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FAQ: Earth Bonding Cable Size Selection

Guidance on earth conductor and protective bonding conductor cross-sectional areas is


given in the guide to the wring regulations BS7671.

BS 7671 lists five types of earthing system: TN-S, TN-C, TT, TN-C and IT.

T= Earth
N = Neutral
S = Separate
C = Combined
I = Isolated

The Earthing conductor and main protective bonding conductor sizes (copper equivalent)
for TN-S and TN-C-S supplies are determined as follows:

Line Conductor or Neutral Conductor of PME supplied mm2 4 6 10 16 25 35 50 70


Earthing Conductor not buried or buried and protected
mm2 6 6 10 16 16 16 25 35
against corrosion and mechanical damage
Main Protective Bonding Conductor mm2 6 6 6 10 10 10 16 25
Main Protective Bonding Conductor for PME supplies
mm2 10 10 10 10 10 10 16 25
(TN-C-S)

Notes:
1. Protective conductors (including earth and bonding conductors) of 10mm² cross-
sectional area or less shall be of copper.

2. The distributor may require a minimum size of earth conductor at the origin of the
supply of 16mm² copper or greater for TN-S and TN-C-S supplies.

3. Buried earth conductors must be at least:


• 25mm² copper if not protected against corrosion
• 50mm² steel if not protected against corrosion
• 16mm² copper is not protected against mechanical damage but protected from
corrosion.
• 16mm² coated-steel is not protected against mechanical damage but protected against
corrosion.

4. The distributor should be consulted when in doubt.


Buried
Protected against corrosion
Unprotected Protected against corrosion
and mechanical damage
mm2 mm2 mm2
25 16 2.5
Not Buried
Protected against corrosion
Unprotected Protected against corrosion
and mechanical damage
mm2 mm2 mm2
4 4 2.5

Notes:
1. Assuming protection against corrosion by a sheath

2. The main protective bonding conductors shall have a cross-sectional area of not less
than half that required for the earthing conductor and not less than 6mm².

Please be aware of the following:


a) Only copper conductors should be used: copper covered aluminium conductors or
aluminium conductors or structural steel can only be used is special precautions outside
the scope of the Wiring Guide are taken.

b) Bonding connections to incoming metal services should be made as near as practicable


to the point of entry of the services into the premises, but on the consumer’s side of any
insulating section.

c) Where practicable, the connection to the gas, water, oil, etc service should be within
600mm of the service meter, or a point of entry to the building if the service meter is
external and must be on the consumer’s side before and branch pipework and after any
insulating section in the service. The connection must be made to hard pipework, not to
soft or flexible meter connections.

d) The connection must be made using clamps (to BS 951) and be suitably protested
against corrosion at the point of contact.

(Taken from source: Onsite Guide: BS 7671:2008 +A3: 2015. 6th Edition)