular inspection of the electrical installation is recommended under the Electricity at Work Regulation 1989. the system must be tested. the examiner will check whether the system meets the current earthing standard. but also recommend changes where it is clear that an installation does not meet the standards required by BS 7671. Factories. upgrading. at the following types of installation. A function test on all RCDs in the installation.typically 6 to 8 times a year. These require regular inspection. These are continuously monitored from remote control rooms and inspected frequently . An electrical contractor should not only thoroughly inspect. Electricity company or industrial distribution substations. with conductors of adequate size. • 99 . to comply with BS 6651. the earthing system on the network is checked as part of the regular line patrols. In addition to this thorough inspection. Commercial Premises. if not detected by the continuous monitoring. • • • • 15. A particular check recommended is to ensure that the bond between the supplier’s and customer’s earth terminals is of sufficient size to satisfy the regulations. would be identified during one of these visits. Again a regular inspection is recommended. detailed inspection of the whole earthing system. typically once a year. The following tests are required on the earthing system:An earth loop impedance test.4 Examination Examination of an earthing system normally takes place as part of the examination of the whole electrical system. including gas. pipework should be bonded together and then connected to the customer’s earth terminal.g. and should be documented. Commercial Premises. Two separate test are required as part of the examination: An earth loop impedance test. Commercial testers are available for this purpose. A detailed record should be kept at each examination. Inspection normally takes place in association with other work on the premises. • Domestic. such as that due to theft of exposed copper earthing conductors. Installations with lightning protection. The examination consists of a very thorough. • Factories. as indicated. Examination is required regularly according to the type of installation. e. Obvious examples of earthing system deficiency. Examination of these installations by an electrical contractor is normally made at the request of the customer. A record should be maintained of the date and findings of each inspection. Where the low voltage network is overhead.

the value of the earth electrode should be compared with the design value. This test is not required if the design conditions permit the two electrode systems to be bonded together. vending machines etc. Should the installation have its own independent earth electrode. The high-voltage earth electrode value is measured and compared with previous or design values. As well as a very thorough inspection.g. and may thus require that the supply is switched off during the period of the test. Tracing of buried electrode and examination of this at some locations to ensure corrosion has not taken place. Earth Electrode Value. The examiner is particularly required to check that the bonding of all normally accessible metalwork. Electricity company or industrial distribution substations. should there be a fault to earth on the electricity supply network. Examination is carried out less frequently . The following testing is typically carried out.24. A very thorough inspection is recommended. Installations with Lightning Protection. The value of the electrode should be measured. where appropriate. to ensure that the installation complies with the current Regulations. A separation test to ensure that the HV. steel doors. meets the requirement of Technical Standard 41 . with the equipment normally in commission. or that obtained during the previous test. control cabinets. 100 . then as part of examination the value of this electrode should be measured and compared with its design value. Bonding tests between the earth electrode and normally accessible metalwork. This may mean isolating the earth electrode. e. removing covers etc. the following testing is required. A special procedure has to be used to guard against possible excessive voltage occurring during the testing. transformer switchgear tanks. Examination is recommended to meet the requirement of BS 6651.A bonding test on all extraneous non-conductive metalwork.typically once every 5 or 6 years. Clip on type impedance measuring instruments are now available for this and do not require the electrode to be disconnected. the metal enclosures. Checking the pH value of the soil. This could not be carried out during any lightning activity and precautions were required when breaking the link between the electrode and the lightning conductors. steel fencing etc. Previously this meant isolating the electrode from the main lightning protection conductors. Earth Electrode Resistance. electrode and LV electrodes are electrically separate. Once measured. This is carried out using a low resistance measuring (micro) Ohmmeter and the test is required between the customer’s earth terminal and all extraneous non-conductive metalwork. since it was possible for an excessive voltage to appear across the open link.

Code of Practice for Earthing. The Electricity Supply Regulations. DIN VDE 0141: 1989 (Technical Help to Exporters Translation) Earthing systems for power installations with rated voltages above 1 kV. Code of Practice for Design of high-voltage open-terminals stations. Recommendations for the connection of private generating plant to the electricity boards distribution system. W4 4AL. BS 7430 1991. Requirements for Electrical Installations. London. 1994. Standards and codes of practice ANSI/IEEE Std. testing and main earthing systems in substations. EA Technical Specification 41-24:1992 (Issued 1994). 101 . BS 7671: 1992. CLC TC/112 Chapter 9: Earthing Systems (February 1994 Draft). Protection of structures against lightning. Engineering recommendations and technical reports can be obtained from Electricity Association Services Ltd. Ground Impedance and Earth Surface Potentials of a Ground System. 1989. The Distribution Code of the Public Electricity Suppliers of England and Wales. ER S5/1. Health and Safety Executive. EA ER G59. The Construction ( Design and Management ) Regulations. Guidelines for the design. 1988. ISBN 0-11-8833963-2.. March 1990. BS 7354 1990.16 Further Reading British and European standards can be obtained from the British Standards Institution. 81: 1983. BS 6651: 1992. Statutory Instruments 1988 No 1057. IEEE Guide for measuring Earth Resistivity. Earthing Installations within substations. Section 7: Earthing. A guide for assessing the rise of earth potential at substation sites. London. EA Engineering Recommendation S.34: 1986. IEEE Guide for safety in AC substation grounding. 80: 1986. SW1P 4RD. Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations. ANSI/IEEE Std. 389 Chiswick High Road. 30 Millbank. Statutory Instruments 1994 No 33140.

Handbook of Electrical Installation Practice. ABB Review. Blackwell . 1992. Earthing within high voltage substations J and P Transformer Book. Grounding and Shielding in Facilities. Blackwell. 1976. New IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical and Electronic Terms.Ryder. 1994. Industrial Power Distribution and Illuminating Systems. 1989. IEEE Green book. Standard 42 1991. Brian Scadden. Newnes. Blackwell Scientific Publications. IEEE Practice for grounding of industrial and commercial power systems. McPartland. Jenkins. Protection against electric shock. Newnes-Butterworth. ASEA Brown Boverie. F Porques. Kao Chen. 1996.000V. S Benda. S Austin Stigant and A C Franklin. Touch voltages in electrical installations. Electrical Installation Technology. Longman. Third Edition. Books and papers on earthing in general “Earthing Systems . Pitman and Sons. Explained and Illustrated. 102 . 8th Edition. McGraw Hill. Institution of Electrical Engineers. 1992. published by ERA Technology. 1993. London. ANSI/IEEE Std 100: 1992. Electrical Earthing and Accident Prevention. VDE Verlag. Characteristics of different power system neutral grounding techniques : fact or fiction. Earthing of Telecommunications Installations. Leatherhead. Brian Scadden. IEE On Site Guide to the 16th Edition Wiring Regulations. guidance note number 5. 1989. 1990. The Design of Electrical Services for Buildings. 1952. R Morrison and W H Lewis.Earthing within buildings and industry ASEE Illustrated Guide to the IEE Wiring Regulations. IEEE Practice for Grounding of Industrial Power Systems. Switchgear Manual. Safety of Electrical Installations up to 1. Rudolph. Standard 1411993. International Telegraph and Telephone Committee. and Practice. ECA/ECA of S/NICEIC Handbook on the 16th Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations.Which Path to Follow”. Earthing and bonding in large installations. IEE Wiring Regulations. BEI Ltd. Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers. M G Say.W. Modern Power Station Practice. Editor E A Reeves. Third Edition. F G Thompson. Butterworths. R. IEEE Earthing Principle. National Electric Code Handbook. F J Angelini and D D Ship. ERA report 93-0432. Modern Electrical Installation for Craft Apprentices. London.

Lightning Lightning Protection for People and Property, M Frydenlund, Von Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. Co-generation EA ET 113, Notes of Guidance for the protection of private generating sets up to 5 MW for operation in parallel with Electricity Boards distribution networks. Good Practice Guide 1, Guidance notes for the implementation of small scale packaged combined heat and power, Energy Efficiency Office. Copper Copper for Busbars, CDA publication number 22, Copper Development Association, Potters Bar, Herts. EN6 3AP. Copper Underground : Its Resistance to Soil corrosion, (Out of print). Copper Development Association, Potters Bar, Herts. EN6 3AP. Manufacturers publications A Simple Guide to Earth Testing, Megger Instruments. Earthing and Lightning Protection, Consultants Handbook, W J Furse, Nottingham. Electronic Systems Protection Handbook, W J Furse, Nottingham. Computer simulation of earthing systems CDEGS suite of programmes, developed by Safe Engineering Services of Canada.

103

INDEX
A AC to DC converters .......................................54 Air terminations...............................................66 Annual rainfall.................................................79 ANSI/IEEE Std. 80:1986...............................18 Arc-suppression coils ......................................21 Artificial method of reducing earth resistivity. 95 Atmospheric oxidation.....................................76 B Backfill material ..............................................32 Bentonite ...............................................30, 96 Gypsum .......................................................97 Marconite ....................................................96 unacceptable materials ................................97 Bentonite ...................................................30, 96 Bimetallic corrosion ........................................74 Biofouling........................................................75 Bonding conductor ....................................27, 67 Bonding test...................................................100 Brazed connections..........................................34 British Standards .............................................82 British Standards for Copper and Copper Alloys for general purposes ....................................83 BS 125 .............................................................84 BS 1432 ...........................................................84 BS 1432, ‘Specifications for copper for electrical purposes: high conductivity copper rectangular conductors with drawn or rolled edges ...........................................................30 BS 5655 Safety rules for construction and installation of lifts........................................26 BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against lightning ................................................26, 66 BS 7354:1990..................................................17 BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for Earthing ....................................................................17 BS 7671:1992 Requirements for Electrical Installations .............................................9, 17 BS EN Standards .............................................82 Buried depth ....................................................40 C C101 ....................................................30, 81, 90 C103 ................................................................81 C106 ................................................................81 C110 ................................................................81 Capacitive coupling .........................................70 Capacitive screening........................................71 Capacitor banks ...............................................55 Capacitor voltage transformers........................55 Caravan sites....................................................26 CC101..............................................................82 CCITT Directives ..........................................18 Circuit Protective Conductor ...........................27 CLC TC/112 ....................................................18 Climate, effect on corrosion ............................78 Cloud to cloud lightning ..................................65 Co-Generation Plants.......................................55 Communication circuits ...................................69 Communication facilities .................................53 Comparison of Creep Properties......................88 Compressive strength.......................................87 Computer equipment .......................................60 Connections brazed..........................................................34 exothermic...................................................34 mechanical...................................................33 welded .........................................................34 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations..................................................15 Contact resistance ............................................42 Copper alloys, high conductivity .....................82 Coppers............................................................81 high conductivity.........................................81

oxygen free .......................................81
specifications

C101 .................................................81 C103 .................................................81 C106 .................................................81 C110 .................................................81 CC101...............................................82 Cu-DHP ............................................81 Cu-ETP .............................................81 Cu-OF ...............................................81 Cu-OFE.............................................81 CW003A...........................................81 CW004A...........................................81 CW008A...........................................81 CW009A...........................................82 CW024A...........................................81 CW105C...........................................82
Corrosion .........................................................74 bimetallic.....................................................74 effect of climate...........................................78 effect soil characteristics .............................78 Fatigue.........................................................75 field tests in the U.K....................................80 field trials ....................................................77 susceptibility of metals ................................77 underground ..........................................74, 76 Counterpoise....................................................67 CPC.................................................................27 Creep properties, comparisons.........................88 Crevice Corrosion............................................75 Cu-DHP ...........................................................81 Cu-ETP............................................................81 Cu-OF ..............................................................81 Cu-OFE............................................................81 Current carrying capacity.................................34 CW003A..........................................................81 CW004A..........................................................81 CW008A..........................................................81 CW009A..........................................................82

104

CW024A..........................................................81 CW105C..........................................................82 D Data processing ...............................................69 Deoxidised copper ...........................................81 Design of earth electrode systems....................47 DIN VDE 0141:1989 ......................................18 Domestic premises...........................................58 DONA copper..................................................81 Down leads ......................................................66 Drainage ..........................................................79 E EA Engineering Recommendation S.34:1986 ....................................................................17 EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992 .....................17 EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992.................15, 56 Earth conductors..............................................27 Earth electrode.................................................28 derivative.....................................................30 design ..........................................................47 horozontal ...................................................29 medium area systems...................................50 performance ................................................36 plates ...........................................................29 Rods ............................................................28 small area systems .......................................48 Earth system, defined.........................................9 Earth termination .............................................67 Earth, defined ....................................................9 Earthed systems ...............................................20 Earthing on LV systems...................................21 Earthing system types IT 24 PNB.............................................................22 TN-C-S........................................................22 TN-S............................................................21 TT ...............................................................23 Earthing systems high frequency.............................................53 maintenance.................................................98 radio frequency............................................53 requirements................................................27 Earthing within buildings.................................58 Effect of buried depth ................................................40 increasing electrode length..........................38 increasing radius..........................................39 proximity.....................................................40 Effect of electrode shape .................................36 Effect of Soil Characteristics and climate on Corrosion.....................................................78 Electrical interference......................................69 Electrical noise ................................................69 Electricity at Work Regulations.......................15 Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 .....9, 16, 19 Elongation .......................................................87 Environmental protection legislation...............95 Equipotential platform.....................................10

ER S5/1............................................................17 Exothermic joints.............................................34 F Fall of potential method...................................92 Fence earthing..................................................56 G Galvanic coupling............................................69 Gas Insulated Switchgear.................................55 GIS ..................................................................55 GPR .................................................................13 Grid potential rise ............................................13 Ground system, defined .....................................9 Ground, defined .................................................9 Gypsum............................................................97 H Hardness ..........................................................87 Health and Safety at Work Act ........................15 High Conductivity Copper Alloys ...................82 High Conductivity Coppers .............................81 High frequency earthing systems .....................53 High voltage transmission lines .......................68 Horizontal electrodes.......................................29 installations .................................................32 HSE (41)..........................................................26 HSE Publication HSE (41) ..............................26 Hybrid Earthing arrangement ..........................64 I IACS..........................................................81, 84 IEC 479-1 ........................................................15 IEE Wiring Regulations...................................17 Impedance earthed system ...............................20 Impedance of earth electrode systems ............92 Increasing length of side of square ..................39 Increasing the length of a conductor ................38 Increasing the radius ........................................39 Inductive coupling ...........................................71 Information technology equipment ..................60 Inspection of the earthing system.....................98 Integrated earthing systems..............................61 Interference......................................................69 International Annealed Copper Standard...81, 84 IT 24 IT equipment ...................................................60 J Joining coppers................................................90 L LER .................................................................21 Lift installations ...............................................26 Lightning air terminations............................................66 bonding conductor.......................................67 cloud to cloud..............................................65 counterpoise ................................................67 down leads...................................................66 earth termination .........................................67 HV transmission lines .................................68

105

.............................................26 BS 7354:1990 ................................................................................................................26 Tensile Strength.................................................................78 Soil resistivity ... 80:1986....................68 T Temper Designations .................................22 Proximity effect .......22 TN-S ...................22 Performance of earth electrodes..26 Measurement of soil resistivity........................25 Moisture equivalent ....15 Step potential ..............46 Soil Resistivity.....................................................................................46 Shear strength ...........36 Peterson coils.......................25 Residual Current Circuit Breaker ......................................................................82 Proof stress .........................43 Schlumberger technique .... ..................................54 Surge protection............87 High Conductivity copper ........................................32 PME...................40 R Radio frequency earthind systems ...................................34:1986................................................79 Plates .................................87 Single phase rectified loads ...........................................................................................................................................33 Medium area systems................................21 Petrol Filling Stations ...........................................68 Lightning protection ..........................66 Rods.........................................................18 CLC TC/112...................................13 Touch...............26 BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against lightning ....18 EA Engineering Recommendation S...9...........................................88 Protective earth neutral...46 Wenner method ........................................................ 17.........................65 Liquid earth resistors ....67 Stress corrosion ........................................................................................... 17 ER S5/1 .......................................................................................84 Thermal conductivity.................................62 Noise............................88 Copper S Schlumberger technique ........................... step and transfer potentials .........................30 BS 5655 Safety rules for construction and installation of lifts .............................. 58 BS EN ....................25 RCD...90 Type of Soil ...........................23 Tungsten Inert Gas..........11 Product standards ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... ‘Specifications for copper for electrical purposes: high conductivity copper rectangular conductors with drawn or rolled edges ......................87 Properties aluminium.....................81 P PEN .................................21 Protective neutral bonding.............................................50 Metal Inert Gas .........................................................................................................84 TIG .........................................82 CCITT Directives ..............96 Marinas........................................................................................................84 Temporary installations ......................................................................................................................................................................................76 Oxygen-free High Conductivity Copper ........................................................................................14 TT....90 TN-C-S ...17 EA Technical Spec 41-24:1992...........................17 BS 7430:1991 Code of Practice for Earthing .............................................................90 Mines and Quarries.........................................................................22 Protective Multiple Earthing..........28 installation...........................29 installation......................................84 BS 1432......42 measurement.....................................................................18 copper and copper alloys..............................................................................31 106 ....................................98 Marconite.....................................protection system...............................25 Risk assessment .....................66 risk assessment ....................17 BS 7671:1992 Requirements for Electrical Installations..........................................48 Soil characteristics...............79 at elevated temperatures ...............................................43 Mechanical connections...................................79 N Nested shield arrangement............17 IEC 479-1.....60 Small area electrode systems ........................83 DIN VDE 0141:1989..................67 surge protection...............................................53 RCCB ................................................................................................................................66 BS 6651:1992 Protection of structures against lightning ..................................92 Oxidation ..............................21 Touch potential.....18 BS 125.......................................................84 BS 1432........................75 Surge diverters....................... effect on corrosion ........13 Stranded conductor ...............................................................15.........90 MIG ..........................................................................................................................................................22 Power frequency faults ..............26 pH value ..........87 at Low Temperatures................69 O Ohmic value of a buried electrode....80 Standards ANSI/IEEE Std...........21 PNB ..............................................................25 Residual Current Detector ...............................66 stranded conductors.....21 M Maintenance of earthing systems..........................

...................................................34 Wenner method.................................................................................................................................30 107 .46 X XIT Grounding System..................................58 U Unacceptable backfill materials............................74 Underground Corrosion......97 Underground corrosion.........42 Typical TN-C-S supply..............19 W Water composition..................................................79 Welded connections..................76 Unearthed or insulated system................Typical resistivity values .

org.co.uk 108 .cda.Copper Development Association 5 Grovelands Business Centre Boundary Way Hemel Hempstead HP2 7TE Website: Email: www.uk helpline@copperdev.