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Author Topic: Whole house grounding system  (Read 1686 times)
AF6D
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« on: May 03, 2019, 12:49:50 AM »

I am leaving California. The high taxes and gasoline and everything else and the political climate has caused me to just want the heck out. I'm looking at a 25-acre parcel in Alabama where they get regular thunderstorms. But no HOAs or restrictions on towers.

The home that is there already is somewhat awkward although solar-powered and their water heater is wood fed. Not quite my cup of tea. I'd like to have it pulled down and put a nice log cabin in there.

I have read of people that have dug a trench all the way around their house at about 6 inches deep and they put I believe it was half inch or maybe even quarter inch copper pipe all around the house and it dead-ends just below the service panel. It is then tied to the common house ground coming off of the panel. The various antenna towers could be tied to this also but that's beyond my knowledge level.

To the point, if this type of grounding were used and tied to the central ground point of the electrical system would this provide improved ground protection especially in thunderstorm alley and effectively place the entire ground system at the same ground potential and impedance?

Please be gentle because this is a new topic for me. I learned by asking questions and hopefully others will find the question and learn from it as well.

My thanks in advance for your help and advice.
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N5CM
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2019, 09:42:35 AM »

I believe that is known as a perimeter ground.  From what I have read, a perimeter ground should have the typical 8-foot ground rods driven into the ground about 2 rod lengths apart and connected by some substantial solid copper wire, perhaps #6.  The tops of the rods should be below the surface a few inches, and the wire should be connected to the rods with heavy connectors or perhaps welded with one of the exothermic kits.

It has been a while since I read on this topic, but that's what I recall.  ARRL has an excellent book on this topic, Grounding and Bonding.  If you're going to start from scratch, the perimeter ground may be the way to go.  Got that book and read it while you are in the planning stage.  I believe it will be worth your time and money.

Good luck on the move and new QTH.

Vy 73 es DX,

John N5CM
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AF6D
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2019, 11:34:30 AM »

I believe that is known as a perimeter ground.  From what I have read, a perimeter ground should have the typical 8-foot ground rods driven into the ground about 2 rod lengths apart and connected by some substantial solid copper wire, perhaps #6.  The tops of the rods should be below the surface a few inches, and the wire should be connected to the rods with heavy connectors or perhaps welded with one of the exothermic kits.

It has been a while since I read on this topic, but that's what I recall.  ARRL has an excellent book on this topic, Grounding and Bonding.  If you're going to start from scratch, the perimeter ground may be the way to go.  Got that book and read it while you are in the planning stage.  I believe it will be worth your time and money.

Good luck on the move and new QTH.

Vy 73 es DX,

John N5CM

Thank you. It would be a new home being built nd the station grounding/house grounding all at once. I've heard from some that all I need is a GFI in each socket and the radio/equipment would automatically ground the the 100 amp drop down panel. A ham wants to ground to only the electrical system ground and not by attaching to a water pipe as rumor has it.

But I am planning on a move to Thunderstorm Alley and need to surround the entire house with buried double ott that is chemically fused at crossover points as necessary Or by using copper pipe around the perimeter. But NO ground rods around the building. There should only be one connection to the service panel ground so that one doesn't experience different impedances and the possibility of creating a ground loop. I had hoped someone could expound on this answering my specific questions. The ARRL has a book that sell for station and tower grounding.

I found this site but it doesn't maintain a single ground system. If one puts a polyphaser on coax entering the house it would be at different ground potentials.

I get to do this as the house is being built so any spot on help would be appreciated.
http://www.astrosurf.com/luxorion/qsl-lightning-protection4.htm
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KC9QBY
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2019, 12:17:46 PM »

I also rise in support of the ARRL Grounding and Bonding book. ARRL/Amazon available.  Pretty low cost for such useful and valuable information.  I'm going thru same process for new QTH. You indeed now have opportunity to plan forward rather than messy pricier retro-fit.  Make a good plan, execute the plan, revel in your success.

73, Chuck
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KD0ZGW
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 06:56:00 PM »

Do some research.  Excellent ARRL resources as noted and for new construction you should also check local elec code.  Grounding is something you want to get right.

That said; in general you want the various grounds (elec service, shack/feedlines, and tower(s)) all tied together with heavy gauge wire with additional ground rods for long connecting runs.

Note even an excellent grounding system will likely not save your equipment from a direct or near direct strike.

When you get homeowners insurance inquire about any requirements they might have.  Usually the ham radio gear is  treated the same as any other household electronics in the event of lightning damage. 

Towers may be considered "additional structures" but many locales require a foundation drawing signed off by a Professional Engineer (which is just wasted money since the tower manufacturers know what's required for their products unless you have special conditions that would impact the integrity of a typical tower foundation.)
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K6JH
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 07:20:05 PM »

You could treat the whole house like a communications site, and use the Motorola R-56 handbook as your guide. You'll probably go broke buying copper, but...

https://www.rfcafe.com/miscellany/homepage-archive/2015/Motorola-R56-Standards-Guidelines-Communication-Sites.htm
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73
Jim K6JH
K6PCW
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 06:22:32 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etrZFGvvTL4&t=1s

This might be of interest.
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K2AR
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2019, 12:17:58 PM »

You could treat the whole house like a communications site, and use the Motorola R-56 handbook as your guide. You'll probably go broke buying copper, but...

https://www.rfcafe.com/miscellany/homepage-archive/2015/Motorola-R56-Standards-Guidelines-Communication-Sites.htm

You're not kidding about going broke. My system cost several thousand dollars and is buried between 12 to 18 inches below grade and was designed based on the Motorola R56 Standards and the ARRL Grounding and Bonding book (My QRZ page shows how I did mine). You know the expression "buy once, cry once" but so far I feel that it was a worthy investment and I have not had any issues so far considering the number of nasty thunderstorms that have passed by my QTH over the last couple of years.
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2019, 11:59:03 AM »

these ground rings are a staple of telcos and commercial/public service tower installations. of note a few ham club meetings ago, copper ground rings will draw the galvanizing off tower installations, so in those cases, galvanized burial items and hardware are used instead. that from a MN State (law enforcement) Radio construction supervisor.

code is a guideline to minimum standards. you can always exceed it, as long as your permit application includes it.

speaking of which, rural county codes are generally looser than in the big cities, and inspections are not always required for some items. be sure you or the contractor runs things past the county board. "25 acres" tells me you're not within a city boundary.

good luck on your move from the left coast. consider building the new log house and then taking down the existing place. likely the old septic field is played out anyway.
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AF6D
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2019, 07:24:05 AM »

Thank you all for the advice. I've already done a lot of research and I've installed towers before. But not in lightning country. I don't expect a grounding system that protects my equipment, although being able to afford what public safety can afford would be nice. I'll just disconnect the antennas. I use Alpha Delta switches but don't trust the neutral position or the gap plug.

The advice given is great but slightly different here and there. I've read and read and read. But most everything comes around to similarities. I watched a video by W6LG of station grounding and the reminder that there should only be one termination point or you run the risk of different ground potentials and the resultant RFI and equipment that wants to get freaky. He refers a lot to the NEC and your advice that I look at the requirements in the county/city where I end up is great! I'm not a new ham but I know that I can learn new things and take no offense. As they say, the stupidest question is the one not asked.

This will be a learning experience. For those that are interested I was referred to a Motorola document that I am still digesting that if you don't mind I'll share in return. https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Lands_ROW_Motorola_R56_2005_manual.pdf

Thank you all again if if there's someone that hasn't checked in I'm still reading.
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K0ZN
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2019, 03:54:22 PM »

I"m a little late to the party on this one, but I can tell you that the money and effort you put into a truly good ground system (doesn't mean huge $,$$$) will definitely help you sleep!  We have lots of bad lightning around here (eastern Kansas) in the spring and summer severe thunder storms.....when those house shaking booms hit or you see some huge bolt hit a mile or two away, it is very comforting to know that you at least have reasonably decent ground to dissipate that stuff. I have 14 eight ft. rods in my system bonded with #2 or larger....and there are times those cables look pretty small when you see a huge strike. I also have 13 lightning rods on the house. I have a "good" ground system, but I still disconnect and ground EVERYTHING when storms are in the area....and don't forget the AC power cords!...a very high percentage of lightning damage comes in over the power line. i.e. the strike is to a power line or house a block away and it sends a big spike to YOUR house!  I hook up to operate. Lots of people don't want to go to that hassle, but to me this is a HOBBY; it is not a military, medical or public service radio station.....I see no reason to take a chance on mucho damage to my rig and possibly my home just to avoid unscrewing a couple of coax connectors and pulling a plug. "Your results may vary...."  "Different strokes for different folks....", etc.

73,  K0ZN
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AF6D
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2019, 11:49:20 PM »

You could treat the whole house like a communications site, and use the Motorola R-56 handbook as your guide. You'll probably go broke buying copper, but...

https://www.rfcafe.com/miscellany/homepage-archive/2015/Motorola-R56-Standards-Guidelines-Communication-Sites.htm

You're not kidding about going broke. My system cost several thousand dollars and is buried between 12 to 18 inches below grade and was designed based on the Motorola R56 Standards and the ARRL Grounding and Bonding book (My QRZ page shows how I did mine). You know the expression "buy once, cry once" but so far I feel that it was a worthy investment and I have not had any issues so far considering the number of nasty thunderstorms that have passed by my QTH over the last couple of years.

You've definitely done it as I envision it done correctly including buried conduit. I prefer to use hard line to the box and then to the Alpha Delta's followed by LMR 400 or RG214 and excellent crimps. But your tower diagram isn't 3D and the ground blocks confuse me. Are you grounding the boom additionally to the tower?

Does this yield a quieter receive? I have no illusion of saving the radio ger. More like saving the house to the extent possible.
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K2AR
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2019, 02:47:37 PM »

Between the SPGP box and the tower base is LDF4-50 hardline. From the ground block at the base of the tower to the coax switch and the first ground block at the top of the tower for the 2M yagi is LMR-600UF. After the switch and first ground block to the cable wrap is LMR-400UF. after the cable wrap ground block to the antennas is LMR-400.

There is a pair of #2 super flexible cables that run from the "lightning eliminator" (the porcupine at the top of the mast above the 6M yagi) to the ground block above the rotator loop. From there runs a pair or #1 welders cable through the rotator loop to the top ground block at the top of the tower. From there runs a pair of #2 super flexible cables to the base of the tower. The reason this is done is because the tower is a four section crank up tower and there is no guarantee that there is good electrical continuity from the base of the tower to the top of the mast. Also since this is a crank up tower, tall of the cabling to the top of the tower needs to be very flexible whenever I lower the tower.

And as you have seen in my drawings, there is a lot of copper underground. Also, the copper straps that connect to the base of the tower have stainless steel brackets between the copper straps and the galvanized steel tower so that there is no chemical interaction between copper and galvanized steel.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 02:52:12 PM by K2AR » Logged
W3TDH
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2019, 05:29:28 PM »

I am leaving California. The high taxes and gasoline and everything else and the political climate has caused me to just want the heck out. I'm looking at a 25-acre parcel in Alabama where they get regular thunderstorms. But no HOAs or restrictions on towers.

The home that is there already is somewhat awkward although solar-powered and their water heater is wood fed. Not quite my cup of tea. I'd like to have it pulled down and put a nice log cabin in there.

I have read of people that have dug a trench all the way around their house at about 6 inches deep and they put I believe it was half inch or maybe even quarter inch copper pipe all around the house and it dead-ends just below the service panel. It is then tied to the common house ground coming off of the panel. The various antenna towers could be tied to this also but that's beyond my knowledge level.

To the point, if this type of grounding were used and tied to the central ground point of the electrical system would this provide improved ground protection especially in thunderstorm alley and effectively place the entire ground system at the same ground potential and impedance?

Please be gentle because this is a new topic for me. I learned by asking questions and hopefully others will find the question and learn from it as well.

My thanks in advance for your help and advice. 

What you are talking about is called a Ground Ring in the National Electric Code (NEC) but the one you have described would not meet the NEC prescriptive requirements for one.  A ground ring is a #2 American Wire Gauge (AWG) or larger bare copper conductor which encircles the entire building at a depth of at least 30 inches.  It runs into the building at the location of the electrical service equipment enclosure and is connected to the Grounded System Conductor, that most practitioners call the neutral even when it is not functioning as one, at the Neutral busbar of the service equipment.  The Main Bonding Jumper connects that busbar to the enclosure cabinet.  Since Service Equipment has only a neutral busbar, that the Grounded System Conductor is connected to, the Equipment Grounding Conductors (EGCs) are terminated on the same busbar. 

For amateur radio purposes you can drive eight foot copper clad rods at 16 foot intervals all the way to the bottom of the trench with only 4 inches left that is not buried. Using Harger 305 ground rod clamps or equal or by exothermic welding attach the driven rods to the ground ring.  The Harger 305 clamps allow the attachment of additional Grounding Electrode Conductors at any place they are needed; such as at the Single point ground for the Lightning Protectors.  The single point bonding busbar inside the station is then connected to the single point grounding busbar or entry window. 

If you do go forward with a new log home you will have two opportunities that are not often available to those who's stations are in older buildings.  The NEC requires a concrete encased electrode that is at least 20 feet long encased in the concrete of the footer with no insulating barriers between the footing and the earth.  This "Concrete Encased Electrode" is brought out of the concrete at the location of your Electrical Service Equipment and terminated on the "Neutral" busbar.  What you have the opportunity to install instead is a true Ufer Ground.  During WW2 entire bunkers full of munitions were being lost to lightning strikes.  The Army brought in an electrical engineer named Herbert G. Ufer.  He devised the grounding system I describe below and made the ammunition bunkers immune to lighting detonation of the munitions which they contained.    His system consist of all of the reinforcing rods in the foundation being connected together by one of two methods.  Running a Grounding Electrode Conductor and connecting it to the reinforcing steel with clamps which are electrical testing laboratory listed for encasement in concrete.  Or you can have the concrete contractor double tie all of the reinforcing rods to each other at every crossing point so that they become essentially a single piece of steel.  They then stub up a piece of reinforcing bar just inside the basement or crawl space wall that gets connected to the Neutral busbar of the service equipment with a #2 AWG conductor.  If you know were your station will be located in the house you can have a piece of rebar stubbed up at that location as well to use as an excellent station grounding electrode system.  If you are considering having a lightning protection system installed then consult with that contractor in advance so that you can have bonding points stubbed up off of the Ufer ground for connection to the lightning grounding electrodes.  The NEC requires that those systems be bonded to each other so advanced planning will make that easier and produce a very superior lightning and electrical grounding array.  The Ufer Ground is the best possible ground your home can practically have.  That is the ground which is built into new radio and television stations. 

Your second opportunity for a superior Grounding Electrode System is that in excavating for your foundation it is likely that a trench around the entire building will be created that is deeper than the minimum 30 inches prescribed for Ground Rings.  When the foundation has been constructed you can get the ground ring and the additional driven rods installed before the excavation is back filled.  The idea is to try and get at least the last couple of feet of the rods below the year round water table.  If you do those  2 relatively low cost installations you will have a bomb proof Grounding Electrode System that can actually withstand a direct strike without any damage to the system nor to the equipment that you installed it to protect.  That is a fact!  It is born out by decades of experience with both types of electrodes since World War 2. 

--
Tom W3TDH
Retired Electrician
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