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#107772 07/22/04 02:25 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,682
Likes: 3
Admin Offline OP
Here is an interesting installation which demonstrates the consequences of certain violations. It is located in a plastic film factory in south Texas.

A chiller has a feeder consisting of three sets of 350MCM THHN conductors, which originate at an 800 amp breaker in a switchgear room, extend about 600 feet to the side of the building, and terminate at the outdoor chiller enclosure main breaker. Most of the feeder is in a cable tray, with the last 40' or so in rigid conduit and a short section of flexible watertight conduit outdoors.

By calculation, the voltage drop with a load of 300 amps should only be about 3.9 volts but the measured voltage drop in the wire is 15 volts. The excessive voltage drop is due to higher impedance (specifically inductive reactance) resulting from code violations in the installation.

Photo (below) --feeder termination at chiller main breaker:
Three raceways carry the three sets of conductors, but all the phase A conductors are in one raceway, all the B are together, and all the C are together.
[Linked Image]
1999 NEC references--
300-20(a)--"all phase conductors...shall be grouped together" (to minimize the inductive reactance portion of the impedance).
300-3(b)--"all conductors of the same circuit...shall be contained within the same raceway".
300-3(b)(1)--"The requirement to run all circuit conductors within the same raceway...shall apply separately to each portion of the paralleled

Additional apparent violations in photo:
1. Raceways not bonded to enclosure.
2. Equipment grounding conductor missing from two of the three raceways.
3. Small pump unit subfeeder conductors tapped onto line side of breaker are not protected against overcurrent.
4. Equipment grounding conductor size appears smaller than that required by Table 250-122.

Photo (below)--transition from conduit to cable tray
Apparent code violations in Photo:
1. Conduits not bonded to cable tray. 250-9(a)
2. Phase conductors not grouped together in cable tray. 318-8(d)
3. Equipment grounding conductor not grouped together with phase conductors. 300-20(a).

Along with excessive voltage drop and unbalanced current between phases, the most dramatic consequence observed is induction heating of the metal conduits.
[Linked Image]
Photo (below)--At a load current of only 300 amps, the side of the conduit is 52 deg. C (125 deg. F) and is too hot to hold your hand on.

Our electricians benefitted from observing this "textbook case" of isolated phase conductors, and I thought others might benefit from it also.

Glenn Hasdorff
[Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 07-22-2004).]

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#107773 07/22/04 07:33 AM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,294
I'm printing this for some of the guys at work. They need it [Linked Image]

1. Raceways not bonded to enclosure.
What more than what we see is necessary?

#107774 07/22/04 08:24 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Not so bad as running all those cables through separate conduits, but here's a demonstration of a similar lack of understanding from England. Fortunately, this 3-ph 415V unit was no longer supplying a load by the time I got there:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

#107775 07/22/04 04:52 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 269
How did this get done without someone somewhere along the way noticing that something was wrong? [Linked Image]

#107776 07/22/04 07:43 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
Glenn, thank you for documenting and forwarding an NEC 310-4 violation to

Problems sometimes “slip through the cracks” in an industrial facility. Mistakes can be made—we’re all human.

The feeder’s 15-volt drop at less than ½ load is striking, but not too hard to imagine. The way it is routed, impedance of the equipment-ground conductor may also be significantly high—to the point of possibly delaying overcurrent-device operation in a ground-fault condition. {The Soares Book on Grounding has a very good account of in-the-field tests done in the 1950s that imply problems under these conditions.}

On the other hand, heavy raceway icing during fierce Texas winters probably has not been a complaint in this building. ;-]

#107777 07/25/04 04:17 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 123
Some folks just don't understand why we have a code in the first place. I saw one similar to this where the feeders were in seperate raceways, only one was about 5 feet longer than the others. I got called over because the darn thing was glowing and they thought it had a short in it.

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