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Old 06-19-2012, 01:19 PM   #1
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Ground Wire in Electrical Outlet Box - Where does it go?


As we all know, electrical outlet boxes typically contain the hot/neutral wires, plus a ground wire (unless you're in an old building, like I am).

The ground wire has 2-ends to it (as do all wires). One end connects to the ground-screw that's on the outlet receptacle (usually a green screw I believe). Can anyone tell me where the other end connects to? Does it connect to the electrical breaker box? Or maybe it's connected to a metal rod which is shoved deep within the soil, so that any "extra" electricity that comes through your outlet is re-routed back to the Earth (this is the impression I got after going through a few sites)?

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Old 06-19-2012, 01:24 PM   #2
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Ground Wire in Electrical Outlet Box - Where does it go?


The other end should be connected to all the ground wires accompanying the current carrying wires in the various cables entering the box.

The ground wires eventually* connect (they are bonded) to a buried ground rod outside, that ground rod usually located not far from the breaker panel.

To be exact, the various ground wires in the various cables coming into the panel are connected to a terminal strip (bus bar) in the panel and intended for that purpose. In the panel where the main disconnecting switch is located (not necessarily the largest panel) the neutral bus bar and ground bus bar are connected together either via the metal panel body or using a metal bar or fat wire. A fatter ground wire, usually 6 or sometimes 4 gauge, is connected from the neutral bus bar in the latter panel and goes out to the rod (usually 2 rods are needed nowadays).

* If A (wire or other metal object) is bonded to B and B is bonded to C then (ergo) A is bonded to C.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 06-19-2012 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:26 PM   #3
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Ground Wire in Electrical Outlet Box - Where does it go?


It would have to be bonded to the box it is in. Whether a different ground is bonded to the box and the receptacle ground is spliced to it, or if the ground from the receptacle goes directly to the metal box doesn't matter.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:12 PM   #4
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Ground Wire in Electrical Outlet Box - Where does it go?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jgiannis View Post
Can anyone tell me where the other end connects to? Does it connect to the electrical breaker box?
It is connected to all of the other ground wires AND all of the neutral wires in the panel. Sometimes the neutral-ground connection occurs elsewhere, but for simplicity's sake it's easier to say they all connect together in the panel. There is also a ground rod connected to all of the neutral and ground wires, as well as connections to the building's plumbing system.

Quote:
Or maybe it's connected to a metal rod which is shoved deep within the soil, so that any "extra" electricity that comes through your outlet is re-routed back to the Earth (this is the impression I got after going through a few sites)?
It is connected to a ground rod (actually usually two), but that's not what the ground rod does at all. The ground rod serves a very minor purpose: to provide a little bit of lightning protection, and to ensure that the neutral wires are at the same voltage as the earth for safety. It does NOT protect against ground faults, prevent shocks, or do anything else of that sort. Those purposes are served by BONDING, not grounding. Bonding is the connection between the ground wires and the neutral wires.
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