# RCD ?

Hello,
Is there a case for protecting the upstairs with an RCD ? The follow-on question: what happens if you stand on a carpet (or wooden floor) with an uninsulated live cable (and only this cable) in your hand -- (1) will it trip the RCD, and (2) will you feel anything ? I know what happens if you stand on a wet lawn!
tia joe.
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Joe Green wrote:

It all depends on the resistance between you and earth - which depends on how insulating you carpet/wooden floor is.
If the resistance is more than 300k, you'll get less than a mA through you, which will tingle but not do much harm. If the resistance is more than a meg, you're unlikely to feel anything.
If the carpet/wood is dry, and you're wearing rubber soles, your resistance is going to be pretty high. So holding the live wire (just the live, not live + neutral/earth) will result in only a few uA flowing through you, which you won't feel.
The RCD will only trip if you pass through a current greater than it's trip current (e.g. 30mA).
--
Grunff

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Thanks - and sorry to persist... What about capacitance - what if I hold in the other hand a large metal ladder standing (on the same carpet) on rubber feet, will current flow in and out (at 50 Hz) of the ladder, and how much current ? And if it does (and exceeds 30mA) will it trip the RCD ? joe.

hand --

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Joe Green wrote:

The capcitance of the ladder will be way to low to support any significant current flow - will be in nF.
So the reactance of the capacitor will be:
R = 1/(2Pi.F.C) (F = frequency, C = capacitance)
Let's assume 10nF (this is generous)
R = 1/(6.3x50x10E-9) R = 317k
Which will only let say a mA through.
--
Grunff

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Joe Green wrote:

Yes,
Very little.
And if it does

Yes, but its unlikley that it will.

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On Sun, 23 Nov 2003 14:17:54 +0000, Grunff wrote:

But it's more than enough to put your muscles into a 50Hz spasm and it will fing hurt. Even it you don't come to any lasting harm from the direct effects of the electric shock, the jolt may well make you withdraw you arm rather rashly and bash your elbow or fall of the ladder which can cause serious injury...

Do you volunteer to have the mains applied to your anatomy to prove your hypothesis?
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Cheers snipped-for-privacy@howhill.com
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
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Dave Liquorice wrote:

Hey, the number of shocks I've had anyone would think I do it recreationally :-(
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Grunff

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On Sun, 23 Nov 2003 19:40:29 +0000, Grunff wrote:

How do you know you've had 'em if the don't hurt? B-)
I've lost count but I know damn well that they all hurt! The worst having pain/stiffness at the elbow for the following 8hrs combined with viral type ache in the muscles from the shoulder down. The point of contact was the hand somewhere. That must have been an up the arm and out somewhere else jobbie most others have been across parts of a hand and no were near as nasty.
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Cheers snipped-for-privacy@howhill.com
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
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Dave Liquorice wrote:

There's a big difference between the ones that tingle and the ones that really bite. ;-)
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Grunff

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If you have ever had a hairdryer or shaver 'blow up' during use, then you will wish you had a protected circuit.
dg

hand --

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Thanks for your replies, do I take it that the opinion is that if you touch the live only, possibly while standing on, and holding on to, a large A-frame metal ladder, but otherwise (you AND the ladder) insulated from earth and neutral, that:
- it will hurt somewhat, but the RCD will not trip (<30mA)
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Roughly, yes. The reason that RCDs for personal shock protection are rated at a nominal 30mA (and in fact required (a) not to trip below 15mA, and (b) required fer-sure to trip by the time the current imbalance is 30mA, within 0.2seconds, and (c) to trip within 0.04seconds with a current imbalance of 150mA) is that this figure is chosen to balance a low probability of serious injury against nuisance tripping.
So, if the path to earth is high resistance enough not to trip it, your experience will be of discomfort and a feeling of stupidity (including the particularly galling feeling that there's no-one else to blame. Unless the cat happens to be passing, of course ;-). If the path to earth is of low enough resistance to trip the breaker, your experience will be of greater discomfort, some pain, but little likelihood of your beneficiaries collecting on the life or disability insurance!
Obviously, only the teenaged lads among us will be daft enough to do the trial "for real", 'cos it's a dumb idea to play games with mains electricity. And whole-house 100mA RCDs will let significantly more damaging currents through for longer before tripping, if at all.
HTH - Skefet
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snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

I think but am not sure that Stefaks post (above) has explained my question. Cos I've been looking for the term 'imbalance' in previous posts about RCDs. I thought I understood that these operate on an 'IMBALANCE' of current between the live wire and the neutral wire? So may I ask, as follows? Let's suppose an electrical appliance is drawing, say, 10 amps (2300 watts) through a circuit equipped with an RCD. Suppose then an imbalance occurs, for some reason, whereby the current between live and neutral differs by more than 15 milliamps, somewhere say around a 30 m/a 'difference'. That imbalance will cause the RCD to trip the circuit within 0.2 seconds (12 cycles); yes? Then, supposing the same circuit is not supplying any load current to an appliance at all; somebody gets onto a ladder and what with body capacitance, damp slippers on a metal ladder, holding onto an uninsulated live wire in their teeth etc. or other nonsense, a current greater than 15 milliamps, say around 30 m/a flows in the live conductor only. Again we have an imbalance. The RCD will again trip the circuit within 0.2 seconds; yes? Or have I missed something? Cheers. Terry. PS. At low DC voltages holding say test probes in my calloused (read 'hard working, son of the soil' etc.) my skin resistance is around 100,000 ohms. however at higher voltages and or with minor cuts there could easily be a break down of that figure. Got a few scars to prove it. Worst was discharging a 2000 volt DC medium size capacitor across my knuckles about year 1950. Yup. small scar still there!
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Exactly so.

For sure.

Right on the money, again. An RCCD (of the currently-available current- operated sort) doesn't care whether the circuit it's controlling has 40A flowing round it or 0.4A; what it cares about is that "what goes out comes back" - i.e. that the current flowing out through the Live terminal is within a gnat's whisker of the current coming back to its Neutral terminal. Though more recent ones use electronics for this differential sensing, the classic construction method is to use two coils with the same number of turns but wound in opposite directions around an iron toroid (doughnut-shape) - these are the "sense coils". When the currents are in balance, there's no nett magnetic field set up in the toroid, as the sense coils are wound in opposite directions. But if some of the current going out of the live terminal finds a different way back to earth, the two fields no longer cancel, and the nett field is used by another coil - the "search" coil - to pull back a solenoid which is all that's stopping the breaker spring from disconnecting the circuit. Pop.
So, back to your two scenarios: both result in an imbalance in the currents in the two sense coils, so both create a magnetic field, which the search coil turns back into electrickery to operate the disconnection mechanism.
This same current-imbalance sensing is what causes multi-circuit RCDs to trip when you short a neutral to earth on a circuit you've "disconnected", i.e. pulled-the-fuse/manually-tripped-the-MCB on. The other circuits are still live, and the sum of current being drawn by them is neatly balanced on the way out and on the way back. Then you - to take a purely hypothetical example - let the neutral wire of the immersion-heater cable you're working on brush against the (uninsulated) copper tank. Pop, whole house in darkness (yes, this place had a single whole-house RCD; no longer Regs-compliant, but given the crappy state the electrics were in, a Win for safety on balance!). That's because you've just given all those eager electrons coming down the neutrals a second way back to Earth than through the N terminal of the RCD - enough of them like this New Way back that the RCD is unbalanced, and pops. (Remember all the Ns are commoned up together back at the consumer unit, right? And pulling the fuse only breaks the N connection on the circuit you're working on.)
We had a related case just the other day on this group - someone had wired their new circuit so it took a live feed from the RCD-protected side of their CU, but had connected the return N back to the non-RCD side. Unsurprisingly, the moment the load was switched on, the imbalance made the RCD trip.
HTH - Setfek [determined to keep up the inner anagramming, while keeping the "Two Es" feature of the name unchanged and thus subliminally reinforcing the most-frequently-gashed feature of his moniker :-]
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you might want to rephrase that ;)
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In uk.d-i-y, Chris Oates <none> wrote:

(blush) yeah well, the intelligent reader knows I *ought* to have written "breaks only the L connection" instead; the unintelligent will believe the literal stuff as written and select themselves out of the gene pool soon enough ;-)
Skefet
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snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

Thanks Stefak for a very complete reply. Also you mentioned that whole house tripping RCD question and explained it for me. Yes here too we have the earth/ground supposedly connected to the neutral once only; at the main circuit breaker panel (CU). In older homes RCD type breakers are not yet commonly in use AFIK. But outlets so equipped are now common and required for all 'damp' locations e.g. a bathroom and/or for use of 'outside' appliances such as an electric mower, hedge clipper etc. and are called GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter is, I think, the right term?) There are two basic types of GFCI duplex outlet; one type 'protects' itself and any other outlets downstream of it. The other only protects itself and anything plugged into it. For example we have a GFCI in the garage which also 'protects' one downstream outlet on an outside wall. Out thre we have plugged AC mains to our slide into truck camper unit. Every so often there is some kind of imbalance that trips the GFCI; it's probably the old fridge in the camper! Although the camper unit is not grounded (oops, sorrry, earthed!) Doesn't matter because the camper is only stored there for the winter with power used occasionally. The major difference is that we have a 115-0-115 volts, three wires; with 230 volts across the two outside wires (hence two pole breakers for 230 volt circuits). Typical house service is 200 amps (230 x 200 = 46 kVA). especailly if electric heating (Cost equiv. to about 3.5 to 4.0 pence per unit). The earth/ground is provided by an earth rod connected to both the ground bar and the incoming power utility neutral only once at the incoming electrical service and incidental connection to any available metallic water supply etc. back at the transformer tha middle 'zero' potential wire neutral is also connected to earth and via what is called a multi grounded neutral MGN to everything else in sight, including guy wires telephone company cable sheaths etc. Your info/discussion much appreciated. My regards. Terry.
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Point of detail, Mr. Z: the coils are wound in the same direction, it's the currents that go in opposite directions - like this:
. i1 L --------UUUUU----->----- L supply .- - - load N --------UUUUU-----<----- N - - - i2 sense-> uuuuu wind'g | | (residual current = |i1-i2|) | | o o trip

Hmm, basket faze, bakez feast: ze fab skate... (s'pose you've seen em all though).
--
Andy

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D'oh! Totally bleedin' obvious now you point it out. That'll teach me to engage brain (and perhaps make the Maxwell three-finger-gesture ;-) before posting.

One of the better ones an obviously-underemployed colleague at previous employer (s/w house just south of Oxford; hello any Joint European Tourist types ;-) came up with in a fit of story-writing in which he insisted on anagramming all our names was that arabic variant, Fez Atabesk.
Must get myself a new Blunkett made out in that moniker ;-)
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Err, did Maxwell have a three-finger salute? The left-hand (motor) rule is Fleming's; the RH (dynamo) one - wasn't that Faraday's?

Good one. I knew my efforts were sub-optimal :-(

A Blunkett(n.)? - a reference to ID cards, perhaps?
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Andy

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