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How to ground a lightning surge protector?

Grounding a lightning surge protector with ground wire

According to the National Weather Service, various parts of the United States are hit by lightning strikes about 25 million times a year [1], making it the single biggest harbinger of damage to electrical and electronic equipment installed in commercial and residential buildings and industrial units. Your signal booster is one such equipment.

Our best advice for you would be to stay indoors when lightning strikes but we can't say the same for your signal booster system that requires an exterior antenna to capture signals which are then amplified by signal amplifier within your home or building. The problem occurs when the tip of antenna is truck by lighning. That high power electrical then charge travels down the trail into the house or building. It can get to the signal amplifier and other electronics in the building trying to ground and neutralize the charge. In the process, it can fry or damage everything in its way to the ground for dissipation. This is the reason a grounding kit is helpful.

What is a Lightning Surge Protector?

A lightning surge protector is a device that will protect your signal booster from damage in case lightning strikes.

Installed between outside antenna and the booster amplifier, it grounds the lightning and dissipates the energy spike at that point, saving your equipment from getting fried and ultimately saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Why is it an important accessory for your signal booster?

Your booster's outside (donor) antenna stands tall atop your building to catch signals from the nearest cellular tower. Made of metal parts, an outside antenna also has an equally powerful tendency to capture lightning strikes, which will then flow down to the booster antenna, damaging it and any other equipment connected to it.

Installing a lightning surge protector between the outside antenna and the booster amplifier ensures that the lightning energy gets grounded at the surge protector, thereby saving all the other equipment connected to it from damage.

A lightning surge protector of a good quality is an investment that protects other electronic equipment in addition to saving life and property from detrimental effects of lightning strikes.

1. It ensures the longevity of your device. Sometimes, the damage caused by lighting might not be apparent immediately, but the voltage surges due to it affects the sensitive parts of your equipment and the connecting wires, decreasing its operational lifespan by a significant number of days, months, and probably years. Installing a lightning surge protector saves your equipment from all kinds of minor and major damages and reinforces their expected functioning life.

2. It saves you a significant time and money. Imagine running about for finding a repairman (or worse, replacement) of devices after a thunderstrike at your place. With a lightning surge protector in its place, you can sleep soundly, without having to worry about your equipment, even in the stormy weather.

How to Install the Lightning Surge Protector.

Complete installation of the lightening surge protector is a two-part process that involves attaching the surge protector to the booster unit and then grounding this framework.

1. Installing the Surge Protector.

The National Electric Code (NEC) instructs installing surge protectors near to a point where the cable from outside antenna enters the house, but not near combustible materials. We recommend installing it near the point where the cable from the donor antenna enters the building from outside to stay wary of any combustible materials lying about on the roof or in the attic.

When you look at it, the lightning surge protector is a small device with two outlets on either side of it. Use a small coaxial cable to attach one end of the surge protector to the outside antenna. A longer cable will be needed to connect the other side to the booster amplifier unit. It is important to note here that surge protectors are bidirectional devices, meaning you can attach any outlet towards either of the outside antenna or the amplifier unit without impacting the functioning of your LSP.

However, one factor that does impact overall functioning of your booster device post the device installation is the surge protector's impedance. That impedance rating of your surge protector should match your booster's input impedance rating. Most signal amplifier kits have same input and output impedance but some don't so you would need to be careful which impedance lightning surge protector you purchase for this purpose.

Lightning surge protectors are available in 75 Ohms and 50 Ohms impedances.

A 75 Ohm surge protector is compatible with 75-Ohm boosters having F-type connectors. Typical RG-6 or RG-11 cables used in residential units go with these installations.

A 50-Ohm surge protector is compatible with a booster with N-type or an SMA connector having an impedance rating of 50 Ohms. Thicker, longer running Wilson400 or LMR400 cables used in commercial buildings and industrial units are suitable for such installations.

We recommend being careful while purchasing surge protectors or any other booster accessories for that matter as incompatible devices can degrade even the normal performance of your device. Only go for a high quality, tested and trusted accessory from certified sellers.

2. Setting up the Grounding.

Grounding the protection installation is as a vital part of it as the installation itself. In fact, the NEC mandates grounding of all electrical devices.

To ground your surge protector, get a 10 or 12-gauge copper wire (the thicker the wire, the better) and attach it to the ground connector (an outlet on the posterior end of the surge protector) and fitting it tightly. Clip the other end properly and attach it to a grounding point in your building or residential unit. Ensure that the copper cable used does not contain any sharp bends.

Instead of connecting the grounding to the surge protector, you can also ground your outside antenna mast directly by attaching one end of the copper wire to a naked, uncoated antenna and the other end to a grounding point.

A grounding metal rod installed outside most homes specifically to ground electric devices is the best grounding point for your surge protector. In case you can't locate or confirm any such rod in your vicinity, check from your local residential or building authorities about grounding rules and options.

When Lightning Strikes.

When lightning strikes the surge protector, unscrew the small knob on the top of it, remove the cartridge, insert a new cartridge, and screw the knob back in its place. The cartridge is a relatively inexpensive electronic accessory so replacing it every time lightning strikes shouldn't be a hassle for you.

Conclusion.

A properly installed lightning surge protector can be a life-saver for those who rely heavily on a signal booster system to meet their wireless telecommunication needs inside home or office. We would go ahead and call it a necessary part of the installation itself, and not just an accessory if you happen to reside in an area where storms and lightning strikes are frequent visitors. Choose the correct surge protector for your booster and install it or get it installed from an electrician to enjoy cellular boosting experience without its inherent risks.

Note:

Booster lightening surge protectors are available only for buildings and not for vehicles since their tires themselves act as an insulation and automatically prevent grounding of lightning altogether that may strike the vehicle or the booster antenna installed on its outside.

Statistics:

[1] https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning