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What is difference between surge protection and ground?

Difference between GFCI and Ground
Difference between neutral and ground
Surge is overvoltage caused by motors, grid malfunctions, shop equipment, lightning  etc.
There are 3 types of surge:
"Disruptive enters electronics and causes malfunction of logic and lock up.
Dissipative is repetitive, pulsing short-duration causing early demise of equipment.
Destructive is high level energy that causes immediate failure of equipment."
Surge protectors are constantly in use. They wear out.
What does the ground do?
To the homeowner, the purpose of ground wire is to protect people and property from short circuits and possible fire by providing unobstructed path for electricity to reach earth. Less known is that the ground also assists and protects the circuit breaker. The ground wire helps protect the home from surge caused by nearby lightning.
The ground wire functions as the direct pathway for Type 3 surge protectors, for example a surge protection strip on a computer is connected to ground wire. The ground wire is not necessary for Type 1 surge protectors that absorb surge instead of redirecting surge to earth. Type 2 surge protectors are connected to Neutral busbar which is directly bonded to ground wire that is connected to ground rod. In event of massive surge overload, or lightning strike, the ground wire assists all types of surge protectors, breakers, wires and appliances to minimize damage.

To the grid, the ground wires and ground rods installed at each home, business, pole, substation, transmission tower, all bonded (connected) together by the Neutral wire back to power plant, is to provide an array of earth connections that stabilize the electrical system by redirecting fire hazards, shorts, power surges from lightning, and high voltage events to earth .... basically the Neutral-ground array lets earth absorb stray voltage to 'balance the equation.' Extreme overloads on transmission and distribution lines that exceed capacity of ground will cause breakers to trip at substation.
So what is difference between surge protection and ground?
Both surge protector and ground are designed to handle too many electrons on the wire, and in this sense, the ground wire is a surge protector
The electrons must reach the ground wire before it can handle the surge. Examples: short circuit and lightning. Whereas the surge protector deals with excess electrons that travel along the hot wires. Examples: motor starting and lightning. Surge protectors function by absorbing and/or redirecting electrons to ground. This means both ground wire and surge protector are needed: the ground wire is necessary for surge protection devices to operate. And the surge protector is needed to handle electron overloads that do not reach the ground wire.

-The ground wire handles too many electrons by letting them pass freely. The effectiveness of ground is measured by how little resistance it offers to electrons. The ground is grid-wide. The effect of voltage irregularities throughout the grid has a background effect on ground wire resistance at each home and business. This is the effect of ground loop which can cause ground to have more resistance, especially if local soils are resistant. This introduces the next point: the earth itself offers resistance: damp-dense-warm soils conduct better than dry-rocky-cold soils with frozen soil offering almost no conductivity. As a result, local codes for grounding vary, as does the need to test for ground loop effect. Ground wires are permanent and do not need to be checked periodically at a home or business unless massive lightning strike melts the wire.
-Surge protectors handle too many electrons in a different way, by absorbing-suppressing electrons or by redirecting electrons to ground. Surge protectors are manufactured to meet different magnitudes of surge, with more expensive devices generally handling more surge. Surge protectors wear out over time, or are consumed by surge event, and must be replaced periodically.

Surge protection is an optional device you buy, and must replace periodically, to protect appliances and equipment
. Surge can be connected anywhere in a business or home, and choice of location determines the type of surge protector needed.
Type 3 surge protectors are directly connected to ground wire. Type 2 surge is bonded to ground via the neutral wire. Type 1 surge protectors are not connected to ground wire, yet all types of surge protectors depend on ground wire array to help reduce magnitude and occurrence of surge.

Ground is a permanent, required, array of wires and ground rods found at each electrical installation on the grid for safety and stability. Ground wires are connected at specific points, for example at each switch, outlet, light, appliance, motor etc. Ground wires either connects directly to a separate ground rod, or back to the ground busbar at the main breaker box and then onto the ground rod installed outside. The ground busbar is bonded to the neutral busbar inside the breaker box. The neutral wire is connected back to the grid transformer where it is bonded to the ground again. The transformer on the pole and any metal conduit are also bonded to a ground wire at each installation on the grid so that all the grounds are bonded together into a single array by the neutral wire that can be traced back to the power plant generator where it is bonded to thousands of grounding points.
SPD must provide a protective level of surge clamping.
Protection is measured in Joules. Higher joules means more surge protection. But at some point, the added protection vs risk is not worth spending more.

There are primary and secondary surge protection devices. Exact classification is muddy. Surge protection can be added at service entrance, at breaker panel, at the HVAC or heat pump unit, or single circuit, or at each household TV, or on low voltage applications.
Surge protector will not stop destruction caused by lightning strike within 90 feet, or more depending on event
Lightning is main problem when figuring home surge protection. NO surge protector can protect from direct lightning strike, or very close strike: 90 feet. Highly destructive, ultra-rapid, overvoltage event
Must install LPS or lightning protection system, such as lightning rod with grounded copper cable to meet local ground standards for depth etc.
Risk of lightning is higher when home is near pond, high on hill, or sitting alone. Nearby higher structures or multiple structures, will reduce lightning risk.
Low risk lightning is 1 mile away.
Grounding is important for preventing surge
- Surge can enter the home through the grounding rod. By code all ground rods must be bonded together. But frequently a ground rod added for phone or satellite dish is not bonded (connected) to the main household ground system. Pool equipment often has a control panel that requires direct bond to ground wire that is connected to ground rod rod, but often this control panel receives ground wire from main panel, which might meet local code but is not best for surge protection. While solar panels require their own ground rod, and frequently this ground is not bonded with main breaker ground wire and ground rod. Codes for grounding vary by locale.
For example, ground rods work best in warm, dense, wet soil, and perform poorly in cold, loose, dry or rocky soil. Each region has local codes that specify grounding.
Bonding all grounds together is a major step for reducing hazards and protecting home from surge. Why? Because surge can enter on co-ax TV line, and the satellite ground rod is not as effective as service panel ground for dampening the effect of surge.
Grounding to water pipe is not sufficient ground. Pipe is frequently non-conductive plastic. Ground must be applied to approved ground rod driven into soil.
Older homes without grounding are at greater risk of surge. Homes with improper wiring are at greater risk. Undersized wire, non-code wring such as using ground wire as neutral increase risk of hazard and loss. Upgrading service advised.
surge vs ground block Type 3 surge -vrs- Ground
Illustration shows two different things: Ground block and Type 3 surge. Ground block is a ground for co-ax, but is not a surge protector.

Type 3 surge protectors must be grounded... for example surge protection strip on your computer, or surge protection on the phone and co-ax lines must be connected to ground wire.
Type 3 will 'jump the gap' to ground when voltage exceeds rating.

Type 3 surge protectors
Co-ax surge protector
Telephone surge protection
Ground block
Ground rod and clamps at Amazon
Ground rod driver
Type 1-2 surge protection

Type 1 surge protector is connected directly to the Hot and Neutral wires, and not to ground wire nor to the circuit breaker. Type 1 depends on ground array to reduce incoming voltage overloads. Type 1 will respond to surge events that do not reach the ground wire.

Type 2 surge protector is connected to overcurrent protection (circuit breaker) and to Neutral busbar. The Neutral busbar is bonded to the ground busbar that is bonded to ground rod. Type 2 depends on ground array to reduce incoming voltage overloads. Type 2 will respond to surge events on the Hot wire that do not reach the ground wire.
Type 1 surge protector
Type 2 surge protector
How to wire surge protectors
Proper grounding array at home will help absorb surge

100' feet away for lighting is the rule of thumb.
Anything closer than 100', and nothing can protect against the voltage.
Beyond 100' and proper grounding can help redirect the surge into the ground.
No system other than lightning rods will protect against direct lightning strike or strike within 100 feet.
Move indoors and do not stay on roof, or move metal ladders, or touch anything made of metal when lightning is within 1 mile or can be heard or seen.

Bond all ground wires together to help prevent surge & lightning damage
Proper grounding requires all boxes and devices to be connected with a ground wire that is adequately connected to a ground rod that is at sufficient depth to reach permanently damp soil, or an array of ground rods with sufficient low resistance to meet local code, and that all grounds rods are bonded together with a common wire. For example if you have a ground rod for TV co-ax, and separate ground rod for phone, and separate ground rod for short wave antenna, and separate ground rod for electricity, they should all be connected with a common ground wire using #6 bare copper or green-coated copper wire.
However the ground wire will not always protect electronics etc from damage from lightning ... for this you need a surge protector, suppressor, arrestor ... and possibly lightning rods.
Note: surge protection wears out over time ... because it is consumed by the continuous small and large surge that is typical with electric wire and devices.
Why you need ground wire
How to wire whole house surge
Electricity from grid to main breaker panel
Electricity from generator to residence
Color code for wire
Bond solar panel to ground rod


Outdoor solar panels, pool equipment, motors, phone, satellite, co-ax etc must have a separate ground wire. Electrical panels must have a separate ground in addition to ground wire back to main panel. Codes vary on this requirement.

What does this mean?
Bonding is the connection of metal to a ground wire that is in turn connected to a ground rod driven into the earth to a depth that meets local codes for grounding.
Drive ground rod 8-10 feet into soil. Bond #6-8 bare copper wire to ground rod and to solar panels and pipes on roof.

Do NOT ground electric system to water pipes. Ground must be connected to ground rod. Stray current corrosion can cause pipes to deteriorate. Uncertain bond to ground because of plastic pipes.

Codes for grounding depth vary: loose rocky dry soils are less conductive than dense wet soils

Ground rod and clamps at Amazon
Bonding lugs
Ground rod driver
Best basic electric book
Basic electric book/ very detailed
Grounding workbook
Difference between: surge, brownout, ground fault, line noise
Surge: too many electrons going down the wire: Cause: grid malfunctions, motors, lightning etc. Result: motors, electronics, machines, timers, appliances, etc can stop functioning or burn out. Solution: install surge protector covered on this page.
Brownout: too few electrons on the wire: Undervoltage for ordinary home is generally anything less than 85% rated voltage. Result: light bulbs dim, electronics stop functioning until normal power resumes, motors slow down and overheat. To protect motors from brownout, turn off power. Also read about compressor defender
Ground fault: electrons rushing uncontrollably to ground. Also called a short. Will cause circuit breaker to trip. High risk of electrocution if your body is the pathway that electrons follow. Ground wire required for all electric installations. Why you need ground wire. GFCI will react instantly to ground fault, much faster than circuit breaker. Install GFCI circuit breakers and outlets for more dangerous areas: bathroom, kitchen, laundry, outdoors etc. Read more about GFCI
Line Noise: electrons behaving erratically instead of flowing predictably: Surge protection is not made to filter line noise... unless specified.
Result: Line noise effects devices and processes that require 'clean' electric power. Microprocessor manufacturing requires very clean electric power.  Line filters reduce high-frequency line noise broadcast onto household wires caused by using photocopier, arc welder, light dimmer. 
Modern electronic devices have filters, but some don't. For example, some digital timers might not have a filter. Line noise will scramble timer programming, while voltage surge can completely destroy timer functionality. Press and hold reset button to see if function returns.
Buy from my affiliate links:
Line noise filter
Difference between neutral and ground
-The Neutral wire runs throughout the grid from power plant generator to end user's electric outlet.
-The ground wire is always bonded to the Neutral wire at every point along the way, with large numbers of ground points at power plant and substations. Together they form the Neutral-ground array that stabilizes the grid and absorbs malfunctions, overvoltages, and lightning strike.
-The Neutral wire performs an additional function of completing the circuit for some wiring configurations including household single-phase 120 volt Hot-Neutral, and less used 277 volt Hot-Neutral found in some commercial buildings. The ground wire is never used as a Neutral in 120 and 277 volt wiring, otherwise it creates a safety issue if a ground fault enters the device that is using the wire improperly, and causes resistance on the ground, and possible fire, electrocution hazard etc. To perform correctly, the ground must offer no resistance between a short circuit and the earth.
-The Neutral wire is used with Type 2 surge protectors. Type 2 surge protectors are connected to overcurrent protection (circuit breaker) and to the Neutral busbar. Some Type 2 are also connected to ground busbar plus Neutral busbar.
-The Neutral wire is necessary for GFCI, as explained below.
The ground wire must be maintained separately from the Neutral
Why you need ground wire
Difference between GFCI and Ground
GFCI is connected to Neutral, but does not depend on the Neutral-ground array. When a short circuit occurs, typically the electrons rush down the ground wire, Hot wire overheats, and breaker trips. However a short circuit will bypass the ground wire if it finds another path to ground, such as your body standing outdoors on wet soil while coming into contact with live electricity, such as handling a frayed extension cord. With this kind of short, the breaker eventually trips, but not before the electricity runs through your body and stops the heartbeat. To prevent this risk, you want to turn off power when working on electricity and use new extension cords, but people make a mistakes.
GFCI responds to circuit much quicker than a circuit breaker by responding to difference between the electrons flowing on the Hot wire vrs electrons flowing on the Neutral wire. Both Neutral and Hot should have same number of electrons when power is being consumed, the GFCI trips when electrons are unequal, so the ground wire is not used, nor is a surge protector.
GFCI does not wear out like surge protection, and can be reset after trip. Like anything, GFCI can go bad.
If GFCI will not reset, then there is a ground fault or device is has gone bad. Replace GFCI device and if device will still not set, then the circuit must be tested to find the ground fault ... do NOT bypass and assume the ground fault is not an issue. Often an ordinary device can be substituted for GFCI and the circuit appears to work fine. However in this example, the GFCI is tripping because of a slow bleed of electrons. A slow bleed only means the electrons have a way to ground, but the way is partially obstructed by resistance caused by some material like frayed insulation. Whatever is causing the resistance is not enough to protect you from electrocution or fire.
GFCI circuit breaker
GFCI outlet tester
How to wire GFCI

30 amp breaker use 10 gauge /

10-2 gauge/ 30 amp
10-3/ 30 amp
Southwire electric tools
Yellow 12 gauge 20 amp

Yellow/ #12 gauge wire for 20 amp
with ground
12-2 gauge/ 20 amp
12-3/ 20 amp

Rolls of stranded wire

NMB is house wiring
UF is underground
White 14 gauge 15 amp

White/ #14 gauge wire for 15 amp
with ground
14-2 gauge/ 15 amp
14-3/ 15 amp

NMB is house wiring
UF is underground
50-60 amp breaker use 6 gauge /
6-2 wire
6-2 wire
Southwire electric tools
NMB is house wiring
UF is underground
40-50 amp breaker use 8 gauge /
6-2 wire
8-2 wire
Southwire electric tools
NMB is house wiring
UF is underground

Copper ground wire
Use same size as other wire in circuit

Spools of ground wire
Ground rods at Amazon

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