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What Is A Ground Wire, And Why Is It Important?

Ground Wires; A necessary failsafe

Harnessing Electricity as an energy source is arguably one of the most groundbreaking accomplishments in human history. And while electricity improperly used can become dangerous, electrical engineers have several built-in fail-safes in the domestic electrical grid that will keep your household and property safe from potentially deadly electrical shocks and fires. The most common of these safety precautions is a grounding wire, which has been regularly required for residential electrical codes since the 1960s.

What Is A Ground Wire?

Electricity, at its core, is predictable; positively charged electrical energy is always looking for the quickest pathway toward the negatively charged ground. The electrical pulses in a household grid are also moving along the quickest pathway towards the Earth but electrical engineers have long since figured out how to manipulate that pathway to harness the electricity and thus power our homes. However, electrical grids often experience electrical surges and arcs that result in excess electricity looking for a new pathway to the ground. This is where a ground wire comes in; they are designed to give excess electricity ad a path to the earth that is safe and effective.

What Are the Different Types of Ground Wires?

Since the goal of a ground wire is to channel excess energy to the ground safely, they are nearly all made from highly conductive copper wire, wrapped in green and yellow plastic installation, for easy identification. The ground wire color, green with a yellow stripe, is almost universally used to help identify the ground wire from the other electrical wires. There are a few aspects of ground wires that can differ based on the needs of the electrical grid they are grounding. Here are a few different types of ground wires.

  • Bare Copper- the most common type of ground wire found in residential homes, bare copper is uninsulated and therefore the effective conductor.
  • Green 6 THHN- this ground wire is mostly used in outdoor electrical outlets and is protected from the elements.
  • Gauged Copper- gauged copper comes in a variety of sizes that allows for larger surges to easily pass along the ground wire if necessary. HERE is a useful ground wire size chart that explains which size of gauged copper is appropriate for different electrical grid sizes.

Worried Your ELetrical Grid Isn’t Properly Grounded? We can help.

Proper electrical ground wire installation and upkeep is a very important part of maintaining the safety of your home. If you are worried or unsure about the viability of the ground wires in your home contact us HERE to get a professional electrician to come take a look.

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