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Earth Ground
The Basics
- Diagnose intermittent
electrical problems
- Avoid unnecessary
- Learn earth ground testing
Table of Contents
Why Ground? Why Test?
Grounding basics
Methods of earth ground testing
Measuring ground resistance

Who to Target
Size of the Opportunity
Why we will win
Sales Tools
Earth Ground - Foundation
Earth Ground Sales Information
Earth Ground
What is ground?
A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, between
an electrical circuit or equipment and the earth, or to some conducting
body that serves in place of earth

Beyond the actual definition of a ground, the important point is: -
a connection to earth can be intentional or accidental.

Ground testing ensures that the
intentional grounds are functioning
If the intentional path to ground fails and accidental path to
ground is disturbed, systems can fail intermittently.
What is a ground? What does it do?
What is ground?
Catch the problem before it happens!

Its estimated that at least 15% of power quality problems are
related to grounding, ensuring good grounding by testing can
make certain these problems dont escalate (source - EPRI)

Lightning strikes on equipment with poorly maintained
protection systems destroy millions of dollars of equipment and
lost production every year (source

Earth Ground testing should be a part
of a customers basic PdM program.
Why test grounding systems?
What is ground?
Ideally the ground resistance of a system is zero ohms.

But in reality, the goal is to achieve the lowest ground resistance
possible that makes sense economically and physically.

NFPA & IEEE: Recommends a ground resistance value of
5.0 ohms or less.
Telecommunications Industry: Often uses 5.0 ohms or
less as their value for grounding or bonding
NEC: Make sure the system to ground is 25.0 ohms or less.
In facilities with sensitive equipment, it should be 5.0 ohms or
less. (source NEC 250.56)
What is a good ground value?
Components of a ground
Ground conductor

Connection between the ground conductor and
ground electrode

Ground electrode
Spheres of Influence
There must be proper spacing between ground electrodes and earth
stakes to reduce or eliminate their spheres of influence
The NEC code requires a minimum ground electrode length of 2.5
meters (8.0 feet) to be in contact with the soil. But, there are four
variables that affect the ground resistance of a ground system:

Length / Depth of the ground electrode double the
length, reduce ground resistance by up to 40%

Diameter of the ground electrode double the diameter,
lower ground resistance by only 10%

Number of ground electrodes for increased
effectiveness, space additional electrodes at least equal to the
depth of the ground electrodes

Ground system design single ground rod to ground plate

What affects ground
Depending on the
soil type and the
level of earth
ground resistance
you are trying to

You may choose
to install any one
of the following
ground systems.
Types of Ground Systems
Single Ground Rod Multiple Ground Electrodes
Ground Mesh Ground Plate
Soil Resistivity uses four stakes
Fall of Potential uses two stakes
Selective Testing uses one clamp and two stakes
Stakeless Testing uses only two clamps

These are the only types of earth ground test methods
available today.
Methods of Testing
The purpose of soil resistivity measurements is to quantify the
effectiveness of the earth where a grounding system will be

So, soil resistivity testing is most necessary when determining
the design of the grounding system for new installations.
Ideally, you would find a location with the lowest possible

The soil composition, moisture content and temperature of the
soil all impact the soil resistivity.
Soil Resistivity
To test soil resistivity, connect
the ground tester as shown.

The Fluke-1625 generates a
known current through the two
outer stakes and the drop in
voltage potential is measured
between the two inner ground
stakes. Using Ohms Law
(V=IR), the Fluke tester
automatically calculates the soil
Soil Resistivity - Testing
Resistivity Measurement
From the indicated resistance value R
, the soil resistivity is
calculated according to the equation :

= 2 . a . R

...... mean value of soil resistivity (W
...... measured resistance (W)
a ...... probe distance (m)
Soil Resistivity - Calculation
First, the ground electrode of interest
must be disconnected from its
connection to the site.

Two earth stakes are placed in the soil
in a direct line away from the earth
electrode. Normally, a spacing of 20
meters is sufficient.

A known current is generated by the
Fluke 1625 between the outer stake and
the ground electrode, while the voltage
potential is measured between the inner
earth stake and the earth electrode.
Fall of Potential Testing
To test the accuracy of the results and
to ensure that the ground stakes are
outside the sphere of influence,
reposition the inner stake 1 meter and
take a fresh measurement.

If there is a significant change in the
reading (30%) you need to increase the
distance between the ground electrode
under test and the earth stakes.
Fall of Potential Testing (II)
The selective method is based on
the Fall of Potential test, however
its not necessary to disconnect
the ground electrode under test !

A current clamp is used to isolate
the test current injected into the
electrodes under test, the current
will flow to earth by any path.

By isolating the current, with use
of the current clamp, the ground
resistance of individual elements
can be measured without
Selective Testing
If the total resistance of the
ground system should be
measured, then each earth
electrode resistance must be
measured by placing the clamp
around each individual earth

Then the total resistance of the
ground system can be determined
by calculation.
Selective Testing (II)
This application example,
at a central office, shows
the benefit of the selective
test in a typical installation.

First, position the ground
spikes according to the
requirements of the
system under test.
Selective Testing - Application
Once the spikes are placed,
individual elements of the
system can be measured.
No need to disconnect the
ground system !

In this example,
measurements are taken at
MGN (multi grounded
ground field,
water pipe,
structural or building steel
Selective Testing - Application
The stakeless method eliminates the need for temporary ground stakes.
This is useful in a wide range of situations. Examples include:
Inside buildings
Urban locations
Chemical and industrial plants

The stakeless method is not available on all ground testers. However, it
comes standard on the Fluke 1623 and 1625 earth ground testers.

The temporary ground stakes are replaced by two current clamps. The
first clamp generates a voltage on the ground condutor, the second
clamp measures the current flowing due to the generated voltage.
Stakeless Testing
The Fluke 1623 and 1625 testers
are able to measure earth ground
loop resistances for multi grounded
systems using only current clamps.

With this test method, two clamps
are placed around the earth ground
rod or connecting cable and each
connected to the tester. Earth
ground stakes arent used at all.

Stakeless Testing
The Fluke testers work on the
principle that the parallel/multi-
grounded sysems, the net
resistance of all ground paths will
be extremely low as compared to
any single path (the one under

So, the net resistance of all the
parallel return path resistances is
effectively zero. If the ground
system is not parallel to earth then
you will either have an open circuit,
or be measuring ground loop
Stakeless Testing
The clamps are placed around the
ground conductor
Stakeless Testing - Application
The stakeless method does not need a lot of parallel paths to be present
to ensure good results.
If there is only one path to ground, like at many residential
applications, the stakeless method will not provide an acceptable
value and the Fall of Potential test method must be used.

An abnormally high reading or an open circuit indication on the
instrument points to a poor connection between two or more of
the aforementioned critical components.

An abnormally low reading could indicate the instrument is
measuring a loop of bonding conductors.

Stakeless Testing - Details
Used where other methods are not
available. Uses nearby metal
structures as a temporary spike.
Metal water pipes are typically


The resistance of the metal pipe
should be significantly less than the
electrode under test.

Metal pipes are being replaced with

Some metal pipes use plastic

Two Pole ground resistance
Advantages Drawbacks
Fall-of-Potential Widely accepted You have to disconnect ground
The stakes may not be easy to drive
There may not be space around the
ground electrode to drive the stakes

Dont have to disconnect electrode The stakes may not be easy to drive
There may not be space around the
ground electrode to drive the stakes

Dont have to disconnect electrode
Assumes a low-impedance parallel path
Possible to get very low readings by
mistakenly measuring on a hard-wired
Convenience Impossible to judge the integrity of the
auxiliary electrode.
Cant be sure you are outside the area
of influence
Selecting a Test Method
Introducing the new Fluke 1623
& 1625 Earth Ground Testers
Feature 1623 1625
3-pole earth measurement
4-pole earth measurement
Specific earth resistance (soil-resistivity according to Wenner)
2-pole resistance measurement DC
4-pole resistance measurement DC
2-pole resistance measurement AC
Selective earth measurement (1 clamp)
Stakeless earth measurement (2 clamps)
Earth impedance of high voltage pylons (55 Hz)
Measuring voltage 20/48 V
Measuring voltage <= 48 V
Automatic frequency control (AFC) (94 ... 128 Hz)
Measuring frequency 128 Hz
Programmable limits, settings
One button measurement concept
Protective rubber holster
Choosing the right instrument