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DeterminingZe.
DeterminingZe.
Zeistheresistanceoftheearthpathexternaltotheinstallation.Itisoneofthe'characteristicsofthesupplyatthe
originoftheinstallation'neededtoberecordedonthe1stpageoftheCompletionCertificateorthePeriodic
InspectionReport.Itcanonlybemeasuredbytestingattheoriginoftheinstallation.Allparallelearthpaths
shouldbedisconnectedfromthemainearthterminalbeforethetest.Anyotherearthpathsleftconnectedcould
concealthefacttheintendedmeansofearthingisdefective.TheinstrumenttobeusedtomeasureZeistheLoop
ImpedanceTester.Theinstrumentisalwaysconnectedtotheincomingsupplyatthepointthesupplyconnectsto
themainisolatororasnearaspracticaltothatpointandthereadingtaken.
Seepoints1,2&3inFig.1below.
TypicalvaluesforZegivenoutbyREC'sare
TNCS,orPME,0.35ohms
TNS,orcablesheath,0.8ohms
ForaPMEorTNCSsystem,apracticalvalueonamediumsizeinstallationwithit'sownsubstationwouldbein
theorderof0.1ohmsorless.TheinstallationswhereTNShasbeeninstalledaregettinglesscommon.Youwill
comeacrossthatmethodofearthingonsomeolderinstallations.
ForaTTsystem,ZewouldbetheresistancevalueoftheearthelectrodefortheRCD.This,fora30mAdevice
couldtheoreticallybequitehigh.
ThemaximumvoltagethatshouldappearonanyearthedmetalworkduringafaultconditiononaTTsystemis50
volts,thereforeusingohmslaw
R=50/0.03=1666ohms.
ThatisthemaximumZevalueallowableonaTTsystemwitha30mARCDdevice.Themaximumpracticalearth
resistancehowevershouldnotexceed200ohms,anyvaluesrecordedhigherthanthatshouldresultinfurther
investigationasthevalueofZecouldbeunstable.
WhydoweneedtomeasureZe?
InordertoverifycompliancewithBS7671,knowledgeoftheearthfaultloopimpedanceisrequiredforeach
circuitthatreliesonEarthedEquipotentialBondingandAutomaticDisconnectionofsupply(EEBAD)forindirect
contactprotection.Iftheearthfaultloopimpedanceisnotofasufficientlylowvalue,thecurrentthatflowsduring
afaultwillnotbegreatenoughtooperatetheprotectivedevicewithinthetimepermittedtoprovideprotection
againstelectricshock.Itisnotunknownforafaulttooccurandforthecircuittoremaininadangerousstatefora
verylongtimeduetoexcessivelyhighloopimpedance's.
Zeattheinstallationsourcemustalwaysbemeasuredandneverguessedatorassumedtobesomethingbasedon
informationissuedbyothers,otherthanatthedesignstages.
Atypicalfaultlooppathisshowninfigure1.

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Ze

Z2RECSupplyPhase

Z3,(R1,PhaseCond)
Load

Z1
Transformer

RECNeutral

Fig.1

Fault
Z5EarthPath
Z4(R2,CPC)

Points1,2&3representthemainincomerphaseconnectiontotheisolator,theincomerneutralpoint,andthe
Source
mainearthterminalorMET.
Thecircuitisshownwithaphasetoearthfault,whichforcalculationpurposeshastobeassumedisofnegligible
impedance.Attheinstanceofthefault,currentwillflowthroughthephasewindingofthetransformer,alongthe
supplyphaseconductoruptothefault,andthenalongtheCPCbacktothetransformer.Theearthpathcouldbe
alongtheneutralinaTNCSsystem,astheearthandneutralwouldbeconnectedattheincomingRECsupply
point.ZeisthetotalimpedanceofZ1+Z2+Z5.

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