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Electrical Safety in Grounded,

Resistance Grounded and


Ungrounded Systems
A Detailed Guideline for Installers, System Designers
and Technical Personnel
BENDER
Introduction

Ground faults in modern power systems


An introduction into the basics

Introduction

Hazardous ground faults occur frequently in today’s electrical wiring. There are multiple ways to describe
a ground fault. Please review some typical expressions below:

• A leakage current from a conductor to a frame or ground measured in


milli-amperes or amperes
• An insulation breakdown measured in ohms or kilo ohms
• A charging current leaking into the ground (Capacitive leak)

Why do we have different terms to describe similar occurrences?


What kind of current can be expected in a power system?
What does the resistor do in a resistance grounded power system?
What kind of monitor does the Bender company recommended for my system?

These questions are generated due to the variety of power systems employed in the field. There is a
huge variety of relays on the market to protect these systems. This booklet has been written to provide
a brief introduction to the major power systems and the devices manufactured by the Bender company
which are suited best to protect these systems in case of a ground fault. The calculations made in the
following examples were based on simple formulas assuming test bench or ideal conditions. Values were
chosen randomly to support the basic ideas and fundamentals. The following information might be used
as a guideline for an integrator or as a reference for a system designer who is facing the first hurdle of
identifying a product for a specific ground fault problem. The text was written in a way that both, technical
and non-technical personnel can benefit from the information.

Data sheets for the devices recommended in this booklet can be downloaded at:

www.bender.org -> Go to Products -> click on the pdf files

This booklet covers three basic power systems and their protective devices.

Grounded - Resistance grounded -Ungrounded

The information in this booklet was carefully prepared and is believed to be correct, but Bender makes no warranties
respecting it and disclaims any responsibility or liability of any kind for any loss or damage as a consequence of anyone’s
use of or reliance upon such information.
The rights to modifications are reserved.

2
Table of Contents

Table of contents:

Different Technologies for different power systems 4

Basic Power Systems:

- Grounded 5

The Ground Fault 6


Grounded AC systems 60 cycles 7
GF Interrupting - Shunt trip breaker 8
GF Interrupting - Contactor 9
Grounded AC systems with VFDs 10
Grounded DC systems 11
Locating ground faults
-with portable equipment 12
-with a current clamp 13
-with fixed equipment 14

- Resistance Grounded 15

Resistance Grounded AC systems


GFGC - Ground Fault Ground Check 16

Resistance Grounded AC system


Ground Fault NGR Monitor 17

Locating Ground Faults 18

- Ungrounded or Floating 19

Insulation Monitoring Device IMD’s


- Passive IMD’s 20-21
- Active IMD’S 22-23

Ungrounded systems
- Locating ground faults with portable equipment 24
- Story: Ground Fault location in a 480V delta fed system 25
- Locating ground faults with fixed equipment 26

EDS 470 Ground Fault Location System / EDS 473 Ground Fault Location System 27

- Off-line Monitoring - with Bender IR...devices 28

The Off-line IMD’s and their measuring voltages 29

SELECTION GUIDE for Ground Fault Relays 30

3
General Information

Different technologies for different power systems


Not every monitor or relay will work on any power system. A ground fault relay (GFR) in combination with
a current transformer (CT) will work on grounded or resistance grounded systems, but will need very spe-
cial consideration if employed in a floating system. An Insulation Monitoring Device (IMD) will work very
nicely in a floating system, but will do nothing but false tripping in a grounded system.

Case # 1
The Insulation monitoring device (IMD) installation below will not work out! The IMD (Online megger) will
send a measuring signal into a three phase system. The signal will immediately find the neutral ground
bonding jumper and indicate a ground fault.

������ ���� ���������� ��� �����


��

��� ��������� �����


��

������ ���
Neutral Ground (NG)
Jumper
WRONG!

������

���������� ��� �������� ������ ���� ���

Case # 2
The ground fault relay (GFR) installation below will not work out! The current transformer (CT) will need
to see a serious amount of ground fault current. A floating delta normally does not create the fault cur-
rent magnitude needed since it does not provide a low ohmic neutral ground return path. The device will
never trip, not even if there would be a dead short to ground for a couple days.
Supply side 480VAC 3Ph motor
L1

L2

L3
WRONG!
C1 C2 C3
No current
Leakage
return path RCM470 GF relay
capacitance
GF = i.e. Dead short
only mA currents

Ground

Schematic: The ungrounded system with RCM technology

4
Grounded Systems

Basic power systems - Grounded

Grounded systems are derived from a power source where the neutral is solidly tied to ground via a
ground neutral bonding jumper (NG). Often encountered is the typical three phase 208/120V Y or 480/
277V Y configuration. Another possibility is a single phase transformer where the neutral is tied into
ground or sometimes, in very rare occasions, we might encounter corner grounded deltas. The general
population is very familiar with solidly grounded systems due to the fact that nearly every residency in the
U.S. is derived from a 240/120V transformer with center tap. The center tap is bonded solidly to ground.

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages to the grounded power system. One disadvantage is
the high amount of possible fault current in a ground fault situation. Fire damage or personnel injury can
occur. Nevertheless, a tripped over current breaker or a GFCI will enable the electrician to quickly iden-
tify a faulty branch. Action will often be taken after a fault has occurred. Preventative maintenance is not
necessarily associated with the grounded system.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


L1 V12= 480V

V13= 480V
V V
L2

V23= 480V V
L3

V VNG= 0V

V V3G= 277V

Ground

Schematic: The grounded system

5
Grounded Systems

The ground fault

The magnitude of a ground fault current in a solidly grounded system can be very high. Its magnitude
depends on the system voltage and the resistance of the ground fault causing part itself. The ground
fault current can easily reach a value which is multiple times higher than the nominal load current.
A simplified calculation will explain how the high amounts of current are generated:

Please review the schematic on the bottom. The current IF is defined as:

IF = V3G/(RGF + RGR + RNG)

IF Fault Current
V3G Voltage between faulted phase and ground
RGF Resistance value at shorted point
RGR Resistance of ground path
RNG Resistance of neutral ground bonding jumper
(Please note: The resistances were randomly chosen)

IF = 277V/(0.1Ohm + 0.2 Ohm + 0.1 Ohm) = 692.5A

It can be shown with this example calculation that a theoretical fault current will be devastating if a dead
short occurs. Nevertheless, a ground fault relay or over current protective devices should trip immedi-
ately and interrupt power from the load. How many Amps would flow if a human would touch the same
circuit? Answer: Replace the dead short value of 0.1 Ohm with a more realistic figure for a human body
part. Lets assume that a person is resting on the frame of a motor. We assume 1000 Ohms of resis-
tance from phase L3 and a human body.

IF = 277V/(1000 Ohm + 0.2 Ohm + 0.1 Ohm) = 0.277A = 277 mA


The current is a multiple of 15 mA, which is considered to be the let-go value for humans. 50 mA is consid-
ered to be lethal.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L3
R = 1000 ohms

NG path
Resistance assumed 0.1 Ohms V3G= 277V V

GF = i.e. Dead short


Resistance = 0.1 Ohm
Fault current path via ground Ground
Resistance assumed 0.2 Ohms

Schematic: The grounded system with single ground fault

6
Grounded Systems

Grounded AC systems 60 cycles - The ground fault device

Most technicians are very familiar with a current transformer based ground fault current relay. Even non
technical personnel encounter them on a daily basis in public rest rooms protecting a wall outlet in a wet
area. The operating theory behind the relay is as follows. A current transformer (CT) or “donut” is placed
around the power wires leading to the protected load. It is important that hot and neutral wires are fed
through the CT. This goes for both, single phase and three phase systems. One might come across
a three phase system without a neutral, feeding a pump or an industrial motor. In this case the three
phases only will be fed through the CT. Basic rule for three phase systems: If the neutral is carried out to
the load -> Feed it through the CT. If there is no neutral -> Then do not worry about it.
The current transformer will always read zero current in a healthy system even under a full load condition.
In accordance to Kirchhoffs laws, Incoming and Outgoing currents will cancel each other out. Assume a
10A load connected to a 480/277VAC system. 10A will be fed from the source into the load, therefore 10A
will have to return from the load back to the source. The CT will measure both simultaneously since it is
placed around all conductors.
The values were randomly chosen. Here is what the CT would see at a specific moment in time:

In accordance with the schematic below: 10A - 5A -5A= 0A for a healthy system

A ground fault (lets assume 1A) will divert some of the current from the arrangement and bypass the CT
via the ground wire, a frame or the building ground and return back to the source.
The new equation for the CT is now: 10A - 5A - 4A = 1A whereas 10A go into the load, 9A return to the
source via the phase L2 and L3 and 1 A returns to the source via the ground wire. The CT will step the
current (1A) down and forward it to the Ground Fault Relay (GFR). The GFR will then alarm when its set
point has been increased. The GF relay in combination with a zero sequence CT will work in resistance
grounded systems as well. It will run into its limitations in circuits where wave form modifying equipment,
such as Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) or rectifier components are installed.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


I1 = 10A
L1

I2 = 5A

I3 = 4A
L3

GF relay with
summation transformer

IF = 1A

Ground

Schematic: The grounded system with single ground fault and GF relay

Relays: RCM460 series


RCM470 series

7
Grounded Systems

GF interrupting - Shunt trip breaker

Grounded and resistance grounded systems often require not only to be monitored but to be interrupted
as well. The ground fault has to be sensed and power has to be removed ASAP (often in milli seconds).
Trip levels for the GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) vary from application to application. Person-
nel protection is considered to be at 6mA in the U.S. Equipment protection can be found anywhere from
10mA up to multiple Amps. Industrial branch or load protection can often be seen at 5Amps. Service
entrance protection is most likely set to trip at levels in the multiple hundreds of Amps.
Below is a wiring schematic outlining the connections between a typical Bender RCM460 or RCM470, a
shunt trip breaker and a three phase load.
A1, A2 = External power supply; K,L = Connection to the CT; 11,12 = alarm contacts will close and apply
120VAC to the shunt trip in case of an increased set point, the shunt trip breaker will interrupt power to
the load. Please note: The shunt trip breaker will have to be manually reset after a trip.

120 VAC
~

A1 A2 RCM 470
GF RELAY
in failsafe mode

K L 11 12 14

3Ph motor
Supply side 480/277VAC

L1

L2

L3

Shunt trip
breaker

Ground

Schematic: The RCM470 connected to a shunt trip in a resistance grounded system

8
Grounded Systems

GF interrupting - Contactor

The wiring schematic on page 8 employed a shunt trip breaker for interrupting purposes. A contactor in
combination with the Bender RCM460 or RCM470 can accomplish the same task.
Please review the schematic below:
A1, A2 = External power supply; K,L = Connection to the CT; 11,14 = alarm contacts will open and
remove power (120VAC) from the contactor holding coil in case of an increased set point. The contactor
will drop out and interrupt power to the load. Please note: The contactor can be automatically reset after
the fault has been cleared.

120 VAC
~

RCM 470
A1 A2 GF RELAY

K L 11 12 14

3Ph motor
Supply side 480/277VAC

L1

L2

L3

Contactor

Ground

Schematic: The RCM470 connected to a contactor in a resistance grounded system

9
Grounded Systems

Grounded AC systems with VFDs

The 60 cycle GFRs have limitations when the circuitry involves VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives). Tests
have shown that the typical GFR cannot keep the adjusted trip point when the system frequency changes
to values below 60 cycles. Even worse, a total failure can be expected at frequencies below 12 cycles. A
variable frequency drive converts the incoming AC internally into DC, which will then be modulated again
into a variable cycle AC leading to the load. Internal VFD - DC grounds can not be detected with conven-
tional GFR technology. The common “passive” CT needs alternating currents to detect a ground fault,
therefore DC currents will go unnoticed. Some drives might be equipped with their own internal scheme
to detect ground faults which will eventually trip in the high Ampere range. Early warning or personnel
protection cannot be guaranteed in this case.

Other issues with VFDs:

- The VFD often incorporates built in EMI filters. They provide a leakage path to ground and add
to the overall system leakage.
- The drive uses a multiple KHZ carrier frequency. The carrier frequency can cross the gap be-
tween insulation and ground and add to the inherent leakage.
- Harmonic content
- Transient voltage spikes

The solution: Grounded systems with VFDs have to be protected by means of “active” current transform-
ers with built in filter technology. The Bender RCMA470 in combination with the active CT employs a
double coil system which enables the unit to measure accurate AC, DC and mixed AC/DC currents from
0 to 700Hz. Its trip settings range from 6mA up to 3A. It can therefore be used for personnel and branch/
motor protection.

Variable Frequency Drive

Supply side 480/277VAC Rectifier IGBT 3Ph motor


L1 EMI filter
DC link
U
L2
V

L3
W

AC Leakage DC Leakage

RCMA relay with


active transformer

Possible AC fault 60Hz Capacitive leakage through Internal DC fault Variable cycle
EMI filters AC fault

Schematic: The grounded AC system with a variable frequency drive (VFD) and RCMA technology

Relays: RCMA470 (Motor protection)


RCMA473 (Personnel)

10
Grounded Systems

DC systems

Bender RCMAs monitor DC and mixed AC/DC systems. The unique measuring principle can be used for
protection if the DC system is grounded as shown below. In this case the negative pole of the DC power
supply or the battery is tied into a chassis or the building ground. The active CT would be placed around
both, the negative and positive conductor leading to the load. A DC leakage current will bypass the CT
through ground. Its magnitude will be relayed to the RCMA device and an alarm will be triggered. The
calculation is based on the same principles that were discussed in previous chapters. Remember, it is
important to note that this technology works on AC, DC and mixed AC/DC circuits. For example: A single
RCMA relay can protect a DC and an AC system at the same time. Imagine a DC control circuit and a
120VAC power wire going through the same CT. A standard GFR could only monitor the AC line. The
RCMA will protect both.

+ I+= 10A
-

I- = 9A

RCMA relay with V V


active transformer

V+G= 24V V-G= 0V


IF = 1A

Schematic: 24VDC grounded system with RCMA technology and single fault

Relays: RCMA470 (Motor protection)


RCMA473 (Personnel)

11
Grounded Systems

Locating ground faults with portable equipment

Normally, it is not too difficult to locate a ground fault in a grounded system. As described before, the
ground fault current is usually in the high amp range and will force the over current device or the ground
fault relay to trip the faulty circuit. It can get tricky when there is only one ground fault relay installed at
the power source, protecting a multitude of circuits down the road. A typical situation is the roof mounted
air conditioner in an industrial plant. The AC unit faults to ground and trips out the main service entrance,
because there was no branch protection provided. It will not be a simple task to find the culprit beneath
50 similar AC units on the roof. One solution to the problem is provided below:

Locating faults in disconnected systems (Off line search)

A typical means of checking for a ground fault in a disconnected system is the megger. A technician will
connect a “meggering device” between the motor leads and ground (chassis) and inject a high voltage
(normally 500V) into the motor circuit. The ground fault is indicated if the “megger current” finds a break
through path to ground. Note: The megger only works on disconnected systems. Make sure that the test
object is voltage free before applying the megger.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


L1

CB open!

L3

500
Volts

Megger current

Ground

Schematic: Meggering a load

12
Grounded Systems

Locating ground faults with a current clamp


Locating faults in life systems (On line search)

The current transformer based ground fault relay is basically nothing else but a very sensitive ampmeter.
The typical clamp-on type ampmeter is used to measure load currents by simply clamping around a single
conductor. The same ampmeter will read zero if the technician clamps around all conductors (Including
the neutral, if there is one present) in a healthy system. This is the zero sequence principle we described
earlier in the Grounded AC system 60 cycles section on page 8. A healthy system will reveal zero cur-
rent but a ground fault current will show up immediately on the clamp. Please note: Do not incorporate
the ground conductor when you put the clamp around the power wires. The ground fault will be chased
by clamping around the conductors coming from the power supply first. From there we will work on the
branches. From there we will start clamping around the individual loads. This is often described as “hunt-
ing down” the problem.
A typical clamp designed for measuring load currents will do the job if the ground fault exceeds a couple
amps. A more sensitive clamp has to be chosen if the ground fault has a magnitude below 1 Amp. Below
is the picture of a clamp which is actually capable of detecting faults below 10mA. Here comes the tricky
part. Please be advised that using a clamp on a bolted fault is pretty much useless. The over current
devices or GFI breakers will have tripped long before the handheld clamp can be employed. The meth-
ods described above will only make sense at ground faults below breaker trip level. A disadvantage of
measuring at lower amp levels will be the charging current of the system or the already present inherent
system leakage. A rule of thumb in electrical installations is 1A leakage per 1000KVA. It will depend on
the experience of the electrician to determine if he is chasing a charging current or a low level ground
fault.

A simple example for explaining inherent system leakage:

The motor consists of windings, wire and insulation enclosed by a metal frame. A conductor separated
from ground via insulation acts as a small capacitor. A piece of insulation between the conductor and the
frame also has a certain resistance. The capacitance is usually extremely small and the resistance is
in general in the Meg Ohm range. Nevertheless, the combined values can add up. The larger a power
system is the larger the overall natural leakage will be.
Imagine a motor in an industrial plant which leaks a minor fraction of current into ground (e.g. 1mA =
1/1000 of an Amp). That does not sound like very much and the decision is made to employ a ground
fault relay with a 10mA set point. The GFR trips immediately because it was overlooked that there are 15
similar motors connected to this branch. 15 x 1 mA = 15mA leakage already present in the system. This
does not even account for the capacitive leakage of cabling or for drive components with their built-in EMI
filter circuitry.

hot

neutral
Device: RCT3283
Accessory:
Large clamp RCT9131

13
Grounded Systems

Locating ground faults with fixed equipment

Online system

Assume that there is a 208VAC three phase system with 120 sub branches installed in a facility. The
supervisor wants to know at all times if the system is in good shape or if there is a problem. A problem
has to be indicated immediately, the source has to be identified and fixed. The zero sequence technology
described in earlier chapters can help here as well. A fixed installed ground fault scanning system can be
employed to monitor unlimited numbers of branches 24/7. In this case, a CT will be placed around every
single main and sub branch. The CTs will be connected to 12 channel evaluators which themselves are
Product Description
wired into a central processing and display unit. The ground fault will flow from the source into the faulty
branch, into the faulty load and from the ground back to the source. The CTs in this path will recognize
A basic
the current and alert
Basic system the RCMS470
respective system consistsThe
evaluator. of ancentral
RCMS470-12 evaluator
processing unitand
willone to twelve
display the amount of
transformers. A system of this kind offers the following facilities.
fault current and the fault location. Remote alarms can be sound and even the alert via the internet is no
problem nowadays. Fixed ground fault location systems are tremendously beneficial when down- time
• Monitoring twelve transformer outgoing circuits within an TN or TT system
is not an option. Please note that the CTs are measuring the full amount of ground fault current and are
with a common response value for all channels.
designed to detect • leaksCentral
in an early stage.onFast
monitoring developing ground
the RCMS470-12 by meansfaults will LEDs
of alarm most and
likely trip the over cur-
rent device before the RCMS will locate
alarm relays. the fault. The RCMS in a solidly grounded system will perform at
its best when the fault level stays below the branch breaker trip levels. Above these values, the branch
protection will kick in.

AC TN-System
L1

PE

W W W

For supply voltage refer


to nameplate

F X

A1 A2 K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9
I∆n
RCMS470 K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12
MONITOR

MASTER:
D2 D1 D0 Y/mA

ADDRESS 0 0 1 10

A4 A3 A2 A1 A0 SLAVE TEST 0 1 0 30
ON ALARM FAULT RS485 RESET 0 1 1 50
1 1 0 0 100

0 1 0 1 300

1 1 0 500
Y D2 D1 D0 R/- MASTER 1 1 1 1A

A B R1 R2 l K12 K11 K10 11 12 14

Picture out of RCMS470

Key
Device: RCMS470 Scanning
Example of asystem
basic RCMS470 system with an RCMS470 and three W1-S35
measuring current transformers in a single-phase AC network (TN or TT system).
14
W: Measuring current transformer. In this example three W1-S35 transformers
are used. Up to a maximum of twelve measuring current transformers can
be connected.
Resistance Grounded

Basic power systems - Resistance Grounded

Resistance grounded systems are created if the neutral is tied to ground via NGR (Neutral Grounding
Resistor). Typically these NGRs can be found in three phase Y configured mining power systems.
Industrial plants employ these systems on occasion as well. A main advantage of the resistance
grounded system is that the resistor limits the amount of current available to the fault. The operation may
be continued until the electrician locates the fault and fixes the problem.

The ground fault

A ground fault current in a resistance grounded system will be limited in its magnitude. This is the
main difference when compared to the solidly grounded system we encountered before. The ground
fault magnitude depends on the system voltage, the resistance of the ground fault causing part and
the resistance of the current limiting resistor. Typical limits are 5, 10, 15 or 20 Amps. The resistor
should be rated for continuous use under full load if there is no protection device on this circuit.

The resistance grounded system also allows for selective ground fault tripping which is achieved through
adjustable time delays on multiple relays.

IF = V3G/(RGF + RGR + RNG)

IF Fault Current
V3G Voltage between faulted phase and ground
RGF Resistance value at shorted point
RGR Resistance of ground path
RNG Resistance of neutral grounding resistor
(Please note: The resistances were randomly chosen)

IF = 277V/(0.1Ohm + 0.2 Ohm + 55Ohm) = 5A

The calculation shows that a theoretical fault current will not be as devastating as in a solidly grounded
system if a dead short occurs. The maximum fault current will be limited, therefore vital machinery can be
kept running until the process is finished. Of course, problems should be fixed ASAP.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L2

L3

NG path
Resistance
55 Ohms

GF = i.e. Dead short


Resistance = 0.1 Ohm
Fault current path via ground Ground
Resistance assumed 0.2 Ohms

Schematic: The resistance grounded system

15
Resistance Grounded

Resistance grounded AC systems

GFGC Ground Fault Ground Check

The resistance grounded system could employ a typical 60 cycle ground fault relay to ensure electrical
safety. However, resistance grounded systems in modern power applications require more than just the
ground fault part. A perfect ground connection has to be established to ensure that dangerous frame volt-
ages will be clamped effectively to ground. A combination GFGC (ground fault - ground check) monitor
will solve the issue. This relay will measure the residual current in the respective circuit or branch of the
system by means of a CT. For that purpose, all active conductors (phases + neutral) are to be passed
through the CT (1).

If the ground fault current (1.1) exceeds the response value, the “Alarm Ground Fault” LED lights and the
alarm relay switches. The alarm contact can be delayed by a selectable time. The alarm remains stored
until the RESET button is pressed.
The GC relay function will monitor the impedance of the grounding conductor. For that purpose, the
relay superimposes a voltage of 12V between the grounding conductor and the ground check wire.
A termination device between both conductors at the other end of the cable has to be installed. By
evaluating the voltage drop at this termination device, the GC part recognizes series resistance faults
(cable high-resistance or open) (3) or cross resistance faults (short circuit) (2) of the cable.
The alarm relay trips immediately if one of the above occurs.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


1
L1

L2

1.1

L3

GFGC Ground fault Ground Check


NGR
Ground check relay termination
device
Ground pilot wire
GF
2
3

Ground

Schematic: The resistance grounded system with GFGC ground fault ground check relay

Device: RC48C

16
Resistance Grounded

Resistance grounded AC systems

Ground Fault - NGR Monitor

The resistance grounded system will limit possible fault currents by means of the NGR (Neutral Grounding Resis-
tor). A typical CT (1) based ground fault relay can be used to sense the ground fault current. What would hap-
pen if the current limiting resistor is destroyed or looses one of its connections (2) ? The answer is simple. The
resistance would become infinite and the former resistance grounded system would become floating.

As learned before, the typical GF relay is not effective on floating systems and is therefore now useless.
A common practice is to employ a potential transformer across the neutral grounding resistor. The potential trans-
former will indicate a voltage rise across the transformer caused by a ground fault current. However, the voltage
rise will occur disregarding if the resistor is online or not. Therefore, the potential transformer makes sense as a
ground fault protective device, but does not provide an integrity check for the resistor.

Please review the schematic below. The Bender RC48N series will provide a solution. If the GF current (1.1)
exceeds the response value, the “Alarm Ground Fault” LED lights and the alarm relay switches. The NGR part
monitors the resistance of the neutral grounding resistor, connections through the transformer, and the connections
to ground (2). It also monitors the voltage drop on the neutral grounding resistor via a coupling device. An alarm
is indicated when the ground-fault current or the neutral ground voltage exceed the set point. The RC 48N can be
used to backup or evaluate the potential transformer.

Supply side 480/277VAC 3Ph motor


1
L1

L2

L3

GF NGR Ground fault relay


NGR NGR monitor
NGR coupler GF

2 1.1

Ground

Schematic: The resistance grounded system with GF NGR ground fault relay NGR monitor

Device: RC48N

17
Resistance Grounded

Locating ground faults

The resistance grounded system is subject to the same techniques as described in the grounded sys-
tem. The only difference is that the possible fault current is limited to 5, 10 or 20 Amps. The same zero
sequence CT based technologies apply.
> PLEASE REVIEW THE PAGES 13 & 14 FAULT LOCATION IN GROUNDED SYSTEMS.

Application picture

Substation courtesy of Metalec

The RC48C is built into the substation shown


above. It will trip out a contactor if one of the fol-
lowing conditions should occur:
A) Ground fault
B) Ground wire resistance increased
C) Ground wire cross fault

RC 48C

18
Ungrounded Systems

Basic power systems - Ungrounded (Floating)

Floating systems are derived from a power source where there is virtually no connection to ground.
480VAC delta configured transformers are a typical supply for a floating system. Some deltas in the
mining industry can be found in hoists. 480VAC deltas are also in wide spread use to supply 1000Amp -
2000Amp main feeder circuits in general industrial applications. Floating systems are often used in areas
where a sudden shut down must not occur. Examples are Intensive care units (ICUs) in hospitals, signal
circuits, and emergency back-up systems.

The ground fault

The magnitude of a ground fault current in an ungrounded system is very small. It depends on the sys-
tem voltage, the resistance of the ground fault causing part and the system capacitances.

Example: If a grounded object with low resistance touches a live conductor, the resulting current flow will
be negligible. The ground fault loop will be incomplete because the return path to the source is missing.
It is important to note that the systems capacitance will provide some paths for capacitive currents to flow.
The resulting current is also known as charging current. Never assume that it is safe to touch a bare
conductor in a floating system. A capacitive jolt will be extremely hazardous. The example below reflects
resistive values only. The capacitance, though important, was not added to the equation.

IF = V3G/(RGF + RGR + RNG)

IF Fault Current
V3G Voltage between faulted phase and ground
RGF Resistance value at shorted point
RGR Resistance of ground path
RNG Resistance between Neutral and Ground (In this case: Mega-Ohms through air)
(Please note: The resistances were randomly chosen)

IF = 277V/(0.1Ohm + 0.2 Ohm + 1MegOhm) = 0.00027A = 0.27 mA

Supply side 480VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L2

L3

C1 C2 C3

Leakage
capacitance
GF = i.e. Dead short

Ground

Schematic: The ungrounded system with ground fault path

19
Ungrounded Systems

Insulation Monitoring Device IMD

Ungrounded systems will not produce the amount of fault current needed to trip a common GFR. The
IMD is the device of choice for the protection of floating systems. IMDs come in two styles: A) Passive
and B) Active devices.

Passive IMD
The most known passive device is most likely the three light bulb system in industrial 480V delta systems.
Three lamps are connected on their secondary side together and from there to ground (Star or Y con-
figuration). Each lamp is then connected to the respective phases L1, L2 and L3. In a healthy system,
all three lights will burn with the same intensity. In case of a ground fault, the faulted phase will assume
a value close to ground potential. The respective light will dim, while the other two will brighten up. The
light bulb system often does not offer additional trip indicators for remote alarms. It also needs to experi-
ence a serious fault condition before people are becoming aware that something is going wrong. Even
worse, symmetrical ground faults (A balanced fault on all three phases) will not be detected.

Supply side 480VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L2

L3

C1 C2 C3

Leakage
capacitance
V1= 277V V2= 277V V3= 277V

Ground

Schematic: Three light bulb system under no fault condition

Supply side 480VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L2

L3

GF = i.e. Dead short


V1= 480V V2= 480V V3= 0V

Ground

Schematic: Three light bulb system under single fault condition


20
Ungrounded Systems

Insulation Monitoring Device IMD

Passive IMDs
Ungrounded DC systems are often equipped with a passive measuring device. The “balance” method is
the most commonly known method to protect a floating DC bus. Two voltmeters are connected between the
positive, negative lead and ground. The voltmeter acts like a voltage divider. Each voltmeter should indicate
about 6V in a 12V system. A ground fault will clamp one of the voltmeters closer to ground and it will indicate
a value closer to zero. The other voltmeter will see an increase and move up closer to 12V. The magnitude
of this shift will depend on the magnitude of the ground fault. As with all passive systems, balanced ground
faults will not be detected with this technology. These devices also do not provide early warning or trending
capabilities.
Battery system 125VDC 125V loads 250V loads

V1N= 125V V V V12= 250V

- V2N= 125V V

V1G= 125V V V V2G= 125V GF = resistance breakdown


to 1000Ohms on two legs
i.e. cable under water
(Balanced fault situation)

Schematic: 125/250VDC system voltage measurements double fault condition

Battery system 125VDC 125V loads 250V loads

V1N= 125V V V V12= 250V

- V2N= 125V V

Battery system 125VDC 125V loads 250V loads


V1G= 125V V V V2G= 125V
+

V1N= 125V V V V12= 250V

Schematic: 125/250VDC system voltage measurements no fault condition

- V2N= 125V V

V1G= 250V V V V2G= 0V


GF = i.e. Dead short

1) Passive IMD -> Review the UG140P series Schematic: 125/250VDC system voltage measurements single fault condition

21
Ungrounded Systems

Active IMDs

The active IMD is considered to be an online megger. It will be connected via pilot wires between the
system and ground. A constant measuring signal will be sent from the IMD into the power wires. It will
spread out evenly into the secondary side of the supply transformer and the attached loads. If this signal
finds a break through path to ground, it will take this path of least resistance and return to the monitor.
The IMDs internal circuitry will process the signal and trip a set of indicators when the set point is in-
creased. IMDs measure in Ohms (Resistance) and not in Amps (Current). A ground fault will be indicated
as “insulation breakdown”.

Great insulation = healthy system = multiple kilo ohms or mega ohms


Low insulation = ground fault = less than one kilo ohm or low ohm range

A power system’s overall resistance depends on the number of loads, the type of insulation used, the age
of the installation, the environmental conditions etc. A typical question when it comes to floating deltas is
always: “Where should my set or trip level be?” The typical “ball park” figure for industrial applications is
100 Ohms per volt.
Example: A monitor in a 480V delta system would be set to trip at 480 x 100 = 48 kilo Ohms. Please be
advised that this figure cannot be used for all situations. Example: A customer has meggered a mo-
tor and figures that his system must be at around 1 Meg Ohm insulation. The insulation monitor keeps
alarming and indicates lower levels than previously assumed. The answer is simple: It was forgotten to
take into consideration that there are 10 of these motors connected to the same system. The IMD will
measure and indicate the OVERALL resistance of the system. Here we are dealing with 10 parallel resis-
tances of 1 Meg Ohm each. The overall resistance will drop to less than 100000 Ohms in this case.

Supply side 480VAC 3Ph motor


L1

L2

AMP measuring pulse


L3

Bender IMD

GF = i.e. Dead short


V1= 480V V2= 480V V3= 0V

Ground

Schematic: Ungrounded AC system with Bender IMD

1) Single phase AC systems -> Review the IR140Y series


2) Single phase AC, DC or mixed systems -> Review the IR145Y series
3) Three phase AC systems -> Review the IR470Y series
4) Three phase AC, DC or mixed systems -> Review the IR475Y, IRDH275
and IRDH375 series
5) Voltages above 500VDC,690VAC -> Review the AGH couplers

22
Ungrounded Systems

Active IMDs

An active IMD is the preferred choice for ungrounded DC systems as well. As in floating AC systems, a
DC IMD will be connected via pilot wires between the live (or dead) system and ground. A constant mea-
suring signal will be sent from the IMD into the power wires, from there it spreads out evenly into the sec-
ondary side of the supply (E.G. battery) and the attached loads. If this signal finds a break through path
to ground, it will take this path of least resistance and return to the monitor. The IMDs internal circuitry will
process the signal and trip a set of indicators when the set point is increased.

Battery system 125VDC 125V loads 250V loads

V1N= 125V V V V12= 250V

- V2N= 125V V

V1G= 125V V V V2G= 125V GF = resistance breakdown


Bender IMD
to 1000 Ohms on two legs
i.e. cable under water
AMP measuring (Balanced fault situation)
pulse

Schematic: 125/250VDC system with Bender IMD technology

1) DC system (Active IMD) -> Review the IR145Y, IR475Y, IRDH275 and IRDH375 series

23
Ungrounded Systems

Ungrounded systems - Locating ground faults with portable equipment

Locating faults in ungrounded deltas is different from doing so in a grounded Y. A typical leakage current
����������������������������������
clamp will not perform. We learned in earlier chapters that even a dead short to ground will not create
hazardous currents in floating systems. If there is no GF current flow then there will be nothing available
to be picked up. The solution is to send a low level artificial signal via pulse generator into the faulted
system.� The signal
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will be impressed between the power wires and ground. Naturally, it will follow the
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into ground and return to the pulse generator. This signal can be traced with a hand
held probe which appears to be similar to the current probe discussed in previous chapters. Neverthe-
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less, it has to be emphasized that this is a specially designed clamp which will trace the pulse and not
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ground fault currents. Both the clamp and pulse generator will work in unison. One without the other will
be useless in a floating system.
IT-System L1

L2
�� Ground

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BENDER PGH 185 PULSE
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EDS3065
EDS3365 Groundinfault
floating deltakit for
location
AC/DC systems below 300V

EDS3065 Ground fault location kit for


AC/DC systems above 300V

24
Ungrounded Systems

Ground fault location in a 480V delta fed system

A manufacturing plant encountered a decrease in insulation value. The system broke down from 45Kilo
Ohms to less than 5Kilo Ohms. Shutting off breakers did not reveal any improvement. The EDS3065
fault locator was chosen for the task since we were dealing with a 480V 3Ph system. (2000A main bus,
42 branches)

Picture #1
The PGH pulse generator is connected via pilot wires. The injected signal can be seen on the hand held
EDS165 evaluator device. There are 12 branches in this panel. Each one has to be checked for the
pulse. That takes approx. 30 seconds each. We locate
the pulse in branch 2F7.

Picture # 2
Branch 2F7 leads us further into the production area. The
pulse is still strong. It is amazing how accurate the device
is, considering the fact that we are only sending 25mA into
the system. We have now arrived at a sub panel leading to
various machines and water cooled transformers.

Picture # 3
The evaluator shows 15mA going through
these water cooled transformers into ground.
The transformer specs and the local electri-
cians verify that this is a normal situation. But
there are still 10mA vanishing beyond this
point. Lets continue the hunt.

Picture # 4
The culprit is found. The remaining 10mA led
us to this transformer which was well hidden
inside a metal bending machine. Obviously,
there is a need for a replacement part.

25
Ungrounded Systems

Ungrounded systems - Locating ground faults with fixed equipment


The ground fault location system can be installed as a fixed installation if 24/7 monitoring should be re-
quired. A complete ground fault location - detection scheme for a floating system incorporates:

1) IMD Insulation Monitoring device


Function: Detects the fault and alarms when the set point has been reached. IMDs were
discussed on pages 23 & 24.

2) Pulse generator
Function: Sends the trace pulse into the power wires once a fault is detected. (Please review
page 25 for more background information on the test pulse issue)

3) CTs Current Transformers


Function: Specially designed for sensing the trace pulse and sending information back to the
evaluator.

4) Evaluators
Function: Information (Fault) gathering from the CTs and indicating the faulty branch.

5) Central Control Unit


Function: Gathers the information from the evaluators and displays alarms. ���������� ���������
The Bender EDS ground fault location - detection system is an excellent tool for the maintenance person-
nel in a large facility with extensive wiring. Faults will be located automatically during normal business
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No shutdown required. No handheld tracing and/or accessing panels required. The beauty
of this system lies in its non invasive operation. If the case study on page 25 would have been equipped
with a fixed�GF location system, the faulty branch and its connected machine would have been identified
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during the first
� 120 seconds after the first alarm emerged. The ungrounded system is only safe for its
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user as long as the occurring faults are immediately traced down and eliminated. If that is not the case,
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then the second ground will follow sooner or later and short circuit the system.
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Ungrounded Systems

EDS470 Ground Fault Location System


Two insulation monitors connected to a series
EDS470-12 evaluators. This is a smaller system ca-
pable of evaluating 2 x 12 circuits.

EDS473 Ground Fault Location System


One insulation monitor is connected to a multiple evalu-
ator devices. A total of 82 circuits is being monitored
for ground faults. The customer decided to add a data
logger for trending purposes (Top).

By the way, we are often asked how large our devices are. 95% of the Bender relay line is relatively small
and has been designed to be mounted into control cabinets or panels.

See for yourself:

27
Off-Line Monitoring

Off-line monitoring with Bender IR … devices

Off-line monitoring addresses the monitoring of idle consumers, to avoid activation in the presence of a
ground fault.

The Off-line monitor is basically a fixed installed control relay which duplicates the function of a technician
who “high- pots” or “meggers” a load to check for ground faults or insulation break downs. These loads
can be de-watering pumps, fire pumps, motors or any other electrically fed piece of equipment which
does not operate on a continuous basis. In many installations, even continuously running equipment will
be shut down in regular intervals to perform a high voltage line to ground test. The megger task involves
disconnecting the load from the power system. Then the high voltage device or so called megger will be
connected to the motor leads and ground. The voltage will be superimposed onto the wires and windings
for a brief moment during which the technician looks out for a break through indication. The complete
task will take up a considerable amount of time. The job sites are often in remote areas, wiring and
disconnecting tasks have to be performed and safety regulations have to be fulfilled. Amazingly enough,
it is widely unknown that this manual task can be fully automated by using a low cost relay. Off-line IMD’s
(Insulation Monitoring Devices) superimpose a DC measuring signal to the system being monitored in
various applications across the nation.

The relay will alarm if the superimposed signal finds a break through path to ground. The available Bender
off-line IMD’s are shown in table 5.1. The table also indicates the measuring voltage (max.) of the individual
IMD which will be superimposed between the power wires and ground.

Supply side 480VAC Contactor main (Open) 3Ph motor on stand-by


L1
Water intrusion

L2

IT = Test current
L3

Contactor aux.
(Closed) GF = i.e. Dead short

Offline monitor

Ground

Schematic: Offline monitor under fault condition

28
Off-Line Monitoring

The Off-line IMD’s and their measuring voltages

Bender Type Measuring Voltage (max.)


IREH1520 500V dc
IR470LY2-60.. 40V dc
IREH470Y2-6.. 20V dc
IREH470Y2-60.. 40V dc Table 5.1

In recent investigations, the impact of the measuring voltage on the accuracy of the measurement was
tested. The results showed only slight variations of the accuracy with a decreasing measuring voltage.

Still, various clients prefer to use the Bender Type IREH1520 with a measuring voltage of 500V dc
which is equivalent to the one used in common “Megger” testers. Mining customers generally lean more
towards the low voltage off-line monitoring devices. There are various standards addressing the off-line
issue in various applications across the nation.

Standards for Off-line monitors

One of them is the American standard, ASTM F1134-88, which describes the monitoring of idle
consumers in shipboard applications. In this standard the max. measuring voltage allowed is 24V dc.
The IEC standard, IEC61557-8, (Title: “Insulation Monitoring Devices for ungrounded AC Systems, for
ungrounded AC systems with connected DC circuits and for stand alone DC systems”) describes the
IMD’s in general, limiting the measuring voltage to 120V (peak value). The diagram below shows an
example for an off-line IMD Bender Series IREH1520 and IREH470Y2.. . Those IMD’s are connected to
the system being monitored via a pilot wire. An auxiliary contact will be used to initialize the IREH relay
when the motor goes off-line 8).
8)
In applications with a grounded supply, the contactor needs to interrupt all power lines including the
neutral (if available).
Off-line IMDs often pay themselves off during their first year of operation. A typical 100HP pump motor
whose seals have failed can easily be put back into operation by repairing the seals and drying out the
stator windings. This will work only if an off-line monitor prevents a “wet start-up”. Rewinding the stator
instead will cost the operator thousands of dollars and unnecessary down time.

29
30
Measuring, Ground fault
Ground fault
monitoring relay & Ground Off-line
Insulation Ground fault relay & Ground
& Ground continuity insulation
protection
Monitor relay continuity
continuity monitor monitor
device monitor CSA M421-00
monitor
solidly grounded and
Power solidly grounded and resistance Ungrounded Ungrounded
ungrounded solidly grounded resistance
System grounded or grounded or grounded
grounded
AC/DC AC/DC
Voltage AC AC AC AC AC & DC AC & DC
& DC & DC
Application Mining Processing Mining Processing Trailing cables up to 5kV Power distribution Trailing Mining processing
Power generation Power generation Shaft power supply
Power distribution Mobile Gensets up to 10KV
Type IR470LY IR475LY RCM 460Y RCMA 470LY RC48 C RC 48 N HW 135 RM 475 IREH470Y
Response value 1..200kOhm 2...500kOhm 30...300mA 30mA...3A I� 0,1...10A I� 0,1...10A I� 1...10A 50...1000 Ohm 0,1...2M/0,5..10M
Ground continuity and shorted Ground continuity and shorted
1 Alarm 2 Alarms voltage and current monitoring of grounding conductor for low and high
Notes external CT external CT ground monitoringvia ground ground monitoring via ground 2 Alarms
LED-Bargraph LED-Bargraph grounding resistor resistance and shorted
check wire check wire
Type IRDH275 RCM465Y RCMA 475LY
Response value 1k...10MOhm 30...300mA 30...500mA
Notes
2 Alarms
LC-Display internal CT 18mm internal CT Selection Guide for
Ground Fault Relays
Type
Response value
IRDH375
1k...10MOhm
RCM 470LY
10mA...10A
* Data sheets available at:
2 Alarms
Notes
LC-Display external CT
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www.bender.org
-Products
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Type IRDH575 RCM 475LY
Response value 1k...10MOhm 10mA...10A
Notes for ground fault location internal CT
Type W-, WR-, WS- series W...A series
Response value
Notes standard, split-core, rectangular 35...210mm
page 1 of 1 selection guide (2) for relays.xls
BENDER Inc.
700 Fox Chase
Coatesville, PA 19320
Tel. (800) 356 - 4266
Fax. (610) 383 - 7100
E-mail: info@bender.org