Despite the emergence of newer (and probably more efficient) transmission technologies like fiber optic, coaxial cables are still a popular choice for routing and transferring cable and satellite TV signals among homeowners. But, why? This is because the supposedly obsolete technology is effective, affordable, and easy to install. More importantly, it offers high signal integrity. Read on to discover the best tips for grounding cables.
What Is The Importance of Grounding?
The primary reason for grounding is it prevents power surges and lightning shocks from damaging your coaxial cable wiring system, as well as your TV and internet infrastructure. What’s more, it is not an overly technical process – so long as you can connect a coaxial cable to your devices, you are unlikely to experience any issues when grounding.
Grounding Cables for Coaxial and Satellite TV Systems
Although you can do it yourself, grounding coaxial cables will not cost you much if you hire a professional. If you choose to ground your cables, the following are the steps you need to follow.
Common Grounding Items
Before anything, ensure that your house has a functional ground electrode system, usually located next to the electricity supply meter box. Then, proceed to purchase the equipment that you will need to accomplish this process.
What You Need For Grounding
Besides a working GES, you will need the following equipment to complete the grounding process.
- Two copper wires, preferably with a minimum rating of 10 AWG.
- A mast clamp.
- A coaxial grounding block.
- Several ground clamps.
- Coaxial cables.
The copper wires you use must be thinner (have a higher gauge) than the ones used in your home’s GES. It is advisable to use solid copper wires because copper-clad options tend to become brittle after extended use.
A Mast Clamp
You need a ground strap or a pipe clamp to bond your coaxial cable to the ground electrode system. While most homeowners prefer the former, a heavy-duty, steel pipe clamp with serrated adapters works equally as well.
Some installation techniques allow you to avoid buying a mast clamp. In this case, you directly attach the grounding wire to a bolt on the antenna mount. This is only possible if your antenna mount has such a bolt.
If there is painting or a coating in the area where the grounding wire touches the mast clamp, remove it during the installation.
A Coax Grounding Block
As the name suggests, a coax grounding block is essential to grounding your coaxial cable wiring system. You can purchase standard coaxial grounding blocks or go for the more expensive options that come with lightning arrestors.
Standard grounding blocks have two holes – one for connecting a cable that links to your TV, and another that connects the system to the GES. Every grounding block has a maximum frequency rating that depicts its best use case – higher frequencies tend to be more versatile, as you can use them for satellite TV and internet connections.
Coaxial lightning arrestors are ideal for people who live in areas susceptible to lightning strikes and thunderstorms. The difference between them and standard grounding blocks is that they have a gas that ionizes and directs charges to the ground during high voltage surges, such as lightning strikes.
Ground clamps attach the mast and coaxial cables to the ground electrode system. If you have multiple grounding cables, use an Intersystem Bonding Termination Bar to connect them to the ground clamps without detaching the GES.
During installation, ensure that you have enough coaxial cable reels. This is because you need sufficient length that covers either side of the grounding block. The RG-6 is a better option than the RG-59, as it has a more robust shielding that assures you of little interference and higher signal integrity.
Grounding Cables–How to Ground Coaxial Antennas
Here are the steps you need to follow when grounding your coaxial antenna.
- Locate Your Ground Electrode System
Firstly, locate your home’s GES. It is a thick gauge copper wire located near the main meter box or the circuit breaker.
- Attach the Block to the Wall
Attach your ground block to the wall such that it is away from possible rainwater and other forms of moisture. Most blocks come with screws that make it easy to fix them on your walls.
- Connect the Antenna Cable to the Ground Block
The next step involves connecting the antenna cable to the grounding block. If you have short cables, remember to use waterproofing grease to keep moisture away without affecting the signal quality. Also, loop the cable to prevent rainwater from dripping into your house.
- Connect the TV Cable to the Ground Block
Confirm that your TV is showing images after connecting it to the ground block.
- Attach Both Coaxial Cables to the GES
Once you confirm that your TV is receiving a signal, connect both coaxial cables to the ground electrode system using a clamp. Remember that this connection should have as few bends as possible. This ensures that surges follow one direction on their way to the ground.
- Ground the Antenna Mast
Grounding the mast is a straightforward process – all you have to do is attach the coaxial cables to the mast using clamps and connect the copper wires to the GES.
Grounding Cables–How to Ground Satellite Dishes
The grounding satellite dishes are mostly similar to grounding coaxial antennas. However, you need to ensure that your satellite dish is stable enough to withstand strong winds. Also, ensure that the connection port in your set-top box is not loose.
Frequently Asked Questions About Grounding Cables
- Can I Use Ammeters to Check Sheath Current?
Yes, provided its scale does not exceed 1.5 amps. This is because most coaxial cables carry an average current of 0.25 amps.
- What is the Ideal Length of a Grounding Conductor?
Experts recommend using the shortest and most direct conductor for your home GES. The conductor should be as close to your building’s entrance as possible.
- Is It Safe to Connect the GES to Metallic Pipes?
Yes. In fact, it is advisable to do so, but the grounding for the pipes must be at least five feet from the building’s entrance.
- What If I Live in An Aluminium Building?
The law requires all buildings with aluminium walls to have grounding.
- Can I Attach the Grounding Wire to the Cable Clamp to the Load Side of the Electric Meter
Yes, but the conductor must be ‘listed’ (made for that specific purpose). If not, it would be unsafe to use it.
While it seems like an unnecessary procedure, grounding your TV improves your home’s safety and protects your investment. Better yet, you can do it yourself without having to call a professional.
However, it is worth keeping in mind that the process’s primary goal is safety. If you are not confident in your skills, we are always ready to offer a helping hand. Reach out to us today!