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InsulationResistanceTestOpenElectrical

InsulationResistanceTest
FromOpenElectrical
Theinsulationresistance(IR)test(alsocommonlyknownasaMegger)isaspotinsulationtestwhichusesan
appliedDCvoltage(typicallyeither250Vdc,500Vdcor1,000Vdcforlowvoltageequipment<600Vand
2,500Vdcand5,000Vdcforhighvoltageequipment)tomeasureinsulationresistanceineitherk,MorG.
Themeasuredresistanceisintendedtoindicatetheconditionoftheinsulationordieletricbetweentwoconductive
parts,wherethehighertheresistance,thebettertheconditionoftheinsulation.Ideally,theinsulationresistance
wouldbeinfinite,butasnoinsulatorsareperfect,leakagecurrentsthroughthedielectricwillensurethatafinite
(thoughhigh)resistancevalueismeasured.
BecauseIRtestersareportable,theIRtestisoftenusedinthefieldasthefinalcheckofequipmentinsulationand
alsotoconfirmthereliabilityofthecircuitandthattherearenoleakagecurrentsfromunintendedfaultsinthe
wiring(e.g.ashortedconnectionwouldbeobviousfromthetestresults).
OneoftheadvantagesoftheIRtestisitsnondestructivenature.DCvoltagesdonotcauseharmfuland/or
cumulativeeffectsoninsulationmaterialsandprovidedthevoltageisbelowthebreakdownvoltageofthe
insulation,doesnotdeterioratetheinsulation.IRtestvoltagesareallwellwithinthesafetestvoltageformost(if
notall)insulationmaterials.

Contents
1TestEquipment
2TestProcedure
3InterpretationofTestResults
4FactorsAffectingTestResults
4.1Temperature
4.2Humidity
5RelatedTests
6References

TestEquipment
TheMeggercompany(http://www.megger.com/)weretheoriginalmanufacturers
ofIRtestequipmentover100yearsagoandhavebecomesynonymouswith
insulationresistancetesting.MostmodernIRtestersaredigital,portable/
handheldunitsandsomehavemultifunctionalcapabilities(e.g.builtin
continuitytesting).

TestProcedure
Firstlyensurethattheequipmenttobetestedandtheworkareaissafe,e.g.
equipmentisdeenergisedanddisconnected,alltherelevantworkpermitshave
beenapprovedandalllocks/tagsinplace.
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IRtestset(courtesyofMegger
(http://www.megger.com/))

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Next,dischargecapacitancesontheequipment(especiallyforHVequipment)withstaticdischargesticksoranIR
testerwithautomaticdischargingcapabilities.
TheleadsontheIRtestercanthenbeconnectedtotheconductivepartsoftheequipment.Forexample,forathree
coreandearthcable,theIRtestwouldbeappliedbetweencores(Core1toCore2,Core1toCore3andCore2to
Core3)andbetweeneachcoreandearth.Similarlyforthreephasemotors,circuitbreakrs,switchdisconnectors,
etctheIRtestcanbeappliedattheequipmentterminals(andearthconnection).
NotethatwhenapplyinganIRtesttoearth,itisgoodpracticetoconnectthepositivepoleoftheIRtestertoearth
inordertoavoidanypolarisationeffectsontheearth.
Onceconnected,theIRtesterisenergisedforatypicaltestdurationof1minute.TheIRtestmeasurementsare
recordedafter1minute.
WhentheIRtestisfinished,dischargecapacitancesagainforaperiodof45timesthetestduration.

InterpretationofTestResults
TheminimumvaluesforIRtestsvarydependingonthetypeofequipmentandthenominalvoltage.Theyalso
varyaccordingtointernationalstandards.SomestandardswilldefinetheminimumIRtestvaluesforthegeneral
electricalinstallations.
Forexample,forlowvoltageinstallationsintheIECworld,IEC603646[1]Table6AgivestheminimumIR
valuesandalsosuggeststestvoltage,i.e.
Insulation
Resistance
(M)

NominalCircuit
Voltage(Vac)

TestVoltage
(Vdc)

Extralowvoltage

250

0.5

Upto500V

500

1.0

Above500V

1,000

1.0

IntheANSI/NECworld,thestandardANSI/NETAATS2009[2]providestestproceduresandacceptancelevels
formosttypesofelectricalequipment.Table100.1providesrepresentativeacceptancevaluesforIRtest
measurements,whichshouldbeusedintheabsenceofanyotherguidance(fromthemanufacturerorother
standards):

NominalEquipment
Voltage(Vac)

MinTest
Voltage(Vdc)

Min
Insulation
Resistance
(M)

250

500

25

600

1,000

100

1,000

1,000

100

2,500

1,000

500

5,000

2,500

1,000

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8,000

2,500

2,000

15,000

2,500

5,000

25,000

5,000

20,000

34,500andabove

15,000

100,000

NFPA70B[3]alsoprovidessomeguidanceoninsulationresistancetestingfordifferenttypesofequipment.

FactorsAffectingTestResults
TherearetwomainfactorsthatwillaffectIRtestresults:

Temperature
Electricalresistancehasaninverseexponentialrelationshipwithtemperature,i.e.astemperatureincreases,
resistancewilldecreaseandviceversa.SincetheminimumacceptableIRtestvaluesarebasedonafixedreference
temperature(usually20oC),themeasuredIRtestvaluesmustbecorrectedtothereferencetemperatureinorderto
makesenseofthem.
Asaruleofthumb,theresistancehalvesforevery10oCincreaseintemperature(andviceversa).Soifthe
measuredIRtestvaluewas2Mat20oC,thenitwouldbe1Mat30oCor4Mat10oC.
ANSI/NETAATS2009Table100.14providescorrectionfactorsforIRtestmeasurementstakenattemperatures
otherthan20oCor40oC,whichwereinturnbasedonthecorrectionfactorsinthefreelyavailableMeggerbook
"Astitchintime..."[4].

Humidity
Thepresence(orlack)ofmoisturecanalsoaffecttheIRtestmeasurements,thehigherthemoisturecontentinthe
air,thelowertheIRtestreading.Ifpossible,IRtestsshouldnotbecarriedoutinveryhumidatmospheres(below
thedewpoint).Whiletherearenostandardcorrectionfactorsorguidanceforhumidconditions,itisgoodpractice
torecordtherelativehumidityofeachIRtestsothattheycanbeusedforbaselinecomparisonsinfuturetests.For
example,havingpastdataontheIRtestvaluesfordryandhumiddayswillgiveyouafoundationforevaluating
futuretestvalues.

RelatedTests
Forequipmentmaintenance,theDielectricAbsorptionTestisnormallyperformedinconjunctionwiththeIRtest
usingthesametestingequipment.TheresultsareeitherintheformofaDielectricAbsorptionRatio(DAR)ora
PolarisationIndex(PI).RefertotheDielectricAbsorptionTestarticleformoredetails.

References
1.IEC603646,"LowvoltageelectricalinstallationsPart6:Verification
(https://webstore.iec.ch/publication/1887)",2006
2.ANSI/NETAATS,"StandardforAcceptanceTestingSpecificationsforElectricalPowerEquipment
andSystems(http://www.netaworld.org/standards/ansinetaats)",2013
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3.NFPA70B,"RecommendedPracticeforElectricalEquipmentMaintenance
(http://www.nfpa.org/codesandstandards/documentinformationpages?mode=code&code=70b)",
2013
4.Megger,"AstitchintimeTheCompleteGuidetoElectricalInsulationTesting"
(http://www.biddlemegger.com/biddle/Stitchnew.pdf),afreebookwhichisanexcellentresourceon
IRtesting
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