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Earth Leakage Faults.

Earth Leakage : earth leakage current current that flows to earth in an electrically undamaged circuit.

Earth leakage protection : form of protection in which an earth leakage unit is used.

Earth leakage unit : device that is capable of detecting the flow of a specified or predetermined current from a circuit to earth, and of disconnecting, automatically and reliably, the affected circuit within a specified time when such current exceeds the specified or per-determined value.

An extremely important device. One that can save lives and property! A few points to consider:

Firstly, the Earth Leakage Unit, must conform to Compulsory Safety Standards VC 8035. All Circuit Breakers that are manufactured and imported must conform to this standard. One of the requirements that VC 8035 states that VC 8035 be indicated on the Earth Leakage Unit; this being a quick way to identify if the Earth Leakage Unit is compliant.

Secondly, the following must reflect on the front of the Earth Leakage Unit: IΔn ≤ 30 mA

The rated earth leakage tripping current (rated residual current) IΔn required to activate an earth leakage protection device shall not exceed 30 mA. When a qualified (Single Phase Tester), Installation Electrician, or Master Electrician tests a facility one of the test instruments used is called an Earth Leakage Tester. With power on the circuit, the tester is plugged into one of the switch sockets and leakage current is slowly increased in the circuit. Earth Leakage Current shall not exceed 30mA. Most Earth Leakage Units on the market trip at exactly 30mA. If the unit trips before 30mA the ELU could be to sensitive and become a nuisance factor.

1) An Earth Leakage protection must be provided is any domestic switch sockets are installed. (SANS 164-1 or SANS 164-2
type socket-outlets.)

2) in an existing installation for all the circuits that supply socket-outlets when any such circuit or circuits are rewired or extended.

Earth leakage protection shall disconnect a) both phase and neutral in a single-phase system, and b) all three phases in a three-phase system.

When a single-phase socket-outlet is supplied from a three-phase earth leakage circuit-breaker, the earth leakage protection shall break both phase and neutral.

For a special application, the rated earth leakage tripping current (rated residual current) IΔn required to activate an earth leakage protection device shall not exceed 30 mA. It shall not be possible to desensitize an earth leakage protection device while the circuit in which it is installed is in service. However, this does not prevent the use of non-integral earth leakage protection devices when the rupturing capacity exceeds 2,5 kA.

Earth leakage protection shall disconnect
a) both phase and neutral in a single-phase system, and
b) all three phases in a three-phase system.

When a single-phase socket-outlet is supplied from a three-phase earth leakage circuit-breaker, the earth leakage protection shall break both phase and neutral.

An earth leakage protection device that is used as a switch-disconnecter shall comply with the relevant requirements of the standard listed in table 4.2 SANS 10142 for a device with isolation function.

Many people are unaware of the following:
Some of the Earth Leakage Units have the SABS Mark, which tend to be more on the expensive side; units that are manufactured, many in China, and have a valid RCC (Regulatory Compliance Certificate) tend to be far cheaper, and safe to use in electrical installations. Always check with your registered electrician.

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Earth Leakge Unit DIN and Samite
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