Satellite System Grounding
Part 3, Why Ground?
Presented by Todd Humphrey

Finally, we get to the real question. Why should you worry about grounding your satellite dish and coax?


Has there every been a problem with a satellite dish system because it was not grounded?

I am not sure.


Has a home ever burned down because a system was not grounded?

I doubt it, but again, not sure.


Has satellite equipment ever been damaged because it was not grounded? Most Probably.


Has a grounded satellite system ever been damaged by lightning?



So why ground? There are several reasons why it is a smart idea to properly ground a satellite system. Nay-say'ers will point out that even grounded satellite systems get hit by lightning.

That is true, but how can you show that a system was NOT damaged by a close lightning strike, because it was grounded? You can not.


How can you show that a power surge to your home was properly dissipated because the satellite system was properly grounded? Again, you cannot.

However, an improperly grounded system can reduce the effect of a surge suppressors ability to handle a power surge.


Why ground a satellite system? Because the concept of grounding makes sense and it is required by most local governing authorities. The NEC may not explain why it requires a ground, but we will address that here.


Lightning / Dust

Lightning is only one of several reasons why grounding is a good idea. If your dish gets hit by lighting, you will not have a dish. The mast ground is not intended to handle a lightning discharge. The mast ground does dissipate any static charge that may build on the mast/dish from near by lightning, or a static charge that may build from dust blowing across the mast/dish. In arid regions of the country, blowing dust and low humidity can cause static to build on a mast. This is far more likely with a TV antenna mast, and not a satellite dish, but the NEC does not differentiate between the two. That is one of the short comings of the NEC.

The mast ground can be any length, and as small as 17 Awg Copper Coated Steel (CCS). Every satellite installer can buy coax with a 17 Awg CCS ground wire attached. The cost to ground a mast is pennies. There is no financial barrier to properly grounding a satellite system mast.


Coax cables can pickup charges by inductance from lightning activity in the area. A coax ground wire should be 10 Awg, and under 20 feet. While a 10 Awg copper wire cannot safely discharge a lighting strike, it can handle a fair amount of currant from a near miss. You do not want lightning following your coax into the home, so have it grounded before Point Of Entry (POE) makes sense.


Over Voltage

Coax cable is rated for 60 volts and can safely conduct voltages and currents associated with normal CATV, and satellite TV or Satellite Internet operations. Should the outer shield of the coax cable come in contact with a high voltage source, a coax ground before POE, is intended to safely conduct the over voltage to ground. The most common reason a coax may have high voltage is from contacting power lines. This is far more common with CATV, than with a satellite system, but it is not uncommon for satellite coax lines to be routed underground in the same ditch as power lines, or the satellite dish installed near power lines. While the risk is low, the risk does exist for some installation.



The Main Reason To Ground

For most of us, it is required by law. If a home burns, the insurance company look for someone to blame. If a professional installer installs a system and fails to ground properly, the insurance company will look to see if the lack of ground caused, or contributed to the fire. If there is even the smallest chance the installers lack of ground might have contributed to the fire, that installers insurance might decide to pay out some funds. We ground to protect yourselves from even the smallest chance of fire or equipment damage.



Return to Part 2 - NEC Overview                    Go To Part 4 - DIRECTV and Dish Network  Grounding

Product names, logos, brands and other trademarks referred to within are the property of their respective trademark holders. These trademark holders are not affiliated with or our website. They do not sponsor or endorse our materials.