Ground Rod For House ?

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Hello:
Was just wondering about this a bit. Live in the Boston area, in a typical Colonial built about 30 yrs ago.
Have the "standard" 220 V line coming into the house from the street line Appears to be 3 conductors, the 2 phases and the neutral.
My question is that I keep reading about houses needing, and the NEC requiring, a ground (or grounding) rod right outside the house.
Don't seem to have one.
Is an actual ground rod required ? Where would it be ?
If not, why not ?
Thanks, Bob
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Robert11 wrote:

Not required 30 years ago.
More than likely the water service line to the street is metallic and the electric service has been grounded to that. If so, it makes a much more effective ground than a driven ground rod.
Jim
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That earthing electrode has been required since 1990s. Water pipe is no longer acceptable as an earth ground (not to be confused with other grounds such as the safety ground that centers inside mains break box). That dedicated earth ground adjacent to breaker box is a solution to numerous technical problems. That earth ground rod being minimal grounding. Some require more than just a single rod. All other incoming utilities (telephone, cable, satellite dish) must make a less than 20 foot connection to the same earthing - per code. In reality, you want each connection to be less than 10.
Robert11 wrote:

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w_tom wrote: > That earthing electrode has been required since 1990s. > Water pipe is no longer acceptable as an earth ground (not to > be confused with other grounds such as the safety ground that > centers inside mains break box). That dedicated earth ground > adjacent to breaker box is a solution to numerous technical > problems. That earth ground rod being minimal grounding. > Some require more than just a single rod. All other incoming > utilities (telephone, cable, satellite dish) must make a less > than 20 foot connection to the same earthing - per code. In > reality, you want each connection to be less than 10. >
W Tom You keep making that statement even though you've been corrected several times. It is a disservice to the DIY community to repeatedly say "Water pipe is no longer acceptable as an earth ground." The US National Electric Code (NEC) requires that any underground metal water pipe that is ten or more feet in length shall be used as a grounding electrode. I know that you will now try to muddy the water by bringing up the requirement for a supplemental electrode but the fact is that regardless of how many electrodes you have you must use the underground metal water pipe as a grounding electrode if it is available on the premise. You can argue all you want but until the Code Making Panel that is responsible for chapter 250 of the US NEC changes the code underground water piping must be used as a grounding electrode in any locality that has adopted the NEC as that localities code.
--
Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
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On Thu, 29 Dec 2005 19:49:52 GMT, "Tom Horne, Electrician"

For those who don't know, Edison's first working municipal electrical system was DC.
Commodore Joe Redcloud
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wrote:

That's exactly why he said ac was dangerous. He had a vested interest in the use of DC.
Bob
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Robertm wrote:

Which he actually developed into the electric chair: http://inventors.about.com/od/hstartinventions/a/Electric_Chair.htm 'Course DC is no fun either, talk to the guys who work on the CTAs "L" trains. They told me about pulling an arc in a light socket replacing a bulb, nothing to do but walk away from it. Richard
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Which is why his opponents, the competing company, were able to say that DC was dangerous,

That's where the metaphor got started, that abortion or social security or whatever is the "third rail" of American politics. The third rail, touch it and you die, referring to the power rail on an L: or subway.

There's a bronze plaque in Lower Manhattan, NYC, where Edison's original power station was, but no museum or anything. Not worth going out of one's way for, unless you're really devoted to "being there". But there are other things to sightsee there, and the location would be in history books (but probably not in NYC tourist books.) (It's 2 to 4 blocks from the East River, and tthat might have been waterfront property at the time.)
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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wrote:

And, considering what he wanted AC to be used for, "Westinghouse" was once a synonym for "electrocute".
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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You have it backwards, Tom. Previously you made that claim. Others then noted why you were wrong. Even if a home is earthed by a water pipe, that water pipe is no longer sufficient for earthing (exception is legacy conditions). The code requires bonding to water pipe - grounding for human safety. The code is quite specific as to what is required for an earthing electrode.
I don't expect to change Tom Horne's opinion - having previously quoted code. But for the benefit of others, the code says in Article 250.53(D)(2):

Those six electrodes are 2) Metal Grame of the Building or Structure, 3) Concrete Encased Electrode (also called Ufer grounds), 4) Ground Ring (also called Halo ground), 5) Rod and pipe Electrodes (also called a copper clad ground rod), 6) Plate Electrodes, or 7) Other Local Metal Underground Systems or Structures.
If earthed only to a water pipe, then a building does not have sufficient earthing. If no water pipe exists, any of the above ground electrodes 2 through 7 are sufficient - need not be supplemented. The water pipe is no longer sufficient for earth ground which is why it must be "supplemented". The Original Poster is advised to install earthing as required by post 1990 code. This for two reasons - human safety (per code) and transistor safety (which code does not address).
Building's occupants also want transistor safety. Therefore a second reason why water pipe earthing is often insufficient as an earth ground.
The code says water pipe earthing (which was standard before 19909) is insufficient. Appliance protection also demands an adjacent earthing electrode for other reasons electrical. Two reasons why water pipe earthing is no longer sufficient. NEC requires water pipe be bonded to AC electric safety ground - for human safety reasons. NEC requires other electrodes (2 through 7) for earthing.
Robert11: volts500 also posted a description of other safety grounds in a post entitled "Grounding Rod Info" in the newsgroup alt.home.repair on 12 July 2003 at http://tinyurl.com/hkjq
"Tom Horne, Electrician" wrote:

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> >"Tom Horne, Electrician" wrote: > >>W Tom >>You keep making that statement even though you've been corrected >>several times. It is a disservice to the DIY community to >>repeatedly say "Water pipe is no longer acceptable as an earth >>ground." The US National Electric Code (NEC) requires that any >>underground metal water pipe that is ten or more feet in length >>shall be used as a grounding electrode. I know that you will now >>try to muddy the water by bringing up the requirement for a >>supplemental electrode but the fact is that regardless of how >>many electrodes you have you must use the underground metal water >>pipe as a grounding electrode if it is available on the premise. >>You can argue all you want but until the Code Making Panel that >>is responsible for chapter 250 of the US NEC changes the code >>underground water piping must be used as a grounding electrode >>in any locality that has adopted the NEC as that localities code. > w_tom wrote:

> Supplemntal Electrode Required. A metal underground water >pipe shall be supplemented by an additional electrode of a >type specified in 250.52(A)(2) through (A)(7).
Those six electrodes are 2) Metal Frame of the Building or Structure, 3) Concrete Encased Electrode (also called Ufer grounds), 4) Ground Ring (also called Halo ground), 5) Rod and pipe Electrodes (also called a copper clad ground rod), 6) Plate Electrodes, or 7) Other Local Metal Underground Systems or Structures.
If earthed only to a water pipe, then a building does not have sufficient earthing. If no water pipe exists, any of the above ground electrodes 2 through 7 are sufficient - need not be supplemented. The water pipe is no longer sufficient for earth ground which is why it must be "supplemented". The Original Poster is advised to install earthing as required by post 1990 code. This for two reasons - human safety (per code) and transistor safety (which code does not address).
Building's occupants also want transistor safety. Therefore a second reason why water pipe earthing is often insufficient as an earth ground.
The code says water pipe earthing (which was standard before 19909) is insufficient. Appliance protection also demands an adjacent earthing electrode for other reasons electrical. Two reasons why water pipe earthing is no longer sufficient. NEC requires water pipe be bonded to AC electric safety ground - for human safety reasons. NEC requires other electrodes (2 through 7) for earthing.
Robert11: volts500 also posted a description of other safety grounds in a post entitled "Grounding Rod Info" in the newsgroup alt.home.repair on 12 July 2003 at http://tinyurl.com/hkjq
Quoting only part of the applicable section of the code does you no credit. I know what your opinion is as do most of the long time contributers here. What I'm talking about is what the US National Electric Code requires. While it is true that the code requires interior metal water piping to be bonded to the neutral of the service it also requires that any underground metal water piping that is ten or more feet in length be used as a grounding electrode. The reason that the NEC requires a supplemental grounding electrode is stated in the handbook thusly. The portion in brackets & italics is the handbook commentary. [The requirement to supplement the metal water pipe is based on the practice of using a plastic pipe for replacement when the original metal water pipe fails. This type of replacement leaves the system without a grounding electrode unless a supplementary electrode is provided.] In other words a driven rod electrode is better than nothing.
Thus it is the risk of later replacement with plastic piping that is the reason for requiring that the underground metal water piping be supplemented with another type of grounding electrode. By actual measurement the underground metal water piping system provides a far lower resistance to earth than eight or ten foot driven rods.
[Section 250.50 introduces the important concept of a grounding electrode system, in which all electrodes are bonded together, as illustrated in Exhibit 250.21. Rather than relying totally on a single electrode to perform its function over the life of the electrical installation, the NEC encourages the formation of a system of electrodes if available on the premises. There is no doubt that building a system of electrodes adds a level of reliability and helps ensure system performance over a long period of time.] 250.50 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. 250.52 Grounding Electrodes. (A) Electrodes Permitted for Grounding. (1) Metal Underground Water Pipe. 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. Exception: In industrial and commercial buildings or structures where conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons service the installation, interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall be permitted as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system, provided that the entire length, other than short sections passing perpendicular through walls, floors, or ceilings, of the interior metal water pipe that is being used for the conductor is exposed. (2) Metal Frame of the Building or Structure. The metal frame of the building or structure, where effectively grounded. (3) 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. (4) Ground Ring. 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. (5) Rod and Pipe Electrodes. 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. (6) 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. (7) Other Local Metal Underground Systems or Structures. Other local metal underground systems or structures such as piping systems and underground tanks. (B) Electrodes Not Permitted for Grounding. The following shall not be used as grounding electrodes: (1) Metal underground gas piping system (2) Aluminum electrodes
--
Tom Horne

Well we aren\'t no thin blue heroes and yet we aren\'t no blackguards to.
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"Thomas D. Horne, FF EMT Dec 30, 2:46 am show options
Quoting only part of the applicable section of the code does you no credit. I know what your opinion is as do most of the long time contributers here. What I'm talking about is what the US National Electric Code requires. While it is true that the code requires interior metal water piping to be bonded to the neutral of the service it also requires that any underground metal water piping that is ten or more feet in length be used as a grounding electrode. The reason that the NEC requires a supplemental grounding electrode is stated in the handbook thusly. The portion in brackets & italics is the handbook commentary. [The requirement to supplement the metal water pipe is based on the practice of using a plastic pipe for replacement when the original metal water pipe fails. This type of replacement leaves the system without a grounding electrode unless a supplementary electrode is provided"
Excellent job Thomas! This is exactly what I thought the reason was behind requiring a supplemental ground in addition to a water pipe ground. And I agree, that W Tom completely misrepresents this. His statements lead one to believe that there is something wrong from an electrical and lightning protection standpoint with using a water pipe ground. It's cear from the NEC that this is simply not true and the real reason is concern over a metal water pipe later being replaced by plastic, therby leaving the premise with no ground.
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What you have described as a grounding electrode system is the classic single point earth ground proven even in the 1930s to 'harden' high reliability facilities from electronics damage. Yes, separate earth grounds must be interconnected also for human safety reasons. But that is completely irrelevant to the original poster's question, is completely irrelevant to what I have posted, AND is what we want when earthing for transistor safety. So what is your point? Your definition of a 'grounding electrode system' does not contradict anything previously posted.
Why are you questioning that a water pipe earthing alone is not sufficient when NEC says otherwise? Why are you adding irrelevant information about interconnected earth grounds? Information that is also irrelevant to the original poster's question?
Nothing I posted here or in years previous said that buried water pipes cannot also be earthing electrodes. So why do you post as if I said just that?
Meanwhile another reason for supplemental grounding (besides plastic pipe) is plumber protection. Plumber doing work on HIS pipes should not be concerned about electrical hazards. Supplemental earthing means a plumber does not, if disconnecting pipes, create an electrical hazard.
Another reason why a water pipe earth ground is typically not sufficient is also something beyond NEC agenda: transistor protection.
Water pipe alone is no longer sufficient for earthing. Nothing posted by Tom Horne supports his contrarian claims. Other earth grounds (2) through (7) by themselves are sufficient for earthing - do not require supplemental earthing. But a water pipe as the building's only earth ground is no longer sufficient; for numerous reasons.
Robert11's original question was:

Correct. The cold water pipe as earth ground is no longer sufficient. An earthing electrode dedicated only to a building's electrical system is also required. AND this ground must also connect, a short distance, to all incoming utilities.
Now Tom. If I had said that cold water pipe cannot or need not be connected to building's ground system, then your last post would have merit. But that is not what I said - ever. 1) I said that cold water pipe must be bonded to a building's safety ground system. 2) I said that cold water pipe alone is no longer sufficient as a building's only earth ground. What you have quoted from the NEC does not dispute either point. 3) What I also posted describes earthing for essential functions beyond what code calls for. Again, nothing you have posted disputes that either. So why do you post what is also irrelevant to the OP's original question?
"Thomas D. Horne, FF EMT" wrote:

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To the OP: if you are going to post the same message to multiple newsgroups use crossposting - that way multiple people don't have to answer the same question and we may see a wider range of answers.
The answer to the original question, as stated by Speedy Jim, Tom and by others at alt.engineering.electrical is that a water pipe is normally the best easily obtained ground. As has been stated on both newsgroups, the only reason a ground rod is required, as supplemental electrode, is that water pipe may someday be replaced by plastic. For an existing house (that is, the OP) the NEC did not used to require a ground rod and does not require adding a ground rod unless replacing the service. Adding one will not improve the ground system unless the water pipe turns to plastic.
A water pipe is one of 3 electrodes that must be connected, if present, as the ground system. A rod is a supplemental eletrode, not one of the 3.
I have seen stated typical ground resistance values of 3 ohms for water pipe, also 0.1 ohm (remember this is usually an extensive network of metal below the frost line and likely nearer ground water than a rod). Ground rods are good, acording to the NEC, if their resistance is below 25 ohms. If not below then drive 2 rods and you don't have to measure - no reason it couldn't be above 25 ohms. Which do you think is a better ground? Why do you have to measure the ground resistance only with a rod? I agree entirely with fellow electrician Tom Horne.
Incidentally the second best electrode for a house is likely a concrete encased electrode. It can be used alone (no rod) and can be used as the supplemental electrode for a water pipe. If I was building a house I would include one. They were studied for 18 years and over that period had a ground resistance of 2.1 to 4.8 ohms.
w_tom wrote:

Actually I thought plumbers were smart enough to handle this. The current code is that the connection has to be made within 5 feet of the entrance.

Never explained - why the lowest resistance isn't the best protection.

Numerous reasons - never stated.

Apparently there is a problem with an electrode also being a water pipe? What might that be?
I agree protector blocks for cable and TV should be immediately adjacent to the panel so all wiring is clamped to the same ground reference. I would suggest that is likely more important than the grounding electrode. But then it would seem like the lowest resistance ground path would be best.

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Its called 'legacy'. Changes per code required only if changing or installing new wiring. Code does not require homeowner to upgrade earthing to unmodified installations. Code also does not address transistor safety. A short connection to a dedicated earth ground is installed also as part of a transistor safety 'system'. That detailed elsewhere.
Bud-- does not even quote code to justify his post. Code now says water pipe ground is insufficient. Any other earthing electrode in that list (A)(2) through (A)(7) is sufficient for earthing. If using water pipe for earthing, then other earth grounds must also be installed because a water pipe ground is no longer sufficient per 250.52(D)(2). Code is quite clear. Water pipe is no longer sufficient for earthing as revised code specifically states. Bud-- does not quote code.
Other reasons for a dedicated earth ground include plumber safety during a disconnected water pipe. Code also calls for a jumper wire across water meter for same reasons. Plumber should not be threatened by electrical hazards. Plumber safety - another reason why water pipe earth ground is not sufficient and must be supplemented.
Water pipe must be bonded to AC electric for human safety reasons. The only electrical connection acceptable to pipes are connections that remove electricity. This for many reasons including future use of plastic pipe and plumber safety. No longer acceptable to wire electrical devices to water pipes with intent of making that water pipe a safety ground. Electric wire connections to water pipes are permitted only to remove dangerous electric currents from those pipes.
Why does code also require a second earth ground rod if earth resistance is too high (25 ohms)? Second rod would not be necessary if water pipe was sufficient as an earth ground. But again, water pipe is no longer sufficient as an earth ground. Water pipe must be supplemented by something that is sufficient for earthing. Second copper clad rod may be required because an earth ground rod (or any other electrode from the list (A)(2) through (A)(7) ) is now the essential earthing electrode. It supplements making water pipe only a secondary and insufficient earth ground; as overtly stated in 250.53(D)(2) - quoted previously.
Meanwhile, a homeowner wants this adjacent earth ground also for impedance reasons. Electricians rarely need understand impedance. Code only demands low resistance. But for electronics protection, a homeowner needs a low "impedance" earth ground, which a water pipe often does not provide. See a reply to Oscar_lives for details explaining transistor safety and impedance. Also see that post for an earthing pictures because water pipe ground is not sufficient.
Bud-- wrote:

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wrote:

Not sure how wise it is to add to this discussion, but...
You may want to consult a qualified commentary book on the NEC for better explanations. One that I found extremely helpful is Practical Electrical Wiring, 18th Edition (2002 NEC) by Richter and Hartwell. It's been around awhile, the latest author Hartwell is a master electrician and Code Panel member, and I think this book has been endorsed numerous times in this conference.
It explains (Chapter 16: Installing Service Entrances and Grounds): "In a large city with cast iron water mains and everyone connected through copper water laterals, the total resistance to ground from any given connection [on your water pipe] may be less than 1 ohm, about as good as possible." It goes on to say that the reason for requiring supplementary electrodes (per NEC 250.53 as you quote) is due to possible future replacement of water supply pipe with plastic or insertion of dielectric unions. If that has not taken place, the pipe is by far the best grounding electrode the average house can hope for. This correlates with what the electricians in this newsgroup have been stating.
I have an older house with no supplementary electrode, but will be installing one (probably with 3 or 4 rods) to comply with Code when I upgrade my service. But with a 3/4" copper supply pipe entering my basement, buried about 10' deep for the 30' straight run to the main line in the street, and countless miles of deeply buried main water lines connected to that... How could a couple of 5/8" diameter, 8' long rods in my yard ever compete with that? If a lightning-induced surge came down my wires after I installed the rods, I'd have to wonder if more than even a few percent of the amps would choose to drain out in the sand and clay around those grounding rods instead of into the water main network.
If that supply pipe were replaced with plastic, then yes, the grounding rods would become vital, and that's why (in my understanding) they are required by NEC 250.53(D) as preemptive protection against that change.
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Reasons provided for the supplementary electrode - plastic pipe, etc - are what most agree on. What some non-electricians are having a problem with are other electrical and electronic reasons why a water pipe ground is not sufficient. Involves parameters that concern engineers - that include and go beyond an electrician's code requirements. Remember, code is only about human safety. But the earthing system also performs other functions - such as transistor safety.
One reason why a water pipe ground is not sufficient - it does not belong to the electrical system and therefore can be compromised: plumber disconnects a pipe that is electrically hot, plumber installs plastic pipe, etc. All these reasons provided previously are not in dispute (except where one only wants to argue).
Your reasoning only assumes resistance. Grasped the concept of impedance. Resistance of ground rods at signficantly less than 25 ohms is sufficient for transistor protection. So if you lower resistance to 2 ohms, have you improve things by 10 times? Of course not. 2 ohms is only a minor improvement - provides a marginal improvement. Lowering resistance provides an exponentially decreasing advantage. But impedance, as discussed elsewhere, is a major bottleneck to transistor safety.
If water pipe ground was so good, then why do high reliability facilities that only used copper water pipes still install Ufer, wire mesh, and other grounds as demonstrated in:
http://members.aol.com/gfretwell/ufer.jpg
The water pipe ground with all that lower resistance is still not sufficient for earthing. Again, if looking at resistance, then other aspects of earthing, summarized in previous posts, are being ignnored. Notice why those posts are so long. Notice the so many application notes about earthing for laymen at: http://www.polyphaser.com/ppc_ptd_home.aspx There is more to earthing than just low resistance. If you only want to meet code, then only worry only about resistance. But reasons why others don't rely on a water pipe ground are found in electrical concepts such as impedance and equipotential. These are parameters that electricians need not learn, are not part of the human safety code, and have been made important by household transistors.
The code says water pipe must be supplemented for things such as plastic pipe and plumber safety. But facilities that had transistors decades ago supplemented that water pipe ground for electrical reasons that will never be part of human safety code (NEC). Those same reasons for better earthing (such as halo or Ufer grounds) are now in your house.
chocolatemalt wrote:

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Hmm, , you're pretty closed minded and ignorant. When you can't confuse someone with rationalization disguised as facts you get "interesting". I suspected a troll early on - too bad I and others bothered to feed you.
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Might have been the best post in the thread.
bud--
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What is this "transistor safety" that you keep talking about?
Please explain.
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