OK. I read this scary review on your heating element on Amazon.com which addresses the rod issue. I don't have this product and don't have any first hand knowledge if this review is correct or not. But it does address your concern about the rod.Yes! This is what I have - I found this setup from another article on here. I have a heavy duty extension cord and a clamshell connector (I think that’s what it’s called) to cover over the connection point.
The thing about the rod in the ground still is kind of freaking me out, but know on wood, it is working well so far. The water has been kept around 55-60 degrees. I like having the water hanging so it’s less filling and less mess.
"I think this needs to be made a little more clear. J. Bush came close but is in my opinion off by a little on implying that the heater was somehow double grounded and that the ground line is redundant. It's NOT and the use of a ground fault circuit alone will in many cases will not protect you very well.
This item has the ground line connected to the outer case. This is the part that contacts the water. Not connecting the ground line is tempting fate.
The heating element inside the case is isolated/insulated from the case but this is where a failure would typically occur. If you are lucky it will short to the low(ground) side of the power lines.
I would expect it to short to the case some place in the middle where the actual heating element failed or over heated. When this happens, if you don't have the ground line plugged in, this would make the water that the unit is in electrified. You may not know until you see dead animals at the water. Or worse it could be you.
At the very least you should make sure you plug the plug in to ground. The addition of a ground fault circuit would be even better.
The ground fault alone is not as good as you might think. This is because you are likely placing this heater in a plastic bucket or bird bath. Since this plastic will isolate the water and element from ground,it will only fire once it finds a ground.If you did not plug that in, that could be you or your pet/live stock. see less
By JCassel on February 20, 2015"