We all know that grounding is a necessity. It's required by electrical codes; it's required by equipment manufacturers; and we all know it would be "good practice" even if it wasn't required. But exactly how to do it has probably been the subject of more debate and difference of opinion than any other aspect of the infrastructure. "Isolated grounds" are still called for by many people, even though they are actually counter-productive in the data center. And top-name manufacturers have even been known to stipulate grounding methods in their installation specifications that are just plain illegal and unbelievably dangerous. Why is it that this fundamental, and seemingly straightforward subject, is so misunderstood?
It's misunderstood because there are so many different reasons for doing it, each with its own set of concerns, considerations and installation methods. It's also misunderstood because the problems that can occur when it's done wrong are essentially invisible, difficult to comprehend, often without a good explanation and hard to track down when they happen.
Most professionals deal with only one or two types of grounding in their careers. The majority don't necessarily know that the communications industry has its own set of requirements, and don't realize that, while there are similarities, what is fine in one field doesn't always do the job in another. Let's identify some of these grounding specialties and what they're for, then pull the concepts together to get a better understanding of the principles of telecommunications grounding.
Continue reading to learn more about key grounding and voltage considerations in the data center.