- General information
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- Electrical safety
- Human sensitivity to electricity
- Mains wiring
- USA/Canada wiring regulations
- Mains wiring in Europe
- Color codes for cables used in Europe
- Mains wiring in Finland
- Wiring tools
- Power quality
- UPS systems and emergency power
- Power conversion
- Mains surge protection
- Electrical distribution networks and electrical utilities
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Electrical Wiring Page
- 3 Phase Alternating Current Rate this link
- Glossary of Technical Terms Rate this link
- How Power Distribution Grids Work - Power travels from the power plant to your house through an amazing system called the power distribution grid. Rate this link
- IEEE Historical FAQs - Why did the US choose 120v for household current and Europe choose 220v? Why does US use 60 cycles and Europe use 50 cycles? Rate this link
- How Nuclear Power Works Nuclear power plants provide about 17 percent of the world's electricity. Some countries depend more on nuclear power for electricity than others. In the United States, nuclear power supplies about 15 percent of the electricity overall, but some states get more power from nuclear plants than others. There are more than 400 nuclear power plants around the world, with more than 100 in the United States. Have you ever wondered how a nuclear power plant works or how safe nuclear power is? In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will examine how a nuclear reactor and a power plant work. Rate this link
- What is Electricity? - Electricity is a form of energy. Electricity is the flow of electrons. Electricity is a basic part of nature and it is one of our most widely used forms of energy. We get electricity, which is a secondary energy source, from the conversion of other sources of energy, like coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power and other natural sources, which are called primary sources. Rate this link
Electrical power is a little bit like the air you breathe: You don't really think about it until it is missing. Electricity is a form of energy. Electricity is the flow of electrons. When electrons are "lost" from an atom, the free movement of these electrons constitutes an electric current. Electricity is a basic part of nature and it is one of our most widely used forms of energy. We get electricity, which is a secondary energy source, from the conversion of other sources of energy, like coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power and other natural sources, which are called primary sources. Many cities and towns were built alongside waterfalls (a primary source of mechanical energy) that turned water wheels to perform work. Commercial scale generation began slightly over 100 years ago. Beginning with Benjamin Franklin's experiment with a kite one stormy night in Philadelphia, the principles of electricity gradually became understood. In the mid-1800s, Thomas Edison changed everyone's life by introducing the electric light bulb. Edison's invention used electricity to bring indoor lighting to our homes. Power travels from the power plant to your house through an amazing system called the power distribution grid. It consists of lots of wire, transformers and controlling equipment. The power transformer deveoped by George Westinghouse allowed electricity to be efficiently transmitted over long distances. Long distance power transfer uses very high voltages (up to hundreds of kilovolts) to avoid power (at higher voltage you need less current so supply same amount of power). This made it possible to supply electricity to homes and businesses located far from the electric generating plant
An electric utility power station uses either a turbine, engine, water wheel, or other similar machine to drive an electric generator or a device that converts mechanical or chemical energy to electricity. Steam turbines, internal-combustion engines, gas combustion turbines, water turbines, and wind turbines are the most common methods to generate electricity. All commercial electrical generators of any size generate what is called 3-phase AC power. The 3-phase power leaves the generator and enters a transmission substation at the power plant. For power to be useful in a home or business, it comes off the transmission grid and is stepped-down to the distribution grid. The voltage from transmission grid is stepped-down to mains voltage (120V or 230V AC) before it enters typical house.A typical house needs only one of those phase (in some countries 3 phases to house is common).
Basically mains wiring (110/120V or 230V) is relatively simple to wire and connect and does not require a lot of special equipment or handling. But that wiring needs to be right, because wrong wiring can cause fires and kill people. You can virtually eliminate most dangers with a little knowledge and proper safety practices. Safety is of utmost importance when working with electricity. Be very careful with electricity.So if you are not confident in wiring up mains sockets, get some one who is, or better still, get a qualified electrician in to do it for you. And even if you know how to do it correctly, then getting a qualified electrician to do that might be a good idea for potential liability and legal reasons (in many countries making electrical installion is very regulated who can do what). Electrical codes codes around the world require wire that is well insulated, right size for the application (generally thick enough that it does not heat too much), has enough physical protection for the application and has right wire colors in it.
Many different wires are used in mains wiring for different applications. The size of the wire determines the current it can carry and the insulation the maximum operating voltage. The most commonly used interior wiring in USA is a 12 or 14-gauge NM (nonmetallic) sheathed cable, sometimes called "Romex." Within the cable are plastic-coated copper wires, colored for each function. In Europe the wiring (normal outlets, lighting etc.) is generally done using quite similar cable which has wires with thickness of 1.5mm^2 (10A circuits) or 2.5mm^2 (16A circuits). In USA you most wiring us done using 14 AWG (15A circuits) or 12 AWG (20A) circuits.
There are two considerations when selecting the right wire size for electrical installation: voltage drop and heat buildup. The smaller the wire is, the higher the resistance is. When the resistance is higher, the wire heats up more, and there is more voltage drop in the wiring. The installation enviroment and wire ratings can have effect on the minimum wire thickenss that can be used: Inside wall you need to use thicker wires (heats less) than in ssytems where the freely circulating air can cool down the wires. Also the short circuit situations needs to be considered, the wire must be thick enough to burn the fuse (or trip the beaker) before it gets danegrously hot. Electrical wiring regulations give the figures what are the minimum wire thicknesses to use in different situations.
There are some very specific exceptions, where use of smaller than the normally needed wire thickness is allowed. The obvious one is the line cord on most lamps. Neither heating or voltage drop effect is very significant over very short distances. Don't try to use thin wires unless you're certain that your use fits one of the allowed exceptions. You can never go wrong by using larger "full size" wire or thicker.
Safe electrical installation demands many safety devices. Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices. Overloading electrical circuits is extremely dangerous and should not be permitted at any time. The main job of the fuse or circuit breaker is to protect the wiring. Fuses should be sized and located to protect the wire they are connected to. Circuit breakers and fuses are protective devices that control the power going to a particular route of wiring. In case of an overload or a short on that circuit, the breaker trips and automatically shuts off power to that circuit. Ground fault circuit breakers offer protection against more than just overloads. Any house that has been properly wired by a qualified electrician will have a circuit breaker panel that are used to shut circuits off in the event that they draw too much current. It is the current capacity of circuit breaker (in amperes) that determines how much current a circuit can supply. The breaker size is chosen relative to the type of cabling and connector used for the circuit, as each have different capacities.
When making repairs to the electronic wiring system or equipment that part of wiring of equipment needs to be disconnected from the mains voltage so that there are no dangerous voltage presentwhen the work is done. This is the general case in all electronicsand electrical repairs (there are very few exceptions what is allowed to be done when power is applied). In in order to disconnect the some form of reliable method of isolation between the mains network and place to be repaired needs to be provided. There are many specific safety related regulations on this kind of power disconnecting devices. The disconnecting device can be a detecheable plug (like in normal mains equipment), a special dafety switch of some form orin some cases a removable fuse. No electronic switching device fulfils this safety isolation requirement. The reasons for this is that in those there may also be a measurable and tangible voltage at the motor terminal even if the switching device is switched off. In additional a typical failing mode of most electronic switching devices is that the output remains energized even if the control signal is removed!
Remember the safety when using electricity. Do not do anything you do not have total confidence in your ability to do when working with electicity. There are many potential dangers. When wiring up electrical outlets, if you reverse the hot and the neutral lines, you can actually create a lethal voltage potential between the outlets. If you should ever run wiring in your house, you need to make sure that the breaker that you use matches the capabilities of the wiring.
When wiring anything the power must be turned off to work safely. So when doing the wiring, turn of the power and make sure it is off with measuring instruments to be sure that the wires do not have power in them. Make also sure that nobody else can turn on the power while you or somebody else is working with the wiring. Professional electricians will put a little warning sign over any breakers, switches, etc. that are shut off that says essentially, "if you turn on power here, you'll kill someone." Make sure you have one. In many plases the electricians hang a lock to the electrical panel to lock out the main power switch and/or the breaker of the circuit they are workign with. The sign describe is attached to the lock and has your picture on it, contact information, and contact information for your supervisor and employer. The technicians would put padlocks that only they had keys for on switches when they powered something down. If you have not had the correct training, you can not safely lock out equipment. For safety reasons you should stay far away from the main electrical distribution panel unless you are knowledgeable in this kind of things. That thing is dangerous, there are many non obvious mistakes you can make if you are not an experienced electrician. You can hurt yourself, burn down the building, damage stuff attached to the electrical system, and can hurt even someone working for the power company outside the house. There is a reason why good industrial electricans charge a lot for their services: they work with dangerous stuff, and they know what they are doing. It is illegal in most places to do the work with electrical wiring and panels unless you're a licensed electrician.
Electricity is measured in units of power called watts (named to honor James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine). One watt is is a quite small amount of power. A kilowatt represents 1,000 watts. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is equal to the energy of 1,000 watts working for one hour. Around 750 watts is equal one horsepower.
- Three-Phase Voltage Introduction Rate this link
- 3-Phase Balanced & Open Leg Networks - Illustration of three-phase voltages and current for Delta and Wye circuits. Rate this link
Single phase power has the mains voltage (typically 120V AC or 230V AC depending on the country) between two wires: live and neutral. The frequency of DC voltage is 50 or 60 Hz depending on the country.Single-phase power is used in very many applications, for example to power all typical home electrical appliances. You get single-phase power from normal elecrical outlet in home. Distributing single-phase power takes two wires: live and neutral. In some cases an extra safety ground wires is used to provide increased user safety.In three phase power system the generator the generates electricity produces three voltages. Each voltage rises and falls at the same frequency (50 Hz or 60 Hz depending on the country). However, the phases are offset from each other 120 degrees. Electrical utilities generate and transmit three-phase power. Commercial electrical generators of any size generate three-phase AC power. The 3-phase power leaves the generator and enters a transmission substation at the power plant. Three phase power is commonly found in industrialapplications and electrical distribution. Three-phase electricalgeneration is very common and is a more efficient use of conductorsthan other systems. Three phase power is particularly useful in AC motors, where it can be used to generate a rotating magnetic field easily and efficiently. Practically all large electrical motors used in heavy industry use three phase power. Three phase power distribution saves copper for the following reason:At the load end of the circuit the return legs of the three phasecircuits can be coupled together at the neutral point, where the threecurrents sum to zero. This means that the currents can be carriedusing only three cables, rather than the six that would otherwise beneeded. In practical applications the three phase power is wired either with only three phase wires or three phase wires plus neutral wire systems. In addition to those there can be a separate safety ground wire.Three phase 230V/400V is the standard way for three phase powerdistribution in Europe to homes. The ouput from mains transformer isY-conneted. There is 230V AC from each phase to neutral and 400V ACfrom phase to phase. The normal 230V electrical outlets are wiredbetween neutral and one phase. Large high power loads use all threephases (the indivudual loads in such equipment can be phase to neutralor phase to phase as needed).
- Safety isolation transformer with 110V output
- Autotransformer type 220V to 110V converters
- Electrical 220V to 110V converters
- Safety isolation conversion transformer with 110V input and 220V output
- Autotransformer type conversion tranformer from 110V to 220V
- Use two live "phases" coming to electrical panel directly (this gives 220V voltage but instead of normal live and neutral wires, you have two live wires, this might not suit for all appliances and might need extra fuses etc..)
- First: The 220/240 - 110 Volt thing. Most equipment which is destined (or orginates from) the US, is dedicated 110VAC stuff. This means you will require a step-down transformer, in order for your equipment to operate correctly at 220-240V AC voltage.
- Second: The US uses 60Hz mains frequency. This MAY be a problem, depending on how smart the manufacturer is. Many US manufacturers (and far fewer Japanese manufacturers) employ power transformers which will only operate satisfactorily on 60Hz. When operating at 50Hz, they will often exhibit various problems, which may or may not be objectionable. If your equipment has mains voltage operated motors, the frequency difference usually causes lots of problems.
- Third: The US electrical safety standards are not the same as European ones. Some products may not operate correctly, or to the requisite safety required by your local authorites. Don't forget: The US mains Voltage, is far less lethal than European mains supplies. As a consequence, safety standards in the US are not as high. For safety reasons it is recommended that if you run equipment from USA in Europe, connect it through a safety isolation transformer to mains power feed (isolation transformer that gives 110V AC output).
- Fourth: There could be problems with radio equipment. FM de-emphasis and frequency steps may be different to your local area, thus FM reception may not be ideal. AM frequency steps may also be different. Many other radio equipment that have transmitter use different frequency ranges than European counterparts and are not type-approved for use in Europe (which means that you are not alloed to use them in Europe).
- First: The 220/240 - 110 Volt thing. Most equipment which is destined for European markets, is dedicated for 230VAC stuff. This means you will require a step-up transformer, in order for your equipment to operate correctly from 110V AC outlet. Some European equipment have options inside equipment to adjust the voltage, so check the manufacturer for this.
- Second: The US uses 60Hz mains frequency where Europe uses 50 Hz. The transformers designed for 50 Hz operation generally work also well with 60 Hz mains power, so the frequency change to this direction is not a major problem. If your equipment has mains voltage operated motors, the frequency difference usually causes lots of problems. Many equipment have been damaged by using them on the 50 Hz mains, when they were designed for 60 Hz only.
- Third: The US electrical safety standards are not the same as European ones. Usually the European safety standard are higher, so generally this is not a problem, but there can be special cases where the differences in regulations can be a problem.
- Fourth: There could be problems with radio equipment. FM deemphasis and frequency steps may be different to your local area, thus FM reception may not be ideal. AM frequency steps may also be different. Many other radio equipment that have transmitter use different frequency ranges than USA counterparts and are not type-approved for use in USA (which means that you are not alloed to use them in USA).
- Fifth: be careful with the selection of travel converter and the use of it. Be very careful using a travel converter that is not a real transformer. The electronic ones damage a lot of equipment. Many devices have been damaged by both these solid state travel converters.
- An introduction to World Power Standards - in almost all areas, power is generated and distributed as a three phase suppy, only the voltage, frequency, and end presentation differ Rate this link
- Electric power around the world Rate this link
- Guide to Worldwide Plug/Socket Patterns and Power Mains (single phase) Rate this link
- International Power and Standards Conversion Rate this link
- Mains Voltage Data Sheet Rate this link
- Solving the Riddle of International Electricity Rate this link
- Voltage, frequencies and types of electrical power from around the world - includes descriptions also on 3 phase systems Rate this link
- World Electric Guide - This is a guide to some important issues when deciding to use your electrical appliances in another country. It includes a table describing electrical systems worldwide, illustrations of electrical plugs you may run across, advice on using your computer and other general advice that you may find helpful. Finally, there is a list of sources for electrical travel accessories. Rate this link
- World Plug and Socket Standards Rate this link
- VOLTAGE, FREQUENCIES and TYPES of POWER from around the world - A listing of voltage, frequencies and types of power used in different countries around the world.. Rate this link
- Important Note on 220-to-110 Volt Transformers Rate this link
- Grounding/Earthing in Thailand - This article explains why you should consider electrical grounding, our experiences in Thailand, and generally how grounding is done. Rate this link
The electricity is not the same in all the countries. There are differences in the mains connector type, voltage, mains frequency and electrical safety practices in different countries. The nominal voltage is typically at 100-120V or 220-240V range on normal electrical outlets. The mains frequency can vary being typically 50 Hz or 60 Hz. The grounding arrangements and some other safety details vary from country to country.
Within the European Community the mains voltage is currently 230V +10/-6% (50Hz) between the LIVE and the NEUTRAL terminals, together with a separate protective EARTH terminal.
In USA two live (hot) wires each separately provide 120 volts (60 Hz) relative to the neutral wire and go to wall outlets to run low power devices (lights, TVs etc.). In USA permantly wired power hungry devices like electric stoves, water heaters and some air conditioners which require 240 volts are connected across the two live or hot wires. In the rest of the world various supply schemes are employed, ranging in voltage from about 100V to around 250V.
European standards are different from US standards because they are intended for use in different overall regimes. Often the concepts for safety in US standards and European standards are simply different, and rely on differences in the surrounding environments for even similar products. Wiring, earthing, field terminations, power distribution schemes etc. are simply different, and are not under the control ofthe organizations who write standards.
There are historical reasons for those differences. In the mains frequency issues the reasons for the following: Many frequencies were used in the 19th Century for various applications, with the most prevalent being the 60 c/s supplied by Westinghouse-designed central stations for incandescent lamps. The development of a synchronous converter which operated best at 60 cycles encouraged convergence toward that standard. Around 1900, the introduction of the high-speed turbine led to settlement on two standards: 25 cycles for transmission and for large motors (this had been a compromise decision at Niagara Falls), and 60 cycles for general purpose systems. Meanwhile, in Germany, AEG (which used 50 cycles) had a virtual monopoly, and this standard spread to the rest of the continent.The selection of mains voltage: It appears that the 120 were chosen somewhat arbitrarily. Edison came up with a high-resistance lamp filament he thought desirable to keep distribution losses down. The voltage of the original electrical systems were determined by thenumber of light bulbs in a string, obviously because at that time the only thing connected to the electrical system were light bulbs. So around 110V (110-120V) was chosen because it was a convenient number of lights. In 1882, he applied for patents on a 3-wire system which gave 220v transmission with 110v lamps. The Japanese took it one notch lower, they standardized on 100VAC. In Europe it happened so that 220V was considered to be suitable to be distributed directly to the consuming devices. UK happened to choose a little bit higher voltage 240V. European standardization has lead now to situation that the whole Europe has migrated to 230V standard (230V +- so much that both 220V and 240V stay within the limits).
Both 120V and 230V systems works in real life use and have proven to be good and safe enough. 120VAC works just fine as general purpose distribution system, it just need somewhat more copper to transfer the same power. And it's safer, withless potential for shock. 230V system wil build the electrical distribution wiring somewhat cheaper and is better in powering high power equipment. Besides, in the U.S. anyone can have 240VAC just by installing both phases to the same socket (special 240V socket used typically by air conditiong devices).
When connecting equipment to outlets on different country you need to check the voltage available before plugging the device in. Usually different countries have different types of electrical outlets so uusally you can't plug your equipment in without a suitable plug adapter. But when thinking of using a plug adapter, be sure to knwo what you do so that you don't try to plug an equipment to a wrong voltage outlet. This means that when appliances made for use in North/South America (for 120V AC) are plugged into a 220-240V outlet, the universal motors in many appliances go faster than it was designed to, damaging or destroying the appliance. Also the equipment that are designed to heat something will heat up at much higher power than they are designed to meaning damage to the device. Devices with electronics in then can also be severely damaged because much higher voltages than they are designed to gets to the device. Depeding on the case 120V AC equipment plugged to 220V will cause burned fuse and/or severe damaged equipment.
In order to use a North/South American 110/125V appliance abroad in country that uses 220-240V voltage, it is necessary to convert (or Stepdown) the 220/250 volt electricity to 110/125 volts with either a converter or transformer. Things do not work on other way either. If you plug equipment designed for 220-240V operation to 120V AC outlet in USA, it will not work properly. Usually the equipment does not get damaged in the same way as if ypu plug equipment to higher voltage, but damages are possible. Appliances made for use in countries other than the Americas and rated 220-240 Volts AC when used in a 110-120 Volt Alternating Current Country will need to convert (or Step Up) the 110-120 Volt electricity to 220-240 Volts with either a Step Up Converter or Transformer.
The needed conversion transformer are available from electronics and electrical supplies. Before goign to buy a trnasformer you need to determine what kind of conversion do you need to do (from 220V to 110V or other way aound), how much your equipment you want to power with it need power (the covnerter needs to be rated for this power or higher power), what type of equipment it is (is it electronic equipment or simple heater type device), what are the connectors you need to have on yout transformer, is the device planned to be used continuously for long time and is the conversion anyway feasible (check that the equipment can work at the mains frequency on the site). The most common needs for converter are for people who come from 110V couintry with their equipment to 220V country. They have a selection of following conversion transformer types:
In addition to the transformer type converters there are also "electronic converters" that boast having over 1000W power ratings in a very small and lightwirght package. Those are not real transformers. They are devices that take the input 220V and convert the output to some signal that has similar average voltage as 110V voltage, but the waveform usually something entirely different. The converter could work like a diode (passes only positive half of mains power to output, not ood for mains distribution system and will nto give accurate 110V output) or like a mains dimmer (passes only around half of each mains half cycle to output). This kind of converter can work with simple heater type loads (coffee maker for example, simple hair dryer), but should not be used for anything else. If you try to connect any equipment with transformers or electronics in it, the result could be permanently damaged equipment!
When you need to run 220V equipment at USA (normal maisn power 110V), you have the following options:
An increasing number of hair dryers, clothes steamers, laptop computers, and travel irons are dual voltage (110/240V). These dual voltage appliances can be used in countries with either 110-120 or 220-240V AC currents. You do not need to use a converter or transformer with these appliances. You may still need an adapter plug to plug the appliance into the wall outlet. To determine if your appliance is dual voltage, look for a 110/220 voltage switch or a label on the back of the appliance that reads 110/220V or 120/240V. The rating plate on your appliance will also indicate 110/220V or 120/240V if it is a dual voltage unit. If there is a voltage switch, always select the proper voltage setting for the country you're in before plugging the appliance into the electrical outlet. Nowadays there are also meny small electronics appliance power supplies that can handle both 110V and 220V voltages without any manual switching. Those devices are designed in such way that the devices will either automatically to switch to right voltage seting or are capable of taking any voltage from 100V to 240V AC (many laptop and digital camera power supplies are built in this way).
Today many information technology equipment use an IEC (CEE22) 10 amp rated three pin power input connector. This connector is then wired to the mains plug through suitable mains cable which plugs to mains plug in the country the device is operated. So those devices can be easily adpated form cointry to country which uses same mains voltage by simply changing the mains cable. The equipment which have switchable or automatic multi voltage power supply can operate in both 120V and 230V AC coutries. Most popular Notebook, Laptop and Handheld PCs have mains adaptors or chargers, with removable power-cords. On laptop adapters the connector for mains cords are usually IEC (CEE22) 10 amp connector or smaller IEC320 C5 type connector (used by IBM and Compaq).For most other equipment many companies sell power-plug adaptors designed to provide complete inter-changeability between power plugs and sockets all around the world. Those are ideal for equipment with fixed power-cords, or for people who simply prefer the convenience of an adaptor, they are equally suitable for visitors from abroad, as well as for travellers going overseas. Nowadays there are many small gadgets with the universal wall converters, you can plug into either voltage and it will work without any hassles.
If you are bringing equipment from USA to Europe, remember the following things:
Whatever you are doing, you need to be very careful when using equipment abroad. When moving electrical appliances from one country to another, you need to check many thigns to make judgement if it is feasible or not. One thing that needs to be considered is that electrical equipment apprived in one country might not be approved for use in some other country. Using appliances that are not approved in the country you use them can have effect on your liability effect, for example using them could be illegal and/or the insurance company might not pay for any damages if anything goes wrong (for example your equipment brough from abroad bursn down your house).
- Adequate earthing: This enables a fault current to flow safely and directly to the earth. Following the low resistance earthing path, a fault current will be sufficiently large to operate over-current protective devices within the required time.
- Adequate protection against earth leakage: Today, an increasing number of electrical appliances permit a small current to 'leak' into the protective conductor of the main wiring system of a home. This 'earth leakage' currentis, for each individual device, quite small but, when there are many items of equipment, the sum of the currents is large enough to be potentially dangerous. To avoid this danger, various design features (such as RCDs) should be installed in every domestic installation.
- Over-current protection: Circuits are designed to carry the expected load and are fitted with a protective device, i.e. a fuse or a circuit breaker. When the demand for current exceeds the rating of the protective device the circuit is disconnected.
- Correct sizing of wires: Inadequate conductor size can cause overheating. It should be stressed that wires that were acceptable some 25 or 30 years ago, when electricity demand was lower, are often inadequate today. In theory, assuming the over-current protection devices are correct, those older wires will not cause safety problems.
- Over-voltage protection: As electrical equipment in the home is becoming more sophisticated and more expensive (audio-visual entertainment, information technology equipment, white goods, etc.), the potential material loss due to over-voltage is increasing.
- use of weather-proof equipment and cables
- consistent use of 3-pin plugs (grounded plugs)
- avoidance of product or cable misuse
- avoidance of over-long cables (long cables have large resistance, causing more voltage loss on equipment use, and in ground fault case slower protection fuse operation and posbily higher fault voltages before fuse burns)
- unwinding the cable completely before using a retractable cable on a reel (to avoid cable oerheating)
- use of a local RCD
- Design and installation work is carried out in accordance with the standards in force at the time, using appropriate materials, techniques and equipment.
- The installation is properly maintained and, if necessary, modified to match the new needs and new safety standards.
- Energy levels of 240 VA or more.
- Stored energy levels of 20 J or more.
- Potentials in excess of 42.4 V peak (30 VRMS) or 60 VDC in dry areas.
- Potentials in excess of 10 VAC or DC in wet areas.
- Enclosures, shields, and covers that require a tool to open.
- Interlock switches on doors, shields, and ovens.
- Grounded or insulated handles, levers, knobs, shields and covers that are touched held or actuated in normal use.
- All systems shall be installed as intended by manufacturer and according local electrical codes.
- Any electrical installation, materials, equipment or apparatus within a workplace must be so designed, constructed, installed, protected, maintained and tested as to minimise the risk of electrical shock or fire.
- Electrical wall outlets should be free of cracks, breaks, or other obvious damage. Damaged outlets should be immediatly repaired.
- Personnel should conduct periodic inspections of all equipment to ensure that all cords are free of wear and splices, and that the casing or insulating covering is free of cracks, holes, or other damage.
- Any electrical equipment that is damaged, malfunctioning or shows signs of unusual, excessive heating or producing "burning" odors, should be pulled from service and submitted for repair by qualified personnel.
- If equipment produces shock, no matter how small, it should be removed from service and immediately repaired by a qualified electrician before returning to service.
- Avoid excess bending, stretching and kinking of electrical supply cords.
- Overloading electrical circuits is extremely dangerous and should not be permitted at any time. Significant amounts of heat can be generated by electrical leads which may lead to fires; especially if the current rating for the lead is exceeded.
- Ensure that the wire sizes of extension cords are capable of handling the load without heating. When using extension leads ensure that they are fully extended, not covered by mats, and not placed where they could be a tripping hazard. If extension cord is coiled or covered with mat, it's safe current carrying capacity can be seriously reduced.
- All electrically operated appliances that are designed to be grounded shall be effectively grounded. Tools or appliances protected by an approved system of double insulation, or its equivalent, need not be grounded
- All electrical equipment should bear the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory to guarantee that they are constructed safely.
- If the competent person decides the equipment is not safe to use, they must attach a durable tag warning not to use the equipment; the equipment must also be immediately withdrawn from use.
- Properly installed residual current device / earth leakage protection increases safety in dangerous locations. Residual current device should be periodically tested. Correct selection of the type of earth leakage protection is also important to avoid an unacceptable level of circuit tripping by the devices.
- It is important to ensure that all electrical extension leads are in good condition before they are used.
- The risk associated with electrical installations in hazardous atmospheres created by flammable gases, vapours from flammable liquids or combustible dusts should be carefully considered. Electrical appliances should either be specially designed equipment or be excluded from hazardous locations.
- Special circuit protection such as residual current devices (RCDs) or isolation transformers are required for specified electrical equipment in workshops, laboratories, construction sites and other outdoor areas.
- Patient treatment areas such as medical and dental surgeries have particular requirements on electrical safety.
- Electrical heating appliances are a common cause of fires. Where possible appliances should have thermostat control and thermal overload protection.
- Where electrical installations, equipment or extension leads are liable to damage from vehicles, other machinery or heavy people traffic, they should be protected from physical damage by appropriate covers or barriers.
- The use of multi-outlet power boards or cords can be potentially unsafe because of the potential for overloading, and inadequate protection of circuits. In hazardous or wet areas multi-outlet power boards should be secured in a safe position.
- All flexible cords will have two layers of insulation throughout their length, and will show no signs of excessive ware or physical damage.
- Cord sets intended to be permanently attached to an item of equipment will be securely clamped to that equipment (internally or externally).
- Class I devices are designed to have grounded metal case, which keep the leakage out of reach and burns mains fuse if there is short circuit to case.
- Class II equipment are designed to work without grounding. They have thicker insulation in wires and components connected to mains. Leakage current from Class II equipment is limited low so that it is safe to touch, and I think we don't have to care of electric shock too much when using correctly designed Class II equipment alone.
- The Fatal Current - Strange as it may seem, most fatal electric shocks happen to people who should know better. Here are some electro-medical facts that should make you think twice before taking that last chance. Rate this link
- Controlling Electrical Hazards - This article provides an overview of basic electrical safety for individuals with little or limited training or familiarity with electrical hazards. The concepts and principles presented will help further an understanding of OSHA's electrical safety standards for general industry, Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1910.302, Sub-part S-Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems, and 1910.331 Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices Standard (1990). Rate this link
- Dangerous Voltages Rate this link
- ECMA-287 Standard - safety of electronic equipment: office equipment, consumer electronic equipment, telecommunication terminal equipment, or a combination of the above Rate this link
- Effects of current passing through the human body Rate this link
- Electrical Safety - general information page Rate this link
- Safety and Health Topics: Electrical Rate this link
- Electrical Shock Rate this link
- UL Recommends Regular Testing of GFCIs - Be sure your GFCIs are working properly by testing them each month. Rate this link
- High Voltage Assemblies--Use Correct Wiring Methods and Label Properly Rate this link
- Home Electrical Safety Tips - Here are some checks you can make in your home today to ensure electrical safety. Rate this link
- Home Safety Council : Safety Guide - Home Safety Council?s website contains safety information, home safety research, checklists, safety tips, safety resources, safety quizzes, safety lesson Rate this link
- HSE Guidance Notes: Electrical Safety for Entertainers - If you are an entertainer (or work within an entertainment venue) who uses electrical equipment for sound, lighting or other effects, the information on this page is for you. As well as guidance for your safety there are some notes at the end about the law. Rate this link
- Protecting Patients - In any environment, be it that associated with health care or some other, problems occur when different electrical equipments-instruments- must be interconnected in order to pass information from one to the other. The use of the multiplicity of electrical and electronic devices required in the care of patients exposes them to ground currents directly. Rate this link
- Shock Hazard and Grounding - The power supply cord used on most modern electronic equipment has a three pin plug. This article will explain why the separate ground pin is used and why shock hazards will result if the ground system is defeated. Rate this link
- S?hk?turvallisuusluku s?hk?voimatekniikan opuksesta - electricla safety information in Finnish Rate this link
- The Fatal Current - Electrocution occurs when a small, specific amount of electrical current flows through the heart for 1 to 3 seconds Rate this link
While standards of safety in most areas of life are constantly improving, the safety of domestic electrical installations is not keeping pace. People expect to be at their safest when in their own homes and tend not be aware of the risks that face them there. Incidents resulting from unsafe installations - deaths and injuries from fire and electrical shock - are preventable.
Electrical wiring system design is always a compromise between safety and cost. The practical systems are designed in such way that the wiring is "safe enough" in normal use, but is not horribly expensive. The safety requirements on the new installations are more strict than on old systems, but there are many quite old electrical installations in use and will be in use for long time. The current completion rate for new build dwellings implies the average lifetime of a European dwelling is 200 years and the majority of European housing stock (60%) is already over 30 years old. Unless these buildings are properly adapted, maintained and renovated, their technical installations become progressively less suited to the higher standards of functionality, security and safety required by today's society.
dwellings. The consequences of electric shock range from transitory discomfort to death, depending on the severity, timing and duration of the shock. Typically, the internal resistance between two limbs is a few hundred ohms. Current paths between both arms (the most likely path) and between a leg and an arm are the most hazardous because the current will pass through the area of the heart as well as through the muscles that control breathing. The physiological effects of a 50 Hz current vary with current magnitude, timing and duration and with the contact points on the body. The heart is particularly sensitive to shock during the period of recovery from excitation during each heartbeat. This means that the response to short shocks is unpredictable - a person may survive several severe short shocks by chance, so gaining a false sense of security, and yet be killed by a similar shock in the future.
Installation standards require that electrical installations are designed to ensure that the users of the installation are not exposed to dangerous shocks. Designing for electrical safety is a technical issue for which regulations, standards and technical solutions exist. At the end of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century, when public use of electricity started, standardisation bodies emerged in most European countries and in USA. Their establishment was largely stimulated by insurance companies whose interest was to reduce their fire losses but was also necessary because of the potential hazards of electric shock.
Much of the world considers 220 V (220-240V) to be safe enough for standard residential outlets and lighting. Within the European Community the mains voltage is currently 230V +10/-6% (50Hz) between the LIVE and the NEUTRAL terminals, together with a separate protective EARTH terminal. When this high voltage is developed across the human body it could gives rise to a fatal electric shock. Therefore you MUST NOT under any circumstances simultaneously touch both the LIVE and the NEUTRAL terminals or you are very likely to die.
Those countries which use 120V considered that 220V to be to dangerous for most residental uses. For example USA, Canada and many other countris have selected 120V AC. This 120V AC voltage is still high enough to be able to cause fatal electric shock if you touch both live and neutral wires at the same time.
Protecting electrical equipment and installations generally use the following protective measures:
Ensuring electrical safety requires that:
Remember that electric shocks can be fatal, even for voltages of 50 V, and that most of the resistance of the body is in the skin, so do not handle electrical apparatus with wet or even damp hands. Electricity kills a great many people worldwide every year. A current of 50mA (barely enough to make a low wattage lamp even glow) is sufficient to send your heart into a state called "ventricular fibrillation", where the heart muscles are all working out of synchronisation with each other. Little or no blood is pumped, and you will die within about 3 minutes unless help is immediately at hand. To avoid this kind of things to happen, the electrical installations and devices should be built in such way that people don't come in touch with the dangerous voltages. Different safety measures and standard exist for this. Insulation and grounding are two recognized means of preventing injury during electrical equipment operation. Conductor insulation may be provided by placing nonconductive material such as plastic around the conductor. Grounding may be achieved through the use of a direct connection to a known ground such as a metal cold water pipe.
The sole purpose of a safety ground in electrical wiring is to protect against hazardous fault currents - if there can be no fault than a ground is never needed. In theory the safest electrical supply is one that is totally isolated fromits environment. In such a case you can safely connect yourself to any part of the live circuit since there is no return path to carry a currentthrough your body. When you touch that isolated circuit, it is no longer isolated but is tied to ground at the point of contact, with your body as the potential fault current path. If a fault has previouslyoccured that caused another part of the circuit to be shorted to groundthen a return path will already exist, you will complete the circuit and acurrent will pass through your body. Whether the effect will be negligible, painful or fatal will depend only upon the fault impedences, potential difference and the current capacity of the supply.
Floating supplies are permissible in certain circumstances. For example in some places bathroom shaver sockets are isolated or even use this system - but the supply is provided by a current limiting isolation transformer. Floating supply is also recommended for medical life-support equipment where risks to human life due to an interruption ofthe supply are dominant. Floating supply in form of safety isolation transformer is also used in electronics laboratories to isolate the electronics equipment being tested or repaired from the mains supply. There is one wiring method that uses ungrounded power supply, it is called TT wiring. In TT wirign system you have to fit analarm that detects the first fault to earth & an RCD system to cope with any further faults to earth. You normally only bother with this system in very special situations.
Leakage to 'ground' is a very common occurrence and can arise due toinsulation failure, cable damage, water ingress, breakdown of capacitorsetc etc, all of which are particularly likely in a mobile, temporary installation with a large amount of equipment and huge quantities ofcabling running over metal edges on a truck. It can also occur capacitively - insulation acts as a dielectric and capacitance increases with area and so may become significant with large cable runs. Because of those risks, the normal electrical distribution safety is generally based on grounding. Most of the time, earthing everything in sight will work. Very occasionally, it doesn't. It depends on the detailed design of the earthing system.
Sometimes the safety level is expanded with other safety devices. RCDs detect an imbalance in the live and neutral currents. 30mA is usual, asnot being life threatening. This is always indicative of a fault situation, butthe current may be going anywhere.In most cases you puff and bluster to your hearts content about the theoretical safety of a totally isolated power installation but the fact remains that insulation faults can and do occur and if, as a result, someone were to be injured or electrocuted then you as the specifier, installer or user woul dbe morally, legally and financially liable. Operator Exposure safety details. Operators shall not be exposed to:
When working with electronic devices (repairing etc.) switch then off and disconnect from the mains. When you need to test live circuits, use properly sheathed probes and power the device through protection device such as isolation transformer. When working with mains voltage or higher voltage, make sure that there is someone else in the room and that he or she knows what you are doing. In normal operation electronics devices are designed such that they are safe to use. The insulation inside electronics devices must be good enough to withstand the majns voltage and overvoltage links. Even though there is insulation, there is always some leakages and potential for failures.
There eelectrical equipment are generally classified to several classes:
Safety Alert: As with any electrical project, make sure that the power to the circuit where you are working is turned off at the breaker box. Test the wires with a tester to make absolutely certain that the power is off. It's advisable to place a note reading "electrical work in progress" on the breaker box while you are working to make sure that someone else doesn't unknowingly turn the power back on while you are working.
The circuits which you are making connection must not be energized when you work with them. So you need to turn off the power before working with the wiring. If you are working on the wiring of a circuit (not just connecting device to outlet or similar), in repairing it, you should use a lock-out/tag-out system for your safety. Turn off the breaker(s) or remove fuses that affect the circuit and using aproper lock device with a key that only you have, lock it and tag it withyour name, date and reason why it is locked out. No one can randomly turnit back on w/o your knowledge since they would have to get the key from you. I which case, YOU are the only one that should be the one to re-energize that circuit. You are then the one responsible for whether or not the circuit is safe to reenergize.
Safety Alert:If you feel uncomfortable or unqualified to do electrical work yourself, then you should consider hiring a licensed electrician to do the work.
- BC Hydro conquers stray voltage on dairy farms - article from Rate this link
- Can 60 Hz. magnetic fields cause problems? - article from Rate this link
- Doctor: Low-level current can hurt humans - The key to understanding how stray voltage affects human health is a better understanding of the effect of electricity on the body, according to a neurologist who specializes in electrical injuries. Rate this link
- Electro Radiation - The frequencies that ELF AC systems use are very close to the natural brain rhythms of cerebrate creatures such as man. The pineal gland is the principal structure in the brain that is directly sensitive to the earth's magnetic field. As a result it functions abnormally when exposed to abnormal fields close to its own. Because the pineal gland produces a host of psychoactive chemicals (such as melatonin, dopamine, serotonin and others) its abnormal functioning can cause neurological and behavioural problems. Rate this link
- Electromog Basics - Electrosmog is present wherever power is generated from 50/60 Hertz AC electrical sources. Electrosmog is emitted from all electrical appliances, house wiring and power lines. Usually there are two main types of "electrosmog": electric field and magnetic field. Rate this link
- Mains power electric fields implicated in childhood leukemia cases Rate this link
- Powerlines and Cancer FAQs: Introduction - questions and answers on the connection between power lines, electrical occupations and cancer Rate this link
- StrayVoltage.org - intended to be a resource for stray voltage information and help foster community dialogue to find solutions to this important topic. Rate this link
- The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive - about electrosensitivity phenomenon and how to live with it Rate this link
- The Swedish Association For the Electrically and VDT Injured TECHNICAL GUIDE for the Electrically Sensitive - for people hypersensitive to electricity with some advice on how to manage everyday life by Rate this link
Human sensitivity to electricity
A number of years ago an awareness and concern about the effectsof power frequency EMFs arose. For a number of years it hadbeen known that electrical workers that were in close proximity to very strong magnetic or electric fields sometimes "saw" flashing lights or patternsthat were supposed to be due the action of these fields on the nervous system. This was obviously evidence of the fact that EMFs could have somedirect effects on a human directly, but little attention was paid other than as a curiosity. Today the average home or office is literally full of field producing devices. While the jury is still out on the biological effects ofthese fields on the human body, there is still sufficient evidence, both observed and anecdotal, that may be significant. It might be wise to take at leastsome precautions to try to minimize the production of these fields in new designs, and to check existing equipment for the presence of EMFs.Electric fields are not very strong in most parts of a house. High electric-field areas are found near TVs, computer monitors (including laptop computers), fluorescent lights, light dimmer controls, and improperly grounded equipment. Electric fields are measured in (V/m). Also the frequency of the field (Hz) is important.Magnetic fields are much more common in the home than are electric fields. Most of the recent health concerns have been about magnetic fields. Any wire that carries an AC electrical current produces magnetic fields. However, two wires are required to carry power to an appliance, and if the two wires are bundled parallel and very close together, the magnetic field from one will exactly cancel the field from the other. Thus, an extension cord rarely produces much magnetic field. Electromagnetic fields are measured in Tesla (nT) or Gauss (G). Also the frequency of the field (Hz) is important.Many experts nowadays agree there could a link between magnetic fields and some diseases. Laboratory studies have shown that electrosmog (electrical and magnetic fields) can affect living cells but it is unclear whether these effects are harmful. Some epidemiological studies have reported a possible link between electrosmog exposure and cancer. Other studies indicate that continuous exposure to levels as low as 2 Milligauss (mG) may be harmful. Current research is expected to provide more answers about potential health effects within the next few years (answers is there effect or not). There are some thoughs that magnetic fields from power lines could linked with cancer. A wide variety of EMF protective devices are on the market these days, despite lots of medical advice saying there is no hard evidence to prove the problem even exists.
- Basic Definitions Rate this link
- Degrees of Protection: Characteristics defined by the CEI 70-1 - IEC 529 - IEC 144 - UTE C 20-010 - DIN 40050 Standards - protection adainst persons touhing and ingress objects and protection against penetration of liquids Rate this link
- Summary Overview IEC 60947 Low-Voltage Switchgear - This paper is intended to review pertinent low voltage equipment standards of IEC and UL to provide a better understanding of their content and impact on the design and selection of products for application in electric power systems. This document is in pdf format. Rate this link
- Electricity in Buildings Rate this link
- Electric Power Distribution Rate this link
- Grounding Systems and Their Implementation - isolated star ground system is the most popular implementation of technical grounding for the purposes of grounding sensitive electronic equipment Rate this link
- Ground Resistance Principles, Testing, Techniques & Applications Rate this link
- Household Wiring - introduction Rate this link
- How Power Distribution Grids Work Rate this link
- Making Short-Circuit Calculations Easy - Using the new kVA method, you only need one calculation to determine the short-circuit values at every point within an entire electrical power system. Rate this link
- Rough Electrical - The purpose of the electrical system in a house is to distribute the power safely to all of the different rooms and appliances. This article tells about electrical wiring in typical house and how it is built. Rate this link
- Three Phase Transformer Info - check also Rate this link
- Ground Resistance Testing Principle Rate this link
- Arc Fault Home Page - arcing faults are one cause of electrical fires Rate this link
- Class AC devices are intended foruse with pure sinusoidal residual currents.
- Class A devices should be used if the residual current includes pulsating DC components.
- Class B is used when the current is DC or impulse DC.
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) page at UL Rate this link
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) - Understanding the Problem of Arc Faults and House Fires Rate this link
- Current Affairs: Ground Fault Protection Part 1 - Ground faults are low-level short circuits that may not be detected and interrupted by fuses or circuit breakers and thus require specialized protection. This article reviews the basics of ground fault protection of personnel as provided by receptacle circuit Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). Rate this link
- Current Affairs: Ground Fault Protection Part 2 - This article covers ground fault protection of equipment, intended to address another hazard of low-level ground leakage currents. Rate this link
- Cutler-Hammer Arc Fault Page Rate this link
- Development of LV Circuit Breakers to Standard IEC 947-2 - Today, conformity with standard IEC 947-2, published in 1989 and reviewed and completed in 1995, can be considered the an "all-risk insurance" guaranteeing a circuit breaker's fitness for use. Almost all countries have approved this standard. This technical document presents the advantages of this standard over the former IEC 157-1 standard and how to test devices. Rate this link
- Ground Fault Interrupter - Ground fault interrupters are designed to protect from electrical shock by interrupting a household circuit when there is a difference in the currents in the "hot" and neutral wires. This article tells how a GFCI operates and shows what is inside a GFCI protected outlet. Rate this link
- Low Voltage circuit-breaker breaking techniques - Successful short-circuit current breaking is dependent on a number of parameters of power source, lines and loads. This technical document describes the needs of circuit breaking devices and some techniques used in them. Rate this link
- The Arc Fault Homepage - This site is devoted to high power Arc Fault issues Rate this link
- The fuse-selection checklist: a quick update - a fuse-selection checklist now must include the I2t parameter Rate this link
- European and Japanese Fuses Rate this link
- Electrical safety grounds: Probably the most fundamental of all grounds, these are required by code to protect people from injury in the event of a short or "fault" that puts current onto an equipment housing. That's why the "U-ground" pin or other form of grounding connection is found on lots of appliance connections. One of the power wires, called the neutral (white conductor), is also normally grounded, but if something goes amiss with it, the "U-ground" keeps you safe. The building power ground goes to an "earth terminal," is bonded to building steel and is also carried to every electrical panel in the building. Code requires a building safety ground to have a ground resistance of 25 Ohms or less in USA.
- Lightning grounds: These are designed to conduct lightning strikes directly to ground so they don't damage the building or its electrical systems, or injure people. The intent is to carry the lightning strike to earth through the building steel or through wires run down the outside of the structure to rods driven into the ground. These ground rods are also bonded to the main electrical ground, as is the building steel.Lightning, by its nature, includes a large high frequency component, and should have very direct route to ground (doesn't bend corners very well)
- RF shielding and grounding: Radio frequencies are very high, and therefore have very short wavelengths. RF tends to find its way into everything, especially where it is not wanted. The only way to stop RFI (radio frequency interference) is with a virtually continuous grounded shield aroud the signal carryign wires and sentive electronics. Commonly seen in broadcasting, this type of grounding is achieved by making sure all metal parts are solidly bonded together -- essentially grounded everywhere. An RF shielded cabinet typically have doors that close against hundreds of small, spring bronze fingers or against some sort of metallic braid that forms a continuous electrical connection around the entire door edge.
- Electro-static grounds: After the mandatory electrical safety ground, this is what we want in electronics manufacturing factories, repair shops and in data centers. It's the reason we wear (or should wear) wrist straps when we work on micro-electronics and why we use anti-static floor tiles in data centers instead of carpet. Static discharge is just a personal lightning bolt, similar to lighting strike but lower in energy. The discharge may find its ground path right through our sensitive and expensive hardware, causing operation errors (data changes, computer "crashing" etc.) and possibly component damage. The smaller and faster our hardware becomes, the more vulnerable it is to static problems. We want to draw those electrons away from anything important and get them to ground as quickly and as completely as we can. If everything is well bonded to a robust and virtually omnipotent grounding system, that's the path any static discharges are going to take if the system leads back to the main building ground through a very low impedance path.
- TN-system: The mains distribution transformer is neutral earthed and electrical load frames are connected ot neutral. An insulation fault on a phase becomes a short-circuit and the faulty part is disconnected by a Short-Circuit Protection Device (SCPD). There are three variations of this: TN-C (same conductor acts as neutral and a protective conductor), TN-S (neutral and protective conductors are separate) and TN-C-S (a combination of TN-C and TN-S).
- TT-system: The mains distribution transformer is neutral earthed and electrical load frames are also earthed. The current of an insulation fault is limited by earth connnection impedance. Protection is provided by Residual Current Devices (RCD) which disconnects the faulty load when too much leakage current to ground exists.
- IT-system: The transformer neutral is not earthed (theoretically unearthed, practically connection to earth exist through stray capacitances in cables or voluntarily by high impedance of around 1500 ohms). The electrical load frames are earthed. If a single insulation fault occurs, a low fault current develops. The contact voltage developed in the frame (no mode than few volts) is not dangrous. The SCPDs and/or the RCDs provide the necessary protection against two simulaneous faults.
- Free Electrical Answers - free electrical answers from professional electrician Rate this link
- IEEE Power Electronics Society - organization Rate this link
- The CEE 7/7 ("Schuko") grounded plug is used as a standard in Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France; it is also used in Portugal and Spain. "Schuko" is rated for 10-16A 250V. variation of the CEE 7/4 plug with 4mm contacts is used in Eastern European countries and in some Soviet republics. Variations of the CEE 7 plug are also used in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Brazil. The thing to note on "Schuko" connector is that ithe connector can plugged to the mains outlet on two ways, interchanging which wire is live and which is neutral.
- Many small electronics appliances in Europe use small flat "Europlug" connector. The Europlug originated as CEE 7 and has been around for almost 30years. It is a clever design that fits all the historic national sockets in all European countries, except for the UK. IEC 884 is one spec for the "Europlug" (BS EN 50075). Europlug is used in small electrical and electronic devices that need no protective ground and consume less than 2.5 A.
- CeeForm (CEE 17 / IEC 309) is the European standard for highish-current connectors, available in 16, 32, 63 and 125A single and three-phase varients. The CeeForm connectors are widely used in Europe for connection of three phase power. Ceeform is water protected, so it will happily sit in the rain without tripping the mains out. Ceeforms are available in splashproof (IP44) and watertight (IP67) versions. The size of the device is determined by the amperage rating. It is virtually impossible to couple a plug and receptacle of different voltage and/or amperage ratings. CeeForm plug are available for maximum operating voltage of 600V RMS. CeeForm plugs are widely used in industrial applications.
- In USA NEMA Configurations for general-purpose nonlocking Plugs and Receptacles are generally used. Those configuarations and plugs are available for single phase, twoo phase and three phase power applications. The most commonly used being 15A plig wiring for single phase power (125V). The most common NEMA configurations are US Nema1-15P (2 pins non-grounded) and US Nema5-15P (3 pins grounded).
- The connector which is by far the most standard throughout the world is defined in IEC publication 320, standard sheets C13-14. IEC 320 standard C13-14 (also sometimes referred as sheet E) connector is a three pin gounded connector used for attaching the power cord to the equipment (you will see this kind of connector in the back of a typical desktop PC power supply). IEC 320 plugs may be earthed or not. An earthed IEC 320 plug will mate with a non-grounded male receptacle. In contrast, a non-earthed (2 pin) IEC 320 plug will not mate with an earthed version (3 pin) due to the pin configuration. The devices which use IEC 320 are limited to take 10 amperes or less mains current. The 10 amperes corresponds to the current rating of the connector itself and to two current carrying conductors of an the minimum size flexible cord that can be generally purchased to mate with the IEC 320 connector. IEC 320 plug is not used as power connector in the wall. It is only used in equipment and some special extension cords. It is possible when using cord sets that incorporate this connector to connect power to a product with any of nine different cord sets so that the product can be easily modified to operate anywhere in the world.
- IEC publication 320 standard sheets C15-16, is also used fairly frequently. This three pin connector is intended for service in higher temperature applications with service to 120 C and a current rating of 10 amps. This connector system incorporates a keyway which prevents entry of cable terminated connectors described in IEC 320 standard sheets C13-14. The C15-16 connector is generally specified as a rewireable device.
- IEC 320 standard sheets 19 & 20 describe a connector rated at 16A/250 (20A in North America) It is rated at 65oC and permits detachable power connections for higher power products.
- IEC320 C6 connector is a miniature version of IEC 320 E type connecvtor. The maximum current handling capacity of this connector is 2.5 amperes. You can see this kind of connector in many modern laptop computer power supplies.
- IEC320 C8 is a two pin small connector used in many small equipment (for example many radios). The current carrying capacity of this connector is 2 ampreres.
- PowerCon is a latching power connector, used to supply mains power (single phase) to equipment. It is similar to Neutrik's Speakon connector series (but does not mate to them for safety reasons). This kind of connectors are likely to be found only on equipment destined exclusively for the professional market (some countries prohibit use of them in domestic equipment). For example some professional power amplifiers and active speakers use this mains connector.
- CeeForm connectors (male), both single phase and three phase, are also used in some very high power equipments as power inlets.
- Ceeform 3 phase connector picture - standardized three phase power connector used around world, standardized in CEE 17, standard sizes: 125A, 63A, 32A and 16A Rate this link
- IEC 309-1 and IEC 309-2 pin & sleeve devices general information - IEC 309-2 configurations for plugs (or inlets) and receptacles (or connectors) are single-rated which assures proper mating of devices with the same voltage and amperage. It is virtually impossible to couple a plug and receptacle of different voltage and/or amperage ratings. The size of the device is determined by the amperage rating. plugs and receptacles of different amperage ratings are not compatible because of the size variance. Rate this link
- IEC 309-1 and IEC 309-2 Pin & Sleeve Devices - IEC 309-2 configurations for plugs (or inlets) and receptacles (or connectors) are single-rated which assures proper mating of devices with the same voltage and amperage. It is virtually impossible to couple a plug and receptacle of different voltage and/or amperage ratings.The size of the device is determined by the amperage rating. The voltage, of single rated Pin & Sleeve devices of the IEC 309-2 type, is determined by the location of the oversized female ground contact relative to the key-way located at the bottom of the housing. IEC 309 plugs and sockets are widely used for industrial purposes. Also known as CEE 17. Rate this link
- IEC 309 Connector Catalog - circular plastic connectors favoured in the temporary power distribution business and industry purposes, also known ad CEE 17 Rate this link
- IEC 309 connectors from Ericson - Catalogue with good pictures and descriptions of different pin & sleeve connectors of IEC 309 series. Rate this link
- IEC 309 Connector Overview - Specifying IEC 309-1 & 309-2 devices provides convenience and flexibility that users have come to accept almost without thinking. Those connectors are interchangeable with other manufacturers who conform to the IEC standards and color coding system...anywhere in the world. Rate this link
- IEC 320 Power and Accessory Power Connectors - The connector which is by far the most standard throughout the world is defined in IEC publication 320, standard sheets C13-14. But there are also other connector models. Rate this link
- International Power Cords Rate this link
- International Standardized Appliance Connectors IEC-320 - pictures and ratings fo connectors used in many appliances Rate this link
- Mains connections - includes pictures of most common power plugs used in Europe and USA Rate this link
- NEMA Plug & Receptacle Configurations - This document has information on mains connectors wirings used in USA. Rate this link
- NEMA Straight Blade Configurations - NEMA Configurations for general-purpose nonlocking Plugs and Receptacles used in USA, includes names and pictures Rate this link
- North American Cords Rate this link
- World Plug and Socket Standards Rate this link
- How a GFCI works Rate this link
- Insulation Reliability Issues in High Frequency/Transient Environments Rate this link
- Laminated Bus Bars Eliminate Unmanageable Cabling in High Power Systems Cabinets - useful technique on some industrial power distribution applications Rate this link
- S?hk? ja Min? - Guide to electricity users in Finnish Rate this link
- Maximum Utilization and Service Voltage 126/252
- Minimum Service Voltage 114/228
- Minimum Utilization Voltage 110/220
The purpose of the electrical system in a house is to distribute the power safely to all of the different rooms and appliances. The mains wiring is generally built using insulated copper cables. The choice of conductor material is a compromise among electrical properties, mechanical properties, and price. From the start, copper has been the material of choice for household branch circuits. Aluminum is softer than copper and weaker, and a poorer electrical conductor, so is not widely used in small sizes for home wiring. Aluminium cable material is sometimes used (for economical reasons) for thick mains feeder cables coming from electrical utility to the mains distribution panel.
Basic definitions and glossaries
Electrical system faults
Many precautions are needed to make occurence of short circuits unlikely, because the very high currents caused by short circuit situation can cause lots of damage to electrical installation. Protective devices are needed to break short-circuit and overload currents.
One type of situation that wiring needs to be protected against is overcurrent. The electrical wiring is rated for certain maximum current. If you try to pull more current through it, the wiring will heat considerably. When the wiring heats too much, it will cause the melt?ng of cable insulation, cause fire if there is something flammable near cable and even melt the copper conductors in the cable. So protection is needed to guarantee that in case of something tries to pull too much current through mains wiring, this cannot happen for any long time until the fuse blows and stops the current.
Fuses and circuit breakers protect nicely agains overcurrent. Many people are familiar with a "short circuit", which is a type of fault that occurs when two conductors of an electric circuit touch each other. The current flow caused by a short circuit is usually high and rapid and is quickly detected and halted by conventional circuit protective devices, such as fuses or circuit breakers. Ground faults are one type of problem when the insulation fails. When mains power line connects directly to ground, its goal in life is to pump as much electricity as possible through the connection. If there is nothing to stop that, either the device or the wire in the wall will burst into flames in such a situation. A fuse is a simple device designed to overheat and burn out extremely rapidly in such a situation, thus stopping the current from flowing through the wire (thus stops the dangerous short circuit situation).
Circuit breakers and fuses are protective devices that control the power going to a particular route of wiring. In case of an overload or a short on that circuit, the breaker or fuse trips and automatically shuts off power to that circuit. Fuses are the commonly used protection devices to protect componentslike wires, transformers electronics circuit modules against overload.The general idea of the fuse is that it "burns fuse link" when currentgets higher than it's rating and thus stops the current flowing. A device called Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB) is is used to replace fuses in electrical distribution systems (mains electrical panel).Miniature circuit Breaker can be is used in lighting distribution system or motor distribution system for protecting overload and short-circuit in the system. Miniature circuit breaker has a "switch" on it, so it cam be used for overload and short-circuit protection as well as for unfrequent on-and-off switching electric equipment and lighting circuit in normal case. For MCBs there are two characteristics that determine at what point itwill trip. The first is the rated current, and thesecond is the class of breaker. The breaker will hold the rated current forever. The class of breaker determines how large a surge current the breakerwill allow without tripping. Breakers are defined into classes by EN 60898. Type B and C breakers are likely to be suitable for generaluse (but an electrician will need to do the calcs to check), with B being the more sensitive type. The breakers used in mains distribution networks need to have very high current breakage rating because the short circuit currents supplied by the mains network (distirbution wiring, transformers etc.) can be very high.Most transformer fuses will 'let through' whateverthe transformer and system impedance will allow.
Fuses and circuit breakers (excepting some special types)take longer than 1/2 cycle to interrupt a fault, so they will seethe full fault current available through the source impedance. In low distance distribution wiring going to the house this short circuit current can be easily in the range of 5-10 kA. The main fuse and breakers mut be capable of stopping this current when needed.
When applying any overload protection device, it is important to know that the available short circuit fault current at the device is not in excess of that which can safely be interrupted. Available short circuit current is the maximum RMS current which would flow if all active conductors were solidly bolted together at the point of fault protected by the device. In reality, actual fault current is much less than available fault current. The primary factors that determine the available fault current are supply transformer size, the impedance of the cable or wire and that of the connections. These factors, in addition to, the fault resistance, determine the actual fault current. As a rule of thumb, the available fault current from a 60Hz transformer is usually about 20 times the full load current, while a 400Hz transformer can produce about 12.5 times the full load current. It is determined by the supply voltage and percent impedance. The percent impedance is basically a statement of the internal impedance of the transformer and is available on the nameplate or from the manufacturer. The percent impedance for 60Hz transformers is approximately four to seven percent for average size transformers. Although a transformer can provide a severe limiting effect on fault current, wire and connector, resistance becomes very significant as distance increases. The resistance of a few yards of cable can reduce the fault current considerably. The effective current capacity of a line can be computed roughly by a simple differential measurement, i.e., the output voltage difference of the line from no load to full load. For example, if a 120 volt line supplying 30 amperes has a 6 volt drop. The total impedance back to the original generator is R = 6/30 = 0.2 ohms and the short-circuit current is 600 amperes until something lets go. The short circuit current should be in such range that it is so much higher than maximum allowed circuit load that the fuse/breaker with disconnect short circuit quicly and still lower than the maximum braking current of the fuse/breaker (if this is exceeded that protector is not capable of cutting the short circuit current flow properly). Because of the increasing capacity of power systems sometimes it is possible to have short-circuit current high enough to seriously damage conductor insulation even at short time. A short-time temperature limit of 150 degrees C is typical for thermoplastic insulation. Paper, rubber and varnished cloth insulation has a slightly higher short-circuit capability based on a short-time 200 degrees C temperature limit.
Ground fault circuit breakers (combination of circuit breaker and RCD) offer protection against more than just overloads. The Residual Current Device(RCD) is a special electronic/electromechanicalprotection device that cuts off the fault circuit immediately on theoccasion of shock hazard or earth leakage of trunk line.Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB) is mainly prevent eletric fire and personal casualty accident caused by personal electric shock or leakage of electrified wire netting.Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCCB) is similar to Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB).In mains wiring earth leakage circuit breaker is used for the protection,against electrical leakage in the circuit of 50Hz or 60Hz. When somebody gets an electric shock or the residual current of the circuit exceeds the fixed value, the ELCB/RCCB can cut off the power.RDC's are rated by the current differential required to trip them. RCD trips if the difference between line and neutral currentexceeds a preset value (30mA is common, but 5 mA, 10mA, 30mA, 100mA, 300mA and 3A types are available). Trip times are usually specified as less than 30ms, but delay types (to provide sub circuit discrimination) are available. Ground-fault current interrupt sockets or breakers with 5 mA trip current are commonly used in damp environments in USA. This kind of GFCIs are not to trip at 3 mA (more than 40 kohms leakage resistance, hot to ground, 120V AC), may trip at 4 mA (30 kohms), should trip at 5 mA (25 kohms), and must trip at 6 mA (20 kohms). In european installations the outlets or a group of outlets are typically protected with 30 mA ground fault breaker (7 kohm leakage resistance at 230V AC).
RCDs are implemented usually in such way that phase (live) and neutral wirespass through a sensor coil. If currents are equal there is no net magnetic field in the coil. There should be 0A differential between hot and neutral if there is no leakage to ground. If live ant neutral currents are uneqal because some current is leaking to earth, a voltageis induced in the coil and that activates a circuit breaker. Simplest RCDs have just a toroidal transformer, the L and N being monitored being fed throughthe middle, with the secondary feeding a trip solenoid that trip the switching element. Some more complicated ones have electronics in them to process the input signal (for example very sensitve ones and ones which sense also pulsatung DC faults). Sometimes different RCD types are classified to different classes: AC, A and B. 'normal'
RCD with 30mA rating is typical for a single 230V circuit in European electrical installation. RCDs with 30mA residual current sensitivity are generally used for property and person protection. RCDs with a residul sensitivity of 100mA to 300mA are recommended for property and equipment protection (particarly where numerous items of equipment are supplied through the protected circuits). Please note that RCDs cannot protect people from serious shock which could occur if they contact both live and noutral conductors at the same time (RCs protect only against live to earth faults). RCDs cannot substitute for care, commonsense and regular maintenace. RCDs are no substitute for fuses or circuitbreakers (for complete protection both a combination of RCDs and other protection devices are needed).
A ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI, is an electronic device for protecting people from serious injury due to electric shock.GFCIs constantly monitor electricity flowing in a circuit. If the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning, the GFCI will quickly shut off the current flowing through that circuit. The advantage of using GFCIs is that they can detect even small variations in the amount of leakage current, even amounts too small to activate a fuse or circuit breaker. GFCIs work quickly, so they can help protect consumers from severe electric shocks and electrocution. Even if the GFCI is working properly, people can still be shocked. However, the GFCI can act quickly to prevent electrocution. All GFCIs work in the same manner to protect people against ground faults. However, unlike the receptacle GFCI, the circuit breaker type GFCI also provides overload protection for the electrical branch circuit. GFCIs are necessary even if the product has a third wire to ground it. GFCIs provide very sensitive protection to consumers against electric shock hazards. Under some conditions, a shock hazard could still exist even if a product has a grounding wire. Consumers are encouraged to use a qualified and certified electrician to install circuit breaker-type GFCIs. Individuals with strong knowledge of electrical wiring practices, who can follow the instructions accompanying the device, may be able to install receptacle-type GFCIs. The portable GFCI requires no special knowledge or equipment to install. Some equipment have GFCI type shock protectors nowadays. Appliances that have built-in shock protectors, as now required for hair dryers, may not need additional GFCI protection (but having extra protection does not cause any problems, better be safe than sorry).
Earth leakage protection is an important part of the electrical safety scheme for any system, although it may present some implementation difficulties where there are conflicts between the safety ideal and the operational reality. In the best of all possible worlds every electrical circuit would be protected by an earth leakage device, but of course there is a down side to their use: firstly they're not cheap, but then again safety rarely is; more importantly they're subject to nuisance tripping. It seems that there are a number of circumstances where there may be an imbalance between the active and neutral currents without any safety implications. For example some discharge lamp ballasts, light dimmers and computer devices quite commonly have a small and often variable amount of earth leakage; put several of them on the same circuit, protected by the same earth leakage device, and you have an unscheduled blackout just waiting for the most inconvenient moment. Also you cannot use most surge protectors or even some devices that have a surge circuit in them, with or downstream of, a GFCI / RCD. It will constantly "trip" if you encounter some overvoltages. There are also some devices which have pretty high gorund leakage and can cause occasional "trip" on some situations. The ideal way to avoid a major production catastrophe is to place each device in your electrical system on its own rather costly earth leakage protected circuit ensuring that only the faulty device will be disconnected. A more cost-effective alternative may be to place devices with known leakage on to a circuit which has an earth leakage protection device with higher activation threshold (if electrical code allows) or one designed specifically to work with the ballasts of discharge light sources. Some devices may actually be so reduced in operational effectiveness/reliabity that they are better installed on circuits not fitted with an earth leakage device (for example refridgerators etc.). These variations are often only possible in fixed installations and must always be done in consultation with an electrician or electrical engineer who is fully cognisant with the safety and operational requirements of the situation.
An AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) uses electronics to recognize the current and voltage characteristics of arcing faults, and interrupts the circuit when the fault occurs. This kind of special device is needed for arc protection when it is needed, because fuses and circuit breakers cannot detect low level arcs. Since cables between the electrical panel and the end appliance are subject to arc faults, protection is needed at the source of the electrical supply. AFCI protective devices are now available as part of the circuit breaker construction. AFCI is useful here you get significant number of fires caused bybad contacts and terminal connections, particularly relevantfor aluminium wiring. The UL code states "By recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc-fault is detected, AFCI's further reduce the risk of fire beyond the scope of conventional fuses and circuit breakers." Effective January 1, 2002, NFPA 70, The National Electrical Code (NEC), Section 210-12, requires that all branch circuits supplying 125V, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms be protected by an arc-fault Circuit interrupter. Installing AFCIs in your home will require a qualified electrician. The AFCIs snap into the electrical panels. And at this time, only a few electrical panel manufacturers make AFCIs. A word of caution about the overselling of AFCIs. The risk of fires caused by arcing is real and the total US loss to electrical fires is large. AFCIs can help to reduce that risk, but it will not completely solve the problems.
An arc fault is a high power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors. The arc faults of our concern occur in major electrical distribution systems where there is considerable current available. While a low power arc of a few amps may initiate an arc fault, a true arc fault will rapidly increase in current up to several hundred amps or even thousands of amps. A large arc fault can cause a large electrical switchboard to be reduced to an empty shell in a few seconds. This is caused by the fact that in this kind of short circuit situation there is very much power available from electrical distribution system, and this power will generate lots of heat, that will burn anything near (here withing the electrical switchboard). The chance of Arc Faults in electrical switchboards can be reduced by proper design. In home wiring an arc of a hundred watts can set wallboard, carpet, cloth, wooden studs, etc on fire. This kind of arc can be caused by bad wiring (broken isulator in the wiring, bad wire terminations etc.) This kind of arc fault can be defined as an unintentional electrical discharge characterized by low and erratic current that may ignite combustible materials. The US Consumer Produce Safety Commission states "Problems in home wiring, like arcing and sparking, are associated with more than 40,000 home fires each year". An arc fault, however, is characterized by the low and erratic flow of electricity. Due to these types of characteristics, arc faults occurring in damaged electrical cords or cable can continue undetected by conventional circuit protective devices. This leads to hazardous situations such as igniting of nearby combustible materials. Fuses and circuit breakers cannot detect low level arcs, so special protection devices are sometimes used to detect them and top current flowing when arc is detected. The UL code states "By recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc-fault is detected, AFCI's further reduce the risk of fire beyond the scope of conventional fuses and circuit breakers."
AFCIs should not be confused with ground-fault circuit interrupters or GFCIs. Typically AFCI circuit breakers look similar to GFCI circuit breakers. While both AFCIs and GFCIs are important safety devices, they have different functions. AFCIs are intended to address fire hazards; GFCIs address shock hazards.
The large box-like device found on the ends of some appliance cords can be either an appliance leakage circuit interrupter (ALCI), an immersion detection circuit interrupter (IDCI) or a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). They work in different ways, but they are all intended to shut off the power to an appliance under an abnormal condition such as immersion of the appliance in liquid. Just because you have an appliance with one of these devices doesn't mean that it is okay to drop the appliance in water and retrieve it while it's plugged in. If you should happen to drop an electrical appliance in water, shut off power to the circuit into which the appliance is plugged, unplug the appliance, drain the water and retrieve the appliance. The rule that "electricity and water don't mix" still applies.
Grounding and earthing
We all know that grounding (or "earthing" as the Europeans call it) is a necessity. It's required by electrical codes; it's required by equipment manufacturers; and we all know it would be "good practice" even if it wasn't required.
In any real-worldsituation where there is any chance of an insulation fault, or any otherresistive, capacitive or inductive path to local 'ground', proper safety earth bonding is desirable.
Grounding is often misunderstood because there are so many different reasons for doing it, each with its own set of concerns, considerations and installation methods. It's also misunderstood because the problems that can occur when it's done wrong are essentially invisible, difficult to comprehend, often without a good explanation and hard to track down when they happen.
Most professionals deal with only one or two types of grounding in their careers. The majority don't necessarily know that the communications industry has its own set of requirements, and don't realize that, while there are similarities, what is fine in one field doesn't always do the job in another.
Let's identify some of these most commonly seen grounding specialties:
Today electrical installation standards are highly developed and cover all major aspectsfor a safe installation. Standard maker have paid particular attention to the measuresto be implemented to guarantee protection of of the personnel and property. This concern has resulterd in standardization of three Earthign Systems.
Many mains distribution networks between buildings use Multiple earth grounding principle. In multiple earth groundingthere is a ground rod at the service entrance panel of the buildingand there are other ground rods connected at other buildings to theneutral in a similar manor.
One grounding approach used in sensitive electrical installationis "single point grounding", which is tying allof the equipment together to one point and all cables coming in at that point so as not to have a "ground loop" between any equipment. This single point that all of the equipment is tied to then goes to ground and often multiple ground rods and or radial wires buried in the ground. Single point grounding principle is used inside some equipments and some in house mains wiring practices.
Good grounding practices are essential to prevent ground transients. Ground Transients are a common cause of system crashes, lock-ups, loss of information or permanent system failure in computers, Point of Sale terminals, PLC?s (programmable logic controllers) and medical electronic devices.
There are different earthing systems in used and used around the world. The criteria for selection of earthing systems has changed. Different earthing systems are standardized in IEC 364 standard.
Sometimes you might ask why the electrical distirbution system is grounded anyway ?There have been differing philosophies about grounded and ungrounded systems. If the circuits downstream of an isolation transformer are smallenough, there isn't enough capacitance and leakage resistance to shock you,then ungrounded system could work in theory. But who's going to check the circuits for unintentional grounds? A significant leakage path from one leg to ground would compromise the safety of the ungrounded system. One of the major reasons for grounding the low voltage systems supplied byhi-voltage systems is to protect the low voltage 'stuff' from an accidental high voltage. Transformer insulation breakdown, a high-voltage line fallingacross a low-voltage line are at least two ways that high-voltages could be put onto a low voltage circuit. With the circuit grounded, the high-voltageline will see ground-fault current and trip. Also with grounded low voltage, the maximum voltage seen by the low-voltage circuits under such a situation would be limited. This isn't so much for personnel safety as toavoid burning down houses.
As to running a grounding wire to every outlet, the idea there is if thecasing of all tools/appliances are grounded by a third prong and the outlet,then a fault in the appliance (such as a hot lead shorting to the case) willshort to the grounding conductor and back to the service entrance panel,tripping the breaker. The voltage developed on the case will be mild andunless you're grounded by a separate circuit, you won't be seriouslyinjured. Double insulated tools/appliances are excused from third prongIIRC because they would require two faults (line to frame, frame to casing)and that is considered very remote. Experience shows that this works, but it is not infallible due either to insulation failure, or more importantly the human factor (either stupidity or error). Yes, there are certain specific situations/accidents where the 'safety' device (grounding) actually makes things worse, but generally the grounded mains system is the best.
In some special cases isolation transformers are used instead of grounding. For example in some hospital and electronics labortory applications they use isolation transformers to float everything - can't shockif there is no return path. This work as long as every device has their own isolation transformer and it does not fail.
The mains wiring ground is used also as ground reference for many electronic devices. In those case you must remeber that the electrical system ground is not a perfect ground potential that is same in all grounding points. There can be considerable ground potential differences that can cause problems (common mode voltage to signals, currents to ground conductors etc) if not taken in account in the electronic devices that are connected to electrical system ground and each other.Voltage measurements from ground point to ground point are typically 0.2 to 5V rms and, though rarely, as high as 65 V rms between widely separated grounds. Remeber that in case of lighting strikes nearby, very high potential differences can occur from "point a to point b" on the same ground system due to the ground system/earth's combined impedance at the strike's higher frequencies.
When installing ground connection to ground, the quality of it needs to be measured that it is good enough to fullfill the needs of that particular installation. Ground resistance is usually measured using the 3-stake fall of potential method. Theoretically, the final measurement achieved on the completed ground system is the same resistance to any other ground system on earth. A good ground system measurement would be between 5 and 10 Ohms. A well designed 5 Ohm ground system is usually considered optimal for a lightning ground system.
A 4-stake resistivity measurement should be done ahead of the actual ground system installation. This procedure tells the engineer which areas within the system's geographic confines have the most conductive soil and at what depth this occurs. The results will be expressed as resistance (in Ohms - cm/m) and will determine the ground system's design. The ground system's final 3 stake fall of potential ground resistance reading is the impedance of the system measured with approximately 100 to 300 Hz source potential. This measurement is how well the ground system will handle electric utility ground faults. There must be enough current flow in to the earth to trip the applicable ac circuit breaker.
Circulating ground currents create their own electrical noise, so are to be avoided. In principle, they're easy to stop. Just keep everything at the same electrical potential or voltage. Current will only flow between two points that have a difference of potential. f we ground everything together with heavy wires, then everything should be at "equal potential" and no current will flow. Not surprisingly, this is called an "equal potential ground" and is exactly what J-STD-607-A is trying to achieve. The difficulty is doing it in a practical way. It's unrealistic to weld everything in the building or even in just the data center, together with heavy copper bars.
"isolated grounds" have no place in the properly designed data center. The minute a metal chassis is screwed into a metal cabinet, another ground path is established -- and not a very good one either. Each piece of equipment does the same thing, until there are multiple ground paths, none of them very low-impedance, all running through small-gauge wires and ending up at the building ground via different paths of all different lengths. The result is a poor static ground and loads of circulating currents due to the many different electrical levels that result. It's a waste of money on something that will be counter-productive in the end.
Grounding is a safety issue, absolutely required by code. A good telecommunications ground can be built as a "separate system" all the way to the electrical vault, although it should really be bonded to building steel and local electrical panels at various places along the way. It can even have its own set of ground rods if that becomes necessary to approach the lower 5-Ohm ground resistance recommended for telecommunications services. But these ground rods had better be bonded to the main electrical ground for the building. If you have a vendor who tells you they require a "separate ground" connected only to its own ground rods, tell them to consult a qualified engineer or code authority. God forbid there should ever be something called a "ground fault" in your incoming, high-voltage, building electrical service. The soil resistance between the separated grounds will result in a huge voltage difference if a "fault" occurs, and the resulting current will instantly boil the earth causing a sort of explosion. Also the resulting power surge on your "separate ground" could fry everything, and everybody, that's in contact with a grounded device. In short, usign separate grounding systems that are not properly interconnected is not a wise approach.
The "ultimate" in telecommunications grounding practice is called the "PANI" ground. This approach actually divides the ground bar into four sectors identified as "producers," "surge arrestors," "non-isolated" and "isolated" ground networks (PANI). Those sectors are wired in such wayt that ground currents flow within the ground bar in a way that further avoids ground current interaction. PANI grounds are used in major telecommunications carrier installations and are often required by the military.
Good data center or telecommunications utility grounding requires understanding, careful planning, proper execution and good supervision. It is not inexpensive. In normal residential and commercial building the grounding need are not as trict, but still doing those applications adequately well requires understanding, careful planning, proper execution and good supervision.
Mains power connectors
Different countries and different environments use differnt mains connectors. In USA NEMA Plug & Receptacle configuarations are common. In Europe the normal single phase domestical power plugs are mainly at least somewhat country specific, and for higher current & three phase power CeeForm (CEE 17 / IEC 309) connectors are used. Most commonly used mains connector models:
General information on wiring regulations
Electrical safety and wiring regulations are here to help to make the electrical systems and installations safe. They give the basic safety needs, define which kind of circuits to use, material to use and generally specify amins wiring colors. This standardization makes is easier for electrical installers to make wiring right, make them safe and for somebody else to fix them later safely if that is needed. Electrical code is a compromise between safety and cost. Much of the world considers 220 V (220-240V) to be safe enough for standard residentialoutlets and lighting, and they can wire a house with about one-half thecopper compared to countries that use 120 V. Those countrieswhich use 120V considered that 220V to be to dangerous for most residental uses. Some other wiring practices have their good and bad sides. Using a common neutral, saves copper (or aluminium), but carries some risk,that if done improperly, an overloaded or open neutral situation may occur.Using aluminium in wiring saves costs in wiring material, but if connections done to aluminium wiring are not done carefully they can become loose and cause fire danger (nowadays aluminium is not generally used in residential installations, usually only on large power feed cables going to distribution board power input).
USA/Canada wiring regulations
The National Electrical Code is a set of regulations which specifythe wiring and safety practices in use in USA. The US National Electric Code is Published by the National Fire Protection Association, which selling copies of the standards that are developed under their system. This relieves the government of the cost of development and distribution but it makes access for the casual or occasional user difficult or expensive. The US NEC is adopted into law by reference so only the adopting statute has to be published at government expense. If you need the the code to National Fire Protection Association were you can buy a copy for downloading or in printed form.
Domestic power in North America is variously referred to as: 110, 115, 117, 120 V. Likely varies even wider than that. The National Electrical Code speaks to a nominal line voltage of 120 voltswith a +/- 5% tolerance for a low of 114 volts and a high of 126 volts. Most appliances and electronic equipment, etc. is designed to work within that voltage range without problems. At higher and lower voltages, risk ofdamage increases although most modern appliances are remarkably tolerant.ANSI C84.1 "Electric Power Systems and Equipment - Voltage Ratings (60 Hz)"sets the preferred nominal voltage at 120/240V and lists limits as:
One historical claim for selection of 110V voltage: The US has 110 volts because the original light bulb (inventedby Thomas Edison in the USA) ran on 110 volts DC, and when weconverted to AC we kept that voltage so that everyone wouldn'thave to buy new light bulbs. The voltage was also suitable because a shock from 120 V supply it is not so likely to be fatal.
The mains power frequency used nowadays in USA is 60 Hz. Many frequencies were used in the 19th Century for various applications, with the most prevalent being the 60 Hz supplied by Westinghouse-designed central stations for incandescent lamps. The development of a synchronous converter which operated best at 60 cycles encouraged convergence toward that standard. Around 1900, the introduction of the high-speed turbine led to settlement on two standards: 25 cycles for transmission and for large motors (this had been a compromise decision at Niagara Falls), and 60 cycles for general purpose systems.
In USA normal homes get two-phase 120v. In a typical home in the states you have 3 cables coming into your panel from the service. Basically, there's a center-tapped step-down (few kV distribution voltage to 120V+120V AC)transformer on the electrical line pole, with the tap earthed (at least in theory) and each socketconnected across one side of the transformer. Larger devices (electricstoves, central air conditioning units, electric dryers, etc.) are wired across the entire transformer, receiving 240v.
How much current is fed to the house varies on the needs of the house. Feeds up to 200 amp electrical service can be seen often in American homes (200A seems to be a norm for new houses nowadays). The power distribution in typical residental house in USA is implemented so that locally (near the house) a single phase transformer provides a 240 volts center tapped output. This center tap is grounded at the transformer and called the neutral wire , then the three wires are run into each house along the street. The two live (hot) wires each separately provide 120 volts relative to the neutral wire and go to wall outlets to run low power devices (lights, TVs etc.). Power hungry devices like electric stoves and water heaters which require 240 volts are connected across the two live or hot wires. This two 120V hot lines with 240V between them wiring system is sometimes called "two phase power".
US practice is that neutral and earth are bonded together at one place in each structure. This is normally at the main power panel, but the code allows for exceptions (in some cases house has local ground and neutral is only grounded at sub-station). Each house also has a good local ground which is connected to input mains power neutral wire. For example typical small house could use system such as an 8 ft ground rod or a cold water pipe which also goes to each power outlet as the ground pin. The neutral connections to ground in all the buildings are part of thelightning protection scheme for the power distribution network. There are also ground stakes on the power poles on the street bonded to the neutralconductor. These multiple earth ground connections safely drain off the enormous energy of a lighting strike to the earth. Inside house all the safety ground wires ( green ) are bonded to the earth stake ground or earthing system in a properly installed power system. What comes in from the street is the hots and the neutral.
The typical wall outlet in home in USA outputs 120 volts AC. The maximum current that should beallowed to be drawn from a normal outlet is 15 amps. That means that nothing over 1800 watts should be plugged into that circuit. The 1800 watts is the total for all devices on that same circuit fed by one breaker in the supply panel. There are grounded and ungrounded power outlets. In grounded outlets the National Electric Code (NEC) requires the ground pin to be first-make, last-break. That's why they're longer in mains connectors than the other contacts, and I doubt you'd disconnect a ground pin without disconnecting the blades. This connector in the wall is wired in the the following way:The ground pin should be at the bottom, the "hot" blade should be on the rightand the neutral blade (the wider one) should be on the left. The ungrounded outlet is wired in the same way, just without the ground pin. For special uses there are somtimes higher current outlets available. Sometimes you can see a 20A 120V AC outlet (a little different AC connector than normal 15A). In 20A plug one blade is rotated 90 degrees to the plane of the other as compared to normal 15A plug where blades are in parallel. Nowadays there are many 20A outlets that have one "T" shaped hole for neutral blade. Thus, for a 20 Amp outlet, you can plug in a 15 Amp male plug, or a 20 Amp male plug. But for a 15 Amp outlet, the 20 Amp male plug will not be insertable. It keys the load to the supply capability.
Some very high powerloads like air conditioners usually use 240V two phase outlets (15A or 20A). One some places you can see duplex outlets (two outlet combinations) that give out two regular 120V AC outlets (15A or 20A) wired with shared neutral system. The shared neutral works in such way, that the duplex outlet is wired with two power phases coming to it, one phase being applied to first outlet live connection and the another to second outlet live connection. The neutrals of those two outlets are wired together and wired to a single neutral wire that goes to electrical power panel. All the phase wires and neutral wire have the same thickness, because ne shared neutral will not in any case get more current flowing than flows in one phase wire (if the two outlets are loaded equally, no current flows on neutral, if only one of them is loaded then full one phase current will flow on neutral, and on other cases some current between those extremes). This wiring practice saves some copper (with normal wiring practices two separate neutral wires would have been needed). 3-phase power is not typically available in homes in the US. 3-phase power is it is common in commercial and industrial installations.
Most household circuits are 15 amp (15 amp receptacles, 14 guage wire,15 amp breaker or fuse). The wiring in the walls is at least 14 gauge (better yet 12) as that's the minimum allowed by the NEC for 15 Amp breaker circuits. Today's code requires 20 amp (12 guage wire and 20 amp recepticles) in kitchens and dining rooms. Today's code needs 12 guage wire to bathroom outlets,although these are usually 15 amp outlets so one should not exceed 15amps.
Copper wire resistance table for some wires used in main wiring applications:
AWG Feet/Ohm Ohms/100ft Ampacity* mm^2 Meters/Ohm Ohms/100MThese Ohms / Distance figures are for a round trip circuit. Specifications are for copper wire at 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius.
10 490.2 .204 30 2.588 149.5 .669
12 308.7 .324 20 2.053 94.1 1.06
14 193.8 .516 15 1.628 59.1 1.69
16 122.3 .818 10 1.291 37.3 2.68
18 76.8 1.30 5 1.024 23.4 4.27
Conductors for outlets are sized in installations to prevent a voltage drop exceeding 3 percent at the farthest outlet of power, heating, and lighting loads, or combinations of such loads. Also the maximum total voltage drop on both feeders and branch circuits to the farthest outlet does not exceed 5 percent. This will provide reasonable efficiency of operation.
The cables used in electrical installation are used marked with codes like "14-2" or similar. They are used to describe the size and quantity of conductors in a cable. The first number specifies the gauge. The second the number of current carrying conductors in the wire - but remember there's usually an extra ground wire. "14-2" means 14 gauge, two insulated current carrying wires, plus bare ground.
- -2 wire usually has a black, white and bare ground wire. Sometimes the white is red instead for 220V circuits without neutral.
- -3 wire usually has a black, red, white and bare ground wire. Usually carrying 220V with neutral.
Circuit breakers are designed to trip not so much at the nominal amperage rating (15,20etc) but when they get hot - pulling too much current through a wireheat it up, too hot and the breaker will trip. It the wire is over 100 feet from the panel to the point ofuse, the amperage rating is dropped down one, or else the wire isupped to next thicker wire thickness. It is typical that electrical panel manufacturers also make the circuit breakers that go into their panels. Circuit breakers are not interchangeable in other manufacturers' electrical panels. Circuits are designed so that under normal conditions (whatever those are) that the load will not be more than 80% of the rating - so a 15amp circuit (120volts x 15 amps = 1800 watts x 80% = 1440 watts) should not regularluy exceed 1440 watts. That is why today each bathrooom outlet gets it's own 20 amp circuit, a kitchen should have at least 2 small applaince circuits (for outlets) the disposal, dishwasher, fridge and microwave should each be on their ownindividual 20 amp circuit.
Ground fault interrupters (GFIs) are designed to provide reliable protection from line-toground faults, while other types of overcurrent protection may see the ground fault only as a load current. GFIs detect a ground fault by using a current transformer with the line and neutral conductors passing through the center of the transformer). A ground fault on any one of the conductors causes an unbalance in the circuit. The current transformer senses this unbalance and trips the circuit breaker quickly. The NEC requires all receptacles installed in bathrooms, garages, and outside areas to be protected by GFI circuit breakers or GFI receptacles. An exception to this rule applies to receptacles installed in garages to supply power to dedicated appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, or gas dryers. Also, receptacles that are not readily accessible are not required to have GFI protection; for example, the receptacle for an overhead garage door motor. All GFIs manufactured after 1 January 1976 are required to trip open automatically when the fault current reaches 5 milliamps. GFI-protected receptacles are required for all 120-volt, single-phase, 15-amp and 20-amp circuits used by personnel on construction sites. This requirement can be fulfilled by installing GFI breakers on all receptacle circuits or by installing GFI receptacles at the jobsite.
Electrical work must be done so that it meets the local and national codes. For most works it means that you must be a licensed persons and the workmay need to be inspected before it is taken to use. Enclosures, raceways, wireways, and wiring ducts shall be suitable for the application and compatible with the environment that the equipment is to be operated in. Electrical enclosures shall be NEMA type or equivalent. The National Electrical Code says that electrical equipment be"suitable" for use, and says that "suitability of equipment MAY be evidenced by listing or labeling". However many localities by local authorities DO require appropriate listing. Most all local and national building codes require that eligible equipment be "safe", and that one of the ways demonstrate safety is for the product to haveearned a safety certification from a Nationally Recognized Testing Lab (like UL). In practice this usually requires that all equipment must be listed, if listed equipment is available. Listing is done by 3rdparty safety testing agencies, two of which are UnderwritersLaboratories (UL) and Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL). These agencies list a product if it has successfully passed the requiredtesting. Standards for testing and listing are established by the agencies. Standards are not available for all products. UL listing on electrical equipment is required for code compliance in mostareas. UR listing is usually acceptable if the component is being used in a UL approved panel or piece of equipment.
The wire thickness used in USA for mains wiring are specified in unit called AWG. Here is some data on different wires:
AWG Feet/Ohm Ohms/100ft Ampacity* mm^2 Meters/Ohm Ohms/100MThese Ohms / Distance figures are for a round trip circuit. Specifications are for copper wire at 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius.The size of wire inside wall:
10 490.2 .204 30 2.588 149.5 .669
12 308.7 .324 20 2.053 94.1 1.06
14 193.8 .516 15 1.628 59.1 1.69
16 122.3 .818 10 1.291 37.3 2.68
18 76.8 1.30 5 1.024 23.4 4.27
20 48.1 2.08 3.3 0.812 14.7 6.82
22 30.3 3.30 2.1 0.644 9.24 10.8
24 19.1 5.24 1.3 0.511 5.82 17.2
26 12.0 8.32 0.8 0.405 3.66 27.3
28 7.55 13.2 0.5 0.321 2.30 43.4
Gauge AmpsUS practice of power distribution is often todistribute at high voltage (several kilovolts) and provide small transformers to individual properties or small groups of properties. There are a couple of likely reasons for distributing at medium voltagerather than at utilization voltage in the US. One is the fact that historically the population in the US has been much less concentrated. Houses are further apart, increasing voltage drop and losses for secondary distribution. Also, the norm in the US now is for a 200A service.
Serving many homes at secondary voltage, each with a 200A service, would requirevery large conductors.The electrical power distribution in USA/Canada is built roughtly in the following way: The power company distributes at different high voltages, usually 7.2kV or higher (single phase) and can be as high as 19.9kV. Basically there are three "classes" of medium voltage that are now common in the US for distribution: 15kV (12.47, 13.2,13.8 etc), 25kV, and 35kV (these are all three phase, multigrounded wye). 4kV three phase was once popular but has been replaced in most areas. In a home or smaller commercial building the transformer at the building or near the building lowers that voltage to 220 (or 240, depends on where you are) volts with a centre tapped neutral refrenced (andtied) to ground. In other words, you have 220 volts between the two secondary outputs of your transformer or 110 between either secondary and neutral. All normal circuits (for lighting or electrical outlets) are one hot and one neutral (plus another ground for safety) thus 110 volts. Large appliances such as the stove or clothes dryer use both hots for 220 volts.
Things are nowadays somewhat changing. Now, it is common in urban residential areas to have large transformersserve many residences. It would not be uncommon to see a one or two large transformers serve a city block in a residential area. If we are talking about a three phase service (practically never seen in a homesituation), the transformer is set up in a "y" configuration with 208 volts between any two secondaries and 120 between any one secondary and the centretapped neutral. In some areas, you get 2 legs of a 120/208 wye instead of the usual 120/240 split phaseservice. A large three phase bank will serve perhaps a block of a smallcity with 120/208 three phase. Any single phase services get two legs of this. This is done because of the mix of small three phase commercial and single phase residential customers. You'll also see this in a fair number of apartmemnt complexes. The building has three phases coming in, and four wires will run up to the roof (the three phases plus neutral, plus a safety ground) to run heavy equipment such as air conditioning. Each apartment along the way will get three wires (two hot ones and a neutral. And a ground) tapped off of two hot wires. The problem here is that the hot-to-hot voltage is 208 rather than 240, and while most appliances can deal with either, some will complain.
As buildings get bigger, the electrical distribution system will be set up differently to reduce power losses. The main service transformers will will deliver higher voltage than normal wall outlet power three phase power to the building.
USA seems to use 480 volts between phases, and 277 from phase to neutral (Y wired transformer secondary). Most lighting and other large loads will then run at 277 single phase or 480 volts three phase. For example large motors use three phase 480V. Normal fluorescent lighting uses 277V single phase power per lighting instruments, different phases distributed to different lamp groups on large rooms. There will be another transformer in the building to lower the voltage to 208/110 for the normal power outlets for normal equipment use. In even larger buildings there will be many of these smaller transformers distributed around the building feeding the 110 loads in there area.
In Canada the higher voltage can be for example 575/600 volts between secondaries with 347 volts available between any one secondary and neutral (used for example in Canada). Most lighting and other large loads will then run at 347 single phase or 600 volts three phase.
The normal most often electrical power distribution variations in USA are the following:
- 120 single phase service (two sire service just live and neutral)
- 120/240 single phase service (normal single phase, 3 wires: two lives and one neutral)
- 120/208 single phase service (3 wire service, derived from 120/208Y by giving two phase wires to customer)
- 120V/208Y three phase service (4 wire service typically)
- 240 three phase service (usually three wire service corner grounde delta)
- 120/240 three phase service (usually 4 wire service with center of delta secondary grounded)
- 277/480Y three phase service (4 wire service typically)
- 480 three phase service (three wire ungroudned delta output on distribution transformer)
For residential applications you can normally see 120, 120/240, 120/208 and in some cases 120/208Y. For residential installations most commonly used ones are 120/240 and 120/208. Three phase services are most often seen only on commercial/industrial installations.
There are certain standard on the sizes on different electrical installation products. For example the most commonly used electrical box in USA is single gang, standard US. Standard single-wide wallplate for it is (WxH) 2.8 x 4.5 inches.
In most of the US, at least if you're in a city or a medium-heavily-populated county, there's probably a building code electrical code that says who's allowed to work on what kind of electricity. Usually in a home, you're allowed to work on sockets and switches inside existing electrical boxes, and almost everywhere you're not allowed to touch the main power feed yourself. In some jurisdictions you can install new electrical boxes and plug-in circuit breakers yourself and in some you can't. In commercial buildings, you're more likely to need a license to do anythign with the electricity. If you're required to use a licensed electrician for something, and you do it yourself, various bad things can happen, and if you do it your self and something goes wrong, more bad things will happen. You do not want this. When you have fire insurance or liability insurance, those contracts probably also require licensed electricians to do the electrical work (if unlicensed person does the job the insurance company does not pay for any damages).
- Electrical Metering - general metering requirements for all types of installations in USA for residential and commercial/industrial installations Rate this link
- Aluminum Wiring in Residential Properties: Hazards & Remedies Rate this link
- Electrical OSHA training material - Examination, Installation, and Use of Equipment, Identification of Disconnecting Means and Circuits, Working Space About Electrical Equipment, Guarding of Live Parts, Identification of Conductors, Polarity of Connections, Grounding, Grounding Path, Grounding of Equipment Connected by Cord and Plug, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI's), Cabinets, Boxes, and Fittings, Flexible Cords and Cables Rate this link
- Safety and Health Topics: Electrical Rate this link
- Electrical Wiring: Updating for the 21st. Century! - Information on common problems found in older homes and how to solve them. Rate this link
- Enclosure Classifications - Industry Standards Enclosure Types for All Locations, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA Standard 250), NEMA/EEC to IEC Rate this link
- GFCIs Rate this link
- G.F.C.I. by Sam Goldwasser - good description of GFCI operation Rate this link
- GFCI Testing Rate this link
- Ground-Fault Protection on Construction Sites - Insulation and grounding are two recognized means of preventing injury during electrical equipment operation. Rate this link
- Hazardous (Classified) Locations - The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines hazardous locations as those areas "where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers or flyings." Rate this link
- Hazardous Location Classifications - according NEC Rate this link
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- Making Electrical Connections - Making electrical connections is a fairly common procedure but needs to be done correctly and carefully. If you don't make tight connections, heat can build up between the conductors and cause a fire. Rate this link
- Multiwire Branch Circuit Wiring Precautions when using Stand-Alone 120 VAC Inverters or Generators - document describes conventional home wiring and multiwire brach circuit wiring Rate this link
- NFPA's Home Page - latest information about the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and it's standards like National Electric Code Rate this link
- Understanding Industrial Wiring: 3-Phase Electric Rate this link
Safety is of utmost importance when working with electricity. Develop safe work habits and stick to them. Be very careful with electricity. It may be invisible, but it can be dangerous if not understood and respected. The electrical installations should be properly designed, properly installed and use the necessary safety devices needed on this type of application. Fuses and circuit breaker are devices which protect wiring and devices againsshort circuits and overloads. Circuit breaker is a protective device for each circuit, which automatically cuts off power from the main breaker in the event of an overload or short. Only a regulated amount of current can pass through the breaker before it will "trip." The fuses and circuit breakers generally connect to the live wires (the ungrounded phase conductor). Where circuit breakers are used to protect sub-fused circuits, thecircuit breakers will almost always trip before the fuses blow. Circuitbreakers also make accidental short circuits less violent. Ground fault circuit breakers offer protection against more than just overloads,Ground fault protection devices (RCD, GFI, GFCI) are good protectiondevices to give extra protection agains accidents. GFCI's are most often used for protection from hazards associated with "portable" appliances in wet damp areas. This kind of devicesare generally used in dangerous environments like places near water (electrical outlets outside, bathroom outlets, kitchen outlets), in consrution sites and in work shops for example.As far as the RCD's / GFI's (Residual Current Device) / (Ground FaultInteruptor) go, they are not infallible. It is still possible to passenough current to kill without reaching the tripping current, and it'salso still possible to get a live to neutral shock which will look likea normal load to the breaker. These things should also be tested quiteregularly since they can fail. For personal protection 30 mA offers a high degree of protection and will operate by cutting off the earth fault current well within the time specified in the IEC Publication 1008/1009. IEC Standard 1008/1009 of 30 mA sensitivity for domestic and personal protection with the tolerance of 30 mA plus zero and minus 50%, that is, a range from 15 mA to 30 mA.
- Electrical Wiring FAQ (USA and Canada) Rate this link
- HOMEOWNER'S Rx Frequently Asked Questions - many questions related to electricity and electrical wiring Rate this link
- Household Wiring FAQ Rate this link
- Ask Our Electrician - answers to questions on Electrical problems discussion group Rate this link
- Code Check Electric Code Links - links to useful articles Rate this link
- Electrical Connection - A Web Site Dedicated To The Electrical Construction Industry And the National Electrical Code Rate this link
- Electrical-online.com - Home electrical help on the web Rate this link
- Electrical Wiring Forum - This is the place to discuss electrical wiring. Rate this link
- Electrician's Toolbox Etc. - this site is for the electrician and will cover as many field applications as possible Rate this link
- Home Electrical "How To" Centre" - This site contains a growing number of articles, step-by-step instructions, tips and techniques on many home electrical projects. Rate this link
- Home Wiring - How To Instructional Information for the Do It Yourselfer Rate this link
- National Electrical Code Internet Connection - information from Understanding then National Electrical Code book and Mike Holt's wiring information pages Rate this link
- National Electrical Code Study Guide Rate this link
- Can two circuits share one neutral? - Yes in USA, if it is done right. Rate this link
- Converting 2 prong to grounded 3 prong receptacles - replacing 2 prong receptacles with 3 prong receptacles Rate this link
- Isolated Grounding - Isolated grounding (IG) is a technique often used with sensitive electronic equipment to reduce common mode noise. IG insulates the grounding of the sensitive load equipment from the conduit and raceway grounding system and controls the connection to the power grounding system. Thus, ground potential shifts due to stray ground currents flowing in the conduit system are eliminated, and raceways and conduits provide EMI/RFI shielding. Rate this link
- NEMA Straight Blade Configurations - NEMA Configurations for general-purpose nonlocking Plugs and Receptacles Rate this link
- NEMA Plug & Receptacle Configurations Rate this link
- The Hows and Whys of Isolated Grounding Rate this link
- What's Hot Is Hot and What's Not Is Ground - information on wiring and color codes in homes in USA Rate this link
- Wiring a Receptable (120v/15 amp) - The 120v/15 amp receptacle is the most widely used type in your home if you live in USA. Here's how to wire them. Rate this link
- Wiring Diagrams For NEMA Configurations - wiring for different mains connectors Rate this link
- Wiring Diagrams for Mains Connectors Used in USA Rate this link
- Wiring from 110 to 220 Rate this link
- Increase Your Sales with Isolated Ground Receptacles - As an Electrical Contractor you can increase your sales and value to your customers by explaining Isolated Grounding for computer and sensitive electronic equipment. Rate this link
- GFCI Safety Update - The Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) news is continuing. Last year, 2003, the manufacturers of GFCI's were permitted by the revised UL 943 to ship them only with the new lock-out function. This lock-out function prevents resetting the GFCI when it is either wired incorrectly or when it has failed a self test. Rate this link
Electrical outlets wiring
Lights and switches
- Initial verification: An initial verification for new build properties is compulsory in most European countries. Certified inspection bodies exist for example in Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Other countries rely on certification of electrical contractors (Germany, UK, Netherlands) or inspection by utilities. Verification that initial inspection is done can be performed through public authorities or electrical utilities. Often, utilities require an inspection report to be produced before connecting electricity meters in new properties.
- Periodic inspection: For most EU countries, there are no periodic inspection regimes for existing dwellings. In some countries there are regulations that need periodic inspection (for example once in 10-15 years) in commercial and industrial buildings.
- Event-triggered inspection: Spain, Portugal, Ireland and France require an electrical inspection (or at least a ???proof of compliance???) for buildings that are entirely renovated or for which a building permit application is submitted. Other inspection triggers include change of the supply contract (Belgium) and a change of tenant.
- Mandatory inspection and renovation: For example done in Italy.
- TT: No direct earth feed to properties - an individual ground electrode must be provided at each property. This is most common with overhead supplies - mainly in rural areas.
- TN-S: Earth cable run from the transformer ground to each property - the earth forms the armour and sheath of underground cables. I think that this is probably now the most common scheme in the UK.
- TN-C-S: Combined neutral and earth cable from substation to properties. This could potentially be very dangerous as a neutral break can lead to the combined neutral/earth on the load side of a break rising to phase potential so there are special regulations governing the system. In practice multiple earths are provided along the entire cable run in addition to the transformer star point (hence the usual name PME or 'protective multiple earth').
- TN-C: Combined neutral and earth continues within the installation (generally using concentric conductors)
- IT: Either no earth at all or else via a current limiting impedance. Not allowed in public supplies but recommended for such cases as medical life-support equipment.
- 1.5 mm2 = 10A
- 2.5 mm2 = 16A
Mains wiring in Europe
Within the European Community the mains voltage is currently 230V +10/-6% (50Hz) between the LIVE and the NEUTRAL terminals, together with a separate protective EARTH terminal. The history for 50 Hz frequency is from Germany. At the beginning of 1900 in Germany, AEG had a virtual monopoly on lectrical power systems. AEG decided to use 50 Hz and this standard spread to the rest of the continent.
The mains connections and wiring practices vary somewhat from country to country. Although electrical installation standards in Europe are being harmonised, the process is still not complete and there are significant differences in the national codes.
The International Standard series governing electrical installations is IEC 60364. There are 7 parts in the IEC Standard. Part 4 deals with protection measures in installations and Part 6 with inspection (initial verification, reporting and periodic verification). Special Installations are treated in Part 7 (eg medical installations, marinas, bathrooms, photovoltaic installations).
The European equivalent to IEC 60364 is CENELEC HD384. There are national equivalents in all European countries (AREI/RGIE - B,VDE100 - D, REBT - ES, NF C 15-100 - F, CEI 64-8 - I, NN 1010 - NL, BS 7671 - UK). There are, however, significant differences between national and international standards' implementation. Most countries have a standard or code covering electrical installations in buildings that is derived from the International IEC or CENELEC Standards and is incorporated into building regulations, health and safety regulations or is legally enforceable.
Types of regulation:
There has been changes in the regulations over the years. It should be noted that changes in installation standards most often apply to new buildings and not to existing ones. Hence, a major proportion of the housing stock does not yet have safety features that were introduced as new in the 70s and 80s, such as circuit breakers and residual current devices (RCDs). Most countries do not require existing buildings to be made compliant with new standards that come into force after the building has been constructed.
In most European countries, two wire (ungrounded) wall outlets supply maximum of 6A or 10A depending on the country. Three wire (grounded) outlets, maximum of 15A or 16A depending on the country (sometimes fused only with 10A fuse). All mains wall outputs are fused at distribution point in house. In modern installations in Northern Europe the wall outputs are grounded outlets often 16 A per circuit. In most countries mains wiring system uses a star arrangement in which a cable from the fusebox feeds, for example all of the wall outlets in one room only. The fuses or more commonly, circuit breakers, are designed to protect not just the wiring inside the wall but also the wiring from mains plug to device devices and devices. So, there are no fuses in the plugs. The houses/apartments in Europe can be supplied by single phase power or three phase supply. If three phase supply is used, separate rooms in the same apartment may be on different phase.
In most European countries the electrical mains connectors are not polarized.This means that generally common 2 pin and 3 pin mains connector plugs may be inserted either way to the wall, thus interchanging neural and live wires going to equipment.
The design philosophy of e.g. the German system (Schuko) is thata room (or a small number of rooms) has a 10 A or 16A fuse in the mains distribution panel, and all leads and plugs are designed to withstand any short-circuit current that will not yet blow the fuse (today usually circuit breakers are used, not fuses). If a fault occurs, a circuit breaker is trivial to reset. The fuses are generally in the main distribution panel. Typical fuse sizes for mains conenctions are 10A for light circuits (wired with 1.5 mm2 wire inside wall) and 16A for power outlets (wired with 2.5 mm2 inside wall). Some higher power permanently installed loads use higher current ratings and thicker wire. For example an electric stove can have fuse rating up to 3*25A (3x16 being typical).
There are requirement for a fuse in the equipment itself, depending on what type of equipment it is and what kind of cable it has. If it has 1.5mm^2 cabling, then the mains penel fuse is enough to protect equoment wiring, since the wires in the wall are also 1.5mm^2 and these are rated for 16A continous current and several thousands amperes short circuit currengt for a short duration short-circuit (before mains panel fuse blows). You can see this kind of arrangement in many heavier devices like heaters, coffee makers, lamps etc. Many electronic equipment have fuses in them to protect their transformers and electronic components. Even though the mains panel fuse protecting the outlet and wiring connected to it can be as high as 16A, the are cases where thinner than 1.5 mm^2 cable is connected to the outlet. It is permissible to use lighter cables (0.75mm^2) for lighter equipment. This type of cable should still be able to stand 16A for some time. The equipment that has thin cable has fuse or other means of protection that makes sure that the equipment cannot permantely overload the cable even in case of damage. In case of full short circuit inside equipment or in the connection cable, there will be a high short circuit current, that will burn the mains panel fuse before the thin connection cable overheats. You can see often 0.75 mm^2 cable on many small lamps and small electronic devices, and even thinnner cable on some special equipment (razors etc..). There are specific limitations where you can use that thinner that 1.5 mm^2 thin cable for the equipment and there are also limitations how long this thin cable can be maximally be (make sure that it's resistance is so low that the short circuit will quicly blow the mains panel 16A fuse).
The CEE 7/7 ("Schuko") grounded plug is used as a standard in Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France; it is also used in Portugal and Spain. A variation of the CEE 7/4 plug with 4mm contacts is used in Eastern European countries and in some Soviet republics. Variations of the CEE 7 plug are also used in Northern Africa, the Middle Eastand Brazil. Many small electronics appliances in Europe use small flat "Europlug" connector. The Europlug originated as CEE 7 and has been around for almost 30years. It is a clever design that fits all the historic nationalsockets in all European countries, except for the UK. IEC 884 is one spec for the "Europlug" (BS EN 50075), which isthe today commonly used plug in all EU countries for smalldevices that need no protective ground and consume less than 2.5 A. It is flat, has thin round pins and the pins are not exactly parallel (slightly closer together at the front).
Grounding in European mains wiring installations can vary somewhat.There is a number of different earthing (= US 'grounding') schemes in use. In almost all cases neutral and earth are run separately within aninstallation, with all accessible metalwork and earth terminals within thepremises tied back to a common earthing point at the entrance to theproperty. How that earthing point is provided varies from place to place. Three common earthing schemes:
Generally the neutral of the mains input power is bonded to the house main grounding point (connected to house plumbing and metal paets)at the main electrical panel or separate house grounding bar. On many European countries (for example UK and Finland) it is typical that transformer sub-station will supply alarge number of properties at normal mains voltage (230V AC single phase or 230/400V three phase). The available current varies on the needs on the house. A 3x25A feed (230/400V three phase power, 25 amperes per phase) is quite typical in houses in Finland. In house where there are many apartment in one building, each apartment typically has either one phase power (often 25A or 32A on older houses) or three phase power (for example 3x16A, 3x25A etc.).
Different countries have different customs. All have been devised by good engineers to suit the country specific situation. Three-phase supplies are not usually provided for individual residentialconsumers in most parts of Europe (three phase power to house seems quite common in Finland and Germany, in thoise countries for example electrical stoves for kitchen cooking are build for connection to 3 phases, but can be also wired to 1 phase only if needed). Generally you get a singlephase supply, unless you exceed the current which is deemed the maximum for a single phase supply in which case you get a 3 phase supply. Now what does vary significantly is what this single phase limit is. In the UK, it's 100A so 3-phase is unusual in houses,but in some EU countries, it's as low as 20A, so 3-phase is the norm. The thresholds for 1 vs 3 phase supply would vary between networks and countries. Supplying houses at two or three phase improves load balancing and reduces voltage drop, but at the cost of more conductors and more expensive metering.
In Europe, street power distribution is typically done in 3-phase at the normal mains voltage (230 / 400 V) in urban areas. The power to this street distribution comes three phase transformer (400V Y output wiring) nearby the street (typical power 30 - 500kVA). Houses then get typically one, two or three phases as needed. Typical current rating for wires used in mains wiring inside wall:
Cross- OverloadIn European countries power cords all have to be sheathed, which means there are always two layers of insulation around the conductors (or one extra thick layer).
UK wiring is somewhat special case. The UK is unusual in having fused plugs as standard (according BS1363 parts 2 and 4). 13A max in eachplug, and 30A at the panel for each ring. Maximum current at wall outlet in the UK is for 13A. The plugs carry a fuse holder and the fuse should be rated to suit the appliance used (fuse rating from 1A up to 13A exist). The fuse in the plug is for protecting the cable to the appliance, not the appliance itself. For the latter, the appliance would have its own fuse (or other suitable protection means). Neutral is neither switched nor "protected". UK mains plugs are polarized. In the UK, a wiring system known as a ring mains is used. UK standard (for the last 30 years or so) has been the ring -main (domestic and commercial) rated at 30/32A @230V. A single cable runs all the way round part of a house interconnecting all of the wall outlets. This will be protected by one large fuse in the fuse box. A typical house will have three or four such rings. The power rings are normally protected by a 30 amp fuse and the lighting rings by 5 or 10 amp fuses. Those fuses protect the wiring, not the appliances so, every appliance carries its own fuse in the plug. In the UK, you will normally only ever see a single phase supply in a house. In industrial installations, a variation on the Ring Main may be used (as well as 415V 3 phase for equipment etc). In UK the Neutral will generally be grounded at the local substation, not locally in the house. The Earth is local to the house.
For the british system in equipment without a fuse in the plug you would need something like 1.5mm^2 cables to all types of equipment. A 0.75mm^2 cable would likely have problems at 32A. Remember that power goes with the square of the current in cables, so the 0.75mm^2 cable would actually get heated up four times as trong as it would in germany with current that just about does not blow the fuse.
Other special cases: There are also some special wiring used in some places. Another much rarer scheme is 230V between phases and no neutralin the supply (also called 230V delta). Houses are then fed two phase wires, neither of which is necessarily anywhere near earth potential. This is used in at least in Norway in some locations. Also in some places in Belgium three phase 220 across the phases (= 127 phase to earth/neutral, 230V Y output on transformer) is used on older domestic dwellings (new installations are 400/230V 3 phase, neutral, earth). For this reason all Belgian fuseboards (whether actual fuses orcircuit breakers) protect both current carrying wires irrespective of supply type.
Typical modern mains voltage distribution panel in Europe consists of DIN-rail mounted components like switches, miniature circuit-breakers (MCBs) and residual-current circuit-breakers (RCCBs). When automation is added, European Installation Bus (EIB) is commonly used for modern control application (like light level). But this is not the only automation system in use. The wiring inside building has the power fused in the live side always. Fusing the neutral is not allowed in the building wiring.
Typically the devices devices connected to mains outlet have one fuse to stop the excess current flowing. Because most mains connectorson devices used in European countries you can plugged in two ways to power connector, so you never know if the fuse inside equipment really goes to live or neutral wire (this is not considered to be a major problem when some other safety things are taken into account). The problem with fusing the neutral is that some countries have adesignated neutral, such as the UK, whereas others treat it as reversible phase conductor. This means that some products are produced with the only fuse in the neutral hence, if it blows, all the circuitry in the product is still live, even with the fuse removed. In some special cases double fusing is used in equipments (one fuse for live wire and nother for neutral). Although it is allowable to use double fusing, it should be accompanied with a warning label on some countries (wording is in the standard EN60950).
Residual current device is generally used in new installations to protect outlets on dangerous places like wet locations and outside. RCD with 30mA rating is typical for a single 230V circuit (maximum residual current for human protection). In some cases the whole house three phase feed is protected with RCD for whole house fire protection with maximum of 300 mA RCD.
The protective components, wires and connectors must be designed to handle the high currents that may occur because of short circuits and similar faults. For example UK 13 A plug fuses are tested to break 3000 A without exploding and why HBC fuses ought to be used in almost all mains circuits. For household and light industrial 230 V 13 A or 16 A branch circuits, the prospective short-circuit current is approximately 200 A, but in industrial premises it may be much higher. Wires used for the circuit can normally carry 200 A for a few tens of milliseconds without any ill effects.
Safety of temporary power systems vary somewhat from country to country. In most parts of Europe the sandard means of protection are the use of good grounding and residual current devices is the way to operate electricity safely. In UK big yellow boxes are common, which contain serious power 240V : 110V balanced isolation transformers. These are intended for building sites, so that if you damage the power cable of your tool, the maximum voltage you get applied is 55V above Earth potential, thus safe.
The regulations who can do electrical wiring in European countries varies somewhat from country to country, but in most countries you need some form of certification to legally do work related to electrical wiring (extempt to this are some very small tasks allowed for normal consumer to do). In many countries DIY electrical wiring work is forbidden or restricted nowadays.
For example in UK there are are now new stiff regulations in force fron January 2005 relating to electrical wiring in the home. Anything more complex than tasks such as fitting mains plugs or installing light fittings are now to be the subject of inspections by buildings inspectors. This may be overlooked no doubt by those who do there own DIY but your household insurance could be invalid were it proven that your modifications caused a fire etc. Certainly it would now be very risky to do DIY electrical work for other people without this certification. In many countries this kind of regulations have been there for a long time.
The safety requirements on the new installations are generally more strict than on old systems, but there are many quite old electrical installations in use and will be in use for long time. New dwellings use new protection technologies, are built according to the latest standards, and their protection systems are in good condition. In older dwellings this may not be the case due to lack of care and maintenance. The current completion rate for new build dwellings implies the average lifetime of a European dwelling is 200 years and the majority of European housing stock (60%) is already over 30 years old. Unless these buildings are properly adapted, maintained and renovated, their technical installations become progressively less suited to the higher standards of functionality, security and safety required by today's society. It should be noted that changes in installation standards most often apply to new buildings and not to existing ones. Hence, a major proportion of the housing stock does not yet have safety features that were introduced as new in the 70s and 80s, such as circuit breakers and residual current devices (RCDs). Most countries do not require existing buildings to be made compliant with new standards that come into force after the building has been constructed.
In Eastern Europe, there is still a lot of aluminium wire in houses. Because aluminium creeps easily, screw connections at sockets and fittings often become loose, leading to the high resistance joints that generate heat. This could explain why casualties from fire in Eastern Europe are higher than the Western European average.
The overvoltage categories for the electrical equipment are as follows:
- I : Equipment of overvoltage category l is defined as equipment for connection to circuits in which measures are taken to limit transient overvoltages to an appropriately low level. Examples are protected electronic circuits.
- II : Equipment of overvoltage category ll is defined as energy consuming equipment to be supplied from the fixed installation. Examples of such equipment are appliances, portable tools and other household and similar loads.
- III : Equipment of overvoltage category Ill is defined equipment connected to facility wiring and for cases where the reliability and the availability of the equipment is subject to special requirements. Examples of such equipment are switches in the fixed installation and equipment for industrial use with permanent connection to the facility wiring.
- IV : Equipment of overvoltage category IV is defined as equipment for use at the entrance of the facility. Examples of such equipment are electricity meters and primary overcurrent protection equipment.
- Yellow+Green: Safety ground
- Blue: Neutral
- Brown: First phase conductor
- Black: Second phase conductor
- Gray: Third phase conductor
- Harmonisation document HD 308 S2: Identification of cores in cables and flexible cords - new rules about identification of cores in cables and flexible cords will be applied to all cables, which accords to harmonized rules CENELEC and with the brand <HAR>. Rate this link
Color codes for cables used in Europe
One problem in making electrical installations in differerent countriesin Europe has been that the color coding standard have varied from country to country. A long time ago the European standardization organisations have standardized the color code for safety ground wire to be yellow+green stiped (other colors for this are not allowed). The color of the neutral wire has been standardized to be blue. After the approval of the harmonisation document review CENELEC HD 308, new rules about identification of cores in cables and flexible cords will be applied to all cables. The cables matching the new rules are marked with the brand <HAR>. This standard has been applied around the Europe for flexible cords for a long time. The new standard version of HD 308 published in 2001 standardizes also the fixed wiring colors up to 1000V operation. In this new standard described thw following color codes to be used:
Mains wiring in Finland
Because those wiring documents consider the sitation in Finland most of the documents listed in this section are written in Finnish.
Documents in Finnish
- Cable finder seeks out wall conduits - When you debug home electrical wiring, a tool that determines the location of cable conduits comes in handy, especially when problems arise. Some tools, such as nylon or glass fiber guides, contain small magnets and compasses that act as sensor elements. These short-range systems are useful for brick walls, but not for other wall-mounting systems that include iron elements. This article describes a tool that determines the location of cable conduits with help of a portable AM radio which includes ferrite antenna. Rate this link
- Electric Field and Leakage Detector - This circuit detects very small currents such as those caused by leakage and changing electric fields near maind wiring conductors. Rate this link
- Multicore Cable Tracer - circuit is designed to help when establishing the connections in multicore cables or when identifying a large number of cables contained in a trunking or conduit Rate this link
- Test Plug - circuit which indicates whether your mains socket is wired correctly, for 220-240V systems Rate this link
- $5 junk-box circuit determines phase sequence of three phase power Rate this link
- TMB Frequently Asked Questions - electrical, connectors, lamps, light effects, trussign/rigging Rate this link
- UK DIY FAQ - contains information on electrical wiring in UK Rate this link
Other wiring documents
- Balanced Power Technical Papers, Reviews and Articles - wiring details for audio studio Rate this link
- Power Management in the Studio Rate this link
- Symmetrical power systems FAQ - audio systems and power wiring Rate this link
Mains power distribution in audio/video studios
- The Sutton Designs Power Site! - lots of technical documents on surge suppression and electrical wiring in computer environment, take a look at Rate this link
Wiring in computer environments
- Active Filter Design and Specification For Control of Harmonics in Industrial and Commercial Facilities Rate this link
- Ferroresonant Powering In Today's Broadband Environment - ferroresonant power supplies have been the most widely used powering systems in cable TV Rate this link
- Glossary of Power Quality Terms Rate this link
- Harmonics - introduction to power harmonics Rate this link
- Harmonics Pollution Rate this link
- How Surge Protectors Work Rate this link
- Interpretation and Analysis of Power Quality Measurements Rate this link
- Overview of Power Quality Standards Rate this link
- Power Clinic Tech Tips Rate this link
- Power Factor, Harmonics and Harmonic Filters Rate this link
- Power Line Problems - An Introduction Rate this link
- Power Problems FAQ Rate this link
- Power Protection Definitions - terms related to power protection, including UPS, surge protectors, voltage regulators, and line conditioners Rate this link
- Power quality and grounding Rate this link
- Power Quality Frequently Asked Questions Rate this link
- Power Quality in Your "Electronic" Home - Proliferation of sensitive devices makes good electrical power a must-have. Rate this link
- Power Quality magazine Rate this link
- The Power Quality Tutorial Series: Electrical transients Rate this link
- The Power Quality Tutorial Series: Quantifying, Measuring and Protecting the Modern Facility - protecting facility, plant and data center operations from high amplitude externally generating transients, medium-to-low amplitude internally generated transients and high frequency electrical noise is critical in today's electronic mission-oriented workplace Rate this link
- Two Modern Power Quality Issues Harmonics & Grounding Rate this link
- Understanding Harmonics - Harmonics are especially prevalent where there are large numbers of PCs, adjustable speed drives and other types of equipment that draw non - sinusoidal current. This causes harmonic currents in the load which results in distorted waveforms. Harmonic currents can cause problems at various locations throughout a facility, including overheating transformers, overloaded neutral conductors and breakers are tripping for no apparent reason. Rate this link
- Plug in: Safeguard ac powerline quality - Today's proliferation of electronics creates power-quality problems that are sufficiently severe to attract regulatory action. With legislation in place within the European Union and the United States and Far East looking to follow, standards provide designers with tools to ensure compliance. Rate this link
- Sensitive electronics require stable, clean power - Because dirty power destroys electronic devices, it?s an important concern to anyone working with electronics. While there are some things you can do to directly solve dirty power problems, most of the cures involve addressing the electrical infrastructure. So, you must consider the line between your realm of electronics and the realm of electrical infrastructure. As an electronics person, you probably don?t have control over the electrical infrastructure. But, you can help those who do have control over it to resolve power quality problems quickly. Rate this link
- Troubleshooting power harmonics: Basic troubleshooting using multimeters and current clamps - A mystery is occurring in today?s office buildings and manufacturing plants. Transformers supplying seemingly average loads are overheating. Neutral conductors in balanced circuits are overheating from excessive loads. Circuit breakers are tripping for no apparent reason. Yet the standard troubleshooting procedures show everything to be normal. So what?s the problem? In one word?harmonics. Rate this link
AC is one of those things we never think about-even most electronics textbooks consider it to be a simple, 60-Hertz 120-volt RMS sine wave or 50-Herz 230-volt RMS sine wave (depends on where you live). Many books mention any impurities only in passing. But it's not that simple. The mains power can contain radio frequency interference, fluctuations in the voltage, high voltage spikes and even short breaks in power distribution.Proliferation of sensitive devices makes good electrical power a must-have. Voltages other than nominal affect the equipment they power, reducing performance or increasing wear. Power quality problems that plague many modern offices and factories are largely preventable. Copper-intensive solutions include using larger neutral conductors to handle harmonic loads, better grounding systems to dissipate transients and lightning, and fewer outlets per circuit to lessen interaction between office equipment and computers. The term power quality simply describes how well the power available at the outlet conforms to the electrical standards we all take for granted. The power should be continuous, uninterrupted by gaps, "notches" or other outages, even momentarily; it should be delivered at what electrical systems are standardizes to provide. In USA this 120 V, plus or minus only a few volts; its frequency, 60 Hz, and waveform should likewise be invariant and undistorted. In Europe this is 230V (+-10V) and frequency is 50 Hz.Except for occasional hiccups, electric utilities generally do a good job of supplying high quality power.Brief (1 sec or shorter) power outages are common in developing countries and seem to be increasing in the United States. They are generally nondestructive, so power-protection equipment should not trip and disconnect the load. Electric motors do not appreciably slow, and electronic equipment can usually ride through the outages on the energy stored in filter capacitors. As a point of reference, a 10-msec outage makes an incandescent light bulb flicker. At 100 msec, you can see the bulb go completely dark.Power quality is an issue that is ordinarily associated with commercial structures such as office buildings that contain large numbers of computers, printers and other electronic equipment, along with heavy machinery that wouldn't be found in a home. Still, the proliferation of electronic equipment in home settings has come to the point where power quality considerations are becoming increasingly germane. If you're building a home or office building, now is the ideal time to make certain your electrical system is designed and installed such that your sensitive electronic equipment receives the power quality it needs.If you're upgrading the electrical system in an older house, you can usually quite easily and relatively economically accomplish the same goal.
- Standby power supply (SPS): In this type of supply, power is usually derived directly from the power line, until power fails. After power failure, a battery powered inverter turns on to continue supplying power. Batteries are charged, as necessary, when line power is available. This type of supply is sometimes called an "offline" UPS.
- Hybrid or ferroresonant UPS systems: When normal operating line power is present, the supply conditions power using a ferroresonant transformer. This transformer maintains a constant output voltage even with a varying input voltage and provides good protection against line noise. The transformer also maintains output on its secondary briefly when a total outage occurs. When main power is lost, power inverter then goes on.
- "true" UPS systems: This type of system continuously operate from an inverter. In this kind of system there is no switchover time, and these supplies generally provide the best isolation from power line problems.
UPS systems and emergency power
A wide variety of natural disasters or electrical system failures cancause short-term power outages. We are all dependent on electricity, so a power outage of more than a few minutes becomes pretty annoying.A power outage of very short time can cause problems to computer systems(most often causes your PC to boot and loose some data).An Uninterruptible Power Supply is a device that sits between a power supply (e.g. a wall outlet) and a device (e.g. a computer) to prevent undesired features of the power source (outages, sags, surges, bad harmonics, etc.) from the supply from adversely affecting the performance of the device. There really is no standard definition of what a UPS is.The UPS industry is made up of many manufacturers, and there is a lack of standard terms within the industry.There are basically three different types of devices, all of which are occasionally passed off as UPSs:
UPS interfacing and controlling
- Ground Fault Interrupters - what they are and how they can add safety Rate this link
- Asynchronous (Induction) Generators - Most wind turbines in the world use a so-called three phase asynchronous (cage wound) generator, also called an induction generator to generate alternating current. Rate this link
- Changing Generator Rotational Speed Rate this link
- Everything you ever (or never) wanted to know about emergency power, lights and generators! (Part one) Rate this link
- GeneratorJoe AC Power Generators Index - Links to very many AC generator related companies Rate this link
- Generator Operation - This document has tips how certain Honda generators should be used. Rate this link
- How An Electric Generator Works Rate this link
- Synchronous Generators: 3-Phase Generator (or Motor) Principles Rate this link
- Wind Turbine Generators Rate this link
- Wind Chimes In - wind turbines emerge as the frontrunner in large-scale "greenelectricity" generation Rate this link
- Ground Fault Interrupters - what they are and how they can add safety Rate this link
- Multiwire Branch Circuit Wiring Precautions when using Stand-Alone 120 VAC Inverters or Generators - document describes conventional home wiring and multiwire brach circuit wiring Rate this link
- Generator Monitoring Rate this link
- Build a generator from a lawn-edger motor - This generator was built using a 3 horse power Briggs and Stratton horizontal shaft motor, a GM 65 amp automotive alternator (with built in voltage regulator), a used car battery, a pulley and V-belt, a 12 volt cigarette lighter outlet box with fuse, a DC to AC power converter, a low voltage control switch, a scrap of 3/4" plywood, a few scraps of 2 x 4 lumber, 4 wheels, and two battery cables. The basic generator (gas powered motor, alternator and battery only) can be used as a 12 volt power source. Rate this link
- Building a high power AC/DC generator system Rate this link
- Converting a lawn mower into a generator Rate this link
- Homemade Generator Tips Rate this link
- Low RPM alternator tests with surplus hard drive magnets 9-13-99 Rate this link
An electric generator is a device used to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The operation of generator is based on the principle of "electromagnetic induction": moving the wire through the magnetic field causes electric current to flow in the wire.Large generators are used by electrical utilieties to generatethe power to the mains power grid. When you need poweron places where normal electrical distribution grids do notreach, motor powered generators are generators are convientsources of mains power. The generator itself in those motorpowered generaotrs is rotated by a suitable motor (usually diesel motor).When selecting a generator, go for a generator with a rating higher than you need, so that you don't run it at full load (not good for fuel efficiency),or risk tripping the thing out or stalling it (motor generators can notgenerally take much overload). The power factor needs to be taken into account when driving inductive loads (be sure you have ebough watts and VA:s).Generally take the total KW load of the load, add at least 20-30 % as safety margin.When selecting generator you will need to know roughly how many hours per day the generator will be running, and roughload estimates of those hours. When renting a generator,tell the rental company those numbers, and ask them for their recommendations. Power (kW) ratings of an AC generator are based on the ability of the prime mover to overcome generator losses and the ability of the machine to dissipate the internally generated heat.Typical name plate data for an AC generator includes: manufacturer name, serial number and type number, speed (rpm), number of poles, frequency of output, number of phases, and maximum supply voltage, capacity rating in KVA and kW at a specified power factor and maximum output voltage, armature and field current per phase; and maximum temperature rise.Generators are perfectly safe provided they are set up and used correctly. If you plan to hire a geenrator, be sure to hire from areputable company. They should be able to provide you with suitable cables, and site the generators for maximum efficiency.Define your need and ask the rental company for their solution.When installing generator, make sure that the generator has a good earth/ground connection.How this earthign shoudl be done depends somewhat on localelectrical regulations and instructions on generator.
General information on generators
Building a generator
- How Surge Protectors Work - When you put together a computer system, one piece of standard equipment you'll probably buy is a surge protector. Rate this link
- Lightning Protection Systems - why and how Rate this link
- PolyPhaser Technical Information - Answers to many lighting protection questions. Rate this link
- Power Protection FAQ Sheets and Discussions Rate this link
- Reality Checks for Surge Standards Rate this link
- Series Mode Suppression or Shunt Mode? - What's the Difference? Rate this link
- United States Practices to Protect People and Equipment Against Lightning Rate this link
- What you Need to know about MOVs (And perhaps what you wish you never knew...) - there are serious shortcomings and performance limitations exist in many MOV based mains surge protectors built into extension cords Rate this link
Mains surge protection
The effectiveness of the multiple earth neutral wiring forlightning protection is quite limited. In multiple earth groundingthere is a ground rod at the service entrance panel of the buildingand there are other ground rods connected at other buildings to theneutral in a similar manor. But as far as lightning isconcerned the wire between those ground points has too much inductance to looklike much of a ground to lightning Any appreciable length of ground wirelooks like a large inductor to the lightning (most energy at DC to 1 MHZ).Then don't forget that the hot wires carrying the ac are not grounded.Lighting facts from Polyphaser "grounds for lightning and EMP protection" book:The average lightning strike will have a peak current of 18kA for thefirst impulse (stroke) and less (about half) for the second and thirdimpulses. Three strokes is the average per lightning strike.50% of all strikes will have a first strike of at least 18kA, 10% willexceed a 65kA level and only 1% will have over 140kA. The largest strikeever recorded was almost 400kA.Disconnecting everything when a storm is approaching is of course one way toavoid damage but that doesn't always get done. There are many "plug in" surge devices sold. They are not veryeffective for proecting agains direct strikes. The biggest problem being that there is no ground for them.The ground lead at the ac outlet is too far away from the ground rods to do anygood. The impedance of the ground line is too high in normal mains wiring.To be effective they need a short good ground connection.Plug-in devices without very good groundign can protect somewhat devicesagains small small overvoltage spikes and devices connectedonly to mains (no telephone line connection etc.).When protecting sensitive electronics like PC, look for a suppressor that offers a response time (the time it takes for the suppressor to react to a surge) of 10 nanoseconds or less and energy dissipation rating of 200 joules or more. A failure indicator light that tells you when the suppressor is on the blink is also important. If you are still using a dial-up modem, you want to be sure the suppressor blocks electricity that can come in from the phone lines, too. Finally, be sure that the suppressor you buy meets the local safety ratings (has compliance stamps). In USA be sure that the suppressor you buy has a UL compliance stamp and look for a suppressor that meets the UL 1449 specifications. Some brands of surge suppressor include an equipment protection guarantee that covers components damaged if the device fails to do its thing.When designing larger systems, the system grounding needs to beconsidered also.All equipment involved in a system should physically be located as close as possible to one another. This reduces the potential that is developed between the ground site and the individual components of the system during a lightning strike. This single point grounding greatly reduces the potential for lightning damage to electrical equipment. If you are unable to achieve single-point grounding due to large distances between equipment or other variables, other means of lightning protection must be considered. Consult a reputable lightning protection company.
- Single phase: Live and neutral connectors (sometimes also separate earth wire)
- Two phase: Two live conductors with one neutral conductor. The two live conductors have save voltage at opposite polarity both referenced to neutral. In USA there is usually 110-120V AC between live and neural; 220-240V between those two live wires.
- Three phase: There are three live wires with same AC voltage at 120 degrees phase shift. Three phase power is commonly used for powering large electrical motors and other applications that need lots of power. There are different wiring practices to wire three phase power.
- 2x125V DC: Power distribution during early years of elctricity (in the beginning of 1900) the DC was popular way to distribute power. One way to distribute this power to home was through use of one grounded neutral wire, one positive 120V line and one negative 125V line. The normal small loads are connected between neutral and one 125V line. High power loads can use 250V between positive and negative power feeding line. This is historical system that has dissapeared.
- Single phase 120V AC: You get 120V hot wire and one neutral wire to the house. Used for very small loads in USA.
- Single phase 220V: This is the single phase mains voltage used in most parts of Europe and many other countries. European 220V countries have nowadays shifted to 230V standard nowadays.
- Single phase 230V: This is the standardized mains voltage on single phase power in Europe.
- Single phase 240V: This is the power distribution system used in many parts of UK. The Europan standardization is briging this to 230V AC.
- Two phase 120V AC (120/240V AC split phase): In a typical home in the states you have 3 cables coming into your panel from the service. Basically, there's a center-tapped step-down (few kV distribution voltage to 120V+120V AC) transformer on the electrical line pole, with the tap earthed (at least in theory) and each socket connected across one side of the transformer. Larger devices (electric stoves, central air conditioning units, electric dryers, etc.) are wired across the entire transformer, receiving 240v. The voltages can be sometimes referred with names 110V, 117V or 120V, all meaning the same system.
- Three phase 230V/400V: This is the standard way for three phase power distribution in Europe to homes. The ouput from mains transformer is Y-conneted. There is 230V AC from each phase to neutral and 400V AC from phase to phase. The normal 230V electrical outlets are wired between neutral and one phase. Large high power loads use all three phases (the indivudual loads in such equipment can be phase to neutral or phase to phase as needed).
- Three phase 110/208 V AC: USA three phase service (practically never seen in a home situation), the transformer is set up in a "y" configuration with 208 volts between any two secondaries and 110 between any one secondary and the centre tapped neutral. Normal electrical outlets are wired from neutral to one phase. High power loads use either all three phase or are wired between two phases.
- Two legs of 120/208 wye: In some areas in USA, you get 2 legs of a 120/208 wye instead of the usual 120/240 split phase service. A large three phase bank will serve perhaps a block of a small city with 120/208 three phase. Any single phase services get two legs of this. This is done because of the mix of small three phase commercial and residential loads. You'll also see this in a fair number of apartmemnt complexes.
- 600V DC: This is a voltage used for electrical small train like devices like streetcars and subways. Typical way in street is that 600V is on overhead wiring and the neutral/ground is on the rails. This is still in use in many cities that use those services. The early subways used DC because of the ease of varying the speed by varying the voltage. Alas, DC isn't so convenient to distribute, so they distributed AC and converted it to DC using synchronous rotary converters first and then mercury arc rectifiers.
- Three phase 127/220V: This is an old system used in years ago in some European countries (for example in Finland in some areas, still on old dwellings in Belgium). The transformer output is Y-connected. The voltage between neutral and phase is 127V. The voltage between phases is 220V. Lamps and small loads were connected between neutral and ground, large motors use all phases. Nowadays the 220V outlets are wired with two phase wires.
- Three phase 230V between phases: 230V between phases and no neutral in the supply. Houses are then fed two phase wires, neither of which is necessarily anywhere near earth potential. This is used in at least in Norway coutries in some locations. Sometimes house gets all three phases and outlets are wired between two phases. Large electrical motors use all three phases.
- Three phase 480/277V: A 480 wye connected transformer is 277V phase to ground. This is used in some industrial installations for powering electrical motors. This system is is normally installed with 600 V insulation.
- Community Entergy Cooperative: How the System Works Rate this link
- Electric Utilities - This document has information on challenges in electric utility industry. Rate this link
- How Power Distribution Grids Work Rate this link
- Joyrneyman Lineman Connection - very comprehensive site with a LINEMAN's chat room Rate this link
- O'Connor's Kiosk Power Page - for electrical engineers in the electric power industry Rate this link
- Magnificent Views - Pictures and information about High Voltage Towers Rate this link
- S?hk?verkko-opus - electrical power distribution network basics in Finnish Rate this link
- S?hk?voimatekniikan opus - electrical power distribution network basics in Finnish Rate this link
- EMF-Link - information on biological and health effects of electric and magnetic fields Rate this link
- Powerlines and Cancer FAQs: Introduction Rate this link
- Build a generator from a lawn edger motor Rate this link
- Converting a lawn mower into a generator - outlines the construction of a generator from a lawnmower engine Rate this link
- Renewable Energy - solar power, hydroelectric and wind powered systems Rate this link
- Solar Solutions: Solar Powered Workshed Rate this link
- The New York Subway: Its Construction and Equipment - This book was first published in 1904 by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, as a commemorative celebrating the opening of the subway. Rate this link
Electrical distribution networks and electrical utilities
Electrical power is a little bit like the air you breathe: You don't really think about it until it is missing. Power is just "there," meeting your every need, constantly.Electricity can be generated anywhere-once generated, it is immediately entered into the transmission system, sometimes called the Grid. Those huge high-tension tower lines hum with just-created electricity at extremely high voltage. It must be changed into a usable form and delivered before it dissipates.Electrical power starts at the power plant.Power travels from the power plant to your house through an amazing system called the power distribution grid. The electrical power distribution used nowadays is based on alternating current (AC). Alternating current (AC) is electric current which repeatedly changes polarity from negative to positive and back again. The most commonly used form of alternating current does so in a sine wave pattern, and that is the one used in mains power distribution. Alternating-current electric power is a form of electrical energy that uses alternating currents to supply electricity commercially as electric power. AC can be stepped up by a transformer to a higher voltage or stepped down to lower voltage as needed. The electricla power is converted to high voltage for long distance transmission (to avoid resistive losses in the wires, because at higher voltage lower current is needed to carry same power). The electrical is generally distributed using polyphase electrical systems that supply electrical power in overlapping phases, the most common example being three phase power. These systems exhibit three-phase induction or more. Nikola Tesla discovered these types of systems. Polyphase power is particularly useful in AC motors, where it can be used to generate a rotating magnetic field. Three phase power is commonly found in industrial applications and electrical distribution. Three-phase electrical generation is very common and is a more efficient use of conductors than other systems (like single phase, two phase or more than three phases). Three-phase power is common only in industrial premises and many industrial electric motors are designed for it. Three current waveforms are produced that are 120 degrees out of phase with each other. At the load end of the circuit the return legs of the three phase circuits can be coupled together at the neutral point, where the three currents sum to zero. This means that the currents can be carried using only three cables, rather than the six that would otherwise be needed. In many situations only a single phase is needed to supply street lights or residential consumers. When distributing three-phase electric power, a fourth or neutral cable is run in the street distribution to provide a complete circuit to each house. Different houses in the street are placed on different phases of the supply so that the load is balanced, or spread evenly, across the three phases when a lot of consumers are connected. Commercial electrical generators of any size generate what is called 3-phase AC power. The 3-phase power leaves the generator and enters a transmission substation at the power plant. For power to be useful in a home or business, it comes off the transmission grid and is stepped-down to the distribution grid. This may happen in several phases. The place where the conversion from "transmission" to "distribution" occurs is in a power substation. The power goes from the substation transformer to the distribution bus which distributes the power to the lines which leave the substation. This voltage is usually several thousand volts and is converted to normal mains voltage somewhere nearer to house. Past a typical house runs a set of poles with one phase of power and a ground wire (although sometimes there will be two or three phases on the pole depending on where the house is located in the distribution grid). There can be a transformer attached to the pole to give power to the house or the line can carry mains voltage and the step-down transformer is located some short distance away. In many suburban neighborhoods, the distribution lines are underground and there are transformer boxes at every house or set of houses. When the electrical power is inside the house, the inside wiring takes care of distributing it where it is needed.The power from the local distribution transformer comes generally in three common confgurations:
Electrical distribution lines
Electrical networks and health
Other related information
- Visual check: Examine visually that the connections are properly made and system components are not damaged. This is the first check to do.
- Continuity check: This applies a voltage to each pin in turn and checks the response of all other pins. This is checked against the required response. This test will detect missing connections (Opens), Extra Connections (Shorts) and misswired connections ("wrong pins"). Test voltage usually around 3-10 volts. This test van be made with normal multimeter.
- Resistance measurement: This test measures the resistance between every point in the cable and checks that the value is below the required value. This will detect poor connections, wrong wire lengths and bad crimps. Some basic tests can be carreid with a multimeter, but to measure low resistance values accurately you should use a "4 wire low resistance tester".
- HiPot test: This test applies a high voltage (normally in the range 100 to 1000 Volts DC but we can supply higher voltages and A.C. systems if necessary) between a connection and the rest of the circuit. The current is then monitored to check the insulation and for flashover. This test will detect poor insulation, insufficient clearances between connections and contamination. You need a special tester tool for this (a MEGGER can do DC tests).
- Eart connection testing: This test check the continuity and resitance of the grounding wires. This test is usually made by applying a current (10-30A) to the ground wire to check it's resistance and make sure that it can withstand current going through it.
- Measuring of ground wire resistance: ground wire resistance from outlet to mains distribution panel grounding bar (should be below 2 ohms). The resistance id tested with some test current going through ground wire (several amperes ??)
- Insulation testing: Insulation resistance from live/neutral to ground at suitable voltage (usually 500V)
- Line resistance measurement: The wire loop reistance from the mains panel to the outlet should be less than two ohms.
Electrical installation safety testing includes many different tests:
The electrial testing of mains outlet wiring with the modern testing instruments includes typically the following teststo make sure that the installation is safe (related to tests in finland, 230v single phase outlet):
Insulation resistance tests should be made on a dead circuit and any electronic equipment which might be damaged by application of the test voltage must be disconnected or isolated. The insulation resistance should be measured between each live conductor and earth and should not be less than 0.5 megohm. Where practicable the tests are applied to the whole of the installation with all fuse links in place and all switches closed. Alternatively, the installation may be tested in parts.The resistance of the phase-neutralloop or phase-phase loop is needed toensure that adequate over-currentprotection has been provided in thecase of a short circuit developingbetween the two live conductors or liveto neutral.
Generally, circuits protected by fuses need to have very low loop resistances. The phase-ground loop resistance is also needed to ensure adequateover-current protection, but also toensure that, in the case of a groundfault, an adequately large current will flow to activate any protective devices. Depending on the situation the resistances are measured with resistance measurement device that supplies suitable measurement current to the wire loop or by using a short circuit current measuring meters (enough short circuit current guarantees low resistance). Where protection is provided by an R.C.D., the effective operation of each R.C.D. shall be verified by a test simulating an appropriate fault condition independent of any test facility incorporated in the device, followed by operation of the integral test device.
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