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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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The POCO said there was a problem with the voltage readings on a 480 open delta service. the readings were around 480V phase to phase. the readings from phase to ground were 486,410 and 87. The POCO said the phases should be within 5% when reading to ground. They said the low reading on one of the legs indicated a ground fault. They said this low voltage reading was an early warning and that if another leg went to ground it would be a direct short. I found an electrical engineers forum in which one of the members posted that the line to ground voltages were of no significance. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this and could maybe submit an explanatory diagram showing a short situation as mentioned so it is easy to understand.

Last edited by wewire2; 08/07/09 07:33 PM.
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,663
Likes: 4
G
Member
This is an ungrounded service? My wild a guess
The grounded point seems to be in between the 410 and 87v phases and a probably ground fault in the load. I think I would start by looking for ground current in the EGCs to see if you can find the bad one and then try turning it off.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Hey Greg
Your feedback helps.
It is an ungrounded/Open Delta service that's 40 years old. That's about all I know about it and it's the first time I've run into it.
It would be so easy if we could just start flipping breakers.
It's never that easy. It's gonna be tough to get to those grounds in a hot panel. I might have to break the bad news
to them smile

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,663
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G
Member
Is this something like a glass plant where a shutdown is devastating? That is usually where you see floating delta.
I am not sure how you will isolate this but I do think you have leakage in one of the loads, pretty close to one end.
(401:87)
It might be interesting to ground the 486v phase through a fairly high value resistor, 100k ohms or so, and see what it does to your readings. If you significantly change the readings you have a high resistance fault. That would just be a calculator exercise to figure it what the resistance of the fault was.
A very high resistance fault might be able to give you this symptom without really being a problem if you had another bolted fault but if this is the first bolted fault inside a heating element or motor (no significant change with the 100k ground), you would certainly know which one it was if you had a phase to ground fault. It would be the one smoking. Hopefully the breaker would trip.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Greg
It's actually a medical center. I just had a quick chance to look at the situation today. Monday I am going to look for the obvious: rooftop equipment, fans etc. I'll be spending a few hours educating myself over the weekend. I doubt I'll be confident enough to start grounding phases with resistors though:)I visualize some little old lady with a cane chasing me down the hallway because the power went off!I love these jobs where you get to learn something new!

Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline
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If there are no plans to replace this service, you should consider installing a ground monitoring system. A ground monitor would actually be required by code if this was a new installation. 250.21(B)




Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Tom

Thanks.
I'll make that recommendation to the property owners.

Joined: Jul 2004
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G
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I am not sure what a monitor would show you in this situation. It is expecting one phase to be grounded in a fault, not a ground somewhere in the middle between 2 phases.
87v might even be enough to tell the monitor things were OK.
The old school monitor was just 3 light bulbs, one per phase. If one was out, the phase was grounded. I assume they are more sophisticated these days.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 599
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JBD Offline
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In an ungrounded system the Line-Ground voltage readings are dependent upon the capacitive coupling of each phase conductor to ground. In a perfectly balance system the (3) L-G voltages should all be about 277V on a nominal 480V. If the loads are not balanced then the L-G voltages will move away from the ideal 277V. L-G current (i.e. from a ground fault) will also cause a shift. The extreme case being L-G = 0V on a solidly grounded phase.

Part of the problem you face, is not knowing what your base L-G voltages have been.

Ground detectors are not usually much fancier than the 3-light system, as Greg mentioned. I prefer to get a detector that includes a horn or at least alarm contacts.

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 244
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wewire2 Offline OP
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Luckily the utility had documented the voltages in April.
They just happened to return recently for another issue and measured the voltages again. This is how we became aware that there may be a problem. Today we isolated the motor that was causing the voltage imbalance. What seemed strange was that there were 2 identical compressor motors. One was running very hot. Hot enough to discolor the plastic label on the motor. The other motor was luke warm so you could put your hand on it. Right away we thought it must be the motor that is running hot. After shutting them down individually it turned out to be the cooler motor that was probably causing the problem. We were told the hotter motor was running within temperature specs.
Next steps:
Meg the motor, check the motor connections and the contactor contacts. Anyone want to throw in their 2 cents about motor megging?

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