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Floating ground on a PSU (to ground, or not to ground)

This is a discussion on Floating ground on a PSU (to ground, or not to ground) within the RAM and Power Supply Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Sorry a little longwinded, but here goes: My laptop used to be grounded, until I moved to Japan where all


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Old 10-15-2018, 09:43 PM   #1
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Sorry a little longwinded, but here goes:

My laptop used to be grounded, until I moved to Japan where all of the sockets pretty much only accept 2 prongs (at least that is the case in my house). Some power cables will come with a seperate grounding cable which is supposed to be screwed into a grounding location sometimes found on sockets. We only have one of these grounding locations, but it would require about 40m of grounding cable to route it here. When we first moved, I researched about grounding in Japan, but the general concensus was that grounding was not necessary, and that as long as there's surge protection for the devices, then there's nothing to worry about.

2 weeks ago, my hard drive in my laptop died. I bought a new hard drive and installed it, a few days later it also died. I jumped back into google, and found that hard drives can suffer as a result of improperly grounded devices.

I decided that my laptop was a little underpowered for my work anyway, so I've started getting the parts for a PC build. My new PSU arrived today, and has a grounding cable. Do I need to route a 40m grounding cable to my new PC before I start using it? I'm tired of buying hard drives...

TLDR
My new PSU has a grounding cable - my previous system killed 2 HDDs from what I assume is due to it not being grounded. Should I route a 40m grounding cable to the only proper grounding source in the house? Does not grounding kill hard drives?
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:08 AM   #2
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I've read further to find that if a power unit is double insulated, that it doesn't require grounding.

I've since checked all devices that I brought with me from the UK, and found that the laptop that killed my two drives is not double insulated (or at least the icon for class II is not on the power brick).

I also checked the new PSU I bought, and it does not have the double insulated icon on it. I'm guessing I need to ground it?
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
and that as long as there's surge protection for the devices, then there's nothing to worry about.
Well, that's bogus. Surge protection works most effectively by shunting the excess voltage to Earth ground. So without a connection to ground, you are not really protected from surges.

Your notebook and hard drives run off of DC voltage. DC powered devices typically are not grounded to Earth ground. The drives did not die due to a lack of ground. After all, when running on battery, the drives are not grounded. I think you just got unlucky with your 2nd drive. And your PC actually runs off DC voltages too. The PC power supply is really an AC to DC converter.

No, you don't have to run a 40m grounding cable. I would probably use something like this and connect the wire to the screw on the wall outlet face plate.
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill_Bright View Post
Well, that's bogus. Surge protection works most effectively by shunting the excess voltage to Earth ground. So without a connection to ground, you are not really protected from surges.

Your notebook and hard drives run off of DC voltage. DC powered devices typically are not grounded to Earth ground. The drives did not die due to a lack of ground. After all, when running on battery, the drives are not grounded. I think you just got unlucky with your 2nd drive. And your PC actually runs off DC voltages too. The PC power supply is really an AC to DC converter.

No, you don't have to run a 40m grounding cable. I would probably use something like this and connect the wire to the screw on the wall outlet face plate.
Ah okay, thanks. I still think my laptop has some issue which is killing the drives, but I'm glad to hear it's not anything to do with grounding.

I do however, have to run a ground cable 40m should I want to ground it. The closest outlet with a ground is 40m away, and there's no other place I could ground it to. :(

edit:

If I'm running a 40m ground cable to the outlet, I'm guessing the guage of wire is important? What guage would be necessary?
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Old 10-16-2018, 10:26 PM   #5
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Quick and easy ground is a nearby metal cold water pipe. Of course any paint and dirt need to be scraped off the pipe so that electric contact can be made. Just don't use a gas pipe as a ground.

Has noone ever had to check or put in a lightning rod?
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Old 10-16-2018, 10:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phishy2 View Post
Quick and easy ground is a nearby metal cold water pipe. Of course any paint and dirt need to be scraped off the pipe so that electric contact can be made. Just don't use a gas pipe as a ground.

Has noone ever had to check or put in a lightning rod?
The closest pipe is about the same distance
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Old 10-17-2018, 07:55 AM   #7
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Quick and easy ground is a nearby metal cold water pipe.
Unfortunately, metal pipes have not been used in many years. They are just too expensive, to heavy to ship, and much harder to work with. And for them to provide the safest and most effective Earth ground, they need to be a continuous run of copper pipe from the ground connection to several feet into the earth.

Quote:
What guage would be necessary?
I don't know what the code in Japan is. In the US, it is typically 10 to 8 AWG (the smaller the number, the bigger the wire).

As for your drives, again, I doubt it is the facility power since notebooks are portable devices. And I highly doubt your problems have anything to do with grounding. After all, they have millions and millions of notebooks, TVs, and other electrical devices in Japan too. It simply costs too much for notebook makers to design different power supplies for every market. So they are quite universal, typically the only difference being the connector on the wall side of the power cord.

Just make sure your power supply charger says it is for 100VAC too.

Also, visit a local home improvement store and look for an AC Outlet Tester. Every home and computer user should have access to one. That one is clearly for standard US 3-prong outlets but I am confident there are similar models for all countries and outlet types (like this one for the UK).
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Old 10-18-2018, 04:43 PM   #8
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Well, ummm all the housing I have lived in still have mostly metal water pipes and were built in the early 1960's or before. I've learned that in the USA, if an outlet is wired correctly, the faceplate screw is a good ground. Is that true?

I've used those A/C outlet testers and like 30% of the outlets I tested are wired incorrectly.
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Old 10-19-2018, 09:13 AM   #9
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Well, ummm all the housing I have lived in still have mostly metal water pipes and were built in the early 1960's or before.
Well, like I said, metal pipes have not been used in many years. My house was built in 1960, and I have copper pipes. But most houses built in the last 20 to 30 years use plastic.

But note too many older homes have had modifications and plumbing repairs where plastic pipes have been used, thus interrupting ground paths.

Lastly, water and electricity don't mix. That's why by code, grounding through pipes is not considered acceptable anymore.
Quote:
I've learned that in the USA, if an outlet is wired correctly, the faceplate screw is a good ground. Is that true?
Maybe, maybe not. The key phrase is "wired correctly". You cannot assume it is. You also cannot assume it is still wired correctly even if you know at one time it was. Someone could have done incorrect repairs, or there could have been some unseen damage. And since all wiring goes back to the service panel, you cannot assume the service panel is properly grounded either - or that there is no break in the ground between the outlet and the service panel. So use an outlet checker. If it detects a fault, have it repaired by a certified electrician.
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