Ground Fault Causes, Effects, Example, Explanation

When electricity unintentionally flows to the ground through an unintended path is called a Ground fault. Imagine you have an electrical wire carrying electricity, but instead of flowing through the wire as intended, it finds a different path through the ground or a metal object nearby. A ground fault can lead to electrical shocks, equipment damage, or fire hazards.

The connection between the current carrying part of an electrical system to the earth is called Grounding. For example, in a substation from where electrical power is distributed to the consumer, Delta-Star connected transformer is used. So there, the neutral point is connected to the earth which is called Grounding. This is done to balance all three phases when an unbalanced load is connected to the three-phase system.

Here you can see the neutral grounding in the below figure.

Ground Fault Causes, Effects, Example, Explanation

Here you can see the primary side of the Transformer is delta connected and the secondary side is star connected. The neutral point is connected to the Earth through the Neutral Grounding Resistor.

Under normal condition, a grounding conductor does not carry any current but when any voltage imbalance occurs then the imbalance current flow through the grounding wire and rebalances the electrical system.

Causes of Ground Fault

A ground fault is a fault that causes to flow uncontrolled current to pass from components at any other potential to the ground or earth potential or reference potential. Ground fault mainly occurs,
  1. Due to broken conductors
  2. If a grounding connection is not given
  3. Ground fault also occurs due to loose connection, burning of cables, etc.
  4. Malfunctioning or faulty electrical equipment can also be a cause of ground faults such as the internal insulation within equipment degrading or breaking down.

Line to Ground Fault

When any line conductor of an electrical system is touched by the grounding system or grounding conductor then it is called Line to Ground Fault. In a three-phase system, only one phase may be touched to the ground or all three phases may be touched to the ground.

When a line-to-ground fault occurs, the voltage of that phase becomes zero, and very much excessive current start to flow through the phase and ground conductors. The phase conductor may be burned if the circuit is not tripped.

An arcing fault also can make a line-to-ground fault. It is a high-energy discharge that occurs between a line conductor and the ground. It can be caused by damaged insulation, loose connections, or faulty equipment.

Effects of Ground Fault

When a ground fault occurs in a single-phase system it increases the chances of electrical shock to humans.
As the grounding is done for balancing the voltages of all three phases so if a ground fault occurs in a three-phase system the voltage unbalance will occur which may disturb all loads.

Remember Grounding and earthing are not the same, so Ground fault and earth fault are also not the same. Earthing means the connection of non-current carrying parts of an electrical system to the earth whereas grounding is the connection of current carrying parts of an electrical system to the earth.

All electrical and electronic circuits (both AC and DC) need a reference potential of zero volts. Especially in electronic circuits grounding is provided to make reference zero potential. It is also known as virtual grounding.

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Ground Fault Causes, Effects, Example, Explanation Ground Fault Causes, Effects, Example, Explanation Reviewed by Author on March 08, 2020 Rating: 5
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