Defying the impression that knock off artists specialize in well-known consumer product brands, we have learned that a substantial number of counterfeit and substandard ground rods were imported into the United States and sold here last year. A ground rod is vital to the safety of a home or buidling's electric system and appliances. A ground rod is typically an 8 foot copper-coated steel rod, that is driven into the ground near the home or building's metering system that provides excess current a place to go. Without it, the excess current will have to find another pathway — and that just might be into your home or building's electrical system or appliances leading to fire or damaged property.
The copper coating is a key to the product's durability. The Underwriters Laboratories' ground rod standard (UL 467) requires 10 mils of copper around the steel rod, and with this thickness a ground rod might expect a 40 year or more lifespan before corrosion impedes its ability to protect. The counterfeit ground rods have only a fraction of the required copper coating — in the vicinity of only 2 mils, or 20% of what is required. These rods might last as long as 6 or 8 years, before your property is at risk for lack of protection. The knock off artists put the UL mark on these rods, leading people to believe that it meets the UL requirements and that they can expect the kind of durability a UL listed product offers.
Why are people selling these substandard counterfeit products? So they can unfairly compete. Copper is an expensive commodity these days, and given that there is a world price for copper and steel, China does not enjoy a comparative advantage over the United States in their manufacture. Because the imported product cannot fairly compete with the domestic ground rod, the counterfeiters have to cheat by cutting back on the copper component so they can undersell domestic producers. And public safety is at risk for this crime. This is clearly a case where the lower price for a commodity product tells you something is wrong.