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Bonding, Grounding and the NEC

Presented by The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors

www.NACHI.org

The New Code


The 1999 and 2002 editions of the
NEC* have now clearly defined the separate and vitally important purposes of grounding and bonding in making safe electrical installations
*The National Electrical Code (NEC) is a registered trademark of the National Fire Protection Association, www.nfpa.org.

The New Code


Section 250-4 establishes new
performance requirements which clarify what grounding and bonding are required to accomplish

The New Code


Section 250-2 introduces and defines the new terms: Ground Fault Ground Fault Current Path Effective Ground Fault Current Path

The New Code


These new definitions are in
addition to the two important definitions in Article 100 which apply to Section 250-2

The New Code


These definitions are: Grounded - Connected to earth Bonded - The permanent joining of metallic parts to form an electrically conductive path that ensures electrical continuity and the capacity to conduct safely any current likely to be imposed

The New Code


The importance of grounding
electrical equipment seems to be well understood The purpose and intent of bonding to create a low impedance ground fault return path seems to be less understood

The New Code


The importance of bonding is best
described in the following graphics which review how bonding performs in a typical circuit

A Typical Circuit

L O A D

100 of Overhead Distribution Line 25 of Service Drop 25 of Service Entrance Conductor 100 of Branch Circuit Conductors

A Typical Circuit

L O A D

Current flows...

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

From the transformer to our service

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

Through the overcurrent device to our load

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

Through the load returning to the service

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

And back to the transformer.

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

What determines the amount of current that will flow in this circuit?

Path of Current Flow Normal Operation


L O A D

The total resistance or impedance in the circuit will determine the amount of current that will flow in the circuit.

Things You Can Count On


Ohms Law Works
We can change the code, or Hire a different contractor, or Use romex instead of EMT, but

E = I x R still works!

Overload and Short Circuit Conditions


L O A D

How is our circuit protected against overload and short circuit?

Overload and Short Circuit Conditions


15A Circuit Breaker
L O A D

The overcurrent device protects this circuit from both overload and short circuit.

Ground Fault Condition


So lets talk about a ground fault
condition Which certainly sounds like the one condition where grounding would be important and decide for ourselves whether Grounding provides protection for equipment or personnel under a ground fault condition

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

What happens if the hot conductor comes into contact with our metal box?

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

And our friend comes along and touches it? Is he in jeopardy?

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

No not at all and why not?

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Because the transformer were looking at is not grounded so there is no path through the earth for current to return to the transformer.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Yes, that was a trick question sorry about that but the intent was to make a point.

Things You Can Count On


No circuit no current Current does not flow unless there is a
continuous path from one side of the source of supply to the other Current cannot travel through the earth to return to a transformer unless the transformer is grounded

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

So our friend in this situation is perfectly safe however

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

What do we know about utility company transformers?

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Theyre grounded and, with this transformer grounded, our friend is in serious jeopardy.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Because utility transformers are grounded, we need to do something to our equipment to keep our friend from being electrocuted.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Can we protect our friend by grounding our metal equipment? Lets take a look.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

Grounding our equipment provides a second path for fault current.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

The first path is through our friend to earth and back to the transformer.

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

The new second path is through our metal equipment to earth and back to the transformer.

Fault Current Path


We need to open a 15A Circuit Breaker
as quickly as possible. This will require a fault current of 60A to 75A (four to five times the rating of the breaker)

We can use Ohms Law to find out how


much current will flow on our new path

Ground Fault Condition

L O A D

The voltage is 120V. We need to know the resistance in this circuit to calculate current.

Fault Current Path


Assuming a minimum of 5 ohms
resistance through each grounding electrode, we know there is at least 10 ohms resistance in the fault path that we created by grounding our equipment

Fault Current Path


Therefore, using Ohms Law:
E = I x R Transposed to: I = E / R Where: I (current) = E (voltage) / R (resistance) And so, I = 120 / 10 = 12A

Fault Current Path

Only 12 Amps
Will 12 Amps trip our 15A circuit
breaker?

Absolutely not!

With Equipment Grounded

L O A D

So the overcurrent device does not open and we have fried our friend!

Conclusion

Grounding does not


protect equipment or personnel from a ground fault!

The Bonding Connection

L O A D

The vital connection left out of our discussion until now is the bonding of metal equipment to the service neutral.

The Bonding Connection


Every piece of conductive metal
which is a part of our system or likely to become energized Must be connected together by an electrically continuous metal-tometal contact or by an equipment grounding conductor

The Bonding Connection


These connections create an electrically
continuous, low resistance path from every part of our system back to the service equipment At the service, these connections terminate on the neutral bus creating an: Effective Ground Fault Current Path

The Bonding Connection

L O A D

These bonding connections let us use the neutral as a return path for fault current.

The Bonding Connection

L O A D

Bonding provides a third path for fault current to return to the source of supply.

Fault Current Path


We need to open a 15A circuit breaker
as quickly as possible. This will require a fault current of 60A to 75A (four to five times the rating of the breaker)

We can use Ohms Law to find out how


much current will flow on our new path

Fault Current Path


The resistance in this path includes
100 - #2 AL OH Distribution 25 - #4 AL Service Drop 25 - #2 CU Service Entrance 100 - #14 CU Branch Circuit Resistance to the point of fault .032 .013 .005 .307 .357 ohms

The Bonding Connection


.357 ohms
L O A D

.3 ohms

The resistance from the point of fault through our metal equipment back to the neutral is assumed to be the same as the branch circuit wiring and 100 of #14 cu has a resistance of .3 ohms.

The Bonding Connection


.357 ohms
.57 ohms

.3 ohms

L O A D

The total resistance in this path created by bonding is .714 ohms.

Fault Current Path


Therefore, using Ohms Law:
E = I x R Transposed to: I = E / R Where: I (current) = E (voltage) / R (resistance) And so, I = 120 / .714 = 168A

The Bonding Connection

L O A D

The effective ground fault current path allows 168A of fault current to flow and forces the overcurrent device to open.

The Bonding Connection

L O A D

This path does not rely on grounding and works even if our system is not grounded.

Conclusion
The overcurrent device protects against
ground fault conditions provided that Our circuits have been installed so that all conductive metals are bonded together and to the service neutral

In Review

Grounding is a connection to
earth intended to protect our electrical system from lightning and high voltage

In Review

The overcurrent device


protects our electrical system from overload and short circuit

In Review

The overcurrent device


protects our electrical system from a ground fault condition if ..

In Review
Proper bonding
Has created a permanent, electrically
continuous and low impedance path

Which allows fault current to return to


the neutral at the service

Wiring Methods Are Critical


Clearly, an effective ground-fault current
path must be created throughout our wiring system

This is accomplished through the proper


installation of a listed wiring method

Wiring Methods Are Critical


The safety of our electrical system
relies on
The wiring method selected, and Its proper installation

Wiring Methods Are Critical


A wiring method that has been
specifically designed as an equipment grounding conductor, and Engineered to assure a low impedance fault current path, is Clearly the best choice for a safe electrical installation