Electrical grounding is the best way to ensure that your family and possessions are not harmed by stray electrical current. When an electrical system is grounded, the currents are guided down a pathway to the ground so that they cannot make contact with people and sensitive electronic equipment. When working with electricity, it is best to work with a professional electrician to make sure that proper electrical grounding techniques are used throughout your home. However, if you plan on attempting a wiring job yourself, you should take proper safety precautions.
Low Resistance Grounding Path
Completed wiring grounds wires so that stray currents cannot jump and electrocute people and possessions. However, the grounding has to produce less resistance than a person. If the pathway to the ground produces any resistance to the current flow, the current will find this pathway difficult to travel and can still pose a threat to individuals. Therefore, it is especially important that the pathway be free of resistance and the first choice for the current to travel to the ground. In order to keep the resistance level low, the ground impedance needs to be less than 1 ohm. If you ground your wires so that the pathway’s impedance is less than 1 ohm, you can ensure that your family is safe from electrocution.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Ground fault circuit interrupters found in most homes and many do-it-yourselfers are familiar with installing them. A ground fault circuit interrupter is designed to monitor the current flow and shut down whenever there is an imbalance that indicates a stray current. Currently, the installation of GFCIs is required in areas that are exposed to continued moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, wet bars, and decks. GFCIs are inexpensive and can be purchased from your local home improvement store. They are very effective in containing stray current because when an imbalance in the current flow is detected, the circuit shuts down immediately.
A pigtail is a group of wires that has been twisted in such a way as to keep the grounding intact. To complete a pigtail connection, you simply have to take two grounded wires and add to them a six-inch matching wire that has been stripped. You will bind the three wires together with a wire connector. Nowadays, you can find pigtail connectors at your local home improvement store. This makes creating pigtails easier because you simply feed the two ground wires into the connector and twist it tightly. The third stripped wire is housed in the connector. Pigtails are very effective for keeping the ground wires in place.
Grounding for Electronics
To prevent electrical shock to people, you need to create a grounding path with a impedance of less than 1 ohm. However, electronics can be even more sensitive to stray currents. Your home is probably filled with all sorts of electronic equipment; televisions, computers, video equipment, and smartphones. Even though a stray current may not be able to put your life or the life of one of your family members at risk, it can damage or completely destroy electronics. Therefore, when creating a pathway for stray current, you should plan for a ground impedance of less than .25 ohm.