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Avoiding Pitfalls During Ground Fault Location

Volney Naranjo

Andrew Sagl

When tracing ground faults in DC systems it is necessary for the system to remain reliable. Due to their criticality, the troubleshooting process needs to be performed online and without disturbing the system. Ground Fault tracing has proven to be a highly effective method to locate faults, but its usage entails some obstacles that if handled properly will allow a successful and quick tracing and location of the faults. Introducing a unique signal into a DC system allows you to have a unique traceable response but it can be affected by various system characteristics. Depending on the type of tracing signal and its frequency, the system noise can have various impacts on those signals. The usage of AC or pulsing signals, implies the appearance of stray currents due to the capacitance of the wiring of the dc distribution system. Some circuits may show higher currents than others and if not properly identified and handled in the measurement process they can be considered as a faulted circuit and the user ends up chasing a phantom fault. Furthermore, the magnitudes of the applied signal, be it AC or pulse, need to be carefully handled to avoid excessive current circulation that may cause related problems that can lead to a breaker trip.

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