Distribution Equipment Earthing Specification

1

Objectives
To establish earth connections at minimum cost which:
a) Comply with the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Power Systems
Earthing (NZECP.35:1993).
b) Provide maximum possible protection to staff, the public and system.
c) Are easily maintained, inspected and tested.

2

3

Definitions
2.1

Electrode is a conductor placed in contact with the subsurface ground
for the purpose of making connection with the general mass of earth. It
may be a stake, pipe, rod or wire (solid or stranded).

2.2

Earth connection is a system of one or more electrodes bonded
together.

2.3

Earth conductor is the conductor wire used to bond together the various
parts of an earth connection and the equipment it serves.

Compliance
Every effort shall be made to comply with this specification and NZECP35.

4

General Requirements
Note:
Where these conflict with the special requirements for specific items of
equipment those special requirements are to be complied with.
4.1

Workmanship
All work to be carried out in a neat and workmanlike manner and in
accordance with good electrical practice.

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4.2

Testing
a) Before any new lines or equipment are livened all earth
connections are to be tested for resistance to earth. (ECP.2.5.1).
b) All earth tests are to be carried out using an approved earth test
instrument in accordance with the instructions supplied with that
instrument and with a current calibration certificate.
c) Resistance values for new earths should be within Specified
requirements if achievable with two electrodes per group and
driven to the maximum depth possible.
If not achievable, apart from being specifically noted on the return
form as detailed in Appendix 5 (c), the values are to be brought to
the attention of the Tonga Power representative.
Every effort is to be made to ensure that ABS earth resistance values do
not exceed the maximum allowable.

4.3

Conductors
a) All earth conductors entering and below ground level are to be
copper (ECP.6.7.3).
b) Minimum conductor size 16mm2. Refer to Section 5.2(a) plus
NZECP.35 Figure 4 for larger conductor sizes.
c) All conductor required by this code to be insulated shall be new
600/1000 volt annealed green PVC insulated conduit wire to first
electrode.
d) A test link, using two connectors, 2.5m minimum 2.8m maximum
above ground level is to be included in all earth conductors except
those for lightning arrestors.
e) All earth conductors are to be insulated except at connections and
below ground level beyond the connection to the first electrode.
f) Allow a minimum of 300mm slack in all underground conductors.
g) All buried conductor is to be a minimum of 500mm below
permanent ground level or a greater depth to minimize step
potentials and to prevent it being disturbed.
h) Conductor up to 16mm G/Y PVC is to be protected by 25mm dia
galvanized steel pipe, from 16mm up to 50mm G/Y PVC is to be
protected by 32mm dia galvanized steel pipe. Either pipe is to be
from ground level to a height of not less than 2.5m but not
exceeding 2.7m with 300mm buried in ground
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i) All conductor-to-conductor connections at test links are to be
made with two connectors/lugs of the correct size.
j) All conductor to equipment connections are to be made using a
copper compression terminal of the correct size.
k) All earth conductor to aluminum neutral connections are to be
made using a bitmetal compression fitting.
l) All conductor to electrode connections to be made by ALM
compression clamps of the correct size, and using one clamp per
electrode, or other approved method.
4.4

Electrodes
a) All electrodes are to be ALM or equivalent, 1800mm long x 13mm
dia copper clad tapered coupling extendable rods driven by a
lightweight air powered jackhammer, or other approved method.
b) Each rod is to be driven its full length. Where this is not possible
the undriven portion is to be cut off.
c) All electrodes to be driven until one of the following conditions is
met:
i.
ii.

Resistance to earth is below the maximum specified by the
relevant section of this code, or
It is not possible to drive the electrode any further.

If R not equal to maximum specification then minimum of twelve
rods including ‘earthing enhancement compound’ will be
considered a ‘fair attempt’. If the resistance is still greater than
the maximum specified it should be reported to the Project
Manager who should obtain direction from the Network Engineers
whether it is acceptable or whether additional work at Tonga
Power Limited’s expense is required.
d) The following pertains to these extra electrodes. The minimum
electrode spacing is to be at least equal to TWICE the depth of the
nearest electrode but must not be less than 2.5m.
e) All electrodes are to be driven to minimum of 500mm below
permanent ground level.
f) The initial electrode in an earth connection is to be at the base of
the pole, in line with the earth conductor on the pole, and driven
vertically.
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g) Multiple electrode earths are to be laid out in a straight line,
parallel to, and directly underneath the overhead line where
possible. When the electrodes are connected in series, individual
electrodes may be driven at an angle to the vertical, if
advantageous.
h) In difficult earth situations Bentonite, or an equivalent chemical
additive may be used, when driving electrodes.
i) Where there is underground reticulation the electrodes are, if
practical to be driven in the cable trench prior to backfilling.
j) In the case of a multiple electrode earth, the position of each
electrode shall be recorded on the appropriate Earth Report Form
using accurate measurements from an easily recognized datum
point, usually the pole.
4.5

Identification
A plastic tag is to be attached to the earth conductor just below the test
link showing on the front:
a) Equipment Number (plus A or B when more than one connection
is involved).
b) Latest individual earth test reading.
c) Latest test date, and on rear, the latest MEN earth test reading if
applicable.

5

Transformers
5.1
Earth Connections
a) All distribution transformers are to have two separate earth
connections, with each being capable of being tested
independently of the neutral and of the other connection
(ECP.6.5.2).
b) The resistance to earth of each earth connection as noted above,
is not to exceed 25 ohms.
c) An MEN system neutral, in addition to being earthed at the source
of supply, is also to be earthed at one or more points along the
distribution line such that the resistance to earth of the neutral with
all earths connected does not exceed 10 ohms. Note that these
additional earths do not need to be tested independently.
d) Where the resistance to earth of each earth connection in (a) is
insufficient to comply with (b) after each electrode has been driven
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to the maximum depth possible, additional earth connections are
to be provided as in (c), in preference to adding further electrodes
to the two existing earth connections.
5.2

Earth Conductors
a) House earths and end of LV use 16mm2 copper earth conductor
25mm2 for transformers up to 250kVA. Above 250kVA use copper
equivalent size of line neutral conductor. Refer also to NZECP.35
Figure 4.

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b) Transformer neutral bushing is to be connected direct to neutral
line conductor and earth conductor by separate leads. Where
there is no neutral line conductor the earth conductor is to be
connected directly to the neutral bushing.
c) Transformer tank to be connected direct to earth conductor,
except when lightning arrestors are fitted.
d) Where the two earth connections are at the same pole, each earth
connection shall be directly and independently connected to the
test point to enable testing of one earth connection while the other
remains in service.
e) All LV end neutral to be earthed, one electrode, 16mm2 G/Y (in
PVC with 25mm galvanized pipe as per 4.3.h)
f) All customer installation meter points N to be with correct size
stainless steel saddle and clouts.

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