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Thread: EE's: Where Are You? Solution for Voltage Surges in an Ungrounded Building??

  1. #1
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    Arrow EE's: Where Are You? Solution for Voltage Surges in an Ungrounded Building??

    I live in San Carlos. The entire building is ungrounded. I have investigated investing in grounding to the breaker box and installing grounding wires to all the outlets. But this ain't happenin'. The perimeter of the entire building is surrounded by rooves or cement slabs: (1) First, I'd have to find out the owner of an adjacent property, (2) Then get permission to break up cement to find ground. Good luck with this!

    I'm assuming that surge protectors are 100% useless without grounding but is this correct? Are they partially useful?

    So far a computer and a Samsung television have been damaged (latter) or destroyed (former). I'm building a next generation computer for about USD $1000. I'd sure like protection when the next voltage spike occurs (puntos de voltaje).

    This is where the EE's come in! Is there any device, either a device for a particular piece of equipment, or any change that could be made in the breaker box to protect sensitive electronics from surges ???

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    I'm not an expert at the breaker box but anything in your unit that you plug in to eliminate a surge needs somewhere to send that excess current and that would be to a ground wire. A UPS or standard plugin surge protector won't work without a ground.

    You can trick a device into thinking there is a ground but the first time that devices tries to shunt current it'll fry itself and whatever is plugged into it.

    It may not be the first rule of electricity distribution but it is certainly in the top three...all installations *must* be grounded.

    If you value your stuff and potentially your life, and can't fix the problem, time to move. I rewired my first house in this country because it wasn't grounded and a multitude of other issues such that the electrical outlets were smoldering and 110V was being sent down the cable TV coax cable. It would have been cheaper to move but I wasn't prepared to do that a mere three months after arriving here. Getting shocked every time I touched something or the TV flickering when I turned on the lights grows old fast as does replacing things that burn out. So I fixed the house instead. My second house was grounded - one of the first things I checked when looking at the place.

    If you can't install a ground, then an experienced electrician will have to bond your panel to something that is grounded - not allowed back home but a workable solution here where there are no rules.

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    You just need a small hole in the slab to pound in a 8' copper pipe, you don't have to tear it all up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jahjahwarrior View Post
    You just need a small hole in the slab to pound in a 8' copper pipe, you don't have to tear it all up.
    Find someone with a 1/2" hammer drill with a 1/2" carbide tipped bit.

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    The effectiveness of the ground rod is dependent on the soil conditions where it is placed. Sand for example is not a very good conductor of electricity so sandy soil is not idea. Better than nothing but may or may not be able to dissipate high voltages such as lightning strike. I don't know for sure but suspect caliche is an even worse conductor.

    Ideally the Ede's would have a ground installed at each transformer that the homeowner could make use of, but they don't usually which is how we get into this mess. Installation practices vary greatly from company to company and between every Juan and Pablo with a set of wire cutters and a screwdriver.

    If the houses here were not made of concrete many of them would burn to the ground <pun intended>

    Understanding, grounding, earthing and bonding are tough concepts to grasp but each has their own place in a safe electrical distribution system. When protecting expensive equipment and safety for people, it's best not to do this yourself or hire just any old Juan who doesn't completely understand what they're doing. If it's not done right, you can still fry your stuff or yourself.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLW_7TPf310

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    Lucas61,
    Can you provide a bit more information ? What did the computer die from ? Power unit blown or mother Board? Same with the TV - what did the repair guy say the problem was ?
    Also do you have an Invertor or use UPS for your computer? Do you have 110 or 220 at the breaker box load centre ? Is it a GE type Load Centre.
    Do you get any other effects like flickering lights or sudden brightening of incandescent lights?

    Hope you can give a little more information !

    Olly and the Team

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    While I am an EE, I am not an expert in AC power. During my recent reading I have seen comments that some surge protectors protect against surges between the hot and neutral lines (without a ground). So some surge protectors may help even if there is no ground.

    Keep in mind that surge protectors are not necessarily built to protect from multiple surges. If you have more than one surge, the surge protector's devices may be damaged and you will need to replace it in order to continue protecting your equipment.

    I would call companies that make such devices, find out about how much they can protect you in a system without a ground, and also ask how many surges they will block. Some protectors may have an indicator light showing they need to be replaced since they can no longer protect you.

    An aside. When I spoke to Trace (then Xantrex and now yet another company), they told me that the DR was their Viet Nam for battle testing inverters. The Trace DR series did indeed refer to the Dominican Republic. If it could work here and survive, it could work anywhere. The point is you want a superior product to work properly.

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    Run your computer on battery with inverter(not inverter charger combo) and separate charger ...

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    Hi Lucas61,
    Pity you did not answer my questions in Post # 6 as I was trying to find out your real problem.

    There have been a number of threads on DR1 about this topic which you might like to look at:

    https://dr1.com/forums/showthread.ph...ectrical-items

    http://www.dr1.com/forums/living/858...rotection.html

    But from what you have said and nobody has answered are surge protection devices effective in an ungrounded environment. The answer is yes!

    Here are some suggestions for your situation as I understand your original post.

    For your computer put in a UPS such as Omega 650 or 1000 from the outlet to your computer. These have both surge/spike /over voltage and low volts protection The spike suppression is about 250 joules which is not bad for here. No ground needed.

    For your TV fit an APC Tripp-lite Voltage Regulator unit about 1000 VA as a voltage regulator and spike suppressor. Has about 200 Joules which is not bad . Does not require a ground.

    Fit a GE THQLSURGE directly into any GE Load centre. It is so easy to fit and does not require a “ground” and give you a huge amount of protection .

    It you look at the cost : 1) About 1800 RD$ for UPS, 2) About 1300 RD$ from PriceMart for Tripp- lite , 3)THQLSURGE - about US$180 from USA and you need to get from USA and ship here!


    With the uestion I asked in #6 I was trying to establish exactly what your problem is - but alas bo response!

    HTH

    Olly ( the EE) and the Team

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