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23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system | MINING.


How to select the proper neutral-grounding

resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical
Littelfuse Startco ( | Jan. 21, 2015, 5:22 PM |

Rami Hakam, P.Eng., Applications Engineer, Custom Products, Littelfuse Startco –

High-resistance grounding (HRG) makes a power distribution system safer and more
reliable than the alternatives. High-rresistance grounding can limit point-of-fault
damage, eliminate transient overvoltages, reduce the arc ash hazard, limit voltage
exposure to personnel, and provide adequate tripping levels for selective ground-fault
detection and coordination. While the decision to use HRG may be a “no-
brainer,”implementing it is not. In particular, the selection of a proper neutral-grounding
resistor (NGR) requires a certain amount of design knowledge. This article will explain
how an HRG system works and how to calculate the value of the NGR for particular

What is resistance grounding?

In a resistance-grounded system (Fig. 1) the neutral point (either the center of a wye-
connected transformer or, for a delta-connected transformer, an arti cial neutral created
with the aid of a zig-zag transformer) is connected to ground via a resistor (Fig. 2).
When a ground fault occurs the unfaulted phases will assume the phase-to-phase
voltage with respect to ground, the neutral point of the transformer will assume the
phase-to-ground voltage andground-fault current will ow through the NGR. The
magnitude of this current is determined by the voltage across the NGR divided by its
resistive value.

Where is HRG required?

High-resistance grounding is widely used in

mining around the world, including Canada, the
U.S., Chile, Peru, Brazil, China (open-pit),
Mongolia, Australia, and India. It is a
recommended practice for use in mining as
described by the IEEE 3003 Standard: Power 1/6
23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system |

Systems Grounding (formerly known as the

IEEE Green Book). The electrical codes for
mining in Canada (CSA M421) and in the USA
(MSHA) both require the use of high-resistance
grounding. High-resistance grounding is also
becoming widely applied outside of mining; for
example, the IEC/ISO/IEEE 80005-1 standard
recommends the use of high-resistance
( grounding for high-voltage connections feeding
content/uploads/2015/01/Fig11.jpg) ships from shore. The recommended use of
Fig. 1: In a resistance-grounded system the high-resistance grounding is a frequent topic of
neutral point is connected to ground via a
neutral grounding resistor.
peer-reviewed papers, round-table discussions,
presentations at IEEE events, including the
Petroleum and Chemical Industry Technical
Conference and the Pulp and Paper Industry
Conference. Various regulations and standards
around the world also commonly require
monitoring the continuity of the NGR.

Designing a high-resistance-grounding
system (
The main challenge in designing an HRG Fig. 2: A typical neutral-grounding resistor.
system is determining the proper ohmic value
for the neutral-grounding resistor. The primary rule is that the NGR should be sized so
that ground-fault current is equal to or slightly greater than the system charging current.
But what is system charging current (a), and how is it measured (b)?

(a) As shown in Fig. 3 each phase of a three-phase system exhibits a certain amount of
distributed capacitance to ground, shown here as three capacitors. A capacitive current
ows through these, but does not show up on a current transformer installed around the
three phases (zero-sequence current transformer) because the three phase currents
sum to zero.

If one of the phases shorts to ground causing a ground fault, the charging current for
the other two phases will ow through the ground fault. 2/6
23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system |

(b) This makes for a direct way to measure the charging current: introduce a deliberate
ground fault on an ungrounded system and the resulting current through the ground
fault will be the charging current of the system, as shown in Fig. 4. The shorting wire
should be AWG 8 to minimize its voltage drop. The grounding connection should include
a 5 to 10 amp current-limiting fuse rated for the full system voltage, a variable
resistance, and a switch. At its maximum value, the variable resistance should be such
as to limit the charging current to half of its estimated magnitude. Set the resistor to its
maximum value, and then close the switch. Gradually reduce the resistor setting to zero;
this will help prevent transient overvoltages during the test. Zero sequence ammeter A1
will continue to show zero, and ammeter A2 will measure the charging current. After
taking the reading, gradually bring the resistor back to its maximum value before
opening the switch. Repeat the process on each of the other phases, and choose the
one with the highest current for the rest of the calculations. Please note that the system
is isolated from ground during the test.
In a system that has not yet been built, ground fault current must be estimated. For a
quick estimate, use the following typical values: 0.5 A/1000 kVA for low-voltage
systems and 1.0 A/1000 kVA for medium-voltage systems. For a more precise estimate,
use manufacturer’s data to sum up the different circuit elements that contribute to
charging currents, such as cable capacitance per 100 feet, surge arrestors, motors, etc.

Fig. 3: Each phase of a three-phase system exhibits capacitance to ground, shown here as
lumped capacitors. A charging current ows through these capacitances, but does not show up
on a current transformer connected to the three phases because the three-phase currents sum
to zero. 3/6
23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system |

Fig. 4: To measure charging current, connect one phase to ground; the resulting current through
the ground fault will be the charging current of the system.

Calculating the value of the NGR

To detect high-impedance faults and provide machine-winding protection, the desired

ground-fault-current pickup level for the ground-fault relay should be less than 20% of
the prospective ground-fault current. To put it another way, a good rule of thumb is to
multiply the desired ground-fault-current pickup level by an acceptable tripping ratio
(say, 5x), and then use the next-largest available standard let-through current rating for
the neutral-grounding resistor. For low- to medium-voltage systems, standard NGR
current ratings are typically 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, and 25 amps.
For example, consider a system with a charging current of 0.5 amps (which is quite
common on a 480 V system) and a desired ground-fault pickup level of 1 amp. Using a
trip ratio of 5, the value of the NGR should be selected to allow ve times the desired
pickup level current, or 5 amps.
Another example: in potash mining the trailing cables can become quite long, and as
such will have correspondingly large charging currents in the range from 1 to 2 amps (or
more). The tripping current on each feeder must be above charging current to avoid
nuisance or sympathetic tripping; a tripping value of 3 A would be reasonable. . In this
case the NGR should be selected for a let-through current ve times the desired pickup
level, or 15 amps. 4/6
23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system |

It is worth noting that the 2009 edition of Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) rule 10-1102
says that for systems up to 5 kV the system may continue to operate with NGR currents
up to 10 amps, but that a visual or audible alarm must be activated;

The case of mobile equipment in mining

In mining applications, a mobile or movable piece of equipment is supplied power

through a resistively grounded system. What’s more, the ground-fault voltage must be
limited to a maximum of 100V (M421 4.5.6.a & Annex A Figure A.1). Ground-fault
voltage is de ned as the maximum ground-fault current multiplied by the resistance in
the ground path from the equipment to the supply. Depending on the size of the
portable cabling used and the length of that cable, the resistance of the ground wire will
limit the magnitude of the allowable ground fault current. For systems with large
charging current, this could cause what is known as sympathetic tripping, and as such
the method of selecting the NGR value will have to be adjusted.

Sympathetic tripping

If the value of the charging current on a speci c feeder is higher than the tripping point
on the ground-fault relay of that feeder, sympathetic tripping occurs. Consider the
example shown in Fig. 5.
The charging current of the system is (I1+I2+I3). The value of the NGR is calculated as Ir
=5 x (I1+I2+I3) and the set point of the ground-fault relays on the feeders is 20% of Ir.
If a ground fault occurs on Feeder 3, then Feeders 1 and 2 will each see their charging
currents I1 and I2 ow through the current transformer. If I1, for example, is higher than
20% of Ir, then the protective relay for that feeder will detect the current and trip.
The obvious solution is to increase the value of the current owing through the NGR.
However, due to the limit on the ground-fault voltage, that is not always feasible. Thus
the solution is to calculate the NGR value based on the largest charging current value
among all the feeders. So let’s assume the feeder 1 has the largest charging current
value, I1, then the NGR is selected such as Ir = 5 x I1.


An HRG system can improve safety, aid in compliance with regulations, and reduce
downtime by providing a more stable distribution system. The critical part to consider is
that these systems must be properly designed and receives proper maintenance. The 5/6
23/4/2018 How to select the proper neutral-grounding resistor for a high-resistance grounded electrical system |

use of a dedicated NGR continuity monitor is one recommended method to ensure a

continuously safe and reliable operation of the system.

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Ali Hussein • 6 days ago

Thank you
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