Technical Articles

What is creepage distance? How is it measured and applied?

Creepage distance is a crucial concept in electrical systems and equipment that involves preventing leakage currents and dielectric breakdowns. It refers to the distance between two conductive parts that are at different potentials, such as the distance between two live parts or a live part and an earth connection. The creepage distance can determine the safe operation of an electrical device and greatly affects its reliability, particularly with high voltage and high-frequency operations.

Measurement of Creepage Distance

The measurement of creepage distance is crucial in ensuring the safe operation of electrical equipment, particularly in high-voltage environments. Creepage distance is measured using a test instrument known as a creepage gauge or creepage meter. The instrument consists of two conductive probes that are held at a certain distance apart, and the probe spacing can be adjusted to measure the breakdown voltage of a particular device.

The creepage distance is typically measured along the surface, following the shortest path between two conductive parts while ensuring that the shortest path passes close to the surface. The surface of the material must be clean and dry during measurement to ensure accuracy. Creepage distance calculation must also take into consideration factors such as voltage stress, pollution level, and the type of insulation materials used.

Applications of Creepage Distance

Creepage distance is a vital requirement in electrical applications. It is particularly relevant in switchgear, transformers, motors, and other electrical equipment that operates at high voltage levels. Creepage distance is essential for maintaining proper insulation between live parts and earth connections or other conductive surfaces.

In PCB design, creepage distance is important in ensuring that the clearance between two traces or conductive surfaces maintains electrical isolation. It is crucial to comply with certain creepage distance standards in PCB design, such as the IEC 60664 standard, which provides clear guidelines on minimum creepage distances for different rated voltages.


Creepage distance is an important concept in electrical engineering that plays a crucial role in the safe and reliable operation of electrical systems and equipment. It determines the level of electrical insulation required between conductive parts, particularly in high-voltage applications. Proper measurement of creepage distance and adherence to industry standards are crucial to ensure the safe operation and longevity of electrical equipment.



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