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Grounding of Baldor Drives

Document Reference AN97010

The subject of electrical grounding is complex and often misunderstood. Proper grounding of Baldor
drives (Motor + Control) is required to insure personnel safety, successful startup and maximum
reliability.
In power systems, there are two generally recognized purposes for grounding. The first purpose is called
equipment grounding. This concerns personal safety. The second is called system grounding. This is
concerned the electrical characteristics of the system. The NEC (National Electric Code in the United
States) contain the regulations pertaining to system and equipment grounding. Its counterpart in Canada
is the CEC (Canadian Electric Code).

Equipment Grounding.
Equipment grounding is the intentional connection to earth of non-electrical metallic objects and
equipment. The purpose is to reduce electric shock hazard to personnel. It must provide sufficient current
carrying capability to accept the ground fault current without creating a fire or explosive hazard. It also
provides a low impedance return path for ground fault current to successfully operate ground fault
protection devices. Refer to the current NEC or CEC for the specific requirements.
Electric shock injuries can result from contact with metallic components that are unintentionally
energized. Effective equipment grounding practices can minimize risks of personnel injuries due to
electric shock.

Metallic Enclosure
or Machine Frame

WITHOUT PROPER EQUIPMENT GROUNDING


Accidental
Short to
Enclosure

Electrical
Service
Entrance

Supply voltage
appears on
enclosure,
presenting a
hazard to
personnel.

Motor Control

Motor

Circuit
Breaker

L1
L2
L3

Power
Generating
Station

T1
T2
T3

Ground
Fault
Current

Metallic Enclosure
or Machine Frame

WITH PROPER EQUIPMENT GROUNDING


Accidental
Short to
Enclosure

Electrical
Service
Entrance

Power
Generating
Station

Motor Control

Motor

Circuit
Breaker

L1
L2
L3

Safety Ground
Ground
Fault
Current

T1
T2
T3

Fault current flows


through safety ground
and opens circuit breaker.
Supply voltage does not
appear on enclosure.
No safety hazard.

System Grounding
System grounding is the intentional connection of a supply voltage phase conductor or neutral conductor
to earth. Its purpose is to limit system voltage with respect to earth within predictable limits. Limiting
system voltage with respect to earth reduces the possibility of failure of both conductor and component
insulation. The selection, installation and maintenance of a proper system ground will insure maximum
reliability and equipment life.
There are many causes of transient overvoltages. Transient overvoltages are temporary overvoltages of
short duration. They are often associated with the interruption of current in an inductive circuit. The
interruption of current and resulting transient voltage can occur anywhere within the connected system.
This includes the utility grid, local distribution grid, within the end users facility or within a piece of
equipment. Typically caused by switching a power factor capacitor, SCR based commutation (DC
Drives), a ground fault, a lightning strike, or during arcing ground faults on ungrounded systems.
Transient overvoltages are not normally present on a power system during steady state operation. They
occur with the interruption of current in an inductive circuit. This is commonly called inductive kickback
and is exactly the mechanism used to provide high voltage to spark plugs in gasoline engines. Transient
overvoltages cannot be measured using a standard voltmeter. An oscilloscope is required to capture and
display the transient overvoltages.
The figures below are equivalent circuits of the power distribution system. In figure A, during steady state
current flow, the terminal voltage is equal to the source voltage minus the voltage drop of the
miscellaneous inductance. The miscellaneous inductance is due to the wires used in the transformer to
supply the voltage, the wires to connect to the load and the load itself.
In figure B, opening the switch interrupts the flow of current, the voltage surges above normal values.
The terminal voltage is equal to the source voltage PLUS the voltage of the miscellaneous inductance.
This is how transient voltages are produced.
As shown in figure C, this can easily exceed 300% of normal voltage or more.
Figure A

+
+

Mis cellaneous
Inductance

Source
Voltage

Figure B

Figure C
Terminal
Voltage

Mis cellaneous
Inductance

300%
200%

Source
Voltage

Current
Flow
Load
Terminal
Voltage

Voltage
Transient

100%
Load
Terminal
Voltage

Switch
opens

Time

Proper grounding techniques can reduce the damaging effects of transient overvoltages. This is the
purpose of system grounding.

Grounding Methods
The use of different ground connections can affect the magnitude of the transient overvoltages. See
chart below for comparison of different grounding methods.

Condition
Safety to personnel

Ungrounded
Worst

Grounding Method
Solid Ground
Best

Resistance Ground
Good

(shock hazard)

Immunity to
Transient
Overvoltages
Line to ground fault
Protection against
continuous arc faults
Ease of locating
ground fault
Notes

Worst

Good

Good

(Surges over 300%


normal)

(Surges kept under


200% normal)

(Surges kept under


250% normal)

Worst

Best

Good

(Line to earth voltages


173% of normal)

(Line to earth voltages


100% of normal)

(Line to earth voltages


up to 173% of normal)

Worst

Poor

Good

Worst

Good

Good

Usually found in
older installations
(from 1935 to 1975)

Typical of newer
installations under 600
amps.

(Normally only
installed on systems
of 600 amps or larger)

(fire hazard)

Note: resistance grounding is the intentional placement of a resistor between the neutral connection and
ground. Standard practice is to select a resistor such that ground fault current is no less than 100 amps.
Typical currents being in the 200-1000 amp range are more usual. If the ground current were less, this
would be equivalent to an ungrounded system.

Ground Faults
A ground fault is the unintentional connection of a supply voltage conductor to ground. This unintentional
connection results in an unwanted flow of current. In a properly grounded system, this current can be
detected and used to activate protection equipment. The protection equipment can then interrupt the
source voltage from system conductors.
Baldor AC motor controls incorporate a ground fault current sensor. In the event of a detected ground
fault, the control will immediately remove the voltage to the motor terminals. The control will then indicate
a ground fault condition. This reduces the amount of potential damage to the equipment due to arcing
faults. For the ground fault detection to operate reliably, a grounded system is required. Operation from a
ungrounded system can defeat the reliable detection of ground fault current.

Recommended Electrical Installation


Article 250-5 of the NEC specifies the method for grounding electrical systems. It is
recommended that Baldor AC and DC motor controls are supplied a three phase voltage that is
balanced (same voltage phase to ground) with respect to earth.

Recommended grounding method.


H Series Control

Ground per NEC


and local codes

AC
Main
Supply

Optional
Load
Reactor

Optional
Line
Reactor
L1
L2
L3

T1
T2
T3

PE
Driven
earth
ground
rod
or
building
ground
Ground per NEC and
local electrical codes.

Route all 4 wires together in


conduit or metallic cable
(L1, L2, L3, and ground).

Route all 4 wires together in


conduit or metallic cable
(T1, T2, T3, and ground).
Do not run multiple motor
cables in same conduit or
metallic cable.

Note: The ground wire from the motor to the control should not be used as the machine ground.

Three Phase Ungrounded Systems


Electrical power systems having no intentional connection from system conductors to earth are called
ungrounded systems. Even though there is no physical connection to earth in these systems, ground
currents circulate due to distributed system capacitance. These ground currents are normal in all power
distribution systems but are more troublesome in ungrounded systems.
The possibility of injury due to electric shock is greater from ungrounded system than a grounded
system. System overvoltages can occur during arcing and resonant or near resonant ground faults. A
resonant condition can arise when the system capacitive impedance approaches the inductive
impedance of the ground fault connection.
The supply of power from ungrounded general distribution systems to Baldor drives is not recommended.
Personnel working around ungrounded systems suffer increased risk of electric shock. Ungrounded
systems also suffer increased transient overvoltage conditions.
To operate a Baldor drive from an existing ungrounded system, the installation of an isolation transformer
is recommended. The transformer secondary wye winding must have an accessible neutral point suitable
for connection to earth. The neutral of the wye secondary is connected to earth and serves as the local
system ground.
H Series Control

Ground per NEC


and local codes
Isolation Transformer
Existing transformer
floating or ungrounded
connection

AC
Main
Supply

Optional
Load
Reactor

Optional
Line
Reactor
L1
L2
L3

T1
T2
T3

PE
Driven
earth
ground
rod
or
building
ground
Ground per NEC and
local electrical codes.

Route all 4 wires together in


conduit or metallic cable
(L1, L2, L3, and ground).

Route all 4 wires together in


conduit or metallic cable
(T1, T2, T3, and ground).
Do not run multiple motor
cables in same conduit or
metallic cable.

In a special case, the NEC allows for an ungrounded transformer secondary to supply power to a Baldor drive. It
can be used on separately derived systems when the transformer supplies power to the drive exclusively. Refer to
OSHA, NEC or CEC and local electrical codes for the most recent information.
Text from Article 250-5 of the 1996 NEC:
Article 250-5: Alternating-Current Circuits and Systems to be Grounded. AC circuits and systems shall be
grounded as provided for in (a), (b), (c) or (d) below. Other circuits and systems shall be permitted to be
grounded.
(b) Alternating Current Systems of 50 volts to 1000 volts. AC systems of 50 volts to 1000 volts supplying
premises wiring and premises wiring systems shall be grounded under any of the following conditions:
Exception No. 2: Separately derived systems used exclusively for rectifiers supplying only
adjustable speed industrial drives.
Definition of Separately Derived Systems: A premises wiring system whose power is derived from generator,
transformer or converter windings and that has no direct electrical connection, including a solidly connected grounded
circuit conductor, to supply conductors originating in another system.

Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing.


Safety in the workplace has made the grounding issue even more important. Baldor electronic power
conversion equipment sold in the US is listed by UL (Underwriters Laboratory) and CUL (Canadian
Underwriters Laboratory). Each product carries a UL and CUL listing and label.
The purpose of UL listing for a product is to certify the equipment meets stringent safety requirements,
such as resistance to fire and reducing electrical shock hazard. This safety performance can only be
achieved when the product has been installed in accordance manufacturer recommendations.
Baldor "H" series motor controls conform to UL508C guidelines. These guidelines require that all of the
internal components in the control be protected from transient overvoltages to prevent dangerous
component failures. In Baldor products, this protection is achieved with the use of an MOV (Metal Oxide
Varistor) module. The MOVs absorb excess energy from transient overvoltages. These transient
overvoltages are typically in excess of 2 to 3 times normal operating voltages.
The MOV is limited in the amount of energy it can absorb from transient overvoltages. The Joule rating of
the MOV defines how much energy it can safely absorb. The higher the Joule rating of an MOV, the
higher voltage surge or more transient overvoltage surges it can safely withstand.
The following chart outlines the maximum operating limits for the MOVs in the Harmonized product
family. Exceeding these values may eventually cause damage to the MOVs. A MOV typically will fail
after 1 surge at 1.5 times the voltage values listed in the table below.
Control Voltage
Line to Line Turn
On Voltage @
1ma

230vac
A & B size = 466v
C, D, E size = 1034v

Joules
75J
300J

Line to Ground
Turn On Voltage
@ 1ma

A & B size = **
C & D size = 1034v

**
300J

460vac
A & B size = 881v
C, D, E size = 1034v
F size = 1119v
G size = 910v
A & B size = **
C, D, E size = 1034v
F size = 1119v
G size = 910v

Joules
110J
300J
220J
620J
**
300J
220J
620J

575vac
A & B size = 1175v
C, D, E = 1364v

A & B size = **
C, D, E = 1364v

Joules
150J
300J

**
300J

** = No MOV connection to ground


Most grounded systems should not experience any problems with the MOVs. Ungrounded systems or
corner grounded delta systems without an isolation transformer should have a power quality check
performed. The power quality check will determine the level of transient overvoltages present on the
system. If the transient overvoltages exceed the level in the chart above, an isolation transformer, line
reactor or other device to reduce the transient overvoltages will be required.
Additional transient overvoltage protection should be considered if the following equipment is supplied
power from the same local power distribution system. This could be an isolation transformer, line reactor
or additional transient overvoltage suppression devices:
DC drives, SCR based motor soft starters or other SCR based switching devices.
Power factor capacitors
Large motor starters
Reversing motor contactors

References
IEEE 142-1991
IEEE 1100-1992
ANSI/NEC 70 - 1996
UL-508C

Grounding of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems


Powering and Grounding Sensitive Electronic Equipment
National Electric Code
Underwriters Laboratories, Power Conversion Equipment