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EARTHING and BONDING

© K.Brown 2012
Earthing
 BS7671:2008 Part 2 – Definitions: ‘connection of exposed
conductive parts of an installation to the main earthing terminal of that
installation’.
 Earthing provides an ‘alternative’ path for FAULT CURRENT
during an Earth Fault.
 General ‘mass’ of Earth is taken to be ZERO volts.
 If metalwork can be joined to earth then it can never ‘ in theory’
become live because the potential difference between zero volts of a
piece of metalwork and zero volts of Earth, is zero.
 Automatic disconnection of the supply (PEBADS) should have
disconnected the supply from the faulty circuit the instant the exposed
metalwork ‘tried’ to become live.
 It is vitally important that earthing conductors are electrically
sound in order for this to work.

Earthing and Bonding clamp (BS951)

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(Quick-fit type)

 These clamps are used to make Main Earthing, Equipotential bonding and
Supplementary bonding connections. These MUST be Secure and Clean connections!

Exposed conductive parts


 Exposed conductive parts are accessories and enclosures, with
the capability to conduct (metal), that are PART of the ELECTRICAL
SYSTEM.
 This includes; metallic switches, sockets and isolators, motor
housings, fuseboards, heater enclosures, kettle, toaster etc.
 ANY of these conductive parts HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME
LIVE during a fault.
 Therefore, these parts have to be BONDED to Earth.

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Extraneous conductive parts

 Extraneous conductive parts include metallic pipework, structural


steelwork etc, with the capability to conduct (metal), that are NOT
PART of the ELECTRICAL SYSTEM.
 This includes; gas pipes, water pipes, metallic baths, metal door
and window frames and non-electrical heating systems metalwork and
building structure steelwork etc.

 This metalwork also needs to be bonded to Earth

Main Equipotential Bonding to Extraneous


conductive parts (544.1)

 Extraneous conductive parts include metallic pipework, structural


steelwork etc, with the capability to conduct (metal), that are NOT
PART of the ELECTRICAL SYSTEM.
 This includes; gas pipes, water pipes, metallic baths, metal door

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and window frames and non-electrical heating systems metalwork and
pipework etc.
 ANY of these conductive parts HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME
a PATH TO EARTH if someone touched it AND a faulty electrical
appliance simultaneously.
 Therefore, these parts have to be BONDED to Earth.
 Bonding connections should be made AS CLOSE to the MAIN INTAKE
position as possible.
 GAS pipe bond MUST be made within 600mm of the OUTLET of the
gas meter (regulation 544.1.2)

Bonding conductor sizes


Main Equipotential bonding conductor sizes are determined by the size
of the INCOMING NEUTRAL conductor size. BS7671:2008 Table 54.8
details the sizing requirements.

EXAMPLE: An installation has a main incoming neutral size of 25mm².


Determine, using regulations, the minimum size of equipotential
bonding conductors.

ANSWER: Because the neutral is 35mm² or less, the bonding


conductor should be 10mm².

NOTE: Special requirements exist for PME systems (see 544.1.1)

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Equipotential and Supplementary Bonding

 Equipotential Bonding conductors connect exposed pipework and


metalwork to Earth.
 Supplementary Bonding conductors connect Exposed conductive
parts together AND to earth.
 Bonding conductor sizes are detailed in BS7671:2008 section
544

SUPPLEMENTARY BONDING

This refers to the connecting of two exposed-conductive parts together


or two extraneous conductive parts together, or indeed exposed
conductive part to extraneous conductive part together, to provide
‘extra’ protection against metalwork ever having ‘potential difference’
(i.e. voltage present). If all metalwork is earthed (zero v) then it can
NEVER have voltage present.

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Pipework in dwellings and other installations needs to have ‘extra’
bonding (supplementary bonding). Section 544.2 in BS7671:2008
details this.

Supplementary Bonding Conductor Sizes


 Mechanically protected – minimum 4mm²
 Not Mechanically protected – minimum 2.5mm²
 Regulations 544.2.2 and 544.2.3

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T T s y s t e m . H e a l th y c u r r e n t r o u t e
Earthing
P Systems E a r th in g a r r a n g e m e n t f o r T T s y s t e m
TT system O v e r h e a d s u p p ly
N
(Earth Electrodes)
RC D

T T
T T s y s t e m s h o w in g f a u lt c u r r e n t r o u te
P

C o n s u m e r 's e a r th
e le c t r o d e

M a s s o f e a r th r e tu r n s th e fa u lt
c u r r e n t t o t h e s ta r p o in t

T N - S s y s te m . H e a l th y c u r r e n t r o u t e
P
TN-S system N
N
(Metallic Sheathing)
S S
T

T N - S s y s te m s h o w in g fa u lt c u r r e n t r o u t e
P

S u p p l y c a b l e s h e a th

E
S u p p l y c a b l e s h e a th r e t u r n s t h e
fa u l t c u r r e n t to t h e s t a r p o in t

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TN-C-S system
(Combined Earth and Neutral conductor
Called TPEN
N - C - S– sProtective
y s t e m . H e a lt h y c u r r e n t r o u t e E a r t h in g a r r a n g e m e n t fo r T N - C - S s y s te m
Earth andP Neutral)
N
C
N

PEN
S
C u t- o u t
T
T N - C - S s y s t e m s h o w in g f a u lt c u r r e n t r o u t e
P P E N c o n d u c to r

P hase PEN

S u p p ly c a b le

E P r o t e c ti v e
c o n d u c to r

TN-C-S can also be a PME (Protective Multiple Earthing) system. The


PEN conductor is earthed at frequent points via an earth electrode, by
the REC (Regional Electricity Company). This is normally seen as a
steel earth cable run down the side of wooden ‘power poles’ and into
the ground. This helps avoid the potential problem of a damaged PEN
conductor (i.e. during a storm or accident damage/vandalism) NOT
allowing fault current to return to the supply transformer (thus
completing the Fault Loop Path). These currents can return via

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‘general mass of earth if required). For a PME system conditions WILL
APPLY

TN-C system

(Isolation transformer
At premises) P

T h i s s y s t e m r e q u ir e s s p e c ia l p e r m is s io n
fr o m t h e R E C a n d is w i d e l y u n u s e d

Earth Fault Path


 During an Earth Fault – high current can flow for a short time
before the fuse/circuit breaker can operate.
 The higher the Fault current – the quicker the protective device
operates.

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(arrows indicate the ‘fault path’)

(if the earth conductor is missing or damaged and metalwork becomes ‘live’ – protective
devices cannot operate. A person coming into contact with the ‘live’ metalwork will
complete the path to earth by becoming part of the circuit (and being electrocuted in the
process!)

 ALL TN circuits up to 32A MUST disconnect within 0.4 seconds


(regulation 411.3.2.2), TT circuits must be 0.2 seconds or quicker.
 Low resistance = higher current flow – so it pays to have a good,
low resistance path – the protective device would operate quickly.
 A loose earth conductor may limit current so much that the
protective device may take too long to operate (if at all!).
 A broken earth means that the protective device will NOT
operate during a fault – leaving a potential death-trap waiting for
someone to touch it (bottom picture)
 Earth Fault Loop Impedance is the measurement to the entire
fault path resistance to ensure it is low enough for a high enough fault
current to flow during a fault, and operate the protective device quick
enough.
Basic Protection
 BASIC protection is the protection offered by enclosures and
practices to prevent someone from touching a live part in a ‘healthy’
circuit.
 Protective measures include; insulation, barriers (such as the
substation fence shown here) and enclosures, placing out of reach,
SELV.

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 RCD’s may be used as SUPPLEMENTARY PROTECTION in addition
to the other methods shown here.
 IP codes are used for defining levels of enclosure protection.
 IP2x (or IPxxB) is a finger-proof enclosure, IP4x is dist proof).

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