Easiest way to ground a computer?

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The electrical wiring in my house is not grounded, although all the outlets are three prong. I have a lot of equipment like air conditioners, fax machines, printers, computers, routers, etc. What would be the easiest way to ground one or two of my outlets?
Can I string a wire over the grounding prong on the surge protector plug and then run the wire out of my windows to the ground and then impale the ground with a coat hanger attached to the wire?
Or can I just wrap the wire around the painted radiator pipe which runs to the upstairs tenant's radiator? This is close to the outlets.
Thanks!
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Code prohibits the use of coat hangers for the grounding of more than one outlet.
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Thanks, but I don't care about the code. Everything in this house violates code anyway and I need a quick and cheap solution.
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Oh. Well ask Doug then.
He knows all about tricity.
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It's not that I don't care about code, it's that this house already violates so many times, that it would be pointless to adhere to it anymore.
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Golly, it sure sounds like a swell house.
Best of luck with that computer project, Jules.
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Julie P.
Do anything and hook anything up you want. The house will probably burn to the ground and they will come and build a new one to code.
Of course, some people may not be around to enjoy it.
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You mean to enjoy the fire, or enjoy the new house?
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If the point was not established by other posters, well, this is the bottom line. You are asking for a safety ground. Earthing does not provide a safety ground. A safety ground must connect the appliance ground prong to circuit breaker box safety ground - the neutral bus bar. Below are two solutions and two taboos.
Worse than no wall receptacle safety ground is to connect a safety ground to water pipes. All wire connections to water pipes are to remove electricity. Removing electricity from water pipes is why a bare copper wire connects city water pipe to breaker box. When is a human at greatest risk to electric shock? When wet. Wet human in a shower or bathtub is why electricity in pipes can be so dangerous. Safer to not safety ground the computer than to ground it to bathroom and kitchen plumbing. Code also makes same demand. Common sense says that plumbing is the last place to dump electricity.
Although no longer considered safe by code, one could run a 12 AWG green wire from wall receptacle to breaker box. That being minimum grounding one can do for human safety. Otherwise install a GFCI on that circuit (ie. in the first wall receptacle on that branch circuit) and apply prerequisite stickers that read "No Equipment Ground" to each wall receptacle plate.
Again, this is grounding for human safety. Two possible solutions are provided above - only one is approved by code. Two solutions that are completely unacceptable as well as outright code violations: grounding a wall receptacle to a separate earth ground rod, or grounding to water pipes.
"Julie P." wrote:

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Hi Tom,
Can you explain briefly (technically if needed) why earthing is not grounding?
My understanding is there are 3 wires, hot, neutral, and ground. Hot and neutral connects to the utility lines, and ground connects to the ground. Is it the 'difference' between one ground and the service panels' ground that might be causing some problems?
You mentioned "A safety ground must connect the appliance ground prong to circuit breaker box safety ground - the neutral bus bar", if I am understanding this correctly, you are saying both hot and neutral gets wired to the neutral line? How can this be right? Won't the ground then be constantly hot?
If I connect the ground of a receptacle (using a proper ground wire) to an actual earth ground (and assuming the connection is good, not flaky), what exactly is the problem? (I understand the concern about connecting to water pipes and people taking bath....)
Sorry if these questions are too naive for all your troll sensitive posters. ;) I am just trying to understand this, so if you don't want to answer, just don't say anything.
Thanks.
Raymond
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snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

Earthing is grounded. Or I should say: "earthing" is UK usage for what in the US and Canada is called grounding. To say that something is earthed or grounded implies that it is electrically conductive to planet earth, which for these purposes we pretend is an infinite sink for electricity. (In electronics where there is no such thing, the word "common" is used instead. The "ground" in your car's electrical system is a "common", since there is no conductance to the earth.)

Quite right, in a normal North American 120 V circuit or a normal 240 V circuit elsewhere. Older wiring simply omits the ground.
(In official code books, the neutral is called the "grounded" conductor and the ground is called the "grounding" conductor. Let's not do that. Grounding is also called "bonding" because of how all junction boxes are supposed to be connected to it.)

Neutral and ground are connected together at - and only at - your main service panel, and that connection is also connected to ground in the form of a buried rod or something appropriate to the local conditions.
And in fact, I believe the neutral is also connected to a buried ground rod at the transformer where your power is stepped down to 120 V from whatever higher voltage the main lines are at. Others may correct me on that.

prong
gets
Not hot and neutral certainly, but ground and neutral yes, which is probably what you meant.
All the grounds from each circuit go to the ground bus (not the neutral bus) in your main panel. All the neutrals from each circuit go to the neutral bus in the panel. Plus, the neutral bus has one connection to the ground bus, and the ground bus has a big wire going to your buried ground rod.
With these connections in place, neither neutral nor ground can ever be hot because they have a (effectively) zero-resistance path to ground. "Hot" you must understand is a relative term; one thing is electrically hot relative to another. Normally the reference point is the ground. Circular but self-consistent.
If your neutral bar became disconnected from ground AND from the utility's neutral feed, then all the neutrals in your house would be hot. Things would quit working because the current that feeds them would have no path to ground. (In fact the "other" hot leg of a North American two-leg 120/240 service complicates this, but let's ignore that.)
If your panel's ground bar became disconnected from ground AND neutral became disconnected from the utility, then all the metal chassis of all your appliances would become hot, via their ground connection. That's really bad for anyone touching such a chassis while they're in good contact with the earth. If you're in slippers on a carpet you're probably ok but if you're loading dishes from steel sink into a dishwasher, you're in trouble.

As I understand it, IF you did this "right" and IF the connection is good, then you're ok, and as I understand it, historically electical code permitted isolated grounds like this as a means of dealing with legacy two-prong wiring. But others may correct me on this.
It's the weakness of the "IF" that's the problem. The trouble begins if your connection is imperfect and has non-zero resistance. Then if your chassis becomes hot owing to an internal fault, current will flow through your makeshift ground, maybe not enough to blow the fuse but maybe enough to overheat your ground wire. And someone near the ground wire, or even standing on the earth over your buried rod, may be a better path to ground (perhaps their other foot is in a puddle, or they're leaning on your meter box, which is well grounded) and the current will flow through them.
And suppose you've got another circuit "grounded" on the same rod, so now the chassis of that appliance is made hot because of the fault in the first one.
So the answer is that the proposal is not prima-facie dangerous, in that if executed perfectly it would work. The problem is that it's so hard to execute well it will certainly result in a half-assed mess, so a better approach is not to try. Code now says that a home has one and only one connection to ground, via the ground bar in the main service panel. Even subpanels in the same building - even outbuildings, with some restrictions - are supposed to have separate neutrals and grounds and no local ground rod.

I'm confident that my responses will draw at least as many flames as your questions would.
Chip C
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Thank you for your detailed reply Chip. It is very helpful.
I am still a bit fuzzy about the ground bar and neutral bar being 'connected' at the service panel. Won't all electricity just goes to the ground in that case? I know it sounds silly, but what's the difference between connecting the ground/neutral at the panel vs connecting them at the receptacle? a wire is a wire right?
I suspected the answer to "why only one ground/grouding rod" is the big IF part in my post. Thank you for clearifying that part.
let me ask another (not a troll!) question, in many areas, redundancy is good. if one fails, the other still works. isn't having two properly done ground rods better than one? If one fails, then the other should still work? having the code calling for one and only grounding to be done at the service panel, then the whole system will be depending on that grounding work correctly. The probability of one fails is much higher than the probability of both fails right?
I mean redundancy is why I backup my data to CDRs. ;)
So if I understand it correctly, the grounding for the satellite dish for example, is to connect the metal part of the dish to the ground bar in the main service panel via a proper ground wire? not to the earth right under the satellite dish (or roof) which I can dug a hole and bury the bare copper wire that came with my satellite install kit? And the reason being the ground at the servie panel will most likely provide less resistence than my bare wire?
Thanks again.
Raymond
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snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

Raymond
The biggest fallacy in the common understanding of electricity is that electricity somehow seeks out the earth. That is simply untrue. Current will flow from a point of higher voltage to a point of lower voltage if there is a conductive path between them. Given a high enough voltage almost anything will serve as that conductive path. Lightning through the air is one example of this. For general public electrical safety education purposes it is best to think of current as trying to return to it's source rather than the earth. If one leg of the source is grounded and the circuit is grounded at other points, as it is in the US multi grounded neutral system, then the earth will carry part of the current back to the source. Current does not take the path of least resistance back to it's source it takes all available paths back to it's source in proportion to the resistance of the available pathways.
In many main electrical panel enclosure cabinets; that are functioning as the Service Disconnecting Means enclosure in homes; the neutral buss bar and the Equipment Grounding (Bonding) buss are the same buss bar. In some brands of panel, GE comes to mind, that buss bar can be divided in half and used as two separate buss bars. In other brands, such as SquareD, if you need a separate ground buss you add it using a buss bar kit you purchase from the vender. The US NEC requires the neutral conductor of the supply must be grounded to the earth somewhere between the demarcation point; that separates your wiring and the utilities wiring; and the neutral terminal of the service disconnecting means. This connection is made to make the installation somewhat resistant to the damage that would be caused by lightning and other high voltage transient current flows. Lightning, you see, is indeed trying to return to earth and the opposing atmospheric air mass because that is the source of the current. The US NEC states it this way.
[Electrical systems that are grounded shall be connected to earth in a manner that will limit the voltage imposed by lightning, line surges, or unintentional contact with higher-voltage lines and that will stabilize the voltage to earth during normal operation.
Noncurrent-carrying conductive materials enclosing electrical conductors or equipment, or forming part of such equipment, shall be connected to earth so as to limit the voltage to ground on these materials.(copyright 2002 National Fire Protection Association]
So we ground electrical systems to limit the voltage to ground because that reduces the likelihood of destructive current flows between the systems components and ground or earth.
Grounding does not play much of a roll in the actual functioning of your homes electrical system. Aircraft in flight have a perfectly functional electrical system including regular AC outlets that can be used to power electric shavers and sometimes passenger owned electronic devices such as lap top computers. For ease of design, construction, and maintenance such systems have to have a reference point that can be considered zero volts. The aircraft's frame is used. Obviously we cannot ground anything on an aircraft in flight but we still must bond all of the non current carrying parts of the electrical system back to the source of supply, just as we do in a buildings electrical system, and to the aircrafts common point in this case the airframe.
This bonding; the term of art is presently equipment grounding but there is a proposed amendment that will change this to equipment bonding; is done to provide a low resistance return path back to the source for current which has escaped the normal current carrying conductors thus allowing it to complete it's circuit in a non dangerous and non destructive manner. The US NEC describes the purpose of this deliberate interconnection of all non current carrying parts of the electrical system this way.
[Noncurrent-carrying conductive materials enclosing electrical conductors or equipment, or forming part of such equipment, shall be connected together and to the electrical supply source in a manner that establishes an effective ground-fault current path.
Electrically conductive materials that are likely to become energized shall be connected together and to the electrical supply source in a manner that establishes an effective ground-fault current path.
Electrical equipment and wiring and other electrically conductive material likely to become energized shall be installed in a manner that creates a permanent, low-impedance circuit capable of safely carrying the maximum ground-fault current likely to be imposed on it from any point on the wiring system where a ground fault may occur to the electrical supply source. The earth shall not be used as the sole equipment grounding conductor or effective ground-fault current path. (copyright 2002 National Fire Protection Association)]
So lets review what we are trying to do. We want to limit the voltage to ground so as to avoid destructive and dangerous current flows between the system and the earth. In North American practice the techniques used to accomplish this are called grounding. We also want to provide a low resistance pathway back to the source so that any escaped or faulted current can return to the source in a non dangerous and non destructive manner. Those techniques are called equipment grounding but soon to be called bonding.
As to how many different ways you can ground the system the US NEC requires that any of the electrodes in the list that are present on the sight must be used to construct the grounding electrode system.
[If available on the premises at each building or structure served, each item in 250.52(A)(1) through (A)(6) shall be bonded together to form the grounding electrode system. Where none of these electrodes are available, one or more of the electrodes specified in 250.52(A)(4) through (A)(7) shall be installed and used.
A metal underground water pipe in direct contact with the earth for 3.0 m (10 ft) or more (including any metal well casing effectively bonded to the pipe) and electrically continuous (or made electrically continuous by bonding around insulating joints or insulating pipe) to the points of connection of the grounding electrode conductor and the bonding conductors. Interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall not be used as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system.
The metal frame of the building or structure, where effectively grounded.
Concrete-Encased Electrode. An electrode encased by at least 50 mm (2 in.) of concrete, located within and near the bottom of a concrete foundation or footing that is in direct contact with the earth, consisting of at least 6.0 m (20 ft) of one or more bare or zinc galvanized or other electrically conductive coated steel reinforcing bars or rods of not less than 13 mm ( in.) in diameter, or consisting of at least 6.0 m (20 ft) of bare copper conductor not smaller than 4 AWG. Reinforcing bars shall be permitted to be bonded together by the usual steel tie wires or other effective means.
A ground ring encircling the building or structure, in direct contact with the earth, consisting of at least 6.0 m (20 ft) of bare copper conductor not smaller than 2 AWG.
Rod and pipe electrodes shall not be less than 2.5 m (8 ft) in length and shall consist of the following materials. (a)    Electrodes of pipe or conduit shall not be smaller than metric designator 21 (trade size 3/4) and, where of iron or steel, shall have the outer surface galvanized or otherwise metal-coated for corrosion protection. (b)    Electrodes of rods of iron or steel shall be at least 15.87 mm (5/8 in.) in diameter. Stainless steel rods less than 16 mm (5/8 in.) in diameter, nonferrous rods, or their equivalent shall be listed and shall not be less than 13 mm (1/2 in.) in diameter.
Plate Electrodes. Each plate electrode shall expose not less than 0.186 m2 (2 ft2) of surface to exterior soil. Electrodes of iron or steel plates shall be at least 6.4 mm (1/4 in.) in thickness. Electrodes of nonferrous metal shall be at least 1.5 mm (0.06 in.) in thickness.
Other local metal underground systems or structures such as piping systems and underground tanks.(copyright 2002 National Fire Protection Association)]
About your satellite dish. The reason that it is so important to bond your satellite dish to the buildings electrical grounding electrode system rather than to a separate isolated ground rod is that separate ground points can have a difference of potential or voltage between them. The higher that voltage is allowed to become the more likely a dangerous or destructive current flow becomes. There is nothing wrong with having a ground rod directly under the dish. I would in fact argue that it would be best practice to install one there. The critical thing is to bond the dishes rod to the rest of the grounding electrode system so that they all behave electrically as a single electrode.
That is more than enough for one posting. -- Tom H
"Can you skin Griz?
Well skin that one pilgrim and I'll bring you another."
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snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

as
A lot of the rules are for what happens if something goes wrong. If you analyze the rules based on normal operation you get a lot of "what's that for? that doesn't do anything! that's redundant! that carries no current!" But many years of analyzing electrocutions, fires and plain old power failures have given us code rules that cover a vast array of what-ifs.
HorneTD's response included some excellent fundamental points: electricity takes ALL routes back to its source, and the US and Canada use a multi-point grounded neutral system in which the neutral is grounded at the power company's transformer AND your house. This means that the ground AND the power company's neutral are both ways to complete the big circuit back to the generator. I believe that this fact has implications that I don't really understand, again in the realm of things that can go wrong in odd circumstances.

Redundancy can bite you back. In the case of grounding there is a phenomenon called "ground loop" caused by natural and other phenomena (soil chemistry, induced voltages from radio waves, earth's magnetic field) which can mean that one point in your yard is at a different electrical potential than another. That means that your two ground rods are at different voltages and a current will flow from one to the other via your ground wires. This can induce a voltage on your ground wires, exactly the opposite of what you want. Effects could range from nothing, to minor static shocks when you touch plumbing, to interference with radio and tv reception and other electronic devices, to constant low-grade currents that promote corrosion in plumbing or structural steel pieces.

"Verily, he who would be wise sayeth: Put not all thine eggs in one basket; but I say to you, he who divides his eggs among baskets has scattered his fortune to the winds, and knoweth not what he hath and hath not; and I say to you, he who is truly wise shall put all his eggs in one basket -- AND WATCH THAT BASKET!"

kit?
I'm going to defer to HorneTD's post for this one.
Any discussion of grounding really ought to mention lightening, too; but that's a big complication. It helps to remember that lightening protection, like grounding for masts and lightening rods on the roof, is never aimed at conducting lightening "safely" to the ground, since that would require conductors the size of your arm. It's all aimed at draining off static charge that would otherwise accumulate and attract lighting by providing a path of ionized air.
Chip C
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HorneTD has provided good and detailed descriptions of grounding. I will describe the same thing from a different perspective. Take three D batteries (ie inside a flashlight (torch in UK)). Each 1.5 volt battery adds to apply 4.5 volts to a light bulb. Which part of that circuit is the ground? Top of topmost battery? Bottom of bottommost battery? Select any point. Ground can be arbitrarily defined.
But what is the voltage between topmost battery and earth? Undefined. No connection exists. Voltage could be anywhere from 0 to maybe 20,000 volts. Now we earth the bottommost battery. Topmost battery is 4.5 volts above ground.
Suppose we also have inside that flashlight a 1.5 volt battery. Convention is to connect 1.5 volt lamp to top and bottom of bottommost battery so that both lights share one common point. Arbitrary common point - even if it was not connected to earth - would be called ground. We will call this light bulb ground.
So now we have defined two grounds. Light bulb ground and earth ground. We have put both grounds at the same point.
Let's move the earth ground wire to a point between two other batteries. Now earth ground is not the same as light bulb ground. We still have two different grounds. This time two different grounds are at different locations on the circuit.
Wall receptacles must connect back to the neutral bar inside the circuit breaker box where power originates. This "safety ground" must be sufficient to trip a circuit breaker. We just happen to (for good and well proven reasons) connect building's earth ground to this same point. A concept is called single point grounding. Done this way much for the same reason that stereo components interconnect using single point grounding (which is a but another ground).
Earth ground and safety ground are two different grounds. They share common wires. But they remain different grounds with different purposes.
Why is a building's earth ground so important? The neutral wire inside the transformer had failed. The house also had no earth ground connection. To get back to that transformer ground, household electricity used a gas meter as a neutral wire connection. Fortunately no one was home when gaskets failed and the house exploded. Just another reason why earth ground is so important. It does nothing until that rare time when it is really needed.
Too many instead will say the lights work just fine without that ground. Therefore that ground is not necessary. Same thinking that killed seven Challenger astronauts and seven Columbia astronauts.
Connecting a wall receptacle to earth does not provide a good conductive connection to breaker box - to trip the circuit breaker. That 'safety ground' must carry 15+ amps back to the breaker box to trip the breaker. Earth ground will not reliably do same. Wall receptacle must make a good, clean, predictable, conductive connection to breaker box safety ground. Wall receptacles must connect to the ground of their purpose - the main breaker box neutral bar, also called here a safety ground.
snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

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Sure, a steel coathanger, but brass or aluminum coathangers have no limit. (wood coathangers can ground only switches.)
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x-no-archive troll

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On Thu, 05 May 2005 21:50:17 -0400, Julie P. wrote:

Were you born stupid, or have you become that way over time?
--
If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much space.
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blah blah blah. Go troll somewhere else.
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On Fri, 06 May 2005 01:14:59 -0400, Julie P. wrote:


Oh, that's a great come-back!
Another example of your intelligence, I guess. Idiot.
--
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