7 Deadly Sins … of Electrical Earthing … Part 3

7 Deadly Sins … of Electrical Earthing … Part 3

Sins | GreyMatters

In our previous post, 7 Deadly Sins of Electrical Earthing… Part 2, we continued the 7 deadly sins of earthing/grounding, including Sin # 5.  We now conclude with sins 6 – 7.

Sin #6 – Instrument of Envy

Recently, a well-meaning electrical contractor measured an electrically large earth system using a general tester, which also claimed to measure earth resistance.  The instrument stated to use a very low signal current to avoid disrupting the protection. For example, 2 mA max with test leads 15 m long.

So, what’s wrong with this picture? 

2 mA at 9 V from a £ 200 instrument (c. US$ 300), and the site’s earth electrode covers an area of 760,000 m2 on high resistivity soil using 15 m long leads.  Ummm.

Unlike the above scenario, it’s no accident that Electrical Earthing Specialists develop and invest large sums of money in instrument packages to deliver accurate/reliable results which can deal with the most demanding geologies in the world – and this doesn’t come cheap.  But thankfully, there is no need to suffer instrument envy in silence when an Electrical Earthing Specialist has done all the work – so you don’t have to!

From solid granite cliffs found in the Nordics to the dolomite mountains of the Cape …  to the slate fields in Wales.  Using the very best measuring equipment with high signal voltage/current, such as CDEGs Finite Element Analysis Software and the latest techniques, will ensure confidence in accurate measurements in any geology – there isn’t a geology in the UK and Europe that cannot be measured with confidence – so there’s no need to suffer equipment envy … this is available to you now.

Sin #7 – Misplaced Pride

Don’t take things at face value.  Having misplaced confidence or pride in safety calculations or solutions without taking the time to critically analyse the findings can be a mistake.

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.

Since 2010, current accepted wisdom within the IEC has shifted its position on how to deliver an effective Electrical Earthing System, and just because a designer is using CDEGS – not all versions of CDEGS are the same.   Stay critical and find out what version is being used.  Some versions are suited to small, simple systems (circuit theory-based); others have been specially developed for the larger, more complicated designs to take account of inductive, capacity and resistive couplings (based on Electromagnetic Field theory).

Using an underpowered version of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software CDEGS can lead to huge errors in the final design; errors of 400% plus can be found if an inappropriate version is used, which is not ideal when dealing with a human safety critical component.

If in doubt about what version has or is being used – ask!  Some simple guidelines from the developers (SES Inc.) about which version of CDEGS software is appropriate for what application. Take 2 minutes to read:


Inspired by THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF ELECTRICAL Earthing DESIGN whitepaper published by E&S Grounding Solutions

Ian Griffiths

Ian is a Principal Consultant at GreyMatters, with 26 years of experience solving HV earthing, EMC, and lightning problems for clients worldwide.  When he’s not busy studying problems and designing solutions, you can find him mountain biking, sailing and racing motorbikes in the summer.  In the winter, he tends to head off to the mountains, chasing the snow with friends and family.  Ian holds a Master’s Degree and Degrees in both Mechanical and Electrical disciplines. He is one of the top 1% accredited CDEGS consultants and advisor to international utility companies, data-centre and infrastructure developers globally.

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