Quick reminder — don’t forget to ground!

In much of the country, this is the last chance you’ll get to climb up on that roof for several months (at least safely.) That means you have one more chance to make sure your dish and antenna are properly grounded.

Grounding isn’t the most glamorous part of the job and it’s often forgotten because your antenna or satellite system will work fine without grounding. That is, of course, until a lightning storm heads your way and that antenna becomes the agent of your home’s destruction, taunting a lighting bolt that can turn your home into a raging inferno in minutes.

The idea of grounding goes back hundreds of years. Several scientists (Benjamin Franklin being one of them) studied the effects of lightning in the 18th century, concluding that like water (and some politicians), lightning travels the path of least resistance. That is, it’s possible to make lightning go where you want to if you make it very easy. Lightning is a form of electricity, and as we all know now (and no one knew then) lightning travels most easily through conductive metals like aluminum and copper. It doesn’t travel very well through wood and plastic, and as it builds up in those materials, they have a tendency to catch on fire or explode. That’s the danger.

Your antenna and satellite dish are a dangerous target for lightning, because they are often the highest point in your home and that makes them a tempting target for a lightning bolt. If lightning strikes your dish or antenna and has nowhere to go, the energy will go straight into your house and burn up everything you own. That’s what makes grounding critical.

Grounding involves running a copper wire between that dish or antenna and a point in the ground or attached to something that connects to the ground like a cold water pipe. It’s an easy process and the parts are inexpensive. It’s worth noting that a proper ground system won’t stop a lightning strike… there’s no way a skinny wire can contain all the energy of a lightning bolt. Proper grounding will, however, dispel static electricity around the dish or antenna making a strike less likely, and will also carry as much energy as possible from a lightning strike.

It’s easy to ground your equipment and Solid Signal has all the parts you’ll need to do it. We’ve put them all together into our award-winning Guide to Grounding and it’s available for free… just like all our downloadable guides.

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.