Can Two Circuits Share the Same Ground Wire? YES, But…

If you’re hiring an electrician to install a new circuit in your home, you may want to know if two circuits can share the same ground. Questions arise because we’re all trying to do what is right and keep our homes safe, especially if you’re not a professional. This will bring about the question

Can Two Circuits Share The Same Ground Wire?

It is electrically possible for two circuits to share the same ground wire. However, the electrical codes that govern your community might be against that. The local codes are put in place, particularly for safety reasons and it is only right that you adhere to the rules.

The electrical codes consider what works and will keep you safe from electrical damage and fire that a connection is possible technically or theoretically doesn’t qualify it to be practised. In some places, connecting two circuits to the same ground is illegal. You wouldn’t want to commit a crime, so you must inquire about your local codes before making such connections.

Can you share ground between circuits?

More than one circuit can be connected to the ground. However, circuit connections of this type are strictly regulated by several laws, particularly when it comes to courses in the home. These regulations exist for the protection of life and property.

Incorrect installations may result in fires, significant damage, or even death. As a result, laws have been established to guarantee that specified standards do electrical work. The National Electrical Code, NEC, establishes codes for electrical circuits in the United States and decides the grounding criteria you must comply with. Some parts of the US apply the NEC 2011 code, while others use the NEC 2014 code.

The NEC 2014 code allows you to connect multiple circuits to the same ground as long as they are all on the same bus and originate in the same circuit box or enclosure. This prevents the grounding system from overloading and protects electricians working on a circuit box who may be ignorant of current flowing from another package.

The NEC 2011 code, on the other hand, says each branch circuit must have an equipment ground. If they are in the same raceway, they may be shared, and if the courses are all the same amperage, it can be one ground wire.

You must find out what codes your community abides by and do the same.

Can electric circuits have multiple grounds?

Technically, it’s possible to connect an electrical circuit to more than one ground. However, it is not standard practice to wire the electrical system that way. Where there’s a mix of analog and digital circuits, to reduce the electrical “noise” in the system, they must have separate grounding.

An electrical circuit can have multiple grounds, but this is not an option for your home electrical system. No course in your home should have various settings. Again, scientifically possible doesn’t mean it should be practiced.

Why do we need a ground wire in the circuit?

The ground wire is the safety wire in an electrical circuit. A circuit consists of three wires; the hot wire, which carries active voltage to the loads, and the neutral wire, current from the loads to the positive charge on the service panel, and there’s the ground wire connected to the earth.

The earth (ground) is negatively charged; hence, positive charges will always flow towards it to neutralize and maintain the charge differential. This is why a ground wire is connected directly to the earth.

In the case of an electrical surge, when your home’s electrical system receives too much electricity than it can contain, the excess electricity will stray out of the system and into other materials in your home to find a path of least resistance to the earth. Sometimes severe weather conditions like lightning can cause an electrical surge. If your circuits are grounded, the grounding wire will channel the excess electricity safely to the ground.

How your home’s electrical system works

The electricity in your home comes from the local utility provider through a power line often known as the high tension line or underground via a conduit. A meter that receives the electricity is installed in your home and is monitored by your electricity provider to determine your consumption rate. The central panel is often located close to the meter.

This is where power is distributed to all the socket and outlets that sends power to your appliances. Your home electrical circuit is a path where electricity flows to and fro the entire house. Current flows from the power source via the electrical circuits to the appliances in your home and then goes back to the electricity source via the dedicated path.

A circuit consists of the hot wire, ground wire, and neutral wire. The hot wire carries the current, the neutral wire serves as the return path for the current and the ground wire serves as earthing for the circuit in case of overload which may lead to circuit damage. the ground wire is usually connected to the earth and it serves as a safety feature for your home. It helps to direct all excess electric current in the circuit to the ground.

There are other subpanes in the homes that are usually dedicated to high volt appliances such as water heaters, Air conditioning, cookers, etc. These panels are wired with strong enough electric wires that can withstand the load from these appliances.

Is ground the same as neutral?

No, the ground wire is not the same as neutral wire. The neutral wire is a part of the standard circuit. It’s a path for returning current supplied by the hot wire to the loads (electrical appliances). The neutral wire is not a safety feature, unlike the ground wire. The ground wire is introduced into the circuit specifically for safety reasons.

It does not play a part in the circuit’s function. The ground wire is a backup in your home’s electrical system that prevents damage that could arise due to circuit overload or malfunction. Ground wires are commonly bare wires. If insulated, they are green or yellow. Neutral wires are white.

How To Find The Electrical Code For Your Area

Although an electrician will be doing the circuit grounding in your home, you can enquire from the local authorities what electrical codes the area has adopted. A local electrician will also be able to tell you what regulation applies to you.

Electrical regulations are updated regularly, and some areas may adopt whole new code standards. You must abide by the electrical codes for your locality as specified by NEC. Your insurance claims in case of fire or electrical damage might be affected if your home wiring is not according to the standards.

Does every circuit need a ground?

No, it doesn’t. A circuit can work ideally, provided a hot and neutral wire. However, for the safety of your home, your circuits should be grounded. Not all circuits have a direct connection to the earth. A course can be “grounded” even though it has no physical connection to the world.

Two main kinds of grounding exist; earth ground and floating ground. For a circuit to work, it must have either earth ground or floating ground.

Earth Ground

This is the most common type of ground and is considered proper ground by engineers. If your circuit has earth ground, it’ll be a three-pronged plug indicating Live, neutral and ground wire. Since the earth is a good conductor of electricity with the least resistance, a ground wire catches stray voltage from your home and deposits it in the land, stabilizing voltage levels. In earth grounding, the world is the zero potential reference point.

Floating Ground

A floating ground is not connected directly to the earth; it flows. The floating base serves as a Zero voltage reference line for the current, the same thing the world does on earth ground. It serves as a return path for current back to the negative side of the power supply. The floating floor is found in circuits powered by batteries.

An electrical circuit must have either earth ground or floating ground.

Does Ground Wire Need To Be In Conduit?

Not necessarily, but if you want to, you can lay the ground wire in a conduit. A conduit is a layer of protection that protects the electrical wire from corrosion and damage. By encasing it in a line, you may improve the durability and longevity of the wire.

Five Reasons Your Ground Wire Should Be In A Conduit

 Here are 5 key reasons why your ground wire should be in a conduit:

Codes

NEC has a lot to say about conduits, and many areas base their electrical codes on NEC’s standards. As a result, if your local code demands you pull ground wires through conduits, you must comply, regardless of your personal or professional objections.

It Prevents Mechanical Damage

Electric wires are brittle. If your electrician isn’t careful, he might easily cut a line with a lawnmower or clippers, particularly if the wire is poorly placed. If your home’s grounding wire is damaged, your electrical system is unsafe. A circuit malfunction or electrical surge will put you at significant risk.

A metallic conduit will protect the grounding wire from mechanical damage, which is particularly important if the wire is exposed above the ground.

Safety

If you must know, grounding wires can also conduct electricity. If there’s a wrong connection or malfunction, electricity will flow through the ground wire. The current flowing through the ground wire is small compared to the amount of energy flowing through the hot wire. Although small, it is not negligible. It’s enough to do substantial damage, mainly if the fault is from a wrong connection.

Organization

Encasing your wires in a conduit helps make your wiring neat. It may not be popular, but it is significant. Where you have multiple wires, pulling them through a single conduit eliminates the danger that cables generally pose. Besides, bare wires are not attractive.

Protects The Ground Wire Against Extreme Weather Conditions

Conduits will shield your wires from weather elements, including sunshine and extreme cold. If there are caustic chemicals or solvents in the region, the wire ways will resist them. Since plastic conduits are poor conductors, they are convenient, especially if the wire is buried in moist ground.

Can You Run Two Circuits In One Conduit?

Yes! NEC approves running multiple circuits in one conduit according to NEC Article 334.15. However, this is more applicable to commercial buildings and occasionally in residences. A professional electrician should handle this operation.

Should Ground Wires Have Voltage?

Under normal conditions, the ground wire has no voltage since there is no potential difference. However, if the hot and neutral wires are reversed, the ground wire could carry some voltage. To check if there’s voltage in the ground wire, measure the neutral-ground voltage. You can also measure the hot-ground voltage.

If you have a value of 120-V for the neutral-ground voltage,  and the hot-ground is just a few volts or slightly less, then it means there is a reversal between the hot and neutral. Measure hot-neutral and hot-ground under load to check if neutral and ground are swapped. Hot-neutral should be greater than hot-ground.

Is The Ground Negative Or Positive?

 The ground is a zero potential reference point. It is neither harmful nor positively charged.

Conclusion

Although it is in practice to share two circuits to one ground, the NEC codes for your area will determine if you should do so or not. The electrician you’re hiring will know which regulations apply to your site.

Related Readings:

Does Electrical Wire Need To Be in Conduit? Answered

Steps How To Find A Reverse Light Wire?

How to Identify Wires in a 3-Way Switch?

Scroll to Top