Characteristics That Every Electrical Power Engineer Needs to Remember About Soil Thermal Resistivity

Posted on: 29 October 2018

Thermal resistivity is one of the essential characteristics of a soil. It is not common to hear people talking about the quality because its applications are few. People who need to understand the thermal resistivity of soil and what it means include electrical engineers and people who install electrical systems. Here, are some of the characteristics which everyone needs to remember about soil when doing electrical cable installations.

Soil and backfill thermal properties

Before installing any electrical cables, you need to assess and fully understand the thermal resistivity of both the soil and the backfill. This means that you cannot assume that the soil you will be working with will have the standard resistivity. To test for thermal resistivity, you need an expert and the right tools. Remember that the resistivity will affect the manner in which electrical current flows through the cable.

Water levels and density

Another important consideration that you need to make is the levels of water in the soil and the density. When doing the tests, make sure that you factor in the density. You also need to test the soil during all four seasons to ascertain that there is no time of the year when the water content in the soil goes below what is considered the critical levels. This does not mean that soils that are immense cannot support cable installation; as an engineer, you should device measures to allow you to contain the moisture content in the soil before installing cables. The system will protect the soil from excessive cracking, which creates air gaps.

The effect of vegetation

It is also important to remember that the vegetation cover on soil also determines its thermal resistivity. Natural soils which have a good level of vegetation cover will always have higher levels of thermal resistivity than other soils. If the natural soil is too unstable to provide a supportive environment for cable installation, think about getting engineered materials that have a stable thermal resistivity. The success of your cable installation process will depend on how well you can assess the soil thermal resistivity and come up with measures to help you deal with extreme conditions. Methods such as compaction using well-graded materials can also be used to improve the soil thermal resistivity. When you take time and carry out all the necessary tests, you will have a successful power cable installation and performance all through.