The antenna terms you need to know: GROUNDING

Grounding. Proof that one bad decision can ruin your whole day. If your outdoor antenna isn’t grounded, you run the risk of a lightning strike that can destroy all your home electronics and burn down your home. If you’re a frequent reader of The Solid Signal Blog, you’ll know that I’ve written several articles just like this one… practically begging you to ground your antenna.

Here’s the reason.

when there’s a lot of static electricity in the air, such as just before a storm, there’s a strong possibility of lightning. Lightning is nothing but electricity, and electricity is lazy. It wants to take the shortest possible path from point A to point B, and it doesn’t have to work very hard either. A nice, big, metal pole is very attractive to the electricity in the air and when there’s enough electricity that it’s going to form a lightning bolt, one end of that bolt is going to be on the closest, highest point that conducts electricity the best. Does that sound like the antenna on top of your roof? It should.

We’ve created an entire guide to grounding that will help you find the parts you need, but usually it comes down to a few simple parts. A ground block goes between your antenna and your home by way of the coax cable, and ground wire runs from that ground blog to a the closest “grounded” location. This can be a metal cold water pipe, your electrical panel, or the actual ground. (That’s right folks, stick a metal rod in the dirt, attach a copper wire to it, and you’ve created a very effective low-tech grounding system.

Know the ordinances

Grounding ordinances differ from city to city and from county to county. In some areas it’s perfectly legal to ground by connecting a grounding wire to a cold water pipe. In others you must attach to the grounding system of the home, usually by attaching to the breaker. Most of the time, a ground rod will work but not in all.

If you have questions about grounding, contact your local city hall or a friendly electrical contractor. Get the answers before you start and you should have no problem finding the parts, either locally or by shopping at Solid Signal.

Do something.

No matter what you do folks, for the love of all that’s good do something. The parts are as cheap as we can make them and the ground block can be almost anywhere, so you might not even need to get back up on the roof. A properly grounded system will really help you escape damage due to lightning. If the antenna does get hit by lightning, there’s going to be damage, However, a properly designed system will dissipate static electricity long before it becomes powerful enough to form a bolt of lightning. That’s the real power of proper grounding. That’s why I tell you, about once a quarter, that you really have to do something to make sure your grounding system is intact.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.