Earthing is an important part of lightning protection systems to ensure maximum safety to structures from electrical surges and to safeguard people, and equipment within. The overall system’s reliability is dependent on a vital component – Earth Rods, which are also known as Ground Rods.
Earth rods are conducting elements used to safely facilitate the flow of fault currents towards the ground. These corrosion-resistant metallic electrodes are buried underground to dissipate lightning and short circuit currents. The rods come in a variety of materials, sizes and arrangements from pipes, plates, mats or rings around the structure.
Earth rods provide high fault current capacity for towers, substations and other distribution applications. They can be used for both overhead and underground networks to achieve an optimum earthing interface.
Earth rods are critical element of electrical systems because of their prime responsibility to:
– Give electrical surges a safe and low impedance path to the ground in order to mitigate damages.
– Prevent high voltage from causing electrical fires and uncontrolled destruction.
– Prevent damages to the building and surrounding property caused by electric currents.
– Safeguard electrical/electronic devices and machinery from voltage spikes.
– Protect human life and minimize injuries.
Types of earth rods
Four types of earth rods made from either solid copper, copper-bonded, stainless steel or galvanized steel are available:
Optimum economic efficiency
High corrosion resistant
High mechanical tensile strength
Extendable and easily driven into the ground
Excellent corrosion resistance
Suited for high salt and high resistivity soil condition
Exceptional long life
Maximum corrosion resistance
Prevent galvanic corrosion
High material cost
High life expectancy
Low electrical conductivity
Low corrosion resistance
Poor current carrying capacity
Low Life expectancy
Let us evaluate the features of each type of earth rod.
– Copper earth rods are the most popular and economically efficient choice for earth rods due to their combination of strength, corrosion resistance, and comparatively low cost. They are rigorously tested to meet the highest quality specifications in compliance with the IEC 62561 standard and are approved by utilities worldwide. Being highly corrosion resistant, they are used in installations with high fault currents.
– Copper-bonded rods are made using low carbon steel with molecularly bonded 99.9% pure electrolytic copper and offer an advantage over solid copper products because of their high tensile strength. Thus, they will not bend or slip when being deeply driven into the ground with a hammer (without needing to dig a large trench). They are also significantly more cost – effective while still providing high corrosion resistance and low electrical resistance.
– Stainless steel rods are generally used where issues of galvanic corrosion arise because of dissimilar metals being buried close together. However, these are the most expensive of all the options.
– Galvanized steel rods are made up of low carbon steel and hot-dip galvanized. They are low-cost options but offer low corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity and current carrying capacity.
Note: Earth rod selections are based on their properties of corrosion resistance, conductivity and the longevity of their usage. These earthing system components must be accurately installed by specialist engineers to maximize earthing performance and allow no area of vulnerability inside the building.
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