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3/11/2017 Grounding Resistance and Spacing of Ground Rods ‹ IAEI Magazine

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GROUNDING RESISTANCE AND SPACING OF GROUND


IAEI January-February 2011

by LESLIE STOCH

As we already know, the Canadian Electrical Code requires a minimum distance of 3 m


between ground rods forming an electrical system grounding electrode. Why? This article
discusses the reasons for this code requirement.

As everyone knows, Rule 10-700(2) speci©es that a rod grounding electrode (with a few
exceptions) must consist of at least two ground rods driven a minimum of 3 m apart. And
for high voltage substations, Rule 36-302(1) also requires that every station must be
grounded with at least four ground rods, not less than 3 m long, spaced a minimum
distance of one rod length apart. Why does spacing between ground rods matter? What
would be the problem if ground rods were to be more closely spaced?

Our story begins with the grounding resistance of every grounding electrode, which has
three components:

1. the resistance of the metal ground rods, grounding conductors and connections;
2. contact resistance between the grounding electrode and the earth; and
3. the resistance of the earth.

As it turns out, the ©rst two are relatively small and can usually be considered insigni©cant
when considering total grounding resistance. Grounding resistance can be considered as

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3/11/2017 Grounding Resistance and Spacing of Ground Rods ‹ IAEI Magazine

mainly the resistance of the earth. To play this g


To help us grasp the idea of grounding resistance, let’s assume that the earth around a sharp eye, a
single ground rod is made up of a series of concentric, equally spaced shells. The nearest 2014 Nationa
shells have the highest resistances to current ®ow since they have the smallest cross-
Codebook. (F
sectional areas and volumes. The shells further from the ground rod are larger and
therefore have lower resistances. Therefore, when ground current ®ows away from the questions ar
ground rod, through the earth, Ohm’s Law tells us that the shells nearest the rod will have exact word(s
higher voltage rise than those further from the rod.
Code Hunte
Tests have shown that the earth within the ©rst few cm of a ground rod will have the
highest resistance and the highest voltage rise during a ground fault. Since the resistance
of the earth near each ground rod will be very high, adding a second ground rod will not
reduce the overall grounding resistance by very much unless the rod is located some
distance from the ©rst. Driving the rods close together will result in a high mutual True or Fals
resistance and the current ®owing from each will raise the ground potential of the other. for connect
to boxes, ca
For the above reasons, rods must be spaced far enough apart so as to avoid the e^ects of
the higher resistance shells, so that the voltage rise around each does not a^ect the other. equipment
We don’t need to look very far for further proof. Measurement of grounding resistances at identi翉�ed fo
various distances from a grounding electrode have shown that approximately the
following percentages of the total grounding resistance will occur at the following True
distances from the rod: False

25% of total at .03 m


52% of total at .15 m
94% of total at 3.0 m
SUBMIT
100% of total at 7.6 m

This tells us that ground rods would need to be spaced 7.6 m apart to achieve the best Read the article
grounding e^ect. Obviously, the 3 m rule provided by the Canadian Electrical Code is a Connections, 20
compromise, good but not perfect.

Other available data also supports these ©ndings. Question – if we know the grounding
resistance of a single ground rod (say 25 ohms), and we want to reduce the resistance by
adding a second rod spaced in accordance with the CEC, will this reduce grounding
resistance to 50%? Actually, no. It will only reduce the total grounding resistance to 25/2 x
1.16 = 14.5 ohms. The result of adding two rods will be 25/3 x 1.29 = 10.75 ohms.
Multiplying factors for multiple rod arrangements are available.

As with previous articles, you should always consult the electrical inspection authority in
each province or territory for a more precise interpretation of any of the above.

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Tags:  ground rod grounding

LESLIE STOCH

Leslie Stoch, P. Eng, is principal of L. Stoch & Associates, providing electrical


engineering and ISO 9000 quality systems consulting. Prior to that, he Select Month
spent over 20 years with Ontario Hydro as an electrical inspection manager
and engineer. Les holds a B. S. in electrical engineering from
Concordia University in Montreal.

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