Ground rods are essential for any modern property and choosing the right ground rod material is of the utmost importance.
In planning and developing new construction, engineers, architects, contractors, and more, must take multiple ground rod options into consideration to make the most appropriate choice.
Environmental factors play a role in this decision as well, not to mention the size and usage of the facility. The soil content can also impact which ground rod material to choose.
So why is the material used to manufacture the ground rods so important?
Ground rods serve a very specific purpose, helping to discharge electricity, from a lightning strike for example, to minimise the impact on the building and its electrical components. Without having the right ground rod professionally installed, the facility could be at risk of electrical fires and other dangerous complications.
Here’s what you need to know to make the right ground rod choice for your facility.
1. Galvanised Steel Ground Rods
Galvanised steel, made by coating steel with zinc, is the most affordable ground rod option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be your first choice.
For starters, these rods tend to only last for about 10 to 15 years before needing to be replaced, and they are not as reliable as other types of ground rods, even throughout that time.
Over the years, you’ll need to remember to replace these ground rods to ensure they are able to provide continuous protection. Around 10 to 15 years after your facility’s construction, though, replacing the ground rods may be the last thing on your mind.
Unfortunately, forgetting this important task could lead to disaster for your property.
2. Copper-Bonded Ground Rods
Copper-bonded ground rods are Baines Drilling’s preferred product.
Like galvanised steel rods, copper-bonded ground rods also have steel cores, though they feature copper coatings rather than zinc.
The copper actually creates molecular bonds with the steel, that are permanent. This makes these rods far less corrosive under normal conditions.
In general, you can expect copper-bonded rods to last for about 40 years, although extreme conditions could reduce the lifespan. This type of rod also tends to be the most cost-effective of all the varieties discussed when you combine ground rod material costs, replacement frequency, and labour expenses for installation and replacement.
Overall, copper-bonded ground rods are a good choice for many common applications.
3. Stainless Steel Ground Rods
For more specialised uses, including those in highly corrosive environments, stainless steel rods will provide great protection for your building.
This material does not occur naturally and so must be created from an alloy of iron, chromium, carbon and other materials. While this increases the strength of the material considerably, it also adds a lot to the cost.
This can make stainless steel ground rods prohibitively expensive for some properties.
The added strength of the steel enables it to bore easily into just about any soil type. Other materials might bend or break under the intense pressure of installation, weakening their structure and making them more prone to corrosion.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, will retain its shape and corrosion-resistance.
In addition to their stronger base material, stainless steel ground rods also receive an oxide coating to prevent corrosion, even in extreme environments.
4. Solid Copper Ground Rods
Solid copper is best used in environments characterised by soft soil with minimal salt content.
The metal is soft, so it can bend when drilled into harder soil. However, copper is highly conductive, making it the most effective at dissipating electric charges.
A break in the material, though, can dramatically reduce the reliability, as it will no longer be able to provide a direct path for electricity.
While salts can corrode copper, it is highly corrosion-resistant when exposed to other corrosive agents. This makes solid copper rods suitable for environments where large amounts of chemicals are involved.
Copper is usually the most expensive ground rod option, which should be considered before selecting it as the right ground rod option for you.
Because copper is a valuable material, theft is also common.
While copper thieves don’t typically target ground rods, that doesn’t mean that they are off-limits. If your area is prone to theft, for example, in heavily populated areas as opposed to rural ones, this could increase your ongoing maintenance and replacement costs.
Choosing a Ground Rod Material for Your Site
You’ll need to weigh up your ground rod options carefully to determine the most appropriate ground rod type for your needs. Consider:
- Your budget
- The density and type of soil requiring drilling
- Required protection levels
Due to their specialised task, ground rods are incredibly important for your property, so efficiency and reliability should be your primary concerns, rather than cost.
To get the best value for your money over time, stainless steel ground rods are ideal. This rod type also has the widest range of uses, as they can work well in almost any environment.
Copper ground rods are also excellent options for particular conditions.
Here at Baines Drilling, we recognise that choosing the best ground rod option can be confusing, but don’t worry, our experts are here to help. We’ll be happy to work with you to identify which material is best for your unique needs. When you are ready to install the ground rods on your property, our team can assist with that as well.