Satellite System Grounding
Part 1 - The NEC, Service Providers & Local Authorities
Presented by Todd Humphrey

Grounding. That single word brings about more confusion and misunderstandings, than any other aspect of Satellite TV and Satellite Internet installation. Every platform provider, DIRECTV, DISH Network, HughesNet and Wildblue have their own guidelines for grounding.

In general, each system provider has guidelines that meet the requirements of the National Electric Code (NEC). It cannot be said every grounding guideline meets the NEC. The reason for this is, the NEC is not a law. The NEC is a recommendation, written by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The NFPA produces the NEC as a guideline, or recommendation for local authorities to adopt. The NEC takes into account EVERY part of the country. It is written to anticipate conditions you would find in Alaska, New Mexico, or Florida. Whether or not the NEC is adopted in whole, is left to local authorities to decide. The NEC is used as a baseline code. Local authorities are free to add their own codes which address conditions unique to their geographic area. Consumers in Miami, Florida experience far more lightning than consumers in Seattle, Washington. Florida authorities are free to add codes that address lightning whereas Washington authorities may address other issues.


Every professional satellite installation technician should know the local requirements. They may, or may not include the NEC. If the NEC is not required in an area, then the grounding guidelines of the service provider, or equipment manufacturer are the grounding requirements the installer must meet. If your local authorities require installations to meet the NEC, then a satellite system must meet the requirements of BOTH the service provider and the NEC. This is where most installers fail to do their job.


Since local enforcement of local satellite grounding regulations are rarely enforced, a significant number of installers only meet the grounding requirements of the service provider, regardless if those requirements meet the NEC.


It would be nice if I could say that installers always follow the installation guidelines of the service provider, but that is not always the case. Even installation companies who conduct quality control checks of installations of their products, fail to identify improper grounding methods. Sometimes, the installer is fined for failing to meet installation requirements, but no one returns to correct the problem.

Is there a real effort to ground satellite system properly? In general, Yes. Both DIRECTV and Dish Network have grounding requirements that meet the NEC in spirit.


HughesNet and Wildblue do not have grounding guidelines that meet requirements of the NEC. In my opinion, their guidelines are reasonable, but never the less, they do not meet NEC. This is only an issue IF your local authorities require antenna and coax installations to meet grounding requirements of the NEC.



Go To Part 2 - NEC Overview


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