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Digital Clamp Meter: A more versatile Measuring Instrument

Measurement of Current.. Yeah! the usual meter that comes in mind for current measurement is the ammeter. These meters have to be connec...

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Chemical compounds for Electrical Earthing

An electrical installation may face –
1.       Damage because of Lightening,
2.       Electrical leakage,
3.       Short circuit between phases or between phase and neutral,
4.       Surges in the supply.

The above causes may lead to electric fire causing loss of property and loss of human lives. 

Equipments with electronic circuits/PCBs/electronic cards are liable to get damaged due to high neutral currents and unbalanced voltages. Therefore, the voltage between neutral and earth point of any installation should be kept to a minimum. 

Why Earthing or Grounding is needed?


A well designed Earthing or Grounding system is very essential for any electrical installation. All the equipment casings, and neutral of the 3-phase system have to be kept at zero or ground potential. It avoids dangers associated with fault currents; protects both the equipment and the operator against hazardous voltages. 

Whenever there is an insulation failure, there is a tendency that some metallic parts are also energized to the potential of the current carrying part, unless the equipment is effectively earthed. The tolerable value of current through any human being is less than 100 micro-amps. The impact of current flow in a human depends upon the magnitude of current, duration of current flow, and nature of current. Current flow may cause muscular contraction, respiratory nerve blockage, and burning. The most severe is the stopage of heart beat resulting in immediate end of blood circulation. 

A good earthing system protects the installation and equipment by providing low impedance path to fault currents. It also minimizes electromagnetic noise thus preventing unwanted interference with communication signals.


Recommended Values of Earth Resistance:

 The recommended values of earth resistance for various installations are as under:

  1. Large sub-station, generating stations etc less than 1 Ohm,
  2. Transmission sub-stations, primary distribution sub-stations, large industries; 1 to 5 Ohm,
  3. Sub-stations and equipments below 10 kV; 5 to 10 Ohm.

In any case the value of earthing should not exceed 25 Ohm. 

Limitations of  Common Salt and Charcoal when used in an Earthing system:

Resistivity of Soil is important in earthing. It depends on the soil nature, moisture, temperature and content. Clay and black cotton soil have low resistivity as compared to red or rocky soil.

Traditionally we have used charcoal and salt in the earthing pit to reduce the earth/soil resistivity. The common salt is a known corrosive electrolyte which decays the pipe and the conductor used for earthing leading to inconsistent resistive values. Similarly, the soft coke and charcoal used to become ash due to the heavy heat generated by large fault currents in the system, particularly at high voltages.

Recent trend is using Chemical Compounds: 

Now a day advanced chemical compounds are used in the earthing system which lowers the contact resistance of earth electrode significantly (approximately over 60%). It offers low impedance to surges resulting in faster energy dissipation. The earthing system can fail because of inadequate dissipation of heat. These chemical compounds have a high melting temperature of 2500oC and thus helps in dissipating the heat generated due to faults.

These chemicals or mixtures have excellent shelf life, require no maintenance and do not adversely affect soil or ground water. These compounds have very good performance even during dry weather as its working does not require continuous presence of water.

These chemical compounds for earthing, mainly consisting of Aluminum Silicate, are available in easy carry bags of 10/25/50 kg. Its resistivity is less than 0.1 ohm-m. The key features of these compounds are:

1. Absorbs and retains the moisture for long time; in fact they have the property to absorb water 15 times of its weight,
2. Reduces soil resistivity,
3. Keeps the earth resistance same over a wide temperature variations,
4. Dissipate fault currents at a faster rate,
5. Eliminate the need of salt and charcoal around the electrode,

Saturday, 12 March 2016

How to reduce the Electrical Energy consumed by a Lighting System?

Last Updated 20 January 2017

Use of Electrical energy and its costs can be significantly reduced by installing energy efficient lighting system. Efficient building lighting systems use less energy than the systems in place in many of the houses, offices, schools, municipal buildings, stores, and plants. New energy-efficient lighting systems also provide better lighting quality and hence improve the working environment.

How to reduce the Electrical Energy consumed by a Lighting system?

Electrical energy consumed by a lighting system can be reduced either by reducing the lighting power or by reducing the time of use. Operating hours can be reduced by:
1.       Switching,
2.       Occupancy sensors,
3.       Scheduling controls, or
4.       Photocells.

How switching of a Lighting system helps the user?

Switching off the lighting system when not in use reduces the electricity bill and enhances the lamp life. For example, turning of fluorescent lights save energy and extends overall lamp life. Fluorescent lamps will run more hours if operated continuously, but they will last for many more years if they are turned off when not in use. Although the average rated life of fluorescent lamp is shortened by switching, calendar life is lengthened. The period, in hours or years, between the lamp changes is called Calendar life.

"For example, a standard F40 rapid-start lamp operated continuously result in a rated lamp life of 34,000 hours (calendar life of 34,000/8760 = 3.9 years). Turning off these lamps for 12 hours a day or because of approximately 2830 switching, the average rated life of the lamp is reduced to 30,000 hours, but the calendar life is extended to 6.8 years."

Occupancy Sensors reduces the Energy consumed:

Occupancy recognition is the strategy applied to intermittently occupied areas to automatically turn off the lights after the room is left unoccupied. The two principal technologies used for occupancy sensors are -
1)      Passive infra red (PIR) and,
2)       Ultrasonic techniques.
PIR sensors react to body heat and sense occupancy by detecting the difference in heat from a body and the background. Ultrasonic sensors are volumetric detectors and transmit waves above the range of human hearing, then measure the time for the waves to return. Ultrasonic units can detect persons behind obstructions. Sensitivity adjustments are also there to make an ultrasonic unit more or less sensitive to motion. Similarly delay adjustment sets the time the lights remain on when no occupancy is detected. Care should be taken as too short delay can reduce the lamp life and increase occupant complaints.

What is Scheduling Strategy?

Scheduling is a control strategy employed to activate, switch-off, or adjust lighting according to a pre-determined schedule. It is best suited for facilities where majority of activities happen at certain times. Time clocks are the easiest way to implement scheduling strategies and several types of time clocks are available in the market; viz. preset, electromechanical, electronic and astronomical. Astronomical time clocks are used to control outdoor lighting and can automatically adjust sunrise and sunset times. Programmable timer switches can switch lighting loads on-off several times during a day. They have the provision of removing selected days from the schedule and the same can be repeated each week.

Fig : A digital timer switch in circuit.

How Photocells helps in reducing Energy Consumption?

Photocells, made of cadmium-sulphide, are light activated switches used to turn off lights when daylight is adequate for safety and task performance. A delay feature prevents rapid operation during cloudy days.       

Thus, opportunities of energy saving through operational changes and better house-keeping must be identified as it the need of the hour. The short term and cost effective measures should be implemented immediately.