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INTRODUCTION Nothing is quite common or abundantly available throughout world in the

Earthing soil. Most of us think earth as some thing to be used for planting or to

be excavated for a building foundation. Yet, it also has an electrical property-

conductivity that is put to practical use every day in individual plants and

Electrical utilities.

Broadly speaking earth resistance is the resistance of the soil to the

passage of electrical current. Actually earth is a poor conductor compared with

normal conductor like copper. But if the area of path for the current is large

enough, the resistance can be quite low and earth can be a conductor.

Earthing is foremost important for the safety of human beings, Animals,

Consumer Property and utilities equipment. In this article, the importance of

Earthing requirement of good Earthing, the factors which influence the property

of the diverting medium earth, condition monitoring of earth and method to

improve the earth conditions are discussed in depth.


Prime Objective of Earthing is to provide a Zero potential surface in and

around and under the area where the electrical equipment is installed or erected.

To achieve this objective the non-current carrying parts of the electrical

equipment is connected to the general mass of the earth which prevents the

appearance of dangerous voltage on the enclosures and helps to provide safety

to working staff and public.

res and helps to provide safety to working staff and public. REQUIREMENT OF GOOD EARTHING a)

REQUIREMENT OF GOOD EARTHING a) Good earth should have low


b) It should stabilize circuit potential

with respect to ground and limit

overall potential rise.

T & SS Training Institute, Madurai.

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It should protect men material from injury or damage due to over voltage.

d) It should provide low impedance path to fault currents to ensure prompt and

consistent operation of protective relays, Surge arrester etc.,

e) It should keep maximum potential gradient along the surface of the sub-

station within safe limits during ground fault.

FACTORS INFLUENCE THE CONDITIION OF EARTH The following factors in the earth should be maintained within the limit

irrespective of seasons so that the earth should fulfill the above requirements.


a. Kind of Soil – Soil resistivity

b. Moisture Content

c. Salt Content

d. Condition of Electrode

e. Temperature Co-efficient

CLASSIFICATION OF EARTHING Earthing can be classified into the following categories based on the

purpose for which the part of the equipment connected to the general mass of


a. System Earthing

b. Equipment Earthing

c. Reference Earthing

d. Discharge Earthing

SYSTEM EARTHING Earthing associated with current carrying parts of the equipment is called

system Earthing. The system security, reliability, performance, voltage

stabilization, all relied only on the system Earthing.


Earthing Neutral of Transformer, Surge arrester Earthing

System Earthing Methods :


Solid Earthing


Resistance Earthing


Reactance Earthing d.


Thro’ Grounding Transformer


carrying parts of Electrical

Equipment are called as Equipment Earthing. Safety of operator, consumer,

safety of their property are mainly based on Equipment Earthing.






Body of the Transformer, Body of Motor.


a. If a plant or electrical facility can expand in system or new plants continue

to be build larger and larger, such change creates different routes in the


What was formerly a suitable low earth resistance can become obsolete


More number of metallic pipes which were buried underground become

less and less dependable as effective low resistance ground connection.

Most of the location, the water table gradually falling. In a year or two

area end up with dry earth of high resistance.

These factors emphasize the importance of a continuous, periodic

program of earth resistance testing.


Transmission lines:

i) E.H. T. lines: For 110 KV lines one aerial earth wire through the

towers and for 230 KV lines and two earth wires are run. As per I.S. code, the

aerial ground wire is to be connected to earth at least in 4 towers in every mile

(1.6 Kms.)


H. T. Lines: These towers (each) are earthed through earth pipes.

The earth rods are driven at the base of the tower if the earth resistance is less than 15 Ohms. If it is not possible, two rods are driven within} a distance of 200 feet, wherein again the resistance is not to exceed 25 Ohms.

iii) L.T. lines: All stay wires arc provided with guy shackles at a height

not less than 3 meters from the ground. The cross arms arc also earthed at specified intervals.

Major sub-stations :

Earthing of equipment’s in the major sub-stations is taken much care. The various Earthing are discussed in the paras to come. Power transformers:

i) The transformer body or tank is directly connected to earth grid. In

addition, there should be direct connection from the tank to the earth side of the lightning arresters.

Ii) The transformer track rail should be earthed separately.

iii) The neutral bushing is earthed by a separate connection to the earth grid.

clearer to the tank sell and collars.

Potential and current transformers:

The bases of the CTs and Pts. are to be earthed. All bolted cover plates of the bushing are also to be connected the earth grid.

Lightning arresters :

The bases of the L.As. are to be earthed with conductors as short and straight as Possible (for reducing impedance). The earth side of the L.As. are to be connected directly frolJ1 the equipment to be protected. Each L.A. should have individual earth rods, which are in turn connected to earth grid.

Circuit breakers:

The supporting structures, C.T. chambers, P.T. tanks, Cable glands etc., are to be connected to earth.

Other equipment’s:

All equipment’s, structures, and metallic frames of switches and isolators are to be earthed separately.


Providing separate earth or connecting to the station earth depends upon the distance of the fence the station earth. If the distance is within feet, an inter- connection made to the station earth. If not, the metallic fences are earthed by means of earth rods spaced at not more than 200 feet. The gates and support pans may be earthed through an earth rod. The cable wires passing under “metallic fence are to be buried below at a depth of 2’6 or are to be enclosed in a insulating pipe (P. V.C or asbestos cement) for a distance of not less than 5 feet on each side of the fence.

Ground wires :

The ground wires over the station arc connected to the station earth. In order that the station earth potentials during fault condition5 arc not applied to transmission line ground wires and towers, all ground wires coming to the stations shall be broken . It an insulated on the fir5t tower external to station by means of strain disc. insulators.

NATURE OF AN EARTH ELECTRODE Resistance to current through an earth element has following three components.

a. Resistance of the earth electrode itself and connection to it.

b. Contact resistance between the electrode and soil adjacent to it.

c. Resistance of the surrounding earth.


b. Rod Type / Pipe Type of Electrode

c. Flat / Strip Electrode

d. Plate Electrode

Rod Type / Pipe Type of Electrode

Substation :

i) 40 mm twin rod with 10 mtr. length.

ii) 100 mm /150 mm Cast Iron Pipe with 3 mtr. length.

Distribution :

i) 40 mm inner dia 2.9 mm thick 3 mtr. length G I Pipe.

: i) 40 mm inner dia 2.9 mm thick 3 mtr. length G I Pipe. Resistance





100 ρ

log e 4 L


2 П




ρ = Soil Resistivity in ohm – metres


= Length of Pipe / Rod in metres


= diameter of Pipe / Rod in metres

a. Flat / Strip Electrode

Flat or Strip electrode should be buried at a depth of not less then 0.5 mtr.






100 ρ

log e 2L 2



2 П L w t


ρ = Soil Resistivity in ohm – metres


= Length of Flat/Strip in metres


= Length of Flat/Strip in metres

t = thickness of Flat/Strip in metres

The resistance of Flat / Strip decreases appreciably with increase in its length.

Plate Electrode

In Power Stations & Very Big Substation which are having high fault level

plate type of electrode are used.

Plate Size


x 1200 x 12.5 mm.


x 600

x 9.40 mm

Resistance = R =

ρП ohms



= Soil Resistivity in ohm – metres

A = Area of both sides of plate in m 2 .

Earthing conductor :

The metal parts of equipment’s arc connected to the low resistance

electrodes by the ‘earth conductors of suitable size as annexed in Annexure III.

The basic observations to be taken into account are:

i) Bare Aluminum conductor should not be buried in the soil.

ii) The copper strip to be used depends on the size of the bolts

used. If the size of the bolts are greater than 1” dia, strip width to

be selected is not to be less than 2”.

iii) The conductor should carry fault current at least for 1/2

second and the area of cross section in sq. inches is given by the

fault current- 15,000.


While laying earth conductors joints are to be minimized and they are to

be well-brazed or closely welded. The 1/2" dia. galvanized steel bolts at 1 1/2 11

centre are also used for joints.

Earth resistance:

The fault current is to be cleared as quickly as possible and this is done by

having the earth resistance low. The standard values of earth resistance to be

maintained at various sub-stations are given in Annexure IV.

Earth grid:

Bonding all metal parts of the system to be earthed, the earth conductor

and the earth electrodes put all together form and Earth Grid.

General considerations:


All earth connections are to be made visible as far as possible.


The earth leads should not be set in concrete.


No series connections are to be made for earths.


Preferably, the Earthing conductors should not be run-in metal


MONITORING THE CONDITION OF EARTH For monitoring the healthiness of

equipment used is “EARTH MEGGER”.

Specification :


Rated Voltage

: 30 to 250V




Range of Resistance

Two types :

: The preferred effective ranges of the meters shall be chosen from those given below 1)0 to 3 ohms and its multiplies of 10 2)0 to10 ohms and its multiplies of 10

a). Four terminal Earth Megger which is exclusive used for Soil

Resistivity Measurement. This can be converted as three terminal

by connecting P1 & C1 together.

b). Three terminal Earth Megger.


(i) For 3 Terminal Meter (ii) For 4 Terminal Meter

Current Terminal – C or H Current Terminal C1, C2

Potential Terminal – P or U Potential Terminal P1, P2

Earth Terminal – E


The Earthing systems are to be inspected regularly. Regular checking or

joints and broken connections, if any and rectifying the same will prove to be of

immense help in maintenance of earth grid and equipment’s. The condition of the

electrodes, joints are also to be checked. If the electrodes are’ corroded

immediate steps for replacement are to be taken.

The earth resistance is to be measured periodically as in Annexure V. The

megger, or testers are used for this purpose.

Maintenance of low earth resistance:

As discussed earlier, low earth resistance Path is a must for clearing the

fault current instantaneously. For achieving -low earth values, the following ways

are followed:

i) A number of electrodes are connected in parallel thereby providing a low


ii )The ground surrounding the electrodes is treated with common salt

which reduces the resistance by 80%. Calcium chloride and magnesium sulphate

may also be used. In general practice in T.N.B.B. charcoal and common alt are

used for obtaining low resistance value.

STANDARD MEGGER VALUE Combined Earth Value should not exceed

Individual Value within 10 ohm


for Major Sub Station

1 Ohm


for Minor Sub Station

2 Ohm


Power House

0.5 Ohm

METHODS TO IMPROVE SOIL RESISTIVITY The following are the methods to lowering the earth resistance.

Using Bendonite Powder

a. Lengthen the earth electrode in the earth

b. Use multiple rods

c. Treat the Soil- Using Bendonite Powder

Using Fly Ash

Using Safe Earth Electrode(SSE)

Using Erico GEM

EARTH MAT DESIGN Earthing System in a Sub Station comprises of Earth Mat or Grid, Earth

Electrode, Earthing Conductor and Earth Connectors.

EARTH MAT OR GRID Primary requirement of Earthing is to have a low earth resistance.

Substation involves many Earthings thro’ individual Electrodes, which will have

fairly high resistance. But if these individual electrodes are inter linked inside the

soil, it increases the area in contact with soil and creates number of parallel

paths. Hence the value of the earth resistance in the inter linked state which is

called combined earth value which will be much lower than the individual value.

The inter link is made thro flat or rod conductor which is called as Earth

Mat or Grid. It keeps the surface of substation equipment as nearly as absolute

earth potential as possible.

To achieve the primary requirement of Earthing system, the Earth Mat

should be design properly by considering the safe limit of Step Potential, Touch

Potential and Transfer Potential.

STEP POTENTIAL - which is the potential difference available between the legs

while standing on the ground.

TOUCH POTENTIAL - which is the potential difference between the leg and the hand touching the equipment in operation.

The factors which influence the Earth Mat design are

a. Magnitude of Fault Current

b. Duration of Fault

c. Soil Resistivity

d. Resistivitiy of Surface Material

e. Shock Duration

f. Material of Earth Mat Conductor

g. Earthing Mat Geometry

The Scope is to calculate the following

i. Size of Earth Grid Conductor

ii. Safe Step and Touch Potential

iii. Mesh Potential (Emesh)

iv. Grid configuration for Safe Operation

v. Number of Electrodes required


a. Soil Resistivity

b. Resistivity of Crushed Rock


Crushed Rock Surface Layer Thickness


Switch Yard overall Dimensions



Earth Fault Level


Duration consider for earth fault.




Conductor Area

A =



Tcap x 10 4


ln Ko + Tm

tc – r x Pv

Ko + Ta


Simplified formula for Steel Grid Conductor


Area A = I x /t




A = area of earth conductor in mm 2 .



= short circuit current in KA.


= duration of short circuit current in seconds.

K factor = 80 for steel.

If mat is made of Flat then

A = Area of Flat

Give allowance of 35 % for corrosion

If it is a conductor

A = Пr2

r = /A/П


i) 10 x 6


40 x 6


60 x 6

ii) 20 x 6


50 x 6


65 x 10

iii) 30 x 6


50 x 8


75 x 10


40 mm Mild Steel Rod

The Mesh Potential always less than the permissible touch & step potential. Then only the design is considered as safe.


Annexure 2 Earth Electrodes Plate Electrodes

Pine electrodes

a) Larger Power Stations G.I. Plates of 120 x 120 cm and


and Major sub- stations 12.5 mm thick diax3.048mts. long and not less than 12.5. thick. ii) In case of G .1. or steel pipes, not smaller than 38 mm internal diameter. b) Small sub-stations 60 x 60cm G.!. plates of9.4 mm G.I. pipes of 50.8 min thick internal diameter and 3.058 mts., long.

i)G.I. Pipes of

Annexure 3 Earth conductors

a) Main and subsidiary connection : Cross Section not less cm;{Copper)

b) Branch connections

than 161sq.

: Cross section not less than 64.5 sq. cm.

Periodicity of measuring earth resistance

a)Major Sub-stations Power Stations


b)Distribution Transformers


V. CONCLUSION The various practices and standards are to be followed in respect of providing Earthing in our systems. If proper Earthing is not done, there is every likelihood of equipment getting damaged and also have to be personnel -public and staff. Hence due attention is to be given in providing and maintaining of earth grid properly and in good condition.