Doksun Power Manufacturer of Earthing Electrodes and Lightning Arrestors MSN Business Directory

Step Potential Calculations

Step Potential Calculations:


Step potentials share their concept with touch potentials, only in this instance instead of measuring the prospective electrical potential difference when physically touching a structure during a fault, it instead defines the difference in electrical potentials between someone’s feet. As electricity disperses into the earth the volume and intensity degrades and as such so does its apparent threat to life. The rate of notional decay relates to the ground’s resistance to electrical current. Even over very short distances, such as that between the feet of a person, electricity could degrade considerably, and the quantity of degradation will determine the apparent threat to life. An example of the previous point may suggest that between a person’s legs voltage may drop by 750V and that voltage could feasibly travel through a person if they provide the path of least electrical resistance. As you can imagine this determination is critically important; Doksun Power engineers are clear on the parameters and that’s why customers request this service of the company every day.

Step Potential Calculations

Step potential calculations closely resemble another service offered by Doksun Power, being touch potential calculations. More can be learned by referring to the dedicated service page for touch potential calculations, however this page shall offer some comparison between the two.

Touch potential is the prospective exposure to electrical current in the event that someone is touching a piece of infrastructure at the moment it is subjected to fault electricity. Step potential is a similar concern but considers the likely volume of electricity that may be inducted through the feet and legs of a person standing within the vicinity of a piece of infrastructure during fault conditions. This may not immediately make sense but it is worth considering the behaviours of electricity; it will always seek the path of least electrical resistance, meaning that it is easier to discharge, and it will dissipate over time within the strata of the earth proportionally to the resistance to electricity in the mass of earth.

In the event that the ground mass is offering a poorer conductive environment for electricity to pass than other elements, such as metal pipes, structural steels, or indeed human beings stood on the surface of the ground then electricity will induct to the preferable element, being the path of least electrical resistance (the least opposition to electrical current flow).

How much electricity will pass through a person as a result of step potential voltage is determined by the apparent voltage drop-off between that person’s feet. If you consider that electricity dissipates within the ground its strength has decreased, the difference in the volumes of electricity beneath one foot, and the other is the quantity that will pass through that person’s body. An aim of any electrical earthing system is to control the prospective quantity of electricity that may pass through a human as a result of step potential voltage.

Frequently a rule of thumb is shown to be true being “if compliance with the requirements of touch potentials has been achieved then step potentials are unlikely to be at intolerable levels”.

Ascertain fault clearance time:

DNOs usually provide prospective fault clearance times on the basis that their systems are frequently the last to trigger in the event of an electrical fault. Once the fault clearance time has been established the value can be used to reference applicable standards.

Using Standards to Determine Permissible Voltages:

Standards govern the decisions that Doksun Power design engineers follow. The company is also fortunate enough that Doksun Power Senior Technical Partner John Maher sits on on a number of standards committees to ensure that the company both contributes towards improvements in knowledge and benefits from the latest developments. Once the applicable standard has been referenced the Doksun Power design engineer will be fully versed on the maximum permitted step potential voltage level.

Evaluate Step Voltage Outputs from CDEGS Software:

Using the fault simulation capacity in CDEGS Doksun Power design engineers are able to theoretically determine how a given electrical earthing system may behave in the event of an electrical fault. One of the outputs that CDEGS generates following such fault current simulation is the performance in line with step potential voltages.

Verify Compliance with Standards:

Using the performance data from CDEGS following fault current simulations Doksun Power design engineers are able to compare the performance of an electrical earthing system against the requirements of the governing standard. In the event that the site in question does not meet with the minimum performance requirements then further design work will be necessary until it does.

Complete Assessment with any Applicable Recommendations:

The final design report will detail how the electrical earthing system performs in line with fault current step potentials and any advice or recommendations will also be provided to ensure that every Doksun Power site receives the best advice and knowledge available.

This page shares many of the same considerations as “Touch potential calculations” and Doksun Power recommends that interested parties also refer to that page.