Why Earth Grounds Are Crucial To Your Fire Alarm Monitoring System

By Ziad Alezabi

February 26, 2024

Telegraph fire alarm monitoring systems have continued to prove their reliability by remaining installed in:

  • Major US cities
  • Major transportation departments
  • Military Bases
  • Ivy League Campuses

When you use telegraph monitoring, you're ensuring easy and consistent monitoring capabilities that save lives and assets

To successfully utilize your telegraph fire alarm monitoring system, however, you need to learn about the importance of earth grounds.

Earth grounds ("grounds" for short) provide a path for electrical current to flow in the event of a fault happening somewhere on a loop.

Earth grounds also serve several purposes such as:

  1. Prevent shock hazards via low resistance paths for fault currents.
  2. Protect electrical equipment from damage caused by lightning, surges, and other electrical malfunctions.
  3. "Ground level" works as a signal reference that ensures accurate signal transmission in the event of a ground.

All The Reasons To Be Careful With Earth Grounds

Before we can speak about the components of earth grounds, we need to understand the importance of what earth grounding does:

  1. Electrical safety: As discussed above, earth grounds provide electrical currents with a safe path for them to flow into the ground in the case of a fault that halts the system or a surge that would harm your equipment.
  2. System stability: When you ground your systems properly, you ensure that your voltage levels remain consistent. Otherwise, you're left to deal with false alarms that will desensitize your in-house monitoring crew or central station staff.
  3. Compliance and Regulations: NFPA 70 speaks about the requirements for grounding. If you are a fire alarm systems distributor, all of your lineup must comply with standard compliance codes. Otherwise, you're turning away a lot of customers without knowing it.
  4. Noise and Interference Reduction: Difference ground potentials can cause ground loops. This adds unwanted noise and interference to your system which can worsen your fire alarm monitoring system accuracy.
  5. The Components of Earth Grounds

    An experienced and reliable fire alarm monitoring manufacturer will ensure that you have all the correct components to make you code-compliant both nationally and regionally.

    Here are the components that are generally required in earth grounding:

    1. Grounding Electrodes: This is the connection point between an electrical system and the earth. This can include different types such as ground rods, plates, and grids.
    2. Conductors: These are used to connect the grounding electrode to the rest of the electrical system. This can include wires, straps, and cables. They are usually made from copper.
    3. Bonding Jumpers: These are used to bond different metal components of a system together, creating a common ground reference point to prevent differences in ground potential.
    4. Grounding Clamps: Used to securely attach grounding conductors to the electrodes, typically made of copper or bronze.

    It's very important to make sure that your telegraph fire alarm manufacturer also provides you with documentation and labeling to ensure that your in-house staff or central station can easily acquire information that helps them solve problems that arise quickly.

    Best Practices When Installing or Maintaining Your Earth Grounds

    Per the NEC code, you are required to have a ground electrode with a minimum length of 8 feet (2.5 meters) in contact with soil.

    However, there are other factors to consider when setting up your grounding system. For example, you want to figure out whether you'll be using ground rods or ground plates.

    You can figure out if you want to use ground rods by checking off the following criteria:

    1. The soil is soft enough to drive the grounding rod deep enough.
    2. The soil is clay, this is very compatible with grounding rods because of the moisture content in the clay.
    3. While sand or gravel is not ideal because of low conductivity, it's still better to pick a ground rod over a ground plate. Your ground rod will have to be longer to reach a depth that has enough moisture for adequate grounding.
    4. Although wet soil is highly conductive, it may be too soft and result in your ground rods corroding faster. You need to weigh your pros and cons.

    Aside from ground softness and conductivity, you want to also consider that ground rods are less costly than ground plates.

    They also offer more flexibility in case the area you're planning on using for grounding isn't deep enough for a ground plate.

    You can figure out if you want to use ground plates by checking off the following criteria:

    1. If it's a rocky condition, ground plates are your perfect candidate due to them requiring less depth. This means that you don't have to dig down as much.
    2. If the soil is too dense or has a high water table (the groundwater's location in the earth), a ground plate would be ideal.
    3. If you have an area with low conductivity, a ground plate's large surface area is great for overcoming high soil resistance.

    Overall, a ground plate is great because it has a higher resistance to corrosion and a large surface area.

    This makes it ideal for shallow soils with high resistance, or rocky soils that are harder to dig down.

    You need to measure your ground resistance to make sure it meets NEC guidelines and your local standards and compliance codes.

    Digitize Can Answer Your Questions About Grounding Your Telegraph Fire Alarm Monitoring System

    Digitize has extensive experience with technical support for our distributors and customers. We have expert staff that constantly answer questions about our fire alarm monitoring system, as well as grounding requirements.

    vsc fire and security

    These are pictures of VSC Fire and Security. They are a Digitize Authorized Distributor serving the Virginia area.

    We recognize that installation is different from client to client, so we encourage our distributors to utilize the in-depth documentation that comes with our equipment.

    We also offer in-house staff training seminars, as well as site visits if a problem requires it.

    If you have any more questions about why an earth ground is crucial to your telegraph fire alarm monitoring system, and how you can install it correctly, please feel free to reach out.

    Even if we can't find a solution together, I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

    Call me at 973-663-1011 or Email me at info@digitize-inc.com

    Ziad Alezabi

    Ziad Alezabi

    Ziad Alezabi is a seasoned marketing writer renowned for his expertise in crafting compelling content and strategic marketing communications. With a rich background in the industry, Ziad has contributed significantly to various projects, delivering engaging blog articles, impactful videos, and...Read More