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Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/11/2014 12:19 PM

Been facing this for years

My case happens never during normal-day case, but only there's thunder. I mentioned thunder, and not thunderstorm (downpour) because before rain drops sometimes this can happen. It can trigger multiple times when there's thunder, including very inaudible mild thunder from the far distant. It can also [b]NOT[/b] trigger at all when there's very loud thunder or throughout an entire thunderstorm that lasts for hours.

So I'd say, 70-80% it triggers during a thunder session.

With this kind of trigger data, what are the possible causes? My house is a bungalow with 3 phase power, 300mA ELCB (neighbor house is 300mA too but it doesn't trip like mine). ELCB was installed ~15 years ago.

I'm from Malaysia, we use 240V.

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#1

Re: Lightning trips ELCB frequently

08/11/2014 12:52 PM

It's possible you have a loose connection or component, the humidity level may be responsible for varying sensitivity...

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#2

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/11/2014 8:00 PM

Thunder goes along with vibrations. You might have a short somewhere that with increased humidity will cause arcing and tripping of the breaker.

Have someone certified checking/measuring your wiring.

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#3

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/11/2014 8:50 PM

Previous home also had a "sensitive" ELCB with similar symptoms. It was on the lighting circuit. All other circuits were not affected.

Diagnosis was that the higher humidity when rain evens were approaching were contributing and also the stored energy in the ballasts for some lights. These were very old and made before ELCBs were in common use. Some rooms (and thus sets of lights) were more involved than others.

As previously said, humidity allowing a latent failure to become more obvious would seem to be feasible.

Are there other ELCBs in the power board that are not similarly affected?

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#4

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/11/2014 11:29 PM

Is the tripping in sync with the flash (lightning) or the sound, usually several seconds later?

Or, just with wet weather?

300ma is a very high trip current, AFAIK - mine is set to 25ma. But it does trip often.

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#5

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 12:24 AM

Check MCB specs as well. MCBs come with A, B and C ratings 9 slow, medium and fast acting ratings. May be the rating of MCB of your neighbor and yours is different. Loose contact (in the entire circuit, not just near the MCB) is definitely possible

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#6

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 3:24 AM

Thanks for the good replies so far..

1. I don't think it's humidity related because you know, sometimes you get thunders before the raining begins? So the ELCB sometimes trip to this. Furthermore, where I live, humidity is always maxed out throughout the year even when it's not raining.

2. I do peep out the window often I don't see my neighbor's place tripping. I'm very certain the issue is within my own home.

3. Much more often than not, it trips before you hear the thunder. If it's a loud thunder, often you get the trip 1-2 seconds before you hear the thunder. If it's a moderate thunder, maybe 3-4 seconds, and a very mild one, maybe even further delayed. Sometimes you really barely hear the thunder but it's there. 7 seconds later perhaps. This tells me that the strike is perhaps very distant but I'm still affected.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 4:29 AM

"3. Much more often than not, it trips before you hear the thunder. If it's a loud thunder, often you get the trip 1-2 seconds before you hear the thunder. If it's a moderate thunder, maybe 3-4 seconds, and a very mild one, maybe even further delayed. Sometimes you really barely hear the thunder but it's there. 7 seconds later perhaps. This tells me that the strike is perhaps very distant but I'm still affected."

This means it is the lightning, not the thunder. What model of ELCB?

Maybe you need to contact the manufacturer, it seems to be tripping too quickly.

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 7:26 AM

http://i.imgur.com/rrvaBEU.jpg

Stuart21: Well, I did take terminology for granted. I did use lightning in the topic but thunder to describe. Thunder and lightning are perhaps one and the same, just that one part is the audible aspect while the other is the visual aspect. But yes I'll agree that it is the lightning and not vibrations or the audible aspect of the process.

The ELCB was installed 15 years ago, not even sure what was installed.. I do live in a 3rd world and here quality, service and information are not provided top-notch. In fact, googling the model: "634ELLP" gave nothing.

Would anyone consider a faulty ELCB here possible?

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#8

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 6:52 AM

Earth leakage systems are very sensitive by design....IEC spec requires .. not trip below 50% of setting .. may trip between 50% and more , and must trip above 100%

Have in past had an EL sensors tripping during commissioning tests and only by chance was on site at moment when an Electric train came past.

Checking with Railway engineers , they found their earth continuity was not to standard and as the track made a wide curve around our factory our sensors were picking up the leakage current taking a shortcut through the site.

They corrected their earthing and our problem fell away .

In past years we did have earth leakage units tripping when there was a lightning flash nearby. ..strangely have not noticed it lately.

Could be supply authority has improved on lightning and surge protection.

My feeling is that you may have two possible problems

1 Earth leakage units are said to become more sensitive with age .. doubtful.

2 Noise or currents are being introduced into your system by an outside source and passing the "thunder" effect which is electrostatic into you site.

If you neighbour is fairly close to you ..say 100m .. does he have lightning protection Poles?

Or do you have lightning protection poles ... they may protect one from damage but definitely attract lightning strikes.

Are there HV power pylons passing nearby. ... large steel structires?

Even on a yacht on large waterway heard my aluminium mast sizzling around top of mast when thunder was heard in distance.

There could be other eternal devices that may effect you.

The EL Devices should normally be stable .. comments about loose wiring in the distribution cabling is worth looking at and the way in which the neutral has been earthed at transformer.

We have had a problem with a shopping complex where many shops on single phase system would trip when a shop switched-on ... found surprisingly that contractor during installation had crossed neutral and earth cables when they were distributed.

Used a simple single phase plug polarity tester which showed that earth was live and neutral was off.

Very interesting subject ... if solved would appreciate feedback.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 7:34 AM

My neighbor happens to be a close family member, they are about 30-50 meters away from me. I've not looked into the details of their ELCB but they do seem to share the same rating 300mA. I highly doubt my entire town offer any sort of lightning protection poles or such.

I have full access to their house since they are currently not staying there, so what is it that I need to check?

No factories, industrial-like power or steel stuff here... Maybe my metal roof, but just about every house here have metal roofs too.. although my home is the only bungalow home while all others are 2-storey. (If there's any sort of possible relationship)

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#9

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 6:54 AM

It has happened to us also. Since ELCBs are primarily used for earth leakage, the earthing system has to be rugged. In the absence of a good earthing system, the ELCB tripping take place as the thunder/lightening causes very high voltage transients that gets imposed on HT lines. This in turn get into distribution LT transformers. Since in the transformers, the neutral is grounded and if the ground potential of transformer and in your installation are not same , this causes leakage currents passing through ELCB and it trips. Strengthen your earthing system and your problem gets solved.

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 7:37 AM

I'm no electrician, but generally what is expected of a good earthing system and what makes a bad earthing system?

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#24
In reply to #12

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

02/21/2022 6:23 AM

Installation and testing to an appropriate approved national standard makes all the difference.

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#13

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 8:29 AM

picture

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#14

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 8:31 AM

From Wikipedia:

Earth bypassing[edit]

It is not unusual for ELCB protected installation to have a second unintentional connection to earth somewhere, one that does not pass through the ELCB sense coil. This can occur via metal pipework in contact with the ground, metal structural framework, outdoor home appliances in contact with soil, and so on.

When this occurs, fault current may pass to earth without being sensed by the ELCB. Despite this, perhaps counterintuitively, the operation of the ELCB is not compromised. The purpose of the ELCB is to prevent earthed metalwork rising to a dangerous voltage during fault conditions, and the ELCB continues to do this just the same, the ELCB will still cut the power at the same CPC voltage level. (The difference is that higher fault current is then needed to reach this voltage.)

Nuisance trips[edit]

While voltage and current on the earth line is usually fault current from a live wire, this is not always the case, thus there are situations in which an ELCB can nuisance trip.

When an installation has two connections to earth, a nearby high current lightning strike will cause a voltage gradient in the soil, presenting the ELCB sense coil with enough voltage to cause it to trip.

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#15

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/12/2014 12:06 PM

tj sampathkumars reply is usually the case,a good earth will reduce such nuisance fault. a good earth is one that has a very low resistance. how low it has tobe can be known from your local electrical contractor. a simple solution will be to add more earthing points.please enlighten us how you eventually solve this .

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#16

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/14/2014 8:49 PM

This problem usually cause by not having a proper good earthing at your house and your neighbour may have a good earthing as his ELCB does not trip. As I know most of the housing contractor that build houses in here are using lousy water pipe as an earthing rod instead using copper rod. I do have the same problem with my ELCB until I trace and check the earthing of the house and found they are using water GI pipe as earthing rod

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/15/2014 7:16 AM

Good to know, I've just purchased a new RCCB with nuisance tripping protection. Gonna see how it goes.

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#21
In reply to #17

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/22/2014 12:11 PM

Hi, ELCB has different characteristic. Lightning effect might be different in each environment.

Please try to use ELCB with "Si" type / Super Immune. This will protect you from polluted environment from lightning. I install this in our plant.

To protect you from lightning, please install SPD (Surge Protection Device). This will drain the current from lightning.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/15/2014 9:47 PM

Have heard of techs doing the 'piss & run' - piss on the soil near the earth rod, hopefully that gets a good ground.

Make sure nothing is live - or you might not be.

Salt solution might also help.

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#19

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/20/2014 12:14 AM

I've just replaced my ELCB to a Hager brand RCCB with nuisance tripping protection. Will have to wait for a few thunderstorms before knowing if there's improvement.

HOWEVER, while doing the replacement, I did find this little guy sitting across 2 phases of my 3 phase power supply. Not surprised that he ended up like this over the years:

Makes me wonder if this was the actual cause.. possible?

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

08/20/2014 1:58 AM

Not if as you describe - but if he was between 1 phase & ground, highly likely.

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#22

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

09/09/2014 11:37 AM

Anyway, it does seem solved, haven't had an outage after several thunderstorm.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Lightning Trips ELCB Frequently

09/09/2014 12:20 PM

Ahhh! That's great news!

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