Author Topic: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?  (Read 1172 times)

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Offline Hello

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Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« on: January 16, 2018, 03:31:17 PM »
I'm a complete noob & I'm contemplating installing a PWS on my house. I live in a townhome community & have no outdoor property. I'm considering installing on an ~8' pole mounted to our roof terrace's dividing wall. Although not ideal, I believe it's the most viable option given the circumstances. Please see the photo for what I'm thinking:




I was looking through NOAA's PWS siting guide, located here: https://www.weather.gov/media/epz/mesonet/CWOP-Siting.pdf

On page 3, it states: "When mounting any equipment on a structure, be sure to run a ground wire!" No specific explanation is given.


This is where the facts end & my questions begin. I suspect the concern they're addressing is lightning damage to the structure itself, not the equipment (I believe a direct hit would mean game over for any PWS, anyway). Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

I've only done about a couple of hours of research, but I can already see that this is somewhat of a controversial topic that is not even yet fully-understood. My conclusion at this point is to not even worry about it, summarized by the following points:

(1) My concerns initially stemmed from my erroneous belief that a PWS at that location would "attract" lightning. I've since learned that the presence of a PWS at the planned location would neither increase nor decrease the likelihood of a lightning strike hitting my home. If lightning wants to hit my house, it'll hit it, anyway.

(2) The best grounding it *could potentially do* is in effect turn it into a lightning rod, which would *hopefully* provide a safe path to ground. That feels like it could be a separate topic of discussion on its own, without any PWS considerations at all.


For what it's worth, I plan on buying a wireless setup. Finally, I'm not sure if it's relevant, but I have absolutely zero interest in grounding the equipment for the sake of "protecting" the equipment. I'd much rather take the very very very small chance lightning hitting my home x ~$400 rather than the guaranteed cost & PITA involved in grounding the mount.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I realize that this is an enthusiast forum and advice may tend to skew towards the fanatical end of the spectrum (I've been guilty of this as well). So I'd appreciate down-to-earth, realistic assessments, if possible. Thanks in advance.

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2018, 04:32:41 PM »
Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.

Offline Garth Bock

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 05:03:12 PM »
If you have an interest in a PWS you should go for it. You will have to realize the restrictions of your siting may not provide totally accurate readings. However, there are some folks here that have less than ideal sites for their stations but that hasn't slowed them down. They also provide good support for anyone who wants to try and share their experiences for anyone who wants to get into a fun and educational hobby. Now as to your site, first you might want to check with the HOA/rental company/leasing agent or city code about putting up a pole. There may be a restriction or ban on putting anything like a pole for a PWS or antenna on the balcony or terrace. Wouldn't want you to get into trouble off the bat. I know of one apartment complex in my town that banned putting any dish TV receivers on the balconies. Next, if you get clearance you need to decide on what type of pole you want to put up. If it is going to be metal, well then you could create a lightning strike danger. You would have to run a grounding wire down the side of the building into the ground. Once again, your building owners/whoever may not be thrilled with that. Also your homeowners insurance may not be supportive if a strike creates damage to the building or a fire. Not to worry though. You could mount on a thick piece of PVC which would provide some resistance to a lightning strike. The length of the PVC will have to be kept short to prevent swaying. Also there are offset mounts for PWS that could extent out from the balcony but would be less of a lightning attractor. Just throwing some ideas out there for you. First though you need to make sure you can put a PWS out on your balcony. I know there are others here that have gone through this and can help you get started. Glad you stopped in here and want to join the rest of us.

Davis VPro2,VWS,WL,VVP,WD,WDL,Cumulus,WV32,VPLive

Offline ValentineWeather

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 05:13:27 PM »
I know this may not help but I don't ground weather station,  knock on wood no indirect or direct hits yet. Plus they are wireless and not attached directly to home.
The idea behind grounding is preventing static charge from building reducing direct strike chance. ( Or something like that) No amount of grounding will survive a direct hit. I do ground my satellite dish because cable leads directly into house.
Randy

Offline WA7FWF

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2018, 05:15:52 PM »
I would put it on the other corner myself and put it on a plastic pipe rather than metal and not worry. Your wind speeds will not be accurate, temps probably a little high depending on which way the wind is blowing, rain should be OK, but just enjoy it for what it is. You ground things to keep a static charge from building but trust me you take a direct hit and any ground wire you might have run will just up and disappear, I have ham radio towers and cables the diameter of my thumb going to multiple 8' ground rods for grounding, you just cant imagine how many amps are in a lightning strike.

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 05:19:26 PM »
Curious, if you do put one up, are you going to post your data online?

Offline pfletch101

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 05:23:03 PM »
Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.

If you believe that the primary purpose of a weather station is to make (and publish) meaningful meteorological observations, such as would allow one to make valid statements about 'the weather' at a given location, your response might be appropriate. Many of us live in locations and/or houses whose geography (in the broadest sense) make this purpose more or less unachievable, but would like our perception and description of outside conditions to be a bit more specific than is possible without making some measurements. The OP may not have a site whose microclimate bears a great deal of resemblance to that which would be ideal for meteorological observations, but he may have a real and appropriate interest in the microclimate where he plans to site his PWS! He seems to have taken some trouble to educate himself and to understand this issue.

On the OP's original question, I would concur with his apparent view that grounding is not essential (or particularly useful) for a wireless PWS. I might think differently for a wired one.
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Offline dupreezd

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2018, 05:42:16 PM »
As Garth Bock say,
Quote
Now as to your site, first you might want to check with the HOA/rental company/leasing agent or city code about putting up a pole. There may be a restriction or ban on putting anything like a pole for a PWS or antenna on the balcony or terrace.
This will be your go/no go.
If there are no other PWS nearby you may plead your case during your monthly meeting, that it may be beneficial for the whole community as they can view your PWS. Talk to your neighbors and ask if they will support you. It all depends how receptive your HOA is. 
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Offline Garth Bock

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2018, 05:45:37 PM »
One thing that got brought up is about posting the data online. I think small steps are in order first. Get the PWS purchased and mounted. Learn about it. Play with it for a while. Make sure everything is working for you. If you want to take it online and send data to a webpage or a weather data collection service, that would be the next step. One thing before purchasing a station bear in mind about its options and whether or not it can connect in some manner to send data. There are some cheap wireless weather stations out there that are knockoffs and may not be supported by weather software or are not able to send to a weather data collection site. However, before you go that far it is best to compare the accuracy of your station and its readings with another station close by. If your readings are pretty much in the ballpark then going online is a challenging and cool thing to do with a PWS. However, first get started with getting the okay to mount the station and then get the station purchased. We can help you through get into all the fun that we have had for years... :grin:

Davis VPro2,VWS,WL,VVP,WD,WDL,Cumulus,WV32,VPLive

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2018, 05:56:11 PM »
Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.
If you believe that the primary purpose of a weather station is to make (and publish) meaningful meteorological observations, such as would allow one to make valid statements about 'the weather' at a given location, your response might be appropriate.
Well, I do, but that's me. If the OP wants to spend the time and money for questionable readings at best, that's his/her business. Frankly I'd buy a glass thermometer and Cocorahs and call it a day.

Offline Hello

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 11:01:06 PM »
Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.
Totally fair - I've been back and forth about this entire idea for that exact reason. Thanks for the input.

If you have an interest in a PWS you should go for it. You will have to realize the restrictions of your siting may not provide totally accurate readings. However, there are some folks here that have less than ideal sites for their stations but that hasn't slowed them down. They also provide good support for anyone who wants to try and share their experiences for anyone who wants to get into a fun and educational hobby. Now as to your site, first you might want to check with the HOA/rental company/leasing agent or city code about putting up a pole. There may be a restriction or ban on putting anything like a pole for a PWS or antenna on the balcony or terrace. Wouldn't want you to get into trouble off the bat. I know of one apartment complex in my town that banned putting any dish TV receivers on the balconies. Next, if you get clearance you need to decide on what type of pole you want to put up. If it is going to be metal, well then you could create a lightning strike danger. You would have to run a grounding wire down the side of the building into the ground. Once again, your building owners/whoever may not be thrilled with that. Also your homeowners insurance may not be supportive if a strike creates damage to the building or a fire. Not to worry though. You could mount on a thick piece of PVC which would provide some resistance to a lightning strike. The length of the PVC will have to be kept short to prevent swaying. Also there are offset mounts for PWS that could extent out from the balcony but would be less of a lightning attractor. Just throwing some ideas out there for you. First though you need to make sure you can put a PWS out on your balcony. I know there are others here that have gone through this and can help you get started. Glad you stopped in here and want to join the rest of us.
In this case I was totally planning to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but it's a valid concern. We're in a pretty secluded spot in the neighborhood so it would take a while to notice.

As far as the lightning goes, that's where my research confused me - it didn't sound like adding this would increase the probability of being struck by lightning? Some HOA/insurance fascist would probably chew me out regardless, though.

I know this may not help but I don't ground weather station,  knock on wood no indirect or direct hits yet. Plus they are wireless and not attached directly to home.
The idea behind grounding is preventing static charge from building reducing direct strike chance. ( Or something like that) No amount of grounding will survive a direct hit. I do ground my satellite dish because cable leads directly into house.
Apparently that theory's been proven false - this is something I came across during my internet travels:

https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/65825/does-a-lightning-rod-prevent-lightning-strikes

Sounds reasonable? I don't mean to turn this thread into a lightning debate, just sharing some stuff that helped me understand the principles behind it all.

I would put it on the other corner myself and put it on a plastic pipe rather than metal and not worry. Your wind speeds will not be accurate, temps probably a little high depending on which way the wind is blowing, rain should be OK, but just enjoy it for what it is. You ground things to keep a static charge from building but trust me you take a direct hit and any ground wire you might have run will just up and disappear, I have ham radio towers and cables the diameter of my thumb going to multiple 8' ground rods for grounding, you just cant imagine how many amps are in a lightning strike.
I thought about that too but I'd be more likely to attract some overly vigilant HOA connoisseur.

Curious, if you do put one up, are you going to post your data online?
Honestly I've been on the fence about this entire thing and that's something else I was debating. I figured that was gonna be a decision I'd make after reviewing the data. I would rather not report anything at all if it didn't turn out at least reasonably accurate. There are some consistently idiotic numbers I see around my area on Wunderground. Up until about a couple of months ago I never really questioned where my weather data was coming from. I'd always been interested and now after reading more about it, I've become a bit skeptical about the entire crowdsourcing weather concept. Maybe I'm jaded, but I doubt the vast majority of people reporting are even halfway as vigilant as people on here. I haven't sworn it off, but I am crosschecking against weather.gov a lot more frequently.

Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.

If you believe that the primary purpose of a weather station is to make (and publish) meaningful meteorological observations, such as would allow one to make valid statements about 'the weather' at a given location, your response might be appropriate. Many of us live in locations and/or houses whose geography (in the broadest sense) make this purpose more or less unachievable, but would like our perception and description of outside conditions to be a bit more specific than is possible without making some measurements. The OP may not have a site whose microclimate bears a great deal of resemblance to that which would be ideal for meteorological observations, but he may have a real and appropriate interest in the microclimate where he plans to site his PWS! He seems to have taken some trouble to educate himself and to understand this issue.

On the OP's original question, I would concur with his apparent view that grounding is not essential (or particularly useful) for a wireless PWS. I might think differently for a wired one.
Thanks! Mostly just a geek who's always been curious about the weather. When I was a kid my dad had installed a simple Acurite thermometer in our kitchen & vigilantly checked that thing every single day. I just thought it'd be cool to have that again, albeit on steroids. I also think there's no better way to learn what precise differences in weather feel like without having hyper-local measurements.

As Garth Bock say,
Quote
Now as to your site, first you might want to check with the HOA/rental company/leasing agent or city code about putting up a pole. There may be a restriction or ban on putting anything like a pole for a PWS or antenna on the balcony or terrace.
This will be your go/no go.
If there are no other PWS nearby you may plead your case during your monthly meeting, that it may be beneficial for the whole community as they can view your PWS. Talk to your neighbors and ask if they will support you. It all depends how receptive your HOA is.
lol - not quite monthly. Like I mentioned earlier - I'd rather ask for forgiveness... I'm more so questioning now whether it's even a viable installation.

One thing that got brought up is about posting the data online. I think small steps are in order first. Get the PWS purchased and mounted. Learn about it. Play with it for a while. Make sure everything is working for you. If you want to take it online and send data to a webpage or a weather data collection service, that would be the next step. One thing before purchasing a station bear in mind about its options and whether or not it can connect in some manner to send data. There are some cheap wireless weather stations out there that are knockoffs and may not be supported by weather software or are not able to send to a weather data collection site. However, before you go that far it is best to compare the accuracy of your station and its readings with another station close by. If your readings are pretty much in the ballpark then going online is a challenging and cool thing to do with a PWS. However, first get started with getting the okay to mount the station and then get the station purchased. We can help you through get into all the fun that we have had for years... :grin:
Totally a crazy idea but would mounting it on the apex of the roof be a better option? Provided that I do it safely...

Offline ValentineWeather

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 11:09:46 PM »


Apparently that theory's been proven false - this is something I came across during my internet travels:


Huh?
That's what I said I didn't call it negative charge but static charge. 
Quote: The idea behind grounding is preventing static charge from building reducing direct strike chance.
Randy

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 11:49:21 PM »
Honestly, considering what you have available for siting, I wouldn't even bother with a PWS. Some things aren't meant to be.
I would rather not report anything at all if it didn't turn out at least reasonably accurate. There are some consistently idiotic numbers I see around my area on Wunderground. Up until about a couple of months ago I never really questioned where my weather data was coming from. I'd always been interested and now after reading more about it, I've become a bit skeptical about the entire crowdsourcing weather concept. Maybe I'm jaded, but I doubt the vast majority of people reporting are even halfway as vigilant as people on here. I haven't sworn it off, but I am crosschecking against weather.gov a lot more frequently.
Your reasonableness is refreshing. The way I see it, if it's not good enough to put online, then it's not good enough to have at all.

Offline dalecoy

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2018, 10:44:40 AM »
The way I see it, if it's not good enough to put online, then it's not good enough to have at all.

My weather station reports the measurements at my location, where I have it mounted as closely to "specification" as possible.  That's not very close.  For just two of the factors, the land slopes quite a bit and there are tall trees.

http://www.thecoys.net/lsview/west.jpg

The measurements are online, in several ways.  I personally feel that it's fairly representative of the measurements at my location - not those at the nearby airport, etc.  And I like being able to view the measurements from anywhere, and tell our relatives how to see the weather at my home.

I have a VP2.  But the comment about "not good enough to put online" would imply (to me) that you believe that measurements from a Vantage Vue would never be good enough (because it's a single unit).

Offline Garth Bock

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2018, 11:06:50 AM »
Quote
Totally a crazy idea but would mounting it on the apex of the roof be a better option? Provided that I do it safely..

A tripod mount up on the roof would work but would be visible to all. The Davis Vantange Pro2 station allows you to split the station so you could put the anemometer on the roof and the rest of the station on the balcony.

Quote
I would rather not report anything at all if it didn't turn out at least reasonably accurate.

Define accurate. (I think your initial mounting plan would provide reasonably accurate readings.) If there there is another station within say a block of you and you want to match their readings then you would want your station mounted to be close to their readings. However, you are reporting on the weather at YOUR location and local microclimate. Your readings are your own. You can achieve accurate readings with your planned mounting. As I said earlier there are some here that don't have the most perfect site for their station but manage to get decent readings. They haven't let mounting restrictions or others stop them from enjoying a hobby like this one. I have seen postings of pictures of balcony, patio, sundeck and other kinds of mounted weather stations from forum members here in the past. Your plan is no different from theirs. My station before I moved it was not ideally suited but compared to all the other stations in town was within a degree or 2 and we all pretty much agreed on figures. Our airport to the far east of town is used by our local TV and radio stations. It used to regularly report higher temps and even would show no rain when we got 1/2 an inch in town. One of our station owners checked on it years ago and found it mounted over a parking lot and looked like it was falling apart. We were far more accurate than it was and it was a NWS station ! Besides....as Al Sleet the Hippy Dippy Weatherman (George Carlin) said "...the temperature at the airport is 72 degrees....but who lives at the airport?"

What I am trying to say is that if you are interested, you should go for it. You can tweak and improve your station as you go. There is a learning curve as with all new things. You can get accurate readings. It just takes a little patience.

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Offline Hello

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2018, 11:29:40 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement - I haven't written it off entirely. I'll continue thinking about my options & checking back here.

And believe me... people in my neighborhood are quite oblivious/disinterested. If you look at the topography of our neighborhood, our house is at the highest point of a gentle hill. We're buried deep at the end of a street & the house is pretty tall so if I were to mount it on the corner, it'd take some time to notice. It would be fairly inaccessible, though, so I'd rather not go that route.

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2018, 02:35:36 PM »

The way I see it, if it's not good enough to put online, then it's not good enough to have at all.
I have a VP2.  But the comment about "not good enough to put online" would imply (to me) that you believe that measurements from a Vantage Vue would never be good enough (because it's a single unit).
I knew I wasn't clear enough. This has nothing to do with the equipment, but everything to do with the sitting, hence the "why bother".

Offline dalecoy

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2018, 02:43:29 PM »

The way I see it, if it's not good enough to put online, then it's not good enough to have at all.
I have a VP2.  But the comment about "not good enough to put online" would imply (to me) that you believe that measurements from a Vantage Vue would never be good enough (because it's a single unit).
I knew I wasn't clear enough. This has nothing to do with the equipment, but everything to do with the sitting, hence the "why bother".

Just to clarify - In your opinion, is there a "siting" for a Vue that would be "good enough to put online"?

What is your definition of "good enough to put online"?

Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2018, 02:51:08 PM »

The way I see it, if it's not good enough to put online, then it's not good enough to have at all.
I have a VP2.  But the comment about "not good enough to put online" would imply (to me) that you believe that measurements from a Vantage Vue would never be good enough (because it's a single unit).
I knew I wasn't clear enough. This has nothing to do with the equipment, but everything to do with the sitting, hence the "why bother".

Just to clarify - In your opinion, is there a "siting" for a Vue that would be "good enough to put online"?

What is your definition of "good enough to put online"?
Of course. Look, there are tons of people who put their data online just so they can say "lookie here" and it's total garbage. You know exactly what I'm trying to say, if your satisfied with your data, stick it out there, if not, don't. It's obviously very subjective.

Offline DoctorKnow

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 03:29:44 PM »
It looks like from the shadows that the spot marked in the photo is on the north side of the home. This would be the best bet for a station, but I would personally not recommend taking a temperature or rain measurement from that height. This location is best for the anemometer and solar panel only.

With all that concrete and housing around there, the temperature will be higher, but it will still be good for the area. I would not use it to say that climate change is real just because it is warmer I think is what CW2274 is saying just by putting it online with a biased thermometer.


Offline CW2274

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2018, 04:17:58 PM »
Like I said, it's completely subjective on what one PWS owner thinks is acceptable to share online while another may owner may just  :roll:. This is exactly why QC is such a crap shoot, it's all dependent on your neighbors.

Offline dalecoy

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Re: Should I worry about grounding my PWS?
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2018, 09:32:28 PM »
Like I said, it's completely subjective on what one PWS owner thinks is acceptable to share online while another may owner may just  :roll:.

I absolutely agree.  None of us should be judging whether someone else's measurements are "good enough to put online". 

Or whether someone's proposed siting will produce measurements "good enough to put online".

[Recommendations for changes that might improve measurements are, of course, a different matter.]

 

anything