The ground wire is an important part of any electric circuit; it’s mainly used for safety purposes. It disperses any current surge to a safe place, so if anyone touches the appliance during a short circuit doesn’t get injured. However, the ground wire can be seen bare in many applications and, in other cases, insulated. Do ground wires need to be insulated?
Do Ground Wires Need To Be Insulated?
No, ground wires have to be bare according to the NEC, and if you choose to insulate it, it has to be either green-yellow or green colored. The ground wire is used for safety purposes; in an electric circuit, the ground wire is connected to the earth. And it doesn’t carry any current in normal conditions.
However, it carries current only in certain conditions, for example, short circuits. The ground wire acts as an alternative way for the current. The current in any circuit should always go back to its source. But in a short circuit, the current can choose another path; for example, if anyone touches the circuit, the current can pass through him, leading to injuries. The ground wire is responsible for dispersing any current resulting from a short circuit to a safe place.
What Are the Dangers of Exposed Ground Wires?
Most of the time, ground wires don’t carry an electric current and have bare connections and wires. The ground wire is a safety barrier in the electric circuit; it carries away any power surge. A power surge can result from many causes; the most common cause is the short circuit.
The ground wire’s job is to detect this surge and neutralize it through a pipe or rod in a safe place.
You can find the ground connection plug on most modern devices; it diverts any electricity to prevent electrocution. It’s safe to touch any ground wire as long as there is no electrical or power surge. As a result, most of the grounding outside your home is exposed and not insulated.
What Is the Difference Between Grounded and Grounding?
- The grounding term is similar to the grounded term, but they stand for different things. Any electric circuit contains two wires, the grounded wire or the neutral and the hot wire. The neutral wire has many different names, but the most common is the grounded neutral conductor. The grounded wire is required for any electrical circuit.
- On the other hand, grounding wires are required for safety purposes. They are used to disperse any power surge that results from a short circuit. They can be called either ground wires or grounding wires, and in some cases, it’s called the case ground. Because it’s connected to the outer parts “cases” of the appliances.
What Are the Types of Grounding Wires?
The insulated grounding wires have two different types of insulation:
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC)
- High molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE)
These insulations have different colors, green, green/yellow, or black. Each type has its different advantages, but the bare and the insulated grounding wires function the same way. The grounding wire material is, in most cases, copper.
The Advantages of Insulating Ground Wires
Despite that the bare grounding wire function the same as the insulated one but the insulated wire has some advantages:
1- Identification and Labeling
Insulations come in many different colors, and there are some manufacturers that do custom coloring. So you can label each wire in different color, stripe, or pattern. As a result, any electric task becomes easier and takes a shorter time than before. When you know which wire is which, it helps you work effortlessly.
2- Slipping In Conduits
Grounding wires are often fitted in conduits, which gives the insulated wires advantage over the bare ones. And this is due to the insulated wires being slippery, so it’s easier to pull them through the conduit’s corners and turns.
Inside of panel boards or switchgear, a metal bar or strip is used for high power distribution; it’s called a busbar. The busbar is always uninsulated, so the insulated grounding wires help to prevent any unintended connection between the busbar and the wires.
4- Anti Theft
The insulated grounding wires are harder to be stolen due to their insulation. Most of the grounding wires are copper, and copper wire theft is a costly crime. It costs the transportation department around 1 million a year to repair stolen copper wires from street lights.
The Advantages of Bare Ground Wires
Many industrial applications tend to use bare grounding wires due to their lower price and because it functions the same as the insulated ones. In large projects, the bare wires are more preferred than the insulated ones because they result in huge cost savings.
How To Choose a Suitable Grounding Wire?
Whether you choose the insulated wire or the bare ones, both will function the same. However, you have to check your local codebook; the codebook can determine which type you should use in your application. Sometimes the codebook can be unclear, and you should use the help of your local officials or inspectors.
They can help you to understand the codebook and determine which type you should use. This will ensure to be on the safe side and avoid the probability of replacing the wires later.
Does Conduit Need a Ground Wire?
Yes, the conduit needs a ground wire, especially if it’s a metal conduit. In addition, the wires inside the conduit need to be grounded, so the application used is grounded properly. So you shouldn’t depend on a metal conduit for grounding. The same is for gas and water pipes; you shouldn’t rely on them for grounding. However, they should be connected to the house grounding system.
How To Fix Exposed Wire?
Exposed wires are a common problem that can be caused by tear and wear and sometimes due to home improvement tasks. The main problem with exposed wires is that you maybe can’t see them. However, if you find an exposed wire, you have to take care and follow these safety steps:
1- Shut Down The Electrical Circuit
The exposed wire has to be connected to an electric circuit, so you have to locate this circuit and turn it off. Turning off the circuit will make you avoid the danger of an electrical shock and work safely. It’s very important to cut off the power when working on an electrical task. Electricity is very dangerous and can lead to critical injuries.
2- Isolate The Exposed Wire
You need to isolate the exposed wire to understand the reason why it became exposed. This way, you can avoid it happening again in the future. To clarify, if the connection is loose, then you need to look for the reason it was pulled, causing the connection to become loose. But if it’s a tear or a hole in the insulation of the wire, you need to look for what caused it, for example, nails.
3- Tape The Exposed Area Using Electrical Tape
It’s important to use electrical tape due to its durability and low conductivity, so it won’t tear or wear over time. The electrical tape usually has a black color. However, in large tear areas, you should cut the wire and use wire nuts instead to make a connection. In some cases, the electrical tape shouldn’t be used, for example, when the neutral-positive insulation is damaged.
4- Loose Electrical Connections Reconnecting
Aluminum wiring has a big disadvantage; its flexibility makes it move over time and becomes loose. Loose electrical connections are dangerous; they can cause fires or affect the connectivity of appliances. You should handle loose connections as soon as possible to avoid any hazards.
To sum up, ground wires can be either insulated or bare because, in both cases, they function the same. However, some people prefer to use the insulated type due to its advantages, but they have to afford its high cost. Conduits don’t replace ground wires; you have to use ground for every system you use for your safety.
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