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What is the Difference Between Short Circuit and Ground Fault?

Views: 263     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-12-17      Origin: Site

Many electrical problems can lead to the same symptoms: sudden electric wire short circuit causes lights and appliances to stop working. Two closely related conditions that can cause this problem are short circuit and earth fault. There is a lot of confusion about the precise differences between these conditions, and even professional electricians sometimes hold different opinions on the precise definition.

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What is the ground fault?

Types of electrical shorts contain many different types of faults, which defined as any abnormal current. The ground fault is a type of fault in which the accidental path of stray current flows directly to the earth. The circuit here is also "short-circuited" because it has bypassed the circuit wiring, so technically, a ground fault can be defined as a short circuit. And as with any short circuit, the direct effect is a sudden decrease in resistance, allowing the current to flow in an unimpeded manner. Like other types of short circuits, a ground fault can cause a circuit breaker short circuit.


However, for electricians, a ground fault is usually defined as when the hot wire is in contact with the ground wire or grounded part of the system, such as a metal distribution box. Therefore, although the electrical engineer would consider a ground fault to be different from a short circuit, an electrician considers a ground fault to be different from a short circuit. If a person happens to touch the path with the least resistance to the ground, a ground fault can cause an electric shock. This is why the risk of electric shock is more obvious when people are standing on the ground or in a humid place.


If there is a sudden increase in current, the circuit breaker will trip and the grounding system in the circuit can provide ground protection. If the current strays outside its established circuit wiring, it can provide a direct return to ground protection. There are also some ground fault indicator outlets and ground fault monitors that can be used in situations where ground faults are particularly likely to occur, such as in outdoor locations, near sanitary equipment, and underground locations.



What is a short circuit?

A short circuit is any current flowing outside its intended circuit with little or no resistance. The common reason is that the bare wires contact each other or the wire connection is loose. The direct effect is that a large amount of current suddenly starts to flow, which in turn causes the circuit breaker to trip and stop all current immediately. This is called a "short circuit" because the current bypasses the entire circuit wiring and immediately returns to the power supply through a short path.


For electricians, a short circuit is usually defined as a situation where the hot wire is in contact with the neutral wire, such as when the hot wire is released from its connection and in contact with the neutral wire.


A short circuit may occur when the insulation on the wire melts and the bare wire is exposed. When the current jumps from the hot wire to the zero line, electric arc or spark may be generated, which easily causes a fire. Short circuits may also occur in the wiring of individual devices (lamps or other plug-in devices). Wear or damage to power cords or equipment power cords can cause short circuits. Short circuit protection is mainly provided by circuit breakers, which trip and close the circuit when the current begins to flow in an uncontrolled manner. Now a special type of circuit breaker is usually used, namely an arc fault circuit breaker (AFCI). It can detect an arc or spark and cut off the current even before the current overloads with the circuit breaker. In addition, reliable overhead line fault indicators and digital overhead line fault passage indicators are also perfect choices.

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If the power to the circuit is not turned off before operating the circuit, short circuit and ground faults may occur. Exposed wires will inevitably touch the wrong location. Hot wire to neutral wire indicates that short circuits will cause sparks to fly away. If a hot wire is connected to a ground wire or to a grounded metal box, it indicates a ground fault and possible electrical shock. To avoid these serious problems, be sure to turn off the circuit before starting any part of the work. We can also use accurate cable fault indicators and advanced cable fault passage indicators to detect ground faults or short circuits, so as to speed up our operation time. 

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