What is meant by an electrical stray current?

Written by Electrical Ride

March 30, 2018

Electrical stray current refers to the flow of electrical current via two objects due to potential difference, imbalance or wiring flaws. The small voltage difference between two grounded objects in the separate location may exist because of the ordinary flow of current within the power system and can result in arc flash. However, a large voltage difference can be a sign of faulty condition in an electrical power system.

Have you excessively been shocked close to a swimming pool, when you touched the metal installation? Where does it come from?

Stray Voltage is a small voltage possibly 10 volts that appear between two contact points. When these two points get into contact by any mean, a current will definitely flow because of potential difference. This current is Stray Current. The value of electrical stray current depends upon voltage difference and circuit impedance. Stray current can be dangerous if it flows the inconsiderable amount.

Now the second question arises is that, where does stray voltage originate from?

Due to the grounding of an electrical power system, any neutral to earth voltage (NEV) on the system can be transmitted to any grounded objects. Load, leakage, and fault currents flowing via the impedance’s of the neutral or grounding conductors to earth causes NEV. There are many other sources that lead the neutral or grounding system to earth causing NEV. Any metallic structure linked to the neutral or grounding system may also be at the same NEV. This indicates there is constant voltage to earth. So, the question is not if there’s stray voltage, but what’s the safe level.

How to solve a stray voltage problem?

There are four methods to eliminate or reduce stray voltages.

Reduce the potential voltage supply to an appropriate level. This includes getting rid of bad neutral connecting and defective loads. Reform grounding, load balancing and clearing leakage current.

By means of the usage of active nulling devices for the elimination of the stray voltage. Current is delivered to some distance off grounding electrode to null out the measured voltage.

In some cases, there may be current flowing from the consumer grounded neutral machine to the primary power grounded neutral system. To get rid of and reduce the effect of this, installation of spark gap, saturable reactor or a solid-state switch can be used.

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ElectricalRide is a free resource site for Electrical Engineers. It was founded in March 2018 by Muhammad Saqib. The main goal of this site is to provide quality content that allows electrical and electronics engineers to improve their knowledge.

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