General Question

Zyx's avatar

Will a surge protector (partially) remedy the lack of a ground?

Asked by Zyx (4160points) January 1st, 2012

I’ve been trying to record in my room but I keep getting ever so lightly toasted by my guitar strings. Now of course I want to ground the outlets but for the moment I was wondering if a surge protector would be benificial in this kind of situation since I have one right here.

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5 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

No, and I beleive in fact for a surge protector to work it partially uses a fuse, but also sends the over current to the ground to discharge it. Where do you live that doesn’t have grounding in the outlets anyways?

Zyx's avatar

I live in the Netherlands and my room isn’t that old but the guy that built it was probably some sort of thief. My lamp is hanging by a damn string. Guess I’ll see about grounding it as soon as possible. Thanks!

YoBob's avatar

Nope. Only a ground will remedy the lack of a ground.

Paradox25's avatar

No because a surge protector is nothing more than an outlet strip with a breaker installed in it that uses an electromechanical heating element that opens the circuit in the case of overcurrent or a short circuit. Actually a ‘short’ is the same thing as an overload, but it is a massive overload. Even the surge protector will connect to an already properly installed grounding system by plugging it in.

The main purpose of a grounding wire is for safety reasons. If a conductive chasis becomes accidentally energized via a loose connection, broken wire, excess voltage/static, etc the voltage will take the shortest path to ground through the grounding wire. Also, except for cases of excess static, the energized chasis will draw excessive current just like in an overload or short and will open the circuit by blowing a fuse or tripping a breaker. There is no substitute for the ground here.

gasman's avatar

The best thing would be a ground fault interrupter (GFI), which you can buy built into a power strip of outlets. A GFI protects you from electrical shock by breaking the circuit when the hot and neutral currents don’t match. In electrical shock some current reaches ground through your body instead of through neutral, causing a mismatch detected at a threshold around 10mA. GFIs work even with ungrounded outlets.

A circuit breakers only protects from current overload or short circuit, easily passing lethal current because it has no way of knowing that you & your guitar are not a toaster.

Surge protectors only protect against high voltages, such as lightning strikes, power line spikes, or static electricity. They are not likely to be of help here.

Did you try reversing the plug? In the US they didn’t have polarized plugs until the 1970s, while radios & tvs typically had a metal chassis, so there was a 50–50 chance of electrocution by touching exposed screw heads on the rear of the unit connected to one of the plug pins.

“Lightly toasted” by your guitar strings is not good. You might just be feeling a few volts of potential between neutral & ground, but it’s still worrisome. Don’t touch the guitar while wet or barefoot!

If you get a GFI and it keeps tripping you could try an isolation transformer, but normally the next step is to hire an electrician.

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