What is Grounding or Earthing?
To connect the metallic (conductive) Parts of an Electric appliance or installations to the earth (ground) is called Earthing or Grounding.
In other words, to connect the metallic parts of electric machinery and devices to the earth plate or earth electrode (which is buried in the moisture earth) through a thick conductor wire (which has very low resistance) for safety purpose is known as Earthing or grounding.
To earth or earthing rather, means to connect the part of electrical apparatus such as metallic covering of metals, earth terminal of socket cables, stay wires that do not carry current to the earth. Earthing can be said as the connection of the neutral point of a power supply system to the earth so as to avoid or minimize danger during discharge of electrical energy.
Earthing can be done in many ways. The various methods employed in earthing (in house wiring or factory and other connected electrical equipment and machines) are discussed as follows:
1) Plate Earthing:
In plate earthing system, a plate made up of either copper with dimensions 60cm x 60cm x 3.18mm (i.e. 2ft x 2ft x 1/8 in) or galvanized iron (GI) of dimensions 60cm x 60cm x 6.35 mm (2ft x 2ft x ¼ in) is buried vertical in the earth (earth pit) which should not be less than 3m (10ft) from the ground level.
For proper earthing system, follow the above mentioned steps in the (Earth Plate introduction) to maintain the moisture condition around the earth electrode or earth plate.plate earthing, plate grounding.
2) Pipe Earthing:
A galvanized steel and a perforated pipe of approved length and diameter is placed vertically in a wet soil in this kind of system of earthing. It is the most common system of earthing.
The size of pipe to use depends on the magnitude of current and the type of soil. The dimension of the pipe is usually 40mm (1.5in) in diameter and 2.75m (9ft) in length for ordinary soil or greater for dry and rocky soil. The moisture of the soil will determine the length of the pipe to be buried but usually it should be 4.75m (15.5ft).Pipe Earthing and Grounding
3) Rod Earthing:
It is the same method as pipe earthing. A copper rod of 12.5mm (1/2 inch) diameter or 16mm (0.6in) diameter of galvanized steel or hollow section 25mm (1inch) of GI pipe of length above 2.5m (8.2 ft) are buried upright in the earth manually or with the help of a pneumatic hammer. The length of embedded electrodes in the soil reduces earth resistance to a desired value.
4) Earthing through the Waterman:
In this method of earthing, the waterman (Galvanized GI) pipes are used for earthing purpose. Make sure to check the resistance of GI pipes and use earthing clamps to minimize the resistance for proper earthing connection.
If stranded conductor is used as earth wire, then clean the end of the strands of the wire and make sure it is in the straight and parallel position which is possible then to connect tightly to the waterman pipe.
5) Strip or Wire Earthing:
In this method of earthing, strip electrodes of cross-section not less than 25mm x 1.6mm (1in x 0.06in) is buried in a horizontal trenches of a minimum depth of 0.5m. If copper with a cross-section of 25mm x 4mm (1in x 0.15in) is used and a dimension of 3.0mm2 if it’s a galvanized iron or steel.
If at all round conductors are used, their cross-section area should not be too small, say less than 6.0mm2 if it’s a galvanized iron or steel. The length of the conductor buried in the ground would give a sufficient earth resistance and this length should not be less than 15m.
General method of Earthing / Proper Grounding Installation (Step by Step)
The usual method of earthing of electric equipments, devices and appliances are as follow:
1. First of all, dig a 5x5ft (1.5×1.5m) pit about 20-30ft (6-9 meters) in the ground. (Note that, depth and width depends on the nature and structure of the ground)
2. Bury an appropriate (usually 2’ x 2’ x 1/8” (600x600x300 mm) copper plate in that pit in vertical position.
3. Tight earth lead through nut bolts from two different places on earth plate.
4. Use two earth leads with each earth plate (in case of two earth plates) and tight them.
5. To protect the joints from corrosion, put grease around it.
6. Collect all the wires in a metallic pipe from the earth electrode(s). Make sure the pipe is 1ft (30cm) above the surface of the ground.
7. To maintain the moisture condition around the earth plate, put a 1ft (30cm) layer of powdered charcoal (powdered wood coal) and lime mixture around the earth plate of around the earth plate.
8. Use thimble and nut bolts to connect tightly wires to the bed plates of machines. Each machine should be earthed from two different places. The minimum distance between two earth electrodes should be 10 ft (3m).
9. Earth continuity conductor which is connected to the body and metallic parts of all installation should be tightly connected to earth lead.
10. At last (but not least), test the overall earthing system through earth tester. If everything is going about the planning, then fill the pit with soil. The maximum allowable resistance for earthing is 1Ω. If it is more than 1 ohm, then increase the size (not length) of earth lead and earth continuity conductors. Keep the external ends of the pipes open and put the water time to time to maintain the moisture condition around the earth electrode which is important for the better earthing system.
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