High Voltage Earthing is one of the hot topics within the electrical system design sector. Sound advice and knowledge can really make a difference in controlling the build-budget. And the number of technical queries (TQ’s) generated. Particularly relevant on the more complicated projects. So selecting the right Electrical Earthing Consultant can make your life so much easier in the long run.
BTW, this post IS for you if you’re working on critical assets. Or infrastructure that relies on technically secure, accurate designs. Together, with incredibly easy people to deal with that can guarantee their work.
This post is probably NOT for you if, for some reason, you have your arms tied and are completely price-constrained. I understand if this is the case. None of us has unlimited budgets, but it is true that some are more off-the-chart sensitive than others.
It’s also true that as interest grows in this space. There are those who are merely interested in opportunistic revenues by bolting-on another discipline to their portfolio. Likewise, those who are looking to dabble in design aspects to supplement installation activities.
So discover for yourself what factors can make for a more comfortable life for you, by asking the right questions.
Question 1 (Less risk): How do I know your design-work will get approved (compliance)?
As someone who needs an HV earthing designer. You rely on the electrical earthing consultant to be ‘the specialist’. To bridge gaps in specific knowledge, provide useful insights. And perhaps even free up some time for you to focus on other priorities. However, above all, you want the right information and advice. So you can make informed decisions and get your project over-the-line.
That’s great, but it can be hard to work with someone for the first time. It almost seems like a leap of faith. Handing over a piece of the project that you may be signing off on. And placing it in the hands of a stranger – including your reputation.
So, ask awkward questions (in real-time) …
- WHY should I choose you?
- What formal qualifications in Earthing Design do you have?
- Who have you worked with?
- Also, what guarantees do they offer to back up their services with?
Question 2 (Deadline): How do I know you hit project timelines?
Sometimes, the earthing design can get forgotten. So, when time is short the delivery of an accurate piece of work, on time. And to the budget can save massive embarrassment during design review meetings. These kinds of meetings can be torture when things go wrong.
So, your electrical earthing consultant must have a passion for eliminating error throughout the work-flow. In order, to avoid the inevitable delays to the project while the re-work/re-modelling takes place. For example, GreyMatters eliminates error using our Top 1% rule:
- Top 1% qualified minds in the sector
- Top 1% of software tools
- Top 1% equipment
Project success consists of doing lots of little things right, in the right order. So I want you to succeed by having less trouble achieving the approval, ‘the win’.
Whatever success looks like for you, success is the product of getting little tasks done correctly. So that your project can cross the finishing line.
Question 3 (No surprises): How will you make my life easier?
Although the HV Earthing Design is probably one of the smaller elements of a project, if you’re not careful, it has the scope to disrupt the entire project from start to finish. It’s one of those disciplines that touches every part of the construction work-flow. From pre-site geological measurements to post-energisation and handover. So, ask your electrical earthing consultant how they intend to help you manage this?
The last thing you want is to feel like you’re being kept in the dark. Your time is valuable so look for an electrical earthing consultant that tries to make dealing with them as easy as possible:
- Do they notify you without you having to chase them?
- Do they employ remote communications to discuss layouts and designs in real-time on the fly so that you do not have to wait during review meetings?
- Do they have credit card facilities to keep your accounts department happy?
- Do they have full UKAS accreditations, so you know they are set up to do serious business for mission-critical projects?
- Are they professionally qualified?
Question 4 (Better Decisions): What software tool(s) are you using?
Your goal is to be better informed and therefore be equipped to make better decisions. Makes perfect sense, but as the age-old adage goes:
Rubbish-in = rubbish-out
Did you know there are multiple versions of the same engineering software, and there are massive differences in each version’s capability and differences in their output too? So, for example, when someone says “Yes, we have CDEGS”… probe deeper – WHICH version?!
The lesser versions are developed for simple, small design problems. When used inappropriately on larger, more complicated designs, they deliver incorrect solutions – which may put someone in danger! So, be mindful the higher-end versions are more expensive (and the fee may reflect this) but they do not suffer from the same issues as the lesser ones.
Go check out previous blogs on this subject, here.
Question 5 (Right-size): What signal strength does your equipment use?
This question will route out the electrical earthing consultant who unknowingly is under-equipped for measurement tasks.
I will probably do a separate piece on this in the future – but suffice to know that ‘most’ earth testers commonly used in the UK/EU inject around 2.5W of a signal into the ground… And, if there is NO in-ground noise, and the soil conduction is within average ranges, this signal strength usually works fine.
So, what about the other 80% of cases where in-ground noise is present and/or the geology is not average? Simple, YOUR design will be based on erroneous data, which will result in? An erroneous design (if not caught) and the business-risk this carries across to you.
Solution? Ask your consultant upfront about signal strength. It matters!
For example, soil resistivity measurement, there’s equipment on the market that dominates 100% of the EU geologies and injects upwards of 250W-400W. That’s x100+ times more than the 2.5W testers that are commonly in circulation (because they’re cheaper). Why? Because the cost of errors at this stage leads to design presumptions that are simply, wrong. And when human lives depend on getting it right, it’s a small detail that could save someone’s life.
Equally, using the same small 2.5W signal-strength for long-lead fall-of-potential earth testing is even more sensitive to the related factors above. So, the rough rule of thumb is – a strong signal from your earth testing equipment is almost always better.
Having an electrical earthing consultant who equips themselves with the appropriate gear gives you the confidence that your project starts and ends on a solid footing. Thus, avoiding any nasty surprises during the build.
Our full list of Electrical Earthing Services