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Grounding and Bonding for the Amateur

The ARRL's Book on Grounding and Bonding

This web page is for information that extends or supports the book Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur, Second Edition.  The book brings together material from numerous Amateur Radio and industry sources to present a comprehensive picture of basic grounding and bonding practices related to ac electrical safety, lightning protection, and the management of RF currents and voltages in the typical ham station.  The book is intended to be of the most use to new station builders and those upgrading an existing station.

The material below is organized as Resources, Supplemental Information, Examples, and Errata.  In the Resources section, you'll find a list of articles, websites, and vendors for materials and techniques referenced in the book. The Supplemental area extends discussions in the book or explores topics the book doesn't cover.  the Examples area features photos and comments by other amateurs intended to show how they solved a problem or implemented some of the suggestions in the book.  Finally, as the inevitable errata emerge, they'll be listed here - check this section before reporting a possible error.

Thanks for reading - we hope this book helps you build an effective and well-behaved station!

To purchase the book, click here or browse to the ARRL Store where you can also find numerous other technical publications supporting Amateur Radio.

If you purchased the first edition, new material in the second edition covers mobile stations, portable stations, transient suppression and protective devices, additional use of ferrite chokes.  We enhanced and expanded the material on lightning protection, the antenna system, how the single-point ground panel (SPGP) works and what's important to make it work right, and you'll notice quite a few drawings and graphics have additional detail and labels. Based on conversations and questions from hams, there is more information about upper-floor stations, routing the ground system and feed lines, and placement of the SPGP.  Additional reviewers contributed helpful ideas and comments, as well.


Supplemental Information and Errata

  • Resources for Materials, Products, and Methods - 24 Nov 2021

    Grounding and Bonding Products

    The Tripp-Lite line of Premium Isobar surge protectors are recommended for use on the SPGP as a Protected Line Duplex Outlet. (Models are available with up to 8 outlets.)  The energy rating of suitable models ranges from 3300 to 5100 J.  Do not rely on surge-protected power strips.


    Note that if a surge protector is going to be mounted directly on an Single-Point Ground Panel (SGPG), paint on the enclosure must be removed to guarantee a good electrical connection.


    A wide variety of grounding products, assemblies, and materials suitable for amateur use are available from DX Engineering in the Grounding and Lightning Protection Department.


    General RF Websites

    RF Cafe: many tutorials, calculators, references, standards, etc.

    Microwaves101: a general-purpose site dealing with RF above 30 MHz

    Repeater-Builder: numerous links and articles, technical manuals, and instructions


    Electrical and Electrical Safety Websites

    Mike Holt Enterprises: numerous tutorials and explanations of safety practices

    International Association of Electrical Inspectors: information on electrical safety

    Polyphaser: various papers and tutorials on lightning protection for communications facilities, including ham stations

    Lightning Protection Institute: papers and tutorials on lightning protection techniques


    Useful Standards

    National Fire Protection Association: free access to the latest version of the NEC.  The NEC Handbook 2017 is available through libraries.

    FAA Document on Practices and Procedures for Lightning Protection, Grounding, Bonding, and Shielding Implementation

    Motorola Publication R56 - Standards and Guidelines for Communication Sites

    IEEE Std 1100 – 2005 “IEEE Recommended Practices for Powering and Grounding Electronic Equipment” (available from most libraries)

    MIL-HDBK-419A – Grounding, Bonding, and Shielding for Electronic Equipments and Facilities (Vol 1 and 2).


    ARRL Websites

    ARRL Technical Information Service sections
    Electrical Safety
    Grounding (various types and topics)
    Lightning Protection


    Miscellaneous Websites

    K9YC's Tutorials and Papers: Jim Brown, K9YC, has published a number of useful papers and presentations for hams.  His tutorials on ferrites and RFI are widely referenced, including by the ARRL.

    W8JI's Lighting and Grounding Pages: Tom Rauch, W8JI, has documented his grounding and bonding techniques to reduce lightning damage, noise, and RFI in his large station.  Many good photos and sketches illustrating the concepts in this book.


    Miscellaneous Books and Articles

    If your club is considering a set of books for members to use, along with Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur, the NEC Handbook (used copies of recent editions are available online), and one of the home wiring books listed below would be a good starting point.

    • P. Laplante, Editor, Comprehensive Dictionary of Electrical Engineering Terms, CRC Press, 1999
    • Ugly’s Electrical References — pocket-sized references of electrical information for wiring, common electrical circuits, and materials
    • The Complete Guide to Wiring, 7th Edition, Cool Springs Press, 2017.
    • Block, R. R., The “Grounds” for Lightning and EMP Protection, Second Edition, PolyPhaser Corporation, 1993.
    • R. Cauldwell, "Wiring a House" 5th Edition, The Taunton Press, 2014
    • Hartwell, Schwan, and Richter, "Wiring Simplified" 45th edition, Park Publishing, 2017.
    • Rand, K. A., Lightning Protection and Grounding Solutions for Communications Sites, PolyPhaser Corporation, 2000.
    • Uman, M. A., All About Lightning, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 1986.
    • Uman, M. A., Lightning, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 1984. Uman, M. A., The Lightning Discharge, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 2001.

  • Supplemental Discussions and Topics (6 July 2022)

    Type 3 Surge Protectors for SPGP

    The Isobar surge protectors referenced in the book for mounting on the SPGP have a UL1449 Type 3 rating and carry a warning that they must be used 10 meters or more from the ac service panel.  The 10 meters (or more) of wiring adds inductance to the ac supply circuit that modifies the waveshape of the transient to make it easier for the surge protector's MOVs to withstand the surge.  In most stations, the SPGP is far enough from the ac service panel to meet this requirement.

    If your SPGP is closer to the ac service panel than 10 meters, though, in addition to the Type 3 protector on the SPGP, you must add either:

    a) a Type 2 surge protector at the circuit breaker for the protected circuit, or

    b) a Type 1 "whole house" surge protector at the main breakers

    The Square D #SDSA1175 surge protector is an example of a typical Type 2 protector and there are numerous Type 2 protectors on the market.  They typically install in one of the service panel "knock-out" and connect between the circuit breaker for the protected circuit (hot wire) and the neutral bus (white wire).

    Do not simply add more cable to the branch circuit to make up a 10-meter length.  The extra cable can pick up the magnetic field from lightning and increase the magnitude of the resulting transient.


    Size of Grounding Conductors

    On page 3.11, the statement "The ground conductor must be at least as large as the current-carrying conductors..." is a good guideline but the actual wording of NEC Article 250.122 is that "the ground conductor can not be required to be larger than the current-carrying conductors." (Other ground conductor sizing rules are also given for situations unlikely to apply to amateur stations.)  This is a good example where the book must simplify the NEC rule in order to be understandable and useful to the individual ham.  If your station wiring is in any way unusual, unorthodox, or combined with other non-ham equipment, you should consult with a licensed electrician.


    Old Power Strips with Surge Suppressors

    The recommendation to avoid surge protectors was aimed at the inexpensive power strips that don't meet UL 1449 or that were manufactured before 2009 when the current version of that standard went into effect.  In addition to UL 1449, IEEE C62.62 establishes methods for testing and measuring the performance characteristics of Surge Protective Devices but doesn’t specify limits or ratings of any sort. IEEE 62.72 is a guide for manufacturers to aid in the selection of SPD’s for use on the AC mains, which is heavily biased towards MOV performance.  Those old strips are still powering a lot of stations - the author found two bad strips in his own collection, for example.  If you can't be sure the surge protection is up to current standards, remove them.


    Building Your Own Power Distribution Box

    Some readers asked about where to get multi-outlet cover plates.  The words to use in an internet search are "5-gang duplex receptacle wallplate" - you will discover a number of sources.  Wallplates are available with quite a variety of configurations and sizes.  Here is a 5-gang wallplate similar to that shown in the book.


    Building the power distribution center requires attention to detail if you want the one you build to be safe.  Using in-wall back boxes is not OK in a wet environment, for example.  Be SURE the ground conductor is securely attached to the metalwork and can't come loose.  Plastic-housed strips meeting current standards are OK in this regard although they can't be grounded directly to an entry panel.


    AC Surge Protector

    The abbreviation PLDO is not defined in the book (see Figure 4.9) but it is discussed in the series of Ron Block NR2B articles in 2002 QST.  It stands for Protected Line Duplex Outlet (PLDO).  The PLDO contains surge suppressors to limit transient voltages on the output and protect the branch circuit it is connected to.  The PLDO should be mounted on a grounded panel or surface.  The Tripp Lite guide to surge protection might be helpful in selecting an appropriate model.  The original model only had 2 outlets (a duplex outlet) but available models have several duplex outlets.

    DX Engineering sells panel-mounted ac line protectors for the amateur station
    Tripp-Lite manufactures a wide range of ac surge protectors and line conditioners such as the 600 W 120 V panel-mountable LS604WM.

    Portable GFCI - "GFCI In a Box"

    Individual GFCI outlets are not intended for outdoor or portable use but there are portable GFCI units available (such as this one from Woodhead) that don't require assembly. The are designed to require line voltage be present before they can be "set" to operate, and disconnect automatically if either the hot or neutral connections are lost.

    If you decide to build your own, the electrical aisle at hardware stores will have suitable weatherproof boxes and covered outlets such as these from Lowe's:

    Electrical box  (you'll need a plug for the holes, too, or a sealed plastic box can be used)
    Weatherproof cover
    Sealed cord strain relief

    You can also buy GFCI kits for outdoor use and installation - here's a photo of mine.  This box is sealed and has a waterproof cable entry, as well.


    Installing a GFCI Receptacle - this downloadable PDF is a leaflet included by many manufacturers with GFCI receptacles purchased separately.


    If you do build the GFCI-in-a-box or add a GFCI to a homemade power distribution box, the NEC specifically prohibits connecting multiple GFCIs in series. Standalone GFCI boxes should not be plugged into another GFI or GFI protected outlet, which should be present in any situations where water is within 3 feet of an outlet (RVs, park shelters, etc.)  Field Day generators may or may not be GFCI-protected - the popular Honda EB2000i generator outlets are GFCI-protected, for example - so check first.


    WARC Band Chokes

    Table A.5 - Ferrite Transmitting Choke Designs
    For 18 and 24 MHz, us the second line of the 21 MHz entry

    Table A.6 Coiled-Coax Transmitting Choke Designs
    1.8 MHz - this technique is not recommended
    18 MHz - for RG-213 and RG-8, use 9 feet of cable, coiled into 6-7 turns; for RG-58, use 7 feet of cable, coiled into 8 turns
    24 MHz - for RG-213 and RG-8, use 7 feet of cable, coiled into 6-8 turns; for RG-58, use 5 feet of cable, coiled into 7 turns

  • Contributed Examples of Grounding & Bonding (18 Nov 2021)

    If you would like to contribute an example of your own, please contact the author at or



    Jim Brown, K9YC, sent this photo of grounding jumpers (green wires) in the back of a nice portable station built by Glen Brown, W6GJB, for the California QSO Party.  The jumpers are all short and direct, keeping the equpment bonded together at RF.  Note the use of Powerpole connector to make disconnecting easy. The use of the standard green insulation and connectors for equipment ground wiring also makes the wires easy to identify as ground.


    Single-Point Ground Panel (SPGP)

    Contest operator K4RO decided to install a large SPGP to improve his station's ability to deal with lightning and to minimize RF voltage differences throughout the antenna switching and filtering system.  The panel is installed on an exterior garage wall under his station - which is effectively a second-floor station.  The ground conductor is attached at the upper right to ground rods installed outside the wall.


    RF Ground Plane

    Ken Chechura, KC9UMR, was rebuilding his station and got a great deal on some surplus wire rack shelving.  Not only does the wire mesh act as an RF ground plane, it provides for airflow that ventilates and cools the equipment, as well.


    Dale Hammer, K9NN, is the equipment manager for the W9SU club.  In preparation for the 2021 Field Day, Dale built some very nice RF ground planes to use for each station. They are built with 20” wide roof flashing wrapped around 18”x48” fiberboard.  The 1” overlap on all sides is covered on the back by duct tape and also held in place with the copper pipe mounting screws.  Adding the power strip takes care of connecting the ac safety ground to the RF ground plane through the metal of the power strip enclosure.  The paint on the mounting tabs of the power strips is scraped to enable good contact with the flashing.   Dale reports that using these metal panels resulted in no problems with RFI at their 2021 Field Day operation.


    Lightning Protection

    This shows a set of DX Engineering lightning protectors mounted on an aluminum angle bracket at the author's station.  The bracket is then attached to a grounded aluminum panel.





  • Errata

    No errata yet reported in the second edition.  All errata for the first edition were corrected in the second edition.


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