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Old 10-19-2011, 09:22 PM   #1
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New place, no ground in room, expensive computer


Hi Everyone,
I live in San Francisco and am a graphic designer with a powerful computer. I am moving to a new location, and want to make sure the electrical situation is safe for my equipment and self.

The building is a 2 unit flat, my unit will be the top floor. Grounding is coming into the building and into the kitchens of each unit, but otherwise the rooms are not grounded.

Landlords have offered to install GFCI outlets in my room so I can plug in 3 prong plugs. My understanding is that this should protect me from harm, but a surge protector plugged in will not work in protecting my equipment. Is the ground coming into the building enough protection?

Any other solutions, DIY fixes or suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks!

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Old 10-19-2011, 09:35 PM   #2
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New place, no ground in room, expensive computer


The ground coming into the building for the electrical system to your flat is for a different function than the third prong on a receptacle.

You are correct that the GFI is for personnel protection and does not help with a surge.

Since it sounds like you are renting you will need to go through the landlord. This is not a DIY job in a rental.

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Old 10-19-2011, 09:43 PM   #3
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You need a dedicated circuit with ground . No gadgets can help you without a ground path.
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:50 PM   #4
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You can string an external ground wire. This might start with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter for the power strip behind the computer and where the external wire is attached tot he green tab on the adapter. The other end of the wire is attached to some known ground that can even be a radiator. This can be a do it yourself project in a rental apartment.
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:55 PM   #5
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allenj that is really bad advice. he needs to get it to code. Is this a butch site?
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:00 PM   #6
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New place, no ground in room, expensive computer


Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkmanta View Post
Hi Everyone,
I live in San Francisco and am a graphic designer with a powerful computer. I am moving to a new location, and want to make sure the electrical situation is safe for my equipment and self.

The building is a 2 unit flat, my unit will be the top floor. Grounding is coming into the building and into the kitchens of each unit, but otherwise the rooms are not grounded.

Landlords have offered to install GFCI outlets in my room so I can plug in 3 prong plugs. My understanding is that this should protect me from harm, but a surge protector plugged in will not work in protecting my equipment. Is the ground coming into the building enough protection?

Any other solutions, DIY fixes or suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks!
Ask the land lord to instal a grounded outlet,
Then use a spike filter,
You can use a gfci as well if you wish,
But it doesnt play any part in protecting from spikes,
or brown outs.
A good quality UPS as well.
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:00 PM   #7
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You can string an external ground wire. This might start with a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter for the power strip behind the computer and where the external wire is attached tot he green tab on the adapter. The other end of the wire is attached to some known ground that can even be a radiator. This can be a do it yourself project in a rental apartment.
Could you please post the NEC article that would allow the connection to any grounded object?
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:00 PM   #8
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The ground coming into the building for the electrical system to your flat is for a different function than the third prong on a receptacle.

Since it sounds like you are renting you will need to go through the landlord. This is not a DIY job in a rental.
Can you expand a little more on the first part? Will the building overall not be protected from surges from lightening/cars hitting poles, etc? Does this mean that despite GFCIs the kitchen is likely unground as well? Landlords seem very flexible, I didn't mean to imply I would be DIY myself as much as I meant a simple solution that won't cost thousands. Thanks again.

Last edited by pinkmanta; 10-19-2011 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:05 PM   #9
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There is a grounding system for the building to protect against high voltage event like surges and lightning strikes. There is also the equipment grounding conductor which is part of a grounded circuit and connects to the third prong of the receptacle. The two serve entirely different functions.

You are asking about adding a grounding conductor that would connec to the third prong and is needed for effective use of point of usage surge protection. A separate conductor run from the panel can be added, but given the labor to do this it is often better just to add a new grounded circuit and leave the old wiring alone.
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:02 PM   #10
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Does this mean that despite GFCIs the kitchen is likely unground as well?
It is very possible.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:28 AM   #11
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It is very possible.
Yes you are right its be possible!!
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:29 AM   #12
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If you get one of those 3-light plug in testers with a GFCI test button on it, that will tell you if the kitchen GFCIs are actually grounded. The plug in tester GFCI test button works by letting a small current flow from hot to ground. This will trip a normally wired, grounded GFCI, but will not trip an ungrounded GFCI.

As for protecting your computer, get a good quality on-line UPS. An online UPS always powers your connected equipment from the battery, while the battery is kept constantly charged from line power. This provides two layers of isolation between the line power and your computer equipement, and should provide nicely conditioned power under most circumstances. In the event of a lightning strike, all bets are off, but it will provide some protection.
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Old 10-20-2011, 05:21 AM   #13
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Removed on recommendation

Last edited by scyarch; 10-20-2011 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 10-20-2011, 05:24 AM   #14
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Removed on recommendation

Last edited by scyarch; 10-20-2011 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Could you please post the NEC article that would allow the connection to any grounded object?
This ground wire is not part of the building electrical system and en route is not fastened to the wall or anything. The outlet box is not opened up. It is perfectly legal to string a ground wire connecting pieces of electronic equipment and have it lay loosely on the floor (preferably near the wall). Part of the DIY is verifying that the radiator or whatever the far end is connected to is indeed a good ground. A wire running from a lightning rod to a ground rod is not presumed to be a sufficient ground for electrical purposes.

Since the landlord has agreed to install GFCI receptacles, either he must have appropriate grounding or he must label them "no equipment ground". In the former case you would not need to string an external ground wire.

In many cities, all electrical work in rental property and multi-family property must be installed by a licensed electrician. This would include a separately installed ground wire that entered the wall or that passed outside the apartment.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-20-2011 at 07:54 AM.
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