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CAUSES: Ground Systems


"What is an earth, anyway!"

Here we expose another contradiction causing massive confusion - the difference between Earth and Ground Ground! a"so referred to as #rue Earth! is the point at which a grounding system has the "owest impedance to Terra Firma i e the point of connection at the grounding system $ground rod or mat% Earth is any portion of the system referenced $connected% to Ground or #rue Earth! regard"ess of its distance from the Ground &hat ' find does not he"p is there appears to be a definition f"oating about stating the exact opposite 'f this were the case! then e"ectrica" connections wou"d be not be mar(ed )-*-E #he +E+ denotes that it is to be connected to Earth! and not necessari"y Ground $a"though there is no reason why it cou"d not be% Earth is often derived from the *eutra" which is grounded at the transformer on"y Shou"d it be derived from *eutra" at e g the meter point or switchboard in a #*C-S system! then it ta(es on the vo"tage of *eutra" which is not ,- as the cab"es have resistance Earth is therefore better regarded as a Safety Earth! and not a reference to or of #rue Earth or Ground

What is 'E'? +E+ denotes the Safety Earth of a piece of e.uipment! and usua""y refers to any exposed portions such as a case or framewor( #here are two reasons #he first is safety 'f anything goes wrong inside a piece of e.uipment then it shou"d! theoretica""y! go to earth and not endanger the person using it #his is why the earth on e.uipment shou"d never be "eft off #he second reason is if a piece of e.uipment is not earthed then the chassis $if exposed% can potentia""y have a vo"tage on it $with respect to earth% of anywhere between *eutra" and the fu"" )ine vo"tage #his is dependent on the ratio of capacitance between the chassis and *eutra" and chassis and )ive #ypica" vo"tages of ha"f )-* are found i e //0- in 12,- countries Apart from being ab"e

to give the user a serious ting"ing fee"ing! this can a"so cause interference to data signa"s and the "i(e

Ground Loops #he re.uirement for +good+ earthing on e.uipment has "ed to another cause rife with the human e"ement - the be"ief that a"" Earths are Earth Even if a"" connections to Earth were of one potentia"! the human! through the way most e.uipment is wired! manages to create the c"assic +earth "oop+ &hen one starts defining what a "oop is i e that it is an inductor $coi"%! then things start to change dramatica""y #he biggest prob"em with the ground "oop is it is a shorted coi" A very sma"" change in the magnetic fie"d within the coi" may on"y generate a very sma"" vo"tage! but as the impedance imposed on the coi" is effective"y 3ero ohms! the current experienced within the coi" is "arge 'n rea"ity no earthing system is +current free+ meaning there is a"ways a vo"tage potentia" between two separate power soc(ets Using them to power a sing"e wor(station comprising more than one device $e g computer and monitor%! then by simp"y connecting the devices together wi"" offer a secondary path for the earth currents to f"ow

Referenced Grounds
The only reason such grounds believe they are ground is because at some point some part was at ground potential

#here are situations when the chassis is not grounded $such as a #-% #his is because it is direct rectified off the mains However! such chassis are not open to the user $we"" insu"ated% #here are others such as Hi-4i amps etc but these go through very tough tests to ma(e sure the cases don+t go "ive A referenced ground is not to be construed as Ground or even a 5rotective Earth 't is derived from the *eutra" by some means of "imited "ea(age! usua""y a sma"" capacitor or high resistance As we"" as economic reasons $saves on a 2-pin p"ug! earth wiring! etc %! this method! as can be seen in the diagram! e"iminates high current earth "oops simp"y because ground is never used #he reason "imited "ea(age is used is such systems are prone to being wired up wrong $many simp"y have a 1-pin p"ug which is easi"y reversed% and the reference "ands up )ive! rather than *eutra" Shou"d one device be the wrong po"arity! or the devices are some distance apart and fed from separate supp"ies! then these "ea(age currents f"ow a"ong the signa" ground #hose who are e"ectronica""y inc"ined wi"" immediate"y notice an inherent danger6 7es! if the capacitor fai"s and the "ine it is connected to happens to be )ive! then the chassis of the e.uipment becomes "ive 't! therefore! comes as no surprise there are count"ess reports of musicians! stage-hands! and others using sound e.uipment being e"ectrocuted

#o ma(e matters worse! shou"d the one device with the fai"ed capacitor bring its chassis "ive! any devices it is connected to wi"" a"so have their chassis become "ive too #his means one fai"ed capacitor can ma(e an entire system dangerous At 0,H3 this "ea(age tends to be re"ative"y sma""! however! the mains is rare"y 0,H3 but a mix of harmonics as we"" as other c"ic(s! whist"es! and pops that come from switching #he defau"t to achieve a reference ground is through a capacitor &ith the reactance of a capacitor dropping as the fre.uency goes up means it is the harmonics and other high fre.uencies that are conducted #his exp"ains why mains +hum+ is more a bu33 than a hum #his effect is even further aggravated if two devices are accidenta""y both wired wrong $references to )ive% and are operating on two separate phases 4irst! there is now an average of / 82 times the "ea(age current! as we"" as two phases+ worth of noise to contend with 't is be"ieved that this is why some audio-visua" professiona"s have been coaxed into thin(ing a"" gear must run on a sing"e phase #his "eads us neat"y into the next human trait Combined Neutral-Earth Systems >>
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12.03.04

CAUSES: Combined *eutra"-Earth Systems


#o some! having a premises supp"ied exc"usive"y from its own on-site H-9)transformer where the *eutra" and Earth are bonded at the secondary star point $#*S% and (ept separate e"sewhere throughout the insta""ation! is simi"ar to :oining the separate incoming * ; E conductors at the <ain Earth #ermina" $<E#% thus creating a #*C-S supp"y #his argument is substantiated by the fact that the *eutra" is effective"y =beefed up= by combining it with the Earth system thus shou"d "ower any E<C9>4' emissions or susceptibi"ity Actua""y! a "oca""y created #*S is no where near the same as #*C-S where the *E bond occurs at the <E# #he "in(s above wi"" a""ow you to investigate the differences in the actua" supp"y connections! so wi"" on"y concentrate on the negative aspects of the #*C-S system

As an aside6 Having come from a country where #*S was the on"y accepted system! things such as >C? nuisance tripping was a"most unheard of 5ersistent tripping wou"d norma""y point to a fau"t within the premises 'n the U@! where #*C-S is so preva"ent! househo"ders often want to pu"" their hair out because of trips when their neighbour comes home and turns on the "ightsA Here+s why

It's a matter of physics

&ith #*C-S the *eutra" current! which wou"d norma""y be fed on a ba"anced conductor sitting side-by-side with )ive$s% in a #*S! is now being shared across the *eutra" conductor and the Earth system $a"" the way bac( to the source and the *eutra" is usua""y bonded to Earth at the source - this means the *eutra" current f"ows down the *eutra" conductor! Earth conductor$s%! and through terra firma% 'n #*S! the *eutra" conductor+s impedance wi"" mean the current wi"" cause a vo"tage to appear on the *eutra" at the "oad with respect to Earth However! the forgotten part is the )ive wi"" suffer the same drop in vo"tage therefore the common mode vo"tage wi"" be unaffected thus resu"ting in "itt"e $nothing is perfect% common mode noise on the Earth As the combined system has the *eutra" combined with Earth! the impedance is far reduced But it sti"" has impedance #he bad part is this means the Earth is raised to the same potentia" as *eutra" therefore common mode noise cance""ation is drastica""y reduced And! in a #*C-S system the E<C9>4' radiation9susceptibi"ity is a"so increased rather than decreased by thisA

4urthermore6 #he Earth is a conductor $vs Ground which is the buried system% and it now has potentia" on it with respect to terra firma 'n a standa"one system this tends to be much "ess of a prob"em than with one that is interconnected with other systems some distance away

#hose some distance away wi"" be at their own potentia" $un"ess they are running on #*S! which means their reference is terra firma% &hat occurs here is currents start f"owing between the two systems because of this difference in earthreference potentia" #he main issue is the currents wi"" f"ow a"ong the "ines that interconnect them! these typica""y being data and signa" "ines 'f both systems were #*S6 Cne cannot guarantee that there wou"d not be some current f"owing between the two as there wi"" a"ways be some Earth vo"tage! but it wi"" sure be significant"y reduced as a resu"t of emp"oying #*S as a common mode of supp"y As for the trips6 &hat occurs here is one user changes his "oad which in turn affects the *eutra" vo"tage which! as this is #*C-S! affects the Earth vo"tage #his potentia" rise on the Earth is +seen+ at the neighbour and is interpreted as nonsubtractive common mode currents on the )ive and *eutra"! and as this is exact"y how an >C? wor(s it causes it to tripA #*S is great! but then comes a"ong a U5S supp"ier and feeds the *eutra" and Earth through to the "oad side and then wonders why the noise increases on both sides of the U5S 't+s a matter of cance""ation has been disrupted ' "eave you with that pu33"e for now Related Pages:

)ea(age Cver-Sensitive 9 *uisance #ripping Uncancelled Currents >>

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CAUSES: Uncance""ed Currents


"To make something stand still, there needs to be an e ual but opposite force placed on it"

Cne on"y has to as( a hard-of-hearing person who re"ies on using the +#+ setting on their hearing aid :ust how much +bu33ing+ they experience to rea"i3e :ust how much a prob"em this is Some hearing aids even switch automatica""y in the presence of a"ternating current magnetic fie"ds if sufficient"y strong enough 7et! as( most fo"( invo"ved with wiring why it is so important that each wire shou"d be accompanied by a return and it can a"most be guaranteed that the on"y return you+"" get is a b"an( "oo(A 'n simp"e terms! if current is f"owing in a conductor! and there is not the same current in the opposite direction in a conductor p"aced direct"y a"ongside! then the conductor wi"" radiate a magnetic fie"d &orse sti""! if the current is returned through a conductor p"aced some distance from the one being spo(en of! then

both conductors wi"" radiate thus doub"ing the prob"em #he distance between the two conductors does not have to be much /0,mm wou"d do it! but it usua""y a "ot more than that A"though it is being written in to many regu"ations now prohibiting this practice! there are sti"" many 1-way "amp circuits in existance where the switched wire is ta(en to the "amp direct"y from the 1nd switch instead of being fed bac( a"ong the route between the two switches $thus cance""ing any current% and then on to the "amp in .uestion Bro(en ring circuits are a prime cu"prit $"oops being the most efficient radiatorsA%! and it on"y ta(es one of the conductors! inc"uding Earth! to be bro(en and the prob"em exists &ith the earth there is an extended prob"em as the Earth has a"" the E<C capacitors strapped to it and the higher fre.uencies are radiated with more efficiency $which is why the hearing impaired comp"ain of +bu33ing+ when sub:ected to these fie"ds% Sometimes! bro(en rings are inadvertent"y created i e unintentiona""y #his can occur with re"ative ease with 5<E sty"e systems where! in the hope of creating a suitab"e bac(-feed system! the Earths from two feeds emanating from one source are accidenta""y brought together forgetting the Earth is a"so the return path i e the *eutra" 'n such circumstances the radiated magnetic energy can reach astronomica" proportions

BROKEN RING

E!PL"INE#:

#he advantage of a +ring feed+ is the abi"ity for both continuous supp"y to a user shou"d a brea( exist on any conductor! as we"" as raising the current capabi"ity of the feed to the user as there are two paths for the current to f"ow Such +rings+ exist on a minor sca"e as p"ug circuits in most homes! and on a ma:or sca"e in high vo"tage $H-% distribution networ(s As an aside! ring feeds are not the same as +bac( feed+ systems where an arrangement exists for a user to be fed from an a"ternative source shou"d the primary source fai" An examp"e wou"d be some switching9"in( arrangement a""owing a user to be fed from #ransformer B shou"d #ransformer A! or the feed from #ransformer A! fai" A typica" ring feed wou"d appear as fo""ows 4or c"arity! on"y a sing"e phase feed is shown! but is as re"evant for a 2-phase system

'gnoring the current c"amps and the currents '/ and '1 for the moment6 #he current of "oad )/ wi"" primari"y exist! owing to the resistance of the cab"e being "ower via that route! via fuse 4/ and its associated *eutra" Simi"ar"y! the current of )2 wi"" primari"y be via 41 and its associated *eutra" #he current of "oad )1 wi"" be shared via both 4/ and 41 and a"so both associated *eutra"s #he sharing wi"" be e.ua" if the cab"e "ength and type is the same from the source $transformer% to "oad )1 'f one were to assume the "oads were p"aced at approximate"y one third! ha"f way! and two thirds the way around the ring! the "oads to be e.ua"! and the ring to be made of the same resistance cab"e the who"e route! then it wou"d resu"t in 4/ carrying D92$)/% E F91$)1% E F92$)2% G /F91$)% #he same wi"" occur with 41 4ocusing now on the currents measured on the two current c"amps! '/ and '1 $notice the )ive95hase as we"" as the associated *eutra" is fed through the current c"amp% *o current wi"" be shown at either of the two c"amps as any current on the )ive95hase wi"" be cance""ed by an e.ua" but opposite return current on the *eutra" 'n the fo""owing diagram! one )ive95hase "eg is bro(en :ust beyond "oad )/

'n this scenario! the )ive95hase current of )/ is on"y found to appear at fuse 4/ with none of the )ive95hase current appearing at 41 Simi"ar"y! a"" the )ive95hase currents of "oads )1 ; )2 appear at 41 with none of these currents appearing at 4/ #his resu"ts in 4/ carrying a"" of )/ )ive95hase current with 41 carrying a"" of )1 and )2 #he current distribution wi"" now be 4/ carrying /$)/% E ,$)1% E ,$)2% G /$)% whi"e 41 carries ,$)/% E /$)1% E /$)2% G 1$)% However! a"" the associated *eutra" currents sti"" have the same distribution they had when the )ive95hase was not bro(en #his resu"ts in '/ and '1 each ref"ecting a difference of H$)% $the on"y notab"e difference is the phase ang"e of '/ and '1 are /I,J from each other% #his situation is exacerbated by a brea( occurring in the opposite current carrying conductor $e g the *eutra" in our examp"e% on the opposite side of the "oop Shou"d this occur! say! at :ust above )2! then the resu"ting currents measured at '/ and '1 wou"d be /$)% as at each point one conductor wou"d be conducting the current of two "oads whi"e the other was on"y conducting the current of one "oad

I#EN$I%I&"$ION: 'dentifying bro(en rings is usua""y through "arge magnetic radiation occurring within the ring Hearing aid wearers who use the +#+ setting on their hearing aid are often the first to be affected by these! whether the bro(en ring is a minor sca"e or ma:or sca"e Hearing aid "oops re.uire approximate"y /,,mA9metre of magnetic fie"d for satisfactory use of the +#+ coi"s #o create a fie"d of this intensity! a ru"e of thumb approach is it re.uires a current approximate"y a tenth that of the "ength of the side of a s.uare "oop $a"so accepted is the "ongest side of a rectang"e% 4or examp"e6 A s.uare "oop of approximate"y /,,m x /,,m wou"d re.uire an uncance""ed current of /,A in the

conductor to create a fie"d of /,,mA9m in the centre of the "oop #his intensity increases dramatica""y the c"oser one gets to the conductor forming the "oop 4urther identification can occur with the onset of C># based te"evision and computer monitor screens being =wavy= when sub:ected to the uncontro""ed magnetic radiation from the bro(en ring <easuring for uncance""ed currents on the two feeds that forms the ring $as shown in the above diagrams% wi"" confirm the existence of a bro(en ring

&'RE : Curing a bro(en ring consists of one of two approaches #he first is to repair the ring 'f this is not possib"e $through any reason! inc"uding p"anning etc %! then the second option is to brea( the a"" other current carrying conductors at the same p"ace the bro(en conductor exists $shown in the picture be"ow%

A"though this is the exp"anation as to why there is a need to ensure currents are cance""ed! ' don+t thin( that it wi"" entice many to use magnetic fie"d testers $as used for hearing aid "oops% to ascertain the hea"th of and e"ectrica" insta""ationA eliance on !roblem Sol"in# So$t%are >>
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CAUSES: >e"iance on

5rob"em So"ving Software


"!ll matter has a tendency to revert to a lower energy level"

&hen ' first "earned this ru"e in physics it wasn+t "ong before it got twisted to mean =' wi"" spend the "east amount of energy achieving the biggest possib"e resu"t= C(! so the princip"e of +wor(ing smart+ is a basic ru"e of nature but one must a"ways be attentive to the word +smart+ not being rep"aced with +"a3y+A Software pac(ages are the prime cu"prit and are superior at opening the trapdoor that many an engineer has found himse"f fa""ing into ' was at a presentation of some e"ectrica" pane" design software and on the surface it appeared bri""iantA *o :o(esA ' can fu""y understand this pac(age managing to cut design costs by ten to one at "east But &hen .uestioned how does one define the various "oad structures! it was said that these are not defined within the pac(age but rather set by the user before starting the design 7ip! sounds "ogica"! but it is not practica" Un"ess the designer is instructed as to how to over-rate the wiring! and in what way $oversi3ed *eutra"! etc %! then using the pac(age is on"y going to prove to be a faster route to disaster Agreed! this CA? pac(age was not specifica""y designed to be an +a"" so"utions+ chun( of software but rather a neat means to share the design of e"ectrica" distribution pane"s Hopefu""y! however! it has been shown how .uic("y design fau"ts can be propagated through the use of such software Unfortunate"y! in power .ua"ity! there is no room for the =' wasn+t to"d= syndrome Software pac(ages! regard"ess of their use! cannot assume for the human factor Even circuit ana"ysis programs assume the circuit is bui"t on one 5C board 'f there is some distance between components with stray inductance and capacitance to cater for! the pac(age wi"" on"y prove there is a huge gap between theoretica" and practiceA #here is nothing wrong with using software to produce high-speed resu"ts! as "ong as it is understood that software can on"y produce resu"ts based on what is fed in #his sounds "ogica" but there are more stories than is cared to repeat where resu"ts have caused massive "osses in income Cne of the other dangers of software! especia""y when there are minima" resu"ts produced - such as a min! max! and average trend graph - is that some try to create other +hidden+ resu"ts +based on experience+ 't has even been heard that if you (now what you are "oo(ing for you can determine the presence of harmonics from such a trend graphA <mm 't is not intended to scare any from the use of software! mere"y to ensure that it does what it says it can do - another way of saying +separating sa"es-ta"( from technica" truth+

Arcin# >>

CAUSES: Arcing
"The flow of electrons through ionised space"

#his is probab"y the most common fact of "ife6 &ith there being e"ectricity! there are spar(s #he prob"em is sometimes we want them to f"y! other times not #uning on a medium wave radio to a .uiet spot and "istening wi"" show :ust how much arcing there is a"" around us <ost of it is harm"ess to day-to-day "iving 't is when it+s not! the fun tru"y beginsA #he reason arcing is such a ma:or issue within the rea"ms of power .ua"ity is arcing is the primary cause of the most destructive e"ement within power being impu"ses $the co""ective term for +spi(es+ and +transients+% 'mpu"ses are short duration pu"ses of high fre.uency noise &hen one hears of +transients+! one is most "i(e"y to associate this with "ightning stri(es and bad"y performed networ( switching #his is as a resu"t of very "obsided mar(eting raising the awareness of the targeted audience to the instantaneous and usua""y disastrous damage such high-energy impu"ses can inf"ict 't wi"" probab"y! therefore! be .uite a"arming to "earn that up to I,K of impu"ses emanate from within a site with the power feed on"y carrying the other 1,K #he c"assic"assic noise emitters are inductive based circuits fed from a non spar(ed.uenched switch e g f"uorescent fittings $ba""ast%! motors! etc 'f a""owed to proceed unhindered in to a sensitive e"ectronic device! then there is no te""ing what wi"" occur with the e"ectronics accepting an impu"se as a va"id signa" when it shou"dn+t 'f of sufficient intensity! then such impu"ses can "ead to damaged or destroyed components Even rudimentary items such as circuit brea(ers can suffer if the impu"se causes insu"ation brea(down and there is sufficient ride-through current avai"ab"e Before ' move on to noise emitted from e"ectrica" devices! ' want to first concentrate on static A"though wa"(ing past a door frame wearing c"othes that were not treated against static usua""y produces nothing more than a "itt"e :ump! '+m going to sca"e things up and dea" with the mother of a"" static discharges Lightning( &ith "ightning out of the way! ' wi"" then dea" with the most common form of arcing which is contacts operation e g a "ight switch turned on and off

"ccidental "rcing dea"s with the situation when two contacts are :ust too c"ose for comfort $nothing "i(e producing a "itt"e man-made "ightningA% purious "rcing is the exact opposite! this being when the contacts are not c"ose enoughA 4ina""y! as we humans are not satisfied with the above! there are times we actua""y want spar(s to f"y - but we usua""y turn this into a usefu" resource and so give it a fancy name - &e"dingA &i#htnin# >>

CAUSES: *atura" Arcing $)ightning%


""ou cannot predict it, and you cannot stop it!"

#here are those who wi"" try to te"" you otherwise! and they wi"" a"ways be proven wrong! sometimes with disastrous conse.uences Cne fa""acy is that it can be +diverted+ or +repe""ed+ away from a sensitive "ocation #he picture shown is of a =wire brush= arrangement on top of a py"on #he idea is it bui"ds up an ion c"oud and the "ightning +sees+ this as a high impedance point and wou"d rather stri(e e"sewhere A South African entrepreneuria" engineering company be"ieved they came up with a nove" way $using a simi"ar techni.ue% of protecting peop"e on exposed high ground! in this case a go"f course A tent with such +ionising brushes+ was erected and the first time a storm brewed! the "ightning struc( a"" around - but not the tent #he second time yie"ded the same resu"ts and everyone who had been protected from the "ightning hai"ed this as a brea(throughA #he third time the structure was trusted to protect "eft many dead! we"" into doub"e figures! and the remainder nursing in:uries with most being critica" #he company forgot the go"den ru"e of "ightning - if it has :ust trave""ed a few thousand feet! it is not going to worry about the "ast few feet of attempted insu"ation #he message is simp"e6 ?o not try this at home! it :ust doesn+t wor( #he reason ' inc"uded this was to show :ust what it is we+re dea"ing with ' am not shy to admit that ' cried when ' read this story &hat is fortunate! however! is that it is not a"" doom and g"oom A "ot of research has been done $inc"uding yours tru"y who has been found watching "ightning hit arrestor rodsA% #here is now an additiona" statement about "ightning!
The potentially damaging effects of lightning can be brought under control

#here are many who don+t be"ieve this eitherA 'n this regard '+ve been fortunate enough to come from a country where high "eve" static discharges were the order of the day A"though ' wou"d never $pure"y on princip"e% ca"" myse"f an expert! "et+s :ust say that we+ve been persona""y invo"ved in stopping such effects for many years Cne site to date has survived an average of /1 stri(es for /1 years! and no damage 5roof enoughA ' :ust have to "augh at those who insist! when it comes to "ightning! to baff"e one with science #hey start with things "i(e =there is first the up stro(e! fo""owed by the down stro(e! = $other words used are +"eaders+ and +streamers+% 7ip! you guessed it! these are those who "i(e to refer to themse"ves as +experts+ ' was b"essed with being ab"e to discuss "ightning with a true expert $a person who wrote his doctorate in "ightningA% #his chap used to trac( "ightning &ith a"" his fancy e.uipment! there was on"y one part of the "ightning se.uence he was worried about - the so ca""ed =power stro(e= Anything e"se was of no conse.uence ?uring my own research ' found the same #here was on"y one distinct b"ip on the osci""oscope trace - and it is this b"ip that causes grief when it reaches sensitive e.uipment #here are two main means by which "ightning manifests itse"f on the power networ( #his is either by direct contact $"ightning hitting power "ines%! or by direct or indirect induction $the e"ectro9magnetic fie"d generated by the "ightning is absorbed by wiring% Both means yie"d a simi"ar resu"t being a short-term disturbance superimposed on the primary waveform $i e +spi(e+ or +transient+% #his effective"y a""ows a"" "ightning created disturbances to be treated the same #he means by which such disturbances cause damage is again re"ative"y simp"e #he first is nothing more than the components being as(ed to conduct the energy of the disturbance A primary examp"e is if the disturbance happened on the pea( of a waveform! and added to the pea( vo"tage! then any diodes conducting at the time wou"d have to bear the brunt of the extra current that wou"d f"ow under this condition #his goes for most semiconductors found in this condition #he second way damage occurs is when the circuitry $regard"ess of what it is% is charged up by the now avai"ab"e extra vo"tage 'f this vo"tage shou"d exceed any iso"ation barrier then this charged energy is sudden"y dissipated via the point of brea(down 'f the components are rather +beefy+ then "itt"e or no damage occurs However! any wea(ness is soon exp"oited by this sudden re"ease of energy and permanent scaring ta(es p"ace #he "itt"e (nown aspect of transients is the power intensity may not be high because the time duration is extreme"y short However! when the vo"tage reaches brea(down point! this then opens up an ionised path for serious current f"ow from examp"e 5hase to Earth #he +damaging+ energy is therefore not the "ightning induced transient which causes the brea(down! but the power avai"ab"e across the two points that can now f"ow which wou"d otherwise be separated #his is more common than rea"i3ed and often over"oo(ed when investigating such =fo""ow-on= effects #he usua" prob"em is the waveform capture on inferior instruments $"ow samp"ing rates% shows the high drawing of current "eading to a sag in vo"tage thus causing the deduction that the fau"t is interna" to the site!

when in actua" fact the prob"em is an externa" one <ore on this "ater in ='nterpreting the >eadings= Accidental Arcin# '(rackin#) >>

CAUSES: Accidenta" Arcing $#rac(ing%


"#othing like a bit of man$made lightning to add a touch of spice to life!"

&hen two contacts are :ust too c"ose for comfort! the probabi"ity for ionised air to form between them increases dramatica""y As the ionised space a""ows current to start f"owing it +feeds+ the ionisation process and the space becomes superionised thus a""owing serious current to f"ow #he current creates heat! the heat me"ts the contacts! and the meta" vapour feeds the ionised path with even more conductive partic"esA #he resu"t is an unwanted arc #here are two conse.uences6 Arc &a"(ing $sometimes ca""ed +creepage+%! and Arc #rac(ing #he first occurs with the origina" arc! the second as evidence of the arc &e dea" with each

W"LKING )&reepage* Arc &a"(ing is a phenomena experienced by more peop"e than wou"d origina""y be thought - but because it is on a much "arger sca"e! peop"e tend not to e.uate it with what can occur with e"ectrica" devices and networ(s )ightningA 7ip! ever seen a "ightning stri(e =wa"(=L #his is where the stri(e forms between the c"oud and ground and starts to +bend+ towards other ob:ects on the ground 't+s .uite something to experience #his occurs through an ionised +c"oud+ forming at ground "eve" where the +c"oud+ of ionised air now encompasses other conductive ob:ects that can a"so parta(e in conducting the current from the rain c"oud to ground #he ob:ects with the "owest resistance tend to be the fina" point of the +wa"(+ Arc wa"(ing can occur on a rea""y minor sca"e too Have a "oo( at this picture of an extension cord out"et Cne can see where a sma"" "ength of rogue copper strand strapped itse"f across the ) and * strips

But! notice how the Earth strip $"ifted out and mas(ed for c"arity% has managed to get invo"ved as the arc f"ashed across from )ive 'n this instance the 1,A brea(er feeding the circuit tripped before the /2A fuse even had time to rea"i3e excess current was being drawn However! if this were a "arge switchboard! things may have been a who"e "ot differentA Cn a bigger sca"e! the same can occur within an e"ectrica" switchboard An arc forms at some point within the board $we+"" dispense with the reason for the arc for now%! and a sma"" ion c"oud forms #his c"oud manages to encompass another contact within the board which is at a different potentia" to the one where the origina" arc formed! and is therefore ab"e to use the ionised space for current f"ow #he c"oud thus manages to grow and encompass another contact at a different potentia" $which! in 2-phase pane"s! is not entire"y impossib"eA%! and it can be seen the arc manages to +wa"(+ through the comp"ete switchboard #his has more chance of occurring on "ower vo"tage switchboards - our friends across the 5ond are more at ris( with /1,91,I- as opposed to us with 12,9M,,as their brea(ers are twice the trip current to a""ow the same amount of power consumption >emember the go"den ru"e - vo"tage does not (i""! it+s current that doesA #he wa"(ing arc is dependent on current to +feed+ the ion c"oud as opposed to vo"tage And with "ower vo"tages ma(ing higher currents avai"ab"e BingoA A further comp"ication with "ower vo"tages is the arc! not being a perfect short! may on"y cause a fau"t current that is be"ow the trip current of the brea(er on the circuit with the arc - so the ion c"oud is being fed with a"" the gusto it wants! and can grow to its heart+s content At higher vo"tages the arcs tend to +"oo(+ more "i(e dead shorts and brea(ers operate with re"ative ease Even if the resistance of the arc was "ow enough to a""ow sufficient current to f"ow to trip the brea(er! the current is we"" be"ow that of a dead short and the disconnect time $the =trip time=% is far "onger than when tripping under a dead short #his a""ows massive amounts of energy to be re"eased - the heat a"one can destroy a comp"ete switchboardA #o this end! =Arc 4au"t Circuit 'nterrupters= $A4C's% are emp"oyed $bit of a bad term! but than(fu""y they+re stuc( with it! not usA% #hese detect the current waveform of an arc deve"oping and trip before any rea" damage is done Sad"y! they appear to a"so suffer from unwanted trips through the brea(er detecting things "i(e arc we"dersA A4C's are se"dom $if ever% emp"oyed on 12,9M,,- switchboards as the arc! a"though it increases the fau"t resistance thus decreasing the fau"t current! sti"" a""ows sufficient current to f"ow and is usua""y we"" above the brea(er trip current and thus satisfies the disconnect times re.uired to contain the fau"t energy

$R"&KING

'f brea(down occurs across $especia""y% insu"ators! then a feint trace of coo"ed vaporised meta" that was heated during the f"ash-over is now "eft deposited between the two points of the f"ash-over As we"" as the meta" trace! the heat a"so burns anything in site and! what cannot me"t and vaporise! turns into carbon and is a"so deposited on the insu"ating surface Effective"y! the insu"ating barrier is now drastica""y reduced 'f the vo"tage is high enough to :ump this reduced barrier! then it wi"" #here is one subt"e difference between this and the f"ash-over6 the deposits are a high resistance and therefore "imit the current #he resu"t is usua""y nothing more than irritating scratches heard on "oca" <& radios ?on+t forget that the wire attached to this point acts as a superb antennaA Every-so-often the ionised air manages to a""ow the two points to again be bridged and further f"ash-overs happen #his simp"y enhances the deposited materia" and the fre.uency of f"ash-overs rises 'f this is externa" then the s"ightest bit of moisture on"y adds to the prob"em Be"ieve it or not! this prob"em is easi"y traced using two means being a <& radio to "ocate the approximate area! and then a supersonic microphone $usua""y mounted in a parabo"ic dish% to "ocate the offending insu"ator Comp"aints of =crac("y radio= shou"d never be ignored - they cou"d very we"" reduce the power outages in an areaA S*urious Arcin# 'Contact) >>

CAUSES: Spurious Arcing


#his is not the same as accidenta" arcing! which is when two contacts are too c"ose #his category of arcing is as a resu"t of contacts not c"ose enough or as a resu"t of "oose connections #he capture shows a high fre.uency burst superimposed on the main sinewave when a "ight switch was operated C"ose inspection revea"ed that the point where there shou"d have been contacts! that these had disappeared a"together and the switching was done pure"y by +f"at+ copper faces #his was in itse"f a symptom! the cause being the switch contro""ed a string of compact f"uorescent "amps $C4)s% and the inrush currents had burned the contacts away Genera""y spea(ing "ow incidences of this type of fau"t tends not to cause damage as such! and wi"" manifest as "itt"e more than communication disturbances if anywhere near comms "ines 'n extreme cases! this type of fau"t cou"d cause computer crashes and reboots $pure"y through "oss of power if the switch or "oose connection happens to be part of the power feed% 'n persistent cases! premature component fai"ure can resu"t from sub:ecting them to mu"tip"e impu"ses and in-rush currents

5ower factor correction and9or E<C fi"ter capacitors are especia""y vu"nerab"e as inductors are present in both instances &ith a "oose connection on the power feed! the inductors induce huge bac(-E<4 vo"tages across the capacitors causing them to brea( down 'f the brea(down is permanent $short circuit% then it has been (nown for such capacitors to voice their distaste at this treatment by b"owing up 't is not :ust the bac(-E<4 vo"tages that are of concern here Nust simp"y discharging the capacitor and then =force feeding= it the incoming supp"y vo"tage over and during many cyc"es wi"" cause excessive currents to f"ow in the capacitor again stressing the materia" with possib"e short circuiting as a resu"t

+otspots: Another name often given to "oose connections or bad contacts is +hot-spots+ <any be"ieve that hotspots are simp"y as a resu"t of high contact resistance which! in turn! "eads to high power "oss $5G'D>% thus creating heat #his is not erroneous thin(ing! but there is another aspect too &hat appears to be "ess (nown regarding hotspots is they too have a significant "eve" of spurious arcing A vo"tage drop across a contact of "ess than a vo"t is hard"y going to be noticed against 12,- so such arcing tends to go unnoticed <onitoring across such a contact with a suitab"e instrument $rather than measuring the output after the contact% revea"s a "arge amount of +noise+ emanating from the contact as a resu"t of the arcing Such measurement are dea"t with "ater

W+EN

PLI$ OR $+REE P+" E

"RE IN,OL,E#

Cn sing"e phase systems! having a "oose connection can in extreme cases resu"t in fai"ure of e"ectronic components However! on 2-phase supp"ies this becomes even more critica" - in fact! it becomes so critica" that 2-phase systems shou"d come with a fire ris( warningA 'f sing"e-phase "oads are connected to a 2-phase system! then the same "eve" of impact on the sing"e-phase devices can be expected from any "oose connections on the phases of the system $the *eutra" is an exception to this! read be"ow% &ith 2-phase devices things are a who"e "ot differentA Even a simp"e device such as a motor is high"y inf"uenced by even the sma""est of vo"tage drops on one of the phases 't causes phase imba"ance and the motor wi"" immediate"y attempt to draw a"" the re.uired energy from the two remaining phases with the distinct possibi"ity of burning out #his fire ris( is not "imited to inductive devices such as motors and transformers! but extends to e"ectronic devices too 'tems that use 2-phase rectification wi"" have the diodes on the +so"id+ phases doing a"" the hard wor( $getting hot under

the co""ar as a resu"t% whi"e those on the fau"ty phase ta(ing a rest $except they may have to dea" with bac(-E<4 spi(esA%

Loose Neutral: And this is where the +fun+ can rea""y begin 'f "oads are beautifu""y ba"anced! then "ife wou"d probab"y carry on regard"ess of a *eutra" ma(ing its way bac( to the source or not But "ife is not "i(e that! and perfect"y ba"anced phases are nothing more than a myth 'n every exp"anation ' have seen as to the effects of a "oose *eutra"! the writer invariab"y states that the most "oaded phase wi"" tend towards a "ower vo"tage with the "east "oaded phase being sub:ected to the highest vo"tage and therefore the greatest damage on this phase from the over-vo"tage #his is sometimes true! but not occur as often as you wou"d thin(A 't is not a we"" (nown fact! but a "oose or disconnected *eutra" can actua""y resu"t in a"" phases suffering over-vo"tage ' have dea"t with a number of cases and in most there have been reports of over-vo"tage damage on a"" the phases! not :ust the so-ca""ed =heavi"y "oaded= ones 't+s not :ust my own cases! but have a"so had many surprised fo"(s ca"" me up as(ing what the prob"em is as they measure M,,- between phases! but are measuring about 1O0 or higher 5hase-*eutra" $they+re expecting about 12,% #he cause is the phase ang"e of the current on the separate phases is not coincidenta" with the vo"tage $i e perfect ba"ance is not present% 't on"y ta(es a s"ight power factor difference between two phases for a "arge vo"tage to occur on the "oose or disconnected *eutra" *ote! power factor differenceA ' mentioned nothing about whether one was "eading and the other "agging Simp"y that one phase is more capacitive9inductive than the others >evisit =artificia" consumption= for a fu"" exp"anation on the import9export occurrences within a cyc"e on a "oad with power factor "ess than unity As there is no *eutra" to do this energy ="ending and borrowing= with the source! such actions now occur via the other phases #herefore! a"" phases are invo"ved with the import9export energy transfer And if this coincides with the vo"tage pea(s! then a"" phases suffer over-vo"tage &hat+s even worse is if there is a distinct capacitive power factor on one phase and a distinct inductive power factor on another #he capacitance and inductance forms a series tuned circuit 'f this is resonant on an avai"ab"e excitation fre.uency $fundamenta" or harmonic%! the :unction! which in this case is the *eutra"! can reach hundreds of vo"tsA And the reason we shou"d be so concerned6 'n bui"dings there is usua""y no "ac( of fue"! and oxygen is in fu"" supp"y Heat is the on"y remaining e"ement of the +fire triang"e+ not in abundance *ot any more it ain+tA

'f there is ever a fire ris( in a premises fed by 2-phase power! it is a "oose *eutra" ?evices fed on the phases that are sub:ected to an increase in vo"tage wi"" usua""y attempt to rid the extraneous power being shoved up their mains ports in the form of this previous"y missing e"ement &ith components such as f"uorescent "amp ba""asts turning in to heaps of mo"ten p"astic and fi33ing copper windings! impu"se arrestors now absorbing extraneous energy and bursting open "i(e a box of firewor(s that had a match thrown in! and e"ectronic components going red in the face with the extra wor(ing vo"tage! heat is no "onger in short supp"yA Cne case revo"ved around a fau"ty <ains-Generator changeover switch! and ' didn+t even f"inch when ' shut the bui"ding supp"y down A"though the c"ient was! at first! high"y annoyed! his attitude soon changed to one of acceptance when faced with the a"ternative of exp"aining to management why he ga""ant"y pursued the day+s ta(ings of a few hundred 5ounds but a""owed the bui"ding to become a heap of cindersA *ot on"y that ' too cou"d have faced court proceedings with possib"e professiona" and pub"ic "iabi"ity c"aims if ' had a""owed them to continue to operate in "ight of the shed-"oad of burnt-out f"uorescent fittings! umpteen fai"ed power supp"ies $a"" mo"ten%! and! to top it a""! even burned bui"ding wiring providing evidence of this "oose *eutra"A &ith a"" this evidence! it is be"ieved that spurious arcing remains the number one cause of power .ua"ity issues facing modern industryA 7et it sti"" ama3es me why so few power .ua"ity surveys are done $but! then again! one needs to (now the survey is being done correct"y tooA% >> 'htt*+,,%%%-marcs*a#es-co-uk,*.,////-htm)