National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Tuesday, September 6, 2022


Hello CQD, regarding NFPA 780, UL96, and UL96A. I think none of these require a ground rod at a pole-mounted light fixture. I have seen many ideas about why. What I am wondering is if a ground rod for a luminaire on a 20' pole alongside a footpath might need a ground rod and bonding conductor, if the assembly is a PV-powered unit with no wiring of any kind in or out. No equipment ground, no wiring. What I am thinking about, is a side flash like that which may occur with a direct strike to a tree, not protection of the luminaire in the integral PV panel. A bit of rebar in the pole base might be better than nothing, but would likely be far from the Ufer ground described in the code. What are your thoughts?

All The Best,

Michael Harkey



Michael, thank you for your very well thought question. NFPA 780, UL96, and UL96A are all voluntary Standards addressing lightning protection. Voluntary standards are just that, voluntary, and are generally used as part of a design specification, and not widely adopted into law like the National Electrical Code. The NEC does not mandate the installation of lightning protection (AKA auxiliary grounding electrodes), as they are performance or design specifications. That being said, if one chooses to install auxiliary grounding electrodes, then it must be done correctly. Section 250.54 of the 2014 NEC provides guidance on installing auxiliary grounding electrodes.  

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