I just hooked up my antenna, but can’t figure out where to connect the ground

This question is pretty common. The really surprising thing is the people who are asking it. New cord-cutters without a lot of experience tend to figure it out easily. It’s the folks with a lot of experience who get tripped up. Go figure.

Why grounding is important

I’ve called grounding your antenna “the most important thing you’re not doing.” And, it is. A lot of people put up antennas and they get good reception, so they think they’re done. Besides, grounding wire is a little expensive. After all it’s pure heavy-gauge copper. That stuff ain’t cheap. I say, let’s put it another way. It’s a lot cheaper than replacing your whole house.

Grounding is easy, too. Every city has its own ordinances, and you should check them out. But, it usually boils down to these simple steps:

  1. Connect one end of the ground wire to the thing that needs grounding.
  2. Run the ground wire to something grounded (like a cold water pipe, outdoor breaker box, or the actual ground.)
  3. Connect the wire to that thing.

That’s literally it.

Where people get tripped up

See, it’s step 1 that seems to get some people flustered. See, most antennas don’t have a place to connect that ground wire. And that seems to really confuse some of those hard-core techies who know how important grounding is.

Here’s the magic bit that makes it all work:

This is called a ground block. You connect your antenna cable to it, connect another cable to go into the house, and connect grounding wire to one of the green lugs. It doesn’t matter which lug you choose, and you don’t have to hook up both.

Connecting the ground wire is super easy. Unscrew one of the green lugs just enough to slide the ground wire into the hole. Then tighten up the screw enough to hold the wire in place. Then, screw the ground block into the wall or eave or wherever it will stay secure.

Why don’t you have to ground the antenna?

You don’t have to ground the antenna because the signal cable is in contact with all the metal in the antenna. That’s actually kind of the point of it.

Why can’t you just use grounding wire as your signal wire?

See, that would make too much sense, right?

But the real reason you don’t use grounding wire in a signal cable is that it’s not designed for it. The thick copper wire used for grounding would be very expensive to build into a coaxial cable. Today’s antennas use coaxial cable instead of the flat cable of days of yore. This provides additional shielding against stray signals. Ground wire doesn’t have that additional shielding.

Get the grounding supplies you need at Solid Signal

Solid Signal is your source for all the grounding supplies you’ll need, whether it’s simple ground blocks, grounding wire, or something more exotic. Grounding your equipment is incredibly important and Solid Signal can get you the parts you need. Shop now for our amazing selection of grounding supplies. If you need help with figuring out grounding on your end, it’s best to find a local licensed and bonded contractor. After all, you don’t want to mess with this stuff. But for everything else, you’ll find the best selection at Solid Signal.

 

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.