Technical Articles

How do you calculate creepage and clearance?

Creepage and clearance are important considerations in electrical engineering, particularly when designing circuits and selecting components for high-voltage applications. Creepage refers to the surface distance between two conductive parts along the insulation material, while clearance is the shortest air gap between those parts.

Calculation of creepage distance

To calculate the creepage distance, one needs to consider various factors such as the level of pollution, voltage level, and the required insulation class. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provides guidelines and tables for calculating the minimum creepage distances based on these factors.

First, determine the pollution degree based on the environment where the equipment will be used. Pollution degree ranges from 1 to 4, with 1 being the cleanest environment and 4 being highly polluted or humid environments.

Next, identify the highest voltage level in the circuit or system. Voltage levels can range from low voltage (LV) to extra-high voltage (EHV), and different insulation classes are associated with each voltage level.

Once the pollution degree and voltage level are determined, refer to the applicable IEC table to find the corresponding creepage distance. The table lists the minimum creepage distances based on various combinations of pollution degree and voltage level.

Calculation of clearance distance

Similar to creepage distance, the calculation of clearance distance also depends on factors such as pollution degree, voltage level, and insulation class. Clearance distance ensures that a short circuit or flashover does not occur due to voltage breakdown.

Start by determining the pollution degree and voltage level, just as in the calculation of creepage distance. Look up the appropriate IEC table for the recommended clearance distances based on the pollution degree and voltage level combination.

The clearance distance can be influenced by factors such as altitude, temperature, and material properties. These additional factors may require adjustment to the calculated clearance distance to ensure safety and reliability in the specific application.


Creepage and clearance calculations are crucial for electrical engineers to ensure the safety and performance of high-voltage systems. By considering the pollution degree, voltage level, and insulation class, engineers can determine the minimum creepage and clearance distances necessary to prevent electrical breakdown and ensure reliable operation.

Accurate calculation and understanding of creepage and clearance distances help in selecting appropriate materials, designing compact layouts, and complying with industry standards and regulations. Engineers must always refer to relevant guidelines, standards, and tables provided by organizations like the IEC to ensure safe and efficient electrical designs.



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