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Resistance to ground

Resistance to ground is greatly influenced by the ambient conditions and the state of the motor when tested.

Factors Affecting Insulation Measurement:
First, it is important to understand that we are measuring a motor circuit. We are connecting our test instrument at a point where we can measure the majority of the de-energized circuit. As such, we do not necessarily know where an insulation anomaly is located when identified. We also have the motor circuit potentially exposed to differing environments. Ambient temperature and humidity can have a significant effect on any insulation measurements. When a motor circuit's insulation is tested is also a major variable. Testing a motor circuit immediately after shut down will most likely yield good results. This is because the motor is warm and dry. Testing a motor after it has been shut down for a while may indicate insulation problems, but if the motor is allowed to reach ambient temperature, the insulation integrity may appear normal. This is because while cooling, particularly in somewhat humid conditions, moisture (condensation) will accumulate within the motor and lessen ground resistance. Is this a problem? Yes, particularly if starting from a partially cooled state. Most motor failures occur during starting. This is when the insulation is exposed to the most stresses. If your motors are only down for a few hours at a time, then this is when insulation testing should be conducted.

When conducting insulation testing, the most important consideration is consistency. Always test at the same location, use the same test voltage, perform the test for the same amount of time, and use the same test instrument. It is also important to note the motor temperature, ambient temperature, and relative humidity. It is also helpful to compare like motors and the motors that are operating within the same environment.

Insulation testing is somewhat ambiguous. Although there are reference standards, they cannot be rigidly followed because they do not factor in all of the potential variables that may be encountered. Temperature is the biggest variable. Temperature of the motor and the ambient temperature are of primary concern. One method to help negate the influence of temperature is performance of a "Timed Resistance Test." This testing is comprised of "Dielectric Absorption," "Polarization Index," and "Step Voltage" testing. Dielectric Absorption is a 1 minute test. The resultant values at 30 seconds and 1 minute are logged and the ratio of the 30 second value divided into the 1 minute value, is a relative indicator of insulation integrity. A polarization index is a 10 minute test with the resultant ratio derived from the 1 minute value divided into the 10 minute value.

So, if ground resistance is low after prolonged shutdown and it is at ambient conditions, then you probably have an insulation issue. Conditioning of the insulation may be required. A motor shop can perform a "Clean, Dip and Bake." process which will prolong the motor longevity. If the motor is several years old you may want to HiPot the insulation but if you are not using one of the newer units that automatically shut down upon a jump in current, you may cause insulation failure and that would necessitate a rewind.

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