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C&G 2395-01

Level 3 Award in the


Periodic Inspection, Testing and Certification of
Electrical Installations

Continuity of Protective Conductors

1
Outcomes of this Session
• State the requirements which need to be considered for protective
conductors in terms of earthing conductors, protective bonding
conductors and circuit protective conductors
• describe the need for, and methods of verifying, the continuity of
protective conductors
• state the relationship between conductor length, cross-sectional area
and resistance
• state the effect of temperature on a conductor
• state the effect on measured resistance when cables are connected in
parallel
• describe the need for, and methods of, verifying the continuity of ring
final circuit conductors
• explain how the results of the tests should be analysed.
Continuity testing
All protective and bonding conductors must be tested to ensure that they
are electrically continuous, electrically safe and correctly connected.

Prior to the testing of continuity in either radial circuits or ring final circuits, you
must check three things:

1. That the instrument has batteries that are adequate for the task. They must
be replaced regularly to maintain the current we require.
2. The connecting leads and the instrument must be ‘nulled/zeroed’.
3. A current calibration certificate or a current record of the accuracy of the test
instrument.
Continuity of protective
conductors
Continuity of protective conductors
This test is carried out to ensure that the protective
conductor links together all exposed conductive
parts to the main earthing terminal (MET).

A circuit protective conductor (cpc) must be present


at all points in the wiring system (411.3.1.1)

In a ring final circuit, the cpc must also be wired


in a ‘RING’ configuration!
Continuity of protective conductors
Firstly, it is to ensure that any earthing system is a continuous and
a low resistance path to allow the passage of fault currents of
sufficient magnitude to operate the protective device during fault
conditions within the required disconnection time.

Secondly, confirmation of the “zero” potential between metal


parts, both extraneous and exposed-conductive-parts, within an
installation to reduce the effects of electric shock for the user of
the electrical installation.

Thirdly, that the conductors, including all line and neutral


conductors, are connected in the correct sequence for safety and
for operational purposes.
Continuity of protective conductors

The GN3 recommended maximum


resistance between accessible exposed
conductive parts should be 0.05Ω.
(p.35 GN3)
Parallel Paths
The continuity test(s) test must be carried out prior
to the connection of any supplementary bonding
conductor or main bonding conductor.

If there are either supplementary


bonding conductors or main bonding
conductors connected, then you may
not be testing just the circuit protective
conductor, you may also be testing a
parallel combination of earthing
conductors.
This will lead to a different readings.
Continuity Testing of Radial Circuits

Regulation 612.2.1 requires testing for continuity.


As far as the continuity test is concerned, the earthing conductor, the
main bonding conductors, the supplementary bonding conductors and
the circuit protective conductors must all be tested.
There are two methods for testing the continuity of protective conductors.
These are called ‘Method 1’ and ‘Method 2’.
• Method 1 (R1 + R2) is generally used for circuits.

• Method 2 (long ‘wander’ lead) is generally used for single conductors, such as
bonding conductors.
Method 1
Now for the test itself:
• Where necessary, first prove that the installation or circuit is dead.
• If the circuits that are supplied from the same distribution board cannot be
made safe (i.e. dead) then you should not carry out this test.
• Connect the line conductor to the protective conductor at the distribution
switchboard using a temporary test link.
• Test between the line and circuit protective conductor at the remote appliance.
• The measurement of (R1+R2) should be recorded in Ohms (Ω).
• You don’t need to test every point, just the furthest points.
• If there is a need (although unlikely) to determine the resistance of the circuit
protective conductor R2 as a value then the following can be used;

R2 = RR x A1 OR R2 = (R1+R2) x CSA line


A1 + A 2 CSA line + CSA cpc
Readings From Test Instruments
Regulation 612.1 requires that we compare our results with ‘relevant criteria’.

It is unacceptable to simply just record a result! It needs to be reasonable!

• In different circumstances, protective devices must operate within set times.


• A higher fault current may be needed to make the protective device operate in 0.2 s as
opposed to 5 s.
• The cpc must be capable of withstanding the rise in temperature, due to the fault
current for the set time. (Time/Current Characteristics).
• Current increase = Temperature increase.
• Will the resistance reading of the continuity test allow you to make a reasonable
judgement, in accordance with BS 7671, about the time it takes to clear the fault?
• Can you guarantee the cpc will not open circuit before the protective device operates?
• If this last question can be answered with a YES, then the results will be acceptable.
What happens if the test is unsatisfactory?

First find the type of fault.


• Open circuit on a cpc
A cable could have been cut by another person
A nail could have split the cpc
The connections are not tightened up adequately and the cpc could
have worked free.
• ‘Borrowed’ cpc
This could happen if the electrician has used a cpc from another circuit
to provide an ‘earth’ for a circuit. This is not acceptable!
• ‘Borrowed’ neutral
This is an all too common fault when electricians take a neutral from
one circuit to give to another circuit. This breaches Regulation 314.4
and is extremely dangerous practice!
Continuity of ring final circuit conductors

This test is carried out to verify the continuity of


the line, neutral and protective conductors and
correct wiring of every ring final circuit.

The test results show if the ring has been broken


or interconnected to create an apparently
continuous ring circuit which is in fact broken or
connected as a ‘figure of eight’ configuration.
(GN3 2.7.6)
End of chapter 4a