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Old 31-Mar-2016, 10:18 PM   #1
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An unusual grounding question - more than one house panel ground?

I have a 30' antenna. I've read up and understand that I need to put a ground rod at the base, then bond that to my house ground, etc. etc.. The problem is that I can't determine 100% where the house ground is. It's an old house, I see the panel ground (stranded) going through the sill plate, but when I start digging outside I can't find it. I've dug several holes, and frankly now i'm more concerned about cutting through it or damaging it while digging. Maybe it runs along the foundation before going away from the house. But, I'm making an educated guess that it goes to my 450' well, which is right in line with the stranded ground exit point, about 25'away (it exists about 5 away from well wires). And from what i've read that's a far superior ground than rods. BTW I have no ground issues in the house, everything tests good.

I've also read it's not a great idea to run the #4 antenna ground inside the house and right to the panel ground buss. I'm slightly confused on that, though... even if I found the ground rod or cable outside and bonded to that, that leads to the panel anyway. So I'm not so sure why that's a bad idea.


I've considered 3 options:
1. don't ground antenna to house panel, just use ground rods. Bad idea due to difference in potential.
2. Use #4, from antenna ground rod, inside house to ground buss.
3. Simply adding another ground rod to the house's ground... keep existing ground, add #4 from panel ground buss to a new ground rod about 16' from panel, outside in a different direction where it is almsot certainly at least 16' from the existing stranded ground cable (and if there's a ground rod, 16' from where that would likely be), then bonding the antenna to that. Am I at risk of creating a ground loop by doing that, or is there another reason why having a 2nd house ground rod is a bad idea? Or even a third, if there are already 2?

My house has been hit by lightning before, lost a lot of electronics, so I really want to ground it properly... without going too crazy on cost. Plus I intend to move the antenna in a couple months another 70' to my nearby field for better reception, and will bond it with rods every 25', which seems to be the conventional wisdom.

BTW I don't mean be sound snooty or whatever, but if you're not sure, please don't speculate. I've researched a lot but would appreciate input someone who knows what they're talking about! Any help is appreciated!

Last edited by twaw; 31-Mar-2016 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 1-Apr-2016, 10:46 AM   #2
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Grounding won't save you completely from lightning but it will improve your odds of avoiding damage from nearby strikes. FWIW, I lost my preamp and a custom furnace controller day before yesterday when a line of thunderstorms went through here. Everything is properly grounded but it happens. I wasn't home at the time, but the symptoms are of a near-by strike.

There are a number of schemes that meet code, so feel free to use whatever works out best for you.

1. Install your 8' ground rod at the base of the tower and connect the tower to it.

2. Run your #4 bonding wire and connect it to any of the following:

A. If your incoming water pipe from the well is metal and is already connected to your home's ground (should be) , connect to it. It meets code and is convenient.

B. Connect to the grounding wire that comes out of the electrical panel.

C. Connect it to the grounding bus, if available.

d. Any other connecting point permitted by your local (if any) or national electrical codes (NEC Article 810).
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Old 1-Apr-2016, 3:18 PM   #3
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Thanks AD Tech! Sorry to hear about your lightning strike, that sucks... I've learned the hard way that the only total protection is to unplug/disconnect, which I'm sure you know... but of course that's not always practical for most of our electronics.

In my personal recording studio, where I lost a lot of gear a few years back from a strike, I now unplug the main power when not in use. FWIW, my house's previous owner had a lightning rod at each end of the house and I'm pretty sure it hit one rod (whose ground was close to the studio). After the strike I learned that lightning rods may save the house but will possibly attract the lightning, so I removed both... haven't had a strike since. Of course now my antenna is essentially a lightning rod, but once I move my antenna it will be about 100' from the house panel. I plan to install ground rods every 25 feet so hopefully over that distance a strike's voltage will be mitigated.

Your answer explained a lot for me, I'm going to go with your option C, going direct to the panel ground buss, it's the easiest way for me to ensure no difference in potential. Thanks again!
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Old 1-Apr-2016, 7:29 PM   #4
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Stopping a lightning strike, is similar to stopping a leaky basement.
It can never actually be stopped, just redirected.

Lightning will easily jump switching contacts on audio gear. You're correct in unplugging it. This would include phone and/ or internet, too.
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