3 Electrical Grounding Issues That Negatively Impact System Reliability

Electrical Grounding is one of the most important aspects of your facility’s electrical wiring due to the safety and equipment damage risks associated with improper grounding.

Grounding is required to provide a low impedance path for current in the event of a fault since electrical current likes to follow a path with a low impedance rather than a high impedance. A fault condition can occur in either the actual facility wiring or within a device that is connected to the facility wiring. In either case, the electrical system and grounding must be able to clear the fault to avoid damage to the wiring system or the device and more importantly to avoid any risks to people using any device within the facility.

The grounding system is the reference point for all computer logic and data cabling communications. Within computers and computer networks, the internal computer circuits and data cabling connections use the ground as the reference point for processing data. If the ground reference for these devices or networked systems is not correct or “stable” then system reliability is compromised which can cause lock-ups, software and hardware failures and expensive system downtime.

  1. Numerous issues can affect system reliability, but the three key issues related to grounding often cause most of the problems which negatively impact system reliability:
    Ground Current is Present on the Building Grounding System
    This situation typically occurs when a wiring error is present within the electrical panel or a junction box such as the neutral and ground conductor wires are junctioned together, or worse yet, they are connected together on the same bar in the sub-panel which is a violation of National Electrical Code (NEC). When these types of errors occur, some of the neutral current from the neutral conductor can potentially be transferred to the ground wiring which can present a significant safety hazard. Also, this ground current can cause system hardware failures and lock-ups as well from unstable ground reference conditions within the network.
  2. Improper Installation of an Insulated Grounding (IG) System
    Optimal operation of computer systems require that a “low-noise” environment be present. Noise is present in all electrical systems and is caused by devices in the facility that can cause spikes in the voltage or current. Noise in an electrical system can definitely impact reliability especially for sensitive electronic equipment. An isolated grounding system can be installed to ensure that the facility provides a low-noise environment for computer and data systems; however, if the IG system is not installed properly it can cause significant issues such as grounding loops and noise which can cause system lock-ups and data communication failures.
  3. Neutral to Ground Voltage Issues
    Another condition that frequently occurs within a networked system is issues with the neutral to ground voltage. This condition typically happens when long circuit runs are present within the computer network. Devices connected to these long circuit runs in combination with circuit voltage drops cause neutral-ground voltages to ensue. Neutral to ground voltages make the ground reference point for a computer or computer network “unstable.” This unstable condition is notorious for causing system lockups and no-fault-found conditions that cause downtime and high service costs.

System reliability experts evaluate your systems and diagnose potential risks for grounding and other wiring issues. They can provide site surveys, power monitoring, power scope analysis and other testing services to identify and correct any wiring errors.

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