Cable Ladder Bonding with Earth Wire

Is it Necessary?
Michael Hamilton
Senior Electrical/Controls Engineer
Solutions Engineering Alliance
GEIG Presentation December 2010

Previously presented1
IEAust Earthing Conference April 2010

SEA offers;
 Project Studies and Definition
 Project Management
 Electrical Engineering, design and drafting
 Controls Systems, Networks & Telemetry
 Automation and Drives
 Hazardous Area – classification, dossier
compilation, inspections and reviews
 Installation, testing and commissioning
 Technical training and Support services
 Multi discipline design and construction


Page 1


 Theoretical Analysis
 Cable Ladder Testing
 Test Setup
 Test Results
 Testing Results
 End-to-End Resistance
 Probing Further
 Proposed Installation Practice


Comment from the website
Bonding: The bottom line is that the
metal pole must be bonded to an
effective ground-fault path that
provides a low impedance path back
to the power supply for the purpose
of clearing the fault [250.4(A)(5)].
Typically the effective ground-fault
path will be a copper conductor
sized in accordance with Table
250.122, because the earth cannot
be use as an effective ground-fault
path [250.4(A)(5)].

“Learning is when we get the
answers to our questions, but
discoveries are made when we
question the answers!”
Mike Holt. 4

Page 2

Typical Installation 6 Page 3 .  How many think we need bonding wires on cable ladder splice joints?  How many think we don’t need bonding wires on cable ladder splice joints? 5 Current Practice? .Question?  Show of hands.

Current Practice? .Company Standards 8 Page 4 .Company Standards 7 Current Practice? .

Company Standards 9 Current Practice? .Company Standards  This from an International Oil & Gas Company  10 Page 5 .Current Practice? .

15 x 10- 10-3 Ω 2  25mm Copper Cable – 7.reduction in resistance by 20%.6mm to 2.27 x 10-10-4 Ω  Ladder Rail (1.357 x 10- 10-4 Ω  Ladder Rail (2.6mm x 130mm) – 0.From where?  Australian Standard AS3000 calls for ‘a wiring enclosure to be earthed’… earthed’…  Does not specifically say that joints of cable ladder have to have bonding wires.Current Practice .reduction in resistance by 37%.0mm x 130mm) – 0. 16mm2 to 25mm2 earth wire .Values Resistance Values of Components  16mm2 Copper Cable – 1. 11 Theory .285 x 10- 10-4 Ω 1.0mm ladder . 12 Page 6 .

Ω⋅m.6mm ladder considered. • 17x 16mm2 Cu Cable. • 13x 25mm2 Cu Cable.0mm – 340mm2.Thevenin Model 14 Page 7 .72 x 10-8 Ω⋅m. • 10.Values  Ladder resistance based on resistivity of iron at 9. 13 Theory .8x 25mm2 Cu Cable.  2.Theory . only 1.6mm – 272mm2. Ω⋅m.  Copper 5. • 21x 16mm2 Cu Cable.  Copper resistivity of 1.71 x 10-8 Ω⋅m.  For theory.6x better than Iron.  Area Offered by ladder side rail:  1.

 With 25mm2 cable – 73 µΩ.8% 15 Theory .Theory .51 2 With 25mm bonding wire 600 88 73 16.01 150 81 72 10.69 16 Page 8 . R.Calculated Results Table of Results Resistance b/w Points A and B Resistance b/w With Earth Percent Points A and B Bonding Wire Improvement Ladder Width Ω) (µΩ Ω) (µΩ (%) 2 With 16mm bonding wire 600 88 78 11. A − B 100 % Improvemen t = × [% ] A 1 With 16mm2 cable – 11.33 300 85 76 11.36 150 81 68 15.3% With 25mm2 cable – 16.Calculated Results  Across points A and B.82 300 85 71 16.ladder calc’ calc’d as 88 µΩ  With bonding wire across the points A and B the effective resistance becomes:  With 16mm2 cable – 78 µΩ.

1.  Most common ladder purchased is 600mm 4/70L type.  Proper analysis can only be determined by performing actual tests… tests… 17 Testing of Cable Ladder . 146mmm high rails. 100mm high rails.  4/70 (NEMA 20B). 1. 2.  5/112 (NEMA 20C). NEMA 20B.0mm thickness.  Galvanised coating ignored.  All joints are perfect.  4/70L (NEMA 20B).Theory -Questionable?  Based on:  Assumed values. 130mm high rails. 2.6mm thickness.0mm thickness.6mm thickness. 130mm high rails. 18 Page 9 .Ladder Types  Available ladder types:  3/50 (NEMA 16A).  Sheet resistance effect ignored.

 Torque tight bolts (28Nm).  Tests with Finger Tight bolts – the bolts screwed to point where nut and washer just makes contact. 20 Page 10 .  Bolts removed from 1 side of splice plate. then removed from both sides of splice plate.  Finger tight bolts.  Test series with.e (i.Testing of Cable Ladder .Testing method  20mm gap maintained throughout tests.Test Setup 1m 2.  Where ‘a’ bolt is removed. then with bonding wire attached (16mm2).02m 1m 19 Testing of Cable Ladder .  Tests first performed without bonding wire.e each splice plate). it refers to a bolt front and rear (i.

1 511.3 5.7 603.03% 22 Page 11 .7 11.8 11.9 552.45% 1 515.63% 2 606.1 534.85% Bolts In Splice Plate – 2 Sides 4 573.7 8.1 4.1 Side Only 4 601.Finger Tight Bolts Resistance Without Earth Resistance With Bolts Finger Bonding Wire Earth Bonding Percentage Tight Ω) (µΩ Wire (µΩΩ) Improvement Bolts In Splice Plate .1 6.9 5.Testing of Cable Ladder .87% 3 549.6 11.38% 1 543.1 Side Only 4 534.1 542.2 Sides 4 530 504.84% 1 610.6 512.93% 2 630.7 11.7 540.74% Bolts In Splice Plate .96% 2 544.Test Results  300mm Ladder .1 510.8 511.7 -4.5 560.Test Results  600mm Ladder .44% 3 537.82% 2 582.1 536.Finger Tight Bolts Resistance Without Earth Resistance With Bolts Finger Bonding Wire Earth Bonding Percentage Tight Ω) (µΩ Wire (µΩΩ) Improvement Bolts In Splice Plate .07% 1 662.87% 21 Testing of Cable Ladder .6 515.21% 3 606.3 537.5 10.2 532.7 6.4 4.2 4.41% 3 598.9 8.3 525 9.

Testing of Cable Ladder .74% 2 489.8 1.5 461.89% 23 Testing of Cable Ladder .4 485.8 500.88% 1 469.3 2.86% 1 496.2 Sides 4 482 472.Torque Bolts Resistance Without Earth Resistance With Bonding Wire Earth Bonding Percentage Bolts Tight Ω) (µΩ Wire (µΩΩ) Improvement Bolts In Splice Plate .8 1.9 480.2 Sides 4 453.4 446 1.1 447.85% 1 484.63% 3 457.70% 3 483.4 485.1 471.Test Results  600mm Ladder .Torque Bolts Resistance Without Earth Resistance With Bonding Wire Earth Bonding Percentage Bolts Tight Ω) (µΩ Wire (µΩΩ) Improvement Bolts In Splice Plate .20% Bolts In Splice Plate .1 Side Only 4 481 472.9 2.86% 2 462.5 2.8 1.4 458.Test Results  300mm Ladder .4 449.1 Side Only 4 453.5 2.8 1.7 454 1.4 2.5 475.5 2.6 1.32% Bolts In Splice Plate .62% 24 Page 12 .7 2.66% 2 470.63% 3 456.2 474.06% 2 497.35% 1 515.8 1.4 446 1.01% 3 485.

96% 25mm2 Earth Wire 461.9 537.Test Results  Comparison of theory and measured values Theoretical Measured Test Ω) Resistance (µΩ Ω) Resistance (µΩ Percentage Error Splice Plate 230.8 5.44% Tight Bolts 600mm. Torque 472.6 0.Test Results  Misc.12% 26 Page 13 .6 216. Measured Measured Resistance with Resistance with 16mm2 Bond 25mm2 Bond Percentage Test wire (µΩΩ) wire (µΩΩ) Improvement 600mm.7 -2. all bolts connected.Testing of Cable Ladder .8 469.6 476 3. Tests.7 NA 16mm2 Earth Wire 736 699.67% Bolts 300mm. Torque 448. Finger 524.4 NA 600W Ladder (2m) Not Determined 629 NA 300W Ladder (1m) Not Determined 323.5 4.3 445.98% 600W Ladder (1m) Not Determined 354.2 0.5 NA 300W Ladder (1m) Not Determined 580.69% Bolts Very small improvement offered by using 25mm2 bond wire over 16mm2 25 Testing of Cable Ladder .

300mm ladder  Results not consistent due to movement with the ladder and splice plate with 600mm. similarly percent improvement increases with the addition of the bond wire.  Effectively with bonding wire. 2 sides. 2 sides. 31 µΩ .  Change in resistance < 20 µΩ with no bond wire compared to having bond wire installed. 28 better results obtained with the 300mm ladder tests.16 µΩ. 4. 34 µΩ .Summary of Results  For Torque Tightened bolts:  As bolts are removed . 80 µΩ .  Change in resistance < ~70 µΩ with no bond wire compared to having bond wire installed.15 µΩ. 11. • 1 side.  Results for improvement with bonding wire between 300mm and 600mm are similar (<0. Page 14 . increasing for 300mm ladder.Testing of Cable Ladder . improvement in resistance is ~10 µΩ.1%).  Change in resistance from 4 bolts to 1 bolt.  Change in resistance from 4 bolts to 1 bolt.600mm ladder • 1 side.4%.Resistance generally increases. 9 µΩ. 2 sides.1 side only . 85 µΩ.Resistance increases only by a small amount.  Effectively with bonding wire.2 sides .  As bolts are removed .600mm ladder • 1 side.Resistance increases. 1.Summary of Results  For Finger tight bolts:  As bolts are removed . 90 µΩ .300mm ladder  Results in line with expectations 27 Testing of Cable Ladder .7%. percent improvement similar for each case. improvement in resistance is ~70 µΩ. percent improvement .similar for each case of 600mm. 25 µΩ.4%. • 1 side. 2 sides. affected by the measuring point locations.  Difference in using 25mm2 bonding wire to 16mm2 wire is:  600mm ladder – 3.  The effect then is the change in percentage of resistance as measured as the points are moved outwards from the centre… centre… R total = Rsplice + (L ⋅ Rladder ) Rtotal 30 Page 15 .End- End-to- to-End Resistance  Resistance measurements taken over a short distance.  Resistance of Splice joint section under test comparable to 95mm2 cable.  300mm ladder – 3.Testing of Cable Ladder .  The ladder is providing the majority of conductance! 29 Discussion .02m) has less resistance 481 µΩ. than 2m section of ladder.  Percentage Improvement .69%. 629 µΩ.Summary of Results  Measured splice section (2.1 µΩ.67%. 0.2 µΩ.  Resistance of ladder comparable to 50mm2 cable.

 Corrosion.  With bond wire.22%. R = 3697.Risk .8 µΩ.  Either case causing a high resistance joint to occur reducing the conductivity of the ladder system.Discussion .of Splice Joint Failure  To consider risk not to use a bonding wire. hence to reason for the bonding wire. 32 Page 16 .  Following assumptions are made:  Splice joint provides no benefit. 31 Discussion .End- End-to- to-End Resistance  The Percent Improvement formula changes… changes… A − B 100 % Improvement = × [%] A 1 %I = [R splice ] [ ] + (L ⋅ Rladder ) − Rsplice||wire + (L ⋅ Rladder ) Rsplice + (L ⋅ Rladder )  For 2 x 6m joined ladder sections… sections…  No bond wire.  A failure is considered by 3 failure modes:  Fracture and failure of ‘a’ bolt or bolts.  The percentage Improvement is now only. 0.  Loose bolt or bolts. R = 3705.  The risk is that the ladder system fails to provide a continuous earth path.6 µΩ.

 More importantly.e. 34 Page 17 .  2 bonding wires used . twice as unlikely to fail.  Routine inspection and maintenance (3).  More likely to fail if not installed correctly.e. and 2 splice plates gives a total of 16 bolts.  Important notes. then 8 bolt failures needed to break conductivity .  Considering the Splice plate is suitable (no bond wire)  Then with 8 bolts in each splice plate.if 1 bolt fails – Complete system failure.  Cases:  1 only bonding wire used .  Bolts not tightened in the first place.P(B) 33 Discussion . Events considered independent: P(A and B) = P(A). that 8 bolts fail only on one side.  Corrosion over time causing failure (case 3).Discussion .Risk of Splice Joint Failure  The splice plate only method offers good odds against the earthing system failing. over torque bolt subjected to vibration (case 1).probability is 8 times less likely than for the 1st case. i. later falling out (case 2). i.probability is thus halved.  By proper tightening and verification (1 & 2).Risk of Splice Joint Failure  Probability of failure of a bolt is ??  For analysis – rather a comparison between modes.  Considering the worst case. to eliminate each of the possibilities by.  Very unlikely a bolt will fail.

unless the splice plates meet the continuity requirements of NEMA VE 1. provided all the following requirements are met: Specifically part (4) states. and connected raceways are bonded in accordance with 250.1 (Parts of) Sates.  Steel or aluminium cable tray systems shall be permitted to be used as equipment grounding conductors. using bolted mechanical connectors or bonding jumpers sized and installed in accordance with 250.60.57 through 4. 36 Page 18 . bonding jumpers may be required.Probing Further .  If the cable tray is to be use as an EGC.96.  For rigid splice plate connections of materials other than aluminum or galvanised steel.  Cable tray sections. fittings. 35 Probing Further .7 Sates.NEMA Standard VE 2  Section 4. bonding jumpers must be installed on both side rails at the locations illustrated in figures 4. For example stainless steel splice plates may require bonding jumpers depending UL classification.102.4.NFPA 70  Article 392.

 As for not installing bonding wires. Refers to tests carried out with 3600Amps fault current.  Titled “Bonding Jumpers not Required for Standard Cable Tray Splice Plates”  It is not necessary to install bonding jumpers in parallel with the standard rigid aluminium or steel one-piece metallic bolted side rail splice plates that are the connections between the tray sections. only 1 bolt connected and measuring temperature rise of bolt… 37 Conclusions  For the tested galvanised steel cable ladder.  Splice plate bonding wires need only be installed where gaps have been left in the cable ladder to reinstate a continuous earthed ladder system. it is concluded that bonding wires are not required to bond across the standard splice plates.Probing Further . and wastes both materials and labour. the risk is very low due to the large number of bolts being used in the splice plates. Here. the use of bonding jumpers does not make a safety contribution to a properly installed cable tray system.  The most important bonding connection is the connection of the cable ladder system to the main earth. 38 Page 19 .Cable Tray Institute  Technical Bulletin Number 8. as the benefit of such a practice is negligible and provides no additional safety merits.

two off earth conductors shall be provided to maintain a continuous earth.  Develop/Use a testing or inspection procedure to ensure that splice plate bolts have been tightened correctly after installation has been completed. (as per NEMA Standard VE 1). 40 Page 20 .Proposed Installation Practice  Cable ladder shall be earthed back to the main earthing system via two main earth conductors.  Where cable ladder sections are separated and are not joined via splice plates. 39 Proposed Installation Practice  Figures showing earth bonding requirements for adjustable splice plates. or via one earth conductor with a loop installed to each side rail.  Where expansion gaps or sliding expansion joints are used bonding earth wires shall be installed to maintain a continuous earth. these shall include an earth bonding cable unless the plates meet continuity requirements.  Bonding between cable ladder sections is provided with the slice plates and no additional earth wire conductors are required.  Where adjustable splice plates are used.