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Electricity Research

Association
Earthing & Bonding of
Telecommunications
Installations and
Colocation Systems
Worldwide Building
Earthing Arrangements:
A Case Study and Issues
Affecting the Designer

................................................................................................................................... 10 ................................................................1.............. 2 3 4 2............................................................... 6 3...................1 Three pole and four pole circuit breakers in dual supplies ..................................................1 The UPS output neutral is directly connected to the UPS input neutral...........3 Three or four pole circuit breakers ............................6 3................................. .......................... 8 Earthing of Uninterruptible Power Supplies......................... 3 2..............................................2 Calculation for sizing earthing conductors............................................................................................................... 6 3..................1................................................................................2 Four pole circuit breakers...........................................................2 Typical Earthing Arrangements ............................. 5 SYSTEM CURRENTS DIVIDING BETWEEN THE NEUTRAL AND EARTHING SYSTEM ......................Contents 1 INTRODUCTION......................... 7 3.................................................2 Isolation transformer ......................................... 3 2. 8 3..............1 Earthing Systems ................1....... 9 4........................1................ .....................................1 Technical Earthing Systems..3 Earth fault protection on the static and manual bypass lines.........................................2 Multiple earth-neutral connections in a distribution network (Case Study).1...............................................1 Three pole circuit breakers... 1 2 LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEM EARTHING..................................................... 9 4........................................... 3 2............................................ 9 4.....

technical advice and assistance throughout the company. He has experience of the HV and LV design of supply critical facilities including large scale UPS and generator systems. . Hong Kong and Europe. MIEE Mike is a Senior Electrical Engineer within the Manufacturing Group.arup. data centres and pharmaceutical facilities. London W1T 4BQ Tel +44 (0)20 7636 1531 Fax +44 (0)20 7752312 www. He has experience of the design. MIEE.Electricity Research Association Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer October 2002 © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd 2002 Ove Arup & Partners Ltd 13 Fitzroy Street. His knowledge of electrical design and construction management has been gained throughout Europe and South East Asia. MPhil Chris J Hewitt BEng (Hons). predominantly related to banks. He co-ordinates and presents Arup’s internal training seminars on electrical distribution design strategies to meet client’s requirements relating to the fundamental question ‘what are we trying to achieve’ Chris is an Associate of Ove Arup & Partners. More recently he has completed research work into supply quality in high voltage and low voltage distribution networks. CEng. CEng. specialising in electrical distribution system design.com Job number 71570/10 Mike Hastings BEng (Hons). He is the Business Area Leader of Arup Mission Critical Facilities Group. His Experience has been gained throughout China. site implementation and project management of large scale data centre projects with multi-national blue-chip companies.

presenting a case study where neutral current was allowed to divide between the neutral and earth conductor systems.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.Electricity Research Association 1 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer INTRODUCTION This paper has been written so as to outline the fundamental considerations when designing building earth systems. Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP . Instead. one for a more simple single sources system. The following mitigating measures are discussed: • Use of three or four pole circuit breakers. the paper presents two methods for earthing uninterruptible power supply systems. the paper presents more fundamental arrangements upstream of the technical space where earth connections are more important to the overall safe operation of the building with minimal supply interruption. The paper concentrates on the following: • Neutral current paths. In addition. it is emphasised that distribution systems must be designed as a single entities and therefore.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 1 . and one for a more complex multiple sources system. The paper particularly relates to the design of building earth systems specifically in mission critical facilities such as data centres. Throughout the paper. The authors have experienced a number of building installations where fundamental design problems have exist in the earthing arrangements. • ҏRemoval of multiple earths in a distribution network. The paper is not intended to address the issues of earthing within technical or server spaces where the object is to create a low impendance path for high frequency leakage currents.

industry standard 2U servers. low impendance path to earth for high frequency leakage currents and noise caused by the operation of switch mode power supplies. In broad terms. all plant that generates electricity or changes system voltage levels (i. In general. compliance with the requirements of Section 607 of BS 7671 is imperative for safety of personnel. 2. The protective earthing system must therefore be bonded at some point to the technical earthing system (if present). Protective earthing for protection of persons against electric shock. regulations and practices allow each transformer neutral connection to be taken to a common earthing bar. the leakage current can typically be 10mA – 20mA. transformers) must to be earthed.. Clearly in the UK. • To provide a known maximum voltage in the system. Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP . metalwork that may become live during normal use or during a fault should be bonded to the protective earthing system. Technical earthing (sometime referred to as ‘functional’ or ‘clean’ or ‘IT/communications’ earthing) for noise suppression or stable earth reference. separate earth electrodes are not required. In general.e. • To provide a low impendance route for high frequency leakage currents. for a server rack containing 8no. • To reduce fire risk due to arcing earth faults.Electricity Research Association 2 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEM EARTHING Essentially. • To facilitate clearance of line to earth faults. the star points of the secondary winding of a distribution transformer.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 2 . distribution systems are earthed for the following reasons: • To limit voltages due to impressed surges (including lightning) and faults giving a measure of safety to personnel. There are fundamentally two types of earthing systems: 1. Technical earthing systems are not specifically designed to clear earth fault currents (although by their nature they may be capable of performing this function). they are designed to provide a high integrity. low voltage generator or UPS inverters are normally solidly earthed. Solidly earthing the neutral point ensures that voltages to earth will not exceed the phase voltage. Instead. If several sources are installed. As an example.

1 Typical Earthing Arrangements TT System TT systems have independent earthing system for the source earth and protective earth. into the protective earth system. back through the earth (ground) to the transformer star point (thus completing the circuit). Consequently. technical earthing systems are subject to high frequency earth leakage currents of up to 30MHz.1 Earthing Systems 2. impedance of the earthing system increases. 2.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 3 .2 2.1 Technical Earthing Systems Typically. the distribution of current across the cross section of an earth conductor becomes less uniform. As the frequency increases.1. in TT systems earth fault currents are relatively low when compared to other earthing systems such as TNS. current will flow from the phase conductors. Therefore. Typically. Since the impedance between protective earth electrodes and source earth electrodes is relatively high. Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .1 TT Earthing Arrangement If a fault to earth occurs. it is normal practice to install earth fault protection through the installation.Electricity Research Association Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer 2.1. Figure 3.1. to mitigate the cause of skin effects it is suggested that the technical earth system is designed to incorporate many parallel paths.2. It is possible to calculate the effect on the cable impendance of skin effect by using equations indicated in IEC287. This phenomenon is known as skin effects.

2 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Earthing systems .2. it is not normally necessary to install earth fault protection.TNS system TNS systems use a single earth system for both the source earth and protective earth. Therefore. The high fault currents will ensure minimum circuit disconnection times.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 4 .Electricity Research Association 2.2 TNS Earthing Arrangement Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP . Earth fault currents will be of a similar magnitude to a phase fault. Figure 3.1.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.

Overload protection is omitted. conductor and insulation materials. Standard size conductors should be chosen.3 Where S = Cross-sectional area of conductor (mm2). including sheaths and circuit protective conductors.m. since the earthing conductors are not intending to carry steady state current during normal operation The adiabatic formula can be used: Equation 3. most of which will return to the transformer star point via main bonding conductors. bunched k=115) Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 5 .s. t = Disconnection time for operation of the circuit protective device (seconds).Electricity Research Association 2. such as structural metalwork. equation is pessimistic. I = r. For disconnection longer than five seconds.2 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Calculation for sizing earthing conductors Fault current paths from the position of the fault comprise protective conductors and other random paths in parallel. Earthing conductors are sized in accordance to adiabatic conditions and to ensure the earth loop impedance is low enough to operate the protective device in the event of an earth fault. (For copper PVC cables. k = A factor related to initial and final temperature of the earthing conductors. Earth faults occurring at main switchboards close to the transformer will develop high currents.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE. and cannot make allowance for fortuitous parallel paths. fault current (amps) (ignoring current limiting by the circuit protective conductor). Calculations must be based on the actual known conductors.

Additionally. 3. if there are any auto-changeover devices down-stream of the main switchboard.1 and 4. Conversely. • Multiple earth neutral earth connections.1.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 6 . these should be 4 pole.1 Three pole circuit breakers The three pole circuit breaker situation is shown in the two figures 4.1.2. which shows. under earth fault conditions the fault current must low through the correct earth path and not via a parallel neutral path. Figure 4.1. The correct installation for a multiple infeed switchboard would be to install 4 pole circuit breakers on the incoming feeds (transformers and generators) and any bus-couples. the neutral current will divide between the neutral and earth conductors.Electricity Research Association 3 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer SYSTEM CURRENTS DIVIDING BETWEEN THE NEUTRAL AND EARTHING SYSTEM Under normal operating conditions it is important to ensure that any neutral currents caused by unbalanced loads return along the correct neutral conductor and do not divide and flow along a parallel earth path. generators or a combination of the two.1. • Three pole + solid neutral (TP+N) circuit breakers have been installed when four pole circuit breaks should have been used. 3. whether these infeeds be transformer.1 Three pole and four pole circuit breakers in dual supplies Four pole switchgear is required for any three phase four wire systems with multiple infeeds.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.1.1 Electrical schematic with three pole circuit breakers Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .1.1. There are a number of reasons why neutral currents could be flowing in the earthing system.

if the bus section circuit breaker and the transformer circuit breakers are four pole.2.1 Electrical schematic with four pole circuit breakers Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .2 Four pole circuit breakers This division of the neutral current could be prevented.2.1.1 and 4.1.1.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 7 .2 Neutral current dividing between the earthing system and neutral conductors 3.1. The four pole circuit breaker situation is shown in the two figures 4.1.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.Electricity Research Association Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Figure 4. Figure 4.2.2.1.

Visual inspections established that the star point of transformer was directly earthed and four pole circuit breaker were used throughout the system.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE.2 Multiple earth-neutral connections in a distribution network (Case Study). the only feasible source of the earth current was due to a second earth neutral link in the newly installed sub-switchboard. During a recent site survey. Without shutting down the switchboard. it was not possible to physically verify the presence of the earth neutral links within the sub-switchboard.1. When reviewing the current flow within the earthing system. substantial currents were found to be following in the earth system of a telecommunications facility.Electricity Research Association Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Figure 4. as built drawings were obtained from the manufacturer.1. 3. parallel neutral paths are created via the earthing system. If there are additional earth-neutral connections downstream of the main earth neutral connection.2. it is common to inadvertently introduce additional earth-neutral connections. It was noted that the earth current was varying as the building electrical load changed. Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .3 Three or four pole circuit breakers It can be seen that the only circuit configurations that eliminates the divided neutral current problem is utilising four pole circuit breakers with the neutral to earth connection up stream of the incoming of the circuit breaker.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 8 . These confirmed that the earth neutral links were installed in the switchboard.2 Neutral current does not dividing between the earthing system and neutral conductors 3. Therefore. Where distribution systems are modified to increase the system capacity or during the installation of UPS.

Therefore. Consequently.e. Figure 5.2 Isolation transformer Where distribution systems incorporate two or more electrical sources.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 9 .1 Schematic of a UPS system were the output neutral is directly connected to the UPS input neutral 4. not switched) throughout the entire system. Therefore the UPS must have its own earthneutral connection. There are number of solution to achieve this: • The UPS output neutral is directly connected to the UPS input neutral. the UPS will lose it earth reference. as the neutral can be solid (i. such that it operates as a single entity. This solution is ideal for simple networks with only one source. 4. four pole circuit breakers cannot be used upstream of the UPS. the output neutral of the UPS must be electrically connected to earth. four pole circuits have to be utilised for reasons previously discussed. Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP . The UPS output neutral and earthing system is electrically isolated from the upstream earthing and neutral system. in the event that the circuit breaker upstream of the UPS is opened. In this case.1 The UPS output neutral is directly connected to the UPS input neutral. This can be achieved via a delta–star isolation transformer or delta /zigzag isolation transformer with the star point connected to earth.2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE. there must be close coordination between the system designers and a nominated UPS manufacture.Electricity Research Association 4 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Earthing of Uninterruptible Power Supplies Uninterruptible power supply systems are an integral part of the electrical distribution network and their design must be tailored to that of the electrical distribution network. For safety reasons. • Isolation transformer.

When the UPS is switched from the static bypass to the manual bypass the two feeders are in parallel. Figure 5. this will be detected by RCD (residual current Devices) as leakage current or earth fault.3 Earthing & Bonding of Telecommunications Installations and Colocation Systems Worldwide Building Earthing Arrangements: A Case Study and Issues Affecting the Designer Earth fault protection on the static and manual bypass lines Earth fault protection must not be utilised on the static bypass and manual bypass lines.2 Schematic of a UPS system were the output neutral is directly connected to the UPS input neutral Arup C:\ARUP\ADMINISTRATION\MCF\PAPERS\AVAILABLE FOR ISSUE\EARTHING\ARUP .Electricity Research Association 4. and consequently. The current in each phase may not divide equally between the two parallel paths.DOC © Copyright Ove Arup & Partners Ltd October 2002 Page 10 .2002 EARTHING AND BONDING OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLATIONS AND COLO SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE. Such an installation with RCD protection would be prevalent in Asia. with Singapore as an example.