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Characteristics of TT, TN and IT systems

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Contents


TT system

(see Fig. E12)

The TT system:

  • Technique for the protection of persons: the exposed conductive parts are earthed and residual current devices (RCDs) are used
  • Operating technique: interruption for the first insulation fault



FigE12.jpg

Fig. E12: TT system


Note: If the exposed conductive parts are earthed at a number of points, an RCD must be installed for each set of circuits connected to a given earth electrode.

Main characteristics

  • Simplest solution to design and install. Used in installations supplied directly by the public LV distribution network.
  • Does not require continuous monitoring during operation (a periodic check on the RCDs may be necessary).
  • Protection is ensured by special devices, the residual current devices (RCD), which also prevent the risk of fire when they are set to ≤ 500 mA.
  • Each insulation fault results in an interruption in the supply of power, however the outage is limited to the faulty circuit by installing the RCDs in series (selective RCDs) or in parallel (circuit selection).
  • Loads or parts of the installation which, during normal operation, cause high leakage currents, require special measures to avoid nuisance tripping, i.e. supply the loads with a separation transformer or use specific RCDs (see § "Protective measures" in page Implementation_of_the_TT_system).

TN system

see Fig. E13 and Fig. E14 

The TN system:

  • Technique for the protection of persons:

  - Interconnection and earthing of exposed conductive parts and the neutral are mandatory
  - Interruption for the first fault using overcurrent protection (circuit-breakers or fuses)

  • Operating technique: interruption for the first insulation fault



FigE13.jpg

Fig. E13: TN-C system


FigE14.jpg

Fig. E14: TN-S system


Main characteristics

  • Generally speaking, the TN system:

  - Requires the installation of earth electrodes at regular intervals throughout the installation
  - Requires that the initial check on effective tripping for the first insulation fault be carried out by calculations during the design stage,
    followed by mandatory measurements to confirm tripping during commissioning 
  - Requires that any modification or extension be designed and carried out by a qualified electrician
  - May result, in the case of insulation faults, in greater damage to the windings of rotating machines
  - May, on premises with a risk of fire, represent a greater danger due to the higher fault currents

  • In addition, the TN-C system:

  - At first glance, would appear to be less expensive (elimination of a device pole and of a conductor)
  - Requires the use of fixed and rigid conductors
  - Is forbidden in certain cases:
    - Premises with a risk of fire
    - For computer equipment (presence of harmonic currents in the neutral)

  • In addition, the TN-S system:

  - May be used even with flexible conductors and small conduits
  - Due to the separation of the neutral and the protection conductor, provides a clean PE (computer systems and premises with special risks)


IT system

(see Fig. E15)

IT system:

  • Protection technique:

  - Interconnection and earthing of exposed conductive parts
  - Indication of the first fault by an insulation monitoring device (IMD)
  - Interruption for the second fault using overcurrent protection (circuit-breakers or fuses)

  • Operating technique:

  - Monitoring of the first insulation fault
  - Mandatory location and clearing of the fault
  - Interruption for two simultaneous insulation faults


FigE15.jpg

Fig. E15: IT system


Main characteristics

  • Solution offering the best continuity of service during operation
  • Indication of the first insulation fault, followed by mandatory location and clearing, ensures systematic prevention of supply outages
  • Generally used in installations supplied by a private MV/LV or LV/LV transformer
  • Requires maintenance personnel for monitoring and operation
  • Requires a high level of insulation in the network (implies breaking up the network if it is very large and the use of circuit-separation transformers to supply loads with high leakage currents)
  • The check on effective tripping for two simultaneous faults must be carried out by calculations during the design stage, followed by mandatory measurements during commissioning on each group of interconnected exposed conductive parts
  • Protection of the neutral conductor must be ensured as indicated in the page Protection of the neutral conductor inside chapter Sizing and protection of conductors