Is the playa a good ground?

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Is the playa a good ground?

Postby teardropper » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:33 pm

I have some electrics that require a ground. Have done some searches and can find nothing on this. How do you ground your stuff on the playa? What are we talking about? a 10" aluminum nail stake, a copper ground stake (would that drive in?), or maybe rebar? What was the diameter of the ground and how deep? What was your experience?
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Postby some seeing eye » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:55 pm

The playa is about the best ground around.

You can go to the electrical supply part of a big box and get an 8' hot zinc galvanized 1/2" ground rod and 2-3 clamps. Then dig a trench 18-24" deep - where it is moist. Bury the rod horizontally after attaching a couple lengths of #8 or larger solid coper wire which come to the surface for your ground. Dig it up after the event and compact the earth back with a piece of 4x4 lumber on end. The only place I have heard of proper grounding on the playa is for very large generators/transformers/major spiders, radio transmitters and lightning protection for towers. Lightning protection would require more than I describe.

Interesting question for those in the know, is the Man grounded? How well?
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Postby teardropper » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:32 pm

Hmm. That sounds excessive, but have no idea. This advice was given to me be an electrical engineering student with zero solar experience. It was the 800 watt inverter he wanted grounded. That would require an 8' rod? Can we dig in the playa?
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:52 pm

If you want to use electronics safely, you must do this. There are several threads on this subject. Please use search.
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Postby ygmir » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:33 pm

I bet Kvon and the Germans know how.........and, "the mentor"............
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Postby Token » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:52 pm

SSE is giving good info on grounding. You do need that much metal in the earth to do it right.

Now, if you were doing a tingling electrified butt plug that needs a safe ground to ensure you are not going to kill someone, yeah, you gotta dig.

If you are running your stereo, coffee maker and some blinky lights for camp, driving a 3 or 4 foot round concrete form stake with the recommended clamps and wire are sure as heck better than no ground at all.

If you anticipate your power use to be in high risk applications where a good ground is needed, by all means, dig dig dig away.
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Postby ygmir » Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:56 am

can't you drive a ground rod deep enough?
I've driven the copper coated steel ground rods several feet into pretty hard ground........then, you don't gotta dig.
and, hook a chain on to pull it with a jack, or pickup.

if it's a rainy and stuff as it "might" be this year, grounding things may be even more important, if we get lightning......
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Postby Token » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:21 am

Look at the gizmos you plan on plugging into your inverter.

Do they have 3 prong grounded plugs?

That kinda answers it for you, no?
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Postby some seeing eye » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:17 am

RV, essentially a metal box, grounding, with solar, batteries, inverters and the capability for what is sometimes called "shore power" - plugging it into your home power system - is a controversial subject even as covered by the electrical code. There are some solar RV people in the Alternative Energy Zone that have expertise.

Ground rods driven in vertically to full depth are never taken out, and pretty much impossible to take out. That is why the horizontal approach, leave no trace and all.

I wouldn't bother with grounding this year for a small setup, but I would visit the AEZ folks when you get there for a definitive answer, best safe practices and review of your entire setup. It's beyond the scope of a message board. They are also very helpful on developing an intuitive and numbers understanding of solar systems, that's their mission and they enjoy it.

AEZ - http://ae-zone.org/ 6:30 and D

The length of the rod, 8-10 feet, doesn't have any relationship to the watts.

I have seen consistently good technical advice from Token btw.
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Postby Cap'nTrevor » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:54 am

Does anyone know if the Man has ever been struck by lightning?
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Postby skinnay » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:24 am

some seeing eye wrote:The playa is about the best ground around.

You can go to the electrical supply part of a big box and get an 8' hot zinc galvanized 1/2" ground rod and 2-3 clamps. Then dig a trench 18-24" deep - where it is moist. Bury the rod horizontally after attaching a couple lengths of #8 or larger solid coper wire which come to the surface for your ground. Dig it up after the event and compact the earth back with a piece of 4x4 lumber on end. The only place I have heard of proper grounding on the playa is for very large generators/transformers/major spiders, radio transmitters and lightning protection for towers. Lightning protection would require more than I describe.

Interesting question for those in the know, is the Man grounded? How well?


you are not supposed to dig a 2 foot trench in the playa!
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Postby skinnay » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:27 am

Well if its in the name of safety i stand corrected =]
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:43 am

skinnay wrote:
some seeing eye wrote:The playa is about the best ground around.

You can go to the electrical supply part of a big box and get an 8' hot zinc galvanized 1/2" ground rod and 2-3 clamps. Then dig a trench 18-24" deep - where it is moist. Bury the rod horizontally after attaching a couple lengths of #8 or larger solid coper wire which come to the surface for your ground. Dig it up after the event and compact the earth back with a piece of 4x4 lumber on end. The only place I have heard of proper grounding on the playa is for very large generators/transformers/major spiders, radio transmitters and lightning protection for towers. Lightning protection would require more than I describe.

Interesting question for those in the know, is the Man grounded? How well?


you are not supposed to dig a 2 foot trench in the playa!


As long as you cover it up when the Rangers are looking.
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Re: Is the playa a good ground?

Postby AKAparttime » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:22 pm

teardropper wrote:I have some electrics that require a ground. Have done some searches and can find nothing on this. How do you ground your stuff on the playa? What are we talking about? a 10" aluminum nail stake, a copper ground stake (would that drive in?), or maybe rebar? What was the diameter of the ground and how deep? What was your experience?


- Contrary to popular belief the playa is a poor conductor of electricity.
In fact one can pound a grounding rod in to the playa, I put in two last
year for my FM transmitter.
Used a 5 lb sledgehammer, it help's to have help holding the rod.
To pull it out you will need a pipe wrench or vise grips to give it a twist and, a T steak puller.
It was also suggested to pore a QT of water on that spot once a day.

ps. Trenehing is a big no no.. think about it...
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Postby Token » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:30 pm

Interesting, considering the water table is right there a few feet below the surface.

Ever been to trego hot spring?
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Postby some seeing eye » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:41 pm

I'm with Token on this, a ton of ions and moisture makes a pretty good ground. What's the basis of your poor ground statement?
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Postby AKAparttime » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:49 pm

Well yes !


The grounding info was provided by the BMIR guy's, the wi-fi guy's,
the DPW guy's, and, the cell phone guy's (see wi-fi guy's).
Camped with the wi-fi guy's 4 out of 7 year's..
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:37 pm

some seeing eye wrote:I'm with Token on this, a ton of ions and moisture makes a pretty good ground. What's the basis of your poor ground statement?
Moisture? Not reliably.

Not taht I know a damn thing aobut electricity and I'm not sure why I clicked on this thread.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:52 am

Actually if you're grounded too well, then you will attract lightning.
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Postby Foxfur » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:49 am

Ugly Dougly wrote:Actually if you're grounded too well, then you will attract lightning.

But if you are a well grounded person you will attract others of the same potential :)...
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Postby Dustdevil » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:37 am

You don't need to go very deep for a good ground. We ran our copper ground rod about 16" deep. The ground is one leg of the electric fence we use in our camp. We also use the same grounding method to ground our bodies when we mix comp for our shows.
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Postby Trishntek » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:12 am

With TWENTY 12" stakes driven in the ground, EIGHT 18" cork-screw dog stakes and a Steel-framed shade structure attached, does that not sufficiently ground my solar array without driving something else into the ground?

Even here at home, my solar array is clamped to an outdoor faucet. The house's plumbing is all copper and the main line from the tap is black pipe. My GFI's seem to "think" they are grounded.
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Postby illy dilly » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:21 pm

Trishntek wrote:Even here at home, my solar array is clamped to an outdoor faucet. The house's plumbing is all copper and the main line from the tap is black pipe. My GFI's seem to "think" they are grounded.

Typically a 'Cold Water pipe' is sufficient for Residential ground.
Other than that I don't know a whole lot about residential ground.

As for needing to bury an 8' ground rod... I don't know. Sounds like over kill.
For commercial Satellite installs code complaint is happy with a 3/8" ground rod driven about 4' into the ground. Then clamped grounding clamps can be used on the rod.
Rod should be flagged so that people know it is there.

For installs of 4000 to 6000 watt amps, we will typically make the electrician install a separate ground and switches from the rest of the building. But this is to insure we don't get any ground loop noise.

When I used to work for a company that did temporary AV set ups for major stage shows and events they constantly had to bring in the huge tow behind gene's. We would typically just drive a 3' ground rod, about 2' into the ground, then connect it to the gene. I didn't know as much back then as I do now (I was pretty much just labor) so I don't remember specifics.
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Postby jkisha » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:51 pm

I'm not exactly sure what this means, but it appears to me that it implies that if all you are going to do is plug things into the generator via chords (as opposed to hooking it up to your house or trailer for auxiliary power) then grounding isn't necessary.

250.34 Portable and Vehicle Mounted Generators

(A) Portable Generators. The frame of a portable generator shall not be required to be connected to a grounding electrode as defined in 250.52 for a system supplied by the generator under the following conditions:

1) The generator supplies only equipment mounted on the generator, cord and plug connected equipment through receptacles mounted on the generator, or both and

2) The normally non current carrying metal parts of the equipment and the equipment grounding conductor terminals of the receptacles are connected to the generator frame.
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Postby BBadger » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:00 pm

You can buy temporary screw-in grounding rods that go in 6ft or so. I don't know how well such a thing would screw into playa.
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