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Can I bond/ground to the structure of a steel building?

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  • Can I bond/ground to the structure of a steel building?

    Still quite new at this stuff, and I'm trying to clarify a grounding idea. In my fiddling with small 12v solar setups, I continue to think along the lines of automotive circuitry, except that I've always floated the negative polarity back to the batteries. Hope I said that right.

    So if I have a little 12v system being used in a pre-engineered steel building, could I use the building just like a car's chassis?

    If I'm understanding the concept correctly, I wouldn't have to use twice the amount of wire.
    Last edited by Farman; 02-13-2020, 03:19 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Farman View Post
    Still quite new at this stuff, and I'm trying to clarify a grounding idea. In my fiddling with small 12v solar setups, I continue to think along the lines of automotive circuitry, except that I've always floated the negative polarity back to the batteries. Hope I said that right.

    So if I have a little 12v system being used in a pre-engineered steel building, could I use the building just like a car's chassis?

    If I'm understanding the concept correctly, I wouldn't have to use twice the amount of wire.
    The problem with using your building for a ground instead of some type of ground rod can result in electric shock should someone be touching the building metal and standing on the earth during a fault. It is always better to have a path for the fault to ground to go though using wire and steel instead of a human.

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    • #3
      I should have mentioned that the building is attached to ground rods that are driven into the earth. Does that change the safety issue you bring up?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Farman View Post
        I should have mentioned that the building is attached to ground rods that are driven into the earth. Does that change the safety issue you bring up?
        I would refer to NEC for starters. How far is the nearest ground rod?
        9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ampster View Post
          How far is the nearest ground rod?
          From what?

          The ground rods are within a foot or two of the building's foundation wall. The nearest rod to the battery bank would be about 15 feet or so.

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          • #6
            I would NOT use the building ground as a minus return . You have screwed joints, paint, weatherstrip and the inherent higher resistance of steel over that of copper.

            Plus the safety factor.
            Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
            || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
            || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Farman View Post
              I should have mentioned that the building is attached to ground rods that are driven into the earth. Does that change the safety issue you bring up?
              I would run a ground wire from the solar system to one of those building ground rods. It would be safer to have a direct path to ground then to go through the components of a metal shed.

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              • #8
                Case closed.

                Thanks for the input, it really does help.

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