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A generator of very low frequency a.c. current, or of d.c. current, (to reduce the effects of cable capacitance to negligible levels) applies a voltage between the neutral point of the supply transformer and earth. This voltage causes a small current to flow according to the insulation resistance to earth of the whole installation, plus that of any connected appliance. Low-frequency instruments can be used on a.c. systems which generate transient d.c. components under fault conditions. Certain versions can distinguish between resistive and capacitive components of the leakage current.
Modern equipment allow the measurement of leakage-current evolution, so that prevention of a first fault can be achieved