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Safety and Health

Fact Sheet No. 29 July 2004


2004 American Welding Society

Grounding of Portable and Vehicle Mounted Welding


GND/PE Generators

INTRODUCTION
GroundedConnected to earth or to
Proper grounding and bonding of portable some conducting body that serves in place
and vehicle mounted welding generators of the earth.
that also supply 115 or 230 volts AC
auxiliary power is an on-going topic among Grounded, effectivelyIntentionally con-
welders. This Fact Sheet will help you nected to earth through a ground
determine the requirements for bonding connection of sufficiently low resistance
and grounding welding generators. and with adequate current-carrying
Additionally, it will give definitions and capacity to prevent the buildup of voltage
present necessary electrical concepts to that may be hazardous to connected
clarify the requirements for bonding and equipment or to persons.
grounding.
GroundingThe process of bonding one
TERMS or more conductive objects to the ground,
so that all objects are at zero (O) electrical
Sources: ANSI Z49.1, hereafter termed potential; also referred to as earthing.
Z49.1, AWS A3.0, and NEC--National
Electrical Code, hereafter termed NEC. Grounding ConductorA conductor
See Information Sources Section at end for used to connect equipment or the
details. grounded circuit of a wiring system to a
grounding electrode or electrodes [ground
BondingThe permanent joining of rod(s) or metal water pipe].
metallic parts to form an electrically
conductive path that will ensure electrical Ground RodA metal rod, typically
continuity and the capacity to conduct copper, not less than eight feet in length
safely any current likely to be imposed. and 1/2 inch in diameter, driven into the
earth such that at least eight feet of length
GroundThe electrical potential of the is in contact with the soil, to function as a
earths surface; a conducting connection, suitable connection point to earth. NOTE:
whether intentional or accidental, between Since different diameters are required for
an electrical circuit or equipment and the different rod materials and the driven
earth, or to some conducting body that length and number of rods used depends
serves in place of the earth. on the special soil conditions and
applications, consult the NEC for the
Ground ConnectionAn electrical con- specific data for the correct ground rod and
nection of the welding machine frame to method of use for each particular situation.
the earth for safety.

AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 29 07/04 Page 1


workpiece to an earth ground), the work
Hard WiredConnected by separate lead will not be grounded.
conductors to a junction point or boxnot
to receptacles. NATURE OF THE HAZARD

Metal Water PipeTypically an under- Some basics:


ground metal water pipe that supplies When the generator is running,
water to a building or premises or faucet current can pass through a wire, a
/outlet and that is in contact with the earth ladder, a hoist, your body, or any
for a specified distance. NOTE: Since the other conductor.
metal water pipe has several key If you become part of an electrical
requirements that must be met before it circuit, current can pass through
complies with regulations, consult the NEC your body causing a shock.
for specific information before selecting
any pipe for a ground connection. Why Grounding is Important: Grounding
the frame of electrical equipment ensures
PortableCapable of being carried or the following:
moved about; designed for ready Generators are grounded to prevent
movement and use in field locations. the buildup of voltages that may
result in undue hazards to persons
Separately Derived System--A premises or equipment.
wiring system whose power is derived from When no voltage difference exists
a battery, a solar photovoltaic system, or between the grounded generator
from a generator, transformer, or converter frame and earth, no electric current
windings, and that has no direct electrical can flow. Therefore, the shock
connection, including a solidly connected hazard is reduced.
grounded circuit conductor, to supply Since it is the flow of electric current
conductors originating in another system. through the human body that is
hazardous, proper grounding is one
Vehicle MountedEquipment installed in of the best ways to prevent
a truck, trailer, or similar wheeled vehicle. unintended electric shock.
WorkThe workpiece or metal upon If we dont ground the generator and
which the welder welds and is normally should have, the results can be
grounded independently of the welding hazardousheres why:
leads to a good electrical ground unless a
qualified person assures it is safe to work If the auxiliary power circuit has a
on an ungrounded workpiece. fault condition (such as a short
caused by bare wires), and there is
Work LeadThe electric conductor be- no safety ground connection to
tween the source of arc welding current protect the user, the result can be
and the work. The work lead should not be an electric shock.
referred to as the ground lead. It is Additionally, grounding helps
preferable to connect the work lead directly prevent possible fire or explosion
to the work. Unless a separate grounding when fueling by reducing the
conductor is used (to connect the chances for static electricity sparks
from the fuel nozzle to the tank.

AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 29 07/04 Page 2


Watch out for bed liners in trucks
securely connect the welding
CONDITIONS WHERE GROUNDING THE generator frame to the frame of the
GENERATOR FRAME TO A METAL vehicle or trailer by a ground wire or
WATER PIPE OR GROUND ROD IS bolted metal-to-metal contact.
REQUIRED BY THE NEC: Bond the generator to the vehicle
frame or earth.
1. The welding generator is not part of a When grounding a generator sitting
separately derived system, OR directly on the earth, use a driven
2. It has its neutral conductor solidly ground rod to ensure the earth
interconnected to a service-supplied connection.
system neutral, OR Keep the fuel nozzle in contact with
3. It supplies auxiliary power output (115 the tank when fueling to prevent
volts AC / 230 volts AC) by means other static sparks and fire.
than cord-and-plug connection through
receptacles mounted on the generator, SUMMARY
such as connections to internal terminals
on the generatorhard wired (see Proper grounding of the welding
equipment Owners Manual for grounding generator frame can help prevent
instructions). electric shock.
When ANY of these conditions are met,
If your generator is in a truck or
grounding is required.
trailer, and you use power directly
CONDITIONS WHERE GROUNDING THE from the receptacles via plugs,
GENERATOR FRAME TO A METAL connect (bond) the generator frame
WATER PIPE OR GROUND ROD IS NOT to the vehicle framebe sure there
REQUIRED BY THE NEC: is a good metal-to-metal connection.
If you hard wire the generator
1. The welding generator has auxiliary auxiliary power to a project or
power output (115 volts AC or 230 volts building electrical system, then you
AC) and the generator receptacles have a must connect the generator frame to
ground pin outlet available for the a driven ground rod or metal water
equipment that plugs into the receptacle, pipe.
AND The decision is based on what
2. The generator is portable or mounted on you do with your auxiliary power:
a truck or trailer, AND If you just plug equipment into the
3. The auxiliary power is used by cord-and- receptacles, connection to the
plug-connection means through recep- vehicle frame is fine. If you hard
tacles mounted on the generator, AND wire the auxiliary power into another
4. The generator is mounted on a vehicle electrical system, then you must
and the generator frame is bonded to the connect the generator frame to a
vehicle frame. driven ground rod or metal water
pipe.
HOW TO AVOID THE HAZARDS Remember: The objective is to
keep the frame of the generator at
Follow the manufacturers recom- zero (or earth) voltage.
mended procedures for grounding
the welding generator.
AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 29 07/04 Page 3


In simplest terms, grounding the Institute of Electrical and Electronic
welding generator frame provides Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Recommended
an electrical path to ground instead Practice for Grounding of Industrial and
of a possible electrical shock hazard Commercial Power SystemsGreen Book,
to the user. ISBN 1-5593-7141-2, Product Number
SH14498-TBR Standard 142-1991,avail-
INFORMATION SOURCES able from IEEE Publications Office, 10662
Los Vaqueros Circle, P.O. Box 3014, Los
American National Standards Institute Alamitos, CA 90720-1264 (phone: 800-
(ANSI). Safety in Welding, Cutting, and 272-6657, website: www.ieee.org ).
Allied Processes, Z49.1, published by the
American Welding Society, 550 NW American Welding Society (AWS).Welding
LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33126; Terms and Definitions, A3.0, published by
telephone 800-443-9353; Web site: the American Welding Society, 550 NW
www.aws.org. LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33126;
telephone 800-443-9353; Web site:
Occupational Safety and Health www.aws.org.
Administration (OSHA). Code of Federal
Regulations, Title 29 Labor, Parts
1926.400, 1926.403, 1926.404, 1926.449,
and 1910.302 available from U.S.
Government Printing Office, Super-
intendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954,
Pittsburgh, PA 152507954 (phone: 800
3216742, website: www.osha.gov).

National Fire Protection Association


(NFPA). National Electrical Code (NFPA
70), available from National Fire Protection
Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, P.O.
Box 9101, Quincy, MA 022699101
(phone: 8003443555, website:
www.nfpa.org).

AWS disclaims liability for any injury to persons or to property, or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect,
consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this Safety and Health Fact Sheet.
AWS also makes no guaranty or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein.

Fact Sheet No. 29 07/04 Page 4